Connecticut Shooting: Warm Lies, Cold Truth, Free Minds

This is a reaction to some of the goddy rhetoric surrounding the shooting in Connecticut: Even as an atheist good with words, I can barely express how repulsive I find the claim that those children are in Heaven, skipping along beside Jesus as he gives them a tour of Heaven. Yet we’ve heard exactly that, and more than once. When I posted on Facebook a day or so ago about a mental image related to the tragedy, one of my readers told me she almost threw up when that same image came to her: the … [Read more...]

Free Will … Maybe — Part 2.1

In making the point of how much free will we don’t have, I wanted to write about a concept I came up with a few years back, something to help us understand the, well, “automaticness” of much of what goes on in our heads. Searching for something on it, I came across this chapter of yet another of my might-be books, a half-written volume titled Earthman’s Notebook. It’s fairly long, but it illustrates the ideas pretty well. I’m dividing it up, so it’s going to accordion three … [Read more...]

Seven Billion Peeps: Thank You Jesus — and Oh, Shit!

[ Still feeling like hell, but I couldn't keep away ... ] Here’s a personal reaction to a recent bit of news: (And look at this BBC Where Do You Fit In? calculator. ) When I was born, there were 2.6 billion humans on the planet. Today there are 2.6 TIMES more.  World population is expected to tip over 7 billion in the next few days. Speaking as an environmentalist (someone who cares about the ecosystem of Planet Earth), and a humanist (someone who loves human beings, and wants them to do … [Read more...]

Grizzly’s Gamble — Part 8 of 8

Start HERE Parts:  One — Two — Three — Four — Five — Six — Seven — Eight     This is the Truth: In my hunting days, I was headwaiter at a seafood restaurant in a little resort town in the California’s Eastern Sierra mountains. Hunting season had opened several days before, but I’d had to work every day. This was my last evening shift before I had a couple of days off, and I was ready to go. I had my new Ruger .30-06 rifle with a 7-power scope. I had my pack … [Read more...]

Grizzly’s Gamble — Part 7 of 8

  Parts:  One — Two — Three — Four — Five — Six — Seven — Eight Stomping Kittens In America there is a safety-conscious social force backed up by the power of law – and constantly reinforced by frequent and large lawsuits – that decrees that every tiniest hint of danger must be stamped out of every activity. People must be taken care of. Even in the midst of our riskiest pastimes, we do everything possible – which is always considerable – to eliminate the risk. … [Read more...]

Grizzly’s Gamble — Part 6 of 8

  Parts:  One — Two — Three — Four — Five — Six — Seven — Eight Technological Man Guns. Fire. Helicopters. Radios. Infrared sights. Light-amplifying night scopes. Binoculars. Poisons. Traps. Electrified fences. Bulldozers. Chainsaws. Fishing nets. Maps. We humans live in a society where we can draw on the accomplishments and assets not only of our own families, not only of our own acquaintances, but the intellectual fruits of literal geniuses for the last ten thousand … [Read more...]

Grizzly’s Gamble — Part 5 of 8

  Parts:  One — Two — Three — Four — Five — Six — Seven — Eight Man Plus How often do human beings come in quantities of one? Certainly a lot of us can feel lonely at times, but we do that even when surrounded by scores of our fellows. Actually being completely alone in today’s world is really not that easy to accomplish. It is almost always the result of conscious choice – and great effort and expense – on the part of the camper, hiker, or cyclist, and usually … [Read more...]

Grizzly’s Gamble — Part 4 of 8

  Parts:  One — Two — Three — Four — Five — Six — Seven — Eight Diet Ah, now wimpy little Man begins to really come into his own. Wouldn’t you just know that our ancestors, who didn’t seem to be good at much else compared to the other big beasties, would at least be good at eating? In fact, they were, and we are. We humans can eat everything from raw plants to long-rotten meat, and just about anything in between. We have versatile dentition that can cut, crush and … [Read more...]

Grizzly’s Gamble — Part 3 of 8

  Parts:  One — Two — Three — Four — Five — Six — Seven — Eight Smell, Hearing and Taste We won’t find any advantages here. Pity poor Man, all domesticated and dumbed down so that his wild senses, if ever he had any good ones, are now blunted and tamed. All the other animals, with their razor-sharp sensory gifts beat us all to hell in this area. Even without the ever-present threat of slinking, silent predators, we seem barely well enough equipped to keep from … [Read more...]

Grizzly’s Gamble — Part 2 of 8

Parts:  One — Two — Three — Four — Five — Six — Seven — Eight … Okay, it never happened. I did stand under the streetlight on that lonely highway, right enough. After hours of waiting, I began to study the darkness around me, projecting my fears into it, and as I began to think more and more of things that might lurk out there, I gradually froze into spooked immobility. Though I never saw or heard the merest evidence that anything was out there, I stood locked in place, … [Read more...]