Monday, August 13, 2007

How should I say this?

==> I'm taking a sabbatical.
==> I'll be away on a quasi-vacation.
==> It's summertime, and I need some sun.
==> I'm bored with this blog format, and, besides, I need a break.
==> I've developed other interests... other than internet marketing.
==> I'm selfishly devoted to my own amusement.
==> I'll check back in when I'm ready.
==> See you soon!

I want to archive these posts and recover the comments in Word Press. The plug-ins I want to utilize are easier to install and implement than what I've found can be made useful in Blogger.

So there you have it.

BTW... I'm still somewhat active at Dallas For Ron Paul


Monday, July 02, 2007

Health Care Reform | Governance | Law | The Golden Rule

Charlie Green, in his web log, Trusted Advisor, has invited comments concerning health care and trust. As I like Charlie, and respect the insights he shares - not to mention, the good work he puts into the topic of trust in general - I've become a faithful reader of late.

Here's where you'll find Lark's latest comment - a rant really - which I posted in response to all the chatter related to our sick health care system and its need for reform.

I suspect Charlie likes my sometimes off-the-wall remarks, and I'm grateful he puts up with me. Likewise, I appreciate his digging deep into matters of trust, since I consider it one of the most worthwhile topics in the blogosphere.

And all of us have a voice in this debate regarding health care reform - beginning with that inner voice inside.

What follows is my response to Charlie's response to my rant - that I strike him as "a walking anti-ideologue" - one label I'll proudly wear as a badge of honor.


As it concerns governance and the rule of law we must be mindful of our individual concepts of free will and the needs of society as a whole.

This is, of course, quite a deft balancing act for mere mortals to achieve - in one lifetime, or from one generation to the next.

In law we have only universal, scientific and man-made laws to consider... followed by moral and ethical codes of behavior.

Reason dictates we employ critical thinking and basic logic to the best of our abilities, and strive to get along.

When any of these conflict with one another we must logically infer we have a problem demanding a more proper solution.

I grew up believing, rightly or wrongly, in The Golden Rule. In fact it's the only thing, in my view, worth remembering about the whole discussion surrounding religion.

We were born into this world naked and without language. Thus, most all knowledge defined in language is borne from false beliefs - lies and factual distortions - or via indoctrination, otherwise informed by authoritarian constructs, which are often little more than lies and distortions built upon other lies and distortions.

And since our knowledge about law is generally derived from empirical evidence, based upon the facts on the ground before us, and our common consensus of learned opinion, we enact man-made rules-of-the-road for all of us to follow.

The framers of our Constitution were painfully aware that men were not created equal - though they bravely deemed it so - and our fortunes as free men were tied to an economic order which presumably rewarded hard work and fair play.

This is precisely where everything begins to unravel. Our assumptions about "the way it is" should always be logically subject to change - as change, for all intents and purposes, is a constant condition within man, nature and the universe.

One wrong turn which discounts natural, universal or scientific law - or ignores The Golden Rule - and man-made law becomes suspect... as just another authoritarian construct... which, sooner or later, will only compel us to enact forcible change... for the benefit of the larger society.

What must also be given a voice in the halls of government... is the air we breathe, the nourishment we take, the water we drink, and the ground we walk on. These things, after all, are as basic to our survival as they are to all other living things.

Healthcare, medicine and law, and those we entrust to administer it, is just as important to our survival as any of these.

Tyranny, as brought about by cognitive dissonance, our common attention deficit trait – even a kind of tyranny-of-words – is anathema to social order, our supposed right to happiness, and our very survival as free-thinking human beings living in a healthful environment.

As social beings cognizant that certain inviolate laws do exist which supersede others... we Americans assume man-made laws will sustain a social and economic order… envisioned by those who crafted the words... in our Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Constitution itself, and the Bill of Rights.

