Immortality

Those who want forever
could not have thought it through

Our minds would self-destruct
without transmutation

Could endless love endure
fighting primal struggles?

No death to evil everlasting?
villains’ never dying.

Believers’ heavens, life eternal
what after getting there?

What is singing ceaseless praises
joy or endless droning?

Dreams we have of never dying
cannot make forever

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Woman Reveals Secrets of Confusing Men

My wife cast some light on one of the things men find confusing about women. The most amazing insight she gave me was that women never stop thinking, ever. When they jump from one thing to another, non-sequitur, they just moved from one thinking “box” to another, without notice. She described it as “spaghetti thinking.” Women learned the code eons ago. Listening to a group of women talking at full speed can be dizzying for a man. He has no clue what is happening or what they are saying. The variety of topics, piled together and spoken like confetti, overwhelms the male style of thinking. This is one way women keep secrets from men, they talk about everything; it disguises any one topic.

Hint to women when you want them to understand: Try putting “Bookmarks” in your speech when you talk to men. That way, they might understand that you are not relating one topic with another, you are just switching topics. Example, “Now, about shopping, ……” then, “Oh, I met Joan at the hair salon, and guess what she has been doing……” See how the use of “now” and “oh,” announce a new topic? Try this out on your favorite man.

What women can do for men:

1. Accept that he might be thinking nothing, he has an empty thinking box. You do not.
2. Tell men if you do not need help, you just need a friendly ear. Otherwise, he will try to “fix” your “problems”
3. Announce the context of your next topic of discussion. “That was my day at work.” “Now, about some things I need to shop for.”
4. Use verbal “Bookmarks” when you change topics, men are no good at keeping track of multiple discussions without help.

What men can do for women:

1.  Stop what you are doing and pay attention.
2. Ask if she needs your help with anything before going into “fix” mode.
3. Ask clarifying questions about the topic at hand, if you get confused. “Are we still talking about the office?”
4. Explain to her that “multi-tasking” is not one of your strengths, so you need completion before changing discussions.

Weird, Hidden Danger Shocks Americans – Fake Headlines Hide the Truth

See what I mean.  It takes a headline that strange, extreme, and inaccurate to get attention.  Americans are that hard to shock today.  Yet, we cannot resist gawking at car wrecks. We are drawn to tragedies, warnings, and tirades.  So how do “they” get to us?  Escalate hate, anger, and fear.

I grew up just outside the Washington D.C. “Loop” in Fairfax, Virginia.  Both parents were federal government employees, The Washington Post was our local newspaper.  The hyperbole, scandals, and intrigues of people on the “Mall,” on the “Hill,” and at “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” strike weaker chords with me than most; I do not believe in cataclysms.

The un-slakeable, ravenous, yawning, media maws chew, digest, and regurgitate fragments of information into “stunning,” “breaking,” “smoking gun,” headline entertainment; all the “news” they need, to feed the needs of myriad, mewling, business advertisers.  The electronic media cloned and mutated The Inquirer to fill the chasm.

The Internet and 24/7 television formats are still only decades old and evolving.  Advertisers are still feeling out what pays and does not pay; now they use the “shotgun,” or “grenade” approach to exposure on various media.  Eventually, they will refine their choices.

Some people still read newspapers, the original portable news.  Paper print space holds the attention of a slowly dwindling population, as electronic media grow towards universal dominance.

It seems the gladiators of news and power are tireless, relentless warriors, bent on victory and domination.  The ratio of opinion, analysis, and fortune-telling to factual reports seems to be 50 to 1.  The volume of “spin” constantly expands.

The news exposes Americans to more federal government every day this battle goes on; the president does this, the congress does that, the courts intervene.

The political maelstrom over a four-page memo from a congressional committee is the latest example of excess.  The media fed us scraps of amplified innuendo, interpretation, and speculation for weeks, raising the virtual tension of the Trump-war drama.  Now, dire warnings, threats, and predictions of calamity, revenge, and retribution.

