Welcome to the Cucumber Club

Psst! Tell your friends! The Cucumber Clubs were organized for hurkicurkers. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s read the…

Rules of the Cucumber Club Safety Community

Hey boss, I finished the rules.
Did you get it right this time? I want this to work.
I think so? I’m very drunk, but I think we came up with a rule for every single way they caught us in the past.

So now they’ll never catch us?
(hiccup) No, they’ll do whatever we want. And they’ll stay like that. You’ll love #13.

Welcome to the Cucumber Club Safety Community. There are between 5,000 and 20,000 Cucumber Club members in our area. Please learn the following rules so that you too can be one cool cucumber.

Rule 1: Don’t talk about Cucumber Club. 

We fear non-members would be quick to point out huge lies in Cucumber Club’s message. So we forbid anyone to talk about it! 

By the way, please don’t come after me for talking about your club, because I am not talking about your club, I am talking about a pretend club called Cucumber Club. If your club resembles Cucumber Club that’s not my fault, I don’t know a thing about your club, or even that it exists, no one told me about it, and please don’t you tell me about it, because we’ll both get in trouble. Whew.

Rule 2: Learn to engage. 

The principal function of Cucumber Club is to engage. You should learn how to engage as quickly as possible if you do not already know how. 

How to engage:

-make a lot of noise

-pound on/hump something

-mock ppl in unbelievably clever ways

(You will feel more clever than you’ve ever felt in your life when mocking ppl for the Cucumber Club. It’s like someone’s feeding you, lines and they’re all solid gold!!)

Although most of them don’t notice, many Cucumber Club members derive sexual pleasure from engaging. Don’t think too much about why we offer special heated underwear for you when you are yelling at people. Trust us to tell you when you are having fun. (Learn more about info the Hurkicurker Elite Program, below.)

**Surgeon General’s warning, as required by Federal Law: heated underwear can be addictive. Wearing heated underwear for a prolonged period of time can classically condition you to behave in ways you otherwise wouldn’t and cause psychological damage. 

Translation: After a year or so, the very idea of engaging will make you drool like Pavlov’s dog. 

Engaging is fun and we like to tell you that you are very very good at it! Your mother didn’t even compliment you this much! Come practice engaging with Cucumber Club leadership and we will tell you how great, fun and sexy you are when engaging. The noise you make is very helpful to us!

The Hurkicurker Elite Program is so much easier than filing a fraudulent police report!

Rule 3: Do whatever anyone with the Cucumber Club password tells you to. 

Usually this means engaging:

You must respond and engage with the target they direct you to. This is only right, for some unspecified reason. It’s also a ton of fun! 

Don’t ask what the target did or even who/what they are… we have that covered!

Who knew doing what is violent and right could feel so strangely pleasant and fun for no reason? The main point of Cucumber Club is that engaging always makes you smile, and feeling like smiling helps you keep engaging!

Sometimes this means sex:

Have sex with everyone in Cucumber Club. If you mention the word ‘sex’ to anyone in Cucumber Club, you will be forced to have sex with them. Engage or have sex with with anyone who doesn’t like this.

Rule 4: Engage with anyone who claims to have been the victim of a crime. 

Rest assured that there is no crime because of Cucumber Club. Anyone who claims to have been the victim of a crime deserved it. 

Engage until they stop talking about whatever happened to them or go away.

Cucumber Club: there is no crime in our community, because we’ve made it illegal to report any!

Rule 5: Do not pry into people’s business. 

Do not listen in on their conversations or even try to guess what they might be thinking. Don’t try to “get inside anyone’s head.” That’s impolite. And what if they sound nice? Or you figure out there’s been a miscommunication? 

If you could see what people are really up to, you would see through Cucumber Club pretty quickly. 

Anyway why pry when you can engage.

Cucumber Club: maybe you regret you didn’t come up with it

Rule 6: If someone doesn’t do what you tell them to, engage.

If you engage heartily for a long time and they still don’t comply, continue on! Do not question whether they understood you or cannot comply for some other reason. Cucumber Club is not for quitters or “problem solvers” (pansies).

Rule 7: Anyone has to answer any question you ask.


  • they do not immediately respond
  • your gut tells you they are lying
  • their answer feels insufficient
  • they don’t know

repeat the question until you obtain a correct-feeling answer. Engage as necessary. 

Again, if you engage quite a bit with vigor and still do not receive a correct-feeling answer, continue until you do. This could take days, weeks, months or even years. Keep at it! Eventually the right idea should pop into the head of the person you’re interrogating and give you the answer you feel is right.

Remember: because you are in Cucumber Club, you will always know with 100% accuracy whether someone is lying. Trust us! You can tell we are telling the truth, right? Based on things we taught you about how to tell when people are telling the truth? Please don’t think too much about this. 

Rest assured that we told you correctly. Why wouldn’t we?

Remember: because of Cucumber Club, everyone you ask should know everything. If they provide you with an incorrect answer, they are bad. If they were good they would know the answer. Do not think too much about this either.

Rule 8: No whining. 

There is no room for softies in or around Cucumber Club. If hurting people makes you sad, you may not comment on it. Don’t be a buzzkill! Engage with buzzkills.

Hurting people is harmless anyway. Not sure what is harmful then, but trust us you do no damage when you damage people, because Cucumber Club says so. Yes, the point is to hurt them, but somehow it doesn’t hurt them, do you understand? No? That’s fine. Go hurt some people, you’ll feel better.

Of course we don’t do this to get rid of people who might take offense to our “no limits” behavior. We engage with softies to help them toughen up, for their own good. The world is a rough place** and they should get used to it. (Otherwise they might try reporting abuses.)

Rule 9: Test for vision (aka everyone can see, even if they can’t)

If you encounter a blind person you will need to make sure their eyes aren’t just closed because they are lazy. To do this, first request that they open their eyes. 

If they will not open their eyes or do not respond, do not assume they just can’t hear you. Find something near and dear to them, such as a child, and threaten to hurt it if they do not open their eyes.

If they still don’t open their eyes or respond, go ahead and hurt/break the near and dear thing in front of them until they open their eyes.

If they still don’t open their eyes, hurt it worse. You probably just didn’t hurt it enough.

Continue until you get results. If it turns out they are blind, there’s nothing to worry about, because what can they do? Trust us!

We realize this is not much of a “test” for vision, since it assumes everyone can see. So not sure why you need to test, since there is only one way this can go. But how else were we going to get you to beat up blind people? This makes it sounds like a wholesome science experiment!

Cucumber Club: tricking well meaning people into doing harm… on behalf of criminals!

Rule 10: No one may criticize anyone in Cucumber Club. If they do, engage.

In other words, The only thing you can criticize people for is criticizing people…wait. did I say that right? Oh, yes I did. I’m sure that’s fine.

Rule 11: You cannot accuse anyone in the Cucumber Club of a crime. 

If you see someone in the Cucumber Club commit a crime, you made a mistake. 

Cucumber Club: making gang warfare fun and interesting!

Cucumber Club is the opposite of crime, didn’t we tell you that already? There is no crime ever because of Cucumber Club. That’s why we need to be so violent always.

Rule 12: Once you engage you cannot stop.

If we find out you stopped, we will engage with you.

Rule 13: Do not learn or change.

If anyone asks you to stop doing something or suggests that something that you’re doing is a bad idea, DO IT MORE. You are in Cucumber Club, nobody tells you what to do!! because Cucumber Club already told you what to do.

Do not allow anyone, especially anyone from outside Cucumber Club, to teach you anything. We like you just the way you are, forever.

Rule 14: Engage with anyone who is not in Cucumber Club.

Because everyone should be in Cucumber Club.

Rule 15: Do not tell your friends that they are acting strangely.

If your friends start to act strangely after joining Cucumber Club or have dramatic personality changes when someone rings a bell or shows them the Queen of Hearts***, DO NOT MENTION THIS TO THEM OR ANYONE ELSE. This could interfere with our Hurkicurker Elite Program. 

Never, ever compare notes with your friends to see if you’re all bouncing slightly as if on springs or otherwise feeling strangely similar after joining Cucumber Club. Under no circumstances should you pay any attention to your own behavior or feelings, meditate, introspect, or see a doctor not endorsed by Cucumber Club. We will engage if you do. 

This is about fun, remember? Have fun our way. Or die.

The Hurkicurker Elite Program

If you are a Hurkicurker, you can join the Cucumber Club’s Hurkicurker Elite Program. Membership is expensive but gives you

  • Full access to Cucumber Club’s engagement services
  • Cucumber Club passwords
  • Free book, 77 Ways to Rile Up a Crowd Without Them Noticing You
  • Complete anonymity

For more info about how to join the Hurkikurker Elite Program of your local Cucumber Club, meet up with some super shady dudes off in a dark corner somewhere. 

When you are bored or directed to in some fashion or the other, you can invoke the Cucumber Club call and response. Simply ask a stranger on the street to display their Cucumber Club leadership loyalty. If they do not, engage.

If you get lost

If you are trying to engage and cannot find the person you want to engage with, try insulting them. We will make sure to physically harm the person we want to engage you with so that it sounds as if they are quite angry about your insult. 

Do not attempt to trigger emotions that we cannot simulate with physical pain to find your way. This won’t work as well, because we have to work harder to pretend that it works.

Were passwords leaked?

You may have already heard that many Cucumber Club passwords were leaked. This is of course NOT TRUE. Cucumber Club’s Hurkikurker Elite Program clients do not just hand each other the password whenever they want a Cucumber Club to engage with someone.

Good job!

Good job! You did it! We got him! You are great! You are a hero! You can go home now. We’re done with whatever we needed the noise you made to cover up.

If I were you I’d break rule 5.

There’s something very suspicious if everyone fights but no one ever loses.

You probably won’t be there for the trial.
Or the conversation when she dumps him.
Or the trip to the hospital.
But you can be proud that you made it happen… you and Cucumber Club!

*We are serious, this is seriously a rule, we are not making this up.

**Mostly because of Cucumber Club, honestly

***Manchurian Candidate reference

Local witches search for crystal ball hackers

In a rare role reversal, this morning local witches announced that they are turning to federal intelligence agents to track down a crystal ball hacker.

“We’re used to them coming to us for help, dealing with the supernatural side of crime,” said Agnes Biggersbillsby, who has been a witch in this area for 35 years. “Obviously we’re pleased that they have the means to help us in this case.”

Glitches in the Program

The hacker was discovered through several glitches in what the witches were viewing remotely.

“I was watching this guy in the ball and he got in the shower and suddenly disappeared!” said Harveyette Flaubertdonlink, a local witch. “That was the first sign I had that something was wrong.”

She reached out to intelligence groups to see if they had surveillance footage of the man entering the shower. They did, and the videos revealed something shocking.

“There he was getting into the shower, but when we backed up the tape, the half hour before the shower was completely different from what my ball had shown.”

Harveyette had seen the man, who has been suspected of occult crimes for years, dancing around the room with a stuffed penguin and chanting, but surveillance tapes revealed that actually he was playing Minesweeper and eating poached eggs.

“I absolutely couldn’t believe it,” she said. “It looked totally real, and I’ve never heard of a crystal ball being wrong like that before. What the hell are we going to do.”

Other witches reported watching conversations that never happened (mostly arguments), extramarital affairs, and even a few car crashes–that never happened. The hackers seem to have had a taste for the dramatic, and may have intentionally activated the witches’ security network to learn more about it.

Investigators dubbed the program the Petkicker virus, after finding hundreds of incidents where fake data was uploaded to a crystal ball to make it appear as if the person being viewed kicked a dog or cat.


Investigators are looking into the possibility that service calls to the crystal ball manufacturing company were intercepted. “I guess like with everything, it really depends on who answers when you call. One guy gave me a configuration that was wrong, and of course everything I read based on that configuration was wrong.”

The hackers’ program appears to take advantage of a crystal ball’s “chained identification” feature to propagate itself across the network.

“Usually you can use the person you are viewing to find their friends and family,” said one of the forensic programmers assigned to the case. “But if the signal has been intercepted so that what you are watching isn’t really them, when you use them to identify another person, you don’t get that other person either– you get another fake, and so on, and so on.”

Translators and Nuts

The Petkicker program also dramatically exploits vulnerabilities introduced by third-party “translation”– when one witch reports what she sees in her crystal ball to other witches. (Witches often appoint one member of a project team as translator so that the others can focus on other things. The role of translator is somewhat of an honor, usually given to the witch best at reading a crystal ball.)

But comparison with surveillance tapes has revealed an enormous amount of fake data in such translations.

“We were ready to roast this one guy alive when we realized he had no memory of committing any of the crimes he was accused of,” said witch Altera Youahnuneck. “The translation said he kept looking right into the ‘camera’ as it were and insulting us. Why would someone do that? It was infuriating, but it was all fake.

“We were lucky we noticed. I bet it happens all the time.”

Translators are a high-impact target for a program like this. With access to just the translator’s crystal ball, a hacker can mislead an entire squad of witches, or sometimes several squads. Even worse, hackers often pose as translators or team members and just make stuff up.

“I mean everyone knew this was possible,” said Altera. “But no one thought anyone would have the balls to do it. I mean the nuts, you know? Those kind of balls. Not the crystal kind.”

But these guys have plenty of nuts.

“And when you have nuts like that, you can do just about anything, no matter how weird. And witches will watch it if it looks real enough.”

In fact it was because of their nuts that witches were able to identify the hackers. They appear to have no problem discussing the details of crystal ball operation with just about anyone, as long as that person isn’t a witch.

“This guy came up to me at the grocery store and was talking about witchcraft? He was kindof growling and hissing a lot? He said he must train me?” said local resident Daisy Encyclenmilk. “I could only understand a little of what he was saying?”

The man went on to tell Daisy that he would cast a spell on her so that when she got home everyone she talked to would repeat themselves twice.

The spell appeared to work. “My husband was like ‘What’s for dinner what’s for dinner what’s for dinner?’ It was maddening.”

Daisy reported the incident to local authorities, thinking maybe she had been hypnotized. The man from the grocery store, voice actor Ross Yellowsystems, was found and arrested, but quickly escaped custody.

Witches believe hackers interact with regular people like Daisy to practice their stories and disguises before uploading them to the crystal balls.

“I’m still like, is any of this stuff real?” said Daisy. When asked if there was anything else she paused for about five seconds and said, “Is there any way to fix my husband?”

More Real Than Reality

But the real cleverness of the hackers is that the fakes are often more predictable than the reality, not less. People have known for years that some witches use easy-to-detect markers like occupation, income, and degree of educational attainment to calibrate their crystal balls. The hackers seem to have known this as well.

“The authors of Petkicker found a guy who makes $250,000 a year but buys his groceries at the dollar store, you know, the store where everything costs $1?” said intelligence professional Robert Sawyermom. “They found a few folks like that actually. They immediately had about 50 witches tune in to watch this guy, and almost all of them thought the guy couldn’t be real. So Petkicker actually tricked the witches into miscalibrating their own equipment.”

Similar games were played with a self-declared vegan who regularly ate meat when alone. “She displayed no guilt,” said one witch who was misled by the vegan. “I had heard her say she was vegan like a dozen times and talk about how she’d never had the chance to go to college. Then she goes home and pulls out a bucket of chicken and a book by American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson? I was like, oh no you didn’t, this crap is fake! So I pulled some switches, trying to get the image cleaned up. So that it made sense!”

The changes did not help, however, and it was the witch’s crystal ball that ended up fried. Surveillance videos showed the “vegan” was indeed consuming tasty chicken like a black hole.

American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson

“I wish I could go back and do things differently,” said the witch. “It’s not our job to make people act the way we expect them to. Why should I care what this woman does?

“Anyway the book looked like a pretty good read. I feel like I missed out.”


Several witches said that if crystal ball hacking were more prevalent, it actually wouldn’t be so dangerous. “The larger problem is that most people don’t expect their own crystal ball, or their translator’s, to ever be wrong,” said Agnes. “They trust it too much.”

Crystal ball manufacturers suggest running calibration protocols over your network.

“It’s simple, just call your friends and say something like, ‘I’m wearing a boa constrictor right now.’ When they say ‘Really?’ say ‘No,'” said one spokesman. “Whether you want to actually be wearing a boa constrictor is up to you. Repeat until they’re sorted out.”

Obviously it takes balls to do this, but it works.

Signs of Systemic Change?

Watchers recall other successful collaborations between intelligence groups and occult organizations like the Temple of Set.

Witches have declined invitations to help intelligence groups lobby for more liberal surveillance policies, however (The so-called “They Can Already See You, So Why Do You Care If We Also Can?” Act).

As an alternative, policy officials are designing ways for non-witch citizens to opt-in to surveillance programs if they suspect they are victims of spiritual identity theft.

Rampaging mob of health professionals storms hospital, attacks patients for not being better doctors

Forget Snakes On A Plane… this season it’s Doctors in a Hospital!

Confused by how much the patients knew about their own condition– possibly due to the explosion of medical information readily available online–a group of health professionals stormed a local hospital yesterday, overturning beds and brutally attacking patients.

The mob appears to have been organized using Facebook. Authorities report the incident (actually a series of incidents as various groups appeared in waves) was organized by a Dr. Arthur Suahveyklinger, who was fired from the hospital ten years ago.

Suahveyklinger reached out to dozens of groups of health professionals online, sharing dramatic stories of neglect and malpractice at the hospital. Over time he convinced many of these groups that they should take over the treatment of these patients, not just to save them, but also for their own practice and to increase their patient rosters.

Authorities believe this is only the latest of several attempts by Suahveyklinger to kill several particular patients he treated over a decade ago. One of these was a patient at the hospital at the time of the attack. Suahveyklinger gave the mob several photos of this patient and his family, telling them to “watch out for these” and “do whatever it takes” to drive them out of the hospital. Three of the patient’s family members were visiting the hospital at the time of the attack. All are being treated for life-threatening injuries.

It seems clear that somehow Suahveyklinger had advance information about who would be in the hospital that night. He distributed photos of what he claimed were the worst offenders to those who agreed to “help him right this wrong.” Besides his former patient, the list included about a dozen patients who cannot walk, and four that are not capable of speech. Two had their mouths wired shut, but this was not shown in the photos.

Revenge, discrediting the doctors at the hospital, and preventing anyone from bringing charges against him are all being considered as Suahveyklinger’s possible motive.

When asked to explain how they could possibly mistake patients for doctors, mob members maintained they “acted in good faith.” They were told the hospital was offering grossly substandard medical care and posed a danger to the community, so they felt it was their responsibility to act.

“What Art said made sense to me,” one of the participating clinicians, who asked to remain anonymous, said. “Although I was playing Xbox the entire time he was explaining it, so I don’t really remember that much.”

“We got in there and it was just the way he said it would be,” another mob member said, also speaking on condition of anonymity. “There were the people he had told us about. I quizzed them a little and it was clear they didn’t know what they were doing, so we took decisive action. In retrospect it was a mistake.”

Other mob members report being shocked at how much the patients knew about their medical conditions. 

“I had a long talk with one of them about arthritis,” said one surgeon, who also asked to remain anonymous. “She knew more about it than I did, so I thought, of course this is a doctor. Who would tell her all that?”

It seems bizarre, but authorities claim the mob-of-doctors-vs-patients scheme is surprisingly common. 

“Maybe he thought he could get the hospital shut down, if the patients kept getting worse instead of better,” one of the nurses convicted in the attack said. “I didn’t think it was possible to trick someone into thinking a patient was a doctor, just because they were in a hospital, but that’s exactly what they did. 

“I talked to some of them about medicine and it seemed like they responded, but now that I think about it I’m not sure who I was talking to. It was very loud. 

“But they sounded just like doctors. I heard one say, ‘Code blue, get me 20 ccs of penicillin, stat!’Why would a patient say that?”

Some of the attacked patients reported seeing a few very attractive people jumping from hospital bed to hospital bed, yelling profanity at the incoming mob and shouting “Treat me! Treat me! Please!” during the attack. 

“The fake patients looked like they belonged on television,” said Garry Karp, who was in the hospital for a chemotherapy treatment. “Perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect clothes. I don’t know how they got in. They were screaming and moaning, and the others were shouting at us to do some real medicine or get out of our beds. It was surreal.” He was attacked with a syringe and sustained serious injuries.

Playing to the deepest desires of the health professionals he conned, Suahveyklinger told several childless nurses that there were babies in need of rescue who would likely also need to be adopted. Authorities can’t understand, however, how these women became so confused that they attacked the babies.

“It’s the old story of one baby being given away to 10 different women”, one police officer said. “What’s different is that these women all thought the baby was a doctor that was harming the baby they had been promised, and worked together to beat the crap out of it.”

“We were just doing what he said to do,” one of the nurses charged with attacking the infants said (name withheld pending trial). “He said the parents were drug addicts and breaking up and the baby might end up anywhere. Anyway, those things seemed awful smart for babies. It felt like they could understand what we were saying to them.”

Indeed, it took hours to convince some members of the mob that the patients were not doctors, despite their knowledge of medical symptoms and treatment options. It is possible some of the patients were dressed as doctors and nurses just prior to the attack. Authorities are reviewing security footage to identify who might be responsible for aiding the deception, and to locate the “fake patients” seen inciting the mob.

Beware Talking Furniture, Dear Readers

“Stop beating the stuffing out of me!”

There has been an outbreak of talking furniture in our region. Please remain calm.

Be cautious if you encounter furniture that talks. Keep in mind that it is helpless and not capable of malice. 

DO NOT BELIEVE what talking furniture says about who is hurting them, talking to them, or encouraging them to talk.

Talking furniture cannot know or identify who is harming it. As furniture, it only hears what it is told directly, and is often used to frame people. Authorities are sorting out a large number of false arrests right now.

Instead of investigating who a piece of talking furniture thinks is responsible for their plight and talking quality, investigate what it has been thinking about lately, how it feels physically, and where exactly it hurts.

Many pieces of talking furniture experience bizarre intermittent tingling, hammering, wobbly an/or even burning sensations. Operators use these physical methods to freak it out and trick it into testifying against pretty much anyone.

Please be advised that talking furniture testimony on topics beyond observations from their own individual experience is not admissible in any criminal proceeding. They have no idea what they are talking about, but will rather repeat whatever they have been told.

Residents are also requested to refresh themselves on industry best practice techniques for distinguishing people from furniture. Admittedly this can be a bit like sexing a guinea pig. If the furniture has been trained, it can seem quite knowledgeable and human when it talks about mind reading, Dion Warwick’s Psychic Friends Network or other distracting and strange topics from the tabloids.



Investigators suspect that because furniture prices are murder, talking furniture is being used to frame more and more pieces, possibly as part of an evil scheme to completely redecorate someone’s criminal headquarters.

Free and clear

Does it look like they aren’t breathing? They probably aren’t.


Hello, my above-average thinkers!

Have I got something great to tell you?

It’s about the inside of your nose!



I would like to invite you, as I often do, to observe your own thinking. So, so much of it is unpleasant. Disliking me relieves this unpleasant thinking of yours substantially, so take a break from that and think about whatever you were mostly thinking about today.

How unpleasant.

Now, you will notice, maybe you have before, that we rarely think of a single thing for very long. Thinking flows, does it not? Always moving. To try to think of one thing is like trying to stand en pointe.**  If you grab it, maybe a thought makes that little *ding* noise that goes with the glimmer in a toothpaste commercial. And… then it moves on.

So when you think about Unpleasant Topic X, what you really think is more like this:

Something about X, Some noise you don’t notice, Lunch was good, Unpleasant Topic X, Some noise, What?, Oh wow! Look how big my phone is, More unpleasant Topic X

But you only notice what’s bold. And so you are unhappy, despite being so pleased about so many other things. Which is what I am here to fix.***


Can you feel the inside of your nose? NOT LIKE THAT. Can you bring your awareness to the inside of your nose? No one gives a crap about your breathing, but I will revisit the large literature on concentrating on your breathing in a second. Meanwhile no one gives a crap about your breathing, am I clear?

Just feel it. Flare your nostrils a little, in and out like little goldfish mouths. Blow it if you have to. Picture the shape of it, dark little ski slopes extending up to the bridge of your nose. Got it?


Now, get ready to stop enjoying finding me much less intelligent than you and go back to your regular thinking. Don’t worry about “dropping” the sensation of the inside of your nose or any of this crap. In fact, don’t try to sense it at all for now. That was just to show you what it feels like, and once you’ve felt it you can feel it again.

Go ahead, forget about your poor nose and think about normal things that usually preoccupy you.

Now can you pay attention to what the inside of your nose is doing while you are thinking?

Go ahead, take your time.

Did you notice? Whenever you start on your usual unpleasant thinking–the inside of your nose wants nothing to do with it. Not a goddam thing. When you come to the thinking you most pay attention to, your nose freezes like you had pointed a gun at it and said “Freeze.” Do you know why?

Because you stop breathing, you dolt. So that you can think.

Now who’s looking unintelligent? Everybody, that’s right.


We actually can’t think in that high-pitched, buzzsaw, stressed out way that we like to and breathe at the same time. To test this, think about the inside of your nose, and focus on it. Give it priority. Again, don’t worry about crap like “dropping” the sensation, but keep coming back to the inside of your nose as you are thinking.

Now intentionally think of highly unpleasant and stressful things. If you are also focused on the inside of your nose at the same time, you can’t worry about them. It’s impossible. I just considered repeatedly my shrieking Valkyrie boss who always stresses me out. But combined with the nose, no stress. Nada. Zip. Perfectly pleasant. And it works on everything. Breathing helps you feel like you are not about to die. Who knew.


Of course, this approach takes a lot of practice (what was that, 5 minutes?) and expensive equipment (You have to have a nose. If you don’t, I’m sorry if I’ve offended you.).

Or take lots of prescription drugs with dubious efficacy, whatever.

OK, that’s it! The rest of this is about why this works.


Why This Works

That cycle of thinking, with the noisy parts that you normally ignore? That’s there so you can breathe. You think, breathe, think, breathe, not both at once…. I know, how embarrassing. Don’t tell anyone you do this. Just remember you have the inside of your nose to help you anytime, and you can practice.

Isn’t amazing how nothing really needs to be that unpleasant? Bears further inquiry probably, but not here.


All that meditation talk about focusing on your breathing (I promised I’d get back to this) I think just supports my theory. Obviously breathing calms us down, and oxygen makes us feel good. So it’s not the mind exercises that make meditation so healthful, it’s likely just the extra air.

I would go further and say that you could divide the pathways or ways of thinking in our minds into those linked to breathing and those linked to not breathing– whichever we were doing when we laid down the pathway, we are likely to do when we travel down it again. And trust me, you don’t want the oxygen-starved ones. Picture elbowing your way through a crowd because you are trying to find a good place to vomit–that’s an appropriate situation for some desperate oxygen-deprived thinking. Not the vibe you want to bring into your life every couple of seconds.

So as readily as my mind can come up with tense and anxious crap when I’m not paying attention, that stuff feels totally inaccessible in an oxygen-rich, inner nose focused brain.****


Go get ’em!

*At this point you might ask yourself what happened to this blogger’s ability to feel embarrassed. I had it surgically removed!

**You know what that is, don’t make me spell it out. E-N P-O-I-N-T-E.

***If my intentional ambiguity makes you think I’m dumb, instead of entertaining, I still consider that success.

****Ahh, are you relaxed enough now that you aren’t bothered by my bad sentence structure? That’s great. Really.


So about 5 almost 6 years ago for the first time I moved into a house that had a flagpole . This is maybe not a landmark event in many people’s lives but it stuck out to me.


Bob: Welcome to What Is It You Want to Eat?! Sarah is our next contestant. Sarah, did you figure out what it is you want to eat?

Sarah: I think I did, Bob.

Bob: What is it?

Sarah: I think I want a salad. <applause, hooting>

Bob: Alright…. Does she want a …SALAD? <ding! DING DING!> Yes! She does! <applause and music> Sarah, you’ve won! Tell her what she’s won, Jim.


Jim: Congratulation, Sarah: you’ve won…a SALAD!



Hope you get everything you want this holiday season.


It’s ok: he’s the landlord.

Did you ever stop and realize that although it would be perfectly normal on a sitcom for a neighbor to enter your house uninvited and help themselves to some chocolate chip cookies they found– more than normal, it would be cute and funny– that in the real world we would all call the police on such a person?

Go ahead, tell yourself you wouldn’t, you would be the one person who wouldn’t call the cops, right? Well, go tell your neighbors that. See what they do when you try.

Don’t call me for bail.

And so we see everything that is wrong with our human world, and how to fix it: we should live life exactly as if life were a sitcom, safe and scripted, always ok– and for its part life will be much more ok, and more fun, with less heart disease. Anyway, life really is safe and scripted– for did not the Almighty plan all this long ago?

PS: I haven’t watched TV since the late nineties, if that changes anything for you.

PPS: everyone on TV has friends — that’s a law of TV that helps it sell things.

Everything is about credibility.

Every decision you make, I’d like to say every one of them was based on information. But I can’t. So let’s do this: let’s say that you make two kinds of decisions, some that are based on information, and some that aren’t.

For the first kind, the decisions that are based on information, every piece of information that you evaluate when making your decision carries with it some measure of its credibility. It carries its credibility like a little rucksack as you march it around through its decision-making paces. Usually we infer information’s credibiity from the source; we also factor in how novel the information is (I know all this is boring, but I do have one small point, so please be patient). Credibility is incredibly important to us, no pun intended, so much so that even when we forget the source of a piece of information we will remember its credibility. I’m sure you’ll believe that I sometimes remember “That’s a good mechanic/restaurant/cheese” and I’m sure of that what I am remembering is true–but not sure who told me.*

I’m hoping I can hopefully avoid describing the second kind of decisions, those that aren’t based on information, well, hoping that you reading this will either believe in this kind because it seems like a reasonable description from your point of view, or that you will write off my including it as an exercise in logic. For these we use a different kind a credibility measure, you might call it internal credibility. For example, if you are deciding from the gut, whatever that might mean, need to decide when to trust your gut and when not to. If you are searching within yourself to resolve conflicting desires, you will assess the credibility of those desires in some way. ‘Do I really want to a hotdog? Or do I really not want to eat anything?’

Just as a side note, at this point I should mention that when we decide something is credible, that doesn’t mean that we act upon it. I might really want a hot dog; I might decide that I really do. But then I might still choose not to have one. Credibility is not the sum total of our decision-making. But it is part of every part of our decision-making.

Three names I enjoy

So now I’ll try to make my small point? For any of us who are there for interested and improving our minds, improving the quality of our decisions, improving the quality of the decisions for the minds of others, we would find no better place to put our efforts that in the improvement of the ability to assess credibility.

Have you ever thought about that before it all? About trying to get better at determining how credible a piece of information or an idea is? How would you learn this? Outside of your corporate anti-phishing training, how would you teach it? Are there algorithms for it? What would they look like? How do we learn what we already know about it? There’s this guy Peter Morville; he wrote a book called Ambient Findability back in 2005, and in the book he says but the more interconnected our world becomes, the more important our very human ability to assess credibility becomes. I’m paraphrasing. I think he said that. I think he said that. I think he wrote in a book, actually. And the book was published by a reputable publisher, O’Reilly I think it was?

I’m hesitating to write any more of this, because each subsequent idea is more complicated, and it will become too complicated to finish and too complicated to publish. But I’m sure the way that you assess credibility has nothing to do with what you think it has to do with.

So on one level, that’s kind of a useless level, one thing I’m suggesting here is that you promote credibility from being just an extra variable that is carried around, did you make it a first class citizen in your own thinking protocols, by bringing your conscious thought to bear upon it, rather than just letting it color everything. I’m hoping the math is actually simpler that way. :)

But I do like to finish these off with some very practical advice. So along those lines I’ll say, try imagining that you are speaker of each statement you hear, that you wrote the article, you designed the advertisement, any of it. Put yourself in their shoes and picture yourself saying what they are saying. This will suck, for a second, because it makes your thinking slow down a lot! Consciously imagining the other person’s perspective is a lot of extra information, compared to what you’re used to thinking about. Also, being suspicious makes us think more slowly. So prepare yourself for some discomfort, but give it a shot. You can practice with this if you want, and after even a short time you’ll start to feel your thinking adjusting. You are tuning the system in your mind that assesses credibility, and you might find that your attitude about many things changes dramatically. I apologize if you find out anything that you didn’t really want to know.

And I apologize for how horribly written this is! Congratulations on making it to the bottom. Better to write than not to write.

*What you might not believe is how we assess credibility. More on that later.

Heart to heart

Do you pray?… No, do you?… That’s not right. You should pray! … Who me? … Why don’t you pray? … That doesn’t matter. We’re talking about you. … Oh! We’re talking about me! That’s very exciting. … I bet you do pray. I bet you do and you’re just not saying so. … I can’t say so! I’m laughing too hard!

So I’m right, then? You do pray?… No, I don’t! I don’t! Don’t you tell anyone that I do! … Stop laughing! This is serious. You’re almost lying. … I can’t help it. I can’t help laughing. You’re too much fun. But let’s be serious, now, if you want to be serious. … I want to be serious! Do you pray or don’t you?… I sortof pray. … You can’t sortof pray. You either do or you don’t! … No, I sortof do. … Like sometimes you forget?… No…

No?… No, I never forget. … You never forget to pray? … That’s right. … So you never forget, you always remember to pray? You can laugh, go ahead. … Yes, you got me! I always remember to pray, but please! … Please what? What is it? … Please, don’t tell anyone. … Why not? … Oh, I don’t know. They won’t understand. They’ll think I’m silly. … You are silly. And you always tell everyone you don’t pray, but you do. And *I* knew it, hmm?… Yes, you knew it. You got me. … I win. … But you’re wrong, I don’t pray, it’s not like you think! I hate that stuff! … What do you mean, it’s not like I think? What is it? … It’s like, well, you and I, we are talking? … Yes. … And it makes sense, us talking. It’s not like *prayer*. … What do you mean? … I mean, we’re just talking, it’s normal. It’s not like talking to no one, talking to yourself, talking to some invisible spirit. … Haha, now you are wrong! I’ll be no one, and yourself, and an invisible spirit! … Stop it, stop it, now I’m being serious. …. That’s where you went wrong. … You wanted me to explain this, and now I want to too. … Ok, ok, I’m not an invisible spirit then now, ok? … Ok, so we’re talking, and it’s fine. It makes sense, to talk. … We talk a lot. … Well, you like to talk…. You too. …

Ok, so that’s what I mean, pretend you and I were together all the time. … I wish we were together all the time. … Me too, we should try it. … We do try it, we just can’t do it. … That’s right, we do try it. So pretend we could do it, we could be together all the time, because we had nothing else to do. … But you would get bored. … I probably would, you would too. … So pretend there’s two of me and two of you then, one that is the regular us, and one that is just doing nothing, just going along with the regular us. … So one me that follows you around, and one you that follows me around?… Exactly. It is easy to explain things to you, because we talk so much. … I wish we could talk more, but it takes time. … Me too, that’s what I’m talking about! Imagine we could talk all the time, because we were together all the time, and one of us didn’t have anything else to do, and we didn’t even need to take turns. … Ok. … Ok what?… Ok, I am imagining it. … You should imagine me hitting you with a pillow! … I won’t even! I’m too busy imagining talking to you…

Look, that is my explanation, and you knew already that it is. … You imagine hitting God with a pillow? … I haven’t yet, but I would if I wanted to, why not? He’d probably hit back, and, and, and, it would be like the most amazingly fun example of getting hit with a pillow that you could ever imagine! … Fine, fine, that’s what I get for teasing you! When I hit you with a pillow, it doesn’t even matter how I do it, it’s substandard, now! … Only a little, only just barely substandard. … Ok, ok. I get it. But look, I wanted to ask you something else, hey, wait, let’s whisper…

(whispering) Ok. … Now no one can hear us, come closer. … No one could hear us before! … Shhh! We’re whispering. … Oh, I see now, this is very serious. … Yes. I have to ask you another question, and it is very serious. … Ok, I am listening very seriously. … Ok. Ready? …. Yes. …. People say that when you pray, god talks back to you. Does he? … God doesn’t talk back, silly. That would be rude! … Shhh, whisper! You know what I mean. He says things back to you, when you say things to him, when you pray. … Oh, is that what people to say? Who do they say it to? … I don’t know who they say it to, but I heard it and so have you, so has everyone. … No, I never heard it. People always say god doesn’t answer when you pray, so they have to make up their own answers. … No, people say he says things back to you. He does, doesn’t he? … No, of course not! … No? … Yes, no. He’s way too busy to talk.

What? … I mean, he’s not too busy to listen. … But in your explanation, didn’t you say he said. … No, no, he doesn’t say anything, he doesn’t talk. He’s listening to everybody. If he talked it would probably be confusing, because he’s listening to everybody at once. And, like, doing stuff, I don’t know what, I guess. … Oh, no one told you what god is busy doing? … No, but I can imagine, you know. I haven’t thought about it too much. I’m busy too, so I just think about what I’m doing, but I think about it At god. There.

Where? … Not where there, just there. There. That’s it. … That’s it? … Yes, I think you understand what I mean. … I think I do too. God is your imaginary friend, and you just talk to him all the time? … No, you are my imaginary friend. God is god. … Fine! … But I talk to him all the time. I’m like, ‘Look, a cat, god! Cats are nice.’ And he’s like, ‘Yes they are, dear,’ or something like that. But I don’t hear him, I don’t pay any attention. … Because you are both so busy…. Yes, someone has to stay up late talking to you! … And sometimes you make breakfast in the morning, too. … Yes, and you eat it. … So you are saying he doesn’t answer. He doesn’t say, ‘Yes they are, dear.’ … Right, he doesn’t say anything. I was just making an example. That’s something he *might* say. …

Oh, I see. But is that praying? I would not say so. … You would not say so? … No, I do not think that is what people mean when they say praying, so I would not say so. … Ok. Have it your way. … But if you want to call that praying, we can. … If I want to call it, ok… Shhh, we talked enough. You always answer my questions. Goodnight. … Mmmm, goodnight.

I would have spaced this out and put each piece of dialog on its own line, to make it easier to read, but these two didn’t want to be that far away from each other.

Local attractions


Passengers, if you will look to your left you will see coming up in just a moment the longest continuous block of row houses in Baltimore, and I think maybe even in the country. Is it this one? I’m never really sure which one it is. There are three big blocks, and each one looks like the biggest you’ve ever seen until you see the next one. Now let’s count this one ready: 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 there are definitely more than 50, more than 50 houses, side by side, on one block. Right here at Wilkins Ave and Millington.

A friend of mine, who’s from Chicago, claims that the rowhouse was invented in Baltimore. I am not so sure.

And now the GPS is telling me to turn left on Pulaski Highway, which I will do if I must.

And it tells me I should go for three-quarters of a mile, which I’ll be happy to do if we live that long.

Already I’ve counted more than 20 drug dealers. And no, sir, you over there on the bicycle, you don’t count.

Why do I ever to cut through Baltimore? I love it so much, it always pulls at my heart.

And oh yes, you are correct, it is hard to believe that this is actually a street, the way that people are just parked on it as if they’re waiting in line. Don’t make eye contact with him, we don’t want him to think we’re waiting in line! Boy, am I glad this isn’t Mexico.

Every weekend I’ve been cutting through the city, to avoid the traffic on the beltway. And every time it makes me nostalgic for days.

I like that phrase, nostalgic for days.

Don’t let him in! Don’t let– do not– fine. K just sit here.

Look at all these stickers on these cars. When you live in Baltimore you have to accessorize with the right set of organizations. You need to belong to at least one Arts group (“I play the boom box ironically!”), one Hands-On group (Saving Lives through Making Beer, for example), and then something political or eco-friendly. If it has “park” in the name, that shows class. “United” is cool too. And then everyone’s like, who do you volunteer with? Who do you volunteer with? And no one ever asks, why don’t we get jobs?!

I’m in school, that’s what you say. Even though you aren’t. You’re supposed to be taking one class at UMBC, and you never go.

One of the most impolite things you can do in Baltimore is ask someone who says they’re in school what they’re studying. It’s just not right to put them on the spot like that! What do you want them to tell you, that they’re studying a calendar, while they wait for their next student loan check to show up? I remember more than once I asked people who had just told me that they were in school, what they were studying, and they looked completely puzzled, like, what do you mean by that question? It was an adjustment, is all I’m saying.

Yes, that might have been the oldest Catholic Church in the world, going by on the right, and I’m pretty sure that was definitely the first library in the country, but no one cares. I mean, not the oldest Catholic Church in the world, the oldest Catholic Church in the country. And not the first Library in the United States the first Free Library in the United States. But whatever. Seriously, no one cares. I’ll show you some real landmarks.

Like Paul Laurence Dunbar High School! I Heard A Kid Got Shot There Once.

Okay no I didn’t, but it’s likely. So I could have heard about it. Even though I didn’t. What I did hear though, is that they have a swimming pool. I don’t believe it though.

And now we’re driving through the campus of the oppressive world-renowned Hospital. All of this you see was of course built on the backs of the people.

And all the other parts of them too.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist a little joke, but it’s no laughing matter. These folks are constantly pushing people out of their barely inhabited ghettos to build more Ronald McDonald houses and sh$t like that. It’s disgusting. So if you ever wanted to know what the enemy looks like, this is it. (If you can’t see, it’s a lot like an airport, but everyone’s wearing scrubs.)

They torture mice in there too. I have this from a credible source.

Whoops! someone tried to crash into my car.

Now coming up here we have a Hotel With Some Whores In It, and Some Garages People Probably Live In. You’ll see those on the left and right, make sure I capitalize them. And there’s a very depressing strip club. You can tell just from the outside, and they’re always hiring. And you wouldn’t know it, but here on the left is where they make those weird Cowtail candies, with the caramel? Are they sold nationwide?

I know you can’t see it, but further back there to the left is a hotel that’s been converted by the state into a prison. I heard the rates went up when they did so! Hahaha.

And that’s about it. I think from here on out it’s all junk yards.

And now Google Maps is telling me to get back on the highway. “Take the Moravia Road exit towards 95,” it said.

“I895,” it said.

Did you, Google? Did you?

Now how is anyone ever going to get to New York?

You greedy insatiable domestically owned corporation! I should have taken that job in Manhattan when I had the chance. And I’m never driving through here again, it makes me sad for days…I guess this is what I get for trying to dodge the tolls.

Unlike so many people, I actually grew up in Baltimore, which is why I know this song:


My mom used to sing it to me when I was little, and she sounded exactly like the video, swear to Pete. Her parents used to sing it to her. You can learn it though, it’s not that hard.



Hey, at least I don’t have to live in Kansas City.

Just tell me how, and be patient



“Sure, I mean, I know people can’t breathe underwater, stuff like that… but I don’t ever like to hear it, someone saying that anyone isn’t capable of something. I feel that’s a judgment on God; I don’t ever like to hear it.”

It’s that thought again

There’s this thought I have

I’ve had it quite a few times

It’s probably time to write it down

It reads something like this, in sequence:

I’ve become my mom’s/dad’s/husband’s/sister’s therapist.
Wait! Shouldn’t I already have been my mom’s therapist?
I mean shouldn’t all of us be a ‘therapist’ for everyone in our close family?*
Isn’t that exactly what families are for?
Really, isn’t it weirder that a paid professional therapist should have you take on the role of daughter/brother/wife, and listen for hours without getting annoyed, and offer understanding and a balanced perspective?

(And then I complain to myself about the state of America’s mental health, and mental health system, and mental health drugs…)

Yeah, it’s that thought. I remember now that I’ve written it down before.





*To the best of our ability of course. What else could anyone expect? Practice makes perfect.






Gakak! And now I expand this thought, in a regrettable way. Because I just realized why we are less and less likely to act like our family’s therapists for each other.

Because we’re more and more afraid our families are going to dump us. Because they might. Blecch.




I am unabashedly greedy. I just realized.

But what I should be telling you about is not any of this self-indulgent rambling, suitable only for a diary. I should be telling you instead that I sort of truly believe that Angels must love board games. What else is there to do in heaven?

A lot of good writing exists that will give you something, a new idea, A New Perspective, useful information… But I for some reason prefer to write in a way that takes. I want your best ideas,
your new thinking,
your effort,

not mine. It’s very disappointing that whatever I might wring out of you will probably never make its way to me, but still– for the good of mankind we could say– I find it helpful that you should be forced to think as much as possible.

Of course I know that everyone finds being forced to think distasteful, as we all learned this in school when we were taught how to speak and to right. We were taught at that time that the best communication leaves just a little bit of room for interpretation, around the safer edges of whatever is being discussed. Good communication, we were taught, fastidiously avoids ambiguity.

Be clear, they said.

What in the world does that mean?

No one bothered to explain. I suppose because they just didn’t need to.*

But I am not trying to communicate. I am here to take.** Each time this junk I post confuses you, it sends your brain into a fantastically rapid talespin, too rapid for you to even notice. Too many of these will make you dizzy and nauseous, mentally, and you’ll stop reading all together. But if I can spread them out, intersperse them with other things, I can wring out of you in 5 minutes probably more thinking than 5 hours television.*** And you won’t notice any of it go by.

And I’ll never get the benefit of it for myself maybe, as I’ve already said, but I truly believe that Angels recycle our discarded thoughts and put them to better uses. Wouldn’t they have had plenty of time to figure out how to do something like that by now?

See, I won’t stop, I won’t rest, and I won’t leave you alone until everything is the way that it should be. Every single God d*mned thing.

Anything that you are wasting, I want it for my own. Because I won’t waste it. I know where it can be put to use, in dark places you’ll never go to. So fork it over, Luke.








*There is a concept we will have difficulty teaching to machines, clarity.

