At my advanced age I’m losing more friends than I’m gaining, so it was nice to spend a little time online chatting with my new buddy ChatGPT, the latest iteration of Artificial Intelligence available to the public. When I was a teen, one of my friends was named Chad, but I’ve never known a Chat before. We … Read the rest
Homo sapiens roughly translates as “wise man”, supposedly distinguishing us from earlier hominids like Neanderthals. I’m not sure about the “wise” part, but we people certainly are thinkers. The precise definition of thinking is not as straightforward as one might, well, think. Thinking, you see,… Read the rest
My friend of nearly 50 years died in his sleep a couple of nights ago. Clifford Barney, whom I called Wally because he called himself Walter when we first met and hung out together at Kurt von Meier’s Napa Valley ranch in the early 70’s, was 92 years… Read the rest
Natural selection, Darwin’s insight into the workings of evolution, spans multiple generations, thousands of them. Plants and animals have been evolving for billions of years, and 99.99% of all the species that have arisen are extinct. Human-like beings have been around for perhaps a million years,… Read the rest
“Ignorance and despotism seem made for each other.”
That people are born equal may be true in a legal sense, but inequality quickly emerges. Differences in intelligence, upbringing and opportunity assert themselves in determining … Read the rest
If I tell you you’re a self-aware, inter-dimensional wave form of densely packed spacetime will it change your life? I’m not saying you’re not you; I’m saying you’re more than you think you are. Or less. Or maybe, both. Just sayin’.
We’re all subject to the physical laws of universe, although there’s … Read the rest
The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution famously bars congress from infringing on personal free speech or that of the press. In other words, it bans government from preventing expression but does nothing to constrain private enterprise from doing so, however.
The public often complains when… Read the rest
As the years flow by I’ve slowly been losing my hearing, mostly in my left ear but also in my right. I found myself saying “what” more often, and with my wife’s encouragement I went to an audiologist for testing and evaluation. I’m now wearing hearing aids.
“It will take you a while to get used to them,” the… Read the rest
Objective reality; prove it to me! What seems obvious is strange; proving objective reality can only be accomplished subjectively. It’s like the old saw about whether a tree falls in the forest if nobody’s there to hear it; without a subjective observer, objective reality may not exist.
Objective … Read the rest
When you have a 70-foot Black Walnut in the yard, you have a lot of squirrels. Right now, a clutch of four are scampering around its branches, making a last-ditch effort to find any nuts that have not fallen and grab them before they’re gone. The competition is fierce and includes high speed chases through… Read the rest
We think of living things in biological terms, but it is also possible to consider life from chemical, physical, and even economic perspectives. However we define life, both chemistry and physics are embedded in it deeply, and together form the economy of living systems. Although we easily place life… Read the rest
I know it sounds like the title of a 1940’s one-reel 3-Stooges movie, but America’s flirtation with Fascism ain’t no slapstick comedy. At the mention of Fascism nowadays, most people flash on Hitler and Swastikas and concentration camps, which is too bad, because Fascism is so much more than that.
There… Read the rest
“But green’s the color of Spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean, or important
Like a mountain, or tall like a tree
When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why
Wonder, I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s… Read the rest
I ran into an old friend at the market the other day, and when I asked him how he’s doing, he replied, “Still an asshole, and you?” We both laughed. We had a nice chat and after he departed I began to think about the mystery of who we are and the persistence of self.
The self-of-the-body and the self-of-the-mind… Read the rest
Len carries Pierre’s lifeless body to the garden. He knew this day would come and is prepared. A grave in a corner of the walled garden awaits Pierre’s burial; a large pile of dirt next to it is topped by a shovel. Lying on the ground is flat piece of stone about two by three feet in size, and four inches… Read the rest
Yes, I know adaptablist is not a real word, that is to say, one you’ll find in the dictionary. However, it is an excellent analogy about the truth of survival; in Darwinian terms, the most adaptable are the fittest. Like the adaptability of language, the adaptability of people has spread us across the … Read the rest
The encampment of the young ones on the banks of the river is abuzz with colorful excitement. Shorter days, which usually meant traveling to the other side of the valley, now means that dusk comes earlier and dawn later. Rather than prompting early dormancy, the family of young botanicus responds… Read the rest
Aristotle thought so, and his ideas dominated for many thousands of years. Both living and non-living matter, he believed, were purpose-driven, carried forth by an initiating force towards a goal in a process he named Telos, what we today call teleology.
Living things, certainly, demonstrate teleology,… Read the rest
The lights in the Gittleman library flicker, and then go out. Despite their best efforts to maintain the home’s systems, each passing decade has taken its toll. Parts that once were available are no longer made. Old circuits and relays reach the end of their effective… Read the rest
One could easily conclude that mankind is warlike; some would even argue that warfare is a natural, even beneficial activity, an opinion shared by Homer, General George Patton, and today’s bevy of nationalistic leaders. War and its competitive derivatives – economic, cultural, and religious… Read the rest
Something altogether different happens; the younger members of the botanicus family decide to remain at their current encampment rather than accompanying the older members across the valley. It is not the result of conflict or discord, nor the reflection of any estrangement or alienation… Read the rest
When I took high school algebra in 1963 it was taught as Set Theory, an element of New Math. Forced to teach New Math, Miss Lewis, who was nearing the end of her long career, had as little understanding of what she was teaching as we students had of what was being taught. What previously had been the straightforward… Read the rest
The life of Pierre Gittleman, it turns out, was and is of no concern to the aged, remaining residents of Halifax. The past decade, hallmarked by the slow erosion of the systems and infrastructure created to sustain its population, has doomed Halifax to history’s footnotes, along with most… Read the rest
Whether scientifically based or values-based, progress describes a path forward and indicates improvement over time. Using a scientifically based, statistical evaluation of progress is easy, but is not without its own downsides. Ultimately, any evaluation of human progress is beset by how it … Read the rest
The season passes quickly, and the botanicus clan along with their Sus pig companions, prepares to make the day-long trek across to the other side of valley. Despite the death of Karma, the activities of gathering, decorating, and assembling small stones continues, but has taken on new meaning,… Read the rest
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” – Exodus 20:17
The first nine of the Ten Commandments instruct us about how we must behave, what we should do and not do.… Read the rest
“Well,” announces Pierre, “as my father used to say, ‘the cat’s out of the bag.’” He and Len are sitting in the library. “I’ve read about cats, father,” Len replies, not entirely understanding Pierre’s point. “As I recall,” Len goes on, “Panthera tigris and other species of large cats were … Read the rest
Between awareness of climate change, an Internet filled with disturbing images, cultural shifts about identity, and extreme political division, things seem terribly complicated and difficult right now. It’s tempting for those of us born in the 1940s or 50s to feel that life was once simpler and more… Read the rest
“He ran off,” Jens tells Saha, referring to Cooper. “We barely exchanged words. He dropped this sharpened stake. I guess his running off is better than if he had tried to attack me.” “Will he come back?” Saha looks curious. “I left all of his things untouched,” Jens replies, “he’ll want them.… Read the rest
A close friend of mine told me recently that he feels his life has no purpose. “I’ve done what I wanted to do; now it feels like I’m just going through the motions,” he said, matter-of-factly. His remark prompted a conversation about life, specifically, does it have a purpose?
This question is more than… Read the rest
By the time official word of Jacques Lehmann’s death reaches Pierre, he’s already known for a week. Jacques’ son Leon let’s Pierre know within hours of his father’s death. Jacques and Pierre, childhood friends in a Montreal community of French Jews, moved to Halifax and even roomed together… Read the rest
So much about American life seems crazy right now, the gun fetish, the QAnon conspiracies, the rabid left and right, the science deniers. It seems like many people in this country have simply gone mad as an air of unreality has taken hold. What the hell is going on?
Well, the notion of what constitutes reality… Read the rest
When the days begin to lengthen once again, the botanicus tribe prepares to return to the other side of the valley. The void created by the death of Karma is quickly filled by three new infants, two females who are named Crisp Leaf and Shiny Pebble and one male named Hot Wind. The smallest children,… Read the rest
There are many parallels between the craziness of modern society and individual craziness. Before I continue, let’s define craziness first.
Craziness is the experience of the world as fragmented and incoherent, disordered, bereft of belonging or the logic of cause and effect, and appearing as inauthentic… Read the rest
Another decade passes; life in Halifax for Pierre and Len has settled down to a predictable, daily routine. Halifax has settled down too, as its population is halved by aging, disease and the limits of medicine. The smaller demand on unstable resources like energy, food, and housing, however,… Read the rest
We live in a consumer society that underpins the world economy; money, it’s said, makes the world go ‘round. I could spend a entire column decrying this fact, how consumerism is gutting our planet, destroying habitat, driving species extinction and fueling climate change, but we all know that. Instead,… Read the rest
The short autumn season passes into winter quickly; the hours of sunlight shorten and the botanicus family spends many of its hours in dormancy. Because they rely upon photosynthesis for energy production, nighttime naturally prompts sleep, their diurnal pattern of wakefulness and sleep… Read the rest
Like any physical object used regularly, human bodies wear out; joints lose cartilage, cataracts develop, muscles get weaker, organs lose efficiency, healing happens slower, bones get more brittle, and memory…oh yes, memory gets worse. Now I remember.
The Watcher, the self-conscious “I” that … Read the rest
“I thought I’d find you here, Len,” says Pierre, walking into the library. “What are you reading?” “‘King Lear’, father. Have you read it?” Len replies. “A long time ago, but yes,” Pierre nods and plops himself into a cushioned chair across from Len. “Well, what do you think of it?” he … Read the rest
In statistics, ‘reversion to the mean’ is a term used to describe that observation of the extreme is followed by observation of the less extreme, or one might say, a more normal average. In other words, no matter how wild results may appear, over time they return closer to normal. The same may be said of … Read the rest
Recent rains transform the landscape. Wildflowers suddenly cover the hillsides of the valley and grasses surge in the meadows; dormant during the dry weather but now come back to life, fresh green shoots emerge by inches everyday day. Growth is not limited to plants only, however; a new addition… Read the rest
Not many of my friends like opera, but I do. Yes, it’s incessantly melodramatic, filled with extremes of human behavior, broadly comedic and invariably tragic, but that’s just what I like about it.
Opera is like life. Its main characters are tortured, and like Shakespeare’s, suffer the torments of … Read the rest
“Eat and be eaten. Such is the law of the universe.” So begins Pierre’s presentation to the Executive Board of the Food Science Institute. Given the stress placed upon the city’s shrinking population and its aging infrastructure, he’s invited to speak and offer his ideas about possible solutions.… Read the rest
At the beginning of 20th century, coincident with the rise of high technology and the advancement of science – the telegraph, radio, personal automobiles, and the shift from agrarian to industrial culture – the way people related to each other and themselves began a major transition:… Read the rest
The discovery of other “green” animals in the valley has unanticipated results. The family has expanded to include not just Homo botanicus, but the new members, the botanicus “pigs.” The botanicus children, in particular, bond with the little creatures, and spend time singing with them.… Read the rest
Remember “plug and play”? An obsolete term almost upon its introduction, it’s joined a host of other falsities of modern civilization. I put “plug and play” to the test a month ago when my wife and I bought a new HP all-in-one printer. I’m a follow-the-directions-kinda-guy, but it made no difference;… Read the rest
The ride through Halifax is unproblematic; the vehicle’s transponder, registered with the city government, is automatically detected and because Jacques Lehmann is the head of the Food Science Institute, his vehicle and its passengers are pre-cleared for passage. Private vehicles … Read the rest
I am my mind and my body, and they are me. So it is that my self-consciousness imagines itself. My inner thoughts, unspoken but constructed of words nonetheless, convert my embodied experience of being to the symbolic and then back to embodied again. I feel hungry; I think “I am hungry;” I find something… Read the rest
Saha awakens to the distant sound of thunder, a relatively rare experience in her life. While rainfall still falls on the wild lands of Nova Scotia, thunderstorms, with their lightening, hail and sometimes torrential downpours are infrequent. At the next clap, much louder, the entire clan… Read the rest
In her remarkable book, The Reproduction of Evil, psychologist Sue Grand highlights the role of the onlooker. Evil, she points out, is often the result of harm inflicted on a propagator, trauma and abuse endured by the propagator at the hands of others that gets passed on to new victims, some of whom go… Read the rest
Fifteen years older, now 70, Pierre sips Oolong tea. “Ahh. I don’t know what I’d do without tea,” he murmurs, and then remembers his guest sitting across from him in the library. “Pour you a cup, Jacques?”
