Get Off My Lawn

Just scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, and occasionally Twitter…

I noticed something.

All this “gen x” “millennial” “gen y” “gen z” whatever, is —

And please listen to this:

The leveraging of your — yes, your — inevitable process of aging to create revenue for useless products and businesses.

“Gen Z thinks Gen X should stop wearing ankle socks,” and so on.

Personally, I wear the smallest, thinnest socks possible because my feet get hot.

A lot of body heat is dissipated through the feet.

I don’t give a shit what anybody from “Gen X” or “millennials” or whatever thinks about that.

I don’t wear the shortest socks possible because I care what it looks like.

I wear them because god dammit, my feet get hot.

Why in the hell should I care what someone else of any age thinks of that?

We are losing this, as a culture. This ability to elevate practicality over, well, over whatever “Gen X” and “Gen Z” is.

When I was a kid, adults didn’t give the slightest bit of a shit about what kids thought was cool.

Now, it’s like every adult is trying to cowtow to what flipping young people like.

Young people are idiots!

When did we forget that?

No disrespect meant to young people. You’re doing the best you can.

When I was your age, I was an idiot, too.

But listen to me: you don’t know shit about anything.

You’re getting a taste of it. And you’re understanding more and more every day.

It gets better. And it gets worse.

So what? That’s life.

The best part is, as long as you don’t grow old giving a shit what young people — or any people — think about you, you’re gonna wear the most comfortable goddamn socks you can get.

Get off my lawn.

You Want Fries With That?

Alright, so this is something I started thinking about a while back. And the basic idea here could probably be expanded into book length, if someone were to do the necessary research – for all I actually know, there might have been books written about this already – but the basic idea is pretty simple. 

Here’s the basic idea: capitalism and communism are not actually opposites, as common wisdom tells us. 

Let me repeat that: capitalism and communism are not actually opposites. 

I mean sure, in terms of ideological justification, they are opposite. But let’s strip away all the ideology and instead look at how these two seemingly opposed economic systems actually function, in a purely material sense. 

Capitalism, in a nutshell, functions through the accumulation and subsequent dispersion of capital. 

Some people accumulate large amounts of capital – i.e. money – through various means. 

As a sidenote, it’s important to keep ideology out of the language I use here. For example, use of the term “the free market” in place of “various means” would be borrowing an ideologically-loaded term from proponents of capitalism. Likewise, substituting “exploitation of workers” for “various means” would be borrowing a term from proponents of communism. 

To be clear, in my opinion, “various means” includes both of those terms, and both of those terms have a certain amount of validity, in terms of material reality. 

“The free market” does determine many different things, in any society with any type of market. But to be sure, there is no completely “free market” anywhere on the planet, due to the fact that people (and entities like corporations) have varying amounts of capital with which to influence the market and direct it in such a way as to benefit their interests. Nonetheless, consumer choice – what “the free market” generally refers to – does play a role in how markets turn out, even if there are a limited number of choices, and even if only a select few people and/or entities have access to this market. 

Likewise, “exploitation of workers” is, at the end of the day, what drives all profits in any economic system. Quite simply (e.g.) without workers to flip burgers and sell those burgers to customers, McDonald’s Corporation would not pull in tens of billions of dollars every year. This material fact cannot be denied, and at any rate, any objection to it is irrelevant to the overall point of this essay. 

Getting back to the point: capitalism and communism are not actually opposite, when you strip away all the ideological justification for both systems. 

And again, to repeat: in a capitalist system, some people accumulate large amounts of capital through various means. 

In a capitalist system, people and/or entities who have accumulated large amounts of capital can then invest that capital in other people and/or entities that need the capital for some purpose. 

If person A has 50 billion dollars, and person B has an idea for a business that would cost 1 million dollars, for example, person A can invest 1 million dollars to help person B get that business started. 

The machinations of the whole process (usually) involve many more people, and the accumulation of 50 billion dollars is rarely done without generational help, i.e. “old money” being passed from generation to generation. 

But in a very basic sense, person A has a lot of capital, and decides to invest it in person B’s business idea. This is always – *always* – done because person A believes they will benefit from person B’s business in some way. If not for a direct cut of profits, then as a tax write off, or simply for the satisfaction of helping someone they like succeed. There’s always an element of self-interest involved in any investment, is the point. 

So, in a very basic sense, this is how capitalism works: some people accumulate lots of capital through various means, and they distribute that capital as they see fit to other people, based on self-interest of some type. 

Ok, fine, we all know that, so what does this have to do with communism? 

Remember, for the purposes of this essay, ideological justification for both systems is irrelevant. So, this essay will briefly describe “communism” in terms of how communism has actually been implemented in the actual real world, as opposed to how “communism” has been dreamt of by leftist thinkers like Marx, Engels, et alia. 

The ideal version of communism involves the minimum amount of “exploitation of workers” and so on, but the reality of it requires a lot of actual exploitation with very little recompense. 

Workers under communism still have to work, but instead of working for a boss/company/corporation/whatever, they work for the state. 

To be clear, to my view, this is not inherently bad. But in actual fact, workers under communism have to answer to a state apparatus that determines whether their work is good enough for them to keep working, or if they should be replaced by someone else, or if their job is even necessary at all. 

The “state apparatus” consists of other people, obviously. A lot of other people. Functionaries, pencil pushers, “yes men,” economists, experts on various things, and so on, all the way up to an elite executive class of government workers, most often with a single leader at the very top who has the ultimate say-so over everyone else. 

What has become apparent to me is that this basic structure of a communist regime is not fundamentally different from the structure of a corporation. 

In the example of McDonald’s, burger flippers have to answer to store managers, who have to answer to regional managers, who get their directions from the corporate office, who base their decisions on the input of many different experts, from marketing/PR people to nutritionists to economic experts (as well as plenty of functionaries, pencil pushers, “yes men” and so on), all the way up to an elite executive class of McDonald’s employees, with a single leader – a CEO – at the very top who has the ultimate say-so over everyone else. 

To reiterate: on paper, the vision of “communism” that Marx wrote about is a (more or less) egalitarian sort of society. Everyone is assigned work based upon their natural abilities and/or interests, and nobody has enough “capital” to subjugate anyone else, enslave anyone else, etc. The whole thing was presented as a “revolution” against capitalism, empowering the working class and eliminating the bourgeoisie, and so on and so forth. 

On paper, “communism” as such does not sound all that bad. I mean, nobody likes being enslaved, subjugated, or anything like that, and (it would seem) to give everyone more or less the same amount of political and social influence would be a good thing. 

But in reality, no communist government has ever achieved anything remotely close to this. What communist governments have actually done – without exception – is produce authoritarian regimes where one person has the ultimate say-so over everything, who is supported by an elite group of executives, who follow and enforce everything the leader says, and delegate further enforcement duties to lower-level executives, who delegate enforcement duties to the next level down, until, at the very bottom, you have soldiers pointing guns at workers, who are forced to do what the soldiers tell them. 