Nothing sells better than the nemesis of anger and hate.

 

Block Blockers – Two-Second Detour

I admit it. I have ADD and dyslexia, a great combination, that has actually worked in my favor. Why? I take care, when things are important, and, in the process of checking what the words might say, I find all kinds of funny versions; helps my sense of humor.

That was all well and good in the age of reading, and long attention spans. The ADD part started getting to me with animated gifs, crawling bugs on television, and sports arena advertising.  (The band of lights that circles the stadium and flashes, that’s my favorite.)  I attended an NBA game, an NHL game and several NFL games, and left dazed.  The visual and audial pollution was so great, I missed the restart of play several times.  I discovered why I prefer to watch on television.  The angle of the camera eliminates all the clutter and distractions, except the commercials, which I can control, mute, or click away.

I realize I am like a crow, one shiny piece of tin foil, and I lose whatever focus I have mustered, and shift my attention.  It also means that I cannot carry on a conversation and watch television at the same time, and I keep the captions on all the time.  Twenty minutes of commercials per hour has driven me to Netflix and Amazon videos.  (To binge is so refreshing.) (BTW:  I did not want to say “Bing”-ing, hence, “To binge.”)

Naturally, this means I take precautions when I browse the Internet. If the ads would stay still, and the videos would not auto-play, I would be fine; but they don’t. Installed ad and video blockers to save my sanity. Now, the sites are playing a no-win game of, “you can’t watch me with ad blockers on.”

Well, let’s just say, that might work with some people, but I have built up my defensive reflexes to the point that, it takes me two seconds to find another site with the same information. Maybe, the sites I bypass will learn this and not allow advertisers to put annoying distracting stuff on their pages. Maybe, they will find out that auto-play is not what literate people want. We want words in print.

My reaction is the same to the “you must subscribe or do without this knowledge” sites. The days of exclusive data are gone. I read several sources anyway, so these sites are causing me to block them altogether. For example, I block The New York Times, and read the Washington Post. Same stuff from both anyway. Forbes and Business Insider have dropped off my search list as well. I’m sure they miss me.

I really do not care if these sites change or not. I can swerve around obstacles on the Internet just as easily as missing a squirrel running across the road.

 

Happiness 2018 – A Choice?

Now it is 2018.  Are you happy?  Did you know that happiness is not for sale?  Are you aware that other people cannot “make you happy?”  You cannot find happiness, you must allow it.  You must be like a child and bring it with you.

The idea that outward events like “winning the lottery,” will “make me happy,” is a hopeful illusion, disproved by many lottery winners, who end up sad, and broke.

Edwin Arlington Robinson tells the truth about happiness in his sad poem, Richard Cory.

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
‘Good-morning,’ and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head. 

If money, beauty, and privilege do not equal happiness, then what can you do to make 2018 a wonderful happy new year?  I think it is different for everyone.  Here are twelve questions:

  1. What parts of my life work so well, I would not change them?
  2. What parts of my life do not work, get in my way, and would be good riddance?
  3. What blessings do I have that make me smile whenever I see or think of them?
  4. What is missing that would heal my pains, and fill the potholes in my heart?
  5. What powers, gifts, and talents lay fallow in the fields of my relationships?
  6. What distractions, weaknesses, and secrets keep me from what I love?
  7. Where do I take worthy risks that heal and prosper?
  8. Where do I waste my time, energy, and soul to no avail?
  9. Where do I give my love, loyalty, and time that improves lives?
  10. Where do I withhold myself from others?
  11. Who loves me graciously, even when I do not acknowledge them with gratitude?
  12. Whom do I love completely, without needing anything from them

 

  • First, ask these 12 questions, (one for each month of 2018), and list the answers.
  • Second, tell the people in your life, and ask them to help you make it so.
  • Third, offer to help them with their list too.

Be healthy, gracious, and happy all year.