Jacques Lehmann nods, takes the cup from Pierre, brings it to his nose and inhales slowly.… Read the rest
“Glad mom and dad are not alive to see this,” my sister Gina and I agreed during a phone call the other day. We were speaking about what’s going on in America right now: a Supreme Court dominated by right-wing, religious conservatives simultaneously upholding Federal protection for gun rights while … Read the rest
Karma, the second-oldest male in the group, sits quietly on a rocky outcropping on the upper slopes of the eastern side of the valley. He reckons his location through the use of landmarks and geometry. He does not use geometry as a conscious tool; rather, his internal calculations are … Read the rest
This is what psychologist Sue Grand calls the type of psychological disturbance spreading across America and the world right now. It’s happened before, of course, and has been called by other names like “social hysteria,” and “group delirium.” However named, such episodes are examples of acute mass… Read the rest
“Pierre? Are you there, Gittleman? It’s Lehmann from the Institute. We need to talk. People are mumbling about some secret work you’re doing. And why am I the last to know? If it’s true, of course. Please get back to me.”
Pierre reads the text. Now in his late fifties, he’s been able to … Read the rest
There are so many ways we tell ourselves that everything is going to be just fine. “We’re America,” we’re told, “there’s nothing we can’t do when we work together.” Or, “We’re the greatest country the world has ever known.” Or “America is the world’s beacon of freedom and democracy.” When is optimism … Read the rest
During the twenty years botanicus has roamed the forests of Nova Scotia, set loose by Pierre Gittleman to repopulate a changing planet, their tribe has slowly grown from an original four individuals to thirteen. Those four consisted of Jens, Saha, Kaya and Karma, raised by Pierre and except… Read the rest
In its rush to solve a so-called housing crisis, actually a housing affordability crisis, California has disenfranchised the power of local government to determine what’s best for the community it serves. New state land-use and housing laws effectively eliminate many of the choices, options, and… Read the rest
Pierre awakens early; it’s going to be a torrid day in Halifax, another in a long line of torrid days. The rise in ocean levels has already inundated the lower lying areas of the city, and the past few months of extremely high temperatures have only made matters worse. The desalinization … Read the rest
My wife and I offered to drive our granddaughter to an appointment in Santa Rosa, and as we neared the destination, we passed an In & Out Burger. In-N-Out is a fast food joint, in case you don’t know, and apparently very popular. My wife and I had never eaten an In-N-Out Burger, but my granddaughter had;… Read the rest
We Americans look down upon so-called primitive cultures such as the Aztecs who overtly practiced human sacrifice in obedience to their deeply held beliefs. We see their sacred celebration of violence as savagely cruel and backwards and we condemn it. And yet, America regularly sacrifices its people… Read the rest
The trek across the valley takes the botanicus clan the better part of a day. Unhurried, the group’s pace is comfortable and provides plenty of time for soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the spectacular views. Earth’s temperate zones have moved closer to the poles, making the climate… Read the rest
I grow intestinal polyps as well as the wine country grows grapes. Such polyps, benign growths when small and young, can become pre-cancerous if allowed to mature; accordingly, every three years I have a colonoscopy and any polyps are removed.
The worst part of having a colonoscopy is the prep the day… Read the rest
Pierre Gittleman is perplexed. Approaching fifty-five years of age, he has been working on his human/plant hybrid botanicus project for his entire adult life, but feels stuck. Despite his brilliance and gift for insight, the power of the gene-editing technology at his disposal, and his… Read the rest
I found myself scurrying around this week trying to keep ahead of technology. Keeping ahead of technology, actually, was impossible. The fact is I was doing technology’s bidding in order to keep my life in order, a situation in which I, and most of us, find ourselves regularly.
Rather than serving humanity,… Read the rest
Through dense, leafy underbrush, Jens and his troop quietly make their way to a clearing where a break in the tree canopy allows streams of light to fill the area; ferns and moss thrive among slabs of stone warmed by the midday sun. Forming a circle, the group sits atop the warm stones, and they… Read the rest
While growing up I was instructed to refer to adults as Mr., Mrs. and Miss; to do otherwise was a sure path to being chastised. This rule of etiquette applied universally as a sign of proper respect. The basic premise was that using an adult’s first name without permission was a no-no, and this rule applied… Read the rest
At forth-five years of age, Pierre Gittleman’s laboratory is now also his bedroom; a cot lines one wall, along with a bedside table, reading lamp, writing desk and comfortable sitting chair. Not exactly a hermit, Pierre largely keeps his own company, his work too ambitious and potentially… Read the rest
America has always had reactionaries, people highly resistant to cultural change and determined to undermine the forces underlying such change. Such reactionaries currently appear under a variety of names: social conservative, pro-family, traditional values voter, new right, and now, anti-woke.… Read the rest
Jens looks at his legs, still outstretched and beginning to glisten in the early daylight. It has been a cool night, and his body needs a few minutes to warm up enough to get up and walk. Taking a deep breath, he smells the dew evaporating from the ground, and as long shadows slowly shorten, … Read the rest
I loved science fiction movies and books as a kid; I still do, although I don’t read much sci-fi these days. In 1958, at camp Androscoggin in Maine, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers was shown one movie night, and visions of a disabled saucer crashing into the Washington Monument stayed with me for years. The… Read the rest
“Homo botanicus sounds good,” thought the 35-year-old Pierre Gittleman, his mind wandering away from Thomas Dougherty’s story about the benefits of fasting. Pierre’s mind has been moving a mile-a-minute lately, fueled by his certainty – you could almost call it an epiphany –… Read the rest
We live in an affirmative universe, the Universe of Yes. The presence of matter is itself evidence, as are all the other forces and fields we’ve discovered. The universe only says “yes,” even to our ability to say “no.” It doesn’t get more affirmative than that.
I wrote an essay a couple of months ago about… Read the rest
It is 2135, smack in the middle of the 6th Great Extinction. Humanity has been reduced to small pockets of civilization, some operating at a subsistence level through foraging and small scale farming, others, by remaining technologically advanced and with sufficient energy sources pursuing… Read the rest
From the smallest animal to the largest, hunger, the first and strongest drive to assert itself, underlies the substance of animal behavior. Sensory functions – smell, sight, touch, hearing and taste – all support the search for food, and their humble origins may well lie in that pursuit.… Read the rest
Truth can be elusive, so much so that the entirety of the scientific method may be seen as a systematic attempt to find it. Our scientific age, roughly 300 years old, was preceded by uncountable eons of magical thinking and mythology, variously employed to explain both natural phenomena and the course… Read the rest
Neither of my parents were observant Jews. Yes, we belonged to a reform temple and would attend services there for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, but other than that, we were mostly Jews in name only. We ate bagels, cream cheese, and lox, but also bacon; that about says it all.
My brother… Read the rest
Walking seems such a simple thing. I used to think nothing of jumping up and heading out of the house when I was a boy; following the impulse to move felt seamless, an act so natural as to be thoughtless.
My father Norman was a big walker, and on weekends while I was growing up, he’d invite me to join him in what… Read the rest
The world is turned upside down; global warming, international relations, pandemic disease, and regional politics have all gone nuts. Appreciation of norms, the behavioral and social customs that preserve comity and decorum, is not in decline; it’s collapsed. Trump and his minions are not the cause… Read the rest
Homo sapiens are pattern-finders and base their behavior on anticipating patterns or pattern variance. Making prognostications on the future, using reason and thought to replace simple instinct, largely distinguishes humanity from other animals. A change of seasons, for example, triggers instinctual… Read the rest
At 75-million strong, Baby Boomers have had an outsized effect on our nation’s economy, culture of entertainment, technology, fashion industry, environment, real estate, and virtually everything else about contemporary life. In our passage from children to codgers, we’ve been like the bulge … Read the rest
We may be living in the digital age, but many of us grew up when the world was analog, which means we possess many generations of family photographs. I’m talking about photographic prints, many of them black and white, filling envelopes and storage boxes in closets and cabinets. When you get to my advanced… Read the rest
Anyone who’s raised children knows that of three basic freedoms – to say “no,”, to relocate, to choose friends – the freedom to say “no” is the earliest to manifest. As an element of basic freedom, animal life has said “no” from its very beginnings.
Acceptance and rejection are essential… Read the rest
As you my readers know, I customarily limit my essays to about 570 words, but in this case I’ve departed from that convention and have written this much longer piece. I hope you find it interesting.
Events propagate in a branched structure, and inflection points are those nodes in a branch that … Read the rest
Death. It’s inevitable, it’s iconic, it’s unavoidable. It fascinates us, frightens us, and fuels our economy. And as if the grim reaper were not enough, we do his job for him.
Humans have been killing each other for a very long time, perhaps forever. The Old Testament makes this perfectly clear as it recounts… Read the rest
Is the purpose of government to protect the common welfare or protect private property? This question is at the heart of American politics and encapsulates many of the differences between those on the right and those on the left.
Conservatives argue that individual liberty is at the core of American… Read the rest
I grew up in the suburbs of New York City where five of us lived in a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath single family home with our dog Bobo and an occasional cat. Behind our backyard was a wooded patch, a ramble of oak, maple, beech, and various shrubs; in the spring, skunk cabbage would pop up in its water-logged… Read the rest
Ideas propel human society, imagination providing an inexhaustible source of fuel. Boundless in reach, ideas cross borders and influence cultures through networks of communication. Originally networks of communication traveled at the speed of direct transmission, sensory experiences such… Read the rest
I was never much of an athlete as a child. I was well coordinated, and certainly strong enough, but spending hours practicing a sport was not of much interest to me. My grammar school experience didn’t help; in fact, gym class with Mr. D discouraged it further.
Mr. D, short for Mr. Emilio Dibramo, was the… Read the rest
On December 7th I’ll be checking into the hospital to undergo a cardiac ablation procedure, a process of inserting electrodes and catheters into a blood vessel in my groin, snaking them up and into my heart, and using them to cauterize some confused heart cells that are causing me to have repeated episodes… Read the rest
While walking this past week I noticed whitish imprints on the bike path, the result of muddy water having collected under wet leaves that had dried once the sun came out and had blown away. Evanescent, such imprints will disappear quickly, and it got me thinking about what we leave behind.
Few of us will… Read the rest
Consider the human condition in all its glory: creative, depressing, loving, deceitful, generous, lawless, kind, hateful, gregarious, afraid, compassionate, and cruel. What a chaotic and confusing mix of elements we are.
No matter the era, political system, geographic location, economic status… Read the rest
My mother was a fantastic cook. Once during a visit to our home, she felt the need to get into the kitchen, but the fridge was mostly bare except for some lemons. For her, that was enough. When life delivered lemons, she made lemon sauce.
I grew up standing by the stove watching mom cook. When I was about eight… Read the rest
Our word “silly” is derived from Old English, and originally meant blessed or lucky. As so often happens, its meaning changed over time. By Shakespeare’s day, silly had come to mean thoughtless or foolhardy, and it retains that meaning plus another that encompasses amusing or playful behaviors, like… Read the rest
Self-awareness is a double-edged sword; awareness of self presupposes awareness of other. Developmentally, this experience typically occurs during infancy, and although the duality of this shift of consciousness is fundamental to being human, it is not entirely comfortable; resolving its inherent… Read the rest
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
There’s nothing that says civilization better then concrete, the perfect word and substance to encapsulate the evolution of human society.