To be sure, there are elements of communist economies (such that they are) that are not “enforced” directly by the state apparatus. But they are closely monitored by it, and prevented from gaining too much capital or influence over the economy and/or society. 

For example, under a strictly communist regime, there might be restaurants where people can exchange what little money they have for a meal, or a place to sit and talk for a while, or what have you. But these restaurants must follow strict guidelines as to what they serve, and no restaurant owner would be allowed (without government approval) to open up a second restaurant, or to sell franchise rights to somebody else, etc. 

For a capitalist example, let’s return to McDonald’s: each and every McDonald’s must abide by a strict set of guidelines as to what they can serve, how much they can charge for it, and so on. These guidelines – excluding health codes imposed by the government – come from the corporate office, and are strictly enforced, so that the McDonald’s brand and the customer experience of the brand is the more or less the same across all restaurants in the chain. A Big Mac in Hollywood tastes the same as a Big Mac in Peoria, for example. 

Since Hollywood was mentioned, I want to mention a relevant example from one of my favorite movies, “Coming To America” starring Eddie Murphy. In this movie, Murphy portrays an African prince who moves to Queens, NYC in the hopes of finding his own queen, who he can marry and return to his kingdom with. 

His love interest Lisa McDowell (portrayed by Shari Headley) is the daughter of the owner of an independent fast food restaurant called “McDowell’s” that in just about every way tries to mimic the menu and atmosphere of McDonald’s. At various points in the movie, representatives from McDonald’s try to prove that McDowell’s is infringing on their copyrights, resulting in some humorous scenes. 

Point being, in real life, you can’t just go open up your own McDonald’s and start selling Big Macs without buying franchise rights from McDonald’s corporate office, and once you do, you have to abide by their guidelines, otherwise they take away your right to sell Big Macs. 

These franchise rights are enabled and (to a degree) enforced by the government of the USA. If there were a real-life McDowell’s, McDonald’s could sue them for copyright infringement in a federal court of law. 

Re “communist restaurants,” there is an actual chain of actual restaurants called Pyeongyang, named after the capital of North Korea, and controlled by the government of North Korea. If a franchise location fails to adhere to the strict guidelines for these restaurants, the restaurant will be shut down. 

Similarly, if a McDonald’s franchise fails to adhere to the strict guidelines set out by McDonald’s corporate office, that franchise will be shut down. 

“So,” you may or may not be asking, “what exactly are you trying to say here?”

To answer that, what I am saying (to repeat) is that capitalism and communism are not actually opposite systems. And to explain that statement a little further, what I am saying is that capitalism and communism are – in material reality – two forms of the same system. 

In a nutshell, modern capitalism has evolved to the point where a relatively small number of corporations more or less own and control most aspects of the economy. At this point in history, it’s pretty much impossible to participate in the economy without interacting with corporations at every level of the economy. 

To be clear, I’m not saying this is inherently bad, or that we should abolish corporations, or anything like that. I am just saying that a relatively small number of corporations more or less own and control most aspects of the economy. 

As mentioned, these corporations are run in a “top-down” fashion, with a CEO at the top and workers at the bottom. 

Likewise, communist economies are also run in a “top-down” fashion, with a “great leader” at the top and workers at the bottom.

The chief difference is – as I see it – that in communist economies, there is essentially one “corporation” running everything, that “corporation” being of course the government. 

Modern capitalist economies have multiple corporations vying for influence, is the chief difference as I see it. But as time wears on, and corporations merge and take over each other, the number of corporations vying for influence will grow smaller and smaller. Eventually – it would seem – it’s possible that one corporation will own and control all the other corporations. 

And if that should happen, what then would be different about this (imagined) future single-corporation capitalist economy and any communist economy that has ever existed? 

Of course, there’s no way to know. Maybe an all-encompassing single corporation would not be as strict as a communist dictatorship. After all, the CEO and executive class of this capitalist corporation got their position through “the free market” and the subsequent accumulation of capital, and so on, whereas communist executives got their positions through non-democratic appointment, or (as is the case with the Kim dynasty in North Korea, for example), through being born into power.

What I have come to realize is that while “money” is the predominant form capital takes in a capitalist economy, and while communist economies limit the ability of individuals and/or non-governmental entities to accumulate enough capital in the form of money to threaten the state’s grip on the economy — read that again if necessary — communist economies/states nonetheless function using another form of capital: social influence.

Whether it’s being born into leadership, or brown-nosing one’s way into a position of power, this “social influence,” I suggest, is, in essence, a form of capital.

To be sure, in a communist system, certain people do ascend the sociological ladder based on their actual knowledge and/or ability. Scientists, doctors, and so on most definitely are chosen for positions based on their abilities.

But this knowledge and ability (also a form of capital, I would argue) only goes so far: if the most knowledgeable scientist in a communist regime speaks against the great leader or his “executives,” this scientist can be sent to the gulag or executed. For example.

Likewise, if someone at SpaceX were to (for example) say “Elon Musk is a grifter and a charlatan,” regardless of this person’s ability, they would not be working at SpaceX much longer. 

The similarities don’t end there. Many corporations have maintained genealogical dynasties across generations, just like the Kims in North Korea. And just like the Kims (presumably) many promotions and appointments within these entirely capitalist corporations have been made based on friendships, loyalties, and other forms of “social capital” that have nothing to do with actual ability.

And again, I am not saying this is inherently bad, or even unfair. I am just saying that “social capital” can be accumulated and cashed in on (so to speak) in both capitalist and communist systems.

Looked at in this light, “communism” as it has existed in material reality is not a “revolution” as such against capitalism, it has merely been a restructuring of it. 

The proclaimed purpose of the “revolution” is to liberate the worker from an entrenched social hierarchy that exploits labor; the reality of the “revolution” is an even more deeply entrenched social hierarchy that also exploits labor, often to much more extreme ends.

And “capital” per se has not been eliminated under real-world communism, it’s just been transmuted into a form that’s much more difficult to obtain. 

So, in short, my assertion here is that communism is not fundamentally different from capitalism at all, it’s just another form of it. To reiterate, the accumulation of “capital” is still a fundamental part of how communism actually works, it’s that the “capital” is social influence as opposed to money. 

Anyway, that’s what I have been thinking about lately. Thank you for reading.

It’s Just The Way This Stuff Is Done

To remind: re the designation of this post as “philosophy,” I am not a philosopher. “Philosophy” just sounded smarter to me than “Musings” or “Thoughts” or whatever. But at the same time, my own “personal philosophy” or whatever you want to call it also plays a big role in the content of these posts, so various philosophical ideas may or may not be apparent in some or all of these posts, to people familiar with those ideas.

Or, maybe not. It’s possible that my own personal interpretations of various philosophical ideas are wrong, and that these philosophies were (possibly) misunderstood by me and misapplied by me. And if that’s the case, I say so be it. 🙂

At any rate, this post is based in personal experience, and it can be applied in a wide variety of situations. It’s not rooted specifically in one philosophy or religious tradition, but what I feel to be the “spirit” of the idea is present in several philosophies as well as religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and probably Islam too, I am just not as well-versed in the texts related to Islam as I am in the other 3 religions I mentioned here.