Therefore, I grew up believing - again, rightly or wrongly - in the Hippocratic Oath; and the vision of our nation's founders; and my right to agree or disagree with whomever or whatever I encounter… which seeks to enslave me or force me against my will… or seeks my cooperation in a collaborative scheme or arrangement.

I'm not so hard to fathom really. I simply hate tyranny and injustice. And I love pleasure... and the plain and simple truth... wherever and whenever I'm privileged to marvel at its beauty.

Like you and everybody else… my everyday wish is to experience life on reasoned practical terms... which doesn’t harm others.

And God help those who’d refuse to help themselves – as the old saying goes – and anyone who would deign it in their power to rule over me.

I stand for truth and justice – and not much of anything else – which is why I enjoy listening to what you have to say, man!

Though none of us can claim to own the truth entirely, we can at least trust that good common sense and wiser heads seeking of justice will prevail in the end.

As for tolerance... one can only be guided accordingly...

... Because sometimes, without speaking truth to power, we risk leaving it to others to decide our fates.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Teacher's Pet Monkeys

TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America.

MARIA: Here it is.

TEACHER: Correct. Now class, who discovered America?

CLASS: Maria!


TEACHER: John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?

JOHN: You told me to do it without using tables.


TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell "crocodile?"


TEACHER: No, that's wrong

GLENN: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.


TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?


TEACHER: What are you talking about?

DONALD: Yesterday you said it's H to O.


TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing we have
today that we didn't have 10 years ago.



TEACHER: Glen, why do you always get so dirty?

GLEN: Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.


TEACHER: George Washington not only chopped down
his father's cherry tree, but also admitted it. Now, Louie, do you
know why his father didn't punish him?

LOUIE: Because George still had the ax in his hand?


TEACHER: Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?

SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mom is a good cook.


TEACHER: Clyde, your composition on "My Dog" is
exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy his?

CLYDE: No, teacher, it's the same dog.


TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps
on talking when people are no longer interested?

HAROLD: A teacher?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Resplendent Noise

Dave Lakhani has received a link to an interesting article over at The Washington Post from Ben Mack, and he's generously shared it in his blog at Bold Approach.

Entitled Pearls Before Breakfast, Gene Weingarten, in the April 8th issue, says

"Can one of the nation's great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let's find out."

In the article the Post writer documents a social experiment in well-written detail, which was a marvel to behold.

His conclusions are powerful... and instructive. And the article... was a joy to read.

Dave suggested it is a "direct reflection of your audience and the reaction to your performance" - meaning, at least partly, a reference to its lesson for furthering our marketing efforts, I took it.

So, as a marketing noob, of course, I checked it out.

Then I felt compelled to weigh in, to expand the dialog, so to speak - so as to release my inner chatter!

And in case you don't already know, we wannabe writers like to kick this stuff out a lotta times anyway - which is why we live like hermits. :)


Dear Dave,

My hat's off to you and Ben for sharing this article.

I thoroughly enjoyed receiving the vibe - that's New Age-speak for telling me about the noise!

It's no wonder we tend to tune out noise - even the so-called good noise - as we have so much noise going on inside our own heads... we must necessarily filter out... the competition from outside... to be heard.

The article you and Ben cite is a perfect illustration of this phenomenon.

It seems much of what we employ as influence and persuasion tactics today must be focused on how it is we can appeal to people's finely-tuned sense of self-centeredness and conscious greed - as most of us are hell-bent on getting heard...

... By that selfish inner chatter... which resides within... all of us.

[Bottom line: Hey, it's still only about survival, baby!]

And so people wrapped up in themselves... with their problems... their seeking of everyday pleasure and fulfillment at every turn... is where we often begin.

Especially if our aim is to target them... to illustrate an object lesson... as is the case in the Post article.

However, another way might be to start by realizing this kind of epidemic behavior is actually a good thing... and the way to penetrate this mindset... is to reverse engineer our thoughts... of constantly thinking... in order to make a more valuable and calculating appeal... to this, our common affliction.