Humanity’s Paleolithic experience, perhaps 500,000 years long, was fluidic – sensorily and intellectually in harmony with nature’s analogical cycles… Read the rest
The essence of animate life is movement, both interior and exterior. The movement of animals exposes them to a range of objects and prompts an intimate interaction with the physical world. Through this interaction, each animal learns about its environment, making distinctions between what’s favorable… Read the rest
Our planet’s major religion is a materialist ideology that’s quickly bringing civilization to its ultimate crisis: consumerism. Having transformed humankind into Homo economicus, consumerism has invaded and replaced virtually all indigenous cultures, producing a homogeneous world civilization… Read the rest
Only rarely has a political ideology been tagged to an individual politician. Argentina’s autocratic leader Juan Peron engendered Peronism, but until Donald Trump, his was among the very few cases of politico-ideological cultism. Autocrats around the world have achieved cult status, such as North… Read the rest
Andrew Cuomo is just the latest high-profile man to become ensnared in the #me too movement. By today’s count four women have come forward with complaints about his flirtatious sexual advances, and in my experience, where there are four, there are forty. Men like Cuomo can’t stop; they suffer from what… Read the rest
When the likes of Marjory Taylor Green, the newly elected representative from Georgia, starts spouting her QAnon nonsense about Jewish space lasers and baby-eating democrats, it’s easy to dismiss her as simply “looney” (as Mitch McConnell did) or a shameless publicity-seeker. Either or both of … Read the rest
Our sensory perception is of things in the present, and that perception is often of just the immediate surface layer. Walking down the sidewalk seems ordinary, as does the concrete beneath our feet, but nothing is ordinary. Behind every thing there is an immensely long story stretching back in time … Read the rest
What in earlier times might be a minor dispute between folks explodes into full-out verbal warfare, shaming, and humiliation, attracting the attention of potentially thousands of strangers eager to get in on the action. Like a viral pandemic, outrage on the internet spreads from local neighborhoods… Read the rest
I’ve spent the past five days glued to the impeachment hearings, an event with an obvious conclusion before it ever began. It’s no surprise that Donald Trump was found not guilty by the Senate; for me what was the most significant moment happened after the vote, namely the concluding speech by Minority… Read the rest
I’m unhappy about the number of times I hear the word “fight” invoked in political discourse from representatives on both sides of the aisle. “I will fight for you” has become standard fare for politicians seeking public support, along with “fighting for legislation,” “fighting for your rights,” … Read the rest
In the midst of America’s “red scare” of the 1950s, Hollywood responded with films like The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the horror flick that generated the meme of “pod people.” In the film, a psychiatrist is visited by a growing number of people who claim their family members are not the same as they… Read the rest
In describing Adolph Eichmann, a Nazi officer who dutifully accounted for the genocide of nearly uncountable victims of Hitler’s Nazi terror and extermination, author Hannah Arendt famously coined the phrase “the banality of evil”. In Arendt’s evaluation, Eichmann was not an enthusiastic Nazi… Read the rest
I was fascinated the other day, while watching interviews with a few of the insurrectionists during the siege of the Capitol building on January 6th, at their inability to explain why they were there and what they hoped to accomplish. One middle-aged gentleman, if I may be permitted to call him that, … Read the rest
It’s worthwhile remembering that America has not always been a “one person – one vote” democracy; our founders offered voting privileges to white, male property owners only, and it remained that way for generations. It was only until the 20th century that women secured the right to vote, along… Read the rest
The honest answer is “no.” What we’ve seen this past week is part of who we are: complicated, confused, misinformed and violent. Of all of these, by far the most significant is complicated; it’s not possible to reduce human thought and behavior to a simple formula, particularly in a democracy.
The inclination… Read the rest
When Alex Comfort’s book The Joy of Sex was released in 1972, America was in the throes of the sexual revolution, eager to throw off the remnants of Victorian boundaries and embrace ecstasy. Psychedelics, orgies, Be-ins and gatherings like Woodstock in 1969 had set the stage for… Read the rest
The recent events at the nation’s capital are receiving, deservedly, a great deal of attention. The role of the President is being widely discussed, as instigator, incendiary and inciter of the mob that broke into the Capitol Building, broke windows and ransacked the offices of The Speaker of the House.… Read the rest
When asked if he were a pessimist or an optimist, the brilliant Bucky Fuller – inventor of the geodesic dome, prefab dymaxion house, and coiner of the phrase ‘Spaceship Earth’ – replied, “Neither. I’m a realist.” His answer was predictably Zen, which is to say he saw being here as a process… Read the rest
In an essay I wrote in 2008, I discussed the vulnerability of computer network technology to hacking, calling it “the soft underbelly” of the Internet. I was referring to the “swinging door” operation of computer servers, that their “in/out” communication security depends upon a “lock and key” approach… Read the rest
I grew up being told that democracy is messy; the events of this year certainly prove it. The freedom to vote is not – and has not been – a “human right;” rather it’s a privilege bestowed upon particular groups of people deemed eligible. As we know, America’s eligible voters were originally… Read the rest
People are social animals; our lives begin in dependency and remain that way until the end of childhood. For lucky ones among us, childhood is filled with love and nurturing, secure emotional attachments are formed and a sense of safety builds. Although each of us must eventually individuate, our ability… Read the rest
America’s fear of socialism has bred some pretty wild reactions, not the least of which was the McCarthy-inspired fear and sloganeering of the 1950s. “Better dead than red” strongly supported the idea that communism, seen as analogous to socialism by many at that time (and today as well), was a system… Read the rest
During my many years in local politics and as a community activist, I’ve been subject to plenty of criticism, some of it in print and some of it in person; it’s the price I pay for speaking out and taking action. I’ve been called a “socialist,” “manipulator,” “chain store bigot,” and a variety of other epithets… Read the rest
Cultural narratives, and every culture has them, contain doctrines of belief. These doctrines vary, just as the original languages of separated cultures vary, including vocabulary, word meanings, idioms, and implications. As each of us is born into a culture, so too are we indoctrinated, leading… Read the rest
Pundits and talking heads, particularly those of the left, seem confused about why it is so many American voters like Donald Trump. Trump is, they reason, crass, vulgar and wildly emotional, the most un-presidential President in recent history; what is there to like? Although their observations … Read the rest
When I try to imagine where America is going, what sort of social, economic and political system will dominate its future, I find myself thinking about feudalism, the system of hierarchy that dominated Europe until the 14th century. If Donald Trump’s presidency represents anything, and he’s so all-over-the-place… Read the rest
I understand why people invented god. Life is full of surprises, many of them terrible. Searching for answers about why we suffer is mostly a fool’s errand. Shit happens. Yet despite the challenging uncertainties of living, the world’s religions, whether Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu… Read the rest
Buddhism advises we not spend our time pondering others, and that if spare time for pondering is available, pondering self is more valuable. Such advice, like most of its kind, is offered precisely because it speaks to how we generally behave and what behaviors get us and others into repeated trouble.… Read the rest
Back in the days of Tim Leary, Bucky Fuller, Abbie Hoffman, and Jefferson Airplane, conversations veered into talk about consciousness, raised and otherwise. In the mind-expanding 60s and 70s it seemed as if humanity had finally woken up, had come to understand the precariousness and preciousness… Read the rest
The Covid-19 virus is an equal opportunity infector; neither wealth, social status, intelligence, nor stupidity affects it’s lethality. In a matter of weeks, a virus so small tens of millions can fit on the head of a pin has thrown global culture into paroxysms of fear and humbled global civilization.… Read the rest
The 17th century religious reformation in Europe unleashed a world-conquering power: Christian capitalism. On the heels of Martin Luther and anti-Catholic Protestantism, the writings of French cleric John Calvin in the 16th century and his belief in salvation through the grace of God – we… Read the rest
America loves sitcoms, short for “situation comedy,” a scripted series with recurring characters who find themselves in awkward and unexpected circumstances. And, you gotta hand it to him; The Donald Trump Show has the highest ratings in history. In the entertainment industry, ratings… Read the rest
The Senate hearing in consideration of the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has focused in large part upon her self-description as an “originalist” and “textualist.” As to the… Read the rest
The moment That Fly landed I turned to my wife and declared, “there’s a fly on Pence’s head!” From then on, I knew, the Internet would be abuzz with comments and reactions and a new meme had been born. Within minutes, images of Biden and Harris holding fly swatters appeared online,… Read the rest
The announcement that Donald Trump has tested positive for Covid-19 has a quality of inevitability. From the beginning of this pandemic, Trump has minimized its health risks, downplayed its severity, boosted quack treatment theories, ridiculed wearing a mask, argued with administration health… Read the rest
In 1923, Adolph Hitler and a small group of malcontents staged an uprising in the city of Munich, Germany, an event that later became known as the Beerhall Putsch. The violence of the event was quickly… Read the rest
My late friend, scholar Kurt von Meier, had the opportunity to sit down with Hopi elders during the early 1970s and discuss the state of human affairs. The Hopi people have been living in the same place since before Columbus arrived, and are keen observers of the natural world.… Read the rest
Ego seeks to impose order; accordingly, people employ a variety of creation myths to establish an orderly narrative about existence and human life, such as imagining the universe atop the shell of a monumental turtle to immortal gods able to create life at the snap of their fingers. These myths are an… Read the rest
One of the toughest things about haters is hating them, finding yourself wrapped up in fear and anger you so dislike seeing in others. This, of course, is an experience haters never have; to be a hater requires setting aside introspection and appreciation of complexity. Hate is simple, it’s love… Read the rest
I happened upon an interview the other day between Chuck Todd and Chad Wolf on NBC’s Meet the Press. Wolf is the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, although even that job designation is in question now that… Read the rest
As this pandemic reminds us, life is uncertain and we need to be ready for whatever befalls us. This year it’s the novel coronavirus, next year, flesh-eating zombies?
That’s why I’m looking at the future from a marketing perspective, which is to say, what messaging works in the midst… Read the rest
The story goes that very long ago, a hermit lived in sacred mountains, a Buddhist monk named Shih. Now, even hermits do not live entirely alone; they depend upon the generosity and support of a small community of others, and so it was that when Shih entered into a period of deep meditation, others looked… Read the rest
Belief is a choice, and human belief systems vary widely. Presently, belief in scientific rationalism is dominant in developed societies but this choice is culturally determined and not universally accepted. History and the imperatives of religious belief continue to challenge the materialism… Read the rest
I found the congressional hearings this week illustrative of the inability of the Democrats to develop and coordinate effective strategy. The testimony of Attorney General Bill Barr, which was a golden opportunity for the Democratic house to make points during this election year, instead was largely… Read the rest
We’ve recently celebrated another July 4th, America’s independence from Great Britain. To be honest, I’ve never been much of a fan of nationalism. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the various freedoms and opportunity that living here provides; I’m well aware… Read the rest
The way TV commercials tell it, being chronically ill is nothin’ but fun! Diabetes, COPD, Heart Failure, Atrial Fib, Plaque Psoriasis, Eczema, HIV…with the right pharmaceuticals every illness can be, well, wonderful.
Interestingly, all the people in these ads appear to be pretty well… Read the rest
After World War II, the remaining leaders of Nazi Germany were held to account in the city of Nuremberg, where trials were conducted judging the guilt of those who held responsibility for government conduct… Read the rest
The doorbell rings and outside the door is a well-dressed young white man. How do you feel? Or, outside the door is a well-dressed young black man. Do you feel differently? Or, in either case, the young men are poorly dressed. How does that affect your feelings? Or, it’s a policeman dressed in uniform… Read the rest
I’m currently sharing the garden with a mated pair of California Towhees, which have taken up residence in one of my many hanging flower pots. Towhees are commonly found birds in coastal California; a nondescript brown color devoid of significant markings, these robin-sized birds happily … Read the rest
I’m a Jewish white boy who was raised in an upper middle class suburb outside of New York City where almost no black people lived. I say almost, because there was one black student by the name of Sam Houston in my class in grammar school.
