Beta Culture: Dealing With Conservatives

Had a little epiphany today about the sense of humor, and why ultra-conservatives don't seem to have much of it.Humor requires a certain flexibility of mind, a capacity to quickly change mental directions. The lead-in to a joke sets up a certain expectation, then the punchline forces a radical departure from that expectation. The unexpectedness makes us laugh. A Hasidic Jew walks into a New York City bar with a frog on his shoulder. The bartender says "Where the heck did you get THAT?" The … [Read more...]

Insight Into A World Without Gods

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Today I located the Facebook pages of a handful of old friends, some from my cowboy years, some from my Texas years. None of them know me on Facebook, because I've kept that account secret from most of them.Part of it is because I don't like people looking over my shoulder as I engage in an ongoing freestyle quest to figure out this thing I'm trying to figure out -- you know, Life. Part of it is ... I know if they see who I am now, the kinds of things I think and say, we can't be friends … [Read more...]

Herd Immunity: The Internet vs. Education

Rather than amplifying intelligence, I think the Internet and TV are taking the place of intelligence. Because information is available in instants, you don't have to actually learn things, to commit them to memory and have them become a part of your own thinking processes. A great deal of the time, for too many of us, we don't even have to THINK. We become less practiced at it. We become lazy data-tourists rather than farmers of knowledge.Of course we don't ALL become less practiced at … [Read more...]

The Book of Good Living: Tools 2

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Tools are under-appreciated by most of us officey types. Whether it’s a circular saw, a drill, a planer, an arc welder, or just a simple car jack, too many of us aren’t ready to get our hands dirty.It’s not the dirt, of course. It’s just that certain tools can be outside our bubble of competence, and it’s human nature to shy away from getting involved in something we probably, in the beginning, won’t be much good at.But here’s the really great thing about tools: If you have the right tool … [Read more...]

God, The Wet Blanket

One of the things I enjoy doing on my daily van trips -- I'm in transportation at an addiction recovery facility, and I drive every day a round trip between Schenectady, NY and New York City -- is play tourguide. Since the trip is close to three hours long each way, there's plenty of time to point out interesting details of the scenery along the way. I often see deer (today I saw a doe with a newborn fawn in the roadside grass), sometimes wild turkeys, occasionally great blue herons. There are … [Read more...]

Post-Teen Guilty, Middle-Aged Goddy

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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...]


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