Though we instinctively know we must start with emotion and sensory perception, it's not always from a commonality of meaning or purpose.

Then we start to question whether appealing, objectifying, and targeting is really the best strategy in the first place.

So let's consider this beforehand.

"Children accumulate virtually no memory until they have language."

"Consciousness is self-awareness... characterized by language... which facilitates inner narration."

"Consciousness IS language. Like with certain words, images, feelings and perceptions... good music is thought to be useful good noise - as it supposedly emanates from the same natural vibratory impulse as sensory stimulation + conjured immediate thought = emotional desire, followed by the desperate want, then the perceived need to control."

History is replete with examples, ad infinitum, of all the ways we've put into place... and attempted to implement... control over others.

[And I wonder: Will this forever be so critical to our economic survival?]

When communication professionals become accomplished, then sullied by these many infectious words - marketers... admen, public relation, media and brand specialists... propaganda experts - are they put on this earth to zero in on those certain flaws in our human character, so all the others now become our targets?

And these many more others - likely referred to as informed consumers - really do eat up all this attention... because all of us, it turns out, really pine for these... same dirty words!

But we all have our crosses to bear, and someone has to dish out these dirty words we love so much... because burning desire, like for more money, or certain pleasures, has crept up on us all, hasn't it?

Earth + Air + Water + Fire = LIFE

It's part-and-parcel of our capitalist system... and T-I-N-A... THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE (Margaret Thatcher)... still stands as our universally accepted credo.

[Though nothing has fundamentally changed... maybe we can at least be awakened to new possibilities... if it's true our survival hangs in the balance.]

So for the sake of our own amusement, disregarding for a moment all other motivating factors, let's assume we really are brainwashed.

Submitting ourselves... to conscious-driven... incessant... dissonant... inner chatter - right from the get-go!

Have we come to accept this observation to be a part of our basic instinct for survival and self-preservation - as evidenced by our common behavior patterns - to blithely be seen walking around... talking to ourselves?

Isn't this what is characteristic of hapless patients in insane asylums?

[Just wondering... if it's not okay... just say so. But can we be completely honest with ourselves?]

Anyway, without digressing further, let's make a determination.

Do we want to approach this issue as one of war, like what is studied at war colleges, or from what we learned in The Art of War (Sun Tzu)?

Or do we want to try a less aggressive, maybe more feminine, non-judgmental method instead?

Wherein might lie the clue... in our determination... for fresh and bold approach?

Should we tally up all our common emotional and sensory attributes... and begin redeployment? In preparation for another more all-encompassing assault on the senses?

Rather than... just one... of resplendent noise... shown, by example, in the Post's experiment?

Must we also consider bringing on some assorted jugglers, mimes, slapstick comedians, carnival barkers, town criers, unclothed bodies, compelling objets d'art, even free food and drink to add to the mix - just for teasers - in order to gain this promise of requisite attention?

Then tweak and test the mix for desired effect?

[Why the hell not? Sounds like a party to me! Can I come? Can I? Can I?]

Could it be if we stop to unthink... then re-create the conditions for a “stiller” serenity – uncluttered by foolish inner chatter... the falsely-perceived ravages of time... not spent in the here-and-now... and disparate stupid pursuits... always running to-and-fro – we might more easily cause the violinist gainful notice... to get the worthy gentleman... some damn attention please?

Or perhaps we should search for the single common thread of least resistance - at the very least - first?

Mind reading

For what useful purpose does it serve if we ill-consider empowerment and enrichment, the same energy which allows us all to be present... and so motivated to go on about our busy-ness?

And where might these conditions best be perfected – or exploited?

The public square (in the case of the author’s article you shared, L'Enfant Plaza, near the Metro, in Washington D.C.) – or in individual hearts and minds?

Where does critical thinking, preconceived notions about acculturative value equations, or propaganda fit into this scenario?