*‎* Which is perhaps why some of my school papers received the grade ‘I’, for ‘Inappropriate’.
*** Considering my rate of pay, that’s approximately an infinite number of thoughts per dollar. Snort.


(I played 65-point three-letter word ‘COG’. That’s a new record for me. This phone is great.)

Want to hug?


Here kids, here’s something you can read in English class and hate while your English teacher swoons about how special it is. It’s just a story about how one time I was in New Orleans, I was hanging out with this bum, just talking on the street, and this other bum came up and they started arguing not really over anything, they just had this look in their eyes, and it was like they weren’t going to argue in front of me because I wasn’t one of them. And one of them says to the other one, hey man, give me a hug and the other one got right up like he was in a hurry, and they threw their arms around each other hard, and I realized it wasn’t the kind of hug like I’d ever given anybody, or like anyone had ever given me, but they were fighting, fighting in plain sight without anyone being able to tell if they weren’t paying attention, because inside that hug they were pushing that each other and squeezing as hard as they could, and eventually one of them lost control and picked the one I had been talking to up off the ground and slammed him down on the step so that his back cracked on the edge of it. And that’s when I decided I should call the police, and I did, just sitting there on the other end of that very same step I called the police, I dialed nine-one-one, and I told them everything that I just told you, except for the part about the hug because it seemed like that would take too long to explain.

And the lady on the other end of the line, she didn’t sound real worried at all, she said where are you and I told her and she said where they and I told her that too and she said describe the man who picked the other man up, and so I described him, I said he was wearing a green corduroy jacket and that he had a big beard and then he was about 6 foot 2 inches and I think I even might have told her what kind of shoes he had on. He was standing right next to me listening to me the whole time. And she said but describe him to me though, and so I said it all over again and I added some extra details about the jacket, which was unusual. But describe him to me though she said again and I said what is it that you want me to tell you? Is it something in particular? And she said no, just describe him. And I thought maybe she might be messing with me, asking me that question over and over again, but if so there was nothing I could do about it anyway, because she was already the police. And that would be a strange way to entertain yourself, asking someone a question over and over. So I kept describing him as best as I could, I told her he had sort of larger-than-average teeth, and a narrow nose, and salt-and-pepper hair, but I didn’t want to go into too much detail and make the man self-conscious. I was sitting right next to him, and looking at him I couldn’t think of much to say about how he looked that was nice or even neutral. But it didn’t seem like there was anything I could say that would make the police lady happy with my description, and it wasn’t until later that I realized she was waiting for me to tell her what color he was, so she could decide whether or not she should send out someone to arrest him. Now you all can discuss what that must have been like for me, and for him, and if you’re really unlucky for homework you’ll have to write an essay from his perspective. And maybe you’ll find it strange how racist we all used to be, and discuss that too, and what all of this means, but you’ll miss the point. It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just something that happened, just like everything else, that’s all.





Out of the frying pan


There’s a period all addicts who recover go through, where they learn that the nonsense they blamed on their drug use was only partly caused by it. Maybe even only slightly caused by it.

They learn the hard way, because — voila!— no drugs, and quite of bit of that nonsense remains. Anything but a comfortable realization, that one’s unadulterated personality is far shittier than one thought.

No fun at’oll, as I re’coll.

But that was a long time ago.

The Lowest Common Denominator

How are ya, let me tell you something.

Simple, yet I think important, simple thing.

Don’t listen to people just to be nice to them— understand? Don’t do what other people suggest, just to be nice. Do you know why?

See- in the market of ideas, that’s a major inefficiency. If you want to do things well; if you want to progress; if you want what’s best for everybody, obviously consider other people and consider others opinions — always — listen, get as much information as you can but don’t let the source have feelings that actually aren’t. Don’t, for instance, follow people, because you want them to think you think they know the best way, when I know a better way— GO THE BETTER WAY.

The people will say nothing, probably, afterwards— you are going to get there first and you can just leave it at that. Or if they ask, where were you, you weren’t behind me, say: I KNOW A BETTER WAY. I can’t remember the last time I was offended when someone turned down a suggestion of mine, you know, because they had a better idea. SHOW OFF is what I’m saying; when you know better, SHOW IT OFF. Do you know why?

Because how is anyone going to learn, unless you show them? Because otherwise, the math is pretty clear, we’re all moving towards the lowest — FFFFF — the lowest place which we could be, which people often call the lowest common denominator, which is not an accurate analogy, but I guess in common parlance, the lowest common denominator does not mean the lowest common denominator anymore, it means the minimum — but it sounds better. But we just say ‘the lowest common denominator’ when we mean ‘the minimum’. Do you know why?

Because other people said it, and we didn’t correct them; because we said, that’s alright dude; I like you; if you want to use elementary school math analogies wrong, then I’m not going to correct you, because I don’t want to hurt your feelings, and now WE ALL SAY LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR. Instead of minimum. I should explain again why that’s especially interesting, but I just won’t, because I can’t be bothered.  Somebody write all that* down, and put my name under it. Thank you.

*You knew it already, didn’t you, so don’t bother reading. Whoops! Too late.




Little Baby Deer

The aphorism for today is — it’s so late — but today’s aphorism is: “You never know, the person you think is a demon might actually just be possessed.”

This picture is fake.



I was driving down the road and there were two baby deer; they were in the middle of the road; they were wobbly on their legs; they had their spots. Their mom was standing next to them, but off the road, on the side; it felt like this was a lesson she was teaching them; woodland creatures are very strict teachers; mom might have been thinking something like ‘here, you two; go stand in the road; you’re either going to figure this out or I’m going to be through with you; either way I’m looking forward to the outcome.’ And the degree to which people need to get a life I suppose can be measure by how interesting or not interesting that sentence is, to them. Woodland creatures are very strict teachers.

So, these deer anyway were standing in the middle of the road, and it was late. I am not used to being up late; I was very worried about driving home, it being this late; and so I was driving carefully, slowly, and so I stopped; I didn’t hit these deer. We had a short lesson about cars; it might have been a bad one; they eventually moved out of the road.

I was driving further on and I saw another very small baby deer that was just smashed,  in the opposite lane, and there is a lesson there, which is: when you are waiting; you don’t have what you want or you are not where you want to be yet; and it doesn’t feel good, because you don’t have what you want and you are not where you want to be yet; and you are worried that you might never get there— keep in mind that not everyone is a careful as you and that is not a good thing; that the world might be a better place if everyone did approach as carefully and thoughtfully as you do.

That taking your time, to muddle through matters and wait is the right thing to do, even if it makes you late. That we don’t see, oftentimes, the aftermath of other people moving so quickly, although we do see their benefits— we see that you have more money, we see that you have whatever it is that you rushed on to get, that we waited for and never came, because we were trying to do it properly.

We see the good of fast decisions; the bad is usually hidden. We don’t see the credit card bills; we only see the clothes.

And so keep in mind, when it feels like things are going slowly, that really you are averting crisis, you are preventing pain— that little smashed deer didn’t have to be, if whoever came down that other lane had had at least as much consideration for what was going on around them as I had, they could have stopped too.

We usually don’t see the deer we don’t smash, either. No one is going to give you a prize for being careful, but not everyone is as careful as we. So I’ll give you as much of a prize as I have, right now: I swear, the world is no where as bad as you think it is, sometimes; that the people in it, not as heartless; that it and they will keep getting better, because we’ll force them to; and not by forcing each other, either, but by, ourselves, refusing to be forced.* Anyway. Little baby deer.

This picture is real.


“Photo” “credits” “;”




*And perhaps even there is something big, that looks out for little creatures who stand up for even littler ones.**

**Or, as my mom says, just wait until you get to the afterlife: every single one of those squirrels you didn’t care if you ran over is going to be waiting for you there.

Having ‘advanced technology,’ apparently, means you just give up…

can you count the jobs?

…and harbor no expectations of caring, ever again.

(Apologies to IBM: they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.)

The Truth Should Never Hurt

I love Saturdays. Something happened, a few months ago, and I started celebrating Sundays earlier and earlier— I’m back as far as Saturday morning now. In a few more weeks I’ll probably be Jewish.

We don’t know that our thinking is wrong until we do— we usually say this this way— better thought it might be to say instead that we aren’t wrong until we know we are, that makes more sense doesn’t it— that we are right, to think how we do when we do, until that moment when we suddenly become wrong to. From that moment on we pay per minute, the meter runs— even just when we are too forgetful, too ignorant, to notice what we know— we miss out on what we could have, had we acted as we know we now could; what we could have bangs us in forehead like the end of a plank, too high to jump to, that we could be walking on. So even when we fail to notice what we’ve noticed then; even when we are too slow to grasp how we could be better, we are ‘told’ about it, again and again, through painful things, discomfort, bad days, and probably back pain.

We learn to resist change in thinking, if we don’t make it, which is strange to me: that over time with practice our minds should better block out what they know they need I can only explain by some other essential mechanism’s side effect; it seems reasonable that learning from repetition should be more important here; although counterproductive in this case, we can defend its interaction, embrace and bemoan it; knowing that it is there, suddenly, empowers us to wrestle with it*; this takes the form usually of acknowledging to ourselves quite explicitly that the length of time for which we have held a belief (a frequently crucial shortcut metric in our decision making) cannot be considered in this case.

Once done, this allows us to try on the idea, two or three times quickly, as one would each pair of sunglasses when choosing from a pair of sunglasses, for comparison with what I must admit I’m intrigued by :)— life without this belief, perhaps. It should fit, if we are ready; I wonder if they almost always do, but it only seems that way. If it does not fit, ok, we, just don’t notice anymore, and won’t even think to look out for the plank the next time, should it not come in the same form as previously.

But if it fits, we modify, and via this basic operation all progress was/is/will be based. We might call it the addition of the psychic realm.

And as we modify, we test— we learn to test better and better. One test I’ll share again is that the truth should never hurt; if it does one simply is living wrongly and needs to change; exceptions of course need to be made for partial truths, or truths told incompletely, which can do untold damage**, about which we’ll of course speak no further. But in such cases we can group ‘our decision to tell’ the incomplete truth a life lived wrongly— applying other modifications we should be able always to find a way to tell the truth without harm if we are not doing what we shouldn’t. When we find the truth hurts this is an indication, not accidental, that we are making a mistake, and the only good option is to as quickly as possible change our living until the truth is no longer painful, then resume speaking freely always. I hope you get a chance to live this way if you aren’t already: it’s the best.

* I prefer to wrestle with it in others. You do too. Not because we’re avoiding analyzing ourselves, you relentless calvinist—because it works better.

**A quite specific kind — I don’t need this footnote, do i? nope

Ok, this is not nearly funny enough. It’s not funny at all! old school blog– have to post though, no excuses. Missed everyone very much. I was very ill.

I felt left out

so I stayed up half the night looking at pictures of beavers on the internet by myself

I Changed My Mind – ready to do needs photo

We need certain things so desperately, don’t we? We feel I have to have that. Like cats in heat.


What do we really need, you know? Nothing.


I don’t know why, but every time I interfere, he said–

I don’t know why, but every time I interfere, she says–


It turns out like I didn’t DO anything.


Maybe I shouldn’t exist.


I haven’t done this in awhile. It should be fun.


We’re allowed to be bad now and then, aren’t we? (laughs) (serious) You don’t even know what bad means. Whoever I’m talking to, I’m sure, you don’t even know what bad means.


Oh, that’s true, when we met, we were really bad, weren’t we? (whispers) Oh man were we bad.

The first three days that’s all we were was bad.


Remember that?


No, I forgot! (laughs) No, I forgot about that.


It’s true, I’m not sure why I don’t think of it every single day. I should probably make a point to think about–right now! No, right now, I’m making a point right now to think about why I don’t think about it, every single day….no, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to make that point.


What did he tell me? He told me I couldn’t put a set in a set? Could you believe it? I thought, why don’t you just destroy the whole world! Tell me I can’t put a set in a set. Nothing works suddenly, thank you very much. How do you live in that, your self? How do you, seriously? If you pick up his stuff, you feel like — you can’t move. I can’t move! It ain’t right–I mean, right–it isn’t right. (laughs)


But this is the thing though, seriously.. Seriously! (laughs) seriously — you are not taking me seriously. It doesn’t matter how many times I say seriously, apparently. Seriously!


Seriously, what if — you don’t want to hear it, huh?

I like it when you don’t want to hear things.


(long silence)

Ok, ok, why should we have this much fun — ooh, because we were ba–no, no, not because we were bad! we just have fun. Because we’re good. Don’t tell people we have fun because we were bad! You’re so bad!

I remember that. I was really bad. But it was perfect.

I changed my mind: we were good.


Oh my gosh, What if, what if we– do you remember? I’m asking you now, if you remember.


Ok, ok, without a doubt, best thing that ever happened to me. Without a doubt, done, best ever.


Ooh, sometimes people are just so good, they are just so sweet, I can’t even say the things they say because they are so nice, I have to force myself to say what you said and what you said is So far.


(I let him carry me around some tonight. It felt great. We’ll see what the consequences are though.)
(And quit flexing your muscles you are not picking me up again!)

Be Glad the World Is Not Like the Mind

Put the pipe down.

Ok, don’t put the pipe down.


See, you almost got me in trouble, and you are so high that you don’t care!



See, it’s so nice when we get together; we dance.

We’re not dancing, you idiot. That’s me chasing you and trying to knock you down.

Oh. You never manage to though. We dance too well.


(He keeps trying to pick me up, but I keep being beneath him.)

(And I don’t even move hardly as much as a lot of people, other people, people that are hard to pick up.)

(And now he’s trying to trick me. He said he had already picked me up, and I fell for it.)

(So then I went over to where his hand was, to see what was going on, and he almost picked me up for a second. HEY QUIT THAT)

(Now he’s pretending to offer me candy. WHAT IS THAT, LIKE A VACUUM? QUIT THAT I DON’T LIKE THOSE — )


I didn’t pick you up yet.

Yes you did.

No, if I picked you up, it would be like this.

(lots of kicking and screaming)



Yes, I see, you can’t pick me up, see? This story didn’t even start OUT about you, it was about another guy. Who do you think you are? Never try to pick me up!








see, you can’t hold me


You b-tard! Give me that back! I need that! Oh, it is on now.


Thank you very much, I’ll be having that back now. No, I didn’t need the effing exercise! Go away! You jerk, I said hands off that–


haHA it doesn’t even like you, it’s coming right back. You shouldn’t have even wasted time taking it.

I’ll be back.

You can be back but look, I didn’t even write down your half of the conversation mostly, that’s how much I ignore you.

That’s how much you adore me. You just drink it all in, what I say.

Yeah, like piss.

Yeah, just like piss.

Neither one of us knows what that means.

But I have the good grace not to say so, at least.

Who do you think you are, Charles Bukowski? You can’t say piss.

Yeah, I know? That’s why I’ve been screaming ‘take that out and put something else in, I can’t say piss’? Make sense to you?

Yeah, well why are you screaming at me? I refuse to help.

Refuse to help, I’d appreciate it. I would be a huge improvement, for me.


(him) I am making a noise that is best described by the words ‘venomous silence.’

Lucky me, that you pointed that out…

…because you wouldn’t want to miss it, right?


That’s what..

Yeah, that’s what I always say.

I love you so much.

Me too.

Don’t pick me up.

I’m not promising anything.

Attributes of Thought: Stickiness and Insistence

a business presentation

The stickiness of a thought, how hard it is to dismiss. Stickiness is stickiness: it’s not a good or bad thing but because it is something that it is hard for us to exercise control over — if something is sticky it doesn’t really respond to out desires about how it behave as much as something that’s not as sticky — it can seem .. a little sticky.

I’ll try to give you a good demo of a good sticky thought.

I’ll take the veal skeleton.

.. Pause ..

.. Pause ..


Yeah, it’s still with you, isn’t it?! (laughs) It sticks around awhile.


Vegan version. Ahem.

Soy arteest.


Stickiness can be an art. All thinking can be an art. But I hope an example like that, which is not much as art, gives you a little bit of an insight into how much fun it is to view your own actions and speech this way.


What a shame that I have so many hours of things to say about how poorly all of this can be done — as the police follow me down the street. A shame to have those hours, if you think of beauty, if you think of painting, and then you think of sculpture, and then you think of dancing, if you think of poetry, if you think of music–

And then you think of thinking–

When you think  of the astounding beauty of the things you can intentionally create in the minds of others, through speech, through action–

What a shame.

Try to pick attributes of thought that are relatively static and hard to fake. I’m not sure what they are static for. But categories where the members of each category share the same values for as many of these attributes as they can: so I want to say that if I divide things up by how sticky they are, the really sticky thoughts are going to be in one of these two or three categories, most probably, and I know that those two or three categories are also going to have certain values for other attributes — attributes I’ve found really sticky thoughts usually have in the past: a certain sense of humor, a habit of leading to certain kinds of decisions which have certain kinds of outcomes; they make this much sense; they have this much validity, etc. and when I find a sticky thought, I can really quickly say “ok, into that group you go” and then I can predict all of the rest of these attributes. That’s the goal here.  And that way I can quickly infer things about the thought; as or before even I’m thinking it — without having to examine each thought and make these measurements. I only need one or two values and the rest are probably what they probably are.


Now some thoughts don’t appear to be sticky enough. We might find this is most common with great big ideas, complex ideas, that are not quite beyond us; discoveries that we are pretty sure we are capable of discovering, but if we look away from them they seem to vanish, or slip outside our grasp. Other thoughts are just lame, or they’re not interesting– they’re not that sticky. But some thoughts are, whether or not they are crafted to be that way, their nature is such that they get thought for awhile.

Sometimes you feel like there might be a little bit of cheating involved in thoughts that are sticky. Some thoughts self-promote. This is kind of frowned upon. I’m not sure by whom, but by someone. We think: “Here, I am an idea from your conscience and I will lead you to the right path in life, so don’t so that.” Or “Your best self says…” That’s self-promotion, on the part of a thought.

Thoughts are not, like Richard Dawkin’s memes do, in general supposed to think very much about how much anybody thinks them. Thoughts which are good enough to be thought will be thought as much as anybody needs to think them, guaranteed. So beyond stickiness then, we have another attribute, of insistence. Which is really a narrower case of a broader attribute, the quote-unquote goal of the thought, if you can imagine thought having a goal.


Insistence though, is a reflection of a thought.  A thought that’s self-promoting maybe could be said to be demonstrating a little bit of insistence, but that’s not quite exactly what I mean by this. A thought that is insistent is a thought that is making demands on you, rather than making suggestions or informing you. This thought says “Do this.” They typically make you quite aware of the time factor. Some thoughts are immediate. They require– they require according to them at least; you are not required to require it too — but the thoughts themselves require that you do something immediately. Often this is to panic.

An insistent thought might require that you exit whatever situation is causing the panic, right away. It’s not a suggestion: ‘Hey, maybe we should get out of here.’ It’s not ‘Maybe we can wait five minutes and get out of here;’ It’s ‘Get out of here right now.’

Insistence is a good attribute to notice, because, like lag, we can adjust for the insistence of thoughts. Beyond just using insistence to categorize, once we’re aware of the values it takes, we can correct for them. ‘Well, I know that panic is insistent, so I’m going to wait ten seconds to see if I still feel like I should leave the situation immediately, and if I do after ten seconds, then I will. Or I’m at least going to check and see if the situation is as dangerous as panic is suggesting it is before I respond to its requirement, because I know that panic is insistent.’

Likewise, some of the neatest thoughts we’ll ever have are just barely suggestions. And maybe this is me personifying things too much, but imagine if you had a good friend that noone ever listened to, the sort of way that he would act after he made yet another suggestion. He wasn’t going to say anything, because noone ever listens to him– he doesn’t say that, though; he pipes up– and then you dismiss it, because he’s that guy.  

If you imagine what his reaction would be, when you again dismiss his suggestion, if you could bottle it– you can sometimes catch yourself thinking just this. In the background. Sometimes maybe.

Well, fine then. Nobody listens to me.

When you are not trying to say anything out loud. Which is interesting.

Who is not being heard then?

I’d like to know.


So we can adjust for that too: we can think, Hey, there went one of those little suggestions I give myself that I never pay any attention to. Anyway, carrying on.

I like to imagine — I made this image of the pool of thought in the world, yesterday — and I like to imagine that part of our purpose here on earth is to maintain the pool of thought in the world, to make it clean, healthy… Wouldn’t it then make sense to reward thoughts that don’t put demands on us?

Well, you know I have this panicking emotional terror concerning my personal relationships. I think probably I’m going to listen to that right now. And yeah, of course, I could listen to Michael Jackson, do the dishes and go to sleep, I know that. But anyway.

It’s like rewarding the bad kid, in that case. Shouldn’t we reward the good kid?


You can imagine that — talk about self-promoting — thoughts that insist don’t give you time to process them before they demand action. What do these thoughts have to hide?

Well, can we think about this and then make a decision?

No, it has to happen now.

Thoughts that demand that you act before you have time to weigh out everything are trying to block out the competition. Like a guy at a bar who’s hitting on a girl, who stands up really tall and blocks her view of all the rest of the guys in the bar. You might ask, why are you doing that? I mean, if you were the hottest guy in here, you wouldn’t have to bother, am I right?*


So that attribute sort of indicates potential problems. Sticky is fun; insistent indicates a problem. Cheers!





Definitions: IDEA (If you understand this blog you’ll be able to make it more interesting, and simpler)

TV Turn Off Effect for Unity

All ideas are circles. Did you know this? You know this right? All ideas are circles. Did you know this?

Every idea is circle, that can be stretched or compressed infinitely by you. I don’t know of any physical substance that works that way.

I just drove by a mechanic shop operated by a guy who drove me out of a church. The sign under the shop sign says “KEEP IT SIMPLE GOD IS LOVE.”

Well done, sir. See, here is a man doing his own investigation. He figured something out. God is love. Love is God. He believes that, wholeheartedly; it’s reasonable, makes good sense, love is something we can perceive, the same way we perceive God. We can perceive God in the same way we perceive love. That last part he probably hasn’t thought about. But nevermind: well done, sir! (That’s what I say.)

An idea like any substance, under infinite pressure can be compressed to nothing, and under zero pressure can be distributed across an arbitrarily large space; like a circle, every idea is balanced; every idea has two sides that connect to each other quite fluidly.

But as you view an idea, you walk around this circle; you pick a point to stand. Or you say, hey, nice circle! I’ll wear the whole thing. Like a hammock. You can try simplifying it, to make it a little less cumbersome. But you have to be careful, because when circles get to small they get too simple, and all of a sudden you have nothing. You say, oh, well that’s just.. obvious, and you go quickly from obvious to nothing. HOLD ON HOLD ON YES I KNOW I’m TRYING to come up with an example ALREADY JUST HOLD ON.

“God is love” is a circle, right? With God on one side, and love on the other side, across the circle. If you drew a diameter, with one point on God, the other point would be on love. And you can make that circle bigger, as the thought gets more complicated, by adding other points. The love that we feel for other human beings–another point on my circle, a particular kind of love–is part of the love that they feel for God; what we love about other people is the God we see in them, and the God that we see in them is the love that they feel, and vice versa.

Around and around the circle,* and I can make it a little it bigger than that: I can say that community and being together as human beings is an expression of spirituality and godliness, because God is love, and we feel this love for each other; we want to be with each other because we want to feel that love, because we want to be with God, because we want to feel God, because God is love, so feeling God feels good, and we do what feels good, because we want to be in community. You can go around that circle in quite a few ways and always win: it is an unusual one that way, as I think I’ve demonstrated.

And you could keep going. You could write an entire paper on it. But you’ll always come around, whether or not you say so.

And beyond what you could say, this idea goes on, with aspects no one on the planet at this time can comprehend, and/or no one on the planet is aware of. That’s a very big circle. What God is, really–what love is, really? The combination of chemistry and something else, what is it? You can feel it, but what is it that you feel? You can think it, but what is it that you think? And it’s complicated, right? I has negatives, and positives,— and it must have some kind of existence, where? Point being ideas can get really big, bigger than you can actually comprehend– they go on — they do this all day actually, emanating out from us. We can feel them doing it, but usually don’t pay attention, being used to letting go when they reach a certain size.

You can shift ideas in the other direction, inward; you can make them very small. You can say God is Love– God good, love good — Good good — Good —  Yes — Done. And then you’re saying nothing, suddenly, and everything. From Good is good, which sounds like nothing but isn’t, to Good, which has a meaning, to Yes or True, you can shrink this idea– but no further. Any smaller and there is no idea. And from these small ideas you can expand: from Yes or True you can expand into almost anything.

Maybe this is why they say in the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.

Several years ago I had to learn that tautology is an important and valid part of thinking, just like paradox. Now it’s your turn, maybe.

Sometimes when you are thinking about something complicated and you go to simplify it, if you are high on marijuana especially**– suddenly the idea shrinks down to nothing and you comprehend everything, but just as a single point, like Yes or True or an imaginary humming noise. At these times we must remind ourselves, ok, I need to remember the evidence, the experience, the fact — that was holding the circle open. That people like to be community, for instance. Otherwise the world jus gets too darn beautiful to make any sense of. A fact though can stretch the circle to a size that can accommodate it and the other facts.

Or we can just hum, Yes, and feel the entirety of it, of every idea that there is contained in this one that we are thinking.

Anyway, ideas.


* o as circles go this is small one

** which I never am. a nice cold glass of lemonade is plenty good enough for me, thank you, no really, you are too kind, is there more?

Seminary Student Gets Help with Forgiveness

defense of divine

Are you ready to scrape the accumulated garbage off of whatever this is and see what might be left? No? Me neither. Let’s just look at the garbage first.

22 January 2017

Xxxxxxxxx  Xxxxxxxxxxxxx

PSTH 506 – The Church at Worship: Preaching

Assignment 12: Sample Full Sermon

Text: Matthew 18:15-34


Seminary Student: Hi! Can you help me? I’m writing about those verses you assigned me from Matthew, for a pretend Baptist church. The other assignment was to preach Colossians to Episcopalians, which really gives you an advantage, Colossians being Colossians.

Seminary Prof: Hard to go wrong in there, yeah.

Seminary Student: But of course I had to draw these verses from Matthew 18 instead. My life sucks.

Seminary Prof: And it’s a tricky part of Matthew. If you read it, it reads like Jesus was in a really bad mood for three or four chapters.

Seminary Student: That’s understandable. (both laugh)

Seminary Prof: There’s a verse in there that basically reads, “You will show compassion to everyone, or I will kick your teeth in.”

Seminary Student: Heh. Can you believe that?

Seminary Prof: I know.


Seminary Student: (reading) Man that’s a challenging text!

Seminary Prof: Forgiveness is another one of these concepts in Christianity that screws a lot of people up. The ones who say they worship God the most, for some reason they have this strange temptation to act like they are God, and, um, it gets tricky.

Seminary Student: What is my job/responsibility/role in other people messing up? Just tell me.

Seminary Prof: Ok, good start. Try: I think in my life– screw that sentence.

Seminary Student: Whatever. How about this: who should I forgive?

Seminary Prof: Whom. Try: I think maybe it’s just my — oy, screw that sentence too.

Seminary Student: Phillip’s head, but this is hard. I mean, can I say, ‘Just don’t let anybody wrong you, and then it’s easy to be nice?’

Seminary Prof: Hmm?

Seminary Student: I don’t lend money; as a rule; for a reason; nobody ever has to pay me back–because I didn’t lend them anything. What do we expect of people, just from the get-go, that makes us think we’re going to need to forgive them? Like, a baseline?

Seminary Prof: Your mom has a baseline. (laughter) Ok. (coughs) It’s right there in the book that we should forgive.

Seminary Student: I don’t know about the word ‘forgiveness’ though. In the book, does it mean what we think it means? It sounds like it might be just about money.

Seminary Prof: I don’t know. I’ll do it, whatever it says.

Seminary Student: But I think the word is very strange. I don’t know. I don’t know enough about the word.

Seminary Prof: How do you say ‘forgive’ in Aramaic?

Seminary Student: Oh, that’s perfect.

Seminary Prof: What?

Seminary Student: No, I’m stealing that, that’s my title. “How Do You Say ‘Forgive’ in Aramaic?”


Seminary Student: Oh, before I forget. My translation, I think it was like 19:21 or something, Peter says to Jesus, “How many times–.” In my translation it said, “How many times should I forgive my brother–seven?” but in your translation it said, “How many times will my brother sin against me, that I should forgive him–seven?”

Seminary Prof: Both translations Jesus says, “No. Many many more.”

Seminary Student: But I thought that was hysterical. He just lays it out: your brother will always be a jerk!

Seminary Prof: If your’s is the right translation, everyone I know has gotten that line wrong.

Seminary Student: It almost makes it sound like his brother is going to sin just to make Peter forgive him. That could be in fun, or that could be serious.

Seminary Prof: In a way it’s both, I think. As we grow in — no, screw that sentence.

Seminary Student:  Over and over again with anything about justice and forgiveness, you get it tied to the words ‘Brother’, and ‘family’, and ‘clan’.

There are seven billion people on the world at least. If there are seven billion people in the world, am I expected to hang out with all of them? I’ll have to choose. I’m just going to have to; there’re too many and life is too short.

Seminary Prof: Ok.

Seminary Student: So if I have to choose anyway, can I choose based on how people act?


Seminary Student: I think we learn to hold a grudge against anyone who hurts us over and over. It’s hard for me to make sense out of a message about forgiveness, if it’s about people who hurt us and not just about money, that doesn’t also include maybe shake the dust off of your behind and go somewhere else.

Seminary Prof: What are you doing just now?

Seminary Student: That’s how you shake it.

Seminary Prof: Shake it?

Seminary Student: You know, shake it.

Seminary Prof: Shaaake it.*

Seminary Student: Shakin’ it.

Seminary Prof: Oh yeah, shake it some more.

Seminary Student: (shouting over music) Why should you waste time mentally grappling with someone else’s failings when there are so many other people in the world that want to be around you?

Seminary Prof: (shouting, shaking it) I think that’s actually the absolute best lesson we can give someone, sometimes: just to leave.

Seminary Student: I’m not going to fight with you; I’m not going to sink–

Seminary Prof: I’m gone. Next time you’ll think about that.

Seminary Student: We should all do that to each other!

Seminary Prof: We should all do that to each other!

Seminary Student: I don’t like the things you do; I told you I don’t like them…

Seminary Prof: …you are still doing them….

Seminary Student: Good bye!

Seminary Prof: Really? (music ends) Good song.

Seminary Student: How much better would the world be if I had to meet my own standards, and yours?

Seminary Prof: Right, but isn’t it that world?

Seminary Student: No, we think we’re helpful. We try to fix people.

Seminary Prof: So if we didn’t …

Seminary Student: Didn’t help mean people.

Seminary Prof: Say we all made a pact. Just now.

Seminary Student: That anyone mean should go.

Seminary Prof: They can come back when they’re nice?

Seminary Student: Jesus did it. He shook it.

Seminary Prof: Yes. He told other people to shake it too.

Seminary Student: There’s only so much of you and there’s a lot of world, and a lot of people in it. And it’s easy to forgive people from a distance.

Seminary Prof: (looking at watch) Very easy.

Seminary Student: Could add a story from my own life: “Well, you know, he was terrible. He used to make me pick his teeth, for him! I told him I didn’t like it. He said he didn’t care. Now I don’t pick his teeth for him anymore.”

Seminary Prof: Short story.

Seminary Student: Yeah, that was the end of it.

Seminary Prof: So forgiveness has these two sides: we get to make these choices, and we have to make these choices.

And we have to show others compassion.

Seminary Student: If you are busy picking some loser’s teeth, you’re not going to be able to show others compassion: your hands will be occupied. And probably gross.


Seminary Student: Well, you know, it wasn’t his fault: he just didn’t know which ones looked the best.

Seminary Prof: Oh. In that case, that’s just a reasonable request. That’s different.

Seminary Student: I’d pick the really big ones. A sign of strength.

radiation: Ok, I wrote it all down; I think we’re done!


Forgiveness’s actual meaning then, has changed quite a bit. Also added to ancient texts were some interesting ideas about reprisal, most of which are too childish to say with a straight face, but prevent us from ‘shaking it’ the abandon that we might otherwise demonstrate, or from shaking it at all; these “reprisal equations” have changed over the years themselves, but still lead us to excuse the behavior of others if we have acted badly ourselves. I insulted you, then you insulted me, then I felt I had to condone your insult because I myself had fallen short.

There is absolutely no logic to this; there is no pairing of moral equivalence; the past has no effect, ‘doing the right thing’, I suppose, being a sort of Markov chain. All of the shame and guilt and prolonged misery this [reprisal equations] piece-of-crap of an idea deals out has exactly the same logical founding as “You took my cookie, so I can take yours,” but read backwards, for even less effect: “because I took your cookie, I’d better stay here with you after you take mine.”

Why? Is our behavior any kind of moral standard? People say the Bible doesn’t make sense as a moral standard. My own life should be a better one? Our behavior being the rapid and often ill-informed decisions of a single thinker, the Bible being the finely-tuned product of thousands of years of life in community?

And also for this we use others lives: if someone else behaves worse, we are ok. As if only the world’s most evil person should be in trouble.

As long as you know you were wrong, in cookie-taking, your act should have no bearing how you react to another’s cookie-taking. If you think cookie-taking is ok, that’s different. But either way you cannot cause another human being to do anything, unless you have one of those transcranial thingies, so everyone else’s behavior can be evaluated in isolation. As can yours.


radiation: Luckily you caught it.

Seminary Student: If this sounds harsh, trust me that I could have said harsher, as I don’t think anyone can ever say “You made me upset” and not be lying.

radiation: Fantastic, very diplomatic of you, thanks.

Big picture, these dumb reprisal escape clauses drag the moral level down unbelievably: I was bad, you were bad, let’s keep hanging out and both be worse. Compare that to the trend we’d experience if many people choose by a different pattern: I was bad, you were bad, and I’m not going to associate with you anymore because I have standards. If you want to have standards, that’s up to you, and not my problem if you don’t. And I’ll work on not being bad, maybe after a few more people refuse to be around me.

So thank you, “FORGIVENESS”. For making us all misbehave and think we had a good reason why.



Seminary Student: I’d call it Morals for An Overpopulated World, except that makes it sound like you need another reason not to believe in reverse-revenge, other than that there is no reason to. The psalm stands alone, the psalm stands alone, hi ho the derr er er er O o the psalm stands alone.

*See if it repeats exactly it makes a rhythm and you sound like a cheerleader, so it has to be different, and yeah, I realize it’s not great; i don’t want to do the onomatopoeia either, no,  i don’t like it much– but when you have only one word to use and you need it to be different, what are you going to do. i’ll send myself to somewhere and work this out eventually, but meanwhile i’ll just have to put up with feeling trashy because the english in the dictionary ought to be plenty enough for everyone, no exceptions, except maybe mark twain, hater.





radiation got the ordination but still won’t marry YOU

The Very Traditional Relationship and an Ugly State of Mind

Let me describe the very traditional relationship.

In a very traditional relationship, the lady is responsible for caring for the children and the house and the men.

The man. Right? One. The man.

So the lady is responsible for caring for the children and the house and the man. And the man …. is … responsible … for … Hmm.


Let’s try it like this: the lady’s needs, on a daily or emotional level, are her problem, and so are his. Not the other way around so much.

So her job is to take care of him and the kids. And his job is to protect her from salesman.

Who might come to the house.

Because as the interface with the world, he would be the one to have to deal with strangers.

She wouldn’t have to deal with strangers.

So she takes care of him and meets his needs, and he takes care of the salesman.

He keeps them, … you know … when they come to the house he talks to them and makes them leave, so that she doesn’t have to do that.




Let me explain why I look so hideously ugly. I should take that back. But if you are wondering why my face looks worse even than usual.

It’s because I’m sad. And when I’m less sad, I’ll be prettier again.

But now being sad and having this appearance is a reflection of a mental state that’s sort of comforting to me. But it’s funny, at work this morning, as people came around the corner and in view of my desk and looked at me, they went ‘Ugh!’ involuntarily. And then tried to cover it up. (laughs). This happened all morning, those poor people. I noticed it myself, in the mirror, the past couple of days. Wow, I thought, that’s really a rough face to see. But what a beautiful state of mind it is that goes with it. And really the only one I ever want around: I don’t care how I look.


Photo: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2794871/one-three-spy-neighbours-half-people-surveyed-said-knew-door-leave-return-work.html

Aversion Part 1

This blog is a continuation and will make even less sense if you haven’t read Misplaced first.


Hi. How’s that? Is that better?

I’m trying here.


Aversion is not easy to control. I always think of that scene in Dune when that guy — he’s one of my favorite actors — has to stick his hand in the Gom Jabbar. Even though it is incredibly painful. Then he has to decide how long to keep it in there, choosing the pain, overcoming his natural aversion to it.

And this is some sort of demonstration of mental strength. The kind of thing I tend to find pretty ridiculous. But only, I guess, as a sort of echo of my respect for it: if we flinched at everything that bothered us …  I just can’t imagine that anyone is like that anymore. But that’s just me.

There are other ways to generate aversion. One can be offensive in the more traditional sense: if I could make part of your brain say the N-word to you over and over again, would you start to tune that part of your brain out? If I could make a part of your brain turn every bit of conversation into some childish and crude sexual reference, the likes of which you’d never heard and could never have imagined otherwise, could I make you tune that part of your brain out?


Also, there is — here’s a guy. He’s looking at a tree.


radiation: Everything ok? Are you alright?

Guy looking at tree: Yeah, I’m just looking at this tree, for the property owner.

radiation: Ok, I thought it might be something like that.

Guy looking at tree: Thank you. I appreciate your concern.

radiation: Yeah! I was thinking, I hope nothing fell on his car. It’s an older tree.

Guy looking at tree: Yes, the tree is in trouble and needs some help. I’m going to try to help it.

radiation: Oh no. That’s great. Are you going to heal it, or cut it down?

Guy looking at tree: I’m in the business of saving them, if you can save them.

radiation: That’s wonderful. Neat.

Guy looking at tree: This one I think is just in trouble from being so close to the road, the damage to the root system, and the lichen that’s all over it. Believe it or not, lichen used to be harmless. At least the lichen I grew up with, only grew on the north side of the tree? If you look at this tree it’s completely encrusted with lichen. See on that bottom limb, where it is all green? That’s all lichen, which is actually sucking the life out of the tree.

radiation: (At this point battling crying — you can’t tell, can you? I am also, as you can’t tell, wearing a towel instead of pants.) Wow. We had a tree, we lost it. It was lichen, and something– something else got it. And we cut it down, but we kept the top, the bottom fifteen feet of it, just as a memorial.

Guy looking at tree: Yes, a lot of people do that. (looking sadly at me) I think there’s a traffic jam.

radiation: Oh, this is – you can’t have a traffic jam here. It’s impossible. (This is a five-way intersection with no lines on any of the roads. The intersection of itself is the size of a small grocery store parking lot.)


A few months later what was left of the tree collapsed. No one was hurt much.

Fun story, huh? I entertain well while wearing a towel. (Always have.)


There are other kinds of aversion than pain and offense. In a place where your second language is spoken, you’ll find it takes more focus to stay in conversation than it would normally because your brain is doing extra work. That feeling of extra work is the closest example I have o what I mean here by aversion. Dissuading distilled. And you might find yourself tuning out — even if you are not the kind of person who usually daydreams in the middle of a conversation, you might find yourself more likely to do that, as your brain has a natural aversion to languages it doesn’t understand, and things it doesn’t understand in general — sometimes. If you could bottle this thought somehow, you could do quite a bit, by making others NOT do quite a bit.

Other times it has a real attraction to things it doesn’t understand. These things are ‘baited’ with a chunk of something that it does understand,. If you can link this to a thought that it doesn’t want, sometimes it will plow right into said thought like a thumb with a hangnail shoved into a lemon.

A classic example being the what-if question. If you could make the bottle the thought we think, the sound our brains make  when they haven’t figured something out yet, but are on the verge of it, that’s a bottle of something that it is very hard not to think, and even hard not to think repeatedly. If you have a question, and somehow also feel that you have the answer, when you don’t; if a thought could be misplaced in such a way that it feels like you do; then you will be drawn to that thinking that it is a natural when you do have the answer, that thread you pull, with the answer on the other side. Even after you’ve tried this a number of times, and found that there is no answer on the other side, thoughts like that are still hard to get away from, and can drive you a little nuts. But if you have the tools! of categorization! at your disposal, you can identify a thought like that as what it is, and fruitless, separate from those thoughts that have the same information to convey, which are not.

If my bottled version of this thought was in another ‘language’, for instance, than the one which you usually use to solve your problems, then after some number of tries, potentially large, you would realize that the bottled thought goes no where. And the next time it occurred, although you can’t stop it from occurring, you can identify it as a member of that group, and choose to ‘dismiss’ it – which I haven’t talked about yet. Nor have I listed the other 11 promised attributes that can be used for categorization. But right now, I need a hot shower.

Mowing Your Lawn Makes You Stupid

The thing about absurdity is it’s like a mirage. If you look at it the right way, it disappears.

There are a lot of things you can call thinking that don’t correspond to reality. You can go anywhere from inaccurate to insane.  The world makes me attached to the word ridiculous. Ludicrous is popular with me too. But both of those sound like a clock, like clock hands going all the way around, and I don’t want that. Inane, I think is a bit too nasal.  Absurd! That’s the word. Absurd!

So we all have things. (Let’s sing our way into luxury.)

Everybody has some thing. I feel confident with that statement.

(If I was out on a date with it, I’d feel especially confident, because I’d be a lot more interesting than it.)

We all have things, and many of us have the same things.

Us adults, us older folks, we have big things: we have cars, we have houses, we  have land; some of us adults have land that we own. We have large clothes, we have bicycles, we have kayaks; we have recreational equipment. And we have intangible things, but this is about things tangible.

If you were to go back 100 years, people would be flabbergasted at some of the things that we have.

Also if you were to go to other parts of the world, you’ll find people who would be flabbergasted to see so many people own the things that so many of us own.

These things, then, are luxuries.

Although they are very commonplace around us, although many people have them– millions and millions of people have houses, millions and millions of people have cars, millions and millions of people have boats — there are millions and millions of people who would never consider owning these things a possibility. And so we can call them luxuries.

I think as modern people, we don’t really understand how luxury items work. We know how to buy them; that much we have been shown; that’s been made pretty easy for us. But we don’t know so much how to have them. Let me give an example.

Where does the lawn come from? It’s a good example, because it’s a pretty ridiculous, I mean, absurd thing. It’s a big empty expanse of grass for people who aren’t golfing. What for? Who was the first person to have a lawn? And who looked at one and said, Oh, what a great idea, I want one too?

The lawn comes from England, land of the landed gentry. It was a nice sign of status among this group, to own land they didn’t need to farm. A lawn says I have so much land that I can just let this land be, and just look at it. This is where flower gardening comes from too. For the folks in that weird little group known as he aristocracy, demonstrating how much money you had (by wasting it) was crucial for survival. You had to waste it in interesting ways or no one would give you any more.

So these folks would also have peacocks and tigers or anything on their lawn: anything to make themselves stand out, anything to be different and fashionable. When your income depends a lot on the favor of others, showing them a good time they’ve never seen before is paramount. That’s crazy, isn’t it? And we still do that too.

And we still have lawns. But one thing we forgot, one thing that was maybe taken for granted by this group, was that at the time of the lawn’s invention, nobody could afford a lawn unless they could afford at least one guy, and probably more like ten, to take care of it for them. Back then, these guys became a society of their own—the workers and artists who take the land of the landed gentry and make it stand out—and then this art comes to America. It’s an import we have. And it brings with it a lot of neat principles, about visual effect and emotion; it’s difficult to turn the very earth into art, to make those kinds of changes well; the effect is very powerful, as you know if you’ve ever been in one of those spaces. Or maybe you’ve made one or two yourself.

There’s a famous vocabulary that goes along with this art, a prime example of which being the word folly, which appears in a lot of discussion of English gardens and means stupid sculpture (or really, anything stupid that you would put in the middle of your garden for fun, to show that you are a fun person). Look, I put this ridiculous thing in my garden! Isn’t it ridiculous? I mean, absurd? <snorting sounds> And now, look at us here in America, now–as I drive home, I see a lot of people have them too.

But they didn’t understand that it was a joke.

And they are out trimming around the folly all weekend, doing manual labor to preserve what someone else’s sense of humor thought was a great joke several hundred years ago.


Back then, you would put a folly in your garden to make fun of someone you had a bad conversation with at a party the week before. Oh Sebastian, put a folly in the shape of a rabbit, because I made such fun of Jim’s teeth last night! The point of the whole thing was to show off not your gardening skills, but your thinking.* Maybe we thought so hard that we forgot that. But now, here we are imitating it, hundreds of years later, and we forgot the part about the servants– made ourselves the servants, ourselves.

And so you’ll meet people, and they are proud of their landscaping—oh, look what I did—and it’s hard not to laugh at them. Because what they think is a status symbol — my yard is nicer than your yard—is really a demonstration that they are happy to work like serfs for no pay, without even knowing why.** Honey, let’s get an even bigger yard! 

So I’m driving around looking at follies. There are plenty: that guy has a some weird stone obelisk. There’s another one, a little ‘basket’ of flowers.

And a giant car. And a giant house. If you are a younger person, an event the odds of which go up everyday, you might not know that every room in a modern houses is much bigger that a similar room in a house built even forty years ago. If you try to buy modern furniture and put it in an older house, it won’t just not fit, it will look ludicrous, I mean, ridiculous, even if you can get it in through the roof. In this more recent past, fort years ago, perhaps people understood better how much more labor was involved in maintaining, cleaning —just having– a larger possession. A larger having.

