An incomplete list ~

  • A municipal code: the naming of sins, the punishments that follow.
  • The rules of forgiveness and mercy. An official cultural conscience. An opening for individual conscience, and a wall limiting it. The technicalities, loopholes, and escape clauses from conscience.
  • Shelter from fear. The source of fear.
  • Awakening. Sleep.
  • A road to power. Reliable safe employment.
  • Government. Bureaucracy, Police.
  • A creation story or myth. History.
  • Business. Charity. Club. Social scene.
  • Virus. Immune system.
  • The explanation of people. A pricing guide to their worth.
  • Hypocrisy. Sincerity. Strength. Weakness.
  • Criteria for goodness.
  • Bullying. Protection.
  • The roles of men and women. Expectations. Obligations.
  • A cultural pheromone granting or denying access.
  • Reform. Corruption.
  • A safe hiding place for evil.
  • Poison. Antidote.
  • Social glue. Social tar pit.
  • Buckets of black and white paint for black and white thinkers.
  • Justification for all acts and assertions. An excuse.
  • Context. A Map. A path.
  • The opiate of the masses.
  • Home. Family. Enemy.
  • Carrot. Stick.

If a person describes themselves as Religious, all they have told you is that one or more of these things is important to them.




As usual, I’m thinking “out loud” here. I guess that means, awkwardly, and in public.

Anyone who is thoughtfully worried by Islam finds themselves in an awkward position. On one side are traditional right wingers who don’t like Muslims because they are outsiders and immigrants. This is just the usual “stranger danger” anti-immigration issue. This group is a range from people who are simply negative about it, to people who could easily be stirred up to violence. This is not a thoughtful and considered position. I want to wear a sign around my neck saying: “I’m not with these people”.

From the left one gets categorized as a racist for expressing fears about Islam. Considering the extreme side of the first group, you can see WHY liberals might go here. But this is also not a thoughtful or considered position.  I believe liberals are guilty of being lazy here and choosing convenience and simplicity over a somewhat complex response.

(Just a disclaimer before going on here: Scientifically speaking, race does not exist, but I need to use the terms in play as they are meant by the people using them.)

Islam is no more a race than Christianity or Buddhism. How could it be? It’s funny but both left and right are over simplifying Islam into the same thing. Outsiders. The right is focused on barring those “unpleasantly different” folks and the left is standing up for them, wanting to give a warm welcome. You know, embrace diversity.

By “rounding down” Islam to a nickname for middle eastern people and conflating concerns about it to racism, liberals are engaging in convenient short term thinking. They may also be poisoning the argument in a way that works against their central values. “Islamophobia” as a word is a cork meant to be shoved into the mouths of anyone speaking out. Since Islam is not a race, but a religion this amounts to a war on free thought and speech. It becomes a thought crime to criticize it. And all of this done underneath the banner of letting people believe what they believe.

Minor Thought Experiment:

Liberals, imagine you live in Eugene, Oregon or some other solidly left wing community. Diversity is embraced, alt-lifestyles are accepted. Suddenly a very large stream of outsiders begin moving in, buying houses, starting businesses, running for school board, etc. Consider your response if they are:

  • Mormons
  • Scientologists
  • Funded by the Koch brothers
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Randites

For simplicity, imagine all those groups mashed up into one. Imagine their name is “Surrender to the Power”. Imagine they believe overall:

  • In sexual segregation and shame based clothing for women
  • That a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man
  • That once someone has joined, death is the punishment for leaving
  • That violence is an appropriate response to blasphemy

They aren’t ALL this strict but it’s generally true. Taken person by person they are all nice enough. But they are sending the message that women in this town seem immodest. And on the school board they want make the curriculum more in line with their beliefs. Don’t be a hypocritical dipshit here. You are going to be worried and upset. That’s because these are beliefs and values that starkly contrast with your own. Education, free speech and equal rights are all being diluted into a mix with the “Surrender to the Power” system. You would be upset because your philosophical system and values are being lost. Your children will grow up in a world less free and open than yours was.

I claim the right to criticize modes of thinking and behaving



New Word:


Extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one’s feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.


a strong or exaggerated sense of power or the right to dominate:


= A gut feeling that your gut cannot be wrong. Asserting authority and neglecting preparation based on intuition. Dale Carnegie meets the Dunning–Kruger effect.

See Trumpery


Autistic characters in drama have become almost stereotypical stock roles.

Asperger’s was added to the character of Sherlock Holmes in the recent BBC version with Benedict Cumberbatch and in many ways it’s a good fit. We find a form of it in earlier shows like Star Trek with Spock and Commander Data. “Rain Man” has become a phrase that instantly summons up a farther range of the spectrum, even less socially competent, more obsessive and rigid. These characters are often given an awesome savant talent, further increasing pressure on autistic people to entertain us with magical-weirdo-brain-tricks like playing any song after hearing it once or lightning calculation. Further out still are the lost children (you almost never see an adult) spinning plates and squealing.

What people often fail to realize is that this spectrum has them on it too! We are all on this spectrum even if we are sitting in the comfortable normal box.

Consider the classic issues that come up for people on the right hand side of this image.