Are we not fighting a losing battle?

Have we thoroughly examined our assumptions – or questioned our motives for self-aggrandizement?

And what is the highest, most noble good we can derive from all this, our amusement and our chatter... our exquisite enrichment... and longing for ecstatic experience - even if the meaning of meaning is held over... for another day?

Finally, shouldn't we reconsider... an examination... of thoughtforms... egregores... s'more memes... to further explore?

Then determine if, by their alignment, we can be made to feel more useful... by virtue of our newfound purpose... after that?

Some innocent things... always beggar us for answers...

... Which is why... I'm glad to be... on your mailing list.

I know... like Ben... you entertain these foolish questions too!

All the best,


[Notes: Perhaps the social experiment described in the Post article would have drawn different conclusions from the author if the musician selected was a viola (more masculine tonality) player instead of a violinist (the violin being higher-pitched, with a more feminine tonality).

A lone youngish professional woman, Stacy Furukawa, was Joshua Bell’s most-attuned and active audience participant - and his best customer. (Is this what the author meant by "... cute elides into hott", an added impetus for Ms. Furukawa to notice his playing?) Near the end of his performance she cheerfully laid down a twenty... into his violin case... amazed by the scene around her!

Previously, John Picarello, "a smallish and baldish man" - and a true classical music fan - took no note of Joshua Bell's celebrity. After watching and listening appreciatively - for nearly ten whole minutes - he tossed a fiver in the case.

This is but one example of how we can learn more about ourselves by performing similar exercises.

See the plot details in Shakespeare’s comedy, Twelfth Night, or What You Will - particularly the antics of Feste, the resident fool! :)]

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Niquette,

What monumental works the two of you have gifted this world!

I’m happy I discovered your site yesterday at – particularly your A Certain Bicyclist: An Off-Beat Guide to the Post-Petroleum Age e-book!

To commemorate this fortuitous day – April 14, 2007 – the day of Step it Up 2007, I found it in me… to want to thank you… for letting this stranger take a peek into both of your lives.

Paul, please tell Brigitte I’m anxious to share recipes with her sometime. Tell her I once worked with a great chef from Brittany, and would appreciate her divulging something from her secret files to me!

Brigitte, don’t forget to tell Paul, what a great writer he has become!

One day, perhaps, we can trade war stories… or recipes... maybe both.

But anyway, just for sharing your special gifts, here’s a little story... not entirely my own.

Consider it incomplete... and unedited... if you like.

I know you’ll understand...

... That I’m only writing to say, “Thanks for inspiring me to write The Unicyclists.”

Kindest regards,



The Unicyclists

I once had a childhood hero in Okinawa, Japan, about 1962, named Simon Simon, who was an accomplished unicyclist.

I was eight and Simon was around eleven or twelve.

Not only did he have an unusual name and an unusual way of getting around, he was famous for having… his own secret fort.

And all the little kids… like me… were obsessed… with finding Simon’s secret fort.

Every day I would see Simon going to school – or places unknown – on his unicycle. And I wondered what was in the mind of this carefree figure… that he just couldn’t care less… of what other kids thought… or that other people were talking… and saying things… behind his back.

He was a person nobody seemed to know – somewhat eccentric… and aloof.

Not only the other neighborhood kids, but their parents, were in awe of Simon… and wondering of his parents too.

Who would name their boy… the same first and last name… only Simon?

The Simons didn’t have a mailbox we could see, or they kept their comings-and-goings to themselves. And they didn’t know their neighbors… and their neighbors didn’t seem to know them either.

And their boy was, like them, the same.

The rest of us had two names… or more… at most. And we rode around in ordinary things… with two wheels… three or four wheels… at least.

But Simon had two names too… just the same… and a funny bike… with only just one wheel!

Some of the older neighborhood kids liked to tease Simon, and they would taunt him with lines that contained the words “simple Simon” or “Simon says”, and the like…

… But all to no avail. For all these taunts would fail… because Simon was deaf… and mute.

