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...]

A Little Ditty About Recent Events

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I became an atheist, and joined in with others, because I wanted to belong to a Community of Reason. This current (and lengthy past!) shit I see going on with the flaming, mob targeting, jargon-slinging, code-wording, character assassination, labeling and pigeonholing -- I hate being even on the edges of it, because the people doing it are as stupid and evil in their own way as the righty-religious community I escaped from. Waaaaay too many of the people I once thought were members of my … [Read more...]

Agency: The Myth at the Heart of Mysticism

Mountain Lion copy

I lived in mountain lion country for more than 20 years. Never saw a single one. A more skeptical man might have doubted they even existed, but even if you never see a mountain lion, you can know they're out there because -- like every terrestrial animal -- they leave tracks.Tracks are probably not something an animal ever intends to leave, nor are they in any way useful to the creature that makes them. They are a side effect of just being there, the visible, undeniable evidence of a … [Read more...]

The Book of Good Living: The Social Minimum

I've struggled for a long time to figure out the simplest way to say this, and never gotten it down to a short formulation. But here it is at last, I think:It's not your job to cater to others. But you DO have to live your life in such a way that they're not forced to cater to you.Unpacking this brings out a lot of little specific rules such as:Don't pee on the toilet seat, forcing the next guy to wipe it off before he can sit there. Don't park in the supermarket entryway, forcing … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Being Grownups on Planet Earth

Cowboy Dad

For most of the years I knew him, I unconsciously thought of my Cowboy Dad as “the grownup” in my life. Since he died, I’ve realized there were several side-effects of thinking that. One is that I cheated him out of all the years of ME being a grownup, so that we could be ... well, friendly equals, fellow MEN together. The other is that I cheated myself out of all those years of me being a grownup. All the endeavors and relationships in my life were approached in some degree of a child … [Read more...]

Zoning Out on Liberal vs. Conservative Issues

Con vs Lib

I woke up this morning with this diagram in my head.I tinkered it up in Illustrator later. Probably could have chosen brighter colors or a better layout, but I got tired of messing with it. You may have to click-and-embiggen it to see all the details.Especially note that the center vertical bar is labeled to indicate a gradation from Greater Factual Information (More Informed) at the top to Lesser Factual Information (More Ignorant) at the bottom, whereas the center section is labeled … [Read more...]


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