But instead of quoting scriptures, I will just get to the point: in life, you will occasionally find yourself in a situation where you want to say something or do something in retaliation for what somebody else has said about you or done to you.

The point of this post is to tell you that retaliation is most likely not going to help you in any tangible way. So, this post is somewhere in the philosophical area of “turn the other cheek,” but it isn’t quite that radical. I advocate hitting back, I mean. 🙂

At the same time, I know (from experience) that there are people in the world who will hit you, just so they can run tell the teacher when you hit them back.

So to speak. 🙂

And the thing about these people is, the teacher’s gonna believe them, because for one they’ve been kissing her ass all year, and for two, they’re gonna tell every kid they see in the hallway on the way to the teacher that you hit them, and by the time the teacher hears about it, all the other kids are pointing their fingers at you.

So, if you find yourself in a situation where you want to retaliate, first consider the very real possibility that the other person wants you to retaliate. So they can run tell the teacher about the horrible thing you did to them or said to them that wasn’t half as bad as what they did or said to you.

Why do people do stuff like that? Who knows. Another thing you should know is that wondering why people do stuff like that is also a waste of time, generally speaking. They just do.

What can you do about it? Nothing.

That’s right: do nothing. They are trying to start a fire. Don’t give them any fuel and they can’t start one. 🙂


I am not, by nature, optimistic. But I am not entirely pessimistic, either.

You know the old “glass half empty/glass half full” thing? It’s usually understood to mean that if you see the glass as half full, you are an optimist, and if you see it as half empty, you are a pessimist.

I don’t think this is as clear-cut as it appears: if my glass of water is half-empty, and I recognize it as being half-empty, well, that implies that I want to refill it.

And if I want to refill it, that implies that I believe it can be refilled.

It is not pessimistic to want more of something good.

So without further abstract bullshit, here is my hope for the new year:

I hope that you – if you haven’t already – figure out that people that are different than you are not a threat to you just because they are different.

They are just people.

Other than a few superficial details, they are exactly like you.

I hope that you – if you haven’t already – realize this.

This is my hope for the new year.

Am I optimistic about this hope? Well, the way I look at it, if tolerance and empathy for other humans could be described using the “glass half empty/glass half full” metaphor, the glass is half-empty.

Which means, I believe it can be refilled.

Will you help refill it?

I hope so. 🙂

Thank you for reading.


For today’s post, the first one in a while, I am going to write a little about one of my favorite things ever written. This bit of writing was originally in Japanese, so there are a couple different translations for the title. The book where I first read it has “Mountains and Waters Sutra” as the title, but I have also found it online as “Mountains and Waters Discourse“.

At any rate, the original title is 山水經, pronounced in English “Sansui kyō,” which literally translates to something along the lines of “Mountain Water Sutra” or “Mountain Water Scripture” or “Mountain Water Classic Work,” so anyways it’s about mountains and waters. It was written by a Zen monk named Dogen some time in the 13th century. According to the source I got this from, this text is part of Dogen’s principal work, “Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma,” or as it was originally titled, “正法眼蔵(Shōbōgenzō)”.

At any rate, I like this text quite a lot. And I intend to at least attempt to describe why I like it so much, but I am not sure if I will be able to actually do so. A lot of it does not make literal sense, I mean, and furthermore, part of what I like about it is that it doesn’t make literal sense. Ergo any attempt to explain it may result in ruining the experience for another reader.

How can mountains walk? As I am not myself a mountain, I can’t really say.

Subjectivity is the text’s main theme, I would venture, though I am not sure Dogen would agree. At any rate, this is a picture of one of my all-time favorite kitties, Waymus Jaymus.

View this post on Instagram

Good kitty.

A post shared by Michael Walker (@mnwalke) on

I began writing this article over a month ago. I first got the idea to write it before that.

My original intent was to simply type out the text and add footnotes wherever I felt like it, explaining my interpretation of each paragraph. I had some difficulty with the HTML code necessary for this to work, so I ended up abandoning the project for a while.

When I finally came back to it a little over a month ago, I ended up only having a short amount of time to work on it because of other engagements. But I decided to work in something about how Waymus Jaymus likes to get up on my shoulders with the line about how soaring is always done freely in the mountains…

And anyways she does like to do that a lot, but unfortunately for her (and for me), she can only do that when it’s cold outside, and I’ve got on at least a couple layers of clothing. When I’m just in a t-shirt (as I generally am during warm weather, unless I go shirtless, of course), her claws dig in too much to my shoulders, and I have to make her get down.

I was discussing this with her this past Friday. I mean I know she didn’t really know what I was talking about, but I had her in my lap Friday evening, and I said to her something like “It won’t be long til I’m wearing more clothes, kitty, and you can get up on my shoulders again.” And to repeat, I know she didn’t actually understand what I was saying, but she purred and stuff, and after a few minutes, she hopped out of my lap, and I went inside.

I woke up around 4 am Saturday morning. That’s not all that unusual: I usually get up around 4 am during the week, but I do tend to sleep in until around 7 or 8 on Saturdays.

Anyways, like usual, after I got up, I went outside to feed the kitties… and I immediately noticed that Waymus didn’t come to eat with the other kitties. Which again, not unusual… sometimes she hangs out on her own for a while before she comes in.

But anyways, something told me to go look for her.

It was dark, so I couldn’t see outside of the old horse stall where I feed the cats. I turned on my phone’s flashlight and stepped out into the darkness, and about 8 feet from the entrance/exit to the horse stall, there was Waymus Jaymus, lying on the ground. She was meowing like she was in pain.

I reached down to pet her and discovered that she was mostly paralyzed. She could move around a little, but she couldn’t stand up or walk. And her eyes were wide open, and they appeared to be dilated.

It took me about 2 seconds to deduce that she had most likely been bitten by a snake. As this realization was a bit shocking to me, I had to go sit down and think for a minute.

I did some research with my phone and discovered that antivenin is pretty damn expensive, something like $500 a vial, and that a vet visit for a venomous snake bite could run upwards of $2000.

I also discovered that it takes a while for venom to get into a cat’s (or a dog’s, or a human’s) system, and that a cat might not exhibit any symptoms immediately following a snakebite, but some time later would start to experience paralysis, pain, and so on.

Which meant that Way Jaymus had most likely been bitten at least an hour or so before I ever found her.

Anyways, the optimal treatment in this case would have been immediately rushing her to the vet, paying however much it cost to get her some antivenin… and hoping for the best. Antivenin is not a guaranteed cure in all cases, especially when the venom has had time to get into the animal’s system.

But that would have been the best course of action. There were only two problems: the first problem was that I didn’t have $2000. And the second problem was that it was a little after 4 am on a Saturday morning, and the earliest any vet clinic around here opens on Saturday is 7:30.

So all things considered, I prepared myself for the worst possible outcome: that little Way Jaymus, one of my favorite kitties of all time, was going to die.

