How about this for a predictive rule of thumb:

“The amount of energy expended to place oneself above suspicion and beyond reproach is proportional to the corresponding intensity of the pariah status that would result from exposure of the secret shameful behavior this effort is intended to hide.” *


  1. Occupations of choiceExamples: Priest, Minister, Policeman, Scoutmaster
    1. Jobs that automatically place the holder on the side of Goodness against evil and also grant them some authority over community members are the destinations of choice for:
      1. Those consciously hiding bad behavior and seeking immunity from consequences.
      2. Those unconscious of their shadow behavior but haunted by a sense of it. They are naive and project their darkness onto others. They seek objective goodness by personifying it vocationally. This is to balance accounts internally, their bad acts cannot really be bad when coming from this persona.
      3. Exceptions: These roles can of course be chosen for selfless and well motivated reasons. That is obviously what makes this work for the guilty ones.
    2. The collective of these occupational authorities automatically form defensive shells against outsiders (parishioners, the general public), preserving their power and covering up crimes.




-* (or at least proportional to the emotional fear of being revealed)

Dear son,

You will be 16 only two more months. You need space from me as never before. I’ve never felt serious hostility from you, but there are times when I feel the eyes of teenage judgement lasering through me, searching for anything false or failed. You can usually find something. At times I’ll be talking to you from your bedroom door and see you actually morphing into a werewolf, nearly growling at me to leave while I can. I take it in stride because we’re just playing out the eternal roles of controlling, restricting dad and desperate to get the fuck out of here kid. And it isn’t like knowing that offers us an opt-out policy from the drama, it’s compulsory, appropriate and as structured into your cells as learning to talk or walk. You are supposed to want to get the fuck out of here and if you see me as standing in your way, it’s because you are supposed to stop letting me do things for you and give up the comforts you feel when hanging around me. Those comforts could make you wander less, seeking your new life. You need to start looking for it now. I loved taking care of you when you were little, but taking care of you now, beyond what’s absolutely needed from me is a self indulgent bad habit I need to give up in your best interests. I actually don’t find it easy but life has times for ending things so new things can come along and this is one of those.

In fairness, you are almost always very nice to me and your affection shows through many times, but we never talk anymore. I miss talking to you without the sense that you are  counting the seconds being stolen from you. If I bring up an important subject that has emotions or personal stuff involved, you react like a cat suddenly recognizing the vet’s office. Embarrassed and appalled, you head for the nearest exit. I think I could still use the DAD voice and the whole “Get back here this minute” thing but that’s not how I imagined our talk. If I forced the issue you’d sit there like a coyote stuck on a barbed wire fence. You really don’t want to hear what I want to tell you. So I don’t tell you.

But I see things you need to know, and I know those things. Look, the big reason you want to get out of here is so you can walk around till you find a young lady who wants to have sex with you. That reason may be pretty clear to you already but if you thought it was the fresh air, you were mistaken. I don’t really mean the sex part, although obviously I really do. Yes, we’ll call it falling in love but we’re talking about the demands of your genes, not your beautiful soul, even though your beautiful soul is more important in the long run. I’m not talking about what you should feel, because that’s nothing but a tiny morality flag to salute. Nobody feels what they should feel, that’s why we have to be exhorted and reminded to feel it!  I’m talking about human animals like you and everyone you know.  In reality it’s more like; find some friends to hang with, get better at socializing, eventually meet some girls and practice talking to those girls until one of them likes you so hard that she wants to have sex with you.  But surrounding that superdrive to mate are a million ways to be capable or not and worthy or not. This is where your beautiful soul re-enters the picture.

Life is mostly about being with people and being a person worth knowing. Ignorance of those ways means suffering and wasted chances. You can, at least, suffer less and miss fewer chances.

How to People:

Constructing a teenage self

Continue reading

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.

Rabindranath Tagore



I know the way you can get
When you have not had a drink of Love:

Your face hardens,
Your sweet muscles cramp.
Children become concerned
About a strange look that appears in your eyes
Which even begins to worry your own mirror
And nose.