Anyway, as kids are wont to do, we liked to go exploring. Near the boondocks… near our home on Kadena Air Force Base… all of us – our parents and us kids alike – went about our busy lives.

In those days one could still find WWII artifacts – like helmets, uniform insignia, and parts of rifles – in the many caves which dotted the island. Many of these caves had the cremated remains of fallen soldiers… in cool-looking urns. And piles of bones… behind piles of rocks… near the cave walls.

Our parents were all in the military. And on this sixty-mile-long island, not more than three miles wide at any one point, was at least five military bases – one for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines… and one, for what, I don’t remember.

So it was only natural… that for us kids… our play was like combat. And we played war games… much like our parents.

A lot of times, Bob, my little brother, and my sister Lori, would go off playing, exploring or fighting with me. But more often than not, I was alone… just like my hero Simon… seemed always… to be.

I pretended to be undercover – and secretive – like a spy… or a government operative of sorts… with the FBI!

And you better believe I was determined to find Simon’s fort… so I could blackmail him… to teach me… then let me ride his unicycle. And I would not be denied… for I was going to capture the secret… that was the mystery… of this “Simple Simon” guy.

I would threaten him if I had to… by telling all the other kids… or triumphantly leading them myself… to his secret spot… if he didn’t.

Now you must understand that Simon didn’t want to have anything to do with little kids like us; after all, he was practically a teenager – chronologically, a few steps closer to being a real man… than were we… just mere kids!

And his unicycle was off-limits – to everyone – as he guarded it with his life, and no-one was allowed on it… but Simon.

To find his fort would take me much effort and many months, almost a year. Rumors were rife that marauding neighborhood kids several blocks over were also trying to find the mystery fort.

As you can imagine, this was definitely a hot topic… and I had no idea how far it had spread… for all the whispering and scheming… never ceased to end!

I had found my own secret spot in the boondocks – like it was actually mine – and it was way too special to be trampled on… by intruders… who might spoil its magic for me. It was about a mile and a half down… from a tiny little stream – never more than four or five feet… or less than six inches wide in places – that all the other kids would often play around… and the brave amongst us… would even drink from… when we got thirsty… running races.

Its banks were wet and muddy, shaded by thick stands of tall bamboo. And so most of the kids were wary… to slip and fall in… or follow its trajectory… to that secret spot I’d found.

As the stream winded its way… deeper into the forest… it got darker… and quieter… save for the sound of locusts and birds… and the occasional stirring of varmints.

I really wanted to know where the beginning of this stream was… and how it could be, for instance… that its water tasted so much better… more alive… than the water from our tap… at home.

My secret was marked… by a kind of rocky spot… which contained a tiny pool – a rushing eddy and a three-foot tall… waterfall – so perfect for a boy – so cool!

And I loved how I felt majestic… so grateful that this spot… was itself just so majestic... like me.

Or, besides the fact it was little… and hidden… it was mine… to protect… and defend… from intruders.

Anyway, around about this time… I’m happy to report… the great day finally came – when I discovered Simon’s fort!

A magnificent tree house it was – far from our neighborhood. As far away as anyone… would care to venture… or want to see.

It was only… maybe ten minutes away… from my own secret spot… near the end of the stream… far from wondering eyes it seemed.

While I stood in awe of its design… of camouflaged straw and scraps of wood… its hidden rope… and the ingenious ladder he’d nailed… right to the side of the tree…

… It appeared as a Japanese sniper’s nest… but it was Simon’s… and he might be inside that tree!

So I was afraid… and when I was not… I was proud. For me… my adventure… had brought about a feeling… of great personal triumph. And my secret… of a magnificent discovery… was truly hard to keep… for me…and me alone.

But then too, I felt sad … for it was like this was sacred territory… a whole lot like my own.

This fort would have to stay a secret – and I never told a soul!