For the record, the feeling of impotence right then, that came with knowing that I didn’t have the money to get her optimal treatment, combined with knowing that optimal treatment wouldn’t have been available even if I had the money… well, it wasn’t a pleasant feeling.

I resolved to make her as comfortable as I could. I got a cardboard box out of the recycling pile, put some towels in the bottom of it and draped up the sides, and carefully put the mostly paralyzed kitty in the box. For the time being I left it on the ground next to where I found her.

As a sidenote, the articles I was finding online about cats getting bitten by snakes mentioned seeing blood on or near the cat from the bite wound. I didn’t see any blood on the ground, and feeling around on little Waymus’ fur, I didn’t find any matted blood.

So I felt a little hope, because if she had been bitten by a snake (and I am still about 99% sure that’s what happened), it was either a shallow bite or a bite from a small snake. Make no mistake, small venomous snakes can be deadly, it’s just that I was looking for every ray of hope I could find, and the fact that I didn’t see a big bite wound anywhere on her was a ray of hope, however dim.

So anyways, by about 4:30 or a little after, Waymus Jaymus was in a box stuffed with towels. I mention the time again because to repeat, even if I had had the money for antivenin, it would have been 7:30 before I could get her to a vet. And by then, if the bite was going to be fatal, the antivenin might not work anyway.

At any rate, every article I read said that other than taking her to a vet for antivenin, there was really nothing I could do to help her, other than to put her somewhere comfortable and preferably dark. And it was still dark outside, so I decided to do more research on my phone.

She was meowing a lot, and she was obviously in a lot of pain. For the next couple of hours, all I could do was sit there and hope she didn’t die. She didn’t, but things weren’t looking promising. Around 7 or so, after she had been through the worst part of the pain, from what I could tell, I picked up her box and put it in the hay barn, up off the ground and behind a gate, so no dogs could come along and bother her.

I hung around for a while, but seeing as how there was nothing I could do, and seeing as how I was tired from being stressed, I went back to bed for a couple hours.

When I got back up, probably around noon, I went to check on her. I was a bit upset to see her out of her box, back on the ground in the horse stall. She had mustered up enough energy to get out of the box, but not enough to get completely out of the horse stall.

I carefully put her back in her box (“carefully” because she acted like she might bite or claw me), and thankfully she stayed put that time.

The next morning, Sunday, she was in her box when I got up, and she was acting like she felt a little better, which I was glad about. There was one slight problem: I had her box in the same place I feed the cats, so I had to move it…

And after I moved her box, she sat still and let me pet her a little…

But then she got restless. She got up, got out of the box, and since I was just glad she was walking again (however wobbly), I let her walk around, and after a couple attempts of walking off into the woods (I don’t think she could see where she was going; I hope that isn’t permanent), she walked probably around 20 feet from where her box was sitting and crawled under some t posts that have been laid across a block of wood long enough for grass to grow around them and make them difficult to pick up. Waymus Jaymus crawled under there like she was crawling into a little cave.

And yes, I am aware that snakes like to curl up in little cubbyhole type places like that. At any rate, there weren’t any snakes in this little cubbyhole Waymus found, so I left her alone for the most part. She stayed there most of the day Sunday… it rained a little, but she didn’t get wet. I was hoping that if any water did drip through, she’d drink it… she hadn’t had any food or water in over a day at this point. I left her a little dish of water, and I think she drank some of it, but if she did she didn’t drink much.

She finally came out from under there when I whistled to indicate it was feeding time yesterday evening… but she didn’t eat more than a bite or two.

Same deal this morning, although she seems to be feeling a lot better. She wasn’t in her box when I first went to check on her, she was elsewhere in the shed, I guess roaming around. She was still a little wobbly this morning… here’s hoping she’ll eat more for supper tonight.

I really hope she pulls through. I think she will, but I don’t know for sure.

Here’s hoping, I guess. I will update this later, and maybe even write about what the post is supposed to be about, instead of about the kitty I added a pic of…

She’s a good kitty.

(And she’s fine now. Sorry it took me a while to add that.)

At any rate, since deciding to write this post, I have thought about the Mountains and Waters Sutra/Discourse quite a lot, and my interpretation of it has changed some.

For the record, I think this is inevitable: the text itself defies easy explanation, or at least explanation that narrows the meaning of it down to any one thing. As I mentioned above somewhere, my interpretation is not the only one.

But the past few times I have sat down to do this, one phrase from the text keeps popping into my head:

“The Buddha ancestors’ words point to walking.”

And I go for a walk instead of typing.

Gonna do that now, I think.

Be back later.


I am just gonna come right out and say it: I am a pretty big fan of “The Big Bang Theory.” People bash that show a lot, and often with good reason… but so what? I like it. It isn’t the greatest TV series of all time or anything, but it’s a funny enough show, and I like the characters (and even relate to them on occasion), so I like it.

At the very least, “The Big Bang Theory” hasn’t slowly morphed into a running political commentary nobody asked for, one that doesn’t even realize how far right of center its politics are, where every other joke positively oozes with unacknowledged privilege… at least not yet. That isn’t to say that I am necessarily repelled by TV shows and movies that are infused with political messages that often go unnoticed by casual viewers, because I’m definitely not… I guess I am just saying that I am glad “The Big Bang Theory” isn’t (intentionally) political, because if it were, I would probably not like it as much as I do.

But I am not here to talk about TV and movies I like or don’t like (or wax pseudo-intellectual about “liking” or “not liking”), I am here to talk about why I quit Facebook again .

And yes, it’s partially because a good 50% of what I’ve been doing there lately is read about TV shows and crap. The other 50% is split between being genuinely amazed and awed at the level of myopic egomania from folks who have convinced themselves that they are guided solely by “reason” simply because they reject religion and people virtually shouting at each other over politics.

Before I go on, I should say here that I have a great many things in common with the online atheist community. For example, I agree 100% that religion has no place in government, and that science education should not be compromised in any way because of anyone’s religious beliefs. To their credit, nobody in this loosely-organized online community disagrees with these ideas.

But there’s definitely a lot of disagreement in this community… and a lot of it is pretty silly, in my opinion. Many of the best things in life, like it or not, are completely irrational. Love, for one. Whether it’s a sad little crush yours truly still clings to, or the desire to legally bind yourself to one sexual partner for life (at least nominally), “love” doesn’t exactly make rational sense, if you think about it very much.

That’s not to say science can’t “explain” what “love” is. It can, or at least it can in a post hoc sense. I.e. science (ideally) can tell you after the fact *why* you’re attracted to this or that person (a lot of it depends on personality types), and it can predict to some degree which type of person you’ll be attracted to, but it can’t really predict which individual/s you’ll “fall in love” with.

Some scientists readily acknowledge things like this. Others don’t.

Some of them even attempt to correlate “science” with the way they treat other people. For many people in this online community, “political correctness” is somehow antithetical to science. If you discourage the use of slurs and epithets, these people believe, then you are (somehow) moving society backward instead of forward.