Squirrels and birds sense your sadness
And call an important conference in a tall tree.
They decide which secret code to chant
To help your mind and soul.

Even angels fear that brand of madness
That arrays itself against the world
And throws sharp stones and spears into
The innocent
And into one’s self.

O I know the way you can get
If you have not been drinking Love:

You might rip apart
Every sentence your friends and teachers say,
Looking for hidden clauses.

You might weigh every word on a scale
Like a dead fish.

Continue reading


Hugh Miller

Part 1. The background:

There are important issues about students that should influence how we teach, but we’re oblivious by default. The students I work with fall into this range:

  • High school age teens
  • 20 somethings working toward college transfer, or this may be their complete college education
  • Middle aged workers retraining to acquire critical job skills
  • ESL students still in that program and racing to become proficient in a marketable skill
  • Older students finally facing hurdles they have long put off
  • and “customer” students for non-credit high end software classes

All of them have chosen a difficult path, (even the customer students to the least difficult degree). They are all giving up free time, earning time, even family time. They are agreeing to harder lives as they add academic struggle to the baseline responsibilities. Many of them are spending their own money to be here. If they fall off the education ride, it will be painful getting back on and they could waste a time, energy and money. They are putting themselves in someone’s hands, hoping for a good guide to help them navigate. They have serious skin in this game.

Continue reading

Every day, life sets the stage and everyday it tells us a different story about our lives and our people and everyday we believe it. What a bunch of simpletons we must be.

Hugh Miller



by Louis Jenkins.

Unlike flying or astral projection, walking through walls is a totally earth-related craft, but a lot more interesting than pot making or driftwood lamps. I got started at a picnic up in Bowstring in the northern part of the state. A fellow walked through a brick wall right there in the park. I said, ‘Say, I want to try that.’ Stone walls are best, then brick and wood. Wooden walls with fiberglass insulation and steel doors aren’t so good. They won’t hurt you. If your wall walking is done properly, both you and the wall are left intact. It is just that they aren’t pleasant somehow. The worst things are wire fences, maybe it’s the molecular structure of the alloy or just the amount of give in a fence, I don’t know, but I’ve torn my jacket and lost my hat in a lot of fences. The best approach to a wall is, first, two hands placed flat against the surface; it’s a matter of concentration and just the right pressure. You will feel the dry, cool inner wall with your fingers, then there is a moment of total darkness before you step through on the other side.



In a few other articles I’ve made the point that random millions of people having babies with other random millions of people give birth to consistent percentages of neurological and psychological types relative to the population at large, generation after generation. Some of these groups are defined as disabilities or pathologies. Example groups ADHD, and ASD are disabilities, sociopaths are seen as pathologies…it’s the second part of the name! They are generally thought to be caused by failures of infant development to complete normally and a pretty strong genetic connection. ASD is the obvious example of a spectrum disorder. Predictable numbers of ASD people are born year after year.

Clinically ASD includes a short list of recognized levels of the disability which exist along a continuum of severity. There’s a break here between the small range of what’s accepted as proven medical science to be autism and the much broader range of people who are legitimately diagnosed as autistic even though they are much higher functioning than the accepted range. It’s tacitly understood by therapists, teachers, parents, etc to be a section of spectrum that could be positioned at the end of the current spectrum and just pick up where it leaves off and run all the way out to those who have a few touches of these traits but are otherwise completely normal. That makes sense as the autism spectrum. I’m grandfathering ADHD in on this spectrum because 80% of high functioning autistics also have ADHD. Continue reading


These came to me today feeling completely original. It seems unlikely but if true, I think they’re pretty good. Don’t forget your attributions kids!

Forgiveness is the best revenge.

Wounded pride is the hardest material in the world.

If there is forgiveness why isn’t there forgetness?


This gold, sapphirine impression seal to legalize documents is from from the Bosporus around 575 B.C. . It shows a heron in flight, which symbolized a good omen. Master sculptor Dexamenos of Chios created the seal and that’s his name under the heron.