In that moment of conscience… it couldn’t be allowed… no matter what, I had vowed… but I’d go to my grave… with this secret I would save… in silence.

A few months later, I was terribly involved with other adventures – of combat and war games and such – and I’d almost forgotten the secrets I held. I saw Simon doing some maintenance on his unicycle – and I somehow found the courage… to do… and say… the unthinkable.

I rode my bike over… and simply said hi to the guy.

Whereas I normally kept my distance, as I was too fearful and respectful of him, I forgot he might lump me in… with those others… who had taunted him. Or he might decide to fight me… shoo me away… or ignore me.

For in that one split-second of a moment… like in the blinking of an eye… I had dared NOT to think.

I’d forgotten… the consequences… of what could happen… if Simon knew... I knew the whereabouts… of his not-so-secret fort.

Did he understand... I wanted him to show me… how to ride his one-wheeled bike?

But he looked over at me and smiled… and was suddenly talking to me – in his way, a bit peculiar.

He was no longer a distant hero. Nor was I anymore insignificant… just another neighborhood kid.

We became friends in an instant… when the courage was mustered… to hazard a brief hello.

Over the course of an awkward hour… I was riding that one-wheeled bike… and Simon rode mine alongside me.

Can you hear the good laughter… the two of us shared?

In spite of our difficulties… the differences… and uncertainty sometimes, these moments almost missed… still do exist… in our tale of the unicyclists.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Head Docs Live!

Judith & Jim | Alex Giorgio

These online surveys and Ask-style marketing campaigns are sometimes irresistible to me - after all, why wouldn't a know-it-all like me not relish the idea of providing my stupid opinion, or possibly helping somebody out with some dumb answer I might could provide?

But then I also make it a rule to participate only with those who more-than-likely won't get bent-out-of-shape by my responses either!

Cases in point are husband-and-wife psychologist team Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski; and Alex Giorgio - all three more than up-to-the-task of entertaining someone as lazy and stupid as me.

Tomorrow night they'll be holding forth in a 2-hour online tele-course entitled, "How Do You Know Your Soul's Calling?"

Check it out! You'll find these head docs are not so much into psycho-babble so much as they're genuinely motivated to inspire others to greatness.

And this is something I can get behind - especially since I want everyone I know to be great, including Mark!

Now Mark doesn't know this yet, but I'm gonna let Mark foot the bill on this one too... just you wait and see... as they're asking for a wee bit of funny money for this... and it'd be my guess to be a bargain at that!

[P.S. - Oh yea, I had already responded to an earlier Judith and Jim campaign before this one, included below. Naturally, for amusement purposes only. <<{{:>)]


"If you had just one question to ask about your soul’s calling, what would that question be?"

I submit laziness and stupidity - framed properly - can sell... since these attributes have been maligned for too long in our capitalistic society.

These are appellations which hardly apply to anyone I know or have ever known, mind you. It’s difficult to be slothful and idiotic, even to barely get by in this world.

But, hey, I’m living proof it works for me!

Would you agree? Given the disaster many have made of their lives - with all the wrong turns, false starts-and-stops, emptiness, and resultant stress, etcetera - this news may come as welcome comic relief for many others.

I like being lazy and stupid because I feel I live life more playfully and joyfully and experience just as much, if not more, than when I was industrious, in a hurry, and always felt compelled to be "smart" about every action I chose to take.

This, for me, was a startling revelation, one which has allowed me to be quite productive in realizing my ambitions nevertheless... and, all this, despite the naysayer inside me who finds this notion preposterous.

Nowadays, this naysayer (Mr. Chatterbox) exists in my mind to keep me amused – much like the court jester (“talking head”) entertains the kings and queens of commerce and polity to this day!

I find my connections with everything and everyone contained in my daily experiences to be more vivid and exponentially more real.

If I never sell this idea it will have all been in good fun; and I will leave it as my legacy...