This online community is essentially a self-contained group of like-minded people, agreeing with each other and excluding alternative points of view. Which is fine, in my opinion… but somewhat ironically, this group doesn’t really seem to realize that it functions this way.

And if you mention anything about systemic racism to them, they’ll shout at you about “identity politics” until their political views become very hard to distinguish from the views of hardcore religious people.

And I don’t mean to disparage religious people. Some of my all-time favorite people are/were very religious.

Likewise, some of my all-time favorite people are/were hardline atheists. I just find it kinda hilarious when they mock things they don’t really even have the faintest grasp of, and their only argument is “I’m an atheist, so that means I know stuff.”

But I don’t want to waste this entire post griping. Or pretending that I (as in yours truly) am not (often) the instigator of the “virtual shouting” over politics mentioned before. And I can be a bit of a smartass when it comes to political stuff, though I generally at least attempt to be civil.

Fat *@#$in’ lot of good that does, tho. 🙂 It’s more fun to be a smartass, even when I am doing so rather obliquely.

It’s more fun than writing about depressing stuff like suicide, at any rate. Or birthday messages to myself, or uber-tedious attempts at philosophizing or clarifying said tedious attempts

It’s more fun to crack jokes. Even when (especially when?) people don’t realize they’re jokes.

Anyways, I quit Facebook for a while. Big whoop.


Hello internet. Again. 🙂


Just in case you’re part of the 99.999% of all humans who have never read anything from my blog before, allow me to take you on a brief tour:

There are (currently) five major categories of articles (Books, Humor, Movies/TV, Philosophy, and Politics), although there is significant carry-over from one category to the other. Some of the “humor” articles have political references, some of the “politics” articles have jokes, etc.

Also, it should be noted that “Philosophy” is more or less my default category. I used it in place of “Musings” or something, I suppose, and many of the articles in that category are just me rambling about whatever happened to be on my mind at the time. You may have noticed that this article is categorized as “Philosophy,” well, that’s just my go-to category.

I am not a philosopher, is what I am telling you. And I don’t really have a well-defined “personal philosophy,” but it’s somewhere along the materialist spectrum, though I am not sure exactly where.

Perhaps you can tell me… here are a couple of “musings” I wrote that at least use the word “materialism” in them:

Here’s the first one…

And here’s the second one.

Moving on, my “personal philosophy” also includes a heaping dose of nihilism, but I would not describe myself as a “nihilist” per se. I.e. I agree that morality and “meaning” and that sort of thing are not an intrinsic part of human existence, but that is not (is *not*) to say that I don’t place any value on morality, nor do I contend that life has no meaning.

On the contrary, I contend that morality and “meaning” are two of the most valuable things about life as a human, it’s just that each individual person has to work those things out for themselves. People aren’t born with moral values encoded into their DNA, I mean. Morals are things people are taught by other people, and they vary significantly from culture to culture and person to person.

My own sense of morality was taught to me by my parents, grandparents, other relatives, friends, and so on as a child. And after that, by various books I’ve read, TV shows and movies I have watched, people I have interacted with from different backgrounds than mine, and even through music I listen to.

That particular song (click the link in the previous paragraph) helped me distill my own sense of morality down to one question, one I ask myself whenever I consider any issue, whether it’s a political issue or whether it’s something mundane, like whether to kill a non-poisonous spider I find in the house or just catch it and take it outside. That question is, quite simply:

“Does this cause harm?”

In the case of a non-poisonous spider coming into my house, the spider itself is not causing any harm, beyond giving me a temporary surprise/scare when I first see it. But ignoring it could lead to a spider infestation in my house, which could potentially be harmful… or at least gross.

So, the way I see it, this non-poisonous spider is not causing any harm now, but just leaving it alone *could* cause harm later. So naturally, I want to get rid of the spider.

So what should I do? I see two options:

1. Squash the spider.

2. Catch the spider (these things work amazingly well, btw) and take it outside.

Both of these options eliminate the potential harm of a spider infestation, but are both of these options harmless?

No. Option 1 snuffs out the life of a harmless spider, who didn’t do anything other than startle me. Option 2 gives that spider a chance to set up shop elsewhere and perform its tiny little spider function of catching and eating insects, who, unlike the harmless spider, may end up biting me.

So squashing the spider directly harms the spider, and has the potential to harm me. There’s no way I know of to calculate the actual odds that a spider I don’t squash will end up catching a mosquito (e.g.) that would end up biting me (those odds are pretty low, I would imagine), nonetheless, that spider can’t catch anything if I squash it. And mosquitoes carry diseases, in case you forgot.

As a matter of fact, I caught the non-lethal strain of malaria from a Korean mosquito years ago. Needless to say, it was not a pleasant experience. Maybe I will tell you about it some time. 🙂

So anyways, I generally try not to squash spiders that aren’t harmful to humans. Though I don’t hold anything against anyone who does, for the record.

Getting back to the point, my “philosophy” posts aren’t always about philosophy. But I like to at least tell myself that my own “personal philosophy” bleeds through, and that the reader will at least get some semblance of it as they read. The things I write about are meaningful to me, and hopefully they’ll find their way to at least a reader or two who can also derive some meaning from them.

Back to my flirtations with nihilism: the things that I find “meaningful” are only “meaningful” because I find meaning in them. On some level or other, I choose to assign “meaning” to them, or else they remind me of other things or people that have given my life meaning.

I regret that I can’t write the previous paragraph any better than that. I am not a philosopher, to repeat yet again.

I’m not a bad cook, though.

And since this particular aspect of my personal philosophy is also political, now is the perfect time to mention that I am also a feminist, and as I mention in the linked article, I don’t ever expect anyone to talk me out of that, though you are welcome to try.

For all practical purposes, I am a Democrat. In my personal life, I definitely have libertarian leanings, but I do not support the Libertarian Party in any way, shape, or form. (See here and here.)

That second article is one that could fit into the “humor” category (unless you support the Libertarian Party, I guess), but none of that stuff is inaccurate. Exaggerated a little, maybe (*maybe*), but not inaccurate.

And yeah yeah yeah, I know: not everybody who votes Libertarian just does it because they want “legal weed” or whatever. But there are a great many Libertarian voters who were attracted to the party because of things like that who don’t realize that the LP’s economic policies are further to the right than those of the GOP.

And just in case you didn’t realize this, DEMOCRATS are responsible for marijuana decriminalization, nine times out of ten. Gary Johnson’s medical marijuana initiatives in New Mexico were significant, but that goofy-looking SOB is also a big supporter of private prisons, which incarcerate thousands and thousands (and thousands and thousands) of non-violent pot offenders.

So yeah, I am a Democrat. And I am all for legal weed, for the record. And yeah, I have something of a personal vendetta against the Libertarian Party: they tricked me into supporting them briefly a few years ago. I went around telling people I was a “Libertarian” without really looking into their actual platform, and I am willing to bet there are a lot of people like that.