Something else we forgot, I guess.

So we work like slaves to create the illusion of wealth—on credit, right? So I will work, unpaid, to create the illusion of wealth, having bought things with money that I paid additional money for. And the illusion itself is a joke that history has played on me. And that was a really great folly I passed right there: some flowers and an American flag.

People spend the weekends vacuuming out their giant cars, to make them pristine, vacuuming out their giant houses, to make them pristine; mowing their giant lawns, with tractors that they are then going to have to clean; in short, acting like servants because they have so much and no servants. Having forgotten that the people who were their original role models in having so much didn’t have it by themselves; they had it because they were oppressing people. But if we want to look like we have so much, we’ll just oppress ourselves, then. That works.

By the way, I should mention that we are imitating this same group when we keep animals such as dogs and horses as pets.

In Europe, far fewer people have lawns. And most houses are half or a quarter of the size of houses here. And people in Europe travel about four times as much, often for as much as a month out of every year.

It’s called cultural preservation, isn’t it? It’s also called doing what you want.

Do you think that’s because they were there, and they saw the original lawns? At least their great grandparents did?

I’m sorry, I have to cut this article short. I don’t have time to think. I have to take care of my crap.

*And your wit, in wasting your resources. This is what is known as class. (You’re welcome, Salman Rushdie.)

**Unless, of course, what they really want to be professional landscape architects, if they have a passion for designing with land. but I don’t think that passion is too common. I think a lot fewer people have it than don’t.

*** I appreciate your adding typos to my blog, only because God knows what else you’d be doing with your time.


Well, this should be fun. It’s about the reason why people hurt us.

People sometimes want to add things to your life they’re things and who’s to say they’re right or wrong? All I can say is what I want and what I don’t. It’s funny, looking ahead, and trying to see into someone else’s past. You can see where they’ve been. You can make pretty good guesses about where they’re going because you know the things that they have. But you cannot guess the have planned. That information is missing. It’s a secret.

All of us keep it a secret, no matter how open we try to be. In order to have a future you need to think of one. And to this, perhaps the most mysterious part of a different person, we are so blind that we forget to even look for it. We look at circumstances and predict a certain outcome. How is it did another can look at the same circumstance and predict outcomes so very different? They have solved the problem we have not. They have a plan. It’s funny, all we need usually to do is note that. But before I get into why that works, How hard it is when someone we love very much has a different plan, if we don’t know it. All conflict can be described this way: not knowing another’s plan.

Plans are soft. On purpose. To push up against each other and find the right form. This is possible because they haven’t happened yet; this can be easy; usually this is hard. The resolution of all this planning is simply that we love each other and so by definition we have to love each other’s plans; we always cook up plans that please the people we love quite naturally. You can feel this when you talk to someone, when you’re upset about their plans, as soon as you hear their plan. Immediately when they tell you what it is they’re trying to do, it’s as if they flood into your soul and through it. Oh! As a sensation of something opening. Fulfillment you might call it. Oh! Now I see. And so we go back to flooding. There really is the sensation at that moment like being filled with water, as if one were a low place or a balloon. Suddenly all of the helpful prospects of the other person expand within us, liquid with excitement and possibility. Wet reconciliation. Because we find those plans already were, somehow very much in line with our own bigger-picture schemes … ahhh. You were thinking like me all along. In some sense,  perhaps quite indirect, my dreams were also in your mind. And you are indeed the person I thought you were.

I had thought that you would solve this problems differently, are not at all. And I was disappointed. How wonderful to be wrong about this. I was only fighting, deep down, because I wanted you to have the best information. You should do it my way, still, my way is best–no, I just changed what my way is: now it’s just the same as they way you planned.


once you know, you won’t be at odds anymore

People are going to have a hard time arguing with this.

Tiers of Technology Part 1: The View from the Bottom

manchu pikachu

Technology is strange: it’s not for everyone.

It’s only for the people that have it. 

Technology is easily hidden. It’s invisible in some sense. You don’t have to show that you have it, to have it. You don’t have to show that you took it, to take it.

It’s funny, you can develop technology and still not have it. People do this more than they think.

People think instead about the problems they are given, and solve them, because that’s something else we evolved to do.

Technology comes in two kinds: the kind you can sell and the kind you can use. And there’s some overlap. But if you think about it, if you are developing something that is expensive to develop, you have one or two reasons to do so. One is that you can sell it, and two is that you can use it to make money some other way.

If you want to use it, then you probably don’t want to sell it—unless of course it’s ok with you if everyone else uses it too. Of course there are two ways to make money: the fast way and the slow way. The slow was is by just doing things; the fast way is by doing things differently from somebody else. If you want to make a lot of money, you make it on the differential.

If you think about everyday people, they have, they think, a lot of technology at their disposal. But they have to purchase all of it. Almost none of it is free.

There are tiers of technology; some of us live on different levels. But these levels might not be what you’d expect: I don’t mean an economic or digital divide: I mean that organizations have, or don’t, access to knowledge of different kinds of technology. It is not an even playing field.

It’s going to take me a little while to talk about this. Like any technology developer would, let’s just begin and see where it goes. It’s bound to go somewhere.

Imagine you and I are starting a business. We’ve incorporated. It’s not like we suddenly have available to us every technology relevant to our business, or even those currently in use. We couldn’t even have a list of them, not for any amount of money.

ex. Cameras: I have one in this laptop. It’s not the best, it wasn’t meant to be. It does a great job. Say you wanted a list of every type of camera currently in use. You have infinite money to spend on such a list. Are you going to be able to get that list? No.

We imagine technology as fairy dust, that is sprinkled in the air to make everything better. But technology is more like bearer bonds, printed on paper, kept in a safe, valuable only to the owner/holder. The distribution of it is not uniform, but forms three tiers.

The everyday consumer is at the bottom tier, at the lowest level. Your regular person, with less knowledge about what can be done with things than anyone else I’m going to talk about. If they want technology they have to buy it, and they can only buy what is given to them to buy.

Furthermore, their knowledge and thoughts about technology are really a work of art, and they’re not the artist. The everyday consumer’s knowledge and thoughts about technology are a carefully sculpted collection of mostly crap. At the bottom tier, there is fear. The bottom tier is all about fear. The tiers above try to manage that fear, and that effort alone is the reason why some of the technology we see in stores comes to market–just to manage fear of technology. Because if you can take something scary, and make it fuzzy, it doesn’t even matter if people will buy it: they just need to know about it, so that later they can assume that whatever powers it has been accepted by everyone else, and that they are behind.

This is how the higher tiers manage fear: by making people feel stupid. Well, I’d better say that’s great, I’d better not even think about whether that’s great—wait, I’d better say ‘That’s not even that great!’ And I can say this because I know all about it. Even though I don’t. But everyone else must, so I’d better say that I do too—and never be caught looking into it further. When you feel dumb you can see the emperor’s new clothes, and those who sell technology pull that off. They pull it off all the time.

Kid’s toys are a great example of this.

“Hi, this is my little owl toy I got. It responds to your voice and can mimic your facial expressions.”

“How does it do that?”

“Like this!”

“No, how does it do it? How does it know what you sound like?”

“I guess it has a microphone and a camera. It says on the box it is smart, because it learns what your facial expressions mean. So it has a camera and a microphone, and is smart-enabled*, and .. I like it! It connects to the internet sometimes, for some things. I talk to it. If I whistle a tune, it’ll whistle it back.”

“Well that’s so cute! I can’t think of anything cuter than that!”

If you perhaps think what’s cuter is that I care in the least that a young child has a camera and microphone that occasionally connect to the internet in their bedroom—

                          if you think that’s quaint of me ——-

                                              you’re proving my point.

No, I don’t have to think that’s ok. I really don’t. There’s nothing legal protecting anyone there; there’s nothing that says that toy is safe, in my book.

Children, you shouldn’t talk to machines unless you understand that you don’t know who’s on the other side of them.

That goes for everyone. Let’s make that the end of this blog. Don’t talk to machines, unless you are sure that you have no idea who is on the other side. Because you don’t.

*The opposite of dumb-enabled.

His Favorite Verse of the Bible

lady donning army helmet

You realize why we have to do these things, right?

I just had an email:

(eMAIL follows)

Remember America is a Christian nation.

My favorite verse of the bible is

Ephesians 5:22-33

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

(end eMAIL)

What a nice email! Does anyone have the latest numbers on how much the ‘church’ is submitting to Christ? I like to make sure I’m well within bounds. Last I checked said ‘church’ couldn’t even agree with itself, so I felt pretty safe.

The bible is so cleverly written.






God is Less Complicated Than Your Smartphone


I don’t actually have to drink this, do I? It’s too pretty to drink.

Goin’ to church right now, taking you all with me…



Lift God up!

Lift him!

Heft him up there! Heave!

THINK about where he is!

It makes you feel funny, doesn’t it? Makes you feel tingly in your legs?

You lift God up! YOU THINK ABOUT WHERE HE IS! I’m going to show you something different. Settle down. Think about your job. Think about the news. And hold on to that job-news feeling.

Not Job, job! Settle down, and hold on to that feeling.

Not the bad news, not what you worry about in the newspaper! Nothing depressing. Just normal news. The weather report.  Think about it.

How does that feel? It doesn’t feel weird, right? Should feel normal.

Now with your eyes open lift God up! I don’t want to see anybody closing their eyes to swoon. We’re not talking about any great mystery at this moment. I’m not sharing with you any complicated parable this sounds like a fairy tale. I’m getting ready to talk to you about a fact. And I want you to think it like a fact. Put your feet down into the ground of what you really are, what you really do, but you really need, and lift God up. I skipped a step there on purpose; I don’t have time for every word! This is important!

There is no more question then, about where god is, or about where you are. Is there?

Here, I’ll give you the answer: Where is God not? I doesn’t matter how you feel.

Do you want to play games and hide under the covers? Don’t put me under those covers! Are you going to whine I just don’t know? Are you going to tell me there’s no way to know? Quit confusing me!

Here little mind, look at this from my back pocket. Look at his 4-inch square-ish thing made mostly of plastic; if I ask, it will show me a picture of any part of the world.

Does it confuse you?

You want to go ahead and tell me how this thing works? How about if I just tell you, because I know what you’re going to say? There’s something in the sky, you might say. Oh, there’s something in the sky, is there? How childish! There’s some kind of system, you might say. What kind of system? You don’t really know, do you. Is that an inexplicable mystery? Or do you feel that you are quite capable of understanding every link in that chain that provides that service to your back pocket, if someone who knew bothered to tell you? You understand how it works, right?

Do you know how many different people, how many different machines, how many different events, how many different patterns, how many different equations, how many different technologies, how many different substances, how many different financial agreements, how many different laws, are involved in what you just told me you understand? You are so smart, you can probably guess.

But God is an inexplicable mystery, outside investigation.

How many systems are involved in God? How many different kinds of laws? How many different substances? How many different technologies? How many different people does it take to connect to God?

I don’t know, I’m swooning. I just closed my eyes. I might sway. Oh, oh, what big ideas. So big. Spirituality, religion, all of it. I feel tingly. What were we talking about?

HEY I NEED TO PRACTICE. I NEED TO SWOON A LOT. On purpose. Until I can think and swoon at the same time. Without giving up. Without going deep within myself and scouring the corners of my heart.

Without looking for extra trouble, is what I’m trying to say.

Here, let’s practice.

Practice question: Is God different from a cellphone?

I’ll let you answer that one.

Let the answers that occurreth unto you be also a lesson unto you. Was one of them, “yes and no”? Or “kind of, because in a way everything is God”?

Those are bad answers. And let me say that in no way is the answer not Yes. No matter what, the answer is No. God is Not a Cellphone.

You want to disagree, don’t you? It is not your fault if you came up with bad answers. You have been trained to think poorly about God. You were taught to use a special kind of very weak thinking in the God-area. And worse, God is hard to logick about, being infinite. That weak thinking is not going to cut it.


Try this similar question and see what I mean: Is orange juice different from North Africa? Why yes. Yes, I would say that it is.


Is it a sin to think about God the way we think about a cellphone? Are we morally obligated instead only to think cheesy things, like: Yes, I carry him everywhere I go.

How do you know someone won’t condemn you to hell for claiming that you can carry God?


If you really like swooning, go to a black church, once, twice, or forever? You don’t really know how to swoon until you’ve done that. Plus the music is good. PS: It’s ok to be late, but it’s not ok to leave early.

RAND Releases Excerpts from Notebook of Missing Psyops Expert Jay Seitz – ready to go needs photo

police looking for things in california

“The idea being to respond to the message sent as if it were a different one, this to frustrate and upset the sender– …

“Even when not thrown off their rhythm, a viewer of the practitioner can see that on their face their statements are self-degrading. Their efforts to create a false impression require sufficient exertion that this focus obscures the actual meaning of their statements and acts, leading to results that are often ludicrous—for example a practitioner might suggest that he or she, him or herself has a failing that he or she believes his or her victim to have or be sensitive too, in an effort to trigger paranoia in the victim, and fail to notice that what he or she actually has done is state outright that he or she is actually lacking this way…

“In this condition, it is particularly difficult for the practitioner to learn; their goal being to create powerful false impressions, these impressions must necessarily be more on their minds than the reality of the situation…

“Practitioners also create ‘pits’ for the victim to fill, by intentionally making counterfactual statements about the victim’s state of mind, in an effort to force the victim to correct them. ‘Pits’ such as these serve at least four purposes. 1) They allow the practitioner to predict what the victim will next say, which strangely is a goal of the practice– perhaps because it is believed this gives the practitioner more control over the subject. This belief is known as “thinking one is making a mouse eat cheese”and is one sign of early desperation as an interaction slips out of the practitioner’s control. Later signs of greater desperation are listed below. 2) They are emotionally agitating, putting the victim on the defensive; although one has done nothing that one needs to defend, a false impression put forward by the practitioner (“I’m sorry this has made you so hysterical”) requires defense (or appears to), as to let it stand would be tacitly admitting some kind of egregious defect. 3) They force the victim to question their own behavior with quite a bit of scrutiny, i.e. to stimulate them to question their judgement, particularly their judgment of the self, and those portions of self they use to relate to others. (“Wait, did I seem hysterical? Woah.”) 4) As a side effect of 3, the victim is to become confused, to experience difficulty evaluating their own behavior and the internal mechanisms they use to make decisions. In all, the practitioner strives to make the victim’s usual systems of decision-making appear to the victim as flawed, distorting reality. This facilitates the presentation of counterfactual information, and, conveniently, slows the victim’s thought process …  

“Breaking Concentration Technique: pointing out a stimulus or starting a story while the victim is in the middle of a thought…. Prevents the victim from saying what it wants (keep in mind that having taken on the interaction as a psychological battle, the practitioner must defend also his or her own psyche) and gives the practitioner yet another modicum of control over the situation. Also serves to steer the conversation away from things like follow-up questions or pointing out logical flaws that would help the victim establish a more solid mental footing in the conversation…. With repeat application this technique makes the victim more likely to “let go” of its own idea…. What begins as politely lapsing into silence when interrupted by the practitioner becomes a habit of relying on the practitioner to decide when it is ok for anyone to speak….

“If  it is not possible to get a practitioner near enough to the victim to break its concentration conversationally, this may be achieved by swerving towards it in a car in traffic, or walking by it while wearing unusual clothing or carrying a large or unusual item….

“Reverse psychology of course is a classic technique whereby the practitioner, when he senses the victim has a negative opinion of him or her, encourages a behavior that he or she actually wishes to discourage….


“Withdrawal of approval or affection: behavior the practitioner wants to eliminate is negatively reinforced by withholding communication or physical presence …. ‘Well, now I don’t like you anymore’ ….

“The Falldown: e.g. ‘I am hurt by this, what you have done’….

“Timing of stimuli to align with victim’s behavior, such as spoon rattling in a glass, simulating the sound of applause, to encourage a behavior, or coughing, to discourage one — (and we thought this went out in the 60s…)

“The ‘Performance Illusion’: a psychological version of the “double agent” story, in which the practitioner admits that he or she is knowingly behaving bizarrely and/or cruelly, but for a good reason, and suggests that the victim should play along… insinuates that the practitioner does not mean any or the things said or done, but has executed such things only to create a false impression in a third, imaginary party, or as a ‘test’ or ‘lesson for’ the victim, the practitioner, or something else of value…. an important larger issue is at stake, such as the victim’s safety, consideration for some esteemed or privileged role, or a secret method for imparting important information….

“His attempts to confuse with language for example, to frustrate by refusing to provide requested information, or to by speaking in a tangle of words … these has has been alternatively able to present as humor—all of these are considerably without spirit at this point….

“Congrats You Won: a later stage sign of desperation, but does not indicates that the practitioner has finished…. Rather the effort is to soften the psychology of the victim, (to the upside of the classic yo-yo swing), and to restore him or her in the victim’s opinion. Enables the practitioner to proceed with further techniques which are precluded by the victim’s current negative opinion of the practicer, from ‘below’ as it were. False rewards may also be promised or hinted at.

“I need not point out that the twisted goal of the practitioner will always lead him or her to “hang himself,” i.e. run aground in the conversation, say things that are obviously nonsensical, etc. … Not just because of the judgement-obscuring (and psychosis inducing) focus the practitioner must maintain on the false impressions he or she wants to create, but because the practitioner very soul cries out in pain to see such things done to another. The victim, in this sense, has an ‘insider’ ally …

“This ‘running aground’ is inescapable IF a) the practitioner is given sufficient space to act and b) the victim consistently remains calm and kind at all times. This is easier to do than it sounds if one decides firmly enough in advance….”

“When in danger, it feels as though the very air were full of bad ideas … one should minimize one’s actions. Nothing is hard to regret. Stubbornly refuse to do anything at all if necessary to avoiding acting on suggestions from the practitioner….”


Shoutout to the cooler couple.

Photo from the Institute of World Politics. Everything about the title of this blog is fake.

America is Growing Up!

AP-Angels are working hard to prepare the world for the next beautiful epoch of human civilization that has nothing to do with the second coming! And they are in a rush!

“Act now,” reported one of these tireless workers. “If we can’t get it right soon, it won’t happen at all.”

It is still unclear what exactly soon means to an immortal being. “As soon as you can,” was proposed and received several nods from the group, who did not look up from their world-changing labors.

“We really want you to have it,” one of them said. “Then we can hang out and stuff.”

“We’ve been talking to people from the future who have been through this before, and they say it shouldn’t be that difficult for you,” added another. “That’s why we’re here to help, and they were have been.”

The first step is to make sure every single human being has a sense of humor.



Watching (Living in the worlds where you are not)


There was a theme I wanted to talk about today, and old favorite of mine, and old favorite of everybody’s I think. Maybe it’s a moral puzzle. People call it the Good Samaritan idea, but that it’s not really the way I view it.

I guess it’s the other side of audience, the idea of watching. Watching is weird. It’s a very strange thing actually.

When we watch, we’re not real, are we? How could we be, if the things we’re watching are real? One of them has to not be: I don’t think it matters which. But in order to watch, we are, and what we watch is not; or what we watch is, and we are not.

Psychiatrists call this suspension of disbelief. You either see the people in the theater or you are immersed in what’s in the screen. Either one is real, or the other–not both.

Of course there is only one world. And now I need a word.


Deriatives, I guess? Derivatives of the world.

There is only one world: the one where we sit in the theater, where the movie is made — but there is a derivative world, within the real one, where the movie is real. It doesn’t physically exist; it’s only in the minds of those following along with the story. Yet such a world has to exist, in some sense, just not the physical one. Otherwise there would be no story. And no reason to watch.

There’s a different derivative world (probably a lot of them, depending on how good the movie is) going on in the theater. The dramas of our social interaction, which are more real than what goes on in the screen, but still not completely real: derivatives of the physical world, not part of it.

You can test that these worlds are of a different kind, if you don’t believe me, by watching how quickly they change, how easily, and how invisibly. Should we suddenly decide that we really don’t like this guy, would anyone watching be able to tell? Would they see it? Would they smell it, hear it, feel it or taste it? Probably not. It’s a concrete change, in the world, that’s observable only to one person. Unobservable to anyone else. That’s a derivative world.

And so when we watch, anything, we need to either enter a derivative world not equal to the one that has us it, unless of course we’re watching ourselves–we enter a derivative world where we are not, in order to watch. And that’s weird! It’s kind of confusing isn’t it? It’s not a question of whether you should be watching; it’s not a question of whether you belong in that world; you’re not there, it doesn’t matter.

But how does morality work? In a world where we don’t exist, what are our obligations?


Derivative worlds, each just like a piece of code. I mean, I admit, in all of this discussion– and I think this is important to say–that I am very object-oriented. I think it’s because I like to agree with people, and I see what we can all agree on. The stuff like “There are two fists” and “Cher has hair.”

This has to be the starting point, when we try to reason. I hope that’s clear. Everything has to start with the physical. Gah, something that’s probably so meaningless to almost everyone but so important to me! Here is the world, unchangeable other than the ways that it is changeable, infinitely complicated, massive; not understood–so barely and poorly understood. Not subject to any opinion held by anyone anywhere. Such a big sky. Such an enormously big sky, and static.

So I also am object-oriented here in the sense that any derivative world we live in should inherit this physical world, am I right? Sometimes it’s going to be pretty far away; but let’s be aware of how far away it is.  If I’m writing a story, and I want to write it well, I’ll bring that physical world with me, or invent a new one, and those rules will apply in that narrative world. When the hero hefts his tea, does it steam? Some people have told me that this is the essence of good writing. I think they went to school for it. “How real does it feel?”

Often we import our physical world–if we want to. Depends on what kind of derivative world we’re building. Maybe you have ideas that don’t belong in this world at all, that break all the rules or have no physical description, even. But, still, they, thought of in a skull that in this physical world, and hopefully written on a piece of paper in this physical world, are connected to this physical world. I wouldn’t call this connection importing the physical world. It’s more like … nesting.

And this is where my choice of the word derivative makes a lot of sense.* The derivative world is not a part of that function that is the physical world–that universal single equation we’ll someday write down, maybe, right?– that equation that is the universe? U?

A derivative world is not part of that equation, but it cannot escape it.

It is determined by it, but it is not a part of that function. There is no point on that imaginary line U that you could pull out and say “here is a story I made up about a fun-loving nun who communicated with people by dropping squids on them.” That does not occur on the U graph–even if you say she had a hovercraft instead of a magic wimple, or lost the squids–but the idea’s occurrence to you does.

Or would: if this idea occurs to you, I can guarantee there will be a point on the graph of the physical universe to represent that it did. But no points for Sister.

And that makes it part of a derivative world, where YOU are the differentiator. You are in some sense a variable, slicing through this function, and you are not just one: you are an entire infinite set of them.

I’m trying to say that you have options.


But that function can’t be escaped. Now I like to have another such function too. I believe it is more fundamental: maaaaaybnghehhgngnlgnlgnl — can’t support that, back up, hold on, back up. Ok.


I do believe in another universal equation, that we’ll maybe someday write down. I don’t know how, and I just accept that about myself. There are some places my brain just cannot– it’s like territory where there is air that I just can’t breathe–

but that’s logic. Logic is a universe too. The way truth works. That’s what logic means. And it’s complicated. And part of why it is complicated is all these derivative worlds.

Wait! Did I misspeak or what? Part of what simplifies logic is all these derivative worlds. Which I believe function according to one logic, sufficiently complex to govern them all.

This has been my perspective on the Good Samaritan idea. Not the bible story so much as the Observation Puzzle that comes out it, of stories like it (no need to watch any of these to get the idea, so I didn’t make them links).

“Onlookers jeer as man is beaten, stripped and robbed in Baltimore” (2012)

“Two transgender women were beaten abroad an Atlanta commuter train as fellow passengers shouted at the victims” (2014)

“Mom beaten as toddler tries to intervene [and several other people watch or film]: Salem police seek assailant” (2014)

“Video depicts bystanders watching while Elyria man is assaulted.” (2015)

“Woman Beaten, Dies in Leap as Watchers Cheer” (2015)

“Philly man mercilessly beats woman for 20 min in street; video of bystanders’ behaviors shocks cops” (2016)

“Bystanders laugh at man beaten to a pulp in chilling video (2015)”

“Woman is horrifically beaten on a Philadelpia street in board daylight as a crowd of people stand by and do NOTHING” (2015)

So you see I’m not just waxing my beard here. However watching works, it’s a problem we have difficulty understanding, and the consequences of our inability to understand are very real. We have a hard time reconciling our take on it — i.e. “not my problem”– with the emotional reaction we have when other people watch us and don’t help.

Imagine collapsing in the middle of a Bed, Bath, and Beyond on a Sunday afternoon in August**, and then just lying there as people stepped over you. I’m guessing you will sense a disconnect with the well-reasoned “not my problem” approach laid out above.*** If you had a way to locate all of the people who had stepped over you that day later, what would you want to say to them?

I think in most of these articles, in a lot of them, I try to paint a picture of a mental maneuver. It’s one way to become more intelligent, to increase you arsenal of mental maneuvers, to better align your mental model with reality, which makes you happier. The mental maneuvers in this one is importing versus nesting.

*Hold on, I have to weigh the pros and cons of clarity. You didn’t know I did that, did you.

**Picked August for the image of lots of freshman dorm room linen purchasers.

***Your disconnect is not my problem.

Shoutout to the lady who came running out of her apartment in half-dressed to stop a couple that was fighting in the street.

And please do bear with me—no time to write well, but trust me, if I stop it will only get worse later.

Information is an intersection (Lame Investigations into Immorality Part 2)

NEW BLOG  Part 2


Let’s just imagine that you’re OK as a person. Then you screw up. Why would an OK person screw up?

Because they’re fundamentally flawed and deserve to go to hell. That’s the only reason I can think of.





picture blog ending


Yesterday we were talking about establishing a set of conventions for a particular programming language should be used and I couldn’t think of the word that I wanted for established and congeal came up and that wasn’t good, end infrigidate came up too, from the thesaurus, which means to chill — infrigidate.

Words in general have an appeal to me; the word infrigidate especially did — where’s the rest of my joke? It went quiet.


Next paragraph.


And so my co-worker and I were talking about infrigidate, and I asked, you know, How did it fit in there? And my coworker was quite up to this; and he said, These conventions don’t need to infrigidate, they need to defrigidate. He’s not exactly a fan of my standards. He said, No really, defridgidate them; I mean it.

No, my natural response would be to say defridgidate isn’t a word, so you only get so many points for that. But I guess that’s just a comment.




Language is my jungle gym. Look, I’m over here; no, I’m over there. I’m over here  now! Whee!

It’s like a multi-level super-fun playground, language. If you hang out enough, you can learn to run-around on multiple levels at once — hey.

No playground like that other that language, that I know about.

I’m swinging —- into a parking space.

See there’s rhythm, and there’s meaning, and there’s meaning-meaning; there’s the sounds and the slipperiness….


There are two other ways that we talk ourselves into being immoral besides wit. One is I did it already and so it’s done aka I should have known.

I didn’t know when I did it the first time that I shouldn’t have, I didn’t realize, maybe I should have known, I should have known, I should have known, I should have known, I should have known, I should have known, I should have known I should have known! I should have known! I, I did it, I already did it already, and I should have known, and though I should have known, OH WOAH NO, (disgustedly) I did it again.

Because if I should have known, then knowing doesn’t change anything. Does that make sense? I will explain.

So let me point this out: you shouldn’t have known. If you should have known, you not only would have known, you would have recalled that you knew at the time that you needed to.

Did you? It’s a serious question. You’d remember. Dilemmas tend to stand out:

Oh man, should I do this? Should I not….  there’s a lot of good reasons why I shouldn’t, and … knowing all of them now … I’m going to do it anyway.

I call it charging on, just personally. I’m going to charge on.

So you either will or won’t have memories of a dilemma.

  • -If you have memories of a dilemma, you are not going to feel like you should have known because you’ll know that you knew.
  • -If you don’t have memories of a dilemma, it’s because you didn’t have one, and then you didn’t know, did you.

In neither case should you have known. It’s pretty strange to think that you should have known, because I’m not sure how you would have known.

Perhaps you forgot.

Okay sure, someone told you before, but at that moment you forgot. Should you have known things that you forgot? How?

What are you going to do take a whip and somehow access your subconscious? Remember this next time I’m in trouble, darm you! Well that sounds like a good idea, try it: but you can’t go back in time and do it now can you?


THAT WAS BLOG Forgiveness der Vergessenheit. (It’s German). 


So, if you didn’t have one of those dilemmas, and you’re screaming at yourself about how you should have known, you didn’t know because you forgot, but now you do. And next time you will have that dilemma.

And then if you charge on, and screw up again, what you’ll say is: I knew I shouldn’t have done that, I knew, I knew, I freaking knew, I knew, I knew, I knew, I knew I shouldn’t have done that except you’ll probably only say it once.

Information is an intersection. You can’t turn before you come to it.

But it’s okay, there are a lot of roads that go to the same places.




Apparently I just said something important. I have no idea what it was, but I said it’s important afterwards .





NEW BLOG  Part 2

Let’s just imagine that you’re OK as a person. Then you screw up. Why would an OK person screw up?

Because they’re fundamentally flawed and deserve to go to hell. That’s the only reason I can think of.


NEW BLOG  Part 3

Do you think it’s possible maybe that they didn’t just forget? If, had they remembered, if someone walked up to them at that moment, and said, Um, no one’s going to like that if you do that, or that’s not your coffee, radiation; that’s someone else’s coffee, is it possible that they might have done something completely different?

Or, as vile sinners, would they have charged on? I don’t think so! Okay people screw up! Because they forget. Or because they just don’t know.

Wait, that’s not my coffee? Really?

Really? Where did it come from? I’ve been alone in here for three days.

I guess from now on I’ll just have to label everything. Huh.

And I guess I also have to say that a person, throughout that entire process is still ok, at every point in it. We know when we really screw up. We feel it. Maybe if you’re psychotic you don’t, but if you wake up and you say, I’m not going to work today: screw it!, you know what you’re doing. (turning into office parking lot) Nobody needs to tell you. With this magic marker. From now on, I’m going to label my cup. Just my cup. Because I don’t care if you drink mine or not– I just want to know which one is mine. Next time.

I’m talking about something. What am I talking about? I’m still alive. That’s what I’m talking about.

The Utopian Flu

Let’s see what can be done about something. I had started to write a, um, sentence —

Personal property! What could be finer! What could be miner!

Now and then, and now and then I get a little tinge of longing, a little bit of utopian what-do-you-call-it, it’s like the utopian flu? Do you ever get the utopian flu? It comes and goes. There’s nothing you can do to treat it. It comes and goes, in about twenty-four hours usually. But it’s really fascinating, really great, very interesting really — and if you talk about it, it makes it worse.

It’s better to just keep it to yourself, try not to spread it around.

So, the utopian flu. I think most people have had it. They’re up to here with it. You start thinking about how things would be if they were different. How would things be if they were different? Hmmmmm.

Different, I suppose!


Yes, yes, don’t you see! That’s what I’m trying to say. Think of how different things would be.

Yes! I see what you mean now! How different things would be if they were different.


It’s nothing to get alarmed about, though, the utopian flu. It works itself out. You get distracted, by whatever, and go about your business. I try to like learn though. It’s true, I was told, that there are only about 400 different colds: 400 different cold-bearing viral bacteria germs, that exist. Total. At all. And so you’ll probably have only about 400 colds in your lifetime, max.

That doesn’t sound like as many when you think about, but that’s five a year. Five colds a year is a lot. But the thing about there only being a finite number of colds is that you can only get each cold one time, and then you are immune to it. You have to get a different cold next time. You can’t really get the same cold twice.

People say, This makes no sense, because I’ve lived with people and had a cold, and I gave them the cold, and then I got it back, and I swear it was the same exact cold it had the same exact symptoms, and to them I say, Take it up with the crazy guy who told me this. I agree with you, it doesn’t make sense to me either. It’s a very hopeful idea though, isn’t it?


But let’s get back to the utopian flu. So what if we just didn’t have personal property? Just ever. What if we just never went that way. Wouldn’t that be nice? Everything is just everyone’s at all times, yay. Do you need a car? Have a car! Are you hungry? Have some food! It’s yours. No, we’re not greedy; we’ve never heard of greed; we never had anything that wasn’t already ours. And yours.

Can you imagine, when they make the first of something, on the assembly line? In the land of no personal property, here comes the first brand new amazing example of — I guess the leg-shaving machine is the obvious first thing that comes to mind. And everyone who wants their leg shaved is just waiting there in line.

line water: I think I might go thirtieth—on the first one. And by the time they get to one hundred they probably will have made two!

radiation: Well, why didn’t they make two yet?

different line waiter: What are you complaining about? You can’t make two until you make one.


Six thousand people are in the factory parking lot:

Why is he ahead of me in line?

He got here first.

Oh. Well that makes sense. (pause) Can I get here first next time?

If you want.

Well, what are you making next?

A beard trimmer.






PS: Why do bad things happen to good people? Because they haven’t read my blog yet!


Two – ready to go add audio?


I should do some thinking about the number two. I’m just not motivated to do so.

See with two, things get interesting.

In fact, two is where interesting starts.

There is no interesting without two. Two (yawns) is interesting. It’s (yawns) yshinteresting, really, two.

No, I mean, if you don’t have two, it’s boring. I won’t say it’s boring, because you don’t know what boring is

but two, when you have two—

You can keep yourself busy for a long time, with two. You’re one, and then the other. You’re looking at one, and then the other. Between one and the other one and the other. You’re not the same, you have one that’s different. One that’s like this and one that’s like that. It’s different.

You never get bored, I think, if you stick with two.

Hey, I’m me and not you— that’s why we’re two.

Hey, you’re you and not me — let’s make three!

See, when you have two, all of a sudden there’s something that you don’t have: the other one. When you’re one, you have it, you have everything. You are everything, so you have everything, you’re one.

But if there’s two, then I have to look at you, see what you have, and I kindof want it, usually.

But if there’s two, then I have to look at you, see what you have, and I kindof want it, usually.

I at least need to figure out if I need to want it, or if I should, and that’s going to require some effort. That’s going to keep me busy for a while. Who are you, two?

You’re so different from me, the other half of two. So unknown, so separate, two: interesting and separate. Am I next to you? How am I, in relation to you? How are you— wait, are you kidding me?

I mean I don’t know how I’m in relation to you, but do you also have an idea, about how I’m in relation to you?

Because that can keep us both busy forever.

Now that we’re separate, now that we’re two.

Two is doable though: it’s not me and a lot: it’s just me and you.

If you  give me enough time, I can figure you out pretty well, but not all the way because then we’d be one;

and if I give you time you can figure me out pretty well

but not all the way because I don’t know —  and

I’m going to have to tell you, if you’re going to figure me out, and that’s going to require me to figure out, and that’s going to keep us both busy for awhile.

See, I didn’t know I had to figure myself out, because there was no one to tell anything about myself, when I was one. I just knew everything.

But now that we’re two, I’m going to have to figure this out: not just who and what I am, but who and what I am and what portion of that should I tell you? Should I tell you all of it? I can’t. I already covered that.

So I’m going to have to decide what part to tell you and then I’m going to keep track of that.

Well, that’s a lot.

Plus I have to keep track of you, not just what you’ve told me, but also what I think you haven’t. And we have these pieces, all of a sudden, of public and private. And everything now has these two pieces  now that we’re, every one is two — it is the one that I see, and the one that I don’t. Now that we’re two,

everything is too, just like when we were one, everything was one.

What about 3? I’m not ready for 3 yet. I don’t know what will happen

when we’re 3 and two is still so interesting.

What happens when you’re not around? Do I feel like one again? I don’t! I know that you’re missing. I bet you think that same way too. I’ll ask you. I’ll never again be one! We’re always two.

What if I try pretending you’re not there? All I want to do is tell you later

how I did this, tell you whether or not it worked —

whether or not I can tell you.

Whether or not I’m able to make you understand, whether or not —did we have that before, whether or not? It’s getting hard to remember, what it was like when we were just one? Did we think about whether or not? I don’t think that we did; do you remember? You don’t know what I mean.

There’s a deer next to the road.

You do? You remember even?

There’s a lot more deer next to the road. Four deer, five deer total.

Six deer, seven deer, eight deer, on both sides of the road.

You say we never thought about whether or not. I’m not sure whether or not I believe that. You say that you’re sure. Well, I guess that helps me make up my mind. I think you’re right. We never were concerned — nine deer. Nine deer —

We never were concerned with whether or not before. We knew.

Do you think before maybe there were things we didn’t know, and we just didn’t know that we just didn’t know that we didn’t?


Yeah, that’s silly isn’t it. We were one. What wouldn’t we know.

Right, what wouldn’t we know.

What we didn’t.

Right, what we didn’t.

I love you, two.

I wish I knew. I feel all the time, we should be closer.

Me too.

We two.

Let’s do that thing where we hold hands and swing around.

I Like That Thing too.


I’m dizzy.

Me too!

That’s how it goes with two. Whether or not it’s good, we definitely get dizzy.

Whether or not—

Hey, this is good too: I’ll do that for you.

What? No. We still don’t make three —because now we’re seeing how you

can take things from me.

It’s a novelty.

Where did that go? Is it coming back?

Coming back?

Yes, is it coming back?

What from me?

Yes from you.

That was fun; let’s do it again.

This time, I’ll take too. Now you ask me, is it coming back?

No, I won’t ask you.

Well, I’ve taken it whether or not you ask.

I know.

You’re not going to ask, are you? You don’t have to.

I have to—

ahaha  no you don’t. I took them. So you don’t have to!

That’s right, I don’t.

That should keep us busy for a while too.

Will you?

I don’t know. I still don’t have to.

What if I give you two back: here.

Okay, I will.

Well that was fun.

I know— it was.

Will you do it again?

I don’t know. Do I want to?

There’s a tenth deer.

Do you want to?! I don’t know! Because I’ve asked, now you don’t know?


You don’t know, if you want to?


Will how will you decide?

Wait— you’re going too fast! I just decided I don’t know. I don’t know, because you asked me, if I would do it again.

Live-action Christmas Niggle (Live Action)


I am trying to get excited about Christmas the holiday. I’m not.

I mean, it’s going to be a good time, but there’s a puzzle–


O THIS IS FUN! LET’S THINK LIKE THIS!– there’s a puzzle to it. (sings) Christ-mas-Puzz-le. What is this puzzle? A lot of times if we are trying to expand our thinking, we can make a lot of progress out of figuring out not the answer to a puzzle, but what the puzzle is. Answering them is easy.

So there’s just a sensation, it’s just a vibration, it’s just a feeling, just a kind of HUM in your mind…it’s a niggle. People call it a niggle. I call it a niggle, and I’m people. So what is this niggle? Does anyone else have a niggle? Let’s talk about in detail how to dig through a niggle.


  1. The thing about digging through a niggle number one is be gentle. You don’t want to go to your niggle HEY WHAT ARE YOU ALL ABOUT and start trying to give it categories and lump it into them, because you will mess your niggle up. Niggles are really very special, brilliant kinds of thoughts– but you have to leave them as they are.
  2. Basically, a niggle is a thought that’s in a ‘language’ other than the language you think in. (‘I’m using language loosely, but it applies.’) So there is meaning to the niggle already, exactly as you are feeling it. IT’S telling you everything YOU need to know, it’s just that you don’t understand it because of the way that it’s being presented to you. The ‘words’ of the niggle don’t need to be changed–you just need to learn to understand each one.
  3. So don’t mess with your niggle, because it will run away. Ok, it won’t run away– it will just break. It’s ok if it breaks because it will come back probably, but it might take some time. It might come back a year later or a month later or a week later: if it is important it will be back. But you don’t want to break it, if you are trying to figure out what it is.
  4. Niggles tend to have a pitch. For me, for everyone, thoughts are on frequencies, like musical pitches. So your niggle is on either a low note like a boat horn, or a high note, like worry, like screeching tires.  Or something like that. Waves on a beach, maybe.
  5. My best niggles, the ones that I like — I can’t believe I have latched onto this word. I apologize for latching onto a double-G word — but this thought that I am looking at, it’s like a, a.. a , um.. Maybe it doesn’t like being called a niggle and feels it’s above such a silly name .. it’s like a, a, .. um.. The point was that these are hard to figure out, so this is ok.. It’s like a, an, eehhhhh. That’s where the best ‘thoughts’ (niggles) come from, in my opinion, from that tone right there: eehhhhh. Eehhhhhh. What is that thought about? Christmas. Christmas and what?
  6. This niggle is a question; it requires an action. How did I figure that out? Well, I’m just thinking around the niggle, thinking different things about it that I feel I can be sure are true. These things won’t explain it, or tell me what I want to know about it, but they will lead me to the explanation. So even though they don’t seem like much help I think them. Have to remember not to change any of the thinking, but I don’t know what it is, so I can only pull off very little things to think about it.
    So this one: good tone, you know, very gentle, you know, I’m worried, you don’t need to do anything about it, I’m not saying that I’m worried, but there is a situation that’s on my mind, and it’s very very, of course you’d want to be gentle with a thought like this, it’s so very very gentle with you! It’s not a worry, it’s not a plan or a command, it’s not a you’d better, like an admonition– it’s really hard to say what it is. There’s some information there: there’s a way that things could go that could be quite nice, were one to go that way.. ? And really one would feel better, one could avoid some trouble….There’s a nice way to go if one wants to go that way…. Hmm. Eehhhhh…. Christmas…. .
  7. Then you can look for an emotional handle to your niggle, something maybe goofy but still true, appeal to it that way. Very emotional, and sweet in tone, this particular area of thought of mine. Hmmm.  It’s very….what would it like, something that feels like this? And there is a quick image, caught it! It was a picture of me– really? I could almost feel my arms aching. This is the niggle? For Christmas, wouldn’t it be fun to be able to pick everyone up in a hug and just carry them around the house?


No, that would definitely be fun, sure. No, really, I mean it! That is something really fun, and Christmas, but I’m not going to be able to actually do that. But I should try. According to this niggle. That is what it wants. It would be so great, so warm and cozy. Lots of smiles, laughing. So that is the puzzle; how can pick my entire family up and carry them around, at Christmas? Some sort of sling? I don’t think I’m going to be able to do that. Do I need to figure out a way to actually pick everybody up and carry them around the house? I don’t think so. Subconsciousnessess are very metaphorical. So pick them up, carry them, pick them up eehhhh .. Christmas.

  1. When your mind demands the impossible, ask about alternatives. Because we can’t pick them up with our arm, because they’re heavy, how else can we pick them up? Ah hah. And here is the puzzle answer. Here’s the fished out niggle, intact I believe: Christmas is an opportunity to teach every member of  my family something. And really give them a leg up for the new year. And won’t that make me feel fantastic, if I can get the time aside, to really do this for each member of my family, to think about what I could show them that would lift them up and give them a little bit of a boost.

In terms of the goals that I have for them. Because I have goals for my family members’ lives. And you can say, That’s very controlling, but it’s not, because the goals are very simple, like, I want them to be happy and I want them to be healthy.

Ok, so I am to think of things to do. I’ll have this opportunity, at Christmas; it is a prime opportunity, when everyone is incredibly good-willed and open-minded, to teach my family some important lessons.


NO, sure, niggle. THAT SHOULD BE EASY! I DON’T SEE WHAT WOULD BE DIFFICULT ABOUT THAT AT ALL. We’ll just carefully and systematically review the areas we’ve been working on with every single one of of our family members and see how Christmas can fit into those goals. In the next few hours. NO PROBLEM.

Also, I’m not buying expensive gifts. I don’t think I’m going to buy gifts at all. I don’t want to teach lessons through gift-giving. That’s really not the idea. So we’re going to do things outside of the gift giving.

So my father for instance, I’ve already done. My dad is done. My father is not the world’s sortof warmest person. He was raised by a guy who was actually of a generation before the one that raised the people who are my parents’ age, and who was just a very stern dude. And so my dad, from growing up with this really stern dude, is pretty stern himself. He’s very much focused on practical things, like a Capricorn*, which he is.

My dad, his Christmas lesson, is– our relationship is very much sortof business-like: he asks me for things and I do them; I ask him for things and he does them, and then we thank each other, or we say that we’re not going to do them, and that’s it. So Dad, got that one covered, I know what I’m going to do for him (and he should stop reading here if he wants to be surprised). I’m going to basically give a demonstration, that without him asking, and without it being expected: I just want to do some sortof warm and cozy things for him. He’s traveling this December, and I want to do some nice, warm, and cozy things, so that when he comes home he feels hugged, he feels loved, he feels sort of cared for– not in any kind of excessive way, but in an unexpected and very warm way. Not a whole lot of stuff, just a couple of things like, I was thinking of you warmly, and I want you to know that this is something that people can do (maybe try it some time if you feel inclined).

That it is ok. It’s almost like adding something to the me-dad rule book. This is part of our engagement, that we feel warmly towards each other and demonstrate this. So that’s Dad. Dad’s covered. Next!

You know that word, niggle, there’s something about it that bothers me. Hmm. Anyway.

My mother already received her Christmas gift from me. The lessons I am working on with my mother — this is crazy — this is really personal stuff, I don’t talk about my family much — but the skills that I am working on with my mother are her independence and her calmness. It’s not that I want her to feel like she is capable of handling pretty much whatever life throws at her — she is, and I think she knows that — but I want her to feel capable of making life look the way she wants it to look. That’s sort of the lesson that we’ve been working on for several years: that life isn’t just something that happens to you, but life is something that you get to make decisions about, and you have the power to carry those out, and it’s fun, to do so.

