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...]

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

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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...]

A Dark Tide in Human Affairs

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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


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...]