... As I insist it's good for the soul to slow down enough to enjoy life and save my focus for a more meaningful contribution... true to my “soul’s calling”.


Mark and


Judith and Jim

"What would you like to have known when you first started marketing on the internet that would have made everything less frustrating and more profitable right from the start?"

Statement of clearly-defined, self-directed principles - grounded in unimpeachable evidence for the personal values of faith and self-reliance - meant to pave the way ahead for purposeful action.

After this is accomplished successfully, because it was created by me, with guidance from a participatory group effort, I'd want to be self-directed to synthesize what I’d learned into as few words as possible, and write them down into a personal guide - or outline - of sorts.

The same exercise format would inform me as to the path I would take as a beginning internet marketer.

And what I'd be left with is a series of step-by-step action plans... within a formal step-by-step business plan... to include sales projections and an exit strategy for each step along the way.

Utilitarian principles - with a solid understanding of authoritarian constructs - would inform every action... and passion would serve as my inspiration.

At this point I’d study persuasion strategies.

I'd be reminded of the futility of swallowing an elephant whole; but this would be balanced by identifying what my life's purpose is, and what stories I want told about me and/or my products and services.

Before creating the business plan I'd want to know if my intention is for my work to live on in others after my life's journey is done.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Masters of the Secret

I borrowed or practically stole these words - from the masters of the secret - for your titillation... and personal pleasure.

Please feel free to take 'em or leave 'em... as you wish.

Wanna know another secret? (I wrote 'em down for my own foolish pleasure before yours!)

These are words you will find no where else... so keep it a secret - okay? ;)

Notions about the nature of "You" and "I"... are manufactured from overactive imaginations... resulting in consumer products battling it out for shelf space in the public bazaar... with other notions and consumer products.

To understand this phenomenon is to see that false assumptions about who... or what we think... or pretend we are... cause conflict... often leading to wars.

And this conflict leads to wars being fought inside ourselves just the same way.

So you see how it is? Now ask yourself, "Who or what started this argument... which led to conflict... suffering... and war - you or me - or those other people over yonder?"

Could this have started because you allowed yourself to be packaged - like a consumable product... to be bought and sold... on the auction block... of the public square?

Our busy-ness in life is our economy; and value in a capitalistic economy is measured by stuff and things or wealth and power.

And many times... perception is reality.

Natural economy recognizes man is nothing without his own resources (stuff) and those of his environment (things).

Wealth is stuff and things we collect so we can be perceived to have power.

Energy is everything – nothing exists without it - including power.

Law Of Attraction: Like Energy = Like Energy

Wealth and power, stuff and things – including money – are valuable, but do not equate to goodness or happiness or richness.

Nothing lasts; everything else doesn't matter so much – except in this instance.

Pleasure tells us easily what is good and what is bad - everything in between is either not-so-good or not-so-bad... if not both.

What you consume is what you become. This, in turn, informs who you believe you are... and what you want others to believe you are. You attach yourself to what you would want others to see you attached to... because it's been group-tested... and approved by those you've permitted to have this power over you - especially this notion (idea) of yourself.

Attachment = Desire = Suffering

Gratitude = Love = Serenity

Words which divide us weaken us - words which unite us, empower us.

But then, never forget: Words become names. And names become name games. Like before you were born when you were... assigned, tagged, stamped, labeled, packaged as... named... a proper name.

When you were a child... remember "sticks and stones can break my bones but words (names) can never hurt me?"

At the time, was this a question, or an exuberant rhyme put to memory - all in the spirit of childish fun and games?

How easily we forget!

Utilitarian ethical principles which inform our actions, and authoritarian constructs which inform our beliefs, must be reconciled in order to begin to live free from guilt.

Commonality of Purpose = Acceptance of Shared Responsibility

Faith is not belief; nor is it borne from an authoritarian construct.

Belief is borne from fear of survival; but faith knows nothing about fear.