As to the Green Party, strictly going on ideology, I am probably a little more closely aligned to them than I am the Democratic party. But I can’t support them in good conscience because, quite simply, they have no chance whatsoever of making any sort of actual impact on the nation… other than (like the LP) taking votes away from Democrats.

Here’s another key aspect of my “personal philosophy”:

Ideology < practicality.

For example, the Green Party and I would both like to see single-payer universal healthcare become a reality in the USA. The Green Party and I agree that the ACA is far from ideal, in that it maintains a largely unnecessary (and arguably parasitic) corporate entrenchment in people’s lives.

Ideologically, the Green Party and I agree on the healthcare issue. But practically speaking, the ACA enabled millions of people in the USA to get healthcare when they had been denied it before. And practically speaking, for me to vote Green in the last election would have put those people’s healthcare in jeopardy, simply because a vote for the Green party would have been ipso facto a vote against whichever major party ended up losing the election.

Let me explain that:

There were four candidates in the 2016 election. Only two of those candidates (Trump and Clinton) ever had any chance of winning. I know that, you know that, and every American voter with any connection to reality knows that.

But before I start ranting and raving like my cousin Ronald, let me just provide a graph with 2016 election data and go from there.

President Trump got 46.4% of the popular vote. Clinton got 48.5% of the popular vote. Trump won because of how the electoral college works.

Just for the record, no, I am not going to blame third party voters for Trump’s victory, even though I am well aware of the results of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, and possibly other states that went to Trump by a narrow margin, where that margin was smaller than the percentage of third party voters. Johnson got way more votes than Stein in all those states, and to assume a Libertarian Party supporter would vote Democrat over Republican is a seriously misguided assumption. LP economic policies are not all that different from Trump’s, whether Libertarian voters like it or not.

As a sidenote, pay attention to how my “ideology < practicality” statement is essentially reversed in that article; i.e. the author admits that LP goals are being realized under Trump but insists that his personal ideology insulates him from being compared to Trump, and that simply because the author defines Trump as “aggressive,” that means he can’t be a Libertarian. But I will save that rant for another post. 🙂

Getting back to numbers, let’s ignore the electoral college for now and just think about a hypothetical election with four candidates, one where two of the candidates have no chance whatsoever of winning. For convenience’ sake, let’s just say that there are only 100 voters voting in this election, and we’ll round off Trump’s percentage to 46 and Clinton’s to 49. The remaining 5 votes will be split between the other two candidates. And just to avoid confusion (since the winner of the popular vote in 2016 isn’t President), let’s just call the candidates A, B, C, and D.

Follow me? OK:

Candidate A has 49 votes. Candidate B has 46 votes. Nobody has voted for C or D yet, let’s say, but the five people who haven’t voted haven’t decided who they will vote for, and none of those 5 voters wants to vote for A or B. All 100 people are required to vote in this scenario.

Assuming that the 5 remaining voters vote for candidate C or D, candidate A will win the election. And while those 5 votes were made with the intent of supporting candidate C or D (and made in good faith), the practical effect of those votes is to support candidate A’s victory.

It’s not quite the same as “support,” but it isn’t quite the same as non-support, either. If, hypothetically, candidate B is ideologically closer to candidate C or D, supporters of candidate C or D *could* have voted for candidate B, and thereby put a candidate in office that would support at least *some* of the things they cared about.

Look, I apologize for going on and on about this. If it wasn’t something that happens over and over again in presidential elections in this country, I wouldn’t flipping have to keep going on and on about it.

The sad truth of the matter is that *if* Donald Trump is still President in 2020 (and he probably will be) and *if* he runs for re-election (and he probably will), chances are he’s going to win.

I am basing that assumption on the fact that Republican voters vote Republican no matter what…

And also on the fact that “the left” is hopelessly divided in this country.

And during that election, there *will* be third party candidates, and they *will* be telling you, the voter, to “vote your conscience” when you go into the polls.

I would absolutely encourage you to do exactly that, with one addendum:

Voting third party (i.e. supporting a candidate with no chance of winning) in an important election, one that will have a huge impact upon the nation, is not “voting your conscience.”

It’s voting your ego.

Yuh-huh, it is, too.

And that’s all I am going to say about that right now.

Moving on:

To say that I have a weird sense of humor would be an understatement. I mean that sincerely. I have been told I have a “dry” sense of humor many times in my life, and more than one person has compared me to Stephen Wright, though that’s more due to my general low-key demeanor than anything else. (He’s way funnier than me, is what I am telling you.)

Anyways, I find funny what I find funny. I think this is hilarious, and I think the same thing about this.

You may not find either of those things funny… and if you don’t SCREW YOU!

(That was a joke. Humor is subjective. Tee-hee.)

Moving on to “Books”:

I haven’t written as much in this category as I should have. I spend more time than I should watching TV and playing on the internet, and not enough time reading books. Nonetheless, every now and then I guess that’s a good thing. Or maybe it’s not. I still haven’t written part one of this series, which is going to be me reviewing a novel I wrote.

Yep, I wrote a novel. You ought to check it out; it’s pretty good, if I do say so myself.

And on to the last category, probably my personal favorite category, “Movies/TV”.

The last couple entries in this category have been a little haphazard. But there are a couple I really like, such as this one about M*A*S*H and also this one about a Korean monster movie with political overtones.

My next “Movies/TV” post will (tentatively) be an informal Marxist critique of the Canadian comedy series Trailer Park Boys. Emphasis on “informal”.

And before anyone who didn’t click the “Marxist critique” hyperlink in the last paragraph gets confused, no, I am not a communist. All I plan to do regarding Trailer Park Boys is take a largely superficial look at the socioeconomic aspects of the show, how Ricky, Julian, and Bubs et alia function in the arguably minarchist environment of Sunnyvale Trailer Park, and how Sunnyvale relates to the rest of Canada, etc.

It’s going to be fun… at least for me, ha ha.

And if anybody is wondering why I intend to inject politics into an awesome and funny show like Trailer Park Boys, first of all, I am not injecting or otherwise putting politics into anything. Politics are already there, I just intend to take a look at them and tell you what I see.

Everything is political, on one level or another. Including apathy toward politics.

So anyways, thanks for reading, and I hope to see you in the comments section. For the record, I allow all comments from actual people. I delete spambot comments, but I allow literally everything else, including personal insults against me.

So… if you read something here that just really makes you mad, don’t hesitate to say so.

Have fun!


So, in my most recent blog post, I sort of obliquely discussed the philosophy of materialism.

I would have to do more research to confirm this, but the type of “materialism” I was referring to in that post most resembles dialectical materialism, but I am not confident that I would necessarily agree with everything in that particular philosophy.

In fact, what I am talking about might better be described as physicalism rather than materialism. I am honestly not sure.

At any rate, what I was (and am) talking about is the idea that everything in the universe is explainable through “material” or “physical” terms. And yes, that includes all types of “spiritual” and/or “supernatural” experiences.

My use of “quotation marks” there should not be misconstrued as reductive. I am not trying to delegitimize anyone’s subjective experiences, nor am I trying to say that things like religion and “spirituality” are useless.