  • Overwhelmed by social intensity. (attention, crowds, eye contact)
  • Sensitive to noise
  • Sensitive to little somatic distractions like a scratchy tag in their shirt.

The difference between you and some poor soul melting down from these isn’t one of kind but of degree. It’s just a question of the amplitude it requires to send your needle into the red. Have you ever heard of police trying to drive people out of a house by blasting music at it day after day? Or similar techniques focused on someone under interrogation? This is a conscious attempt to push people into the breakdown zone that ASD people reach with far less intensity.

We all have these same vulnerabilities but ASD people have less insulation on their wires.

Imagine yourself wearing a shirt of spun fiberglass. In a 12 hour death metal battle of the bands. Surrounded tightly by a crowd of strangers who keep staring at you and touching you.

Welcome, you have arrived at weekdays for autistic folks. Have a seat and pay attention. Don’t act up.



“You’re going to Hell, but I’m not driving.”

Neither Christianity nor Judaism is free of adherents who wish death for others based on their religious texts. Read about the Sabra and Shatila massacre and observe the hateful behavior of conservative west bank settlers. 
But the percentage of such zealots is tiny compared to that within Islam. I think worldwide, Muslims have not reached an overall level of cultural relativity and sophistication equal to that (mostly) achieved by Jews and Christians (and non-believers). If there is a “You must be this tall to go on this ride” for peaceful co-existence it is this: “I don’t like your beliefs but it’s bad for everyone if we try to control each other”.  There are toxic ideas in Judaism and Christianity but overall in western societies a little more “live and let live” worked into the fabric of life to allow civil and diverse society to flower. 
There is a good bit of bullying and rule by fear within the various cultures of Islam. We do have some Christians like this in the United States who would love to bully others with their religion. If our religious bullies gained any actual power they would be deadly. They seek political power and we watch them carefully, trying our hardest to retain separation of church and state. But religious police don’t patrol the streets, separating lovers and punishing women for dress code violations. There are no gangs of murderous Christians hacking bloggers to death for opposing the radical “Christianists”. Until the center of gravity shifts beneath the majority of Muslims to similarly downgrade their self appointed religious police force, they won’t be ready for a modern world that frankly requires diversity. 

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There really isn’t an original thought here, sometimes I just have to say something when the ordinary world breaks my heart. M0uQgoj (1)

America is experiencing a little glasnost toward marijuana use. It’s like a national version of how good it feels when you stop banging your head on the wall. Except of course for most of America where head banging is still the prefered choice. Let me use marijuana as the example standing in for the overall strategy against drugs.  We know harm reduction is an approach that does less damage to society and costs less money than the “war on drugs” so why don’t we change and reap the benefits?

The answer is stupidity. There is a type of voter who is scared of other nationalities and has an enormous appetite for punishing wrongdoers. This voter is easy to manipulate by any politician who wants to play those cards. Marijuana was criminalized in 1933 by coloring it as a drug of foreign and lower class people. Mexicans and black Americans. It was said that they would become violent and lose control. Yes, it was the “All Mexicans are rapists” of its time.  Continue reading


In every class I teach, the medium is the PC. In every class I teach there is at least one student who still sucks at computing. I applaud them being game enough to choose the encounter, because it’s clearly a struggle. The problem is that almost all of these students carry their downfall into the room with them and ultimately feel no closer to their goal, or only a touch closer. 

What these students lack is Fluency. Computer Fluency is the constellation of core skills that comfortable users take for granted as a foundation into every computer task they approach. More and more, beginning computer classes are disappearing, not because they are unneeded but because curriculum planners see no market for them. Only truly humble students choose these classes and that’s too small a market to succeed. 

Here’s the real problem. Because fluency underlies all software use, if a person lacks fluency it doesn’t matter what computer course they choose, THAT CLASS will become a beginning computer class. It will just be a terrible choice for a beginning computer class. The center of gravity of that class dips to meet the skill deficit of these students. I have taught web design classes where people ask how many times to click an icon and don’t know the difference between a folder and a file. In class I am positive and encouraging but inside I’m thinking “I am so sorry you wasted your money on this class.” Because that student is probably NEVER going to get beyond their deficit to embrace the intended curriculum.  Continue reading



In the kitchen, the colorful magic begins.
From red burners comes boiling water
and steam softens the air and clouds the light
tertiary colors rise like smoke in the clean glasses
to nail the vividness, a dash of vinegar
like a slap to the senses
as the eggs are lowered out of sight


In the great vaulted room, the beautiful windows hide
the swelling sea of buds just outside
and the talk is of scourging, and nails through flesh
and a forsaken man
with gall and vinegar on his breath


Great doors roll open and at last
the children burst across the cool grass
seeking sweetness, baskets held tight,
to gather the jewels hidden almost in plain sight.

Hugh Miller

American Nazi organization rally at Madison Square Garden, 1939

American Nazi organization rally at Madison Square Garden, 1939

One of the best minds of the Roosevelt administration outlining fascism in a way that holds up scarily well.


The Danger of American Fascism

Henry A. Wallace

An article in the New York Times, April 9, 1944.
From Henry A. Wallace, Democracy Reborn (New York, 1944), edited by Russell Lord, p. 259.

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