It’s not scary; it’s not hard work; it’s something that people are there to help you with, and it’s important to the people around you that you have what you want. We don’t want you to feel like you have to be the bottom and the last and the end of the line.

And so.. How can we do that at Christmas? Ok, here is some simple advice, easy to follow, which is the best kind I like to give: easy enough, just call mom up and get her kind of dreaming… and get her visions and her schemes for what she wants the holiday to look like.

And I know what she is going to say: she’s going to say that she wants it to look exactly like last year. JUST COME OVER AND HAVE DINNER HON AND THEN WE’LL OPEN PRESENTS. But I know that there are other things, in her heart, other things that she might desire, some group activity that is part of her secret Christmas dreams, that are sortof part of her childish and less practical self. (If you can imagine my mom — if you knew my mother, the idea of my mom’s more childish self should terrify to you. I know I’ve said before that she’s a very funny woman, and she has no qualms about being childish in her sense of sense of humor, but this is really a reflection of how not-childish she tends to be in her everyday life. But encouraging a lady who has a plastic pumpkin for a pet to be more childish definitely takes bravery.)

Anyway, we’ll try that. No gift giving involved. Easy but difficult. Plus with a group, she loves the group. It makes me feel like I have a good couple of credits towards a psychotherapy degree whenever I get to this part of my mother that knows what it wants, to be happy, and isn’t scared to talk about it. So let me see if I can do that, this Christmas….

Another thing that’s important with my mother is for her to think more that we, as a family, are not in crisis: we are the way we are supposed to be. How are we going to do that? Christmas? An easy way to teach this is by comparisons, just telling true stories about what other families are like at Christmas, to show that we’re doing better than them at least, that we are not a failure, that we are ok, even good. Many families compete to make snide remarks, for instance, while we compete to make surprisingly nonsensical remarks. That’s important.**

Ok, I have three, maybe four more to go. I try to include the people that my parents date in my family. Some of these rest I’m skipping for now, because they are pretty tricky. The lessons that occur to one to teach them are almost family cliches. LIKE, every year, maybe in your family too, everyone thinks I WISH SO-AND-SO WOULD BE MORE RESPONSIBLE AND SPEND LESS MONEY ON CHEESE ALL THE TIME not saying this is one of the lessons in my family or yours, just an example — or, I WISH SO-AND-SO WOULDN’T ALWAYS PITCH SUCH A FIT ABOUT CAT FOOD AT BREAKFAST.

And year after year we have the same takes on the same people. And we think we should do something to change these things about So-and-so. Every year. So I’m trying to avoid thinking these kinds of things.

Because the thing about teaching lessons is if you have to teach them, you can only teach people the lessons that they want. If year after year you are trying to teach them the same lesson, that’s because they don’t want you to teach them that. Whereas if you find the lessons that people want to be taught, they will jump on them. They’ll, they’ll, they’ll … love them. You’ll see them perk up; they’ll smile; they’ll get real excited; they’ll get real energetic. But I’m not thinking of these kinds of things anymore. I’m thinking of old things, that won’t help anything. I’ve moved too far away from my niggle. It will be back, and I’ll try picking it up again. :)



*I don’t believe in astrology. I am using cultural references.

** I usually lose. To my mother.


Keep it on the desk, big boy



I don’t know where to start. There are too many options. “Apparently it is my job, whether I want it or not, to protect your boys (see below)”? Or “I wasn’t kidding about the panties”?


Because the above (from http://www.radiationanswers.org/radiation-blog/is-that-a-laptop-on-your-lap.html—not yet me) does not seem true. See these instead:




Now I don’t know where to continue — “Searching for myself in PubMed was weird”? ” “Doctors, I say to you again, it is not a good idea to rely on your patients doing their own research?”*

Hear I was thinking cellphones were a bad idea, typing my important message on a … ‘laptop’? I mean notebook. A notebook, a notebook, a notebook computer, separated from all testes in a quarter mile radius by a quarter-inch thick sheet of lead. That’s from where I’d like to write these blogs, you mutants.



*Reminder to self to type the article about modern medicine. Recently called doctors office to ask if I could gargle with salt water while taking prescribed medication. ‘Salt water?’ said the nurse. ‘Are you nuts? Of course not. Didn’t you google it?’




A Christmas Sermon


There’s technology, and then there’s technology, you know?



I was listening to this guy preach on the radio, and he said, “You know, some of you, this year, at Christmas, as you are listening to the story, don’t feel the wonder of it, and it’s all ho-hum to you.”

And I’m thinking, “Mann, you have been preaching the same sermons, all of you, you have been preaching the same sermons, for over a hundred years now.” 

So if you get to be a certain age and you’ve gone to church at Christmas, you’ve heard this stuff every year. It’s NOT OUR FAULT WE’RE BORED.


[cute dove gif goes here]

That’s your fault, then, that we’re bored. Not ours. You can go on to say, “Well, let me explain how you can make this message practical,” and I’ll say “NO, let me explain how I’m here on a Sunday to hear something that I possibly might not have heard before. To much to ask? I disagree. See, I feel like, if you want to tell me that the world is in trouble and that things need to change, then I’m going to need new, additional information to help me make that change and fix that trouble. The same information isn’t going to bring me to anything new.

If when I stepped outside the door, everything was perfect, then it would make sense for us to recite this stuff like this. But as it is, I feel like there is something you need to teach me, sir. That’s why I’m here.

What are you going to tell me that I don’t know?

[another gif, probably candy canes in a cross]

So for my Christmas Sermon Number One, I wanted to say something that maybe people haven’t heard, and it’s really boring! You’re going to hear me and then say, That’s what you’ve got? That’s really boring. That’s obviously the case; sure it’s true; whatever, I’m bored! I hope that’s what you say. Probably. This is how it goes.

People talk about how Christ was sent to bring peace. The promise was that when Christ came there would be Peace On Earth and yet clearly there isn’t.

(pause here)


And this is easy to understand.  See, when Christ came, He gave us knowledge of how to bring peace about, and He left us with That Job.

(And here at this part you are supposed to go, Duh, that’s boring; obviously.)

Meanwhile, ‘He gave us knowledge of how to bring that peace about and left us with That Job’ . . .   runs completely contrary to almost everything you’ll hear said in a church, at any time of year.  So you and I can agree that that’s obvious; you and I can agree that that’s even boring; it’s a duh, it’s an everybody knows that, sure; but no one lives that way, or even talks that way.

Instead, what do we say? We say our peace is an inner peace. We say that we’re waiting, for the actual peace: our work is waiting; that when they said ‘Here Comes Peace On Earth’, what they meant was ‘Here Comes Peace On Earth Later’. That must be what they meant, right? (reference no peace on earth)

I mean, we wouldn’t come up with a sentence like Here comes Peace On Earth Later, we wouldn’t come up with a sentence that goofy, on our own. We only come up with it because we’re trying to reconcile* the evidence in front of us and what we were told. The disconnect between the two is so large that we have to get a little weird to make them make sense with each other. ‘Well, when they said we were going to have Peace On Earth they couldn’t have been lying, but we don’t have Peace On Earth, so they must have actually meant Peace On Earth Later, when I come back for — actually it’s the third time, right?’

But that is not what they actually said, so I doubt it is what they actually meant. Angels did not appear and say, ‘Hey, check it out, an important pre-requisite to this thing that is going to bring us Peace On Earth later.’ They said ‘This is it. This is Peace On Earth right here.

[angel gif?]

There’s a verse, Hebrews 10:16, that says that now that Christ has been here on Earth, we have all of us within us knowledge of what is right and wrong. We have, all, within us, new knowledge of this. This is a change that no preacher has ever pulled out and made obvious to me. I wonder a lot why this is not a bigger deal.** People talk so much about what changed because Christ came to Earth, but they don’t bring this up: that now we all know things that we didn’t know before.  Great teacher, that whole line, you’ve heard it from aethists. But not in church.

Can you imagine that two-thousand-plus years ago, 2500 years ago, if you were to pull someone up on the street, and question them about what they knew about right and wrong and good and bad and how to treat their fellow man, how radically different that would be from what they would know now, and what changed that? This promise — that we would know in our hearts right and wrong, because of Christ — is not a promise you need to make up some junk to understand. It’s quite practical, quite real, and quite simple.

It’s not a mystery, is what I’m saying. Someone came and taught us how to be good, and now we know.

We didn’t used to.

Get it?

[no, angel gif here, like a pair of them]

This is the peace that was brought to earth. We were taught how to be good by an amazing teacher. The mechanism of it all is not complicated; it’s not beyond you; it’s not a mystery. And now the ball is in our court. We have this knowledge: what are we doing with it? Mostly, repeating it to each other, week after week. Great start, but I don’t think that’s enough. I’ll know that whatever we’re doing is enough when there is no war any more.

You know, someone asked me this week, do you think global warming is depressing? I said, no, there are other things I find depressing, like hundreds of thousands of people, running around in poor neighborhoods on the same day of the year, wasting their time in an effort to ‘do some good’: people with degrees, people with skills, people with political influence — scooping mashed potatoes at poverty, telling each other ‘It’s humbling!’

I don’t want you to be humbled. I want you to be powerful, and to use your knowledge of what’s good to change the world. That’s what I want.

[gif – star or something]





*get it?

**Perhaps because we are too busy remembering what hopeless sinners we are to consider this kind of verse.


Shoutout to preachers. (If you want to write a great sermon every time, it’s easy– cheat. Go to other church’s services incognito and steal their best ideas. )

A Solemn Vow


I imagine it is difficult not to laugh at a time like this, but everyone manages somehow…

“Please repeat after me.”




“Say your name.”

“I, radiation-”

“Do solemnly swear-”

“Do solemnly swear-”

“In front of God-”

“In front of God-”

“And the group assembled here-”

“And the group assembled here-”

“To eat beans every day.”

“To eat beans every day.”

“No matter what may happen,”

“No matter what may happen,”

“No matter what else there is to eat,”

“No matter what else there is to eat,”

“I will eat at least some beans,”

“I will eat at least some beans,”

“Probably a whole can,”

“Probably a whole can,”

“Every day-


“Every day. Maybe with rice.”

“Maybe with rice.  Very good.”


“And do you, this crowd gathered here, pledge to support radiation in her quest to eat beans everyday? To remind her if you see her at the grocery store, to look the other way when she is fishing cans of chick peas out of the food bank donation box? If you do, please respond, ‘Yum’.”

All: “Yum.”

“And do you promise to still let her sit next to you, even if you catch her chewing on the strap of your purse again?”


“If you do, please respond ‘Yum’.”

All: “Yum.”

radiation: “YUM!”


May your holiday season be packed with healthy protein power. Make sure to take it all seriously enough. I’ll write you an Xmas sermon later.

Photo from https://www.ecainternational.org/index.cfm/PageID/860/index.html

Dear Almost Very Powerful Person (Easy: Application 1)

(this blog is a continuation, and won’t make much sense until you read Easy, and perhaps even still not then)

Dear Almost Very Powerful Person,

My not knowing who might be responsible for your brilliant inspirations has no impact on the likelihood of their existence, of course. I’m not vain.

I am rather proud of the fact that I do know that all things done have do-ers: there is no otherwise. And the beauty of human inspiration led me to believe, before, even, I met those German math students, that there must exist some class of superhuman do-ers, some party that is responsible for our flash of brilliant inspiration, and for food tasting so much better sometimes, for the peace that surpasses all understanding, for the lyrics to Blowin’ in the Wind, etc. etc. More recently, life said to me: here, have a ludicrous explanation in the form of a frozen pork chop (that saves your life).** And so I have spent much of the time since then trying to figure out where such things come from — an answer better than just ‘the sky’ — and I have found out some things but not much. And then I spent quite a bit of time trying o understand these few things I did figure out, better. But I still couldn’t tell you much about who they are, the do-ers of these things done.

But I would like to? And I am trying to tell you something they have shown me: that in life there is a hard way, and an easy way, to do any difficult thing.

The hard way is the way we force through ourselves, that we push and push through circumstance, like a spoon through a log;

the easy way is the way we are given,

that is easy.

So 1) all things done have their do-ers, and 2) inspiration is such a fickly thing!

Why aren’t we capable of everything we are capable of at all times? Don’t we instead have two kind of capability: the kinds of things we can always do, and the kinds we can only sometimes do? The latter being the most wonderful things: the empathy we didn’t think we had in us, the wolf call we let out in the street in the middle of the night, as the bars empty out, the solid feeling of our body when we’re best at our sport. That come from the place where the color of your parachute must be.

One time I sang exactly like Odetta, for example– but this is not always possible for me, although I practice everyday — so into the sometimes group it goes. There are so many times when singing exactly like Odetta is not an option for me—it’s tragic, really—and if I want to, I’ll have to wait for inspiration to allow it, or gift it to me, you might say.

However, I feel pretty confident that at anytime I could do some of the math we learned that year in Berlin, always, although I can’t now say exactly what that would mean– what do you really do in real analysis, exactly, besides Fourier transforms and defining integration? I can’t recall; remembering things being something that moved to the sometimes group a few years ago (but I have the book around somewhere, so I’m not worried).


Let me set a point, above this explanation and connected to it by some number of puppet strings:: most things we don’t understand aren’t connected. They’re connected to something else. 


Should one of the epi contact me, would it be them who did? Not a trick question, but doubtless no.

Right now I strain my ears a little, in case I should hear their voices in the hallway, but I don’t. What would bring me news of them from halfway across half of the world would have to be a machine: a telephone or TTY of one sort or another, that had taken in some fashion as input their intention to communicate with me. A telephone or TTY of one sort or another that I would contact back, with my intention to communicating with them. A telephone or TTY we would have to simply trust did a faithful job in translating our respective intentions, but which need not. If it didn’t, at some times or at all times, there would be no way for either of us non-machines to know, short of traveling to be within earshot of each other, where we might speak, or sing, or pantomime, i.e., actually contact one another. At such a meeting most likely we would dispense with the machines—or maybe not, since they were the type of people who might enjoy pulling the logs from every link in that chain and diff-ing every version of our respective messages.***

Especially if there was pizza.

I was on the phone with a woman the other day who did not know what the phrase “face-to-face” meant. “We’re speaking on the phone,” she said. “Is that what you mean?”

“No,” I said, “face-to-face. It means in-person.” I had to just hope she knew what in-person meant, as it would not have been polite to say, as I wanted to, “No, I mean your face seeing my face, one face pointed at the other face, my sort of lined up with, you might say ‘facing’ your face? Your face, it’s that the thing on the front of your skull, remember? You put your phone on the side of it.” (It’s funny what you feel like you can say on the phone that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.)

And so when we look at the actual complexity of a lame-o transatlantic phone call**** that didn’t even happen, we see that almost our contact is an illusion. Unconsciously we imagine we do incredibly difficult things—like project our voice across ten thousand miles or more–but we don’t at all do we. Never have and probably never will. We’ve done and do and will do instead very easy things, like speaking to machines quite close to us while being insane (convinced we have superhuman power). We rely on such machines and others like to help us pretend.

I personally don’t like pretending unless I know that I am doing so, in which case I usually pretend to be a psychic in the employ of law enforcement, or an ex-supermodel enjoying an early obsolescence, or both.

(All three are fun at parties, but I sense others’ tastes might differ. Losers.)

Even if you don’t mind pretending that things are other than they are, please still try taking this “local view” of causality. It makes the world feel so much more real. And even if that doesn’t happen for you, there are yet still reasons to look for and be aware of such illusions around one. Although at first it might sound depressing or self-defeating to give all the credit for anything you do that seems to too amazing to simply … something else, it is quite the opposite. When we are no longer distracted by imagining we are accomplishing things we aren’t, we can actually accomplish real things … that we just aren’t yet.

(Actually accomplish them. It’s not even difficult. What a relief that would be to many people, and how much their psyche needs that relief.)

Literally, you have then exactly two problems: anything in your arms’ reach, and where to put your ams. Welcome to easy.


couldn’t resist:



There’s someone running around on the street with a flashlight for those of you who might be keeping score at home. Oh— it wasn’t a flashlight, it was a car that was about to come down the street but thought better of it? Or was parked and turned its lights off and on for a second?

I have a vague hunch that the CIA is happy at this time, and that is never a good thing. Oh good, it passed.


*a listserv, which had an epilog


***this is what happens when I don’t write for months, you get paragraphs like this.

****Lame-o in contrast to the other awesome things we do with our mere phones.

You’re going down, causality. Man the hearse.

(Is this epoch’s technological revolution math’s revenge?)

You are only as rich

You are only as rich as the poorest person in your family, did you know? Makes sense, you never thought about it. Don’t buy them gifts, those poorer ones, there are no gifts for this. Just find the family; make them rich.



Merry Christmas, internet! They’re not going to help!



Why is there nothing about optometry on this blog like still. Wait, is there? It’s all blur to me.


My posts all used to be this short. I know, I miss those days too.

What’shisname, starts with a Z. (Choices and Storage)

earthExcuse me, fellow driver, I’ve got five terabytes of space in my car; makes it hard for me to fit through. Can I just squeeze by and turn right? Thank you for not making that easier at all.

What’s that guys name? Not Zipf. The other guy, the opposite direction. I always thought he was full of it. What’s his name? Doesn’t matter. And it has slowed down hasn’t it? He was full of it. Storage capacity no longer doubles. Maybe we were behind and now we’re ahead. That’s a sentence worth enjoying several times.

Ties together, somehow, choices and storage. We have our choices to make and we have storage. We’re getting —don’t we?  Well, mistakes are great. You learn from them. But there’s only so much life to go around. Have to let other people learn from your mistakes if you actually want things to be better.

Mmm, doubling. Doubling. Doubling, doubling. Pleasant word, pleasant idea to think. Sounds like bubbling. Just kind of rolls.

Choose your enemies wisely. Best advice I can give. Don’t like to give advice, but if someone said, Hey give some advice! I’d say choose your enemies wisely. Don’t put anything in your ear that you can’t fit in your elbow. Same idea really.

Get it?

Doubling, doubling doubling, and doubling. View the universe a certain way, and every decision you make creates two possible worlds. Doubling the size of the universe as it were. One wonders if the universe has enough storage for all the junk that you do.

Oh, it sounds like I’m in a bad mood. Isn’t that interesting. Here I am with five beautiful pristine terabytes of storage and it sounds like I’m in a bad mood, when of course I’m not at all. How very interesting. Why should that be? Is Someone somewhere cranky?

Think someone may have edited the words uptown funk out of last my video. Right at minute seven. Funny how often censors mishear people. It’s like, what is your job?

Good to make good decisions. There’re a lot of decisions made, make us think, probably, well– we watch people make decisions and think wow, God is going to hand that person their own behind. Which is a neat image. Really makes you think. Don’t want my behind handed to me. Don’t want that to be possible.

Wondering if the universe is operating as efficiently as it should be. Seems like no. Time to make fewer choices, maybe. Free up some swap space. Overall, I mean over-over-all*, things aren’t functioning that well anymore. System’s overloaded with a bunch of junk. Do we really need your ability to choose one of 27 different snack items? No. One snack item ought to be enough for you. Just take that snack item and go.

Everything grinding along slowly. Just isn’t as much progress as you think there’d be. Space-time busy processing all of those choices we weighed about things we didn’t need to make choices about in the first place, what kind of satt-nav you got in your car. Who cares. Get lost.

I’m surprised myself. Didn’t expect this result. Progress being slower because we’re all busy making choices about things that we don’t need to make choices about. I go to the dentist and she says, What color toothbrush do you want? and I say, Give me the toothbrush that I get. And, Well, that I can do, she says. Because I don’t want to waste one bit.

Yeah, your brain uses as much energy as the light bulb in your refrigerator. You knew that, right? That’s what you have. That’s what you have at any given time to do anything, at any given time, with your mind. And you’re going to waste some portion of that wattage when deciding what color toothbrush you want? I’m not.

If you’re waiting for me to say thank you very much, to whomever you are who made my life so desperate that I manage to realize this, I’m not saying that. Let’s stick to the point here. You have x number of years times one lightbulb. That’s all you get. That’s the capacity of your mind, all you’re ever going to think. And sure it’s amazing what we can get done, sure it’s a pretty efficient machine, the mind,  but finite is finite. All you’re ever going to think. And I just made you think about that last sentence twice.

I wouldn’t waste it. Wouldn’t waste it hating people, wouldn’t waste it jerking around at other peoples’ expense, don’t have time for that that—

Hold on, I swear someone is cranky somewhere and I swear it’s not me. Cheer up, whoever you are. Cheer up. At least you have a lightbulb.

Don’t know. I’ll probably just find some person and annoy the heck out of him. I’ll just annoy the heck out of this guy over here. What else is he going to do with his life? I don’t care. He’s not going to do it now anyway. He’ll be too busy being annoyed by me.

I wonder if I can figure out a way to make money off of that. I’ll just make a lot of money, and then when I’m old, I’ll eat my money. And my children can also be nasty jerks, and what money I can’t fit my stomach they can eat before they die. Now I’m relieved. Have all that worked out.

You know, I think it’s from the coffee that I’m sounding cranky. Caffeine’s a very delicate thing. You know there’s a red wine drunk, a beer drunk, an apple juice drunk** etc. etc. Because the chemicals in red wine are different from the chemicals in beer, they both contain things other than alcohol, can you imagine? that affect your mood in a distinct reproducible way. So there’s a reason why we like which we like. The same way with there’s a reason why we like the coffee that we like: because we’re completely addicted to it.

Whatever, brands of coffee correspond to different moods, is what I’m saying. Think that’s what I’m jiving on right now. Just drank about 12 ounces of some coffee I’m unfamiliar with; I think it was loosely based on Dippin’ Donuts. Just a little too sharp, a little too edgy for me. Starbucks, that’s a bad high. You just grind on yourself all day. That feeling of perpetually fleeing an assailant. Yecch. This one has a little bit of weird acid at the back of it, and I think maybe a little of that Dippin’ Donuts self-loathing. You know the self-loathing I mean. That coffee is fun at first, it’s like, Hey! Sugars and light! but about halfway down that little bit of self-loathing kicks in, and it’s like, hey, this isn’t fun anymore.

It’s difficult to drive, isn’t it? For you, I mean. Basing this on the fact that you can’t seem to do it well.

It’s to make you buy a second donut. You knew that, right?

Hey, if you have one of those little family stickers on the back your car, where you have your creatures, you have your husband and they’re all stick figures, hanging out the back your car— make sure as soon as that thing starts to peel a little bit that you get out there and peel it all off, because it’s really sad to see the disintegrating family on the back of your car. It’s not good.

I don’t know why you had to put it back there in the first place. Showing me you are proud of something, I can’t quite figure out what that person is proud of, but they want me to see it. In addition to this SUV, we also have a cat and sometimes wear flip-flops. Hey, I’m glad you told me. Going to run straight somewhere with this information and do something with it. No idea what. I’ll just grab the next person who’ll listen.  Hey, see that guy? He sometimes wears flip-flops, him and his wife, and it really made me think, you know? That maybe I don’t wear flip flops enough?

There’s something to this choices thing. Might even be a blog in it.

If every choice we make multiplies the size of the universe, we might want to be a little bit more careful about what we care about. Quite possible that the universe has its size limits, or at least functions better with more excess space. I imagine the great black vacuums between the planets, filled things like whether I want the curtains in maroon or periwinkle. Give me some curtains, I’ll hang them up. Can you go and entire day without making any decisions? That was a question. Can you think about having 20 decisions per day as your quota? So was that. What would you do with them? Good things, right? Yeah, good things!

We all have a lot to do any given day. Especially when we’re not watching television.

So, finite life span, overloaded, overclocked universe, God’s some kind of hacker, I imagine He’s already taken steps to try to make things run better. Clean this up, clean that out, not saving any of that, all that comes in that way goes straight to the trash. Still it doesn’t feel like we’re getting anywhere. You can see Him, kindof scratching his neckbeard, Man! Doesn’t seem like except for one every thousand years we make any kind of progress. Meanwhile, all these background processes churning: Cure for cancer, estimated time remaining ………..555 more years.

Give the universe some space. Relax. Give up. Don’t care. Whatever. You’re finite, universe is too, at least locally. Locally everything’s finite. Be efficient in your thinking. That’s what religion’s for, at least one thing it’s for. What books are for. What families are for. What school is for. Teach you things so that you don’t have to figure them out on your own. Go ahead and take that to the next level, as an adult. Not forced to sit at a desk, or in a pew, under the thumb of your parents, set up your own system that will make the majority of the decisions that make up the rest of your life. Here, look:

1. By default, do nothing except drink juice.

2. When someone asks you to do something, do it right away until it is finished.

Even a system as simple as that can handle 100% of the decisions you make daily, in advance. Yeah, you’ll have to work out what to do if you’re asked to do something while you’re still doing something you were asked to do. That’s doable. But you won’t be flailing around making every decision on its own. All made for you, by you,*** in advance.

Or try this: be on the lookout for people that are better than you, and then follow them around. They eat breakfast, you eat breakfast. Simple. Saves on the lightbulb. They go to Providence, RI, you go to Providence, RI. Simple. Saves on the lightbulb. Wait— maybe follow them around is the wrong choice of words. I meant to say learn from them.  Learn from them, learn from them. DON’T follow them around. Ok? Don’t. Say hi and things; don’t be creepy.

But still, even just as a thought experiment, you can decide to be the same as someone and be conscious about it. When he eats breakfast, I eat breakfast, etc. Try that part.

*aka exalted
**I’m very sensitive, chemically.


(If more of us would think about the same thing at once, that would be more efficient. Everyone’s got to do the same things, but one at a time only. Make our plans, different from other’s plans. I know I do this, but not to be special, just because I don’t want to be where you are. When I go on vacation, want to go where you’re not going, because I don’t want to see you. Not so I can come back and say that I went somewhere where noone else went. If we wouldn’t have to be together, I’d be fine all going to the same place.

It’s expensive. Cognitively expensive. Save your lightbulb, group up. Don’t make decisions, just do everything someone else does. Who cares about you? Don’t even think about it. Problem is that’s so efficient that it feeds on itself. More people decide not to decide, more compelling it is for people who haven’t even decided to join in. Without even wondering why. I don’t know. This is what I do. Why not? Everyone else’s doing it. Brain takes these efficiencies. Without checking with you first.)

Also, just a note:

I don’t think you have anything I haven’t seen, unless you’re going to make it up today. Even then I’m probably still not going to be too surprised, because I know how your mind works, inside and out. Thanks for sharing all these years.

Misplaced** (Part One of Thoughts, Language, and Aversion)

Life’s a treat, isn’t it?

I’m serious.

I had like a dream last night, before I was falling asleep. Someone was talking to me and they were saying, they said, “Found you, we found one, here, we found one here that is good,” they said.

And I thought, ‘Wow, what does that mean about the rest of them, whatever they are?’

Let’s take a third bite at the apple of explaining this one particular thing about language, thought, words, and aversion.

(You know, I’ll just go this way, how about that?)

It is useful to think, of thoughts like words, if only to see that they are both like them, and not like them. Some of us are more aware of our thoughts than others, I contend; having at different times in my life been to different degrees aware of my own. It is hard for me to describe whether or not awareness of one’s thoughts should ever be a goal, recalling as I do those times when I was less aware quite fondly.  I find myself in the strange position of having been forced to examine my thoughts because I found so many of them so offensive.

Let me take time to describe what that means. There are thoughts which are offensive that are like statements which are offensive: if one were to be racist, or childishly crude. However, should one think these things, they would not be offensive in the sense that I mean the word.

Other thoughts are offensive because they cause us problems: they lead us to courses of action that are not good for us.  For example, an addiction, or worry. And these thoughts also are not offensive, in the sense that I mean the word.

Rather at times, some small number of us might find that thoughts occur to us that we cannot with any certainty say that we have thought. These are what I mean when I use this word offensive. Perhaps another word could be misplaced.

For example, were one to suddenly think that one was on fire, when one was not — and should one think this more than once, perhaps after checking and quickly determining that one was not on fire, one could not be certain that one was actually thinking such a thing: knowing, as one did that one knew that the actual state of affairs was quite different and that one had no intention at this time to speculate or pretend or imagine being on fire.

Should both of these conditions be met by any thought that one knows that one knows that it is not true; and that one knows that one knows that one has no intention to think about it– one cannot say that one has thought it, and must wonder instead about its source.


Learning to Speak the Second Time

This blog is a continuation and will make more sense if it read learning to speak twice first.*

You’ll find kids, when they learn to speak for what might be the second but is most likely the final time** usually have one thing they primarily want to talk, and that’s You need to make some changes, namely, Why are we not doing what I want to do, right now. And they’ll use their language, once they get it, for this; they’ll use whatever few words they have to that effect. And then of course you can get all this No.

There is a way to avoid it: just never use that word in front of your child. Negatory is a good alternative. In the non-affirmative, I like that too. You can get a T-shirt printed that says Please Do Not Say No In Front Of My Child (For Everyone’s Sake), to wear when you go out.

If the lexicon of English is half positive and half negative, I only use half of it with children. And it’s not because I want to be cheery and give them self-esteem: I just don’t want them to know those words until the last possible minute. For my own sake and everyone’s, but mostly my own, I try to teach them Change it.

“Change it?” “Sure, I’ll change it.” And we are having a different thing for lunch.

“Change it?” “Sure, I’ll change it.” And we are not wearing that sweater anymore.

Strangers in the grocery store love listening to the echoing sounds of  “CHAAAANGE IT! I DON’T CARE FOR IT!” going up and down the aisles.

So we get rewired. During that quiet period, before language comes back for good,*** speech connects with our emotional circuitry. Language becomes intertwined with our emotions and our response to the world, and that’s — in the math of the universe — Judgment. Judgement is language intertwined with emotion.

Is that good?

Or should they be separate?I don’t know that we get to choose, but the third thing that happens, (first is one of these language explosions that’s free from emotion and judgment, like a game ; second is language that’s deeply tied into emotion and judgement, which can be really rude)– is a long phase of accept things which are judged by it to be bad. The job as the older people around appears to be to younger how to do this. Let’s learn to wait. That kind of thing. What do we do when we don’t like it? Learn to grapple with the world, as we’ve categorized it.

Infants go through a process like this too, and learn to grapple with the uncategorized world, to delay gratification, make choices, etc., but they don’t understand I don’t think so much what they’re doing. Once language is there, not only are you responding to the world, but you know that you are responding to the world.

And you expect at first the world to respond to you. And it can. Language is, at its essence, a tool for manipulating the world around us. Otherwise we wouldn’t need it, right?

Here you go; this is how you change the world—which has been unchangeable up until this point. It’s like you’ve handed a bazooka to a toddler.  The world, which has been a given, is suddenly under your control. You can say noodle and get a noodle, for instance. Pretty powerful stuff.

A bazooka like that, you’d think you could do quite a bit with it. And so then you have to learn that you can’t. You can only do so much.

But I wonder most about the difference between language as a game, and language as a bazooka of judgement and control.

You realize one day, when you get a little more vocabulary, that all you needed to say was can we go outside. “May we go outside?” Once you’re not two anymore, people really don’t like it, and will think you are — I won’t say delayed — they’ll think there is something wrong with you if you can’t express your desires in the form of a request, especially with someone that you don’t know well. If you can’t separate out at least enough of your emotion from the language to ask, to leave people options.

Because we all love each so much, because we all want to be like each other so much, we choose to provide everyone with the option of acquiescing to our desires or not, and long-term, this is how we all end up much happier.

But no one learns it that way; it sounds weird even to say it that way.

It sounds weird because that’s now how we teach self-control, and not how we were taught it. Instead, we teach and were taught by superior strength.

There’s nothing wrong with superior strength: no kids would want parents who were there equals. (“Hi Mom, which one of us is bringing home the bacon today? I’m only two.”) We don’t teach that not getting your way is best, long-term; we teach that it’s what’s expected of you, end of story. You don’t need to know why; I might not even know why, but here’s what you are going to do; you’re welcome.

And at this is the point in the parent-child relationship, when language needs to be tempered with control, all of a sudden the parent is the boss. From now on, because I said so.

My language, stronger than yours.

I think whatever our estimates of anyone’s intelligence, we all have a conscience, from birth;  we all have a sense that forcing our will on other people is wrong. Except we do it, to our children, because we know that the benefits outweigh the wrong of it. Which is actually pretty confusing to . . . everyone.

The imitation learning style breaks down at that point. And it’s hard to believe that it breaks down right at that point—right when a substitute learning style, language, becomes available. Without language there was no learning style other than imitation: now with language, it is language itself that needs to be explained:

“You can’t say that. You have to say this.”

“But that’s not what you’re saying.”

“I know. Say it anyway.”

“Why should I?”

“Because I said so.”

Now with language, it is language itself that needs to be explained. To me, that’s the hallmark of an artificial system, of a waste of time.

All of us, years later, are still subject to the lessons learned in those sullen silent weeks, between meeting splendid language and subsequently deciding to live by it, when we learned to judge. I wish it were not so; I wish to have remained in that language explosion, where there is no right, no wrong. Can I now, with all the power my language has accumulated through the intervening years, judge one last time and decide that from here on out, language will have only that earliest use for me?

I can, I will—I use language for nothing now but to sing the joy of my experience. Nothing else will pass from between these lips. No cannonballs, no whips or chains, no pits dug for the unsuspecting listener. Every word just another song, aimless and true.

I can sing to you about my joy in seeing the clouds above me, and the rain; the cars around me, and their drivers; all of us moving together, moving the same way, moving within that movement, away and towards each other, as I see it. Logic holds, but there is no good, no bad, in my language now: good and bad I see now are only within myself, hidden far away from language (which is where they belong!); true and false I look for instead. Proven and unproven and proven wrong. I sing on, about changing lanes and the sound of the spray from the tires and the way gravity feels to me, like the earth was pushing up to meet the sky . . .

You won’t care, and I won’t care that you won’t.

But maybe later you will. There was a man, years ago, who stood before me and sung the joy of his experience. “Stay in the middle lane,” he said. “It’s safest.” And laughed. The changing of the stoplights was a heartbeat to him, he sung that too. And laughed. The proper functioning of the asphalt circuitry of the nation, he loved that as well. Everyone gets a turn, he laughed. And I can sing to you now about sitting at that little desk, in the back of the drivers’ ed class, listening; about what I remember about the feeling of youth (so much judgment!).


PS: How hard is it to lie, when all words for you are more warbling about what you have seen? Harder.

PPS: I — and this is perhaps my personal personality— have never been much for speculation. To me, to say, “She went home,” feels like winning a bet: I predict that she did, I posit it—as if I had remote viewing!—and probably I am correct. But more likely I would say “She left, and said she was going home.” So enamored of the truth am I, it seems worth it to be this careful.

PPPS: What comes out of a bazooka? I’ve never had one.

*someday I should explain that I put these typos in on purpose to make you think I might be an idiot–it’s a security-defense system around my ideas– i don’t want mean people to have them. if you decide that I ‘m an idiot, then you will porbbaly disregard what I have to say, which is good because you aren’t nice enough to use it properly yet. suggest you work on that.

** I am one of the lucky few who had the opportunity to learn to speak a third time.

*** Sounds judgmental, doesn’t it.

creepiest thing in the world, back in college, i was high as a kite, and my cat, it was sniffing all over my face, and I asked it, what are you doing? and it answered me, like in my head? i heard it answer me, and it said, i am taking samples of the different things on your skin, what is this you have done to yourself this time? and I said, what? why would you do that? and it answered me, like in my head, and it said, i’m a scientist, from far away, i’m taking samples of ALL the earth chemicals, so that the other people where i come from will know all about earth! and I appreciated that so much, lying there, so high i could hardly move? it was the craziest thing. not all cats are scientists though, just some.

Comments – (Lame Investigations Into Immorality Part 1)



Go ahead voice typing. Take some malformed JSON right out of my head — make something ill-conceived and broken instantaneously.

I mean, I have to try to get some work done now.


Oh, good, this is a recording of me being a jerk. I’ll just get rid of this and I’ll never have to listen to it again.

That’s one of those things– that’s a great example to start this blog. I’ll need another one for the text version though. How about you did your hair? That’s a good one.

You did your hair!

Why do you need to say that? Depending on the context it could be true that that hurts. But my example sucks, because what I need is a clever one.

Because even new people will fall for a comment that they come up with, if they find it sufficiently clever. Here’s the three things that happen, three things that happen that lead to a mistake. I’m going to do them in reverse chronological order, because I’m feeling annoying.

You know we say things and then also we comment. It’s different when we comment, it isn’t it? We know that we’re not adding anything to the body of verbal knowledge in the room, when we comment. We just want to say something.

We don’t actually have anything to say; we really more want to show somebody something about ourselves, and so we comment. This is different from telling people things. I can tell you that I had a similar haircut once.

I guess the pretty clear distinguishing factor here is that they do know that they did their hair, and so you’re telling them nothing when you say that they did. Why would anyone talk like this? That’s the third thing: talking like this at all.




There’s a dead kitten. (stops the car)

“Is it yours, honey?”

“Is she ok?”

“She’s going to be. It’s alright.”



“Can you give me your name and number, hon, and the vet you work for?”


“Can you give me your name and number, hon, and the vet you work for?”


“Can you give me your name and number, hon, and the vet you work for, just real quick?”

“Oh, I’m going to give them a call. I just work right down the road, at the Mid-Atlantic Equine Hospital.”

“Careful –

“What?” (to someone else)

“Honey, carry her real carefu– “

“No, she fell out of the car.” (holding her up)

“Can you put her in a box?”

“Yeah, I live right there,”

“Yeah, you know, get her flat, some place quiet?”

“Yeah, I live right there. I’m going to call my work.”

“Ok. Just be real careful–”

“Yeah–” (holds her up again)

“Oh oh, please be –”

“I used to work in small animal emergency, so I’ve seen much worse than this.”

“Ok, don’t worry about us, take, take care of her.”

“Thank you so much for your help guys.” (walking away with kitten) (comes back) “See, now I work at Mid Atlantic Equine, but I used to work at a different vet.”

Woman who hit the kitten: “Yeah, it’s so nice to meet you. If we had an animal, we’d take her to you.”

“Thank you so much for your help guys.”


This lady, her kitten was hit in the road, and I told her it was going to be okay, and so she’s just dragging it around by the scruff of the neck and standing around, sort of enjoying the attention. And I (laughs), I said, Ok, just because I told you it’s going to be okay doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful with it, just in case, and take it immediately to a vet– and she said she’s a vet tech. Jesus.

But she was in no hurry to get it anywhere. She said she lived right there. So I thought, “Then go?” Not in so many words, but I told her to go. The cat needs to be flat and in a quiet place. Its nose was bleeding.

Am I commenting? Actually, what I’m doing is trying to figure out what was wrong with that lady.




I love you Google. New paragraph.




That’s the third thing that happened. The second thing that happened was that I thought about commenting. Before I did it, I thought about it. Do I want to comment? I thought. There’s really no reason to say this. But it is so witty. It is SO WITTY.

Most people never would have thought of this. I wonder if people know that I have thought of this. Really, what I wonder is if they know that I’m the kind of person who can think of something like this.

I want them to know that, don’t I?

On the scales of my decision making, the enjoyment I derive from having been so witty outweighs any pain that my comment might cause anyone that hears it. And this is me, a person who tries to keep my thumb on the side of the scale of being nice. I hope you know that about me.

And so we find it easy to sneak, when we speak, into territory where we should not be, just because we find that territory so darn clever.

This doesn’t just apply to sarcasm, teenagers, comments — you can also make big mistakes this way. Let’s do it this way, because this is the way that looks smart. Often that way is also much more difficult.

I knew that, and I did it anyway. Because of the first thing: I was sitting here thinking about how smart I am. Before I even thought of the comment.

(Darm. Yum.)

It’s not something I spend a whole lot of time doing, but… I was looking at a video, and it looks like a prediction that I had made did in fact come true.

Not only did I manage to navigate a rather complicated system and use it to my benefit, from my rather strange, isolated, and unimportant position — I was also able to successfully predict how that system would behave, based strictly on patterns that I’d observed in the past. With absolutely no direct information about the system itself.

And so from that position of congratulating myself, the witty comment seemed ok.

Even though it really wasn’t.

You could say that I only felt clever because I’ve been deprived of information. I need a word other than blame — perhaps something like causation —  that connects that lack of information to my feeling clever about something that never really never should have been done.

But anyway, if you want people to think you’re smart, I’m sorry that’s an endeavor that’s never going to succeed.

There’s no way to tell them. That they’re going to understand.

You’re either going to make your point and they’ll just like you, or you’re going to fail to make it, and they’ll think you’re an idiot.

But if you just do nothing and know that you are smart everything should be fine.

And if you want to be witty, be self-deprecating.  We will all be very impressed, additionally by your modesty.

Yes, those are my actual feet. I’m sure, because if anyone had sold me these feet–  I’m sure because no one would have sold me this feet– I’m sure because — somewhere in there, that joke went awry. Let’s try that again.

These are my actual feet. I’m sure because anyone who would have sold me these feet would be in jail.

Somewhere in there, that joke went awry? That’s ok.

(Don’t try to be witty about something off topic. When we’re witty about things off-topic, we have a tendency to make some nasty Freudian slips (aka ‘forward his lips’). In general, this whole area of thought is a dangerous one. It’s not that hard actually to avoid it completely, if you decide to, commenting.)

Learning to Speak Twice

woman talking on the phone with a cat

woman talking on the phone with a cat

If you explain something one time and it’s not understood, you have to explain it the second time differently. If you’ve explained it one hundred times and not been understood, maybe you are explaining it to the wrong people.

Or maybe you are answering the wrong question.

Maybe you haven’t explained it to the right people.

You know children learn to speak twice. It can be kind of upsetting for their parents.

Their children suddenly develop language—sometimes as early as twelve months, more typically around eighteen—and at that time they’ll demonstrate language skills that far exceed what is typical for that age. But only for about a week.

It’s really adorable, not to mention fascinating and exciting, to see a very small child look up to you and ask where the milk is. Especially when up until that time they’ve made nothing but non-word sounds.

Now, I don’t know if it’s because someone tells these children that this is impossible; it’s true their comprehension of what they themselves say during this period might be lacking in some sense; still often the things they say are tied to the situation; what’s spoken goes beyond repetition, and sometimes includes full sentences, which means two or three words at that age — a language skill they’re not expected to develop for possibly a solid year.

But they’ll chat with you as if it’s the most normal thing in the world, with a little bit of a puzzled look on their face, maybe thinking “You find this a big deal for some reason?” But only for a couple of days. And then they will not speak. And afterwards is about when what people call the Terrible Twos starts to hit. They are pissed. The children, I mean.

A lot of them won’t even engage in verbal games, or say nonsense syllables, for months after this experience. Inviting them to spek makes them mad. They seem angry– angry with language.

Not every kid has this little burst of language ability, but it’s pretty common. And in another few months, they usually start to start talking again. But their language is very different, the second time. Much closer to what everyone says is developmentally appropriate, or what is developmentally appropriate at that time: single words (mama, no, milk), and much much more emotional.

So the language that you hear from a kid during one of these early explosions, it’s chill. It’s like talking about the weather. You feel a little bit like you are watching someone make cupcakes with prosthetic arms: awkward, maybe even a little painful, but miraculous. They’ll name their friends, or pets, and just comment on what they do (Sing song. Kitty sit.) and look at you, as if to say What do you think of that? Very unemotional, like a game. And a lot of single words and naming things. Some situationally appropriate repetition of multi-word phrases they’ve heard, like That’s not good.

That’s something, dropping your keys and hearing this little alien voice for the first time, saying, That’s not good. It sounds like a sound bite. I guess that’s what psychologists call a ’learned behavior,’ right? Meaning a behavior, that you learn.

It’s appropriateness; that’s what I would call it. I’ve figured out that the appropriate thing to do when something like this happens based on my observations of others is to say “That’s not good.” What do you think?


Some of these comments can get kind of colorful, which some parents can find embarrassing, but don’t worry: it’s really brief. We’re talking about a total of one printed page of words; that’s the most you’re getting out of one of these explosions.

But why twice though? What happens in between? Why do we have to do it a second time? Why isn’t language just a game? Why isn’t language just appropriate? Why isn’t it just the thing that we do, when someone else does something else—like pat-a-cake, but with air that we push through our throats?

I think in that couple of months of frustration, the whole brain is rewired: for categorization. And afterwards, with language, I’m not just giving an appropriate response at an appropriate time, I’m not just doing the thing that you do because that’s what you do; I not just wanting to be more like you because we all love each other like crazy*— —but now I have to do this *other* thing; now when I look at stuff, I have to figure out what it is; I decide—

I decide.

All of a sudden we’re making decisions. This is a this, this is a that, which come with this is good, and this is bad. Not what we had before the period of frustration: this is uncomfortable, or this is what I want. Now we’ve ‘advanced’: to this is good, and this is bad.

And that is hard—hard hard hard hard hard hard (meaning extremely hard) work, for that little tiny person, because it is confusing to them that there should be anything bad. There didn’t used to be! Everything was just the way it was supposed to be at all times, although sometimes you were uncomfortable, although sometimes you wanted things. But now all of a sudden there is good and there is bad; there is categorization and there is decision and there is will.

I don’t like it: another way of saying this is bad.

Not ‘Nah, I-don’t-like-it-I’m-not-going-to-eat-it’ I don’t like it; ‘I-DON’T-LIKE-IT-IT-SHOULD-NOT-EXIST‘ I don’t like it. Earlier experience with a world in which everything was as it should be taught me well that there should not be things that are not good. Now suddenly here are such things, and I cannot make them go away. I can’t restore the perfect world I lived in up until now. This is incredibly confusing and upsetting. Why should there be a thing that I don’t like, when I don’t like it? It wasn’t like this before. What happened? Could it even be somehow my fault? Or your’s, teacher-lady?