The Houston family lived at the north edge of town on a road running… Read the rest
Our conceptions of joy, love, companionship, creativity, aesthetics and the like are the stuff of human culture, highly meaningful to people but of no particular consequence to nature. If we ruthlessly consider the fundamental role of animal life on earth, we quickly arrive at one inexorable conclusion:… Read the rest
Human impulse springs from two sources, one biological and the other cultural. Biological impulse includes eating due to hunger, emptying ones bladder and bowels due to internal pressures of digestion, sleeping when fatigued, sexual drives, and other such hard-wired behaviors. Developmentally,… Read the rest
In the midst of this pandemic I’ve been reviewing household expenses, including the various types of insurance we carry. Much of it is standard stuff such as homeowner insurance for fire, theft and liability, and auto coverage for our one car; also, some additional umbrella and personal property… Read the rest
Nature on this planet functions as a complex adaptive system, a self-regulating, self-propagating process responsive to changing conditions. It is a totalistic meta-system with no “off” switch and within which all the individual systems of each biological entity are enmeshed and… Read the rest
Should it be Joe & Amy 2020 or Joe and Gretchen? Biden-Warren is uncomfortable on the tongue, too hard to say and both names end with the same sound. Without doubt, the significant decision the democrats will have to make this year is how things look and sound on a lawn sign.
Lawn signs are natural for… Read the rest
The ideal of a stable society has preoccupied humankind for a long time, perhaps forever. In order to promulgate social stability, diverse methods have been attempted by various systems of governance and leadership ranging from autocratic to democratic, communal to sovereign, hard-fisted to liberal.… Read the rest
Just to make myself clear, this is a story about a story, one of 7.25 billion stories we human beings tell ourselves and each other at every waking moment. With that caveat, I shall proceed.
At pandemic moments like this it’s important to remind ourselves about stories; it’s all too easy … Read the rest
It’s deeply ironic that Joe Biden, who as Senator deflected and dismissed Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment by then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, now finds himself and his campaign for president distracted,… Read the rest
The coronavirus has reportedly killed over 60,000 people in America as of April 30th – probably far more – a large number but still a small percentage of our total population. It’s effects on life, on the other hand, have affected all 325 million of us. Jobs have been lost, family life… Read the rest
Most analyses of economic collapse focus on the effects of wealth inequality, financial malfeasance, and inadequate government regulation. Centuries of such analyses – by Hobbes, Locke, Marx, Polanyi, Friedman, Krugman, Graeber, Picketty and many more – have extensively examined… Read the rest
Communication between people is a mix of words, gestures, facial expressions and tonality; in many circumstances, how we communicate is what we communicate; it’s a matter of nuance. Words delivered with a sneer are received differently than those delivered with a smile. By observing the nuances… Read the rest
I’m currently sporting a hair style I call the Covid; in other periods it’s been called the Einstein, a wild style ill-suited to going out of the house.
Over my 72 years, I’ve had all sorts of hair styles. In my childhood, a crew-cut was forced upon me by my father, a man with little in … Read the rest
You’ve got to hand it to Madison Avenue; in response to the coronavirus pandemic American corporations have barely missed a beat in altering their commercial sales pitch, reassuring consumers that this unpleasant shopping hiatus will not last forever and that a return to fevered consumption… Read the rest
Living things occupy space and declare territory; this is true of plants and animals alike. To the extent possible, a matter of both genes and luck, each living thing extends its sphere of influence. In simple one-celled… Read the rest
We humans like to believe we represent the pinnacle of evolution, even going so far as to characterize ourselves as being in the image of God. It is true, insofar as we can tell, that human beings are the only animals on earth with self-consciousness and the ability to use written forms of communication… Read the rest
Among the many effects of the Corona virus pandemic, one of the most remarkable is the widespread use of facial masks. Initially such masks were medical in style, the antiseptic-type nurses and health workers wear in hospitals; but before long a cottage industry of mask-making blossomed across America… Read the rest
Humor during a pandemic can be touchy; people are justifiably worried and lives have been turned upside down. Accordingly, a plan to place a set of April Fools’ advertisements I created for the Sonoma Valley Sun got scrapped in favor of other, more serious, content. But here we are on April Fools’… Read the rest
I first met Jacques Lehmann and Katou Fournier when they walked into my booth at the New York Stationary show in the early 1980s. At that time conventions in New York were held at the Coliseum, a multi-story building with escalators located at Columbus Circle, where the 55-story Time/Warner tower now… Read the rest
When I was just a wee lad seven decades ago, Sundays were different than any other day of the week. For many Americans, Sundays were a day for Church or Temple; we were not a religious family, however, and Sunday services played no major part in my upbringing. What made Sundays different was the quiet.
Almost… Read the rest
I find myself feeling grateful to have such a large library of books. In these times of no toilet paper, I’ve got months of dual-purpose reading material, and it’s comforting to know that if the toilet paper shortage continues, we’ve got it covered.
Generally, I’d find myself… Read the rest
When we speak of domesticating animals, we’re referring to a guided transition from wild animal to one that tolerates, and even seeks out, people. The word “domestication” shares linguistic roots with the word “domicile,” meaning home. Thus domesticated animals… Read the rest
What’s to be done when those we love and care about become the potential agents of our own demise? This pandemic presently presents us with an entirely foreign situation in America, where we have been largely spared the horror and pathos of war and the intimate experience of death surrounding … Read the rest
I grew up watching television, and have had a TV in my home for my entire life. My childhood was filled with cartoons, bloodless westerns and Walter Cronkite soberly delivering the CBS Evening News. Everything about television has changed, of course; today TV is a globalized content delivery system… Read the rest
We can peer into the farthest reaches of space and identify objects and forces of such massive proportion that they’re virtually inconceivable. In the other direction, we can dive into the quantum world, an unfathomable, infinitesimal realm that contains the very building blocks of matter. Science… Read the rest
Well, here you have it. This is how slowing consumerism and seriously reducing greenhouse gas emissions looks and feels: empty terminals, slowed shopping and quiet streets. It’s a lousy way to get there, but ironically the world-wide pandemic is changing habits of consumption in ways a purely… Read the rest
We live in two worlds, the world of the large and the world of the small. The large world includes those things we can see without any instruments, and the small world includes those things we can see only by using instruments like electron microscopes… Read the rest
Abstract: Self-consciousness is the sustained delusion of self and other, the capacity for objectifying both thoughts and objects as if they exist in states of separation. While animals in general have the capacity to identify features of and interact with their environment, it does not appear that… Read the rest
Super Tuesday appears to have provided the likely answer to the question of who will be the Democratic Party’s candidate for President this November, and it ain’t Bernie Sanders. Despite his win in California, the combined votes for Biden and Bloomberg in this … Read the rest
Life on planet earth is a complex, adaptive system programmed for growth. Thus despite periodic major extinctions over its long history, earth continues to be populated by millions of species of plants and animals which have variously adapted to a wide range of habitats and fill nearly every ecological… Read the rest
As I see it, evil is the willful infliction of pain and suffering on others. It’s been with us for a very long time, and will continue to plague humanity into the future. Although people have wrestled with the problem of evil in various ways – mythologically, religiously, legalistically,… Read the rest
Sonoma County estimates 3,000 people are homeless in the county, and is struggling to respond to this human crisis. $11 million was recently allocated by the Board of Supervisors, this largely in response to a homeless camp now occupying the Joe Rodota trail in the West County, but the larger solutions… Read the rest
“We’ll make you big money by renting your backyard, and it won’t cost you a dime!” So advertise backyard lease, development, and property management companies in the process of aggregating an ADU portfolio. Promoted as a solution to California’s affordable housing… Read the rest
A recent article in The Atlantic about seabed mining points out that the metals targeted for collection include copper, manganese, nickel, and cobalt, all used in the production of batteries. The impetus for this sudden industrialization of the ocean bottom, in part, is carbon emissions,… Read the rest
1967 was one hell of a year. I’ll try to make it short. It broke open in February, six weeks into my second semester at Rhode Island School of Design; the art school administration, in an attempt to purge hippies, used rule 153.b. in the college handbook to… Read the rest
While enjoying my daily five-mile walk I found myself attending to each foot coming into contact with the ground, and reflecting on the nature of densely-packed space, as Buddhists refer to matter. That ancient Buddhists determined that solid-appearing matter is mostly space, albeit densely-packed,… Read the rest
History is written by the victor, and for the past 10,000 years that victor has been men. Accordingly, history (his story) concerns itself with power-based theories of patriarchal social order: styles of rulership, the role of warfare, and economic systems.
Herstory (not his story) is largely unwritten,… Read the rest
I’m referring to government-regulated affordable housing — deed restricted to keep it affordable for 55 years, rent controlled and appreciation-limited, subject to income verification. Large projects of regulated Affordable Housing are rarely built in Sonoma, and the reasons … Read the rest
If you feel like you’re going crazy, you’re not alone. Many of us feel our ship of state is floundering and that its rudder’s fallen off. It’s not just the antics of our dishonest and quarrelsome President that’s troubling, but that America appears to have lost its way… Read the rest
Our fixation with moving screen images is perhaps the most obvious example of our fascination with change, but whether fast or slow, change unfailingly captures our attention. Change is so constant and pervasive that it is at times overwhelming, but change itself is really the only constant in our … Read the rest
Each of us are born into The System, a social organization of rules and conventions developed and deployed by our fore bearers. Having been progressively adopted in the past, The System is always obsolete and in need of tinkering; the assumptions upon which The System was developed never quite match… Read the rest
It was recently announced that millennials now outnumber baby boomers in the United States, a milestone in the history of American demographics. For nearly all our roughly seventy-five years, baby boomers have dominated trends in fashion, economics, technology, science and environment, but this… Read the rest
As modern life progresses and introduces new cultural forms, our tendency leans to retrieving artifacts from the past. This process of retrieval softens the shock of obsolescence; through names, shapes or designs, outdated cultural artifacts lend their comfort and familiarity to newer, less familiar
In the brief time we spend on earth, each of us goes about our business in whatever particular way we do, placing one foot in front of the other as the days and years roll by. “Waxing philosophical,” as my late father used to say, is something else apart, the activity of ruminating on the “why”… Read the rest
Our pursuit of a machine that can think for itself — gather experience, learn and apply that learning to new situations — is long standing. The earliest computing machines, designed to calculate numbers, gave rise to fantasies of artificial intelligence through their faultless operation.… Read the rest
Welcome to the I Am Larry Barnett Show. I’m your host Larry Barnett, and like you, I’m making it up as I go along. Hey, this is The Improv, right?