 

Transgender Quandary – Trading Stereotypes

How does a person define and demonstrate their gender identity?  What does a “man” or “woman” think and feel?  Aside from media precepts and sexual preferences, what defines man and woman in our society?

The more I read about 50 kinds of Gender Dysphoria, the less I see how people are so sure they are a specific type of person.  What does it mean to “feel like a woman trapped in a man’s body?”  Sounds dissatisfied to me.  What about a woman’s body and lifestyle do they miss and want?  What about a man’s body and way of life are in the way and undesirable?  How do they want other people to treat or not treat them?

The latest descriptions of transgender include completely internal “identification.”  That means, no physical change to the body one is born with, but just feeling and acting like the gender you are/want.  Images of what is a man and what is a woman are stereotypes.  Trading and asserting stereotypes is a mental, emotional exercise that some people feel driven to do to prove who they are.  If a male wants to love another male, we have come to accept that; likewise, if a woman wants to love another woman.  Why not see this “trans” mindset for what it is: changing costumes and characters.  Hormones and surgery are the costume change; name changes and voice training are the new role.  Why are they so important?

paper hat

When I was a child, I loved to pretend I was a pirate, a cowboy, a soldier, a fireman by changing hats and voices.  I used to make an admiral’s hat by folding a newspaper.  When I put on this hat, and picked up the stick that was my sword, I was that admiral; ordering my men to fight off the pirates.  I did not insist on a real costume or a real sword; I was what I wanted to be.  After I grew up, I dubbed this the “paper hat syndrome.”  People believe they are what they portray, even when the obvious says otherwise. I still see people using this same mental trick to “be” what they want to be at work or with friends.

“Transitioning” is expensive; tens of thousands of dollars and physical trauma for surgery, lawyers, hormones, and therapy.  After all that, some men do not make attractive women; and some women do not become convincing men.  But as long they are satisfied, I am glad for them.  I hope they are not disappointed when they do not feel as different as they expected; that could be very depressing.  It might be worth some therapy to support living the way you want with the body you already have; leave the paper hat at home.

 

 

 

 

Future World – What Might We Expect?

Predictions are always wrong, because we cannot shed the context and assumptions of now.

World population is about 7 billion now.  Half (3.5 billion) can work.  Two hundred million are unemployed.  Thirty percent of workers live in poverty.  Workers in precarious jobs number 1.4 billion.  Worldwide, 65.3 million refugees.

Suppose we succeed in breaking the connection of labor to living for everyone.  What will we do?

Those who watch Star Trek have seen people with no need of money.  Gene Roddenberry ’s model of the future is one in which each person chooses what they want to do with their time, talents, and capabilities.

“Replicators” provide food, clothing, anything they want; they “disassemble” waste at the atomic level and recycle it.  “Transporters” take us where we want to go.  We will have things we have not yet imagined.   Every critical human need could be met, except purpose, love, caring for children, and worship.  What could anyone gain by military force?

replicater            transporter

The challenge will be having a purposeful life. The competition for some vocations might be intense, but no one starves or languishes in rags.  The best of the best will gain the prized positions; meritocracy must rule.  People will seek learning, practice skills, and achieve mastery because they want to.

Imagine managing your life and relationships in this environment.  Most people want to have purpose, meaning, value, and love.  How would you operate with no mandates to work?  Unless you choose what you want to do, you could become a complete, passive consumer.  Sadly, some part of the population will choose nothing, spending their days with virtual reality or whatever passive entertainment suits them.  If anyone is bored, it would be their mindset, not the lack of opportunity or shortage of possibilities.

Picture the “landscape” this produces.  Everyone who has an interest, talent, or skill is doing what they love best.  They might split their lives among various pastimes, adventures, travel, and learning.

The world will still have certain needs for real expertise, but they might be limited to high technical or medical skills, education, psychiatry, management, art, sports, and entertainment.