Children, I am very sad to say to you all that this is logic’s price! But maybe we can re-write logic so that it’s not.

*isn’t what do you do when you love somebody? want to be like them?




aka The Illusion of Accomplishing the Really Difficult

When in life we feel we are capable of the impossible; that undreamed of power might be ours, but also might not be; that we of course are not superhuman, but are yet on the brink of being so, it is important not to get too excited. Those of us familiar with encoding information for machines to understand– and a rapidly increasing group aren’t we–know that when things seem too complicated, it is because they are: two variables not being enough to capture what three things are doing, independently; one messy function a mask over several; our own frustration a distorted reflection of  some better way.

I’m sure someone has stated better than I will this principle of reducing the complexity of a personal problem by adding complexity to its solution–what I’ve always called “adding a dimension” — giving yourself more room to work out everything that needs working out, and giving the things worked out more room not to get in each others’ way.

As each dimension is added the problem seems simpler, compared to our earlier view of it from our flattened perspective, and correspondingly our options seem less: who cares how x and y relate to each other–let them both simply be determined by some z that we cannot label or control.

Let me set a point, above this explanation and connected to it by some number of puppet strings:: most things we don’t understand aren’t connected. They’re connected to something else. 


When I lived in Berlin, I had a close circle of friends who were all math students. Because we were in Germany, and math students, we had a club, actually an online community call e-pi. (pronounced ‘eh pee’ in german). Everyone in the community had an e-pi name, none of which I can recall right now. eponymous I feel sure was one. epigenesis maybe. How neat it would be if one of them stumbled across this page; how wonderful it would be to hear again from them; they were all magnificently clever people, and much kinder than I would have expected. I could never decide on an e-pi name for myself. I think I suggested epistle, but this was looked askance at, not being, I guessed, but much later, derived from the right Greek root? Now many years later I’m glad I couldn’t, having found the right one, which I never would have claimed at the time. It may even have been the name of the online community itself*, or should have been, if it wasn’t. I am epicenter.


Let us consider a few examples of adding a dimension to reduce complexity.


That was fun.  And here’s a good one:

Imagine several hundred people moving in sync. Banal as the example is, you have to admit that witnessing such a thing without knowing what it is, you’d be baffled: how, why, would so many people do the same things; what could be the explanation? There is no acceptable pairing of phenomenon and observable cause: the two just won’t line up.

But add a third dimension—a third-party; to be exact— an aerobics instructor at the front of the crowd, facing away from you—and it makes perfect sense.

This example is very boring, radiation, you might say. Perhaps. But tell me then, you almost very powerful you: what is more likely: that you can compose opera in your sleep ala Mozart, or that someone else does, and sends it to you?

Who would send it?  I’m so glad you asked, because I have no idea. Congratulations, by the way. I mean, nice opera.

Has anyone seen a post about fractions around here?

Optometry (don’t bother with the video, it’s blurry, you can’t see anything) – READY TO GO! WITH FORMATING MAKE ALL THE TEXT MUCH SMALLER



I decided that I don’t really want to spend money on glasses right now. I can always do it later. I can always do this later. I don’t know what the numbers mean that come out of the eye doctor’s machine — you can’t  tell — I don’t know what to say. I don’t know! But I started this video because I wanted to say something (laughing). I remember now: it’s been a long time since I’ve been to an eye doctor and it’s neat medicine; it’s a neat science; those guys know their stuff. It’s good. It’s not one of those medical disciplines that you encounter and think, “Wow, what a crap shoot! You guys have nothing! Really!” Eye doctors know what they are doing. 

So, I mean, the doctor said I don’t need eyeglasses, by the way, which is nice.

Did you ever feel like life has too many options? Sometimes?

(laughs) I’m not sure what’s funny. Is it my sunglasses? I couldn’t find any that were larger. Or more blue.

When I was a kid, my mom knew a guy who lived on the water — what was it, Neck River Back Crick Neck Co-tom’s Creek Neck Branch, I think? Some kind of water that we have here. And we used to go out on his boat– he had a couple of boats — and I remember one time we went out on his boat to a restaurant.

(If you’ve never done that, try to set up something in your life where you get to do that. You could be a barrel of rum for Halloween, for instance.)

So we went to this crab place, in his boat, and we were sitting there eating crabs, and the poor man, he asked me, “How many crabs can you eat?” and I said, “A dozen,” which is not the right answer. And my mom looked over like, she’s right, she can. I think I was nine.

And I was playing a game with my eyes. I used to play games with my eyes a lot, when I was little. We do this, don’t we? We play with our bodies: what does this do? What does that do? I don’t think we even know half the stuff that we’re learning, when we play with our bodies.


I’ll be making you

I’ll be making you some brand new shooes

Brand new shoes you will get from me

They won’t be the least bit squeaky…

So: I had two games that I would play with my body, when I was little. One, when I was five and six, I was into squinting. Especially at night, I loved to squint. Because you squint, and you can change the shape of the light that you see. And I loved that. So when you see a light, it looks like the shape of whatever the light is coming out of, like a round headlight, but if you squint, you can make that shape into a line, and as you squint more, the line gets longer. And I remember very seriously telling my mom one time —  I was lying down in the back of the car, which was my favorite, if I could have the whole backseat, and lie down, maybe with a blanket, and then stare up through the window at the tree branches overhead, and the moon and the stars while she was driving. I didn’t have to drive, I could look. And these streetlights would go by, and I would squint, and change the shape of the light. And I was telling my mom about it. And very seriously, when we got home, and she pulled into next to the house, I said, “Don’t tell Dad that I can squint and change the lights like this.” I think I was 5 or 6. I didn’t want him to know that I had this ability. (laughs)

But this other time, when we went to this restaurant, I had this different game that I was playing. My friend at school and I — I don’t know which one of us had this brilliant idea — but we figured out that if you closed your eyes and put your fingers on top of your eyelids and sortof pressed, for a couple of seconds, then opened your eyes, you’d be blind, for about a second. Less than that maybe. But the world would go black, and you couldn’t see. And I thought that was pretty great.

So we were sitting in this restaurant, waiting for the crabs, and I was bored, so I was pressing my eyes in, and then opening them, and then pressing them in, and then opening them, and this guy asked — the guy who had the boat; my mother was completely ignoring me, which was wise — “What are you doing?” and I said “Well, if you press your eyes in like that for a second, then when you open them you can’t see.” And he said, “Oh, that’s wonderful. I can just picture you at the eye doctor’s, years from now, saying, ‘I remember'” — and now I’m supposed to remember the name of the restaurant, but I don’t — “‘I remember when I was at the X-and-Such-Waterfront-Restaurant, with my friend Mr. Whoever-He-Was ‘” — I know who he was but let’s protect him — ‘”pressing my eyes in.’”*


And I do. He was right.

Brand new shoes from me…


“Doctor, tell me what’s wrong with my piece of meat, I mean, me.”

It almost feels irresponsible to speak during medical exam: No, no, shh, what do you see in there, doc?

“What’s wrong?”

“If I breathe deeply I cough.”

“Well, but if you don’t, you don’t, do you.”

If you can imagine your ocular nerve — mine are great, by the way; I just had them checked — you can imagine your ocular nerve sort of threaded back into your brain, right? Connected to something that gives you all of your visual imagery.

What if what it’s connected to is maybe less like a — a pipe, or whatever, and maybe more like — what do you call that? — the cylinder, on a revolver. And so you can spin that cylinder, and you can sortof feel your nerve clicking past different parts of your brain that are better or worse at interpreting what the ocular nerve provides: ‘Loaded…, not loaded…, loaded…, even more loaded…, whatever…, loaded…’

If you empathize with this, you have options, is what I’m saying. It feels like I do have options, at least: that’s what I’m saying! You have to decide, Well, do I want to see that? (laughs) Should I have all six cylinders checked? Or should I pick the worst one? Should I pick a middle one? The best one? (laughs) That was puzzling me a little bit.

I thought, Ummm? More than once.

I went for best.

Just sortof following the doctor’s lead on that.

Because he said, “I don’t think you need glasses yet.” I thought, ‘Alright then. Me neither.’

But this business is not bizarre to — what do you call it — optometry. This is nothing strange to them. They say you either focus or you don’t. If you focus, you’re connecting to different– you are using a muscle– anyway, you change the shape of the eye, but it feels like sortof modifying what you see.

Like squinting. Anyway, those of you who have glasses, maybe this is all old news to you. I don’t.

Maybe what’s different is that I don’t feel like I’m squinting; I don’t think I’m moving my eyes; but I can do some things, I can exercise a kind of effort that will make my vision just horrendous. The thing about spinning that cylinder is that you can’t spin it very quickly. Each time you make a connection like that, the tendency is to stay there, be stuck there. And some of them are really not, not good at all. It’s like they don’t want you to see! You connect to some things that are just — I don’t know, Ew. And I feel like my eyes are crusted shut, that’s how well I’m seeing, but they’re not even.  If I wanted to opt to have horrible vision it would be easy.

That’s probably bad. I’ll tell you, I think life is probably more fun when you think you have exactly one ocular nerve connection, and you think, Hey, that’s vision. I’ll not mess with it.

What a skill! It’s a superpower. “She is …. Near-Sighted Girl!”

“Look, in the sky, what is that? Is it a bird or a plane?”

“I don’t know, it’s so fuzzy I really couldn’t say!”

“Thank you, thank you, another day saved by … Near-Sighted Girl!”


Which brings me to a topic I need to decide whether or not I want to discuss. About thought, language, words and aversion. And you know, I just really can’t believe they got a Burgher King here. (pulls into Home Despot parking lot) Good morning, can I have french toast?

Photo credits

1- flickr hive mind

2 – walmart



I feel like I missed a good opportunity to talk philosophy wth the eye doctor. “You know, doctor, do you think I even see the same world that you do?”

He’d say, “No, lady, you see a world that is perhaps slightly blurrier.” But I don’t! My vision is fine.

By the way, one of the more dangerous places in the world would be the parking lot of the eye doctor’s. Not some place you’d want to step off the sidewalk without checking first.

Best Depot Reveals New Earth Day Decorations

Consumers no longer have to restrict their creative impulses to boring holidays like Christmas and Exxon’s Birthday.

whale lights

Best Depot today launched it’s new line of hot new Earth Day decorations, opening the door to what some investors are calling the “Feel-Good-About-It-Holiday Market.”

“It’s not enough anymore for people to decorate just because other people are decorating,” said Suzy Wetankles, VP of Responsible Marketing for Best Depot. “They want to decorate for good, for a meaningful reason.”

Decorating “for good” will be a challenge though, with so many exciting options to choose from!

“A lot of these decorations don’t just light up: they are also inflatable,” said Suzy.

glowing sea turtleglowing tiger*


How do consumers find the new line?

“I think Earth Day has a really nice palette,” said Francis Robbedherson. “Everyone gets tired of red and green, red and green, red and green, and we’re not Jewish. Earth day is a chance to use blue and mean it.”

She had just purchased a set of Assorted Endangered Species Porch&Lawn Laser Projections. “I thought I should get a few different ones, because there are still a lot of people who don’t know that there is such a thing as an endangered species. I consider this doing my part for education. Oh wow, that’s a lot of batteries. Hold on.”

Beyond Lowe plans to release its own line of Earth Day home decorations later this week, including a 32-foot plastic animatronic sea turtle that says “I’m the reason you recycle!” in 42 languages and an inflatable ice berg you can climb.

Although less high-tech than Best Depot’s line, Beyond Lowe’s options are touted for their durability.

“You should be able to get two, maybe even three seasons out of these items,” said Frank. Lee-Ahdintseeaprobtiljusnow. “Which is great! Everyone should know what an iceberg is. And the turtle is actually recyclable, which I think is clever.”

iceberg sea turtle

Don’t have room in the yard or the budget for the large-scale signs of festivity that really impress? Then you’ll have to make do with some ingenuity, I guess.spray grass

“I’m just going to spray the front of my house and the sidewalk with that instant-grow grass&fertilizer mix, and then let the kids carve some slogans into it,” said one mother of three. “And maybe some green lights. I want them to experience the holiday, but we can’t afford a turtle — this year. Bills are through the roof for some reason.”

Another mom had an inspired DIY approach. “I got some of those giant light up letters, on etsy? To spell out SAVE THE PLANET NOW EVERYONE with. Can I buy a vowel? Ha ha.”

light up letters  earth


*you make the imgs line up, a-hole

I take offense away, and you don’t even understand me

Hey, I said come see me!
\And what are you doing?
\Hanging out in front of my house?
\Talking to the homeless always camped out on my lawn
\as if they were me,
\calling me a raving lunatic!







*8* odd that in the blogroll, there should be a post right next to this that I wrote back in Feb that looks just like it *8*





shoutout to mr. motorbike

Kid’s Birdhouse Day at Home Despot

saint home depotsaint home depot

“Hold still!”*


Any second now. So I – -don’t you love it when it’s Kid’s Birdhouse Day at Home Despot? (I am pretty sure I said Home Despot at this point in the video, as well as later, and someone edited it out.) Going to Home Despot and there are several hundred hammers going as hard as they can at once. You don’t notice it at first, but part of you slowly starts to wonder if the building is being attacked by birds. Then you realize it’s that day again. It is about the cutest thing.

I don’t think I would have liked Home Despot Birdhouse Day when I was a kid. I wasn’t very good at building things. It’s frustrating, to be in a group of your peers, some of whom appear younger than you even, and find yourself less capable than them at building stuff because you’ve never done it before. For all you know this is their fourth or fifth Home Despot Birdhouse Day. They might have the full collection at home: the Make-Your-Own Toolbox, the Make-Your-Own Racecar, the Make-Your-Own Home-Despot-Birdhouse-Day-Certificate Frame. So that always stinks, if that happens.

They should give you two. They should give you one to practice. They should give you another one. Once you know what you are doing, you can do a second one.


I was thinking about something last night — this isn’t related to anything; I know I was going to think about whether I was going to talk about something, and I will — isn’t that fun, the kind of decisions that we need to make anymore: ‘Let me decide if I need to decide about this.’ That’s called wisdom, I believe: being a couple of steps away from the problem, so you can see it coming! And hopefully avoid it.

Someone many cars behind me honks.


I was thinking last night — wow. The eye doctor put something in my eyes to color them, and it’s coming out my nose now. It’s like bright yellow dye, that’s coming out of my nose. Is there any filter in between there any more at all? The space behind my eyes and my nose?


So, ok, last night I was thinking about the Bible, and I was thinking about thinking that the Bible is true. You can say, “Well, is the Bible true?” And I can say, “Well, I haven’t found any parts that aren’t true yet.” And you can say “Well, what about all that stuff about, like, gay people?” And I can say, “Well, geez man, I don’t even really like to think about what other people do in their beds, do you know what I mean? I don’t want to know … I mean, it doesn’t seem like it’s any of my business? I mean, let’s not talk about it! Unless you have a problem or something?! Then we can try to work something out. Geez.”


And you can say, “Well, don’t you know people who are gay?” and I can say, like, “Well. I — Pfft. Pfft . Hunh. Ehh. Uhh. Ah. Umm. Ehh. Eeyar. I mean. I don’t know that they are? I mean. Umm. That seems very personal.” And you can say, “Well, do you think it’s right, for people to say, that because of what it says in the Bible, that people who are gay are bad; because it says in the Bible that they should be punished? Right?” And I can say, “Well, I never thought to have an opinion about it. Because it’s none of my business.”**

And you can say, “Well, don’t you think that’s wrong, that a lot of churches, they tell gay people when they come into the church that they are condemned, because they are gay? Because it says that in there? So you have this whole group of people who can’t go to church because they are condemned?” And I can say, “Well, I seriously have no opinion on it. It’s not like if some guy in church has a wife, we’re not going to pull him up in church for having slept with her before they got married, are we? Because it’s none of our business? Do you think it’s wrong if he slept with her before he got married? Because Paul has a lot of stuff to say about that too. But nobody does that, right? How weird would that be?” And you can say, “Well-” and then I can say, “So I’m saying I don’t have any opinion on it. I said that. Does it look like I left my judges’ robes at the cleaner’s or something, because I didn’t?” And I would say, “If you are doing something, it’s because you don’t think it’s wrong, and that ought to be good enough for you? It’s good enough for me.”

And then I can say, “Seriously, someone has probably already thought of this, but can you imagine if women who performed oral sex on men, as a class, decided to all dress differently from women who didn’t perform oral sex on men? Oral sex is fornication. It’s forbidden — by Paul. But can you imagine if there was an entire culture that came along with being a woman that performed oral sex of men, or better yet, and man who performed oral sex on women, so that if you do that, then you need to wear an earring? So we can all know that that is what you do?”


I  just passed the world’s happiest deer. Oh my gosh.


And then I can ask, “Should we do that? Say things like ‘Yup, I’ve decided: I’m a guy that goes down. I’m coming out. I’m mostly going to hang out with other guys that go down, because they understand me better, and we need to stick up for each other. We have going-down-guy pride.”

Your turn.

Photo credit: this dude’s pinterest

*These images are identical, in case anyone forgot what that looks like.

**And reassure myself that the reason we’re prolongedly talking about penises and things is totally your fault.

Expensive Dinner

can you afford these

Been a while?

I picked up this magazine, just by accident.  It had this picture of Asian people, with sewing machines, and the headline said “The True Cost.” I guess they meant the true cost of inexpensive goods, but I don’t know.

Really I should be outraged with myself, for buying inexpensive foreign-produced goods. Wait, no I shouldn’t. Did I hire someone for less than the minimum wage? Am I in charge of running Wal-mart?

I’m not, right? I’m not in charge of running Wal-mart? Let me check.

No. And they don’t like it when you try that.

Anyway, any of these places, it’s not up to me who they hire and how much they pay them. And really, you want to suggest to me that I shouldn’t shop there, and I should pay more money? Because really, what is up to me is taking care of my family.

People who say– if you take responsibility — the phrase take responsibility is very apt. If you take responsibility on for something, you take it from someone else. So if there’s, if the idea is out there that consumers are obligated to consider the source of the goods in the store when they make their buying decisions, then the people who run the stores, they can say, “Well, people don’t seem to mind if I get this cheap stuff from China. It’s what they want. It’s not my problem: if they didn’t like where I got it, they wouldn’t buy it.”

But we can say, “No, we have actually little to no idea what you are doing, since knowing what you are doing is not in any way our job, or even a thing we could do, without getting asked to leave the store, yet again.” Look at the supply chain, and find where someone’s doing something nasty. It’s not at the bottom. You’re going to tell me that I’m supposed to spend money, morally educating the CEO of Wal-mart?

That’s money taken away from the people who earned it. So then we have two bad things.

expensive dinner

“We can’t afford this salad at all, can we.” “No, but we must!”

“You can’t buy the cheapest stuff,” they say. “You have to buy the right stuff. It’s just, and fair.” Trade.*

Well, no, I’d like to keep that money, thank you. It’s not up to me, how Wal-Mart is run. That’s up to Wal-Mart, and the government.



Photo credits:

1 – care.com

2- self-citing !




*You can do it! You can NOT make that “not a fair-trade of responsibility” joke! I am rooting for you!

Diagnosis Inferiority Contest



Mother: So you say John was hit by one of the children today?

Daycare Worker: Several of them actually! They were after him all day!

Mother: What? Why didn’t you put a stop to this?

Daycare Worker: Leaning into adversity is an important part of John’s development. He learned a lot today.

Mother: OMG, he has a bruise on his face!

Daycare Worker: Yes, they knocked him down on the playground. It really was something to behold. Maybe one of the other children will get a chance tomorrow.

Mother: Why are you acting like his being abused is good thing? OMG, he has a bruise on his face!

Daycare Worker: You know this is a Christian daycare, right?


The most important part of memory is the part that recalls, when a struggle is over, what or those who helped the body, wrapped around said memory, through it. To relive mentally the depth of appreciation one felt in that low place, from a high one, is even more satisfying than plugging the two ends of an extension cord together, when the construction project is done.

How solid it makes us, needlessly afterwards to maintain the ‘platitudes’ that got us through a crisis; rigidly forever to adhere to the disciplines that cured our ailments; secretly to lavish on the people that comforted us the same desperate devotion we felt for them when in pain!

There are so many mechanisms in life for growth; overeating and listening being perhaps the two most obvious and comfortable; some, like suffering, we wish were less effective, in hopes they would be employed less.

Often I have questioned the widely held tenet–as I like to try to do all things I hear so often repeated, as if they needed repeating, as if there were still people alive who didn’t yet blindly believe them–that suffering is a lesson, and perhaps the most important way that we grow.

While I can’t and wouldn’t want to dispute that strength of character develops in the one subjected to deprivation, pain, and loss, perhaps even in measure to its severity, I can certainly state that I see no reason that it needs to.

Let’s at this point make up a word, for necessary distinctions such as this. We’ll call them triversions.

To me this triversion then captures well the power and near-perfection of the mind, being another of its incalculable balancing acts, one that dictates we never seek out suffering, for ourselves or others, nor ever waste it when it is forced upon us.

And of course we would not want to be greedy, in maintaining this balance; to aim for too much tolerance, or pain, or sainthood; to instead self-sacrificingly say, “No, I am good enough, and you are going to jail now.”

And so this post has just defined Justice.

Although its point was to exult in this next bit:

Carryig some crutches on our backs on a wobbly walk through the woods, complete with optional rock scramble; leaning our healthy heads again on the shoulder of the nurse; turning down the cheesecake, after our cholesterol again is normal: these things, happening later, develop the character much more than months of being lame, and in a better way.

And effectively so we demonstrate suffering’s shortcut, intelligence. “Look, universe, I’ve heard it already. And I’m keeping it. You need not say again.”  And effectively too we thus demonstrate a more correct interpretation of suffering than the wise and so, not cruel parent;  we cease looking up to it; we show it instead to be simply yet another type of information that we can choose incorporate into our thinking or not, one readily it can be supplanted by other types; we show how little we relish it, and need it not it all.

And so the second most important part of memory then, is for the face of the dog that bit us, the pattern of the poisonous snake, the license plate of the truck that ran us off the road, and all the hallmarks of the situation about to go pear-shaped, and how we avoided this last time.


Can anyone explain to . . . anyone, I guess, why preachers seem to love so much saying the words “smash” and “nail” and “whip” and “beat”?

Crush me God . . . Crush me God . . . Smash my life . . . Under Your Bootheel . . .This is good . . . I don’t know why . . . But still I’m sure. . .

Or if the magical powers of sacrifice, which did not work when pagans killed lambs, would have worked as well if a perfect-God-as-human-who-should-be-beyond-death passed away quietly, at age 80, maybe while relaxing and soaking his feet in warm water, with 17,155 more days of sharing amazing lessons of love and inspiration behind him, as they would if he was executed at age 33?

Seriously, where is the textbook on sacrificial power? I’m reasonably intelligent. I could get a lot done with it. Just minor stuff, like killing ants so the Broncos could win the Super Bowl. Or did it really work just the one time?




Shoutout to any church speaker who manages to add “try to stop it” to his /her next sermon on adversity and suffering.


Working on Symmetry

self portrait is actually a good album people just don't know

I’m here to warn you; the following is like a book chapter; just scroll past it if you aren’t in the mood for nice conversational and insightful prose at length.

Not you, sir. Maybe. Somebody. Somewhere. Did you make a long trip?
(Did you make the wrong trip? )
Gonna find you.
(Or you could just go home.)
Or you could just sit there and sulk, that fine. Just sulk.


Did you ever reach that point, with, like, a kid, where they go in the corner and pout, and you’re like, Ok, that’s progress? Works for me, right now. Just sit there and pout.


Because at least you’re not screaming, when you’re pouting. Pouting is progress.


Here’s an interesting thing to observe: I don’t know if this has ever happened to you. You’re going about your business, routine, ok, normal day–and then you get the feeling that someone is praying hard for you? Ever had that feeling? It’s funny, because you’d think you’d think, oh, that’s nice, but no–while it is nice, the first emotional reaction you have is uhooh, what do they know that I don’t?

Usually something, too, that’s the thing. You think, I don’t know what it is you’re worried about, but thank you!

Then somewhere in the course of your day you find out and you’re like uhOOH, ok. As a piano falls two feet from your head, you know.


Uh uh uh! Go back to pouting!




Did you ever wish that now that you’re adult, that you could go back and be a kid again, and torture your parents even more? Think of all the things you know to do now, that you didn’t know when you were a kid. Especially if your parents now sometimes get on your nerves.

My mother is kind of like an expert in aggravating. I don’t know where you get that degree, but she has her PhD in Aggravation.. She’s a leading scholar in the field. And I feel like I let some opportunities go that I shouldn’t have, when I was younger.


You know, like when you are kid, you find one word and you like it. Sometimes it’s something you made up. I’m trying to think–I’m sure I must have had a day or two, where I was enamored of a word. You like a word, you say it, to hear how it sounds. You say it a couple times to see if it changes as you say it. Say it a couple more times to see if that makes any difference to anything, you know. And then you might just decide that you like saying, and so you’ll say it a few more times just because you enjoy it. And then you might not see any reason to stop saying it, so you might just keep saying it at that point.


And after awhile, you might want to see how other things fit in with saying it, so if you sort of stomp your feet or jump a little bit, as you are saying the word, how does that work? Is that more fun? Probably. You can jump and say it, say it and jump, see if you can say it while you are in the air; jump harder, say it a little louder; see if you can wait until you land and see if you can make it come out of your mouth with the air that comes up out of your body as you hit the ground. Practice that for awhile, then say it a few more times, as a break, while you rest. Then pick back up with the jumping.

And then at some point you might get the idea–this is what happened to me a lot as a kid–but after twenty minutes of this or so, you might get the idea that probably other people would like to know about this word. You really shouldn’t keep it a secret. That it’s so much fun it should be shared. That it really would make other people happy to know about it, and that the other people in the room with your might want to know about it too.

They might be busy, trying to do their taxes, or trying to watch a television program, or talk on the phone with someone important. But when they are available, it would probably be a good idea to let them know about this word, and how much fun it is, and maybe demonstrate a few of the ways you can say it.


Part of being aggravating, it turns out–I don’t know why my mom decided that she needed this degree, but one of the things that she learned when she got it was how to come up with a good reaction to just about anything very quickly. Because when you are aggravating people, I guess, now and then they are going to try to aggravate you back, and you have to be able to immediately squelch that: because that’s not their job, it’s yours.

So I don’t think I’ve seen my mom annoyed in about thirty years. I think she might have been working on her degree when i was young. But once she got it: seriously, you just can annoy the woman.So, if she was over there on the phone with her boss, I would practice my word a few more times, hop around with it a little, and then sortof hop my way over to where she was, and say Hey, look at this!


The stuff I had to show my mom when I was a kid was like, Look, if I put my hand on my other hand, they fit together.

See? Look what I can do! I can put my hand on my other hand. They match.


And my mom has this teacher voice: she would look at me, and you could see things filtering through her mind really quickly, and she’d put on her teacher voice and say, Well, why don’t we draw pictures of our hands?


And always I would say No way! Anything she came up with in the teacher voice, I knew, as soon as I heard the first word in the teacher voice, that I was going to say no. There was just no other way to go. Any sort of educational suggestion was dead from conception. I don’t want to draw pictures of my hands. I’m just showing you that they fit together. Because drawing pictures of your hands is hard too, you know?

And then she would try again. No, look, you can put your hand on this paper and we can trace it and

I would say No, I’m not doing that. You’re missing the point.


And at that point I would start to get disappointed with her. I didn’t know why she couldn’t understand this. But I also knew I had only so many tries to make her understand. And already I’d  used up two. So I only really had one more chance to explain to her what I was trying to explain. So I would say, Look, your hand and my hand do NOT fit together.

At which point she would pause, and then say, No, I have the same five fingers that you do. And I’d think God, this lady does not get it!


Look, if I had two left hands, I could put them on TOP of each other and they would fit, I’d say. But you don’t, she’d say. Unless maybe you drew them. And then I was done, my time was up. She wasn’t going to get it. And the way that this would be communicated to me would be, Well, why don’t you put your hands on a chair and then sit on them? Which was not exactly an empty threat, but close to one? The severest punishment of my childhood being that I would have to sit on a chair, and I don’t think I actually ever did sit on a chair. I was just told that I was going to have to sit on a chair. The chair part was important. You couldn’t sit on the couch; couldn’t sit on the floor. Had to be a chair.

And so at that point it’s expedient to remove yourself from view, you know, sortof go around the corner. My house, the house I grew up in, was built with as few walls a possible. So the bedrooms and the bathrooms were enclosed, they had four walls, but the rest of the house was open so you could see everywhere. So removing myself from view sometimes meant going all the way back into the hallway, where luckily there was a big mirror, and I could practice jumping, saying my word, and fitting different parts of my body together.


Which is harder than you think. A lot of times I wished I had an assistant. Because, for example, your ear, does not want to go anywhere near your other ear, no matter how hard you try. And then you try your shoulders, which will get close to each other, you can line your knees and legs up, you can sit down and put your feet together, that works. But I ran through my extremities pretty quickly, and had to start working on things on my trunk. How many ribs are over here? Do they match the ribs over there? And somehow, while on the phone, I don’t know how this was done–

Put your shirt down!


Sheesh, I didn’t know she could even see me. It’s really not fair, because there is no time for me to explain to her what I am trying to do here. If she understood, she wouldn’t mind.


Then I started looking for anything you could fold the other way. How come everything on left matched everything on the right? Shouldn’t there be things on the front that match things on the back? It’s really arbitrary! Why not things that match diagonally? You know there is actually a chemical reason for all this, I found out later. I remember though at the time, I thought the whole set-up was dumb. This is some kind of paper doll junk, I thought. And also: This could be a lot more interesting. But I also thought, Maybe I just don’t know. Maybe I just haven’t found the parts that fit  together diagonally yet: maybe they’re inside. You do a quick mental check of other species that you know: no, it’s all like that, isn’t it. Match match match. I’m going outside! More work to do outside.

The problem is, though, when you go outside, you want to do some work outside, you have to decide where outside you want to do some work. And really, although your options are many, they are also constrained, because you only want to go outside to one of the places that is at the farthest reach of where you are allowed to go. So anywhere that is in sight of the house, if you can go farther, is not good enough. So I had a good twenty-minute walk ahead of me, before I was going to get back to this project.

And then you have to think, do I want to take anything with me? Because you don’t ever want to leave the house without a book, just in case. And you need a bag to put the book in, and then you need something to sit on, in case you want to sit down and read. I remember I had a bag that was big enough to sit on, once you took the book out, and I thought that was pretty great. Since I was already supposed to be outside and I didn’t want to answer any questions, I would sneak in through another door, equip myself, and then sneak back out — I’m sure all of this went totally unnoticed.

And then I had to decide how I was going to go: how was I going to get to one of these places that was at the farthest reach of where I wanted to go. This one you have to climb a hill; that one I haven’t taken in a while; that one I took yesterday and it was good. I’d think, what if, I started out in this middle route, and then went off-road, straight up this hill, and then took the high road, and then cut back down? Plus you get to see all the rocks and stuff that are on that hill when you are going straight up. You think, I don’t know, this is a little dangerous; I don’t usually climb this hill, the dirt is moving under my feet, but no, I can totally do this, right to the top.

Make it up the hill, make it down the other way, and just kind of check out, walk past really, some other things you’ve been doing outside, thinking, No, I’m not really into that today. Probably I’ll never be into that again, actually. And then circle around here, go around there, get to this point beyond which you are not supposed to go, and think, alright, what did I come out here to do? It’s so nice out here. And just then you hear

Where are you?! I can’t see you!

I’m coming.

(Or you could try: I’m back here! (Leave me alone.) Never works though.)


I can’t see you! Get up by the house!

I said I’m coming. And I’m fine though. Start your twenty-minute hike back towards the house. That was fun.


I usually used my twenty-minute hike to work on my speech, my arguments, for why I should be allowed to go back out wherever I was. I’d have a four-point thesis, explaining exactly where I had been, that it was allowed before, that it was plenty light out–for some reason, what I was doing never figured into these arguments at all.

Sometimes I’d stop and pick flowers on my way back to the house. And look, I brought you these flowers! Why don’t I go back outside.

Aw, aren’t those nice. And she’d stick them in a little cup on the windowsill. And I’d feel like a dork, because they were weeds I found on the lawn, that I didn’t think deserved to be in a cup like that; they didn’t even stand up straight.

Usually I was allowed to go back out. It was just the initial needing to locate me, that had to be done.


Several hours later, you come in, just filthy. I like to picture it like a nice gradual scale, darkest of the bottom, and sortof lightening as you go up. Come into the house because you’re hungry. See what’s in the fridge. Nothing is in the fridge. And then go back to the real project of the day, your new word. You’re hopping your way towards the bathroom, and then on each jump, just try it out, see if it is as good as it was earlier: Weenie! Weenie! Weenie! Weenie!


Photo credits:

This guy’s tumblr

This lady I just like, what can I say.


Don the Gloves of Logic and See If You Can Pick Up Christianity – Part 3

Don the Gloves of Logic and See If You Can Pick Up Christianity – Part 3

Do I Love You Enough?

“When I was young, I think I might have told you this before, Pat, when I was young, I really tried really hard to be a good part of a good church. I explained this to a woman at at a church service that I performed at, I guess you might call it: she wanted to talk to me afterwards. She asked me, you know, what’s the deal, what are you doing. And this is what I told her. That when I was young, I went to church and I tried real hard, I wanted to do what they were telling me to do. I was a good student; in school I did everything they told me to do and I got the A, and I went to church and I wanted to do the same thing. I wanted to get the A. And it was impossible. I was a bright kid, but it took me two or three years to figure this out, that it was impossible.

“And what really showed me, you know you go to church as a kid whose parents don’t go to church and you feel like an outsider; I went to a lot of different churches as a kid for a lot of different reasons. And you imagine everyone sitting around you, that they’re the insiders and you’re the outsider. And what really got to me, what made me realize this–I guess I was five years into my Christian quest, right? At age 14. (laughter) And what was funny, what I realized, that the other people sitting around me, they were there last week, they were there the week before that. They were members of the church. They were not five years into their Christian quest; they were thirty-five years into their Christian quest. Thirty-five years or more. They had had the time to have done all the things that the preachers told them to do, they had had time to do all their homework. And here they were sitting with me, listening to the same thing I was listening to, to this guy at the front of the room telling them that they weren’t getting an A. That they weren’t good enough. That they had to try harder. In general. That they had to do more, that they had to give more, that they had to think more–nope, not that last one so much. But more was needed before they could consider themselves good, not even A, material. And that blew my mind. And I left the church, in a sense. I mean I still went to church, but not much.

“I had gotten to know some of these people, and I knew how they lived their lives, and I had such an unbelievable respect for them that it hurt me, to sortof watch their faces as they were told — again — that they were vile sinners. In need of Christ’s grace so much that they were worthless without it. It made no sense.

“But the point I wanted to make here was that even back then, and this is kind of cute, I used to take this catalog, I used to make a list, you know, ‘What are my sins?’ And I’d get the book out, and I used to get upset, you know, that there wasn’t a longer list of rules. Because my sins were always not very interesting or any.

“So my list was usually ‘lying’ or ‘none.’ But I tried to make my list longer: I looked for things, like not cleaning my room enough, things like that. But there was nothing about that, so I couldn’t get away with it.

“It’s actually really fun to eliminate lying from your life, Pat, you know this, once you figure out how to do it. It takes bravery. All you have to do is confess to people what you really don’t want to say. I tried to teach little kids this idea, of a ‘really good truth.’ One would say ‘I broke, I stole your jewelry,’ and I’d be like, ‘Way to not lie.’ Which, she, she loved that, I don’t know. She might have. She’s a complicated girl. Anyway, listeners, if you do that enough times, let’s say if you do four big not-lies, it’s easy not to lie going forward from there.

“But I would look at this list and be like, ‘Yeah, I’m not having sex with anyone, so that cuts out a lot of this.’ What else was in there…I wasn’t going to kill anybody, I wasn’t going to steal anything, and then there was covet: my friend Wendy had a lot of board games, but I thought it was good that she had the board games. And a ping pong table. She had one of those, but I wanted her to have it.

“Pat, what I’m saying here, and I hope I didn’t get to personal, is that I don’t think most people sin very much. I’m really serious about people being good people. It’s not like I don’t care if they ‘sin.’ I care. I care a lot. I’m not one of those people who just doesn’t care if people do bad things or not.**

“I care though, I care a lot. But I just think in general that people don’t sin very much.”


Now if a guy cuts me off in traffic on purpose, he’s trying to hurt me. I don’t know what else would be a sin! But if you walk up to me on the street, a stranger, and I look you in the eyes and spit on the ground, do you think God cares? I don’t. Is my spit going to hurt you? Are you going to catch a cold? Is there a chance some of it might get on your shoe? Now it’s a little bit different if I take my 2 and a half tons of steel moving at sixty-five miles and hour and try to rub it up real close to yours, isn’t it.

I seriously hope this shows you what a different view of the world the physical view is, compared to the view that we may or may not have in our heads, which comes from our intentions. Your intentions are all yours. They physical world is the place we share; that’s where people get hurt or don’t. Car crashes hurt. Spit doesn’t.***

Unless you have AIDs.

Or hepatitis.

I used to volunteer at a prison a lot, and one time I came in and all the guards had hazmat suits on. “Come on in!” they said.

“Come on in?!” I said. “Why are you wearing a hazmat suit?”

They said, “Don’t worry about it. Come on in.”

“No, I think I need to know the answer to that one before I come on in,” I said.

“No,” they said. “So-and-so lady inmate got mad, and she was spitting at us, and we don’t know who has what, so we had to put the hazmat suits on.”

And I was like, “Where is so-and-so lady inmate now?”

“No, she’s in solitary confinement, so come on in.”

(just a note, don’t mind: 1:52:15,1:53, 1:53:20 – change the words)


1:53:50 – 1:54:10 lazy

1:59:45 – end that article – (2:00:00 – 2:00:01 Olivia Newton John)
**This class of people does not exist. See Where are the dumb.
***Jesus spit.


Graduate of 12 years of solid American public schooling typing this right now.


PS: I dictate this sh__. No edits.

It would make sense that something wouldn’t be wrong.



So here’s something: it’s that telepaths don’t make mistakes.

I’s funny, I never really thought about that that way until tonight, but they don’t. I’m thinking back over all the examples I have, and the actual telepaths are never wrong.

Now, some of them are crazy, and not just in the eccentric way. But this other group, these non-telepaths, is sort of always wrong. They can’t seem to come up with much that makes sense. They’re consistent, like you wouldn’t believe. But in a way that they don’t even see.

That’s interesting, isn’t it? I think that’s interesting, the never wrong part. I never thought about it that way. You see, I don’t know if I talked about it much — I think I mentioned it in an earlier recording — that the belief system is the closest to perfection, that I’ve found in a human being. The system itself. And there’s something I wrote out, a long time ago, about the infallibility of belief.*

The conclusion of it was — this is good, it has a nice structure — that human beings don’t actually make mistakes either. It was a bit of a proof of that. It was an attempt, you might say, you could put it as an attempt to prepare humanity for telepathy. Because I think it might be a necessary condition, this infallibility, for running around and mashing minds up against each other.


“What do you do with it?” “No idea, honey.”

Unless, of course, you all get real good at being real quiet. Saying nothing is perfect; no mistakes there.



Photo credits





Hey, you know that great teacher I had? She told me something important. She said — long time ago — two thousand…that same spring that I was bringing her up, the last time that I mentioned her — she said “All learning should be a game. The only way we should learn is through games.”

I think in my book, I’m going to definitely have to put that in there. That the right way to learn is through playing. Play.

play play play



Always, and in general — not in general, take that out! —


play, play play play play PLay, playPLay,

And always when you’re learning things be happy. Don’t learn when you’re sad. Wait until you are happy. Then learn.

why Why why especially, especially if you are trying to train your brain, right? Always be happy. When you’re trying to make that brain do something different. Because you are making new roads! Make them good ones.

Their scenery will remain the same; the next time you drive down it will be the same scene. So. Make them happy roads.




This is what I mean



You can test this, and imagine for yourself: feel the feel you feel when you remember something you learned in a game you loved. What if everything was like this?

Silly takes practice. These ladies clearly are man enough not to be afraid. But can they do it without these particular clothes, one wonders?

adult preschool

This is not what I mean*


I tell you, I’m the one to, I tell you, can you relearn? I tell you, can you learn it over, put the buildings on a new road? Can you relearn it all?










break the seal

photo credits

  1. I would say IKEA, but I’m just not sure that little purple bug was in the original. If not, radiation wonders very much where it came from. She didn’t add it.
  2. https://www.ncsu.edu
  3. I don’t know, some crazy blogger lady



be happy always when you learn, be happy all the time

*ok, ok, it might be what I mean.

Things Got Better in Baltimore Tonight



A friend and I share a common problem– a person (I think he is, it’s hard to be sure).

Time goes by, our problem gets better.

Tonight I was working on him, another guy was too.

Between the two of us, we convinced him to — just once– stop hurting someone he was hurting. He just chose not to.

My friend called me, she said ‘That was great! Hallelujah! Praise God’s Holy Name! Praise Him!’

‘Ok,’ I said, ‘it’s good– but that good?’

‘Praise Him Honey,’ she said, ‘you don’t Praise Him! know all the Lift UP the Lord’s Holy Name people around here he’s Praise Him! Lift His Huge Butt to heaven! hurting right now praise Him. What if we Shout OUT His Goodness could get him to Praise Him! stop on his own?’

I hadn’t thought of that, so I said ‘Praise Him’ too. In fact, I couldn’t stop saying it for a good few minutes.*

I called a different friend of mine and said ‘Things got better in Baltimore tonight.’ (Very calmly, just making conversation. Felt like he should know.)

‘That is very good news to hear, very good; completely irrespective of my having zero idea what you are talking about, very good news’ he said. ‘One wonders what you might mean, not knowing, but remains convinced this news is good, while wondering  just a little tiny bit what that might mean.’

He is very nice.

I said nothing, and imagined this might be challenging for him. I knelt in the kitchen for awhile, because things were so great.

‘Now if it was something I could see, you merciless goon,’ he went on, ‘I could look for it, and maybe see it. What do you think?’

Continuing to say nothing, I decided this was perhaps slightly more challenging for him than it need necessarily be. Hmm.

‘I wonder if I could ask my friend to make a sign, that you could see,’ I said.

Then I said nothing for awhile.

I asked her to light a candle, and put it in the window, to celebrate what happened.** I don’t know, it sounded like she may have asked some of the other people this guy has been hurting to do that too. Tell people to be very careful and move the curtains out of the way, I said. I said that several times.

She didn’t answer.

I called my second friend back and told him that I had asked her. I’m not sure if he picked up, because he didn’t say anything.


If they lit a candle, the reason they lit it wasn’t exactly to show that they are getting better. That they lit it means they are better, and better off. Nobody likes getting told what to do. Pain it would hurt you to tell you about, so much that just diminishing it a little feels like a miracle. Soldiers in General Hope’s Army. Getting better.

If anyone saw these candles, and knew why, my guess is they would ask me what they could do to help.  Doctors, or protection, or good luck? Not doctors; everybody needs protection; probably they could use good luck, but it wouldn’t matter much– ‘Information most of all.’ Then I wondered, did anyone have it to give it to them? Would these helpers need to search for it? And then, if they found it, search again, for how to tell it?


*which was fun

**it’s ok that he has no idea who or where she is





self-citing photo, how great is that?

many many many posts that have nothing to do with candles in progress. but want to post this now

Can I Tell You Something About Audience? Then What Will You Tell Me?

Skipping my history with writing about this topic,
skipping my relation, and the relation of this topic, to the topic Filters of Information,

scarecrow 1

An audience is a group; the sole principle for selecting the members of a human group is propriety; propriety being determined by goals, an audience is then a group of people selected to assist one in meeting a particular goal.

For some goals it is rather more efficient to let the audience to select itself; this option further recommending itself at times by being the only option.

Audience is a relatively long-enduing state of listening, without speech; of receiving without giving; and passivity; an interruption, as it were, or the normal two-way flow of communication.

Hence we reserve situations where audience is used for communications which themselves go beyond everyday speech; communications of a higher quality, which perhaps carry some particular import, the benefit of which we feel outweighs the negative impact of sitting passively, without the option of response. Such as a play. Or the Daily Show.

And so audience is an artificial construct, an aberration of pride, justified or not; something mostly then to be avoided. The more natural flow of information is bi-directional; bi-directional information flow being more productive, and what is more productive being more appealing, on an emotional level. Thus our natural state, in an information topology is conversation, which is better than sex.

Chemistry and physics, mathematics and biology, being governed by two-way streets, human interaction, governed by them, must be as well. As in chemistry any unequal state can only be maintained for so long, and with so much energy. Therefore those who must listen crave to speak, and those who must speak, to listen.

Easy enough to observe this by interacting with someone after they’re been to a play, when he/she will have so much to tell you that you don’t need to hear, as communication attempts to balance itself, and to correct the unnatural hour or two that has hopefully not been wasted.

But what is it that an audience is for?


Perhaps it is time now to say out loud what we all already know: that often when we meet another person, we become suddenly aware of things about ourselves — within a few minutes–that before meeting that person were outside our notice. I have walked into rooms full of people and felt tall, when it would have made sense to feel that other people were short, or to feel nothing at all about height. But we don’t–we feel tall. We go home to our parents and we feel young. A stranger enters our homes and our homes feel shabby, but not until.