I know, you’re going to tell me you’re busy starring in your own show, and coming up with your own material moment to moment, but here … Read the rest
I’m not a dog owner. As I frequently quip when asked if I have a dog, “I don’t have a dog, I have grandchildren.” On my daily walk around town I do encounter many dog owners; in some cases, the dogs are so large and the owners so small that it appears the dogs are taking their owners… Read the rest
Sense of “self” is just one among a constellation of mental states, and the experience of “I” varies considerably. “I” is described by some neurologists as a stable form of hallucination, which is to say, a subjective experience of being “in here”… Read the rest
Despite the cultural arc of history of the past 500 years — the efforts toward emancipation and the relentless rise of science and technology — humanity appears terribly, one might even say, hopelessly, stuck. The habits and predispositions of our past — religious conflict, otherworldly… Read the rest
Whenever there is wealth and property, (and for the past 5,000 years when has there not been?), theft and corruption accompany it. Greek mythology prominently features Hermes’ theft of Apollo’s cattle, and virtually all major religions include prohibitions against theft. The Ten … Read the rest
Generally, we divide the history of human culture between the Paleolithic and Neolithic, “Paleolithic” meaning “Old Stone Age” and “Neolithic” meaning “New Stone Age.” The Old Stone Age included… Read the rest
Given what’s going on in the world, to simply classify people trying to cross our border as “migrants” or “illegal immigrants” is inaccurate. The reality is that many people, often entire families, are more properly refugees, desperately seeking to escape depredations… Read the rest
Witnessing the construction of Sonoma is easy, just take a stroll down West Spain Street and the homes rising on previously vacant parcels give ample testimony to the process of ongoing development, a process that’s been taking place more or less continuously since the building of the Mission.… Read the rest
You’re the director, the camera operator and play the lead. You’re the scriptwriter, too, and the costume designer, art director, gopher, finance director and critic. Everything about your movie is under your control, except the stuff that isn’t, which actually is quite a lot.… Read the rest
The word “freedom” implies “no limits,” the presumption that free will alone constrains human action; but of course, we all know that with freedom comes limitations. Though English philosopher Thomas Hobbes built an entire belief system on the premise of the autonomous… Read the rest
I recall my high school biology teacher, Mr. Ricci, explaining the phrase “Ontology Recapitulates Phylogeny”, as much because his long, snagged teeth made saying it nearly impossible for him to say, an amusing moment for us sophomores, as for the sheer poetry of its sound. It’s… Read the rest
Is the 2020 presidential election coming too soon or not soon enough? Still in the midst of recovering and adjusting to the realities of Trump, we now find ourselves already in the throes of an active primary season filling with Democratic candidates and murmurings of GOP challengers. Politics is a … Read the rest
The methods and strategies devised by ego to sustain itself are largely primitive and barbaric. They display themselves due to the ways we feel and imagine ourselves and others, and the behavior that flows from that. Ego does not conform well to others; a daemon in the cave of self-identity it purposefully… Read the rest
Put people together and you’re sure to find trouble. Families, husbands and wives, siblings, cousins, politicians; no matter how you find them, people always have trouble getting along. Human society reflects just how terribly difficult … Read the rest
People like to take care of living things, like plants or pets. Watching plants or animals grow and change stimulates physical and emotional reactions only possible between living things. A pet rock may be attractive and a cute idea, but little more.
I’ve grown exotic plants for most of my adult… Read the rest
As living beings we naturally gravitate to other animate things, like plants and pets that become companions in our homes and lives. The feelings we have for inanimate objects can become strong as well; possessions gain value–sentimental, economic, historic–and… Read the rest
There seems to be a persistent impression that the City of Sonoma has run out of land for new housing. If we’re talking about tens of acres of undeveloped land for tract housing, that’s correct, but Sonoma decades-ago rejected construction of large-scale tract-housing development on… Read the rest
It’s come to this; shopping, food preparation and cooking are so burdensome that corporate America has concluded a smart profit’s to be made from a niche target market, namely, those adults who are unwilling to eat frozen dinners or have Grub Hub deliver restaurant take-out but are too… Read the rest
Much is being made at present about the effects of screen time, particularly on children. Screen time, of course, refers to the time spent engaged with one’s smart phone, iPad or laptop, which by all accounts has skyrocketed to epidemic proportions. Issues of attention deficits and addictive… Read the rest
Now that the election is over, we can attend to other matters of gravity. Literally. Gravity is so ever-present in our lives we rarely think about it, except perhaps, when we slip and fall. The effects of gravity are well understood, beginnings with… Read the rest
With the discovery that micro-plastics have been found in human stool samples we can now confirm that the scourge of plastic has thoroughly permeated the world’s food chain. It’s unknown if the plastic discovered… Read the rest
I left the City Council candidate’s forum at Andrews Hall last week feeling uncomfortable. It’s not that the candidates did not conduct themselves well or acted inappropriately; to the contrary, as a group they were polite, friendly, good-natured, well-spoken and heartfelt. Yet, … Read the rest
Sonoma’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) is performing exactly the way it was intended. Agricultural land and open space beyond the city’s borders have been preserved, but preventing sprawl was always the simplest and most obvious intent. The less obvious intent now manifesting is creatively-designed,… Read the rest
There are those who believe there are two types of people, wolves and sheep. According to this view, we are divided into two camps: predators and prey.
In the animal world, this commonly is true, populations of prey vastly outnumbering predators. These large populations support progressively smaller… Read the rest
Justice relies upon blame, and blame relies upon declaring effective cause. Effective cause is one of four types of causation, according to Plato, the others being material cause, formal cause and total cause. When to comes to matters of human affairs, effective cause is the type that draws a line between… Read the rest
The soaring melody of a mockingbird’s song, the terrible cries of a small child being separated from parents seeking asylum; is it possible to reconcile experiences of such beauty and horror? Openness to and awareness of the world that surrounds us simultaneously exhilarates and wounds; to… Read the rest
Strangely, it seems as if the very forces that could bring us together are tearing us apart. Internationally, the ability to communicate globally and establish common ground is giving way to fragmentation and isolationist policies. Nationally, the values of liberty and equality are giving way to… Read the rest
Is truth real? What truth do we know, and how do we know it? Humankind has been asking these questions for a very long time and, big surprise, we’re no closer than ever on agreeing on answers.
If anything, our scientific age inclines us not towards confidence in what we know, but awareness of how much… Read the rest
Many people feel that politics is a bore and during most days, such people don’t think about politics at all; it’s just not that important to them. They get up and go to work to pay the bills for food, clothing and shelter, and as time permits, seek entertainment. Except as presented to them… Read the rest
Seeking ecstasy in everyday life fuels consumption of drugs, alcohol and food, prompts gambling, high-risk behavior, and sexual adventure. All these things excite and stimulate, prompting the release of endorphins, hormones which lessen pain and produce pleasurable sensations. Yet, even pain… Read the rest
Why do people seek ecstasy, those moments of “getting out” of ourselves–getting high? Biochemically, ecstasy can be explained; receptor sites on brain cells connect to natural and man-made substances which reduce pain, and produce sensations and feelings we … Read the rest
For as long as science can tell, humanity has always liked to get high. Between naturally occurring endorphins which stimulate pleasure centers in the brain and substances found in nature (and now chemistry) which act upon those same pleasure centers, getting high is inextricably… Read the rest
With a nod to the opening paragraph of Charles Dickens’ 1859 novel “A Tale of Two Cities” I find myself contemplating the ways in which life has never been better and never been worse. It’s a matter of perspective, of course.
For those of us well off, collecting social security… Read the rest
The 1978 film “The Dead Zone,” an adaptation of a Stephen King novel, stars a young Christopher Walken in the role of an accident victim who awakens from a year’s long coma with powers of clairvoyance. Physical contact with another… Read the rest
The defining youthful event of my generation was the war in Vietnam. For those of us who objected to that war, the horror of guns and bombs and pointless death became a cause celebré, a rallying point that captured the vitality of being eighteen and combined it with political activism and various forms… Read the rest
When I gaze up into the trees from my backyard I’m always struck by the ways they grow into and towards the light. A very large red-barked Eucalyptus over nine-stories tall in my neighbor’s yard dominates the sky from down below, its silver-colored leaves shimmering in the sunlight. In … Read the rest
My sister recently visited from New York, and was excited to see what an outlet for recreational marijuana looked like. Finding ourselves in San Francisco, we decided to drop in at Harvest, a pot shop on Geary Street near 11th Avenue.
To be honest, I’ve never set foot in a dispensary or recreational… Read the rest
I’m struck by how many people feel badly about themselves: thinking they’re failures for not “doing enough,” faulting themselves for not having accomplished anything, walking around feeling guilty. Feeling self-critical is not necessarily unhealthy, but like any … Read the rest
A modern, widely-held assumption is that human consciousness has evolved for the better. When we examine the past and find patterns of belief and behavior we call “primitive”, we feel self-satisfied and consider ourselves and our present culture as having progressed in comparison.… Read the rest
“Whew! Is it just me, or is it hot in here?” asked Mother Earth, mostly to herself. She’d been hot before, of course, but this seemed terribly sudden.
Mother Earth is no spring chicken, she’s middle-aged and she’s seen and done an awful lot in four billion years. She … Read the rest
The 60s changed my life, or more correctly, the 60s changed my mind. I am a member of the “love generation”, that cohort of baby boomers who discovered that a sacred presence permeates all things, that words can never do it justice and that one of its manifestations is life.
We were not the … Read the rest
For almost the entirety of human history governmental systems have not been democratic. Though we in America like to think of Ancient Greece as the birthplace of democracy well over 2,500 years ago, even that’s more fiction than fact; the Greek city-state of Athens, with its remarkable stable… Read the rest
“Many consider the elevation of Voice of America (VoA) to the status of the official domestic news organ of the United States as emblematic of when authoritarianism became fully established in America. Quietly, and without much notice, the Trump administration had been actively recruiting… Read the rest
What-Has-Been opposes Things-to-Come, while at the same time What-Has-Been creates Things-to-Come. Things-to-Come makes What-Has-Been obsolete, yet Things-to-Come mirrors What-Has-Been. The relationship between What-Has-Been… Read the rest
Women have been putting up with piggish men for a long time; do you recall the cartoon showing a helpless woman being dragged by the hair while a caveman says to his friend, “I love these pre-holiday sales!”? For a very long time, the meme of gender relations has been: man is the boss and woman… Read the rest
Speculation and conspiracy theories naturally flow from horrific massacres such as occurred in Las Vegas: Steven Paddock was trying to sell guns, was killed to make it look like a suicide; he was a hit man with a specific target among… Read the rest
Are we doomed to suffer? There seems to be widespread belief that suffering is the nature of human experience; (a) we are all born sinners afflicted with original sin; (b) we are bound within the circle of Samsara where our attachments breed suffering;… Read the rest
My wife and I moved to Sonoma in April of 1990 after purchasing a six-room bed and breakfast inn on West Spain Street. It was later in that year, in November, when we first encountered what we used to call “the slow season.” By December, reservations dramatically slowed down, and in January,… Read the rest
The color of Mars, the color of blood, the color of sunlight through a sky filled with smoke, red on the Cal Fire map means the land is burning. Buddhist paintings depicting wrathful deities often show the figures surrounded by red flames. Though deities like… Read the rest
For all the attempts to cast humanity in the brightest way possible — religious positivism, new-age soul-making, liberal visions of the evolution of virtue, and fairy-tales with happy endings — the dark side keeps casting a shadow across history. Is this simply, as some believe, the … Read the rest
Documenting our lives through photographs went mainstream with the introduction of Kodak’s “Brownie” camera, introduced in 1900 at the price of $1; the “snapshot” was born, and with it arrived a new sense of self.
Prior to that, memories of travel to distant places… Read the rest
I recently returned from a five-day convention of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America, held in Tempe, Arizona. That’s right, I’m a cactus and succulent nerd. For the past forty years I’ve been growing and collecting cactus and succulents, and some of the very first plants… Read the rest
Things move so quickly in digital technology that yesterday’s fad is old hat before it’s even reached maturity. Such is the case with Virtual Reality (VR), the technology that promised us the god-like chance to step into worlds of our own making so exciting that taking off our visors would… Read the rest
The mystic teacher G.I. Gurdjieff wrote of “three-brained beings” and their difficulties. Though his teachings were given during the early part of the 20th Century, the wisdom tradition in which he was steeped – Sufism and Middle Eastern mystic teachings –… Read the rest
The world has been in trouble before. Every century has had its share of discord, warfare, violence and mayhem, punctuated by periods of creative flowering, knowledge growth and cultural insight. That we find ourselves once again riven by conflict, feelings of instability and worries about the future… Read the rest
I once wondered how a modern, 20th century country like Germany morphed into an amoral, industrial-style genocide factory during Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich. At the time, conditions in Europe were politically unstable; the aftermath of World War One left economies in shambles, and politics… Read the rest
Amoebas, as you likely know, are one-celled animals you can only see with a microscope. Tiny enough to swim freely in a drop of water, amoebas animate themselves using pseudopods, projections of its cell wall into lobes that move. They surround and absorb the living tissue of even tinier life forms, … Read the rest
He looked at his legs, still outstretched and beginning to glisten in the daylight. It had been a cool night, and his body would take a few minutes to warm up enough to get up and walk. Taking a deep breath, he smelled the dew evaporating from the ground and as shadows… Read the rest
As we witness the clown-like leadership circus happening in Washington D.C. it’s worthwhile to reflect on the leadership of our own locally elected officials and how well, or not, they are behaving and serving the public interest.
