The Book of Good Living: Tools

Advice to moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older cousins, anybody with young people in your lives:There are few material things you can give kids that will make such a difference in their lives as good tools. Carpentry tools, woodworking tools, mechanic's tools, plumbing tools, metalworking tools, electrician's tools, -- kitchen tools! blacksmith's tools! -- tools for servicing appliances, computers, mechanical devices.The card should say "Dear One: Build things. Make things. Fix … [Read more...]

Post-Teen Guilty, Middle-Aged Goddy

COE Square

I have friends in Texas who did some pretty questionable stuff in their wild teen years -- we're talking lying, stealing, animal cruelty, just plain meanness to each other, and yes, a certain amount of socially-unapproved sex -- who have become extremely religious as they've gotten older. I often suspect there's a direct mechanism that makes this happen. Here's how I imagine it working:Inevitably when you're younger and you have a childish sense of right and wrong, a childish sense of other … [Read more...]

A Dark Tide in Human Affairs

Dark Tide copy

I was thinking today about large-scale social motion in a negative direction. Not as some sort of accident, but as the result of some deeper human sociological/psychological tides.I think of bikers and biker culture. The skull motif so penetrates biker culture that it makes its way onto everything -- bikes, t-shirts, leather jackets, bandanas, helmets, face masks, even tattoos. It's interesting to me that this nihilistic image is of such unquestionable importance, and has no … [Read more...]

Dog Years

Ranger3

I aspired to be a scientist, once: I was a genetics major at a western university, way back when. (To show you what a cerebral nerd I was, the most exciting class I ever took in college was Calculus.) If you had asked me in those days what I thought went on in an animal’s head, I would have related the majority view of the day: the most you could say about an animal was that they “exhibited certain behaviors.” There was no evidence for the presence of feelings, or anything resembling thought. An … [Read more...]

Earth Day 2015: Thoughts Like Falling Leaves

[This is a repost of a piece I did several years ago, slightly edited for 2015. This essay is also part of the conceptual force driving my thoughts on the need for Beta Culture.]Leaf OneCon games and sleight-of-hand magic work because, one, we humans only have so much attention to spare at any one moment, and two, they direct that attention deliberately in one direction. If you look at where the finger points, you miss … well, everything else.Like the movie teen backing through a d … [Read more...]

Rumination on Death, and Love, and Life

Three years and a bit later, I don't dwell on the death of my Cowboy Dad all the time. When I do dwell on him, I can have these surges of sorrow, missing him with painful intensity. But it's not all the time now.The loss of him is kind of fading into the background of my daily life. He's passing into a sort of history in my mind. And I hate that. But I'm sort of okay with it too.I've said many times: "When you lose someone you truly love, it should break you forever." That's the … [Read more...]


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