The daily news is generally terrible and if you pay attention to it, hopelessness and depression are often a reasonable response. Between armed conflict, starving refugees, climate change, political corruption, and rampant consumerism, human behavior provides more horror than anyone needs.… Read the rest
We’re all used to maps, even our smart phones have them. Maps help us locate ourselves, providing a sense of what surrounds us to determine how best to get where we want to go. In addition to paper and digital maps, we also employ mind-maps. Mind-maps are imaginary, internal projections of space; we use… Read the rest
Life can be a punishing experience, and difficulties often happen without advance notice. Aging, sickness and death await us all, the foundational elements of myriad forms of suffering. When things get really bad, inevitably the question arises: is life worth living?
I am physically materialist,… Read the rest
While on a retreat at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, a small sign in the communal restroom saying “Leave No Trace” caught my attention. Outwardly directing that everyone should clean up after themselves, the message’s inner meaning pointed to Zen instruction about the responsibility we have to each … Read the rest
When EBay hit the internet in 1995, it provided people an easy way to sell their stuff and with it the modern distinction between commercial and non-commercial activity began to blur. Suddenly, that old toaster inherited from mom became “vintage” and saleable. From there it spread to possessions overall,… Read the rest
The boys and I have continued to explore life’s vexing questions, moving on from whether any of us want to “come back” to what, exactly, is the reason for making that decision. It occurs to me that the opening of Charles Dickens’ 1859 book, A Tale of Two Cities sums up the dilemma perfectly:
“It was the best… Read the rest
The other day the boys and I were talking about the afterlife, and that if such a thing exists, would any of the four of us want to “come back.” I was the only one to answer “yes.”
It’s important to keep in mind that the average age of us four boys is seventy-five, and we all have, in one way or another, faced a life-threatening… Read the rest
Every society is built upon a moral framework, a set of precepts about how to live together. These precepts generally align across cultures, and include prohibitions against murder and theft, except ironically, when murder and theft are committed against those deemed outsiders, intruders or scofflaws.… Read the rest
Those of you who regularly read my scribblings know that I’ll write about anything at all. The past 800 columns reflect what’s on my mind at any particular time; I learned long ago that writing a regular… Read the rest
According to a new book, General Mark Milley, Chairman of America’s military Joint Chiefs of Staff, was so alarmed at Trump’s behavior leading up to the transition of power that he referred to the former President’s comments as sounding like Adolph Hitler. He conferred with other members of the military… Read the rest
While on my daily walk I happened upon a box of free books and sitting atop the stack was a paperback copy of George Orwell’s 1943 Animal Farm. I first read Animal Farm in the mid-sixties while in high school and remember it fondly. In the form of a fairytale, it tells a story about animals on a farm in England… Read the rest
The word “privileged” is used to connote something akin to an honor bestowed upon a person due to their status or accomplishments, but today “privileged” is deployed as an insult. Ethnicity, gender, economic success, even age are now suspect, relegating… Read the rest
My granddaughter is thirteen, a full-fledged teenager of the twenty-first century. Look Accordingly, as a devoted grandfather, I make an effort to understand her world so that we can compare notes; this means I’ve spent a fair amount of time exploring the world of TikTok.
For those of you unfamiliar… Read the rest
In his observations of America during the latter part of the 20th century, social and media critic professor Marshall McLuhan observed a curious effect of electronic media, what he called the increasing “tribalization” of culture. In effect, the tribalization he noted was a re-tribalization –… Read the rest
I woke up this morning. Usually, waking up seems nothing special, but my older brother Jeffrey won’t be waking up anymore; he died this past week after succumbing to brain cancer.
My brother and I were not particularly close; he’s lived in Connecticut for the past thirty years, a long way from California.… Read the rest
Wearing badges and carrying guns on their hips does not entitle police officers to commit murder, yet this happens all across America. Despite training, use-of-force standards, and policies governing when a weapon should be used, case after case of shooting deaths appear on the news weekly. And in… Read the rest
I recently awakened to discover that a plant thief had raided my succulent garden at the front of our house, snipping off cuttings and pulling out some plants entirely by their roots. Having poured years into developing my garden, I felt shocked, angered and violated. Before long, paranoia set in, and… Read the rest
When Sigmund Freud authored Civilization and Its Discontents in 1929, the world was in the throes of social, economic and political upheaval. The 1920s brought with it a post-WW1 era of explicit sexuality, financial excess then collapse, and world politics riven by domination, resistance and revolt.… Read the rest
We like to think of ourselves as rational beings, the animal that thinks. However, the common characteristic of complex animal life is hunger, a primal force so powerful that it alone provides sufficient explanation for the development of human civilization.
If you’ve ever watched bird hatchlings… Read the rest
Ever since the largest trees in my neighborhood were cut down, including a Red Mahogany Eucalyptus topping out at one-hundred feet tall, habits of the wildlife in my yard have changed. Squirrels, for one, disappeared entirely for several months. There had been a crew of three or four digging holes, … Read the rest