We have four major publicly elected boards or councils in our… Read the rest
Men’s war on women did not begin with Donald Trump, far from it. Its roots are Biblical and mythological, bound up with creation stories tying women to the introduction of sin and evil into the world; so deeply embedded in our collective psyches… Read the rest
Since its beginnings, Sonoma has been a small town. It once was the county seat, long ago, but that role fell to Santa Rosa and, well, thank goodness for that. From then on Sonoma’s destiny seemed to be an indelible Bear Flag moment of history combined… Read the rest
When an idea, an object, a substance or an emotion preoccupies consciousness to the near exclusion of anything else, we call it an obsession. And when an obsession becomes a compulsion so powerful as to assume the driving force of consciousness – even when harmful to oneself or others – … Read the rest
When President Dwight Eisenhower famously warned Americans about the Military-Industrial Complex he added a new metaphor into our cultural frame of reference, namely the emergence of collusion between government and industry systemically embedded within and affecting everyday lives. His prophetic… Read the rest
Our human experience is fundamentally emotional, and emotions are fundamentally confusing. The stuff of imagination and subconscious life, emotions are primordial, which means not subject to the whims of logic or reason. From the standpoint of brain development, logic and reason are newcomers… Read the rest
The earliest Greek myths recount the emergence of the cosmos through a violent act of separation. The unity of all things was broken when at the urging of his mother, Gaea, her son Kronos forever divided his parents by cutting off the generative organs of his smothering and possessive father, Ouranos.… Read the rest
Our experience of the continuity of self, the sense of personal autonomy with which we awaken each day, is very persuasive. “I” is a persistent experience, persistent enough that each of us can treat it as real and thereby treat others as real, too. Indeed, the richness and history of persona,… Read the rest
At our human scale it’s easy believe in straight lines. High School geometry made things worse; Euclid’s imaginary geometric forms served to reinforce our illusion that Point A, Point B and Point C can be connected by a straight lines, like when we point a finger at the moon
We’ve … Read the rest
One of the dilemmas of modern times is effectively coming to grips with morality. The word itself is derived from Latin, meaning “proper behavior” but has become loaded with other connotations, religious and social. Our humanitarian, modern sensibilities incline us to disfavor moral… Read the rest
Retailing has never been an easy business. Changing tastes, new technologies, capricious landlords and finding loyal employees alone are enough to create conditions of failure. Add in the Internet, and today’s retailer faces incredible odds.
Here… Read the rest
When a major new commercial building project is proposed in Sonoma, its appearance is scrutinized, poked, prodded, and otherwise worked-over by committees until it is declared suitably “Sonoma-Style”. Thus we see “Sonoma-Style Farmhouse” and “Sonoma-Style… Read the rest
The City of Sonoma has always had oligarchs, powerful people of great wealth and the inclination to use it. First among these was General Mariano Vallejo, the Mexican General who owned much of Northern California, including the town of Sonoma. He laid out the city, subdivided the land and was, by all … Read the rest
America was founded from within a state of paranoia, the persecution experience of the Puritans and other Christian sects in England. Coming to the shores of North America was envisioned by them as their refuge from paranoia, but instead of escaping it, they brought it with them, where it was variously… Read the rest
Along with Sigmund Freud’s “Civilization and Its Discontents”, Carl Jung’s “Modern Man in Search of a Soul” formed the foundation for the new field of human psychology at the beginning of the 20th Century. All at once, the human mind itself was revealed to be… Read the rest
The hallmarks of civilization are order and bureaucracy, the institutionalization of humanity into concrete rule-bound systems, balanced budgets, statistics, financial analysis, and the businesslike conversion of human beings into calculable units. The governing rationale of civilization… Read the rest
Your dreams are sending you information, and it’s all about you. Your mother might appear in dreams, but it’s not really her, it’s your imaginary her, or rather, the mother-archetype your mother represents. And you are in your … Read the rest
What we call communication – the words and symbols we employ both orally and in written form – strikes me as too primitive to be trusted. Our connections with each other one-on-one or in small groups can include physical contact, but once we get beyond that intimate level, we must rely upon… Read the rest
Sonoma Valley’s close proximity to eight-million people is a physical reality. That our valley happens to be exceptionally beautiful, contains historic and charming villages, and offers some of the finest agricultural land and growing conditions in the world is also true. Yet, combine these… Read the rest
The Trump administration’s dissing of opponents reminds me of comments made by Richard Nixon’s Vice-President, Spiro Agnew, who criticizing the opposition, condemned the “effete corps of impudent snobs.” Agnew, forced to resign due to evidence of bribery and corruption,… Read the rest
Authoritarian regimes use threats of force, coercion and intimidation to cow the populace and force it into submission to that regime’s imperatives. Enlisting the aid of those who wield weapons – military and police forces with the power to arrest and incarcerate – regimes bent… Read the rest
The Statue of Liberty famously beckons “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, certainly one of the kindest welcoming messages any country has employed. And yet, I’ve been wondering why America can be so mean.
I’m not saying American’s… Read the rest
America’s political flirtation with a temperamental, impulsive, emotionally undeveloped political leader has blossomed into a full-blown crisis of faith in our systems of government and democracy itself, and comparisons between America in 2017 and George Orwell’s… Read the rest
I live amid an urban oasis, a collection of very tall trees, timber bamboo and Japanese maples. Some of the trees are quite old, and know this tiny piece of Gaia’s garden far better than I. In a rainy year like this, the tree’s root-hairs – roots are the tree’s sensory system through… Read the rest
When the Greek city states of Athens and Sparta found themselves allied against the massive armies of the Persian king Darius and his son Xerxes (Circa 460 BC), they established a narrative about the “Barbarian” people threatening Greek society. Later, the very same narrative was adopted… Read the rest
Living with uncertainty is our natural human condition. Moment to moment we don’t really know what’s coming next. For many of us uncertainty causes worry. We compensate for this by establishing patterns and making “plans”… Read the rest
Like many, I find myself thinking about how best to resist the powerful emergence of reactionary, right-wing politics in America, and I’ve decided to go with the Our Gang School of Political Resistance. It’s an approach that worked wonders… Read the rest
I’m enjoying my life. I didn’t ask to be here but now I don’t want to leave; seems to be my particular version of the human condition. Think about it; two microscopic gametes meet and decide to live together as one for a lifetime. If it sounds like marriage, well, it wasn’t my idea.… Read the rest
Leaked documents detailing urine-play in a hotel in Russia are spattering the reputation of Donald Trump. It’s been a while since “night water” has been in the news, but historically the… Read the rest
I like quiet. I don’t mean the complete silence of no sound whatsoever, but the quiet of the natural world. I find the sound of leaves rustling in the wind comforting. The same is true of water running in a creek, or birdsong. My wife and I once stayed in a cabin on the shore of Tomales Bay and at night … Read the rest
The Industrial Revolution is often mistakenly cited as the cause of the loss of human labor, but to the contrary, the engine of global capitalism fueled by the Industrial Revolution would never have developed without the hands of human labor.
Efficient and highly productive machine technology required… Read the rest
In 1895, Alfred Jarry’s play entitled Ubu Roi (The King Ubu) was performed in Paris for its first, and until very much later, its last time. Public reaction to the farce was so extreme that a riot ensued. Jarry, who never wrote another play, had no idea that a century-and-a-quarter later his theatrical… Read the rest
I grew up in the glow of TV. It was black and white until I was perhaps ten years old, and color television after that. Color television actually was a big deal, once.
My childhood shows were foolish affairs… Read the rest
A great deal of attention has been paid to the workings of mind, that curiously self-conscious and often self-absorbed entity we take to be who we are in the world. The widely-held presumption is that mind is an emergent function of brain, and therefore, mind is located solely within the confines of our… Read the rest
By the measuring stick of capitalism, Donald Trump has won the game. He has attained the pinnacle of American business success, namely power; his finger on the nuclear button, Donald Trump is now the most fearsome businessman in the world. He has vanquished all enemies and proven his top-predator status;… Read the rest
An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) responds to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), legislation intended to asses and address the environmental impacts of large developments, such as air-quality, construction debris and dust, noise and other factors. It takes only a few minutes… Read the rest
Morphology, the study and comparison of form, is one method used by scientists and naturalists to classify plants and animals into Genus and Species. By determining physical structures as unique to a particular organism, one species of organism can be differentiated from other members of its family.… Read the rest
Much is being made of the angry white men of America, men who have lost jobs, lost wives, and have lost hope. That lost hope has been replaced with anger – anger at women, at minorities, at immigrants and politicians. It’s a troubling and complicated situation, and a dangerous one as well;… Read the rest
The Trump campaign unleashed a torrent of news stories about sexual harassment and abuse of women by men. As Rebecca Solnit points out in her book of essays on the topic, “Men Explain Things to Me,” male aggression against women is a long-standing feature of global culture, and in the United… Read the rest
I recently went back east to attend my 50th high school reunion. I’ve attended other reunions; the 20th and the 40th, so I’ve had contact with some classmates over the years. This time, however, quite a few former students showed up who have never attended a reunion before. Accordingly,… Read the rest
TRIGGER WARNING: I’m about to go all Jungian on you. If actualizing your archetypes causes you difficulty, you might choose to stop reading here.
Are you in touch with your inner Ares? Donnie Trump sure is. And Hillary’s inner Athena? She’d… Read the rest
When I was eight both of my grandfathers were sixty, which in 1956 actually was old. They were already stoop-shouldered and mostly liked to sit shirtless in lawn chairs in the hot sun for hours, smeared with sun tan oil. They wore suspenders and their pant-waists rose almost to their chests. Sometimes… Read the rest
One reason I sometimes feel dissatisfied with life is that my expectations are too high. In fact, this is the primary reason. I expect, for example, that candidates for President of the United States will have been taught good manners like politeness and not interrupting… Read the rest
Donald Trump recently justified his gutter-talk about women by calling it “locker-room” banter, and added that he’s heard much worse from Bill Clinton while playing golf. To his avid male supporters, Donnie’s potty-mouth probably sounds good; there are millions of men… Read the rest
For many people, there’s something about the present that’s just not good enough, the nagging feeling that what’s happening now needs to better, is in some way insufficient and unsatisfying. Out there, tomorrow, in the future, things will be better.
Even if we like our job, enjoy… Read the rest
Remind me, Dear One, to
Tell you the fable about the
Atom that hungered to be a
Most of us believe that what elevates a person in society is intelligence and talent, but this is not entirely true. Intelligence and talent are not insignificant; to the contrary, people with… Read the rest
There have always been competitive ones among us; from brute physical aggression to sophisticated strategic thinking, the ambitious make waves in the fabric of society. For much of human history, competition ended in death, and it ends in death sometimes even today. In… Read the rest
My father used to say “life can be good.” A cautious man, he was wise enough not to categorically state “life is good.” He knew, and the fact is, life can be difficult.
Life’s difficulties are both natural and unnatural. Our natural difficulties arise from natural causes;… Read the rest
I know it sounds like the name of some aggressive law firm, but Mean and Hurtful is the way we sometimes treat each other. Exposure to the news is most often how I witness Mean and Hurtful, but the other evening I unexpectedly found myself on the direct receiving end of such behavior.
I was on my way into a crowded… Read the rest
In the end, the skein of civilization turned out to be thinner and less substantial than most anyone had expected. Collapse of modern society took only a matter of weeks, not months. Once the electricity stopped the whole of industrial and mechanized society came crashing to a halt. Assumptions about… Read the rest
I recently read a Facebook post by a fellow who, just having had an RIFD chip implanted under his skin, described himself as “trans-human.” For those of you unaware exactly what an RIFD chip is, you’ll find one in the latest version of credit cards being issued by Banks. RIFD chips … Read the rest
How funny it is that everybody’s talking ’bout The Cloud! English lexicon has caught up with the reality of human consciousness: we have always had our heads in the clouds.