On the contrary, I think both of those things can have an enormously positive effect on people at the individual level, and as long as religious people don’t try to force any of their views on other people, and as long as those views don’t oppress anyone within the religious group in any way, I have no problem whatsoever with anyone’s religious views.

Religion (and membership in any other sort of ideologically-based group) provides its adherents with a sense of community, a common set of values and beliefs, and so on. To repeat, I think that membership in such groups can have an enormously positive effect on people at the individual level. And heck, it can have an enormously positive effect at the group level, also…

Have you ever heard anyone say (or have you ever said), “I want to feel like I am part of something bigger than myself”?

That feeling, I would venture, is one that is common across all religious and/or ideologically-based groups. It’s also, I would venture, a feeling that is common to all (or at least most) human beings. The desire to feel connected to something or someone outside of and separate to one’s own physical self.

I certainly have this desire. And I have come to realize that my relatively recent (like in the past few years, I mean) attraction to various strains of materialism is a product of that desire.

This may not be immediately apparent — it wasn’t immediately apparent to me, at least — based on that last post I wrote. Someone could easily read that post as “human beings are just physical things, thoughts and emotions are just the result of physical processes, nothing means anything, we’re all gonna die” and not see anything more than that. That’s my fault; actually after publishing that post I remembered that I didn’t post it last July because it might be interpreted like that, and I didn’t quite know how to articulate how and why I didn’t intend for it to be interpreted that way.

I am not sure I can articulate it now, but I am gonna try:

I think it goes back to a phase I went through a decade or more ago when I was fascinated with transcendentalism, specifically its attempts to integrate/appropriate various spiritual traditions into one philosophy. This led me to Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, though only in a philosophical/intellectual sort of way. I never converted to anything — in “the anthropological sense,” I remain a Southern Baptist — but philosophically (and more importantly, politically), I have very little in common with most Southern Baptists, beyond “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Anyways, I have personal views and beliefs that prevent me from being able to honestly say that I adhere to 100% to any of the various philosophies and/or religions I have listed so far. I don’t quite “belong” in any of those groups.

That’s not me trying to prove I am special, or that the objections I have to various aspects of these philosophies and/or religions make me “unique” or something. I am just relating to you, the reader, that I don’t feel especially “connected” to any ideologically based group… although I am certainly “more connected” to some than I am to others.

So, what’s a person to do, once he (or she) has explored various philosophies, gone by various labels (I used to tell people I was a “Taoist,” for example), and subsequently found that he (or she) doesn’t quite “belong” in any of them completely?

Especially when this person acknowledges fully that he (or she) *wants* to belong to a group, because as mentioned above, group membership can have an enormously positive effect on one’s life?

Should he or she start (or join) a group of philosophical misfits, whose only reason for belonging to the group is that they don’t belong in any other group? Sure, one *could* do that…

Or, one could attempt to do what I am attempting to do, though I admittedly am not doing a very good job of explaining what I am trying to do: put every philosophy and every religion under one umbrella.

I wish I were able to articulate it better than that, but alas, I’m not. Let me try again:

The desire to feel connected to something larger than oneself can be satisfied (or perhaps “realized”) without even bothering to join any group. (And yes, I borrowed this idea from someone else.)

You *already are* part of something larger than yourself. You are part of the whole of humanity. You are a member of a species that inhabits the planet Earth, which is part of a solar system, which is part of a galaxy, which is part of the universe… which may be only one of many universes.

You are part of that. The process that produced lil’ ol’ you began around 13.8 billion years ago. It will keep going a looooooong time after you’re gone. After I’m gone; after everyone currently living is gone.

At any rate, that’s what sits at the heart of my own personal attraction to materialism: the desire to feel “connected.”

Does that make *any* sense whatsoever? Honest question.


*and what it can’t describe yet will probably be described at some point in the future, assuming humanity doesn’t destroy itself first.

Hi there.

If you’ve read my blog at all, like pretty much any post, you already know that my approach to blogging is haphazard at best.

And if you haven’t, i.e. if this is the first of my I don’t even know how many posts you’ve taken a gander at, well, you’re about to find that out.

Here is what is happening right now:

My brain is sending bioelectric impulses to my spinal cord, which provides a pathway through the muscles of my arms to my fingers.

These impulses compel my fingers to strike the keys on my keyboard.

The muscles in my hands and fingers have been trained by decades of interaction with QWERTY-arranged keyboards so that it is not strictly necessary for me to look at the keyboard while I am typing.

Most of that last sentence was typed without looking. I did have to fix a couple typos, but I did so without looking for the “backspace” button. And I did involuntarily glance at the keyboard a couple or three times, despite making a concerted effort not to.

Why? Because my eyes have become accustomed to glancing down at the keyboard.

That is to say, the muscles that control my eye movements have become accustomed thusly.

But back to the keyboard: after my fingertips strike the keys, the mechanism under each key sends a signal through my computer, and for every letter I type (and for every punctuation mark I type), the corresponding character appears on my screen.

When I click “save draft” (as I just did a few seconds ago), what I have typed is recorded onto a hard drive connected to the WordPress server, the exact location of which is unknown to me.

After I finish and publish this blog post, and you (whoever you are) read it, your computer, tablet, or smartphone will have sent a message the WordPress server requesting to access it, and the WordPress server will have replied by sending your device the data saved in the file on their server.

Forgive me if any of that is “off,” with regard to exact terms.

My point is that “blogging,” from the impulses that prompt my fingers to strike the keys on my keyboard to the light being focused by your eyes’ lenses (and the corrective lenses you may or may not have sitting in front of your eyes) on the retinas at the back of your eyes, to your brain interpreting the signals sent through your optic nerves (the awkward plurals here being a result of most humans having two eyes) to you having any sort of emotional reaction (from bored indifference to anger) to what you are reading is an entirely physical process.

Do I understand every detail of this process well enough to explain it? Unfortunately, no. Much to my chagrin, I do not in fact know everything.

I am quite limited in what I know. What I know is a result of what I have studied and what I have been taught, and the subjects I chose to focus on were largely a result of my environment and my own personal set of genes.

Which one of those two things (environment and genetics) played the bigger role is up for debate. And that’s a debate for a more knowledgeable person to comment on; my point in mentioning those two things is that they are both quite physical. Genes are actual physical things, I mean, and the environment one grows up in acts upon a person in an entirely physical way.

This includes the things that are said to one as a child. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a pretty positive environment (I have no complaints, really); I just want to state that before I continue.

Things that are said, like things that are typed, originate in the brain. The difference is that the muscles involved in speaking are a different set of muscles than the ones involved in typing. And also, of course, things that are said out loud are heard when sound waves strike the eardrums, and so on and so forth.

None of this is magical. None of this requires any sort of magical explanation.

At one point in human history, before far more intelligent and intuitive persons than I figured all of this stuff out, we believed things like this were magical.

They’re not magical.

My fingers striking the keyboard is not magical.

Your retinas sending images to your brain is not magical.

Your brain interpreting those images is not magical.