“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”

– Amelia Earhart


  • He has Parkinson’s
  • She has epilepsy
  • He’s schizophrenic
  • She’s autistic 

No, it’s not the setup for this years wackiest RomCom.

It seems one might possess Parkinson’s like a teacup chihuahua or a classic mustang whereas autism is who you are. You could make the case that autism or schizophrenia dramatically shape your personality in a way that defines you, while the other two do not…but you’d be wrong. The communities of caregivers surrounding them commonly describe what they know as the Parkinsonian and epileptic personalities. What decides this automatic and unnoticed distinction between Being a disorder and Having a disorder?

How can you be a diagnosis? The taxonomy of neurological types used to label people aren’t real things that people can “be”. They are checklists where we matched the diagnostic criteria enough to call the result positive. “Enough” might be 4 out 7 matches, for example. Diagnostic criteria are simply a collection of behaviors and bio-metrics accepted by the medical community. It’s rather like asking hunters (the hunting community?) the 7 most distinct characteristics of deer. That might be kind of fun but the heuristic is: “I know one when I see one”.

Different neurologies are utterly real but neurological types are descriptions, the names for vertices of behavioral parabolas distinct enough to contrast sharply against normal. Normal is the smooth melted butter river of behaviors we mostly can’t even notice because of how overwhelmingly common they are. Normal isn’t a thing either, it is a thing that’s going on.  Normal is a strange state, only seen clearly when it is held next to things that are not… a bit like a black light held over a motel bed. Normal isn’t a cool matter-of-fact background to things. Normal is the thing we fear when we make a terrible impression, Normal is the cop we all feel oddly guilty in front of. Normal is being home or cast out in exile. In meat-and-potatoes reality, there is no break from normality that calls for a celebration.

Throughout human existence Normal functioned as an immorality finder. Where immorality was uncovered, normal was declared missing…even for commonplace behaviors that simply got on the wrong side of something socially cherished. The other side of Normal’s coin is perversion of course. So Normal is tainted and muddled by being a measuring device cum moral cudgel. If you trace it back far enough you’ll find Normal describing primate pro-social behaviors that maximize pregnancies and group survival.

Continue reading


There is a rather famous story about moths that you might well have encountered as a student. The class would have been discussing evolutionary theory.

The common form of peppered moth had a pale coloration suited to hiding on the bark of light-colored tree trunks. This camouflage apparently enabled it to avoid being eaten by birds. Then, in 1848 a specimen with black wings turned up, in the industrial city of Manchester, England. By the end of the 19th century, the dark peppered moth was everywhere, and the paler, mottled version had vanished, becoming virtually extinct.

This was perhaps the first clear instance of human behavior increasing environmental pressure on local species and observers noting and following it. The industrial revolution roared up to speed and the universal use of coal for heating and industrial production had blackened skies and forests. An editorial in an issue of Nature quotes an 1851 railroad guide to the English industrial midlands: “The pleasant green of pastures is almost unknown, the streams, in which no fishes swim, are black and unwholesome…the few trees are stunted and blasted.” Continue reading


Itchy and Scratchy, 3000 years ago. Fragment depicting an anthropomorphic cat making an offering to an anthropomorphic mouse. Context is unknown, but it might have been part of a story illustration or a satirical piece. Egypt, 19th or 20th dynasty. 1295 to 1075 B.C.

Treaty of the Great Peace of Montreal, signed in 1701 between France and several Amerindian tribes. The chiefs signed by drawing the symbol of their tribe.

Cartoon workers with speech bubbles. Aramaic using Greek letters

Doodles created by future sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, aged 10 at the time. Year:1442

Onfim. a 7 year old boy from Novosibirsk 700 years ago. Drawing on birch bark.

Manuscript with excerpts from the Satires of Juvenal, decorated with a student drawing. 15th century document preserved in the Municipal Library of Carpentras.