Human beings float in a boundless sky of mental and emotional ambiguity from which we extract concepts and string … Read the rest
While I was having lunch with “the guys” I began talking about “how we know what we know.” One friend interjected that what I was saying was “too abstract” to be of interest. This has happened to me before, and in such social situations switching topics … Read the rest
The rise of Donald Trump has many people shaking their heads in disbelief. How, they wonder, can a man who is so brutish and nasty rise to the Presidential candidacy of the Republican Party?
The form of this query betrays a fundamental error: Trump is not the cause of hatefulness, but a symptom of hatefulness… Read the rest
I get Donald Trump. I don’t like him, but I get him. I understand why he acts and sounds like a jerk; The Donald is annoyed.
Being annoyed places him the company of a lot of New Yorkers and former New Yorkers, like me. When you grow up in a city teeming with crowds, noise and stink it’s easy to feel… Read the rest
I’m old enough to have been right in the middle of the cultural, political and social turmoil of the nineteen sixties, and amidst the world’s current upheavals I sometimes feel as if history is repeating itself.
It’s not difficult to make comparisons about then and now; racial and… Read the rest
I think that if we are going to alter human genetics, we should get going on it right away and concentrate on giving human beings the gift of photosynthesis. As you most likely know, through photosynthesis plants feed themselves with sunlight.
Chlorophyll, water, carbon dioxide and oxygen are the … Read the rest
Much is being made of current research indicating that the Glyphosate in Monsanto’s herbicide RoundUp is a likely carcinogen. A laboratory-made, liquid life-killing poison that turns dandelions to brown, withered husks in a day; that it probably causes cancer should surprise no one.
Weeds… Read the rest
For most of the past 5,000 years, the period of human history when monetary systems arose and spread across the globe, wealth has been measured by the accumulation of assets. Land, precious metal, slaves, tulip bulbs or any combinations thereof – all of which at one time or another have served … Read the rest
We live in complex, trying times. We know more about what’s happening in the world than any people who have ever lived before; much of it is disturbing, and about which we can often do little or mostly nothing.
Closer to home, the emotions being stirred up in this election year are alarming. Whatever… Read the rest
I love to read books; pencil in hand I underline points and passages that strike me as important, add margin notes, and often return to read significant portions over again. I do some reading online, but for me it’s no substitute for resting a book on my lap for hours.
I enjoy reading more than one … Read the rest
Those who dissent or speak out are often dismissed derisively as members of “a vocal minority.” This happened during the 2013 Measure B election to limit the size of new hotels in Sonoma, even though that measure lost by less than one-percent. Now I’m hearing the same complaint about… Read the rest
I’ve been looking for a kids’ book that’s about eating animals. There are plenty of books about eating vegetables and fruits, and books about why they are good for us, but I cannot find even one book for toddlers that explains the whys and wherefores, let alone positives, about raising… Read the rest
It was recently announced that a mega-wealthy, former bank CEO and his wife have donated $185 million to UCSF for the creation of a new institute of neuroscience, not surprisingly to be named after them. Their gift represents a new high for UCSF “philanthropy”, and follows on the… Read the rest
Population pressure plus expanding tourism is quickly pushing Sonoma Valley beyond its carrying capacity. This happened in the Napa Valley years ago, as anyone who has navigated Hwy. 29 in June or July has discovered.
For those who commute to work in San Francisco or Oakland, exceeding carrying capacity… Read the rest
In the garden
Amid the whispering bamboo and
He sits and enters the samadhi
Called “nothing happens”
I’ve become an object of study in an anthropological research program. Seriously, two earnest doctoral professors and one obsessive… Read the rest
Of all pursuits, mathematics may be the most remarkable. I’m not talking about the simple mathematics of calculating the tip on a restaurant tab; that type of calculation is the simple arithmetic of utility. I’m talking about the mathematics of theoretical physics, a realm… Read the rest
At a recent Planning Commission meeting, a proponent of a development project under review dismissively referred to project opponents as a “vocal minority.” Another said that the proposed project’s neighbors were only selfishly interested in “their own backyards”… Read the rest
The decision by a community to commit itself to historic preservation is a commitment to enforcing rules. Unless rules are created that define what contributes to historic preservation and what does not, the entire effort becomes impossible.
Here in Sonoma we… Read the rest
Oh, the stories we tell ourselves! Some of them are funny, some not so much, and some of them are, well, are downright dangerous.
It’s not like this is something new. Human beings have been dubbed “toolmakers” but our real and original talent is making up stories. I’m not saying… Read the rest
My eight-year-old granddaughter and I stopped by Nathanson Creek at the Second Street East bridge yesterday to catch a look after the heavy rains. The water was rushing quickly, having filled the channel halfway up the height of the tunnel under the road.
“Papa, why is the water brown?”… Read the rest
The metaphors of battle, conflict and fighting are tightly woven into our American narrative, beginning with “Don’t Tread on Me” in 1776. This effectively defiant message was developed well before any modern forms of propaganda, and yet effectively framed colonist attitudes… Read the rest
It’s been said life is like an illusion; a drop of dew, a flash of lightning, a phantom, a dream. Such contemplations have endured for thousands of years, fueling philosophers, Mystics, poets, and even scientists. But what if life is not a dream at all? What if life is a video game?
I know you’re rolling… Read the rest
According to Buddhists, intention is important, but it is also the actions of thought and deed, which govern the nature of the future; in Buddhist terminology, such action is called Karma. The accumulations of Karma, both personal and collective, turn the so-called “Wheel of Samsara,”… Read the rest
Illness is one of life’s inevitable events; it happens to all of us eventually, unless sudden accidental death erases the possibility. Like most other complex living things, the human body is naturally resilient and capable of self-repair, but only up to a point. Nature, in her steadfast and… Read the rest
Maybe it’s just a symptom of the times, but I’m seeing an unfortunate trend to make everything, even City Government, all about money. Admittedly, there are those who have long advocated that the road to Utopia is best paved by running government like a business. That very case was made … Read the rest
There’s so much in a name. I’ve written before about the ways names evolved alongside manners or occupations, resulting in families of Tanners, Archers, Barbers, Fowlers and the like. In what may be one of the most amusing current surnames on everyone’s lips is, sorry to say, Trump.… Read the rest
I honestly cannot recall a time in my 67-year-old life when America seemed more disjointed. Sure, the Vietnam era was one heckava mess, and the civil rights era was pretty messy too. But from the standpoint of governance, there was the presumption that politics was the art of compromise, and that the … Read the rest
In a cringe-worthy 4-1 decision (Susan Gorin dissenting) rejecting 14 months of public input and recommendations of the County Planning Commission, Sonoma County’s Board of Supervisors has betrayed the public it serves in favor of chump change from tourists looking for a place to party on … Read the rest
We live in wondrous, terrible times. In every field of human endeavor we are exceeding ourselves, almost daily. Our tallest buildings are getting taller, our fastest computers are getting faster; gas-powered autos are giving way to electric vehicles, natural evolution is being supplanted by gene-editing.… Read the rest
Human experience is primarily regional. We are members of a family within a community located regionally first and foremost, and only secondarily are we members of a nation. The rise of nationalism as we know it today is a fairly recent social development, and truly came of age only during the last two… Read the rest
Alcohol causes more deaths than those caused by painkillers and heroin, combined. The Center’s for Disease Control reports that in 2014, 30,722 people died due to alcohol poisoning and cirrhosis of the liver, as compared with 28,647 deaths due to overdoses from opiates. If drunk driving, accidents… Read the rest
We praise democracy, but we don’t seem to like it very much. Voting rates in America are terrible, and voters seem to prefer established families or Reality TV stars to experienced politicians. Most people agree that our democratic electoral system has been corrupted by money, but there doesn’t… Read the rest
H.G. Wells’ classic “War of the Worlds” is a tale about how some of the smallest creatures on Earth ultimately destroyed Martian invaders wielding technology powerful enough to wipe out humanity. His idea was not entirely fanciful; as global warming lifts the average… Read the rest
The most uncomfortable truth of human experience is that life feeds on other life, and each of us depends upon the death of other living things for our continued existence. In early societies, this truth infused creation mythology and manifested in rituals during which life-from-death was reenacted… Read the rest
When I was growing up in the 50s, I loved the New Yorker cartoonist Chas Addams and his quirky but insightful brand of dark humor; at one point I had the wall next to my bed plastered with his cartoons, a mini-gallery of Chas Addams of my very own. One I particularly liked featured a smiling suburban couple… Read the rest
Living in fear is a terrible thing; it produces thoughts and feelings we would otherwise reject, but in fear, accept. Fear clouds judgment; it breeds suspicion and provides fertile ground for bigotry, intolerance, scapegoating and violence. Fear makes people more easily manipulated, more accepting… Read the rest
The world is embroiled in controversy over gender identity. Modern industrialized countries are slowly aligning laws and policies to reflect changing cultural attitudes; what once was hidden and forbidden is now openly visible and allowed. Traditional, less industrialized societies remain … Read the rest
Columbus was no tourist. Neither was Cortez or for that matter Admiral Perry. These world travelers were all about conquest, fame, riches and glory, and by-and-large, they achieved it. Before air travel and luxury ocean liners, expeditions to distant places were a risky and uncertain endeavor, often… Read the rest
Having now passed the 50th anniversary of the publication of ‘Silent Spring’ by Rachel Carson it’s tempting to feel the ecology movement she fostered has made a difference. However, in comparing its successes to its failures, I’d argue the ecology movement has been a colossal… Read the rest
We relate to life primarily in two ways: experience and memory. Our experience is subject to the type attention we offer at a given moment; if our attention wanders we lose track of a particular experience. For example, at a baseball game we might find ourselves distracted by a hot dog vender and lose track… Read the rest
Accumulating wealth and personal assets used to be a major cultural preoccupation. Savings accounts once were popular and dutifully depositing a portion of each week’s paycheck in the bank was a common practice. The power of compounding interest would over time, it was believed, provide… Read the rest
Anybody else struck by the symbolic convergence of bats and leaf blowers this October? Men swinging big sticks is nothing new, of course, but I find myself both embarrassed and amused by such displays of male aggression. Throw guns into the symbolic mix and the situation suddenly gets serious, deadly… Read the rest
I’m a confessed plant lover, what my late friend Keith Cahoon called a “Hortisexual.” This passion does not include sex, but has led to what I’ve called the infidelity of “Multiple Simultaneous Relationships with Plants.” Though I’ve never cheated… Read the rest
“Name?” The barista behind the counter asked without looking up from his touch-screen.
“Blythedale, with a ‘y’. Lucius Blythedale,” I answered. “Lucius Montgomery Blythedale, to be precise.”
The barista didn’t miss a beat. “One… Read the rest
Getting people out of cars and into mass transit is good for air quality, may reduce road congestion, and encourages public transportation. These are all good effects, but systems like SMART also affect growth and development patterns. Unless extreme care is taken in the planning and approval process… Read the rest
We’ve told ourselves that people are the greatest for so long, most of us actually believe it. Religious narratives puff us up with tales of being made in God’s image, having dominion … Read the rest
Only in America could an arrogant businessman who inherited substantial wealth from his father become elevated to celebrity status and then leverage that fatuous fame to run for President of the United States and lead the polls in the Republican primary race.
We’ve known The Donald for a long… Read the rest
The CEO of Cambrian, a biotechnology company, wants to upgrade the human race. His plan to is to make genetic engineering available to everyday people in a process he calls “democratizing genetics.” In homage to his namesake, Austen Heinz of Cambrian might someday appear in 57 varieties!… Read the rest
Oliver Sacks, the best-selling author/neurologist, has died. In his inimitable style he wrote about his impending death from metastatic cancer in articles in the NY Times, and as it true of all his writing, his keen observation and fondness for humanity jumps right off the page.