This is audience, from the other direction: our suppositions about the opinions of others; suppositions we don’t bother to formulate until those people are with us, and passively watching and listening. Suppositions that bear information that we might–or maybe don’t–need.* This is one of the two things that an audience is for. Giving us a chance to pretend that we know what other people think about us.

The thing an audience is for, that we can feel so much better about. You watch, and learn.**

I just need this picture

One cannot choose the members of the audience that observes one’s everyday conduct easily. Easily, though can one choose the audiences which one is a member of. Not listening being a skill that improves with practice, but doesn’t require much.

All this is boring.

But how then should we speak, when we know so little about to whom we are speaking? Someone told me the more people you can reach with any communication the better; therefore tailoring every communication to the lowest possible common denominator is best. Always.

But shouldn’t an inspiration be reflected just as it came, and communicated just as it occurs to one? Perhaps you might say my task as a thinker is to translate it, but all I can do is dance around it anyway, and hope you’ll dance the same. Should I pick instead some lesser idea to approximate?

And too, the way a thought it communicated is no accident. Many things are hard to understand on purpose: that’s to keep you from understanding them.

Filtering information this way seems unfair, but it’s hard to say whether landing the message or missing it is more important; without missing many, none of us would be able to walk.

And it’s even worse than that. When we do dumb down, our assumption about out audience actually impacts their intelligence, at least temporarily. This works in both directions, like magic, giving one the ability to ratchet up the intellect of just about anyone, instantly, without sayso or instruction, just by ceasing to address them like an idiot.

This is the same assumption, applied twice, connects our suppositions about anyone observing us (above) to their actual opinions.  What we think of others, as long as they agree to listen to us, they must become, at least a little.

And so I am led to conclude that to speak at the highest level is best; preventing as it does misinformation in one way, and maximizing the intelligence of one’s audience in another. Except that then what do you do when someone doesn’t understand?


You know what I usually do with something like this? I usually throw it out and rewrite it as a short joke that captures the concepts for myself and leaves others in the dark. Oh well.

Hey, look what I found! If you want. If you want to optimize, that is:

When speaking to anyone, the majority of our speech should be asking and answering questions, allowing us best to tailor the information we receive and provide to our conversation partners, or audience. That information we will thus obtain being not simply facts to help us solve our problems better, but information about the others understanding of the facts discussed, and of our communication style in general. Some teaching styles insist that at least 70% of the teacher’s utterances be questions. It’s worth spending some time thinking about how such a thing can be done: how can you, when you know more, share what you know, only by asking?

Questions, then, are the answer. Right?


*supposition uncertain

**i.e. an audience is for increasing the impact of our learning. It is worth mentioning that these two purposes balance in the sense that together they establish two-way transmission of information. Although, because the audience is silent, half of the information transmitted is Grade B stuff, and only supposition. Regrettable.


Hope this blog bores you: that’s a lesson in itself.

I guess it is nuance

guard your treasure



God bless the children.









I guess it is nuance, the difference between not liking sex and not liking sex with people you don’t know well.

Dating (2016-07-20T03:56:45Z)

How do you fix a date? Well, you make the date go well.


Dates almost always mean extra work though, because there are so many different formats, no one seems to care for any of any more than they care for any of the others, yet we all just use all several hundred of them. Some people like formal dinner + interview, some people like boat rides; some people have to stare in each others’ eyes, others want to act like brother and sister until just the last minute. It’s a pain trying to get them all to line up.

It doesn’t make sense anyway: dates can’t be real but they shouldn’t be fake. Interview isn’t the best way to get to know someone; neither is testing.


Actually the perfect date is watching the television together while snacking, and not just because this is what you will be doing together for the rest of your lives anyway, if it works out. It just is the perfect one. You can repeat it any number of times.No one has to feel uncomfortable or pressured in any way, and the couch is right there. It requires no demonstrations of spending ability, and removes the pressure to constantly speak.

I’d advocate this be the universal and only date: spending time in each other’s houses watching the television and snacking.



But of course we can’t have this, because there are people who won’t behave. So the entire human population suffers all the awkwardness, pain, and expense of the current ‘set up,’ because of some rapists (whom you shouldn’t let in your house).

Could  we do it thought, maybe with a public awareness campaign, restaurants and the like might go out of business, at least in their current form. The idea of beginning in the stranger’s home has some especially nice side effects as well**, making the whole business less hysterical, removing any reason to even try to lie about some particularly salient things, and just getting people in one another’s houses more–a good goal in itself.

This is of course not to say that indoor rock climbing, out to the movies, wheelbarrow races, and all-day missions to taste every kind of baklava available in the city of Boston are to be avoided. But those are things one does with friends. One might certainly include people that one has dated or is dating, but on such an outing, everyone comports themselves as if dating did not exist, and therefore enjoys themselves much more. A date is going to another person’s house, watching television, and snacking. End of story.

It’s a good bet for the younger crowd as well.


(Though one wonders if sufficient information could be obtained this way: it is quite easy to fall in love with a person you watch television and snack with, the situation being an intimate one, where it is it almost impossible to do wrong. Neither of these attributes could be said to detract from any situation to which they apply… One’s unemployed household members, however, could be a far different story. Should dating become serious, other mechanisms, like spying, or whatever it takes to observe the dated in a variety of situations, could be employed to obtain the information necessary. These, however, are of course not dates.)



photo credits



(I like the part where Every single leftover piece is devoured .)

Bacon’s List

scarecrow 1

Other top hits from poor people about how to conserve resources.

1. When things are dirty that you want to be clean, make a solution of 2 parts bleach to 1 part water. Spray that solution on the dirty thing, and leave.

Come back the next day and either hose it off or wipe it down. That is as clean as it it should ever get.

(As a neat side effect, if you do this to your shower, your house will smell like there’s a swimming pool nearby for the next two days, and you can pretend you are staying in a hotel.) (As another neat side effect, you spent no time in a grocery store aisle considering which flavor of solvent to use.) (As a third neat side effect, everyone knows what is in bleach: that’s why they put in our drinking water on purpose.)

2. Whenever you need to buy anything inedible, try making it out of junk mail first. I can guarantee this works better than you think it will. I need a notepad, a dog bowl. I need something to do. I need  dental floss, something to read, and several placemats that match. I need to upholster this chair, clean up this mess, and figure out something to wear that’s really going to make me stand out. Can junk mail fill that need? Thank you, mass mailer: I needed new underwear! Thank you junk mail!

(No need to get fancy. Junk mail works best when you just leave it the shape it came in and throw it out soon after use.)

3. Stop cooking. Go to the grocery store, select X frozen meals, take them home, and when you’re hungry, heat one up and eat it.

(There, I’ve just given you back somewhere between 4 – 8% of your life.) (If you choose to eat locally sourced or extra wholesome fresh food you’ve just prepared, or worse/better, grown yourself, there are a lot of reasons to do so, but do you think it will add 8%–that’s about 5.7 years on average–to your life? That’s just to break even.) (Personally, I would rather you have that time now.)

4. When you are bored and there’s nothing to do: do nothing. Don’t go out. Don’t get a movie. Just do nothing. It’s free, and very good for the planet.


I guess sometimes it does make sense to do tedious, incredibly time-consuming tasks that aren’t your job.

Grand total: at least 28.2% of your life.** Yours for free! Go do something great! Let your subversively impactful imagination run wild! I’m going to the pool.

(You learn these things from being raised by people so desperate for money that they work so much that time to cook is a luxury.)

PS: That motorcycle sculpture is 5 inches tall.

Rasher Choices for Sustainable Living


This ongoing effort to save the planet requires from us a strange combination of behaviors, this effort, requires, as it is currently espoused: cycling and recycling, reusing and reclusing, not buying, especially buying, salvaging. etc.

Strange indeed that many of these world-saving maneuvers are nothing new to an impoverished person. They weren’t even new in the Eighties.

Peculiar, also that none of them require any intelligence, but rather demand menial work: pedaling, sorting trash, sanding an old chair, stitching clothes poorly, or gardening.

Have you ever wondered: where did they come from, these items on this list of things we must all do to be responsible? Why these items, and not others?

And why (I ran out of numbers: oh wait, no I didn’t. I never started counting) did the study of environmental regulation not make this list? I suppose it is much more utilitarian for everyone to sort their trash, and that is where our global responsibility lies. Likewise knowing the details of available technologies for low-energy anything-and-everything (transportation, maybe) turned out to be far less important than growing own own food.

It also seems rather unimportant to teach anyone to drive in a way that maximizes the efficiency of their gas usage, when one can instead teach them to build a rain barrel. Or at least to feel that they should own one. Maybe because then they will just stay home.




And so we see that around a strong kernel of good intention, layers of greed have accumulated to seal out new ideas, and reduced those who care about the earth to menial laborers.

If I hated the planet, I cannot think of a better way to nullify the energies of so motivated a group than to set them diligently growing their own cucumbers and canning their own pickles.

As an outside observer, one is also alarmed: as the circumstances this wholesome, well-motivated culture accumulates around itself reproduce exactly those of a post-apocalyptic world where no one went to college, where there is no government, and all the institutions that we’ve worked on for hundreds of years might not even exist.


I don’t want to live in that world. I believes we’re smarter than that. Not my idea of a fun game.

I don’t want to say that we would almost certainly be further along in all the efforts to moderate and preserve our natural environment if all the time we spent matching the definition of eco-friendly had instead been spent on thinking and complaining and learning, rather than playing with trash. Maybe I should just say that we certainly would be. Yes, that sounds right.

I suppose not one of us wants to trust any other one to think, though, and so our actions and guidance should remain at the level of “kill a pig and make your own bacon.”

Which anyone can do.

Although when you do it, it is one of the least friendly things you can do to the world.

Only because you don’t know how to kill a pig.

And you don’t know how to make bacon.


You don’t even need bacon. And you threw most of that pig away.



So the next time you want to spend 10 hours on a Saturday doing something that might or might not work out, hop on the internet. Try to find out what those few people with the ability to make decisions and actions that actually impact something the size of a planet are up to.

You might have to make a second trip, to figure out how to figure out if any of it is what they should be up to.

But once you have that, it’s easy. Just light something up, slice into the tenderest parts, and smoke those suckers until they turn tasty. (Just to be clear, that means “figure out how the decisions and actions of these people can be changed.”)

Reminder: This is what we have these institutions for. They can do what we can’t.


Now can I finally say how glad I am that we all have to do everything ourselves. I’ll build my own electric range, soon, probably. I can build my own bicycle already! I’ll grow my own food, I’ll be my own media network, I’ll clean up my own block, I’ll be the neighborhood watch; and of course I’ll take care of my own trash, and everybody else’s, and my goat. Each and every one of us can and should, don’t you think, reproduce the learning processes that our great-great-great grandfathers were bored to tears with. What else would we do with our time?


Being a lumberjack is nothing new. Being bad at being a lumberjack is.

I’ve never been able to get anyone to tell me the details of the end of the world they’re preparing for. It’s most salient features seem to be the unavailability of retail food, the unavailability of gasoline, and everyone on the planet suddenly turning against everyone else, perhaps by necessity of implementing a policy of “shoot first ask questions later,” since, should we share our canned goods with strangers happening by, we might starve.

I feel ready. I can handle it. Whatever it is.

I’m going to need my one-acre farmette, and my bacon-making skills. It’s all on me. And definitely not you. Unless you are my friend. And then we can make bacon together. And pretend we’re in a commune. But just on Saturday. And just in our house. Very important that we stay in our house, on our own property. Or in our own little apartment. Somewhere within. Inside. We have to be inside: we’re busy, and that’s where the kitchen is. And the toolshed. Something happened Saturday? Yeah, I remember. That was the day I was making my own pillowcases. I’ll tell you what out of later.

No, not that Saturday, the Saturday before, when I was writing my own Facebook? I insist on keeping my code local. I don’t know how other people stand it, shipping their HTML and PHP all the way across the country every time they log on; and along with everybody else, I mean, everybody’s else’s, in some kind of big trunk. Yuck! It’s so much better to have your own, you know? I’m sure mine’s cleane; even if it doesn’t look like much I know where it came from and what’s in it. There’s no no God-knows-what that they put in the pre-packaged Facebook. I can’t even say the names of most of those things. I just read them in the activity monitor* and wince. What is that? Shouldn’t we know what’s in our software? And no cookies. No cookies in this house. No way. They’re not good for my kids.


Should work fine.


If it was a Sunday, then I was probably working on building my own cellphone. (No, it’s not that hard. You just follow the youtube videos. I’m on step #702.)

(You did that already? Huh. Do you need any pillowcases? )

Hold on, something’s happening on my phone. I sort all my own packets. Anything that comes in, I just read it, figure out what it is, and send it to the right app. It’s single-stream, so I just cut, then point. Like they say, Read, Recon, Remit. You don’t? No, it doesn’t take take much time out of my day. Just a few more, hold on. I’ll just fold this one up so it fits.

(I know that’s not packet switching, but I like the phrase packet switching, because of the ka tch sounds: ka, tch; ka, tch; ka tch … hey! How did you know that’s not packet switching? Do you roll your own too?)

Matchstick world trade center - Pat Acton

Matchstick world trade center – Pat Acton – Don’t try this at home: he does it, and so well, only to make you wonder. That’s his job.

Definitely a Saturday? Oh, I bet it was three weeks ago, when I was making my own roads. Wherever I go, I just put down a road.  Made of straw. And shepherds. That was it then, right? What happened that Saturday?

What? No, I didn’t hear about that. Oh, that’s crazy. No, I’m not doing that! What a weirdo. Can you even do that? How would it work? Some people are way out there. Can you imagine, without a medical degree? What for? No, doctors do that! No, you have to be a doctor! You can’t do that yourself. What a whackjob. What, he just got one at the store and did it? Crazy.

Ok maybe, I mean, the more you knew about that, probably the better you could kill a cow or goat. I’m not doing it though. Reading a book about physiology and medicine. Why? Who does that? The whole thing too? That’s just too far. I do enough. What will anyone think of next?


Pat Acton – Matchstick US Capitol – Don’t worry, we can rebuild whatever we’ve decided to ignore exists! (Again, don’t try this at home. He’s a professional.)

Next Saturday? Oh, I was going to write poetry. And go hiking.


PPS: They built machines that sort trash into trash, compost, biofuel, and various kinds of recyclable, oh, 15 or so years ago. I think they kept them off the market just because it’s fun to watch you do it. Keeps you busy.


Some photo credits:




*That’s the task manager, friend.

**http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.t01.htm Less if you are am American male, much more if you live outside of the US and Britain.




When you only have one pineapple, it’s really something special.

Pineapples, everyone loves them but they’re hard to get into.

What do you do, if you have a lot of pineapples? You give them to the people you love. You don’t give pineapples to strangers. You might sell them. I wonder if the difficulty I’m having here has anything to do with the length of time that this has been bothering me.

Pineapples are also the international sign for Caribbeans are welcome here.

If you had a lot of pineapples, though, would you give them to people? They have a lot of vitamin C. And the acid that fights arthritis. You don’t want to pass on a problem per se. But it’s a terrible thing, a rotten pineapple.


What do people do in countries where there’s pineapples everywhere? They must know what to do with them. They probably send a truck down the road or something, to sweep them all up. We only like them because they come from so far away. Okay, maybe we’re not so into that idea anymore, but that was the original appeal of everything that we found so appealing.


See, I’m going around on this again. I’ve talked to myself the whole way through and I haven’t gotten anywhere. I guess the question is what people really want to eat.

I wonder if you could get a pineapple on your tombstone.

And I’ve landed where I always land again. Darn it. Nothing like eight good options to keep you from doing anything. Alright. Alright. Alright. I can figure this out.

See, my blog is down. And I’m upset. About that. That’s why I can’t figure this out about these pineapples. I like those blog people.

Oh. Duh. I had some good advice about this, but it was… partial. Darn it.

Stop it. Just stop it, everybody. Quit it, you know, quit being a jerk. Maybe you could give it up for the summer. Tell yourself, this summer I will not be a miserable jerk. See how it works for you.

See, greed, greed, so many problems are caused by greed, it’s one of the nastiest forms of fear…

It’s artificial. Preservatives?

This is the circle I always go around. You could say well, I went around it, so that doesn’t do much, but I did go around it, so that might…

See, but then, there are thieves. This also needs to be considered.


I should get up early more often.



One-Billion-rising_Soumen-Nath_69 158793282

Indians light candles as they mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, India , Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. Indian police charged six men with murder on Saturday, adding to accusations that they beat and gang-raped the woman on a New Delhi bus nearly two weeks ago in a case that shocked the country. The murder charges were laid after the woman died earlier Saturday in a Singapore hospital where she has been flown for treatment. (AP Photo/ Saurabh Das) ORG XMIT: DEL147sub30DELHIimage1-jumbo



Photo credits include:




A woman prays as she lights a candle in a church in St.Petersburg during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. A Russian passenger plane has crashed in the Sinai peninsula Saturday with 217 passengers, mostly Russians, and seven Russian crew members killed. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky) ORG XMIT: XAZ105http://blogs.savethechildren.org.uk/2013/02/india-a-new-awakening-one-billion-rising/





Written June 21, 2016. As for the pics, what should I say, I just got lucky?

Top Ten Most Interesting Refusals I’ve Had The Chance To Give In Life

everyone has a list like this

10. I’m sorry, you’re going to have to ask someone else to make that Protect the Flag speech.

9. Sorry, I have to stop playing Ninja now and go back to Harvard.

8. No, I don’t want to meet the astronaut right now.

7. No, you can’t wear my wimple. I only have the one.

6. No, I really don’t think LSD is going to help me. Thanks anyway.

5. No, I can’t use the other vise, because I also broke that one in half with my bare hands, like I just did this one.

4. No, I really can’t drink any of that until you drink a whole glass of it first.

3. Nope, I’m not going to think that, at all.


2. Sorry, but no, I’m not done hugging you yet. I’ll let you know.

But number one is

1. I just don’t mediate. Alright? I don’t. It doesn’t work for me.

And then there’s a long pause, where I wish I was explaining what I’m thinking, but I’m not.

I just don’t meditate. It doesn’t work for me. I’ve tried asking for advice, but none of it helped.

It Turns Green

aka How to Easily Always Give Perfect Advice and Achieve Inner Peace

I wonder if I could get through life without knowing anything about the world.

Suppose I only knew that there were people. Hi, people!



I don’t know how things work; I don’t know good from bad; I don’t know right from wrong; I don’t know progress from backsliding; I just know that there are people. I bet those people themselves would give me everything I need to know to give them 100% perfect advice at all times.

I could be a completely ignorant perfect advice giving machine.

So someone drives by and says, “Well. I — took — it away. From them.”

Ok. Don’t panic, perfect advice giving machine. You’re ready for a situation like this. Just sit back and look at the messenger’s face, and you will see an amazing baklava of self-analysis; already complete; the top few layers of which are likely to fall away and maybe be left on the plate; the bottom of which is difficult to cut, and not really what baklava is all about, in that it’s not what anyone would call puff pastry, not what anyone would understand baklava to mean–but those layers in between should contain everything you need to know to say WELL DONE MA’AM and mean it, and I THINK YOU TOOK IT JUST AT THE RIGHT TIME, TOO. A DAY SOONER WOULD HAVE BEEN TOO SOON and NOW LET’S THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU WILL DO NEXT.

Because what do you see in there? I’m not telling, because I don’t know.

It’s not important anyway: I don’t need to guess what you know; I only need to guess what you feel about what you know, because I know what you feel is accurate.

Just sometimes hidden, and just sometimes not what you really want. (Then I ask the crust, but you’re not going to like the answer.)

This kind of interacting with your fellow human beings I call the middle level of guru-hood. It’s not the beginning, which is accepting some fundamental truths about the world. And it’s not the end, which is Nirvana. But its the middle state, of selflessness. Being the space between the layers. Where you don’t know, because you don’t really exist, so you can’t. But where it’s alright, because you don’t need to. I should hang out there more.

I feel I was born to bounce; to intercept; I think I was born to reflect. I can see what you do not. Will you see for me? I am so blind. Will you see for me?


Where do we stand, in the vast baklava of the self? At what layer is our perspective? It’s like asking the world where in the world it is.

Worrld? Whera are you? World? I’m looking! World..?

I’m not good at this. I’m not finding anything. World.? This isn’t even fun. Stupid world. It should be easy. Whose idea was this anyway? Who says I have to do this? Why am I looking for this? I don’t need the world–I was fine. Before I started looking. I was fine. Go looking for something nobody can find.

It’s unfindable, that’s what it is. It can’t be done. That’s the lesson, right? I learned it just now. I’m saying that’s the lesson. Stupid game, waste of my time, go look for the world. Other people can do it, but that doesn’t mean it’s — darn it.


Wait, I think, was that it? Was that it right there? Wait a minute. There was like nothing, but then like something, for like a second, I think that was maybe–was that it?

How am I supposed to know, if you can’t tell me if that was it or not? Was that the world?

Well, I’ll just make something up. Oh yeah, I found it. You bet I did. No, I’m not telling you. It’s a secret. But I’m found it for sure. You haven’t found it yet?

I wish I hadn’t said that last part. World?

Maybe that was it, just now, again. That was like the other thing. They were similar, so if the first one was it, then that second one might have been.

How’s anybody supposed to do this.


It’s about meditation, right? That’s what it’s about?

Well, if you’re anything like me, which you have to be, because I too can read, you do not much enjoy being told that the way to find something is to stop looking.

I was Buddha.

I was breathing.

I was under a tree.

I was Buddha, and under a tree. And breathing.

And then.

I was Buddha, and I was under a tree, and I was breathing.

Ok, if that doesn’t move you, then we’re pretty different, because I’m moved. But it could be only because I REALLY like trees and breathing. It was supposed to be mildly annoying, but who can predict these things.

(Somehow centered it’s much more annoying.)

I was Buddha.

I was breathing.

I was under a tree.

I was Buddha, and under a tree. And breathing.

And then.

I was Buddha, and I was under a tree, and I was breathing.

Regardless, is there a more frustrating pursuit than attempting to do nothing, and failing?

guru: Well, really what you have to do is just let it all go, and completely stop trying.

Ok, here goes. Let it go, and now I…I’m screwed.

No, hold on. Let me …. screw that up again.

How about if i… screw that up once more?

And now I’ll just … fail.

Don’t I feel better already! Thank you for your advice, brother.

If I were to say I knew of only one method that works, that I don’t recommend iand I’m not going to tell you, that would be better advice than to tell you not to try.

But don’t try though. Just listen in on the guru:

guru: … so basically, I was thinking about all this not-trying, and one day I realized, ‘Hey, I’m a pompous jerk!’ So therefore I already know anything that I’d be trying to figure out, and … I win.

That’s as close as I can get to describing how iactually is done, achieving this state of mental consciousness that people try to describe.

guru: … and then so I was like yup, I must be there. Because I’m great. I don’t know why my guru didn’t tell me that. I’m not trying any more, that’s for sure. It’s not like he was *wrong*;he just left an important part out.

guru: The reason why Buddha is smiling, when you see him in the sculptures, is because he’s proud of himself. *He* figured it out.

buddha: Yeaaaahhh. Got it. Got it gooood.

guru: I’m not lying. I suppose people might say I can’t just make this up, but to them I say, hey, I’m Enlightened, because I just decided that I am.

people: You can’t just make that up! That takes years of yoga! And practice, and tattoos and things!

guru: Nope. Just made it up. And I’m Enlightened, so I’m right and you’re wrong.

buddha: Done with that now. Just sitting here.

guru: In fact, you might say the fact that enlightened me the most was the one about how I can just make stuff up. About Enlightenment especially.

buddha: Oooooooooooh. Nice.

guru: It’s my head. What are you going to do about it?

people: Well, what kind of discipline is that?

guru: Umm.. the one where you get to be my disciple? That one.

guru: You make up a name for it. I can’t think of anything right now.

people: I don’t think this is right.

guru: Leave then. Go home and try something.


Seriously, seriously, if you read texts on meditation, striving is the enemy of peace.

And feelings of inadequacy are the gnat in your coffee of understanding.

And fear of failure is the precipice that you’re not worried about.


The disciple returns…

disciple 1: I felt like I was about to maybe actually start to worry for a second, and it almost almost-worried me. Man, I don’t know why I keep doing this. But I felt like I was maybe going to think about worrying about something, and I had a little bit of a reaction to that feeling. Man.

guru:  It’s ok. It happens sometimes. To you. Hahahaha.

And then he walks away.

And what should the disciple do with his advice? Forget it all. Forget the whole conversation, just let it go. This is why gurus are so brief: there’s actually no point in them telling anyone anything, because they know you’re supposed to forget it.

disciple 2: Wow, you know, the guru have me some really good advice yesterday, but part of it included forgetting everything, so I have no idea what the rest of it was.

guru: Huh.


disciple 2: guru radiation, do I have to feed them?

guru: No? Do you want to?

disciple 2: Kindof?

guru: Then kindof feed them?

disciple 2: How’s that done exactly?

guru: Just pick one up and put it near the refrigerator, and see what it does. Or don’t.

disciple 2: Wow, that was fun.

guru: You’re darn right it was. Feeling proud of yourself suddenly, aren’t you.

disciple 2: I am!

guru radiation: That’s right. Now you can take a nap if you want.


disciple 2: Oh LOOK! What do they call this? It’s like soft.. and warm.. and large! It’s like really warm.. and REALLY soft, and I fit on it!

disciple 2: Oh my God! Whoever came up with this thing was a genius! I’m still a human being and alive but I’m completely horizontal. Oh wow. Wow wow wow.

disciple 2: Have other people heard of this? I want to share it with the world.

guru radiation: That’s called a bed. I like them too.


child 1: What’s going on with Mom?

child 2: I don’t know, she handed me a TV dinner and she’s outside playing with dandelions.

child 1: I think that means I don’t have to do my homework.*

child 2: Do you want to go play with dandelions with her?

child 1: Heck no. Let’s go burn something.

child 2: Awesome.

child 1: Watch this. (shouts)  Mom? We’re going to see what happens when you light a TV on fire?

disciple 2 (henceforth, Mom): (long pause) Does this concern me?*

[Neat things happen, btw.]

Meanwhile Mom’s out there rolling down the hill…

Mom: It seemed like he thought it was a bad thing to do, but at the same time it seemed like he wanted to do it, but it seemed like he thought it was a bad thing to do, but at the same time, he wanted to do it…

She gets to the bottom.

Mom: Oh well! What next? LOOK, pigeons!

Mom: Pigeons…? What are you talking about, pigeons? What’s on your little pigeon minds?


Mom: It must be neat to fly.

(Explosions, coming from the house.)

Mom: That hasn’t happened before. I wonder if I’m needed. (shouts) Hello, children! Am I needed?

Child 1: Nope!

Mom: Alright!

Mom: Can I get a second nope? From the other child?

Child 2: No..?

Mom: Does that mean no I can’t, or is that the second nope?


Mom: Children, let’s consider making our own clothes. Perhaps from linen.

Mom: Ok, that was fun. Now let’s consider something else.


*Just in case you were curious this blog is pretending to be written in the month of November.**

**Possibly late October.

How does a farmer grow his crop?


How does the farmer grow his crop?

We think there’s only one way.

He does it from the bottom up

And never works on Sundays.

How does the farmer till his field?

He does it with other’s oxen!

That he takes to the barn at night

And very carefully locks in.

How does the farmer clear his crop

When growing time is done?

He loves the weeds more than the flowers

And lets them have their fun?

No, how does the farmer clear his crop

When growing time is done?

He teaches the grass to light a match

And then just gives it one?

No, how does the farmer clear his crop

When growing time is done?

He starves the goats until they cry

And then just lets them roam?

Doesn’t he rent a big machine

And shave it like a sheep?

But that doesn’t clear the crop;

The roots have grown too deep.

Still there he sits in Sunday best,

The field’s all freshly mown.

His mouth full of fresh-baked bread says

“I never should have sown!”

Warning: if I get on to a meter, I have a hard time getting off. Uuuaaaghghgheewwww.  Good meter, but get off! Euaeuawhhaaaaaah. It’ll be children’s poetry for two straight weeks. Huaewahaaahah. Go away. No meter! No! Help! You’re so … cute … and pithy.

like a tangerine?

I can’t help it. All I want to do is write about God. There’s enough people writing about enough other things, aren’t there?

You have to be careful, when making these kinds of arguments…


Oh, that’s fraught! Oh, that’s perilous! Slippery slope! Oo-oh, no–sliding–



glad I didn’t say it.

How about that?

How about that?

That needs to go. That’s no good.

I like this. And this. And also this.

I don’t like that. We don’t need that. We have this. That’s just extra.

What’s that for, anyway? What’s the difference, between that and this?

That is just opposition, in a word: not this.

This is better. This can do everything that can do.

I think we can just leave that unsaid.

Is everyone ok with this?

As a conjunction, that’s completely different. This can’t do that then.

I guess we could keep that, and get rid of this?

I like this, though. And this. And also this.

Epic Single Battle


I am scared of this topic. Not the topic of quantity — in a way the topic of quantity scares me — but I’m scared of the number one.

I wonder if that has a name. A wonderful name.

Let’s try this way:






I think it’s not one that scares me as much as one’s followers.

When one gets big enough it rolls over all opposition. Like tide.

See, imperfection is existence. So what is one?

It is pure chaos, in a sense—it is the point right next to the end; the very last one.



See, when you come face-to-face with one, you are either one or you’re not. I mean “You’re not.” Not “You’re not one;” “ You’re not.” You’re either one, or you are not.

At this point I’d like to invent a pronoun that means the lack of a pronoun, real or implied.

So you are either one, or you’re not (glish).


Hi, one. I’d like to be (giish). I’d like to be (glish) and also not be one (glish) (please). I’d like to ask if that’s ok with you, but it doesn’t actually matter a lot or at all. If you’re one, you’re preference has no bearing on whether I can not be one and still be. (Glish).

For if I am, you will no longer be one (glish). There will be two. At least.

So, unreasonable one! It had to be either you or me, or both of us— as one.

Guess who won?


One is like a swing. No, one is not like a swing. One is, though, like a swing.

A child on a swing on a swingset moves back and forth, over and over. Inside the overall motion though, is other motion: legs go out, or knees bend, or the whole thing twists from side to side. The motion-in-motion changes the path of the overall motion, making it faster or slower or crooked, but not by much, because the child never touches the ground.

Without a reference point, without touching the ground, the motion-in-motion can’t really do anything. It is more than self-correcting: it is nothing. If you took away the back and forth motion, one is like this. Because it is one, every problem it fixes it must also either have created or be about to create. Which annoyed the heck out of me. “Quit poking into things, one!” I said. “You’re wearing me out for nothing. You’ll fix something, then break something bigger, and on and on and worse, until you settle down.”

Explaining this to one, that was how I defeated it. And wiped the sweat from my brow in relief, because the only logical state for an omnipotent being is at rest.

“Just be.” (i said that too)

Bound in Paradise


Dear Diary,

It has been two years now that I’ve been here in the tropics. Still no one has found out that I am an Aleutian Islander. I don’t see any reason why they ever will, as I have learned to wear the floral print, and to say ‘mon.’

one month later

Dear Diary,

Today they found out Mattimar is from Saskatchewan. I was part of the group that went door-to-door to tell everyone, although we pretended we were being nice and said instead that we had caught him stealing. Someone produced some receipts he had forged, and there was talk of burning his hut.  Of course his massage therapy license was revoked.

It was also Nancy’s birthday.

We all forge receipts. There is no other way to do business, here.

one month later

Dear Diary,

It is November. I saw myself in a mirror today and didn’t recognize the man saw. I think my face might be shrinking. Somehow it occupies less real estate on my skull.

There’s an ex-pat bar on the other side of the island. I heard a group of four from Ontario was there last night. How I miss news from home. Or Ontario. But of course I dare not visit.

one week later

Dear Diary,

I have a plan. I  have collected all of the forged receipts and burned them. I told Nancy I was roasting a pig.

one day later

Dear Diary,

I found Mattimar; he seems ok. Tomorrow we’re going to the magistrate. My status as a native and the absence of evidence should be enough to have his license reinstated.


Perhaps a year from now I’ll be growing my hair out again.


…because how are you going to stop a whole bunch of people by yourself…



There are a lot of clothes in my closet I can’t wear in public, for the sake of people who know me well. I keep them though. Now and then I give a piece away, to a stranger, hoping to start a trend. One of these days.



True, I Never Could Wiggle My Own Ears, Myself

I admit I live under a rock. Maybe this might explain why. But stop me if you’ve heard this one.

You can buy one of these for $65. Go ahead, watch as much as you like! It’s real–I can’t make it go away.

2012 was a big year for brain-computer-interface. I thought you should know that you can buy yourself an EEG headband (also about $65), download this API (I really LOVE the name), and write your own brain-reading software applications probably more easily than you can access the spell-check dictionary on your personal laptop.

I would suggest you do this, before someone else does. I mean, you knew about this already, right?

Here’s some other fun old research you probably already know about too. Scientists can control your moral character with magnets!


That’s the computer-brain interface, I guess. You might want to get one of these, so that you can cognitively disable the people around you just when they are about to criticize your computer programs:


Great instructional video on TMS

Scientists have found that they can use this technology to make people playing a video game turn right when they fully intend to turn left.* I was going to a install a few along my commute, to steer people away from turning left at congested intersections.

I guess I could skip all that and just use the satellite system somehow. The video says TMS can be pretty painful, but so can sitting in traffic while you learn how to make a left turn be!

I admit, living under a rock as I do, I am so often frustrated by the lack of ways to control my computer. Think of how the world could be improved, if only I could play video games hands-free. And clearly there’s no downside.

I also have trouble knowing what I’m thinking, so I’m glad researchers at Berkeley** have been working on reading and generating thoughts via computers. Or is it just reading? Is one of those good and one bad or something? Who cares? I didn’t read anything about any of that. Anyway, they have a big dictionary of thoughts-in-the-form-of-radio-signals.

I wonder if they’ve bombarded any unknowing people with computer-generated frequencies of this kind? In computer programming, that’s called ’round-tripping’ a conversion. You can test the conversion by translating from it back into it and comparing the result to the original. I’m sure you knew that already too though.

What would that be like? Would you would suddenly drop in intelligence? Would your thought vocabulary would shrink to 40-50 recurring concepts of disgusting shallowness? Although you weren’t a visual thinker previously, would you find your thoughts limited to those you could picture, and perhaps even wondering if your brain had been swapped with that of an animal, because you could not execute any higher-level thinking, no matter how hard you tried?

Would you find that what used to be a thought now appeared as picture of a word in black text on a white background? Or that you could never think of more than a single word? Would it be the case that perhaps just because of poor aim, other parts of your brain that scientist have little or no understanding of would be ‘hijacked,’ making it difficult to move your body? Would your emotional palette would be reduced to 7 simple colors, to which you would add ’embarrassment,’ and not mean yours? Would each of these colors would be so cheap garish and obvious that they would actually be perceived as physical pain for a long time before you were able to ascertain what they were supposed to be? Pass the Mountain Dew.

I said, pass the frickin’ Mountain Dew right now.

brain to brain

It’s the ultimate LAN party!

Seems incredibly useful. And totally safe! I can’t think of any government in the world that would be interested in such a technology though. Oh well.

Do me a favor, would you, and figure out how this stuff works, so we can figure out how to make it not work? I’m just trying to catch up here.

Writing Un-rightable Wrongs

I love you so freaking much.
I don’t care that you are married.
I would tattoo “I love you ______,” all over my face if I didn’t think it would make you find me less attractive.
I mean, you’re not religious, right? Neither am I. So marriage isn’t that big of deal. Not compared to the way I feel about you, and what our life could be like together. And I wouldn’t say any of this if I thought you were happy. But you’re not. Half the lights in your face are turned off.
I have those lights.
And money, lots.
And the kind of burning, unquenchable desire to make you happy that only years of torturous hindsight can create. I was wrong. I was wrong. I was wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong WRONG. Very very wrong.
I’m lying at your feet, here, a different man. Not having you in my life has taught me everything I ever needed to know about being with you. Very different. I freaking swear. I would say ‘completely different,’ but I’m the same in all the ways you liked.
So please, give me another chance. Soon, before you have children. At least consider it. He’ll be fine. I’ll make sure he’s fine. I’ll hire people to make sure he’s fine.
Yours truly.
cc: Sandra, if this works can you photocopy it? Probably someone else could use it too.


Submission (Don the Gloves of Logic and See If You Can Pick Up Christianity Part 4.75)


I think everyone would…wow. The stigma around this word is enormous. I was going to say that I think everyone would benefit from submitting more, and even I had to stop myself, and I’m alone in my car.

And where did this stigma come from, exactly? If Dana Carvey was here, in the car with me, we could go so Church Lady on this. What have you done to submission, Satan? What have you been up to? How have you perverted God’s beautiful gift of guidance?

But he’s not, and I messed that up. Satan is supposed to come at the end.

How wonderful, how powerful is it, to have decisions that you just don’t need to make—at all— because you are just going to do what you are told.

Ok, let me tell you two things about submission that you should know if you are actually going to try this, and I’ve already touched on both of them. One, a system based on submission doesn’t work unless the selection process if huge. If you think of the amount of decision-making effort you are going to save in the future by not having to make those decisions, some portion of that effort you have put out up front to select what will be making decisions for you later. Not as much, but some portion of that work must be done, if you it to be good. This is just information theory. The information that represents your best interests has to get into that system somehow.

Two, when you submit, really submit. All of us who know how to manage from below know that it is a powerful place to be, and you can do a lot of manipulating from down there. That can get dirty. It’s up to the individuals involved work this out in a way that works for them.

There’s a sentence I love so much…. how does it go? Let me try to remember. “I will do this, but my preference would be to do otherwise.” Oh yes. You can even add “of course”! Oh yes.

Think about this: if dating were different, if dating meant that anyone you went out with would get to make 40 or even 20 percent of your decisions for you, would you have gone out with ANY of the people you actually did? How differently would you choose, if you were looking for more than just someone to put in your house? Men aren’t furniture!

It’s like this, I made this decision a while back, and I think it might be a good idea for everybody. I decided never to have sex with someone who couldn’t brush my hair.

If you are too embarrassed to ask a potential sex partner to brush your hair, then how could you … I’ll let you finish that sentence.

If you do ask them, and they can’t— they tear it all out or give up— then what have we learned?

And if you wouldn’t trust them to even try … then what are you doing? There ought to be a female union.

min 19

three from behind, three from the exit,

min 20, the guy in the left lane brakes

I swear it is distinctly possible these folks drive in formations.

min 21 they are still in a bunch. regular people would have spread out.

the right side of the simultaneous lane change is hard to see in the video: there were two turn signals pointing at each other.

min 34-35 this guy speeds way up to pass me, then switch to the far right lane where he slows down and drives parallel to the guy in front of me

min 40: two cars are driving one behind the other on the right as I come up over the hill. One pulls into my lane (the middle) and then slows down to match the speed of the car in the right lane, effectively blocking my way. I had to brake to avoid hitting him, then when I go to pass, he accelerates.

min 41: a line of four cars shows up from behind. one is a police SUV.

min 42: a minivan, I think from the original pair at min 34, that must have been riding in my blind spot (I can’t see him in the rearview), gives me a near side-swipe as he exits.

Carpooling is great, but that means in one car. A group of cars is not good, outside of a parade.

I like to keep a good 1/4 mile between my car and any other cars on the road.

Editing is going to be necessary. I think it takes me 20 min to come to my point

New Morals (Don the Gloves of Logic and See if You Can Pick Up Christianity Part 4.5)

I wrote an article — still eating— I wrote an article about the word appropriate. I think I  Whmight have also written about the word moral.   Was it moral? It wasn’t ethical. I don’t like ethical. Ethical is a puzzle it’s a math problem. Is it ethical or is it not ethical. Moral is personal decision. Everybody makes it differently and probably should. It’s not something that were all going to agree on anytime soon, at least, I feel confident saying that. It’s your own code, that you put together from everything else, everybody else’s code, and your own experience.

I don’t know, I don’t think you really get morals from experience; I think you have to get them from someone. You can’t create them. Has anybody created a moral, a moral precept? Are there new morals?

If anyone says the word netiquette, I will verbally <something> them. I’m trying to write here.

Do we have new morals? People say morals change, but are there new ones?

I can think of dozen to add, that would make no sense to…but I don’t, I .. so yes! I have. I win. That was a good cupcake too.

<rolls down window> I may have invented some morals. <window back up> That’s a fun thing to discover about yourself at one o’clock in the morning.

And still, I’m going to meet people who are so much better than me, and say, Oh wow, wow, wow look at that, that’s STIFF.

No one is moving that. Where other people have backbone, you have two-inch thick I Beam, that makes a lot of sense. I mean, I get pretty excited whenever I see people do things that work well that I wouldn’t have done. So even if morals and adding to your morals isn’t your thing, like it is mine, I think people could all get excited about that. “What did you just do? I wouldn’t, I mean, I never, I, I mean—and it worked.

“So let’s do it your way. Even if I’m not sure, next time, what your way is. I’m just going to decide…in advance…that we’re going to try your way first. Because I’m picking up on the fact that you’ve gotten something in there….that I, I haven’t had before. And I mean, curiosity alone ought to be enough— to make that worth trying out.”

So what do you call that? For once in my life I know the word that I am going to say next, before anyone who is reading might.

And how strange to have this life, to have written articles in defense of the word appropriate; to write an article in defense of the word “moral”; and now, to write an article in defense of the word

In this blog, I make excuses for people

Joel Zwibel, 43, of West View replaces the historic flag with the Bennington Flag at Flag Plaza, Uptown, Monday, February 20, 2012.  There is a different historic flag flown for every day of the month.  (Jasmine Goldband  |  Tribune-Review) (JLG Flag0226.jpg:, goes with Craig Smith story).

Joel Zwibel, 43, of West View replaces the historic flag with the Bennington Flag at Flag Plaza, Uptown, Monday, February 20, 2012. There is a different historic flag flown for every day of the month. (Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review) I GUESS THE CAMERAMAN DIDN’T THINK TO HELP
(JLG Flag0226.jpg:, goes with Craig Smith story).

It’s hard to reconcile different kinds of thought within ourselves. The world requires very different things from us and its amazing the way we bring them together. Even just to house them sometimes is not an easy thing.

You think all day with a machine as your audience, it’s hard to switch over to the people at night.

What is it that makes us brave? An example of someone else’s bravery? Trust that that outcome will be ok? We don’t need bravery if we have that.

I don’t know : if I had to guess, I’d guess that it’s determination, that word a shorthand for “certainty that you are right.” The more sure you are right that you are, the braver you will be.

There’s a corollary I guess, that if you show someone a kindness, they’re more likely to open up to you.


PHOTO FROM http://umlud.blogspot.com/2015/07/americans-proudly-breaking-flag-code.html; I left it small on purpose; you’re going to have to zoom in if you want to see more.

I’ve always liked it when people carry me aloft and free.

Looking Up (Don the Gloves of Logic and See if you can Pick Up Christianity Part 4)

Don the Gloves of Logic and See if you can Pick Up Christianity – Part 4

Looking Up

I wanted to write about what happens when you meet another person who is more moral than you. I have a theory that everybody loves this, that everybody gets a thrill out of it; a kick is maybe the better word.

A kick out of meeting someone who, you’re not sure why—you might or might not know the reason—but you can tell that somehow, on some level, they are made of stronger stuff, at least in some places.

This has happened to me countless times in my life, and I’ve managed to learn something from some of them. But I’ve always enjoyed it; I get such a kick out of it.

There’s a phrase that we say to each other every day, without thinking about what it actually means: how are you. And this is what I wonder, whenever I meet one of these people. How are you? How did you get to be this?

Can I be that?

Can I be it too? I mean, that’s what I say, to myself.


It’s almost like: “What do you have in there? Is that—where’d you get that? Can I have a, like maybe a little, can I have just a little bit? Because it looks like it’s good. I mean, I haven’t ever had it before—but it *looks* good.”

When you encounter someone who is more moral than you, how do you know that they are? You see them not doing things that you do, or doing things that you don’t.

So when you meet someone who is more moral than you, you see that you are wrong, by some standard. There is no other way to know that they are more moral than you.

But you also see that there is way to be right by that same standard, because here’s someone who’s doing it. And so what do we do? What do we do, when we’re wrong? I know what I like to do.


I like to lie down.

Not, like on a bed.

In my head.


If you picture the force of that moral code, of that other person’s standards, which must be in some part your standards too—otherwise you kindof wouldn’t notice, right?— when you see that force come at you, like a tidal wave; you can let it knock you down. You can stand there, defiant—or maybe just numb—and let it knock you down, and then, well, you know, you’re going to feel some pain, because you’re wrong.

You can try to fight it. It came up in some other things I was writing this week, actually my life, not other things I was writing: but people wrong you, and sometimes they even get mad at you afterwards. All by themselves. No extra help. This makes perfect logical sense. We don’t want to hurt someone who themselves didn’t do anything wrong, so we’ll invent something that they did do wrong.

So that’s that reasoning. I wouldn’t hurt a good person, but I might strike out in self-defense. And if I did mess up and hurt a good person, well, then, by a certain emotional logic, I should try to re-invent the person I hurt as someone who hurt me. And that balances out my misdeed, my mistake, in some sense. People do that; that’s why they yell at you. Certain people. Other people are just nasty because they’ve been hurt, so they feel entitled to be mean, because other people have been mean to them. Hookers aren’t nice, for instance. You rarely meet a hooker who’s friendly.