The emotions you feel or don’t feel are not magical.

Emotion. What a thing, huh? Despite all high-minded attempts to suppress them, they still dictate to us (to a degree) what we do or don’t do in any given situation.

But what are emotions?

They are neurochemical responses to external stimuli. And/or the result of our brains over- or under-producing this or that chemical, or various glands over- or under-producing this or that chemical, or the result of any number of physical occurrences within the body.

People who live with chronic pain, for example, may be more likely to suffer from depression than other people. And what causes any sort of pain? Either an external physical force (like getting punched in the face) or an internal malfunction of some bodily system.

Pain is a physical thing. And on the flipside, so is pleasure.

What is pleasure? At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s a response to external stimuli. Etc.

It isn’t magical, any more than anything else is. It can certainly seem to be magical, but it’s the result of physical processes, just like everything else.

It’s unfortunate that I am not knowledgeable enough to explain all of these processes in detail. But if you’re reading this, you presumably have access to the internet, and you can look all this stuff up for yourself.

Thinking of yourself as a material thing, as an object that has been acted upon innumerable times, as an object that acts upon other objects, as an object that consists of various systems that interact with each other, etc. has its advantages. It allows you to look at yourself and your actions in a much more, well, for lack of a better term, non-magical way. That is to say, you can begin to understand why you do the things you do, and you can control those things to a much larger extent.

Don’t get me wrong: you’re still going to lose control of yourself sometimes. Sometimes you’re going to do things you regret. Sometimes you’re going to say things you wish you hadn’t said.

But instead of blaming some irrational thing like “the devil” or else just throwing your hands up and saying “well, that’s just the way I am,” you can take steps to correct yourself and prevent the same thing from happening again. Or at least reduce the probability of it happening again.

That’s not to say that “rational” is always preferable to “irrational.”

Have you ever been in love? You don’t have to tell me or anyone else, but have you?

Doesn’t it feel good to be in love with someone? Doesn’t it feel amazing to become emotionally attached to another person, someone who seems perfect in every single way, even though it’s objectively quite easy for a disinterested outsider to point out that person’s many flaws?

Doesn’t it piss you off when somebody points out your love’s flaws?

In a world of billions of people, there’s a pretty significant chance that there’s somebody else in the world that is even more physically attractive than your love (like to you personally, I mean), but here’s the thing:

Being physically close to another human being, especially one you find sexually attractive, causes neurochemicals to be released in your brain (oxytocin, for one) that cause you to feel attachment to that person.

That’s an oversimplification, to say the least. If you find that or anything else interesting, I hope you’ll look into those things more.

At any rate, you are a physical being. You act and react entirely in the physical world.

Is there anything beyond the physical world we live in?

If so, what would it consist of?

Would it have to consist of anything?

Can you even conceive of something that consists of nothing (physically speaking) without employing a physical process in your brain?

Let me remind you that reading this and thinking about what I have written is an entirely physical process.

Is the unknowable worth thinking about?

Why or why not?



The summer after my 10th grade year, when I was 16, I went on a trip to England with my grandma, her sister, her sister’s grandson, my grandma’s cousin (about my grandma’s age), and my grandma’s cousin’s grandson.

The traveling party was, basically, three teenage boys and their grandmothers.

We went on a bus tour around the south of England. It started in London, then went around to various touristy spots, then circled back to London. All in all the tour lasted around two weeks, and it was a lot of fun.

We went to Stonehenge on the tour. I remember thinking that it looked a lot bigger on TV.

There were New Age hippies there, like meditating in a circle or something. Which I guess was cool.

The other people on the tour were mostly other Americans. One older fellow, probably 80, maybe, approached me and asked if I knew how they got those big stones on top of the other ones.

“No,” I replied.

“Helicopters,” the old man said. His name was Blake.

I stood there kinda dumbfounded for a second before realizing that Blake was cracking a joke.

“I’ll be danged,” I may have said. “I never thought about that possibility.” I may not have said that at all, but at any rate I laughed and went along with the joke.

A few minutes later, I watched as Blake tried the joke on my cousin D____, the grandson of my grandma’s cousin. That makes D____ my third cousin? I honestly don’t know.

D____ didn’t quite get the joke, I don’t think. His reaction was different than mine, at any rate. He replied in more of a “humoring the old person” sort of way, as opposed to a “ha ha, that’s funny” sort of way.

“You sure are a nice young man,” Blake said to D____. “If you’re ever up around the Great Lakes, drop in.”

“I sure will,” D____ replied. “Thanks for the invitation.”

“And if you’re ever in the Rocky Mountains,” Blake continued, “fall off.”

Screenshot (143)

Do you recognize that fellow? That’s Alex Rogan, the hero of the 1980s sci-fi/adventure film “The Last Starfighter,” a film I am a pretty big fan of, mostly for sentimental-type reasons.

Actually, that might be Beta, the android sent to replace Alex while Alex was off in space, fighting the Ko-Dan Armada. Beta looks just like Alex, and his purpose was to cover up the fact that Alex was gone, so his family wouldn’t miss him.

It’s Lance Guest, I know that much.

If I hadn’t told you what film that screenshot was from, would you have known? I’m sure some of you would have… but honestly if I hadn’t been the person who took the screenshot, I’m not sure I would know, despite having watched “The Last Starfighter” about a hundred times growing up, and even after watching it again recently.

Now, if somebody had shown me a picture of a Gunstar, the type of spaceship Alex ends up flying around in, or of Grig, the lizard-y alien guy who pilots Alex’s Gunstar, or even a picture of Alex in his Starfighter uniform, I would probably have recognized it instantly.

But just going on that shot up there, no, I’m not sure I would recognize it.


Why must I spell it out for you?
All of the images you see
Are just a tiny part of me.
The images I see of you
Are just a fraction of what’s true.


I remember sitting with you under an umbrella. It was drizzling rain. We were sitting on the curb in front of that one convenience store on the opposite side of the block from Lotteria. We were drunk, as we often were.

You died nearly a decade ago.


I don’t remember the last novel I read. Which novel it was, I mean. I’ve started a couple in the past several months, but I haven’t had the attention span to finish them.


There was a barber shop a couple blocks away from my fraternity house in Fayetteville, years ago. I had happened to mention, among a group of fellows hanging out at the house, that I needed to get a haircut. Or quite possibly someone mentioned to me that I needed to get a haircut. At any rate the subject of haircuts came up.

A frat brother suggested I go to “Crazy Eric” to get a haircut. “Crazy Eric” was the barber at the aforementioned barber shop. Crazy Eric talked everyone’s ear off, I was told, and he had some pretty interesting ideas about the government, conspiracies, and things like that.

So I went. Crazy Eric’s barber shop doubled as sort of an antique shop, I think. There were all sorts of old antique-y things in there. Crazy Eric’s wife also worked there.

I got my hair cut by Crazy Eric several times. I tried to get him started on conspiracy theories the first couple of times, but he never really bit. He actually didn’t talk much at all while cutting my hair, which was kind of a disappointment.