My first exposure to… Read the rest
I’m dreaming about my great-great-great granddaughter. “Shame,” she says, “How could you?” Of course she’s talking about the ruination of the world, and I know that. “What can I tell you,” I say gently, “The unnatural world moves too quickly.”… Read the rest
At last night’s Sonoma City Council meeting my appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval for a use permit allowing Williams-Sonoma to hold 15 events with as many as 80 guests in the garden at their retail location was upheld. This decision has an effect on Williams-Sonoma, of… Read the rest
The recent GOP debate made me want to vomit. That the state of American politics has fallen so deeply into a trench of ignorance is appalling, and leaves me feeling embarrassed and ashamed. Outright lies, intentional deception, bloated arrogance, false piety; all these and more were on display, along… Read the rest
Airbnb has ignited a firestorm of opinion pro-and-con regarding its facilitation of rentals of residential property for commercial purposes, even when that property is zoned for residential use only. The overnight or short-term rental of virtually anything is a commercial activity; money changes… Read the rest
“Climate’s capacity to inflict misery rises steeply when imperial arrogance and ideology hinder a society’s adjustments to extreme weather.”
Eugene Linden – The Winds of Change
Four years into persistent drought, California is now being told an El Niño is forming… Read the rest
It seems as if human beings are on the brink of knowing everything. Ours is the history of accumulated knowledge, beginning with fire and now extending to exoplanets circling suns many thousands of light-years distant. We’ve jumped from one understanding to the next, each built on the one before;… Read the rest
The State Water Resources Board has told the City of Sonoma to cut its use by 28%; the Valley of the Moon water District by 24%. Given the current drought, these target cutbacks make sense; there’s only so much water and it must be conserved. But here’s the rub: both the City of Sonoma Water … Read the rest
I was sitting around talking with two friends when one of them asked me this question. He was talking about the ridiculously low minimum wage, cost of housing, unavailability of rentals, wealth inequality, biased tax code, dissolving social safety net, billions spent on our war machine, and the general… Read the rest
The current crisis in Greece, the role of Germany in imposing austerity programs, and endless ongoing conflict in the middle east reveals how deeply the western world suffers from a case of mass-obsessive-compulsive disorder. Generation after generation these regions have been the focus of attention… Read the rest
We no longer sacrifice human beings in ritual killings for the sake of a good harvest, though given their effects on human health we could view the use of agricultural poisons and pesticides from that perspective. Capital punishment in America, however, which objectively is unnecessary to protect… Read the rest
My granddaughter, aged seven, and I were watching an animated movie about a curious fairy who is told by her Fairy Master not tamper with Pixie Dust. She does, of course, and an accident caused by one of her experiments wreaks havoc with the Fairy Village.
As we usually do, we talked about the movie, and … Read the rest
Part of being human is being categorical. This means putting ourselves and things into endless categories, assigning names and establishing hierarchies. Our penchant for fragmenting the nameless whole into named parts and then using these named parts to construct a newly-named whole is deceptively… Read the rest
By the time things get “trendy” they’ve become clichéd, and as we all know the hallmark of a cliché is its loss of authenticity and meaning. Having become a mere trope of its former self, a craze quickly wears itself out and fades away, destined to return at a future date in the sentimental… Read the rest
The largest single demographic generation in the history of America, the 75-million strong baby-boom population is now entering it’s final 20-year run. Avid consumers, boomers have fueled our economy at each stage of its varied history; as post-world-war-two children we prompted an elementary… Read the rest
Our fixed-city way-of-life has created a problematic situation: homelessness. Those who cannot afford to own or rent a home are left to wander the highways, alleys and shelters of our urban environments in search of safe spots in which to rest and sleep. The reasons for their poverty vary: personal … Read the rest
We all know times have changed; our world has simultaneously gotten smaller and our communications infrastructure has gotten larger. Communities are no longer restricted to physical proximity but to affinities of interest.
For all that, however, there is much to be said about getting to know one’s… Read the rest
Certain memes – persistent thematic constructs which achieve near ubiquity – emerge from the noisy background of culture and assume prominence for a long while, decades or even centuries. Democracy is one such meme, and it’s been spreading through social contagion for several… Read the rest
Preserving Sonoma’s town character is a challenge. Describing that character generates a wide range of opinion; our world is complex and changeable, and Sonoma is not immune from the tidal forces of cultural and social transformation taking place around us.… Read the rest
The current discussions surrounding the topic of sustainability generally revolve around systems analysis and a scientific approach which evaluates resources, utilization rates, waste production, economies and other quantifiable and measurable elements. As far as this goes it’s useful… Read the rest
Last night’s City Council consideration of a proposal to remove Broadway’s oak trees was notable less for its action than the conduct of the City Council. Though only four could participate, Gary Edwards having stepped-down due to the proximity of property he owns to the subject trees, each … Read the rest
In spite of or possibly in reaction to California’s worst drought in 120 years, I suddenly find myself surrounded by neighbors building swimming pools. Five homes within 200 feet already have pools and two more even closer have completed the construction phase and have moved into pumps, pipes,… Read the rest
It’s easy to dismiss much of modern culture as crass, insensitive, dull or even stupid. Set aside the fact that a TV commercial featuring Mathew McConaughey for the new Lincoln MKC is a 60-second full-fledged Hollywood production costing millions to create; it’s… Read the rest
One of the common experiences of contemporary politics is feeling like what you are being told is so stupid and nonsensical that the person saying it knows it is stupid and nonsensical too. Denial of climate change, evolution and established historical fact certainly provide such moments, and often… Read the rest
I’ve always wondered if it’s a matter of translation; namely did the the tablets brought down Mt. Sinai by Moses prohibit killing or murder? From what I can tell, most people think “Thou shalt not kill” fully covers the topic, generating reams of argument about – what… Read the rest
Before movies there were dreams, the experience of being simultaneously involved while impassively observing events and emotions displayed on mind’s internal “screen.” In many ancient cultures dreams played a pivotal role in individual and social life. For Australian Aboriginal… Read the rest
Although the human impulse towards religious experience is undeniable many people today do not consider themselves as religious or spiritual. Writer Richard Dawkins or television pundit Bill Maher take great pains to paint religious belief as nonsense – destructive mumbo-jumbo unsuited… Read the rest
Ok so it’s 2040 and I’m 92 years old – too old if you ask me, which of course you didn’t – but that’s not the point. The point is I’m pissed-off. Sure, you say, of course you’re pissed-off – you’re old – and being old and pissed-off… Read the rest
When I was growing up a fella named Charles Atlas adorned the back pages of cheap magazines, displaying a body we’d today call “buff” but back then “muscle-bound.” The proverbial answer to being a skinny wimp at the beach and having sand kicked-in-your-face… Read the rest
There is a decidedly anti-intellectual strain in contemporary American society, this despite a high rate of literacy and a historical legacy of higher education. Though books are still written, dissertations, doctorates and advanced degrees awarded, the present level of public discourse can … Read the rest
Among the plants in my greenhouse are many in the Gasteria family, a type sometimes called “Cow’s Tongue” due to their thick stems, lack of leaves and dappled surface coloration. Many Gasterias display varying patterns of white spots on green backgrounds, which vary from species… Read the rest
To uncivilized people the whims of nature surely seemed capricious; their search for meaning behind devastating winds or a great flood gave rise to tales of gods, magic and otherworldly realms beyond the powers of direct human observation. Seasonal cycles, animal migrations, phases of the moon, … Read the rest
Recent polls indicate that America’s favorite sport is now football instead of baseball. It’s not hard to see a connection between this trend and the changed nature of American life in the 21st century.
Baseball, of course, is a 19th century game, developed during slower times of less … Read the rest
I remember a childhood cartoon in which the main character – it could have been Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny – found himself in the middle of a struggle between a little devil and a little angel version of himself, each of which sat on one of his shoulders. The little devil tempted him to indulge … Read the rest
I’ve come to hold synchronicity in high regard. Coincidence is too light a word for the ways in which waves of information sometimes pass through human culture: signaling a simultaneous, penetrating and all-pervasive coming together of cause and effect that verges on clairvoyance.
Just last… Read the rest
The number of life forms on earth is staggeringly huge; despite the discoveries of the past three hundred years there remains a vast, nearly uncountable number of unknown species of life forms. For perhaps a billion years, earth’s plants and then animals have filled every available environmental… Read the rest
An elderly man, feeling weak, enters the emergency room of a local hospital. After waiting, a doctor examines him and determines he is severely dehydrated. An IV is placed, and sterile saline solution (water and salt) soon help the man recover. He prepares to leave the hospital and is told to make sure… Read the rest
TV shows and Hollywood movies often portray elite government security teams as oafish incompetents around whom brilliantly evil criminals run rapid circles. The plots then center around a cat-and-mouse game played by the evil-doers and the one or two members of law enforcement who can see through… Read the rest
Just as global warming gains international traction with treaties, targets and timetables the price of oil miraculously drops. A coincidence? I think not.
Just as solar, wind, biofuel and electric technologies become more competitive with high-priced oil and gain wider adoption worldwide the … Read the rest
Sex Porn is a global multi-billion-dollar industry. Studies indicate that for many addicted to such material its sexual content is less significant than its feelings of overcoming powerlessness. The defining characteristic of porn is a sense of control through the objectification of self and other,… Read the rest
We place a great deal of faith in eyewitness testimony and its impact on criminal justice is enormous. Eyewitness accounts can vary widely, however, as has been the case in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by a young police officer. Declining to bring charges, the Grand Jury … Read the rest
A Californian for nearly 50 years I’ve infrequently traveled by train but I grew up in the suburbs of New York and took the train to Manhattan from time-to-time. My earliest memory of a long train trip was when I was eight years old and my family took an overnight train to Florida.
Trains really did… Read the rest
It would be nice, I suppose, to believe that everything is just fine: the motivations of people are well-intended, science and technology always solve every problem, freedom and democracy are humanity’s natural state, the world can accommodate an unlimited number of people, and infectious… Read the rest
Setting aside the purely commercial aspects of harvest decorations and TV commercials featuring cute turkeys and cartoon characters in Puritan outfits, Thanksgiving’s acknowledgment of earth’s bounty and the value of kindness towards others is a welcome departure from our customary… Read the rest
In the world’s economy there are only three types of money, fast, slow and no.
Fast money is just that, credit which moves so quickly it requires the use of automated computer algorithms. At its extreme, fast money is circulating the globe, staying in sync with the international dateline, executing… Read the rest
Try as we may to be blasé – making it the subject of horror movies, detective dramas, novels and so forth – the mystery of death remains humanity’s primary conscious and unconscious preoccupation. The heart of philosophy and religion, not to mention Hollywood, “the great… Read the rest
Every new artifact of human culture generates a set of effects. The most predictable of these relate directly to the operation or impact of the artifact; for example, the invention of the automobile made the horse and buggy obsolete. Less obvious… Read the rest
Countries have used a variety of excuses to go to war. Some cite the need for protection of people who speak their language, like Vladimir Putin is doing in the Ukraine or Adolph Hitler did before annexing the “Low Countries” adjacent to Germany in the 1930’s. Others, like the United… Read the rest
It’s interesting how medical terminology has been applied to the digital realm; after all, computers are just machines, right? Machines don’t get sick and that’s what we’ve always loved about them and why they’ve effectively replaced human beings as a labor force.… Read the rest
Back in the hippie-dippy days of the 20th century two things were a Big Deal: Hair and Astrology. Long-haired men faded as an issue when pattern baldness and changing fashion inevitably reduced their impact to statistically ordinary, and astrology – replaced by ecology – quietly slid… Read the rest
It was recently reported that the world’s oceans now contain three times as much methyl mercury as they did before the industrial revolution. Oceanic mercury becomes highly toxic methyl mercury due to the chemical action of sea water, and methyl mercury causes cognitive impairment, sometimes… Read the rest
Our society is so permeated by commerce that business metaphors are regularly applied to non-business situations. Thus we “profit by experience,” “calculate our losses,” and “take stock in the situation.” Another common phrase concerns “the business… Read the rest