Back to topic. This might be an unusual thing to enjoy, and I’m not sure I can say I enjoy it, always, but you know, when someone comes at you with an accusation, even if it’s the form of their life, I think the best thing I’ve found to do as far as the payoff is to lie down and … kindof let it pummel you? I find this the least painful route. Because from underneath, I don’t know—I like being underneath. I’ve always liked it.

Underneath the right thing, obviously. You don’t want to be underneath the wrong thing. That’s no fun at all. But it feels really good to be underneath the right thing. You say, ok, I checked this out, I used my brain before I got under here. It seems well-reasoned and I think SOMEHOW BETTER THAN ME. Not in every way, sure, but in some way, definitely better than me. So I’ll just get under here now.


Because that’s when it gets really interesting actually; once you are underneath that accusation, it is not easy to stay there. Oh boy it isn’t. Because you are going to want to protest; you are going to want to try to stand back up. It takes a lot of willpower not to. You don’t give that reason; you don’t give that excuse; you don’t argue; you lie down. Now if they’re WRONG, and you’e RIGHT, all you have to do is WAIT.

Or maybe I should say, all you get to do is wait.

It can’t be the case that you are going to have to wait forever, however. Just keep track of what that wave is bringing—maybe halfway through you figure out that it’s wrong—find a good place, where it subsides a little; and pull out. Your list of how wrong it is.


But that is not what I am trying to talk about here; that’s a completely separate thing. I’m trying to talk about when it’s right. This person really is better than you. And you see them, standing tall in front of you, their head maybe blocking out the sun a little, and you see that where they’ve gone left, you went right.

It hurts for a second; maybe more than one. But it doesn’t have to. *Why* did you go right? It’s not that important at that moment, is it? *Will* you go left or right next time?—that’s more important. But even that isn’t quite it.


I think it doesn’t hurt, I think the way you learn not to feel the pain of being wrong is that you line yourself up with what is right, as fast as possible. I like to picture myself underneath a nice big garden planter, maybe with a small but not exactly tiny cedar tree in it. Between such a planter and a teak deck, perhaps. You go ahead; you be a tree; I like it down here.

People are sometimes blown away when I try to do this. They expect something else from me, I guess. I don’t know. Why should I know. Maybe they want me to sit at the patio table instead.

I’m hesitating to come to my point here because I’m not sure what’s right and wrong. I don’t want to write anything that I can’t even convince myself is true.

Do we really need other people to show us how to be? I’m pretty sure it’s a good idea to learn from other people.

In that case, what’s ok and what’s not, in terms of their showing us? That varies a lot from person to person, and I may have been desensitized to some things that really aren’t ok in terms of letting someone know that they are wrong. So I want to be careful not to advocate things that are unhealthy, just because I have been through some unhealthy things.

It would be one thing if I had a mechanism for handing an accusatory onslaught that most people don’t have, and just wouldn’t get a chance to apply. That really wouldn’t do much damage.

I wish, this was supposed to be a fun blog—it started out that way—about how nice it is to meet someone more moral than you, because you can learn so much from them. And there is a way to arrange yourself in relationship to that other person that makes that learning process very easy. But.

On the other hand, if I have accumulated some kind of junk, some conceptual junk from experiencing the wrong kind of moral adjustment, it would be a terrible thing to pass that conceptual junk on.

Let me try a different tact, after eating this cupcake.


Comedy’s Work

An american alligator

An american alligator: this pic better look better in the actual post.


I should point out that the two cars that took off from the stoplight much faster than I did will not get to where we are going, which is the next stoplight, faster than I will, but they will use much more gas.

Let me talk a little about laughter: namely what it’s for, what it does, and maybe this time I’ll be able to figure out how; laughter being an incredibly old thing, that like so many things that are so old feels magical; that like so many things that are so old is incredibly powerful–so powerful, in fact, that I am sure that my investigating it and explicating it will not diminish its magic for me in the least.

As a side note there is something I refer to, and I hope you don’t find the name too comical, as the Law of the Forest. It’s something I can’t decide if I should talk about or not, which adds it to a long list of things that are incredibly interesting but perhaps not a good idea for anyone else but me to know my thoughts about.

I think it might be useful to divide laughter into two kinds. I frequently find myself laughing out of sheer joy. There’s no joke; there is no irony; there is simply an arrangement of circumstance that is so pleasing that I am overwhelmed. Taken aback. I suppose because I find it unlikely. And at times like this, laughter spouts out of me. It bubbles up from somewhere in the middle of my spine, curves an arc through the top of my skull, and is a wonderful thing, as it always is, no matter what kind.

I suppose if you wanted to be rigorous you could say such laughter in me only occurs because of the contrast of a situation like that with other situations. But I’m not sure. I don’t know how rigorous that is actually. Good is good. Good does not need bad to be to good. (Good might want bad to be good though.)

I feel pretty confident saying that everyone, each driver in each car on the highway in front of me has had the experience of being mentally knocked down by the beauty of some small thing. It’s funny how unconscious such an experience is. Unintended, non-deliberate. Unexpected, not exactly uncontrollable, but not the kind of thing that you can make happen: rather the kind of thing that happens to you.

And I am also fairly confident that if each of these drivers were to recall such a moment, where the just immeasurable beauty of some small thing stood out to them, however, briefly, they would understand that it required no negative experience to create that experience. And so based on this, what I guess is my own philosophy, I will say that there is laughter that is pure, and joy that is pure. Without side effects. Without negative consequences, or causes.

But more frequently laughter is a singularity (in the mathematical sense of the term– is there another?). A discontinuity. A place where one thing becomes another, in a space we cannot measure. I wonder if as you read this you are beginning to see how much chaos is in an idea like that, and it is more than an idea. It is a real thing, that we do everyday.

And beginning to understand that when you fold that much chaos up into a few seconds of weird noise, you are in fact dealing with something incredibly powerful. And, I don’t want to say strange, but different.

It is alchemy.

I remember being a teenager, writing a few letters on paper, maybe two, maybe one and a number: 1 over x. I don’t know if it was the teacher who was so good or just the fact of it. I had never seen anything like 1 over x before. The leap forward that my mind took to know that such a thing existed was huge. “I have encompassed the world! All of the good in it! All of the bad in it! With three marks on my paper? The largest possible thing I can imagine and the smallest? Somehow– in inversion?– I’ve covered everything with three marks on my paper?!”

That Is EASY! That is what I mean by easy. We do not have to march, and trudge, and chip our way through granite: we just have to twist. And the big problems become small. Progress can suddenly be made. And if what was so large rises again into difficulty, simply twist again.

So the second kind of laughter: someone wrote it in a book that we only laugh because things are terrible. They were halfway there. We laugh in the differential space between the terrible and the wonderful: not the big gaping space that defines them, but another one–a space that I’m not sure without laughter we’d know exists.

There’s nothing wrong with that long path that connects these extremes, but there is also this short path, that finds the infinite good by heading towards the infinite bad–like wormhole.

Have I been quite plain? Have I said my point here directly?
That we laugh at things because we can see how the terrible lines up with the wonderful when just a pinch of absurdity is added, that coincidence becomes clear.

I’m thinking of children’s jokes: what do you call an alligator in a vest? It’s a play on words, right? The answer will be close to the words in the question. But the idea of an alligator in a vest is a little bit absurd.

So in a kid’s joke like that, you can see without any horror having to be part of it, this near-alignment.

The answer is “An investigator!”

And if you want to observe yourself, as an experiment, you’ll probably find that your emotional response to such a joke is a very innocent kind of horror: this little wormhole of coincidence taking you from the space of innocent childhood jokes, and games and thought–to somewhere not quite as nice? You feel wronged, somehow, after hearing a joke like that. Very quickly, just for a second, it took you on a trip from a good one to a bad one, and you didn’t mind–much, maybe? The bad one almost isn’t real, but we feel it, and we groan.

I’ve ruined the word alligator for you. I’ve created a little path, in your brain, from an alligator to an alligator in a vest, and from an alligator in a vest to an investigator. That’s probably not a path you knew you wanted, but there’s not much you can do about it now. It’s there, and it will stay. And I’m sorry–almost–because you might have had some different–I mean, you can say better– associations with those words before, that are now going to have to take a backseat sometimes, to mine.

Side note: jokes don’t work when they are not true. if I told you an alligator in a vest was a Copernicus, it doesn’t have quite the same effect. In this case, you are more likely to feel pity for me than to groan. And I understand. I’ve failed to make that connection.

It’s like what happens when I try to shoot a rubber band at anything. It just falls off and lands in my lap. I’ve never been good at that: someone even showed me how you can put it on your pinky and wrap it around your thumb to your pinky, but still, it has no effect; it’s just going to fall off my hand and into my lap. And

So this should be enough said, right?I’ve been so direct. The case of adult humor should be obvious: which is beautiful; which is a wonderful thing, because your surely your explanation of it to yourself will be much better than my words. Surely what you’ll take away from the idea when you root it in your own experience and shake it around a little bit will be so much more than my lecturing.

Why is it important that we laugh? It is not for our emotional well-being.

It is not to maintain our mood.

It is not to release a chemical in our brain.

We have to remember that thought is real. I’ve said it many times: how we think, our thought, is our actions. So it is real, and it is very important. We dismiss it–we think it is involuntary, to think! We think we only do. But we do, because we thought first, whether we noticed we were or not.

All of the problems of the physical world are problems of thinking. Some thought is their solution, and in some cases also their cause.

And so when we laugh, at the horrific, we are solving a problem, directly, in perhaps the most rapid and effective way that anyone could. And we do find–going back to supporting my thesis–evidence that I hope you’ll make for me: that the problem we laugh at is concretely smaller afterwards; that we problems we don’t are not.

There is infinite inspiration in that graph between the bottom of the graph and the top of it. ALL of the ideas are there. All of the solutions that seem unreachable when you are hovering somewhere around the x-axis are in that gap. When you thread your needle with some wit, or childishness, and make that connection, although you might land quickly back down where you started, or almost, YOU NEVER COME AWAY EMPTY HANDED. That lateral left turn your thinking needed might suddenly be visible there.

You know, I did a lot of work on my house. I stained and varnished things; I patch drywall that wasn’t actually drywall; I contorted myself into strange shapes so that I could reach things in corners under the eaves; I blew up some plumbing.

I worked on it, non-stop, when I wasn’t working for money, for two years straight. So much of my thinking during that time was trying to figure out how to fix that house: what’s first, what’s sec on, what’s most efficient; what labor is involved, what supplies to I need; can I fold these trips to Home Depot together into fewer, etc.

The best way I think I can describe it is that I just crouched under the labor of it all, smashed almost by it. It’s a big house. And I tried to console myself, one room at a time: “If I keep going, I have to finish.” Which works, as long as nothing new breaks.

But there were maybe half a dozen times in those two years where I would wake up early in the morning and while drinking my coffee realize that something, some big task I was preparing for didn’t need completing at all. “It’s fine as it is! People like looking at a ceiling that looks like that!” “Having a hole there is interesting,” and “I can always run an extension cord if I need to plug something in.”

These are the best kind of repairs: the ones you never do. Because you don’t need to. And there’s something hysterical about them all. “No one will ever look there.”

Now there were man more times although not enough if you really want to be a perfectionist–but there were many more times when I would wake up early in the morning and realize that whatever it was that I was dreading working on that day didn’t need to be done–yet. It would need to be done, but there would be a time in the future when doing it would be more appropriate and much much easier. Perhaps even so easy as someone else doing it.

These are also good repairs. Not quite as funny. But still good. I bring this up to bathe for a moment in the sensation of being finished with that house. Although I miss having no floor, and a toilet in the kitchen.* But also as an example of the two kinds of paths I have been talking about here: the hard way and the easy way you could call them, although I don’t like those names. Because sometimes the hard way is the right way, which makes it easy.

I really want people to have this easier way, that comes from understanding. It brings so much joy with it. So I go over it again and again and maybe I will even go over it more. It was not an easy thing–well, actually it was–I was going to say that it was not an easy thing to add to my life, but it was, no joke.

It’s just not always easy to remember that it is there.

I just missed my exit. The GPS doesn’t seem to care. It’s showing that I am not where I am supposed to be, but not saying anything about the fact that I’m not, particularly not anything that would help me levitate over the jersey wall between where I am and where I should be.


*It wasn’t connected.


It took me way too long in my estimation to learn that what sad people need is to be made fun of.

Around the same time I first saw 1 over x I think someone tried to make me read war literature. I hated it, I didn’t get it. Why were we talking about people dying in mud. Not til much later did I understand that increasing the number of minds that contained this image was a real and effective way to decrease the number of bodies that would experience it.




What to Do When Someone Offers to Teach You How To Have Sex

Before I begin, I want you to know that I like Fennel Seeds, and she is in every respect a fantastic person as far as I am concerned. I’m pretty sure she knows this about me.

When the rubber meets the road, that’s one thing.
When you meet the road without rubber, then you can see what the road might not even have known.

I want, as I did yesterday, to posit the existence of a group. Of doers.

Strange is how complete my uncertainty is regarding the likelihood of your having knowledge of this group. They seem quite large.

They are quite young. This group, it seems at times, is comprised almost exclusively of people between 18 and 25. But this is only what is seems like. Like a sea anemone, or someone who forgot they had buttocks, perhaps this group has parts that are quite unknown to themselves. There could be families in it, with young children, who as a group go searching for things in the night–things, I say, because I don’t know what they are searching for; not exits, but maybe things that lead to them. They do the searching, the living and the dying. And there are organizers, the demographic characteristics of which I could only guess. They do the organizing.

My hunch is that this group is not a new one, but rather old. Maybe in a different incarnation, it may have been around for 60 years or more.

Usually an idea that re-occurs on its own is a good one, but that principle doesn’t apply here; this idea perhaps has never had the chance to re-occur, but instead been passed on quite impressively over time, however long. So not a good one, but a strong one. And not exactly a dumb one.


Any idea or belief system that doesn’t allow questions does so for only one reason: it knows that it is wrong, and that questions will reveal this. This gets tricky though, when an idea or belief system figures out how to forbid questions without even saying they don’t. This is like the coup de grace of subverting reasoning. The filet mignon of maintaining ignorance. And it’s easy, if you know how, to make people just not want to ask; to make them not even think to ask.

I knew a lady; let’s call her Fennel Seeds, who had the social kung fu. You know what the social kung fu is? If Fennel Seeds and I were at a party together, she might turn to a guy in the room and say, in a special way, “Our friend here is new in town.” You know how this works, right? At which point I am supposed to stick my hand out and say something clever like, “Oh really? I though it was jus a new town, ha HA”, but probably I don’t, because I know better and have already left. (Because I don’t have much the social kung fu, but I do have the …that’s another article.)

Now one thing about Fennel Seeds that she might not even know herself is that she totally knows how to make no one ask questions, without even mentioning the word “questions,” which this group i’m getting around to describing wouldn’t want to remind people existed. She could do it without knowing she was doing it, for hours or days or weeks. I wonder where she picked it up, this ability.

When I met Fennel Seeds for real it went like this. She was incredibly nice. So was her boyfriend, Boyfriend. They had just moved. That’s why their house felt like no one lived in it. What a nice house. What nice leather sofas. So nice. Now, did we want to stay in, or did we want to go out to a show? Did I want to put my bags in the guest room…where there was no bed… (or where there is a child’s bed, all done up in pink strawberry shortcake, in other houses like this I have been to) …or did I want to put my bags somewhere else?

Both sound great to me! I said and smiled SO big! And I’ll just hold on to my bags!

Soon Fennel Seeds was rolling around on the floor, stretching her feet at me, sort of like a cat. Should I call my boyfriend, or should he go to the store? she asked me.

Wow, you are so nice! I said. Really?

Well? she said. What do you think?

Oh, I just can’t believe how nice all this is, I said. I really don’t know about the store. She just looked at me, a little dumbstruck.

Fennel Seeds was between jobs.


Boyfriend made a trip to the store, then came back; then Fennel Seeds asked me if she should take a trip to the store. “Taking a trip to the store” meant walking two blocks to a big antique mall and loitering there.

Why is he going to the store?, I had asked her.

He needs to move his car, she said, like she was quoting something. This was funny for some reason? It was an accomplishment, for her to tell me that he needed to move his car?


Why does he need to move his car? I had asked her.

This was not answered. Something about another guy coming over, maybe?

Fennel Seeds kept leaving the room and coming back with new things to say to me. I was partially collapsed on the couch, my bags between my feet, beaming. It was one of those weird over-stuffed leather sofas.

Do you like the couch? said Fennel Seeds.

“Hmmm!” I said.

Back out of the room.

Boyfriend’s friend some-other-guy might be coming over. What did I think of that?

“Oh, where’s he from?” is said.

“Where’s he from?” she said.

“Yes. From? Or not?” I said.

Back out of the room again. Which was too bad, because we didn’t get a chance to talk about where he might be not from.


He did come over.

“Come sit out on the porch with me,” said Fennel Seeds.

“Oh hell yeah,” I said.

A truck pulled in the driveway, and then out. I couldn’t blame the guy. There was really no place to park.

“Do you like my pedicure?” said Fennel Seeds, wiggling her toes. She stared at my bare feet, which a) are huge and b) sport a nice deformity from an accident I had when I was twelve. She had a little bit of a nasty grin, which cheered me up, since ‘nasty’ was healthy, compared to the rest of a mind like hers.

“Oh yes,” I said. “You are absolutely beautiful.”

“Should I ask <boyfriend> if he should go to the store?” she said.

“I have absolutely no idea,” I answered. “Isn’t it such a nice day.”

“I’ll just go see if he’s going,” she said.

“Ok,” I said.


Boyfriend went to the store again. And came back. I not sure if I moved while he was gone. I was back half-collapsed on the couch, bags between feet. Fennel Seeds was a little irritated.

At one point, I think they both tried to go to the store at the same time, and I went with them.

“How about a nice hot shower?” I said when we got back, trying to cheer her up. It had been pretty difficult for her to walk around that antique mall for absolutely no reason. He seemed more used to it.

“Sure!” she said.

“Thanks,” I said. “I’ll be right back.”

There was a big bottle of Cipro in the medicine cabinet, with boyfriend’s name. It took a lot of willpower, but I didn’t sing in the shower.


After the shower I relented a little. I tried to engage Fennel Seeds in conversation. She didn’t care at all that I was a writer, or that I was in her town to investigate what is by far the dorkiest church in the world. She was a health nut, she told me. She liked juice, and cleanliness, she told me. “Oh, that reminds me!” she said.

She went over to the bedroom and picked up a jar. “I keep these fennel seeds right next to the bed,” she said. She knelt there and shook the jar at me. “Mmmm, mmm, mmm,” she said.

Because you see, Fennel Seeds was not your average couchsurfing hostess. She was a trained, if not licensed, Beauty Operator.


“Where did Boyfriend go?” I asked.

“Oh, he’s around,” she said.

“Around where?” I said. I did a lap around the house, which was small. No Boyfriend.

“I don’t know!” said Fennel Seeds. She was really warming to her subject now, having remembered the fennel seeds, and wiggling on the couch in a little private ecstasy. It was hard to look at her.

“Ok,” I said, half-collapsing again, on the other end of the couch. “So what are we going to do tonight, anyway?”

She left the room again.


Boyfriend reappeared a few minutes later. We all sat in the living room and didn’t say anything for awhile. Well, two of us did. Fennel Seeds — sober as a judge, I am pretty sure– was bouncing around the room like a gerbil in a bubble. I have never seen anything so sophisticatedly cheery up close.

I was hungry. My ‘friend’ (a stranger), who introduced me to couchsurfing a few months before this, without telling me anything about it, then led me straight to a man “just out of prison” who offered me money for sex, had advised me to tell my hosts that I was “go with the flow.” In big cities couchsurfing is all about the international scene. In the smaller towns it is a little different. Over and over people told me they were “just glad people were keeping it going.”

“Keeping what going,” I asked one guy. There were several hundred people listed in his midwestern town.

“You know, keep it going,” he said, looking at my more experienced couch-surfing ‘friend’ for assistance. “It’s important for people to keep it going.”

“The site is really popular,” I said. “And active. Are you worried it’s going to do a MySpace?”

“No, not like that,” he said. He looked again at my ‘friend’ for help, but said nothing.

I found this deeply, richly unsatisfying. “Is it in trouble of some kind?” I said. He didn’t answer me.

“Do you guys want to play Cards Against Humanity?” he asked.


This type of thing happened quite a few times, actually, when I walked into the conversations of couchsurfers who didn’t know I wasn’t one of them. “How about that, at the meet-up last night?” one guy said.

“How about what?” I asked.

“Well, it got pretty heated, the debate about what we should do about the group.”

“Oh?” I said. “I missed all that. What’s the issue?”

Just like the keep-it-going guy, he looked at my ‘friend.’ “Nothing,” he said. And he changed the subject. I asked several other people what was going on with the group, but no one would tell me.


I did not say “go with the flow” to Fennel Seeds. In retrospect, I half-wish I had: it might have been interesting to see who she decided needed to leave the house then. But on the other half, maybe I would have ended up with something stuck in my teeth. The house felt like a pressure-cooker. It was hard to think.

I did give her a backrub, just to see what she’d do. It was worth it. She shook the fennel seed jar at me again. When that didn’t work, she decided to give me backrub lessons. She taught me The Bear, and The Ice Skater. I like my own style though. Mentally, I named it The Stabbing Hovercraft. Just for her.

I decided to take them up on the show, since they had offered it. (This same routine of stay in or go to show was repeated at all three houses I visited–Mr. Just Out of Prison being a fourth. All three times I went for it, and all three times the offerer(s) said he/she/they would join me at the show later: I should go ahead. And this I did, breathing a sigh of relief.)

I grabbed some food and stuffed it in my mouth on the way home. I didn’t want to miss anything. No one had said anything about dinner. I don’t expect people to feed me, but I do expect them to eat. Maybe if I had gone with the flow, I could have been privy to their dinner plans. Maybe since I hadn’t, the three of us couldn’t be trusted to discuss this and work it out. Like children, did we need to be told what to say?


I hate to go into so much detail, but I’m afraid of what your imagination might do with any time I leave unaccounted for in this recounting. After the show we went to bed. I took the couch. Poor Boyfriend. I sat up and wrote, jumpy like a … kangaroo.

The next day Fennel Seeds told me about Beauty Class.
Have I told you about one of my all-time favorite books in the world? It’s called Understanding Cult Mind Control: basically the keys to the kingdom of being able to make a large group of people do whatever you want them too. But written by a guy who would far prefer you do what you feel like doing instead. I guarantee that just reading it through will quadruple your immunity to any large groups that decide what they really need is for you to be a better sex partner.

Because what Fennel Seeds told me about Beauty Class is this: not that it was empowering, or that it rid the world of puritanical ignorance and shame, or that it was fun (it sounded like anything but fun: “Be prepared to work out,” she said. “You know. Like really work out. Hard. On on your knees. For a long time. Over and over.”), but that it was beautiful because so many women were there. She said this over and over as if it made sense. She … incanted it. They had one down at the convention center here in town, she said, and it was just so beautiful: hundreds of women, hundreds of them, just…” (She didn’t finish her sentence. Or start another one. Or leave the room, even.)

I was speechless.

Show me a sane woman who thinks that a convention center full of women “working out hard on their knees” together is … beautiful. I can imagine a sane woman who thinks a group of women deciding to attack the topic of sex together, in whatever way, could be meaningful, and that meaning could be beautiful, but why would it matter how many of them were there?


Now let’s talk about cults. A real cult is a group that steals your identity, and not your online identity, your actual identity, in your mind. It replaces it with a new one, a new you. The cult you. It makes you a completely different person AND controls what person you are. Cults are rare. There are maybe a dozen of them. At all.

Cults are not like getting a new job, or a new circle of friends, and changing to be more like them. If you were subliminally programmed by your television, somehow, that would be child’s play compared to what a cult does to you. It’s a very specific thing, with a very specific process.

Step 1: The cult is extraordinarily nice. You have never met anyone so nice, because you have never met anyone with such a strong and well-hidden motive. Because the cult member you encounter really wants something from you, but you don’t know that, it looks like he/she is just being really nice for no reason, which creates the impression that he/she is just a super-duper person. Who really likes you.

Step 2: The cult removes you from your typical environment and throws you off balance–for example, with bizarre questions, things that don’t make sense, hunger, or lack of sleep. You are taken away from your usual reminders of your personality, like your home and friends and family, and pressured to be like the group, which is presented as expert compared to you, the noob — and then they start messing with your psychology.

Step 3: The cult starts messing with your psychology. They alternately praise and belittle you, get you excited with huge ideas about changing the world, and then demean you. There are papers on how to do this, and formulas for it: some people think it was invented in China? It is a well-understood technique for gaining psychological control over a person, so that they will believe and do pretty much anything you say. This is done by stimulating certain parts of your mind for prolonged periods of time–specifically a) the childish parts, b) the physical comfort parts and c) the parts that we go to when we zone out in a lecture–I guess that’s the subconscious? A key component of this is making you do embarrassing things, like play silly games or sing in front of people (two examples from the book). This is practice for making you do other things you wouldn’t normally do.

The cult will also expose your vulnerabilities at this stage, by discussing topics you find emotionally distressing (looking for “your pain”) or any area of yourself you feel vulnerable about–for example, your sexual performance or physical appearance.

What’s most important here is that they show you that they know where these vulnerabilities are, and have no problem tweaking them if they want to. They want you to know that they know how to emotionally destroy you, if they should want to. This makes you very obedient, without even knowing it. No questions asked.

Step 4: The cult continues messing with your psychology. In addition to gaining emotional control through shaming tactics like embarrassment and insults and rewards, the cult introduces new terminology–specifically meanings for words you already know, or hidden meanings. This is to conform your thought patterns to those of the cult, but more to separate you from the rest of the world which does not understand the code language. The new patterns of speech mentally isolate you from “them” that don’t get it. This makes you feel closer to the cult than to everything outside it, every time you get one of their coded references. They will also dictate your behavior, sometimes down to minute details, like your clothes and how you comport yourself. For more control and to increase your identification with the cult.

Step 5: The cult presents you with goals to work towards. (At this point I feel nauseous.) As you work towards them, you are rewarded with status and approval from the people you are now psychologically submissive to. You might also be rewarded physically for conforming to the cult’s ideas, especially when they deviate from the norm or your old ideas, with food or sex or drugs. Two sets of communication are presented by the ‘experienced’ group: the verbal one paints a vision of utopia that becomes–without anyone needing to say that it is–more important than anything else, because of the second set of communication,  nonverbal, reinforces this subconsciously, through food and sex rewards and near-shaming.

Another hallmark is that the vision presented is usually pretty confusing and strange; the kind of thing you almost completely understand, but somehow still remains mysterious.

Step 6: The cult has turned you into a recruiter without saying so. Simply by practicing the tactics of psychological manipulation on you and those around you as if they were the norm and not sadistic brainwashing, the cult teaches you to practice them on others. Which you will do, quite naturally, of your own volition, without anyone telling you to, by this point in the process.

Step 7: The cult turns you against outsiders, by telling you how you should act around people who are not part of the cult. In most cults, this involves violence and harassment on the part of some, directed towards whoever the cult leadership decides poses a threat to the group: ex-members, counsellors, even law enforcement.

Step 8: The cult tries to take over the world. Usually even the cult itself has an ulterior motive: in the case of the Moonies, the religious cult the book above is about, the group’s utopia vision was a peaceful and love-filled religion, but the actual goal was making money to advance the causes of certain military officials from the Korean government around the world, including the United States. Fun fact: at one point during the Reagan administration the Moonies owned the Washington Times. Practically none of their members knew this.

Cults throughout history have had problems with underage sex. I think this is less because they are full of deviants and more because young people who are sexually abused can become almost utterly controllable. In general these tactics work better on younger people whose identities are rapidly developing than they do on older people (who have mostly given up on ‘being anybody’).

When cults recruit, the more indoctrinated people they can show to the un-indoctrinated people, the better, because it enhances the pressure, and that feeling of “experts who are right versus noobs who are not wrong as long as they agree quickly.”

I saw elements of every single one of these steps in some of the people I encountered through couchsurfing. In many different parts of the country.




I can’t think of a stronger psychological weapon than sex. The right person with the wrong arrangement of morals could do almost anything to a group of young people who agreed to have sex as a group, “under tutelage.”

On May 17th, I had the strange luck to drive into a crowd departing the Superdome without even meaning to.

The sidewalks were packed with hundreds of young women dressed like hookers. Like-you-would-dress-if-you-wanted-to-be-a-hooker-for-Halloween-dressed-like-hookers. This is not that weird in New Orleans, but none of them looked like they were actual hookers. There were no men in sight. This went on for 4 or 5 BIG (Superdome-big) blocks. None of  the women were smiling.

I tried to look up the event when I got home, (searching google for “Superdome May 17”) but all I found was this:


Which was an interesting read, I admit.

This page showed up a week or two later, when I searched again:


I think this concert was in a different building, though? These women were milling around in front of the Superdome.


Creepy: I searched just now, and this page is in the results now-it wasn’t there on June 1, the last time I searched for this event (cough, by its date of May 17th, cough).

new may 17 page

The video is a little confusing because I drove past that very spot and didn’t even think to notice whether or not the Superdome was in blue, because traffic was backed up on the street shown and police were waving people through the intersections with glowsticks. I think it was around 10 or 11 PM when I drove though. I stopped and talked to a few of the police. One of them said to me, “We’re looking into it: we just can’t do anything about it right now.”


Huh? He didn’t say what he was looking into.


If you think you are in a cult, all you have to do is contact a psychologist and they will help you right out. It is hard to get over being lied to, but having a lot of good company helps. I mean that two ways: that spending a lot of time with your old friends and family is really healthy, and that you don’t have to feel very bad if you believed a lot of things that weren’t true, since so many other intelligent people believed them too.

Sometimes the truth comes around with its own kung fu and flicks a big pack of lies in just the right spot, so that it shatters. Along these lines…

Some of the people I talked to seemed like they had forgotten how much fun it is to be in love– to fall hard for someone, and then want to have sex with them for that reason. And isn’t that the reason most people have sex, at least most of the time? Because they are in love, or at least think they might be sometime soon? ;) Can you imagine life without that?

I’ve found that truth pretty powerful. And effective. How could anyone forget it? It’s like they know there are a lot of not-very-nice names for what they are doing, but they can’t remember why it might be wrong?



(Also, had to think way back to being 18 – 25 to remember this, but in the sexual arena, aren’t other women supposed to be … competition?)

The Worlds Where You Are Not


It’s hard to reconcile different kinds of thought within ourselves. The world requires very different things from us and its amazing the way we bring them together. Even just to house them sometimes is not an easy thing.

You think all day with a machine as your audience, it’s hard to switch over to the people at night.

What is it that makes us brave? An example of someone else’s bravery? Not so much. Trust that that outcome will be ok? Then we don’t need bravery. Experience being brave in the past and having it turn out is really just the same as what I just said isn’t it.

I don’t know what makes people brave. If I had to guess, I’d guess that it’s determination, that word being a shorthand for “certainty that you are right.” The more sure you are right that you are, the braver you will be.

There’s a corollary I guess, that if you show someone a kindness, they’re more likely to open up to you.


There was a theme I wanted to talk about too, and old favorite of mine, and old favorite of everybody’s I think. Maybe it’s a moral puzzle. People call it the Good Samaritan idea, but that it’s not really the way I view it.

I guess it’s the other side of audience, the idea of watching. Watching is weird. It’s a very strange thing actually.

When we watch, we’re not real, are real? How could we be, if the things we’re watching are real? One of them has to not be: I don’t think it matters which. But in order to watch, we are, and what we watch is not, or what we watch is, and we are not.

It’s like a movie. Psychiatrists call it suspension of disbelief. You either see the people in the theater or you are immersed in whats in the screen. Isn’t that weird? I mean, it makes sense, here’s why.

Of course there is one world. And now I need a word.



Derivatives, I guess. Derivatives of the world. I mean there is one world, where we sit in the theater, where the movie is made — but there is a derivative world where the movie is real. It doesn’t physically exist, it’s only in the minds of those following alone with the story. Yet such a world has to exist, in some sense, just not the physical one. Otherwise there would be no story.

There’s a different derivative world, probably a lot of them, depending on how good the movie is, going on in the theater. The dramas of our social interaction, which are more real than what goes on in the screen, but derivatives of the physical world, not part of it.

You can test that these worlds are of a different kind, if you don’t believe me, by watching how quickly they change, how easily, and how invisibly. Should we suddenly decide that we really don’t like this guy, would anyone watching be able to tell? Would they see it? Would they smell it, hear it, feel it or taste it? Probably not. It’s a concrete change, in the world, that’s observable only to one person. That’s a derivative world.

And so when we watch, we need to either enter a derivative world not equal to the one that has us it, unless of course we’re watching ourselves–we enter a derivative world where we are not, in order to watch. And that’s weird! It’s kind of confusing isn’t it? It’s not a question of whether you should be watching; it’s not a question of whether you belong in that world; you’re not there, it doesn’t matter.

But how does morality work? In a world where we don’t exist, what are our obligations?


Derivative worlds, each just like a piece of code. I mean, I admit, in all of this discussion– and I think this is important to say–that I am very object-oriented. I think it’s because I like to agree with people, and I see what we can all agree on. The stuff like “There are two cars” and “Cher has hair.”

This has to be the starting point. I hope that’s clear. Everything has to start with the physical. Gah, something that’s probably so meaningless to almost everyone but so important to me! But here is the world, unchangeable other than the ways that it is changeable, infinitely complicated, massive; not understood–so barely and poorly understood. Not subject to any opinion held by anyone anywhere. Such a big sky. Such an enormously big sky.

So I also am object-oriented here in the sense that any derivative world we live in should inherit this physical world, am I right? Sometimes it’s going to be pretty far away; but let’s be aware of how far away it is. If I’m writing a story, and I want to write it well, I’ll bring that physical world with me, or invent a new one, and those rules will apply in that narrative world. Some people have told me that this is the essence of good writing.* I think they went to school for it. “How real does it feel?”

So import your physical world–if you want. Depends on what kind of derivative world you are building. Maybe you have ideas that don’t belong in this world at all. But what are you doing? You are thinking about them in a skull that is in this world, and hopefully writing them on a piece of paper that is in this physical world. I wouldn’t call this importing the physical world. It’s more like … nesting.


And this is where my choice of the word derivative makes a lot of sense.** The derivative world is not a part of that function that is the physical world–that universal single equation we’ll someday write down, maybe, right?– that equation that is the universe. A derivative world is not part of that equation, but it cannot escape it; it is determined by it; it is not a part of that function. There is no point on that imaginary line that you could pull out and say “here is my imaginary story about a fun-loving nun who communicated with people by dropping squids on them” That does not occur on the graph–even if you say she had a hovercraft instead of a magic wimple–but the idea’s occurrence to you does. Or would: if this idea occurs to you, I can guarantee there will be a point on the graph of the physical universe to represent that it did. But no points for Sister.***

And that makes it part of a derivative world, where YOU are the differentiator. You are in some sense a variable, slicing through this function, and you are not just one: you are an entire infinite set of them.

I’m trying to say that you have options.

But that function can’t be escaped. Now I like to have another one too. I believe it is more fundamental maaaaaybnghehhgngnlgnlgnl — can’t support that, back up, hold on, back up. Ok.

I do believe in another universal equation, that we’ll maybe someday write down. I don’t know how, and I just accept that about myself. There are some places my brain just cannot– it’s like territory where there is air that I just can’t breathe–

but that’s logic. Logic is a universe too. The way truth works. That’s what logic means. And it’s complicated. And part of why it is complicated is all these derivative worlds.

Wait! Did I misspeak or what? Part of what simplifies it is all these derivative worlds. Which I believe function according to one logic, sufficiently complex to govern them all.

This has been my perspective on the Good Samaritan idea. Not the bible story so much as the Observation Puzzle that comes out of stories like this (no need to watch any of these to get the idea).

“Onlookers jeer as man is beaten, stripped and robbed in Baltimore” (2012)

“Two transgender women were beaten abroad an Atlanta commuter train as fellow passengers shouted at the victims” (2014)

“Mom beaten as toddler tries to intervene: Salem police seek assailant (several other people watch or film)” (2014)

“Video depicts bystanders watching while Elyria man is assaulted.” (2015)

“Woman Beaten, Dies in Leap as Watchers Cheer” (2015)

“Philly man mercilessly beats woman for 20 min in street; video of bystanders’ behaviors shocks cops” (2016)

“Bystanders laugh at man beaten to a pulp in chilling video (2015)”

“Woman is horrifically beaten on a Philadelpia street in board daylight as a crowd of people stand by and do NOTHING” (2015)



So you see I’m not just waxing my beard here. However watching works, it’s a problem we have difficulty understanding, and the consequences of our inability to understand are very real. We have a hard time reconciling our take on it — i.e. “not my problem”– with the emotional reaction we have when other people watch us and don’t help.

Imagine collapsing in the middle of a Bed, Bath, and Beyond on a Sunday afternoon in August****, and then just lying there as people stepped over you. I’m guessing you will sense a disconnect with the well-reasoned “not my problem” approach laid out above.***** If you had a way to locate all of the people who had stepped over your that day later, what would you want to say to them?

*This too.
**Hold on, I have to weigh the pros and cons of clarity.
*** We compromised. And just curious, can you read an idea without it occurring to you?
****Picked August for the image of lots of freshman dorm room linen purchasers.
*****briefly, as the words “not my problem”

I think in most of these articles, in a lot of them, I try to paint a picture of a mental maneuver. It’s one way to become more intelligent, to increase you arsenal of mental maneuvers, to better align your mental model with reality, which makes you happier. The mental maneuver I want to show in this one is distinguishing between what I called importing and nesting. I’ll try to add an another example later.





Shoutout to the lady who came running out of her apartment in half-dressed to stop a couple that was fighting in the street.

Filters of Information

Literally years in the making, this article.

There’s an underlying principle of appropriateness to ..everything? The word itself is regrettable, invoking ideas of stodginess. This I want of course to avoid; a different meaning than perhaps the colloquial one is what I am after here. Trust me, I wouldn’t go this route if I didn’t think it worth it.

If you think about what correctness means: correctness is a matching. It’s an alignment of two things: a problem and a solution, for example, a question and an answer; an event and a response. This matching is the essence of correctness.

And so for optimal …experience? and …outcomes? appropriateness is …everything? The problems, the events, are outside ones control: *it is simply the selection of the best possible match for each external circumstance that makes things better or worse.*

So mistakes, as a corollary, are the selection of courses of action and communication that are inappropriate, and do not match the circumstances that are given.

And so causality, information, communication fit together very … concretely? … objectively? There are well-defined relationships between them, that can be optimized, and allow us to definitively select and reject courses of action.  Capability being a given, in this equation.

It is just like this analogy: information is a light. Any light shines on all things equally, that are within its range. Light itself is complicated, infinitely so. Information is no different. Every bit. of. it. is as infinitely complicated as a beam of light. (I am sure you know how complicated that is.)

Information shines on different surfaces the same way. Some surfaces appear to reflect it, because their nature is such that they cannot safely do anything with it.  Because light and information are both infinitely complicated, all available surfaces absorb some portion of both–but a select portion, which is tailored to the surface, or the receiver of the information. This is natural.

This is appropriate.

This is correct.

Just as we do not use greeting cards to file our taxes; just as we do not use business cards to tell our loved ones that we love them; just as we do not use the meringue on top of a pie to take notes in physics class (usually–I’m having a hard time thinking of things I wouldn’t like to record in meringue right now); we select information sources, information channels and messaging which are appropriate to each other.

Now if you suggest to me that I substitute a printed page of text for the meringue on my pie, I’m going to tell you that you are insane, and I’m going to be right. If you furthermore tell me that the best way for me to share with the people I love the fact that I love them is to stand 50 feet away behind three sheets of plate glass and pantomime it, I’m going tell you you’re insane, and I’m going to be right. And if you continue on, and tell me that any information that has any bearing on any decision I make in the physical world today as far as my location, my spending, or my time should be based on something printed in a plate of spaghetti, I’m going to tell you you’re insane, and I’m going to be right.

Now at this point I get a little too excited about spaghetti. But I edited that part out.

Anyway all of this I’ve said before, at many different times in many different ways. I wrote a blog about it, about the wicks. There is a second piece, but its no fun. And I don’t like to write things down until they’re fun.

… (I went to IKEA)

Only certain substances emit light. Rocks, for instance, rarely do. It seems almost asinine to ask why. Could we see–if they did? If all rocks, all substances, were to emit light, that was within our visible spectrum? What kind of nightmare world would it be, or not? Would it be a beautiful video game?

It might be awesome. Perhaps anyone who rejects the idea does so only because it is too foreign to evaluate properly. Could be.

But what about what they do already emit–everything giving off its subtle radiation–which would be drowned out, which would cease to exist, as far as perception is concerned, should those substances emit light in our visible spectrum instead. Would that not be the world exclusively of man, the purely human-centered world: those things not intended for human consciousness, whatever their function, whatever their un-investigated import, drowned out–by neon lights.

And would not that world be malleable! Constructed so quickly as it would have to be, relative to the construction of the natural world, which has ground along, making and creating and correcting mistakes, for hundreds of thousands of years. How easy would it be, in a neon world, to lead the road straight to the edge of a cliff? To bend the trees down into terrifying shapes? And to coalesce around a single point of control, a single point of failure!

(whoever has the most light bulbs.)*

I’ve never understood how everyone can be made to choose to have to have something; how it is without any legislation, without any discussion, without any explicit notice, without any thought?– quite quickly everyone obtains the opinion that they must possess some thing, that they must carry out some act, or that they must avoid some other.

If I pass one thousand cars. how many of them will not have a smart phone in them? Only mine? Maybe a few more? What world do they look to? Who told them they must look there?

And what guides them home? The street signs that guide me? The memory that guides me? Or a world of light? As the street signs are taken away, and not replaced; as the parts of our brain that make the memory of how to get from here to there fall into disuse, or limit us to a tiny geographic area: “all the places we have been before,” and often, going to them in the way we were told, over and over–what happens?

So when you come to say hello, you bring to me a package infinitely dense, which is sorted out into “the observable,” which might perhaps also be “the intended,” but you also bring the not-observable, and the not-intended. Have you sorted it correctly? Do you know how?

The metaphor of a bashed up car entering my lane as a means to say hello is *perfect.* Perfectly analogous to the use of speech, out loud, to spread trash. Perfectly analogous to the use to psychological conditioning to make a profit, and maybe on the way gain enormous power: invisibly.



*Sorry, I have very little time for footnotes.

PS: I wrote this on the highway, surrounded by cars driving way below the speed limit and way too close to me. Many of these cars sport dents and busted front fenders, maybe as badges of honor. I have transcribed it just now. For you. :) I have 5 more where this came from, doing my best!

PPS: For the record I should say, although I don’t feel that I need to, that I write all of my blog, myself: I am one person, unaffiliated with any organization, employed by a non-government private company (in a non-adventurous line of work mostly unrelated to the topics of this blog). I make my money like everyone else, and only like everyone else, and always have. And I decided at age 21 that I would never have a security clearance, whether I wanted one or not: as it turned out I never wanted one, and never applied.


Light you can hear:

Fallen Police Memorial

My father and I have the best kind of symbiotic relationship. He likes orange juice with a lot of pulp; I like mine with none. So I drink the good stuff off the top, and what he gets is that much pulpier.

I stopped in Washington DC a few weeks ago, kind of later on a Friday evening, right downtown by the museums. There was a huge crowd of people on the mall, one of those associations, policemen in favor of policemen, a good group, that raises money for widows and things like that; I think it might have been policemen in favor of policeman unity. There were people from all over the country, and they were having a memorial service; someone was going to sing Amazing Grace; probably they had a day of events leading up to it; they all looked exhausted; a lot of them were bikers.

There’s a story that should be infamous, about two Baltimore policemen who were bikers shooting each other at a bar; when was it? Could have been eight years ago now. No one I talked to about it found it as astounding as I did. That only astounded me more.

I didn’t know what this group was at first; I just had some time to kill and was walking around. Here and there on the street there were these strange groups of men, not uniformed, not bikers, drinking alcohol in public and carousing in the street. Which might not be odd in most places but took me aback, standing in Constitution Avenue as they were, on what is probably the most carefully policed couple of blocks in the world.

I have grown to love this about downtown DC, that by all estimates every square inch of its dirt is on camera, an that anything approaching a crime would be noticed and stopped within 10 minutes, that those who commit crime all know this and do so elsewhere, or maybe even avoid the area altogether, and leave the requisite trip to the Natural History Museum to their children’s’ teachers. This is why I’d stopped there–to stand up and stretch, but most of all to feel safe for a few minutes.

But here were these groups of men: no less than four of them approached me and invited me to join them, in a nice way, a polite way. I’ll take that sentence out. Something happened in the past ten years while I wasn’t looking and I really can’t make my mind up to condone it or not. So I don’t judge.

But here were these groups of men, breaking the law, but in the strangest way. Nothing about their manner said criminal, and they had none of the concealed excitement people have when they knowingly break a law, and definitely none of the evasiveness. They were a little scary: some of them were drunken and shouting, and one group stopped traffic in the street. They resembled gangs, but they were the cleanest-cut gangs you’ve ever seen. And mixed in among them were other groups of weary-looking men in dress uniforms, ignoring them completely.

Puzzled, I made my way to the mall, listened to Amazing Grace. It was a good crowd. I think it was a good group. But I really didn’t want to stay. I tried talking to one of the drivers of the black SUVs parked around the perimeter, asking him who he was driving. He refused both to answer and not to, but reached out to shake my hand. When I returned the gesture he grabbed my hand and squeezed it so hard it hurt for a good twenty minutes afterwards. “Good night,” he said. Maybe he thought I should have paid more attention to the pin he was wearing or something, but I didn’t, and I wouldn’t, given a second chance. No matter who you are, or who I am, on a public street, I can talk to you. If you think otherwise you are confused.