People will still have medical and mental problems, even when they have no pressures, because we are physical, emotional animals.  Advanced medical knowledge, technology, pharmacology, and treatments should allow doctors, nurses, and aids to handle the physical needs.

Feelings drive us.  Coaching and emotional problem management would be a need.  We might still have people born with mental or physical limitations, needing caregivers.

Manufacturing, food, transportation, and housing would all be produced by the technology.  With no scarce commodities or resources, the only conflicts would be intra-personal: love, sex, sports, politics, and religion.  These can be resolved peacefully.

Billions of people would compete for and share the remaining tasks.  Sharing makes sense, especially for the multi-talented.  Doing three or four different activities a few hours each day might be satisfying, and fun.  They might have hourly shifts around the clock to accommodate all the masters of that task or activity.  There would be standbys for every hour making “on call” the rule versus the exception.  People could choose tasks we now assign as impractical, or worthless, like the artistry and craftsmanship we admire from the past.  How long something takes to do will no longer be a factor.  The world would be art.

 

 

 

Is it Important to Know the Sources of Truth? – Henry David Thoreau, Yes and Know

quotes

Maybe it has always been this way, but why does it seem so vital to associate an insightful aphorism with a famous person?

“Truth strikes us from behind, and in the dark, as well as from before and in broad day-light.”

Who wrote this? Henry David Thoreau.  Beautiful in its truth and simplicity.  But what if some insignificant playwright put these words on Thoreau’s lips in his play?  Would it be less insightful?

There is a plague of mis-quotations, mis-attributions, and quotation mills, (e.g. brainyquotes.com) who do nothing to verify what people add to their sites.  I see these un-researched and inaccurate quotes used by people of incredible ability because the Internet makes it easy to be wrong and believe you are right.

When I first started seeing these “quotes.” and discovered how few were accurate, I spent months trying to raise the alarm about quotes attributed to Albert Einstein, Gandhi, Winston Churchill, and other notable historic figures.  Even after blazing the trail to truth, people shrugged and continued their reliance on provably unreliable websites.

One personal experience, before the current craze, happened to me in Colorado, while I was on a month-long “Chautauqua” through the Rocky Mountains.  A friendly lady gave me a bookmarker with a quotation from Henry David Thoreau.  “Many men fish all their lives without ever realizing that it is not the fish they are after.”  Very touching and insightful, but a misquote by a writer, Michael Baughman, who wrote it in his book A River Seen Right (Lyons Press, 1995) p. 156.

He apparently paraphrased something Thoreau wrote in his journal, January 26, 1853:

“It is remarkable that many men will go with eagerness to Walden Pond in the winter to fish for pickerel and yet not seem to care for the landscape. Of course, it cannot be merely for the pickerel they may catch; there is some adventure in it; but any love of nature which they may feel is certainly very slight and indefinite. They call it going a-fishing, and so indeed it is, though perchance, their natures know better. Now I go a-fishing and a-hunting every day, but omit the fish and the game, which are the least important part. I have learned to do without them. They were indispensable only as long as I was a boy. I am encouraged when I see a dozen villagers drawn to Walden Pond to spend a day in fishing through the ice, and suspect that I have more fellows than I knew, but I am disappointed and surprised to find that they lay so much stress on the fish which they catch or fail to catch, and on nothing else, as if there were nothing else to be caught.”

I wonder, if today, this aphorism captures our current, self-absorbed culture?  Maybe today, the “fishing” is taking “selfies” and exposing every aspect of people’s experience and perspective on the Internet.  They get noticed but not notorious, or famous, or even infamous.  They become suicidal when virtual phantoms express disdain and scorn.

Everybody seems to be fishing for something, but what do they really want and why?

What they may really want is proof, and acknowledgment that they exist and have a value, and a meaning.  Why do they want it?  Maybe the disintegration of family, neighborhood, community leaves a void they cannot fill.  Maybe this secular dissociation leaves people feeling empty, afraid, and alone.

Could it be that what they really want is what families and churches used to provide:  love and belonging?