Medieval scribes tested their pens by writing short sentences and drawing doodles. The pen trials above are from Oxford, Bodleian Library, Lat. misc. c. 66 (15th century)


From blossoms come
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us this orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

– Li Young Lee


The snollygosters won, leading to a kakistocracy, which set off the grumbletonians.



In a dream more real than waking,
we were athletes, running true
and dancing hard, till breath was short
and you breathed me and I breathed you
pressed together, holding tight,
the pressure built to a teapot boil, and

off we took! Away we flew!
Plucked and held by the Angel, Eros
flown at mad speeds, swerving through
the sleeping trees, and over
the fields of aster, balsam, thistle, rue*

Faster than suddenly, lifted UP
UP to the highest open-air
and UP over green hill,
we startled the wind, who softened,
and sighed to an evening prayer

all the town spread out below
all the lights, warm loving stars
face to face, our hair askew
our mouths, as one, agape, ajar, said:
God, I hope you see this too!


Hugh Miller

*Aster, Balsam, and Thistle plants are symbolically associated with great love, Rue is associated with regret.


John Prine’s heart-breaking and loving video on the opioid crisis


I may add on to this. We’ll see where it goes.



“We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.”

“When we treat man as he is we make him worse than he is. When we treat him as if he already was what he potentially could be, we make him what he should be.”

“I find the great thing in this world is, not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.”

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”

― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have.

We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

-Ira Glass



How about them Moose goosers, Ain’t they recluse?
Up in them boondocks, goosin’ them moose
Goosin’ them huge moose, goosin’ them tiny,
Goosin’ them meadow moose in they hiney!
Look at them Moose goosers, Ain’t they dumb?
Some use an umbrella, some use a thumb.
Them obtuse Moose goosers, sneakin’ through the woods,
pokin’ them snoozey moose in they goods,
How to be a Moose gooser? It’ll turn you puce;
Gitcher gooser loose, and rouse a drowsy moose!

-Mason Williams


I’m not showing the RIGHT way to do this, just the way that appealed to me. There’s a lovely subtlety and dignity of age in the originals, I’m just having fun with my updates..


Warm and kind artwork by Emm Roy.

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‘If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom.’

~Somerset Maugham

6th June 1944: Reinforcements disembarking from a landing barge at Normandy during the Allied Invasion of France on D-Day. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)




“First of all, love is a joint experience between two persons — but the fact that it is a joint experience does not mean that it is a similar experience to the two people involved. There are the lover and the beloved, but these two come from different countries. Often the beloved is only a stimulus for all the stored-up love which had lain quiet within the lover for a long time hitherto. And somehow every lover knows this. He feels in his soul that his love is a solitary thing. He comes to know a new, strange loneliness and it is this knowledge which makes him suffer. So there is only one thing for the lover to do. He must house his love within himself as best he can; he must create for himself a whole new inward world — a world intense and strange, complete in himself. Let it be added here that this lover about whom we speak need not necessarily be a young man saving for a wedding ring — this lover can be man, woman, child, or indeed any human creature on this earth.

Now, the beloved can also be of any description. The most outlandish people can be the stimulus for love. A man may be a doddering great-grandfather and still love only a strange girl he saw in the streets of Cheehaw one afternoon two decades past. The preacher may love a fallen woman. The beloved may be treacherous, greasy-headed, and given to evil habits. Yes, and the lover may see this as clearly as anyone else — but that does not affect the evolution of his love one whit. A most mediocre person can be the object of a love which is wild, extravagant, and beautiful as the poison lilies of the swamp. A good man may be the stimulus for a love both violent and debased, or a jabbering madman may bring about in the soul of someone a tender and simple idyll. Therefore, the value and quality of any love is determined solely by the lover himself.

It is for this reason that most of us would rather love than be loved. Almost everyone wants to be the lover. And the curt truth is that, in a deep secret way, the state of being beloved is intolerable to many. The beloved fears and hates the lover, and with the best of reasons. For the lover is forever trying to strip bare his beloved. The lover craves any possible relation with the beloved, even if this experience can cause him only pain.”

Carson McCullers, The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories

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