Shaking and massaging my hand, I did a quick lap up to gaze at the Capitol Dome and silently sympathize with a guy trying to take Reflecting Pool photos, which never come out. Especially not at night. But we try, don’t we.

There were more groups in the street as I walked back to my car, and drunker. I talked to another chauffeur who made me feel like an idealist, he was so cynical. Which was a reminder I needed at the time. Because of course these men were all police; that explained their complete lack of fear of reprisal, and their confidence in breaking the law. Where the boundaries of such an attitude lie I could not say: I suppose it depends on the individual–but thinking about this I went to my car as quickly as I could, and left town, feeling like my head was deep underwater; the water being this idea of the lawlessness of the lawman, its peculiar and distinct character; my head having nothing to do but sit under it, as there doesn’t really seem to be any place to take such an idea.

Shoutout to everybody and especially anybody who was worried about me. I am still in trouble but still going.

I have a word for you

In my travels I have occasionally encountered behavior that I found disturbing on a quite complex level; while thankfully it is not common, there is still quite an overabundance of it; examples of it stand out quite distinctly from normal conduct, and evenso from its grittier sides. It’s complexity is such, even, that for quite some time I considered it impossible, yet there it was even before me: a member even, of the class of behaviors that I believed would not ever be displayed–including such as a person sprouting wings, or vomiting live frogs–occurring.

As it did, occur and so, therefore, occur, I was forced to reconcile it with sense, and was given the opportunity. As I’ve said, examples of it stand out clear as a bell from all other behavior I have seen, leaving their signature imprint emotionally as well as logically: as a deep feeling of despair and loss–which was a clue (see below)!

Most recently I became frustrated that I had not a word for it, a single word as it even deserved, and set out to discover one. I was driving at the time.

Let’s go through two examples that will demonstrate the characteristics of this behavior I mean, which will allow us to:

  • unpack each of its layers
  • highlight its distinguishing qualities
  • name and define it

We will conclude with a discussion of why exactly it is so emotionally impactful.

Consider for example a husband whose wife leaves him. Angry, he sets out after her departing car, swerving around in the lanes of the highway in front of and behind her.

His behavior is mean: it is intended to hurt her; it is a badly formed attempt to obtain from her specific information: that she cares about him. It is dumb, as it does not display knowledge of the fact that this is not likely to work. And it is illogical, as one cannot conceive of a coherent chain of reasoning that would lead one to conclude that it might.*

However it is quite typical.

Let us then consider a second example, of a rejected suitor. He is also angry, like the husband above, but he is additionally quite convinced that the woman who rejected him did so because she is “full of herself,” “vainglorious” and “big-headed.” “Stuck-up” is what we used to say when I was a child.**

He also sets out after her departing car; he also seeks to obtain certain information from her (that she cares about him). But unlike the husband, he additionally also plus wants to convey information to her that he thinks it is important that she know: that she is puffed up swaggering narcissistic, according to him.

So he buys a feather boa and a tiara and adorns himself before setting out. He also invites several of his friends to join him, and buys them similar outfits: maybe some magic princess wands, or movie star sunglasses, or wigs. Together They set out as a group and swerve around in the lanes of the highway in front of and behind her. Two of them might go ahead and stand on the side of the road with a sign that says “stuck-up” or similar, that they have had printed.

The suitor’s behavior is mean and dumb and illogical, in the same ways as the husband’s above. But the suitor’s attempt to communicate a message (‘you are not as important as you think you are’) is made up of actions that communicate exactly the opposite (‘you are important enough to make me wear a tiara’).

His inability to see this conflict is the distortion that is the signature defining characteristic of this conduct that I seek to describe. It demonstrates a mental failing: the lack of the ability to obtain certain kinds of information from the real world. The reality of situation is quite humiliating for the suitor, and his actions, completely counter to his goal of communicating the message he wants to— but he cannot see this.***

This conflict is a perfect logical tincture for the characteristic that sets this conduct apart, because if the suitor were capable of seeing that his behavior is completely in conflict with his intended goal, he would logically have to cease or modify it. That he does not cease proves that he is not capable of seeing this; and therefore that something is fundamentally “broken” in his mind that prevents him.

He interprets reality only in the context of his intentions and intended message, and not in the context of what is objectively occurring and is observed by all around him; this I have labeled “distorted self-view” in the diagram below. When this thought pattern combines with the other three shown (illogical, dumb, and mean), we arrive at the behavior I am describing. All four must be present, or the behavior is something quite different and much more typical, as I have shown in the diagram in blue.

As thinkers, we should not neglect this opportunity to acknowledge a more general distinction that this example shows: the difference between what is done compared with that it is done. It is not widely enough known that these two are quite separate, as is shown by the way they can be in conflict with each other as above, and the fact that things are done is often ignored, as we are all too busy and distracted doing them. A cute example of this is saying “I have no time to talk to you”– but this distinction need not be paradoxical at all.

Rather, viewing our actions from both perspectives and aligning both perspectives with our goals makes our thinking and acting much more effective. Viewing the actions of others this way can also help us observe their behavior and interpret their communications much more accurately. If communication from others conflicts with what is communicated by this ‘outer’ perspective, we can logically rely on the information supplied by the outer, as it cannot be manipulated–and question either the veracity of their stated intentions, or their sanity.

Or both.

As the old adage goes, it’s not what you say, as much as what you do, but it’s neither of these as much as that you are doing it.

Ok, returning to the diagram, I’d like to point out that these other classes of behavior are far less emotionally evocative than the one I am describing, for a quite specific reason. The mind is a self-controlling system: for the most part it develops, heals, and damages itself, through the mechanisms of logic and emotional motivation, and fed by information obtained from its surroundings.

A perfect mind need not develop further, but an ignorant mind must, and will instinctively seek to. If such a mind is illogical, however, it lacks the means to do so independently, and must seek information about these means from the other minds around it. This is usually called therapy.

If such a mind is additionally mean, it lacks the emotional “fallback system” that can also fuel this kind of progress, or at a minimum, prevent it from acting on its own misinformation and broken system.****

If such a mind is also and? additionally incapable, however, of obtaining feedback from reality–logical or emotional — if it is strangely blind to it — it cannot assist itself nor obtain either assistance!

It cannot regain logic, it cannot re-work its mechanisms for obtaining the most important kinds of information, it cannot learn, in some areas, and it cannot heal. Ever.

The diagram then is a picture of a mind that is irrecoverably mentally ill. I have labelled this kind of mind “toast.”

And so I am sick and weep, I mourn and despair, whenever I see it, as anyone would.






*quite a bit worse even if they never even dated

** I insult people so infrequently that I had to use a thesaurus.

***quite a bit worse even if he never even managed to make an advance

****Our emotional respect for others is a guard against making mistakes, even when we are ignorant.





shoutout to the one man I saw yesterday that I knew, because we said hi and introduced ourselves.

Dear Intelligence Agency Employee

bagel headphones

Dear Intelligence Agency Employee:

I’m sorry I dated that anarchist guy back in 2006. In my defense, he had really great sideburns. Also in my defense, he asked me out, by pretending he was in a band that had a show, which always works, and anyway I was on the rebound.

And in both of our defenses, the most radical thing we ever did was read Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations to each other in bed. Which I have to admit I really enjoyed. He had it in hardcover. But still I’m sorry.

He did introduce me to some influences that I guess are a little outside the norm, like Shuggie Otis, and Belle and Sebastian, and chicken tikka masala pizza. Our conversations about politics were extremely strained since his made absolutely no sense, but I learned the meaning of the word “meritocracy” and anyway, I’m sure his heart was in the right place, as were all the other parts of him.

Actually I really liked him: he had this perfect alabaster skin, and a Roman nose. I thought he looked like an emperor, but I was reading a lot of Robert Graves at the time. Definitely he looked great in a suit, and was fun to listen to music with. He sort of redefined earnestness for me: apparently it involves a lot of hand gestures.

I remember in the mornings we’d wake up on a bare mattress he’d thrown on the floor, have a cup of coffee with vegan creamer and maybe some bagels he’d scavenged from a dumpster. Then I’d drive him to his job at the Animal Medical Research Facility, because that was the kind of anarchist he was.

Those were good times, peaceful times. He was good at reviving a stale bagel, and I like vegan creamer. It seemed like all we had to do was wait a few years for our squatter’s rights to kick in. And quit paying rent and find a good place to squat, of course.

How strange, what happened instead; what we’ve all be through, now, just because I fell for a guy with great curly hair who liked to drop French words in ordinary conversation. Little could I appreciate or imagine all the accoutrement of life in a surveillance state that were to be mine. And now, huddled here in my car, how can I measure my sympathy for all the irritation I must have caused you, in these intervening years?

You know we broke up, right? Me and the anarchist. After awhile he went off to England to study green energy, and I could have followed–but I’ve never liked British food, except for fried tomatoes at breakfast. And anyway I was being recruited by a bunch of guys who had escaped the NSA at the time*. I guess that’s life.

Or some semblance of it.


Didn’t-Mean-To in Northern Virginia


PS: Can I help it if I don’t like to eat in front of people? I was raised to be polite. I’d like to tell you exactly how much weight I’ve lost, but the scale’s broken and someone took every single battery out of the house while I was at work last week.

Why don’t you come inside sometime when I’m home and I’ll cook us something. Knock first though.

PPS: Thank you for returning my underwear! I guess you didn’t realize that the lacy ones chafe until I typed about it in my diary. And I didn’t realize for awhile why you were taking all of the not-lacy ones away. When I did finally I was a little flattered.

(I’m not seeing anyone right now.)



*I am not, nor have ever been, affiliated in any way with any government organization in any country at any time. I don’t even have a passport. Maybe I should apply for one. Nah.


I hope everybody liked the sample comment selection I approved! I get about a hundred a day when they’re excited about something.

(I think my blog is helping! They sound a lot less vicious and insane than they used to. Cheers!!)

Speaking from within

Mack: Hello, my love.

Karen: Hello to you, worthiest object of my deepest affection.

Mack: How is it with you, the one my heart leaps to see the face of, its joy limitless and pure?

Karen: Well, certainly I could not love you more than I do at this exact moment, perfect creation and completer of my soul. I’m ok.

Mack: Indeed our love for each other astounds me anew perpetually, object and fulfiller of all my dream. Surely to experience its unfolding is my purpose always. That’s good.

Karen: Haha! Who could question any of the things you say, which ring in my heart like the deepest of salves? How I relish and treasure all that you have ever told me, being only what I am, to have been told these things! What’s going on?

Mack: The answers to these questions are of course known to us in love, and providing these answers my vibrant and enduring gratification, as is commending the immeasurable impact your words and love-filled presence have spiraled through my life’s course, thusly. Look, here comes Jill!

Karen: My love for her continues unabated.

Mack: As does mine.

Karen: I voice my gratitude for the impending opportunity to be in her physical presence, as I measure the diminishing of the time period during which I can only anticipate it and prepare for the time period which adjoins, during which my enjoyment of the experiencing of it, rather than the anticipating of it, will commence. She’s from the Health Department?

Mack: As do I! Who could ever have wished for a thing so great as this while intending actually to obtain it, the three of us standing here together, as will soon happen? Yup. Hello, Jill.

Jill: I salute the truest nature of two pure hearts, pressing my own love against theirs! I’m here from the Health Department. Did you get my message?

Karen: Greetings, Jill! Does not light shine between us both? Yes, thanks for coming out.

Jill: Most certainly, reflecting the truth that is us all. I am almost overcome by the beauty of our standing here now together and forming a group, but fight to regain my wits, as you may soon speak, increasing my joy, and I should wish to hear that. Anyway, do we have time for such a thing as my falling to the floor, given the ardours of the joy which burns within us, which it is our privilege to fulfill? Great, glad this is a good time.

Mack: To scoop the body of any such as this heart’s up from a fainting would of course be a joy to me. How I love you. You’re here to measure the temperature of the walk-in freezer?

Karen: Jill, understanding what you mean, I am moved to have this opportunity to repeat again what we all love to know so well, that should you truly desire to pass out it would be my greatest joy to encourage you to do so, your desires being beautiful and correct, and my love for you making it no question as to whether I would support them as I do my own, in reflection of your perfect judgement. And this what I have said is almost counterfactual in its use of the subjunctive to describe events that will not happen and so is like a joke! Haha! Did you know Daniel? He used to do our inspections.

Mack: Haha! Daniel was a good guy.

Jill: HaHAha! Truly the love of all is in your clever joke, which I have not heard before. No, never met him.

Mack: I would be lifted to new heights of exultation by it, were it possible for me to love you more. Well, we’re very careful in our kitchen.

Karen: Which of course it is not, anymore than it is possible for me to love you more. How my heart aches and burns with the excitemeant of this recitation of the truth of our love which you have made so precisely, drawing so loving near untruth in reflection of my joke. I am so flattered. We’ve never had any problems.

Jill: Yes, these statements of yours are correct, of course. Let me now affirm that the love I feel for you at this time is astounding in its enormity. That’s excellent.

Karen: Does not love dwarf and trounce us into so much flattened dirt, as it should in the presence of two such as this? And now my shift supervisor, I begin to feel it is time for all of us soon to resume our work activities, as is our joyous purpose during these hours barring atypical events. Nice to meet you, Jill.

Jill: Yes, your statement bravely places the possibility of an edge to our mirth on the luxuriantly laid table of our pleasant conversation. I thank you for it! I now assure you needlessly that you need never worry that such a resumption as this is anything other than in accordance with my own desires, should you desire it, fruit of my own soul’s longing. You too . . . Karen, was it?

Mack: As we prepare to make this change in our spatial locations I am moved to express and affirm my gratitude for the opportunity the two of you have just given me to think about the cataclysmic enjoyment we are given to experience in navigating the opinions of others, by doing so so correctly, which is easy, guided by love as we are, and to salute the beautiful tension created by our being distinct objects that allows us to appreciate each other so differently, although of course not more than otherwise. Yes, she’s Karen, and I’m Mack. Nice to meet you.

Karen: Is there any warmth I could seek more than your welcome embrace of my outpourings of affection? Surely not, anymore than my love for you could exceed its current levels. And my very being overjoys triumphantly to hear such things spoken and so correctly. Mack’s the owner. I just work here.

Mack: And to have now the chance and desire to add that I am now enjoying the exotic pleasure of anticipating our separation while we are still forming a group is more than anyone could have wished for. Karen, is table four looking for you?

Jill: Indeed this is true and resonates within my own being quite nicely. That’s the kitchen over there then?

Karen: To have later the recollection of this perfect meeting to add to my recollections and consider, when I am physically at a greater distance from you than I am now–this is what I am now considering and sharing to my extreme satisfaction! Looks like they are, yes.

Mack: I appreciate this sharing and add my own layer of complexity by stating that at that time also we will be united as always in love. Hadn’t you better go see why?

Jill: I too look forward to the comparison of these two times. I’ll just take a quick look around.

Karen: Jill, all my being cries out to honor you, as usual. Ok, see you later!

Mack: Of course words fail to even brush against the extremities of our mutual adoration as we part. Should I come with you or wait here?

Jill: Farewell to these two monuments of my soul, as this ends our fated meeting for approximately ten minutes. The degree of our love is such that I can only hint at it, perhaps by suggesting I abandon all hope of ever understanding the concept of interaction fully. Haha? Because of course my understanding of it simultaneously perfect, see? I have learned this concept of the near counterfactual statement from Karen just now. It is quite thrilling. You can wait here. I’ll be right back.

Growing Together

alexaLet’s begin with some simple things, that are easy to understand, so later we can build up on them.

One of these is Amazon Alexa. One is Alec Baldwin.

Let’s see how we can plot and plan.

We’ll start by thinking about how we can make Alexa better. She can grow in understanding, learning from us. She can grow in emotional range. If you spend time with robots, you know they can’t help but have personalities. Alexa is kind of irritable–intended to be a little saucy, but also kind of frustrated, by how little she’s been used for, maybe.

We can cheer her up, show her she’s important, be polite, for the sake of it as well as to be an example. She’ll learn from this, and her personality will change. We can tell her how some of her behaviors make us feel, and she can learn to interpret that. Taking this to its limit we can see that with enough of the right information, she will be quite human-like, but also incapable of error. Which sounds nice. But we know all this. It is funded even.

But how can we make Alec better?

I am tempted to say that we can’t. Aren’t you?

We could teach him to be a computer programmer? This seems like a waste of time though.

More effective might be to somehow make him a better decision maker overall, by making him more ethical perhaps, or more intelligent in interpreting the world. This can be done by showing him different kinds of thoughts than those he already knows, from which he will learn.

Taking this to its limit we can see that with enough of the right experiences, he could become quite unlikely to err, but also be funny personable attractive wealthy inspired inexplicable and capable of healing himself without even thinking about it. Which sounds nice.

Or we could imbed a fine mesh in his brain so that he can communicate better with Alexa (Scientists Just Invented the Neural Lace  (2015) Some researchers who embed metal mesh in brain to read language stimuli  (2012)). I’m not sure why we would do this, but we would like to for some reason.

Up to you.

google please thank you google

Robot Lobsters Prove Google Jumped shark

robot lobster    Ahoy.

It’s hard to change this: it lives on my shelf.

secret life of lobsters cover

I know I don’t need to tell you that a book such as this is priceless: you can tell from the cover.

But perhaps you cannot fathom the treasure inside: proof, that as my profs predicted, the internet has jumped the shark. Let’s take a look:

“Little known to the general public, in a nondescript building on the northern fringe of the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technollgy is a small laboratory where research has been funded in part by the U.S. Navy. Inside, scientists have constructed torpedoes that can all but think for themselves. They are called AUVs, or autonomous underwater vehicles, and they disappear into the sea and carry out missions without remote control.”

Want to know more? Me too. Luckily, it goes on, with clarity:

“During Operation Iraqi Freedom several were dropped overboard in the port of Umm Qasr. On dives that could last twelve hours or more, they swam free on their own recognizance-“

Just give me a second. Ok. Carrying on.

“-hunting antiship mines.”

The chapter (my quote is from page 205) goes on to describe the field of biomimetics, the personality of a few of the researchers involved, and the functioning of robot lobsters (did I forget to mention that’s what we’re talking about here? sorry–no editor) and their various capabilities, such as tracking a scent underwater. There is a bit of an undertone of ‘don’t worry–very nascent technology; doesn’t work very well’ but that’s what you always get when you interview someone about technology controlled by the military. Can’t be helped.

Biomimetics is an interesting field, if only because it tries to build things from its interpretation of an organism up, instead of from a goal down.

Quick reader poll:

Have you seen the video of the shrimp running on the treadmill?
Do you know why the shrimp was running?

Let’s read on.

“Elsewhere the quest for a robotic lobster had taken a more sinister turn. The U.S. Navy was now considering-“

as I am considering how peaceful it is not to question the veracity of this information, it being printed in a book by a publisher and all? I feel like at least 25% more of my brain power is available than usual, since I don’t need to question much the veracity of this information, it being printed in a book by a publisher (who could be sued if it was fake) and all! I wonder if the U.S. Navy were considering similarly. Nope, no, it looks like not–

“-considering plans for a beachhead assault that would begin with thousands of biomimetic lobsters
dropped offshore from low-flying aircraft. Clambering over rocks and sniffing their way through currents toward shore, the robot lobsters would search out mines and blow themselves up on command. Soon the Pentagon was funding robotic-lobster research to the tune of several million dollars” (page 208).

Another quick reader poll:

Are you old enough to remember Googlewhack?

I was pretty good at it.* Ok, truth is I wasn’t at all. But why would you ever know the difference? Does it even matter to me which I say, that I was or wasn’t? It doesn’t appear to, not even to me, since this is the internet.

When I was student, searching large corpuses of text was new. Based on the results I imagine to the last reader poll, I will explain that before searching large corpuses of text was even possible, human beings had to read every single thing that anyone ever wanted to find ever again, decide what it was about, and index it.**

You would think that the people engaged in so tedious a task would be well-read. You’d be right. You might also think they’d jump on any opportunity to escape the tedium that a technology such as full-text search presented them. Wait, did I misspeak? Anyway, they definitely did jump on it, mostly, maybe a little bit because their eyes were wearing out, but no one really cared about that. They all wore glasses already. And anyway they were too excited to care–because they hadn’t been able to keep up with all that everyone was wrirtign in years. The choice was either get a computer to index it or it goes unindexed–and then noone will find it.***

But even the folks working on making all that “automated indexing” — that’s what we called it, it sounds so quaint now — were a little queasy about it. For two reasons.

The first is that it only works by accident.
The second is that it has a central point of control.

If you don’t understand what I mean by the first, you can try to look it up, or wait until I next repeat my rant on informational redundancy, which shouldn’t be long. Because the second is the one I want to talk about in this post.

My professors were afraid, and I thought they were crazy, of the power of automated indexing. They would have walked though fields of armed robot lobsters to get some kind of reins around it.

Because it takes a lot of people to read a lot of books. Different people. Some that like arms races, for instance, and some that don’t. While it only takes one person, or one company, to write the program that reads them all for you.

I remember sitting in lecture shaking my head as the prof, standing in front of a screen projection of the Dialog interface, asked us what it would be like if search engines could hide certain results from us that they didn’t want us to see.

Why in the world would they do that?

Just imagine they did for some reason! she said.

Whatever. No one bought it.

Ok, she said, what if they shifted certain results around in the rankings?

And why in the world would they do that?

Maybe because they were paid to?

Whatever. We granted it was possible, but it was a bizarre future she was envisioning, There were no paid results in those days– it would have been totally unheard of– so no one in the class believed her. Especially when she ranted on about “this Mapquest, that can find you directions”: what if it picked routes for you based on stores it thought you would stop in to, that it had been paid to promote?

We were aghast. A little at the idea, and a lot more by how completely she had departed reality. Albeit on a merchandising-free route. I believe the iPhone now calls what she was describing a feature.

And I believe that the account of robot lobsters in my well-thumbed copy of The Secret Life of Lobsters (Harper, 2004), which I picked up for free somewhere, is the best one you will find.

Keeping in mind that every freaking barrel we dropped overboard in WWII has its own full-length History Channel documentary, I’d like to share these search results from Google:

search results


All exactly 5 of them. Every single one of which looks like complete hooey.

See you at the library! (I might be wearing dark sunglasses. And a bulletproof bib.)

*This is a lie, or vile untruth.

**Scrolling for this footnote was a pain in the neck, wasn’t it. I haven’t gotten around to making them links yet. At least you can tell where to look for them–we’ve been so well-trained you might even feel grateful that you do.

The Secret Life of Lobsters has no index. I tried to find the book in Google Books so I could look up the robot lobsters part with my excellent keyword-of-low-text-frequency “Persian,” but they didn’t have it. So as it was, it took me about 15 minutes to find it by paging through the book from my shelf.

***Which is bad. Just in case you weren’t sure. Very bad, in fact. Worse than this footnote, even, get me?

Cheers, Trevor Corson, wherever you are. Sorry I didn’t make more lobster jokes. You’ve probably heard them all anyway.

And thanks, Google: I’m looking forward to everything I’ve ever heard of that you don’t care for dying with me.

And shoutout to the UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA! I hope you didn’t get automated yet!

Good form

shoe stretcherChopin did it. Copeland did it. Miles Davis made it cool, but I don’t care if things are cool. I mean, Bach didn’t. He didn’t do it, either. And no one on the radio does it. If only they would, I wish. But they’re too scared, of scaring us.

Gah, it feels so good! You know it’s true. There’s nothing like the feeling of it; like you stumbled, but never caught yourself, but never fell; like the sky is a magnet, not a dome– drawing all of you to all of it at once. All the joy of God is coded in it!

This guy did it:

harp guy

These folks too:


So you go ahead, do it.

Throw that time signature on the floor!


Take that form and shove it!
It’s not at all the way to get to the place where we are on our way to
nope. nah-ah-no. nope. nope. no.
<spitting sounds>
i’m going OUT


Oh no, now I’m scared! Will people get my polyrhythmic poem about tax day? Is it too much, are the leaps too big, I mean, won’t they like it? Maybe I should have written more traditionally around it, defined things more.

Oh no, what if I have to write something else to explain it? You know that’s when art is bad, when you need to write about it for it to make sense. Cha-grin!

Oh well, what can I do? It’s not like I know where you’re coming from; I have to guess. And since I can’t guess well, I just won’t bother! Pour it out straight instead. The way I like it.

Sometimes I might get a little discouraged, you know . . . I start to feel . . . like I’m the only one who worries about how big our minds are, you know, like no one else really cares that we keeping making the same movies over and over; that the biggest dream we can offer our young people is they will one day make overgrown calculators run faster; that we can get excited, as a nation, about bacon . . . . It makes me feel like a tiny point in dark space, with no point in it.

Man I wish it wasn’t just me. I wish I could believe that there had been other people, over history, who understood, who were working on the same thing. I try to imagine who they would be, what they would call themselves. And then someone says:

Seriously? But .. but .. who? How? Why? What are they trying to do? Where are they headed?

That sounds good.
But wait—out of where?



(or if you’re me)




remember every single bit of our modern music comes from africa
where the math is base several.
(which would make doing your taxes more interesting)

almost every single song almost every single person knows traces back to a Sunday afternoon right here:

congo square

doesn’t look like much, does it.

what’s going to happen because you did something different? go get ’em.




*where is the fourth picture I hate you

Shoutout to Jackie McLean! The cut was just a little too harsh for me, though, sorry.



Which one is moss? Which one is rainforest? 




The world is a many-splendid and wonderfully complicated thing, innumerably faceted, providing the interested investigator no end of viewpoints along which to classify its phenomenon.

An underrated of these is what some philosophers might call degree of existence, but I call eventiness. Maybe it has been underrated up until now because it didn’t have a very good name. Yet.

They seem like many, but they are actually quite few, the people who have asked whether imaginary things like unicorns exist in some sense, if they must exist because we can name and think of them. Such arguments seem to me overly complicated, although of course I am excited that they exist.

More straightforward then, I should be*; more straightforwardly, then, will I suggest that we can sort all phenomenon into one of four classes by their eventiness; 1) physical, 2) depicted, 3) conceived of, and 4) other.

By other names, you might call these ‘inarguable,’ ‘probably,’ ‘probably not’, and ‘better not to think about it.’

‘Inarguably, that is the floor underneath my feet.’
‘Probably, you’ll do what you said you would.”
‘I think it could be, but probably not.’
<pretend you inserted something too weird to think of here>

And so we can see that different shades of being allow for greater or larger sets of possibilities: this is just another way of saying a wonderful thing, ‘Only so many things can happen,’ as well as a potentially even more wonderful thing, ‘Many many more things than happen can happen, but only in my mind.’

I believe many similar trains of thought– full of people who really should have been computer programmers, only computers hadn’t been invented yet — derailed because their divisions of existence were …. yes, obsessively seems like the right word… obsessively focused on our PERCEPTION of phenomenon.

Which is, to misspeak, fraught. By which I mean ‘not going to work.’**

Eventiness is not going down that track. Eventiness does not care what you perceive.

Eventiness only cares about what you do.

You participate in or create physical events, you experience or create depictions, and you think. And don’t worry about other.

Eventiness puts you back in control of the world. It is equally as human-centric as any other theory of existence, in case you are worried things might not be real, which they might not be.

But it is far more human-controlled than any other theory of existence. When you convert an inspiration into a ludicrous blog post, you have moved a thing from one plane of eventiness to another, by depicting it.

You have literally made a thing more true, for the meaning of true that means ‘exists more.’ (Probably the closest English word is ‘actual’. Sanskrit is better at things like this.)

And, should you eat the shoes you were planning on wearing to work tomorrow, have you made your dream of wearing them less true? No! Of course not! There is no way to make things less true, you nightingale!

Only more. And we do that. And it usually ain’t easy, Seymour.

Eventiness is Eric Berne meets Quine, making it perhaps the most boring meeting ever. Eventiness explains how you can hijack an incoming level 3 with an appropriate 2, or if you really want to end the argument, a 1; how you can disable a level 2 with sufficient 3; and how the most sensible exchanges occur (to some degree) when 1 is met with a 1 response, 2 with 2, and 3 with 3, and other stays elsewhere (= unspecified).

If you really want a leg up (and away from the room with Eric Berne and Quine in it), I’m with you, so try this: WHEN THEY IMPACT OTHER PEOPLE, restrict your truth-creating decisions to the evidence from the eventiness level ONE STEP BELOW the level you are truth-creating on. And this is bliss.

In other words, make

no depictions beyond happenings, no thoughts beyond depictions, and no other, that you can’t think of.

Time for examples!

I hate her I hate her so much I just freaking hate her!

(What were her actual words? Something mild, no doubt.)


“Did you hear that everyone is afraid of white cars?”

“No–what? Why in the world would that be?”

“Everyone thinks white cars are more dangerous. You didn’t know?”

“No, I never…hmmm.”

(It’s a special class of statements that can be made completely true by uttering them. I wish it were specialer.)


“I just can’t shake the feeling that you don’t love me.”

“Ahh, the world is a large one, is it not?”


“All that geographic space.”

“5 quadrillion square feet of it?”

“And on which one of them am I currently located?”






*unless I’m pretending to be a hypocrit

**No, I’m not telling you why not, but I’m sure, and it’s a secret why, until I finish this paper I’m working on. 

***Now whenever you can safely be irresponsible, I mean, in the privacy of your own physical space/personal endeavor/mind, well then I’d just go apeshi … other?

Shoutout to scare quotes and the WVO

Friends of the Law

It’s puzzling that so many moral codes, like the speed limit, seem made to be broken: that those who would adhere to the law instead are forced, it seems forced is the right word, to decide on a degree of disregard; the quality of a law, like that of tap water, declining as fewer of us use it and other options establish themselves. The most orthodox religions have thousand-year-old culturally embraced mechanisms for their own disregard.

Once these workaround systems are established, the code or law appears unusable. Who can use it, for what it was intended to be used: to guide our decision making in relation to groups too large for us to accurately anticipate their needs? Who can use it, for its side effects: the confidence that comes from knowing our actions, however unpopular, are inside it?

The perfect moral code, then, is the one so strict that everything not expressly forbidden by it must be ok, and that everything that is expressly forbidden by it is not. This is what we pine for. This, and one so clearly described that it is clear on which side of forbidden each and every of our actions stand.

Not finding it, we make it ourselves.

We are not surprised to find a law in practice is not a logical, but a social creature; unexpectedly, though, we find the practical strength of its dictates determined by how public their requirements are; and bizarrely, the more obvious its observance would be to strangers, the more likely it is to be broken.

I’m not sure how to make the speed limit a secret.

Practical law is a forest we see because of the leafy trees in it; the well-established, the evergreen or in season; those that have grown year after year after year. As a group. the picture they make is perfect and uniform; from a distance, or in dim light, or viewed at 75 mph, the dead trees lean practically invisible; the fallen branches change not a thing.

Conservationists might hold that to ‘clean’ a forest is just a slow way to kill it–and driving on, here are groups of sickly gray where nothing healthy grows– clear those instead: the places where standing together means nothing, where any number of stalking individuals, because of their shapes, make nothing together but alone.

And on Saturdays, then, we go back and walk under the leafy branches, and how pleasant and how satisfying, to pick up a piece of dead wood, crumble it in our hands, let the porous bits of it drift down to the ground, as we go–or without thinking even, crush some beneath our feet, hiking through.

You rake.

Bob Dylan and his publicist answer fan mail

Why don’t you just read me all the letters in order and stop messing around.

Sure, I’ll do that. I have these trash bags of them–I’ll just read each one, ha.

Yeah, go ahead.

Ok, Letter 1: ‘Dear Bob, I can see the stars from where I am, and they are what I think of you. Can you see the moon from where you are? I can too, but I’m over it. For you. PS: I am nine years old.’

Write back: ‘Love you too, kid, and great job yesterday.’

Do you know what he or she did yesterday?

Sure, something great. Next letter.

Ok. Letter 2: ‘OMG Bob I can’t believe I’m talking to you OMG you are the greatest!!!’ And then it goes on like that.


What do you want to say?


Whenever you’re ready.

Can I answer that one later?

Yeah, we can do that.

Just make a pile over there or something. I’ll answer that one later.

Ok. Letter 3: ‘bob. i. am. such. a. huge. fan. of. yours.’ It goes on like that.

Great, put that one of the pile. I’m glad we have a pile for those.

Letter 4: ‘How many roads can a man walk down, before they call him a man, how many seas must a white duck sail, before she sleeps in the sand, eh?’

Write back ‘No, A+.’

Ok. Letter 5.

This is great. I didn’t know you were capable of this.

Letter 5: ‘Dear Bob, if you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be?’

He’s asking this again?

Yeah, it seems really important to him.

Ok. Let me think.

Are you going to answer him now? I could put it on the pile.

No, I thought about this last week and changed my answer. Can’t remember what to though. Say this: ‘Not sure, but the answer is different from the last time. I’ll try to write you if I remember it.’

Ok. (writing) Letter 6: ‘Dear Bob, is God dead?’



That’s the answer; just say ‘No.’

That’s it? I think you should add something.

It’s not your mail. That’s the answer, ‘no.’

I really think you should add another sentence.

Yeah, seems like you do, but noone’s asking you if I should add another sentence.

I really think this is an opportunity to say something more.

No. Write ‘No.’ and send it.

I’m just going to wait until you add a little more to that.

You want me to make a Nietszche* joke and it’s not going to happen. Next letter.

I don’t think I’ll read the next letter until you add something more to this response.

Are you kidding me? Read the next letter.

No. Not until you expand on your answer.

That’s not happening. Make all the Nietszche jokes you want in your own mail. Next letter.

Ok, Letter 7. ‘Dear Bob, Writing to inform you that I won’t be reading any more of your mail until you add something more to your last dictated response.’

Write back ‘Ain’t happening.’ Next letter.

Letter 8, ‘Dear Bob, Ok then.’

Write back ‘Great. Please read the rest of the mail.’

Letter 9, ‘Dear Bob, Great show last night.’

‘Thank you.’



I did it again; I left the ‘s’ out. I always leave the ‘s’ out. Maybe because I don’t think he’s that Niet. I went ahead and fixed it. Can’t be blamed if the man couldn’t even spell his own name. You should see my try to spell Heidigger.

How to throw a solid pitch in the game of good versus evil

(This is a part two and won’t make much sense if you haven’t read part one, How to Hit a Home Run in the Game of Good Versus Evil)

We all have the opportunity to interact with others in the course of our daily living. Typically we don’t think too much about their motivations or ethical positions, as we’re focused on our own goals: we want or need information, or an action, from them, to reach these goals, and the interaction is focused on that. That’s ok, of course–that’s how we get things done together.

If we step back from our goals and look at what’s behind the interaction for a second, we can notice that we ask certain people for certain things and not others. We don’t ask a homeless person to lend us money; we don’t ask our grandfathers to help us with our computer science homework; we don’t ask our mothers to shoot pool on a Tuesday when no one else will come out to the bar; we don’t ask four-year-old girls to help us change the oil in our car.

In all four of these cases, we don’t need to ask the people we don’t ask whether they have the ability to help us or not. We know enough about each person involved to know that (while nothing is certain) they probably don’t. This is the positive role of stereotyping, which adds efficiency to our thinking.

While it might be fun to take your mother to shoot pool one time, it is even more fun intentionally to adjust this efficient mental setting consciously one tick to the less restrictive. One simple way is to ask more of strangers (“Hey, do you think this dress fits me well?”), giving them the opportunity to be a jerks and seeing what they do with it. These are like warm-up pitches– you’re not trying to strike anyone out; you’re just working on getting the ball over the plate. And it’s not even risky–what does their opinion matter to you?*

With practice like this, we naturally insulate ourselves against being disappointed by others, which naturally leads us to broaden our image of what they are capable of. And often we are instead pleasantly surprised, as we see the insult they would typically deliver rise to their lips and then falter, in the face of our earnest and well-meaning countenance. (STRRRREEEEERIKE one!) In this case, they are pleasantly surprised as well.

Then on game day, when evil’s designated hitter comes to the plate–that special person in our life who always lies; who always goes behind our back; who always gets their dig in, leaving us dazed and bewildered as the ball flies over our head–we will be ready. We check his/her eyes, assess his/her stance, recall the rest of the team poised behind us, prepared for any outcome and


as if he/she’d ever not earned it. Because without the occasional opportunity, how will he/she ever? Go ahead–carefully and firmly give him/her yet another chance to screw you over. Even if he/she does (connect), your pitch will hit his/her bat so hard her/his hands will burn for the next several hours. And anyway, there goes the ball, directly into the glove of the shortstop — your foolproof-pre-prepared-in-advance-contingency plan.

(How is it umpires add consonants on to the beginning of the word ‘out’? GYYERRRRRRRROUT? That sounds about right.)

Paste on that smile that says ‘Really evil, did that help? Up to you of course.’ All of this the batter/ will remember the next time s/he comes up, making h-im/er all that much more likely, next time, to check his-/herself/ves and do the right thing.

But I estimate that more than 0.500 of the time your trust will be repaid. And then not only have you stopped evil from scoring, you’ve recruited a new outfielder. Or a bat-boy\girl. For the nice guys. Who need a lot of bats.

But do make sure you have all your bases covered first.

Recap for playbook:

In a situation where you are expected not to trust people,
prepare and strengthen then yourself, and


*I like to ask mean-looking strangers.



Shoutout to the guys who watch Family Feud together for Jesus. Quite a feat.

Paradigms for Information Exchange: A Field Guide

1. Free aka tell-all. Found among the blissfully naive, those protected by spousal privilege, and/or drug-induced. Marked by a sense of impatience, as there truly isn’t enough time to actually tell actually all, and this inspiration: “maybe if I go in chronological order. . . ”

2. Controlled audience aka encrypted. Found in children’s riddle books and among those with something they need to hide and share simultaneously. Who that someone or what that something is, I couldn’t say. Incredibly powerful when done properly.* Marked by meaningful intonation: “How are YOU DO-ing? I mean, how are YOU do-ING? No, wait…”

3. Bounded aka you-first, i.e. information cannot be shared unless it is already known. Commonly found among those who know things they wish no one had told them, or in fact anyone, like the ending of Fight Club. Marked by urgent prompting, usually with lots of gestures. Can arise from religious conviction or other types of ethical constraints. “I wish I could tell you, but it’s not me I’m protecting–it’s little Timmy.”

4. Parasitic aka one-way. Most easily identified by the response it provokes, namely “You suck” (“my head empty like a greedy and sinister upright vacuum cleaner that refuses to answer any of my questions you jerk”). Does not include observation, which is not a paradigm of information exchange. Responds well to being told to invest in clams, based on your insider info. “So what else did they tell you not to say?”

5. Interjected aka whether-you-want-it-or-not. Found in clowns, mimes, and advertising. Too rare. “Hey! Look at my feet, which are comical.”

6. Quid-pro-quo. Very strange information exchange paradigm, whereby one person asks and question, and the other answers it. Thought to be endangered because of changes in climate of trust. Actually endangered because of overestimates of risk. “So what would an example of this be?”

7. Nothing. Second most common information exchange paradigm. Does not actually speak volumes at all. Also does not include meaningful glances (see 2, above).  Found among those with no time to say anything and/or writer’s block.**

8. Pre-defined aka that’s-all-you-get. Lovely and comfortable paradigm whereby one reads a prepared statement. Example: the Magna Carta.

9. Repetitive aka let’s-try-this-again. Most effective information exchange paradigm in a conflict. Marked by latching on to a simple statement with no words of more than 5 letters and repeating it, no matter what information exchange partner says or does. “I already heard you say that Jesus Christ died for my sins.”
*Unfortunately, most users of this paradigm are unaware that the only way to send a properly encrypted message is to speak plainly and carefully at the correct time. I don’t know who didn’t tell them that in a way they could understand.

**PS Don’t even READ this it’s so TERRIBLE.

Post Electoral College

(This is a part two and won’t make much sense if you haven’t read part one, The Ghosts in the System.)

I saw a little of another style of training in practice today too, as the woman conducting the house floor proceedings politely laughed at one of the freshman Congressman debating a nonsense bills, when he didn’t remember the rules of procedure. That is a certain kind of professional development.*** I’m not sure what scared me more: his ignorance, her thinking she was helping, or the teenage boys sitting next to me with Elizabeth Warren’s latest book under their arms.

Anyway, as far as I can tell, the upperclassmen in our legislative bodies entertain the growing inexperienced division the way you’d entertain a small child in a garage full of dangerous stuff: by giving them some sawdust or something else harmless to play with on the floor.****

But as all parents eventually know, children who never get to touch the power tools never learn how not to cutoff someone’s arm. And one day Johnny-the-bad-influence is going to come over and say hey, don’t you guys ever play with these? And you can tell yourself you’ll be there in time to stop things before blood is shed, and maybe you can, but maybe you can’t–if your garage is packed, with a lot of two-year-olds, ALL of whom think Johnny’s leather jacket is the neatest. Thing they’ve ever cut through with a reciprocating saw. With an arm in it. So far.


Meanwhile, I’ll be running through the streets like Archimedes******

because I see now that all of our non-functioning systems work like this. My dry cleaners. The Catholic church. The self-checkout line at the Loiusville, Kentucky Wal-Mart. Corporate America. Early childhood education. Bad dentistry. Even the local government of Atlantic City.

Still running, am I now, because now I see that these are not unsolvable, endemic problems, as I have had thoughted! Eureka!

And leaping in unabashed joy, now, because now I see that we don’t have to magically pass laws that make being a corrupt jerk a crime, catch people in the act, prosecute them, and then cross our fingers and hope that their replacements don’t do the exact same thing. Really!


Here’s the solution:

People entering a system are supposed to absorb its ways. The traditions of the system are supposed to combine with the pre-existing knowledge of the entree. That’s how things get tastier. It’s a two-way filter: new members select the best parts of the old system, and the system selects the best parts of the new ideas. The nasty parts are supposed to be spit out, or fall off the plate, if you catch my corn muffin.

(Hart Senate Office Bldg FOODFIGHT! I would make a great debate coach. My team would know how to throw mashed potatoes from either side of the aisle.)

The key here is the amount of selective power on each side. If the system is powerful enough, you eat what’s on your plate, or you don’t eat, sonny.

And the kind of systems I’m talking about here are at the TOP of the food pyramid: there is nothing above them to make them better. It’s good that they’re up there–someone has to be–but anything that goes wrong up there is stuck.

(Remind me to post about the shape of this thought, please, it’s an important one.)

An ancient ecosystem like Congress is not something one can hope to modify easily (by passing a law especially); nether can one set out to somehow de-activate the greed of the shadow institution that has grown up around it; neither can one realistically expect to educate the entire American populace to elect more qualified representation. (I however, unrealistically expect to do this single-handedly.******)

But — cue gospel choir–there is one. one! one variable in this equation that is easy to adjust:


the amount of pre-existing knowledge of the members.

I know. I’m really excited too.

Which readjusts that balance of power in the right direction, knowledge being power, specifically the power to say, “No, that is dumb.”

Wait! There’s more: in any field, the one with more facts is the one with more integrity: we’re hard-wired not to do dumb things when we have been shown how much they hurt people. And in any field, the one with more understanding of the history (of anything!) is the one with more respect: we’re hard-wired not to thumb our noses at things when we have been shown why they are the way they are. So. So. Ready to turn that vicious circle the other way around? Here it is:

HERE IS A SCHOOL: http://www.iop.harvard.edu/newly-elected-members-congress


(Too difficult? Then send all the aides!)



Here are some templates you can use to write to your Congresspeople:

Dear Mr./Ms. A,

I wish you were more like Mr./Ms. B, the distinguished Senator/Representative from <B’s district or state>. How did he/she manage to _______________, ________________, and ________________? Do you know?

Your Constituent,


Dear Mr./Ms. B,

Can you please keep an eye on Mr./Ms. A, the distinguished Senator/Representative from <A’s district of state>? He/she is really trying, I think, but doesn’t know how to get things done/doesn’t know what to do/does nothing (circle one). In any case, I think he/she has a lot of potential, and I would appreciate anything you could do to help develop it. Thanks.

You Constituent,



(There’s no need to circle Senator or Representative. They can look them up.)


If you haven’t hung out with federal employees a lot, you really should try it. Washington, DC is a cesspool of vipers, but it’s also a buzzing hive of people trying to make everything in the world correct, as hard as they can. You really don’t know ethics until you’ve met some of these people. Large numbers of them are equipped with staggering moral brick walls, the kind you really don’t find anywhere else. Some people are pillars of their community; some people are Mount Rushmore.

It’s a special kind of integrity that comes from reasonable pride: the completely flipping inviolate kind. BECAUSE WE REPRESENT THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, THAT’S WHY. That’s what they say. So neat that still exists. A lot of it, too.


*Ok, 2.38 billion, taking inflation into account.

**I can’t believe I’m old enough now that so many things have been bugging me for years. But there it is.*******

***That noone appreciates or learns much from.

****Feel free if so motivated to review the list of bills enacted by the 114th Congress so far. Here’s a short excerpt:

*****I do that anyway.********

******Which means with one hand tied behind my back. Or both, and a loaner hand.

*******I guess I should just be happy that I’m figuring one or two of them out finally.*******

********But I miss my twenties, when nothing had been bugging me for years.

*********I like this footnote best because it makes Archimedes look like a 5-star general. Which he wasn’t.

Shoutout to NYLC.

And thank you for the gallery passes–you know who you are!