Mindfulness = Creation (breathe in) + Desire (breathe out)

Be here now - all else before and after is illusory and deceptive.

Words - and their meanings - are attachments. Without these signs and symbols what have we left?

Care to comment?

Is something missing?

Agree... or... disagree?

Got any questions... or answers?

Change to taste. What good is this stuff without you at least substituting or using your own stupid words?

Now... the secret's out... and it's no longer a secret - it's all yours!

Consider yourself anointed.


[Note: These words may be subject to editing or revision... whenever... for whatever reason. So go ahead and blink... turn away... and poof - they'll be gone!]

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Stupidity Sells!

I like people who like talking words, and from the looks of things it appears that's the whole wide world, isn't it?

And I guess you could say... you and I could be included in this bunch too!

But Matthew Stibbe - over at Bad Language and Articulate Marketing - passed this tidbit of information on to me the other day... which got me thinking... and I rather enjoyed it.

According to an Oxford University Press expert, 90% of the top 100 most popular words used in internet copy online was one syllable.

Top Ten Words for Copy

1 Time
2. Person
3. Year
4. Way
5. Day
6. Thing
7. Man
8. World
9. Life
10. Hand

Mark would like this piece of good news too, because as you may or may not have noticed, he's usually only conversant in chat rooms or on the telephone... and reading and writing puts him seriously at a loss for words - or at a loss for time - one or the other.

Hell, just the idea of completing a sentence - usually delivered in a staccato, rapid-fire, either-you-get-it-or-you-don't manner - doesn't sit too well with him... so why would forming a complete thought... with little more than one or two sentences... cause him to lose any sleep?

So the news of this one-syllable word business only validates what he's been trying to tell me from day one - namely, that stupidity sells!

Which of course caused me to Google it today - once again.

Now, innocently enough, I had originally started this search yesterday... since stupidity turns out to be a synonym for foolishness (see the previous post)... and I'm prone to engage in foolish behavior a LOT... but here I was led to a whole treasure trove of useful links, like these...

The Encyclopedia of Stupidity, by Dutch library historian, Matthijs van Boxsel
Understanding Stupidity
Definitive Supidity
What is Man? - By our friend Mark Twain
The Darwin Awards
Digital Philosophy - Think Mark would dig this?
Annals of Improbable Research - Read this and tell me, "Is this guy not stupid?"
Stupidity Tracker
Stupidity Awards

... And all I've finally got to say is, yes, after reading most of this stuff, "Man, I am damn proud to be stupid! I never knew I'd find such good company with so many stupid-asses in my whole life! Talk about liberating - and fun!"

Albert Einstein said...

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

... But then I wonder if old Albert considered he just might be stupid too. (At least I learned he had a sense of humor.)

Goodness knows, a hundred years from now, we might all consider it a good thing to be stupid. After all, how many of us wouldn't admit that we're a whole lot more stupid about most things compared to how smart we were about just a few things?

Figuratively speaking, that is.

Does the use of big words, even ordinary words, make us collectors of such nonsense, or what?

And for what unspoken ulterior motive does our collecting of words serve for us anyway?

Are we smarter if we're richer? Happier if we're richer? Or stupider if we're not either one?

For which I mean to say... in words... and the size of our vocabulary... as it relates to these attributes.

Hell, does anyone think we're maybe poorly served... by even knowing so many words?

And can stupidity sell?

What compels poor stupid people like me to look up English language words like balderdash and piffle for instance?

Mark would laughingly say, "Because you're sick in the head, Lark... probably!"

To which I'd add, "Why don't you just say it, Marko, you think I'm stupid, right?"

And he'd, more than likely, keep on keepin' on... laughing himself silly!

Because words - and constantly collecting a bunch of 'em - really does seem stupid to Mark.

Take a look at what someone said to me recently about what drives a person to want to write:

"Several different regions of the brain govern the act of writing. The physical movement of the hand is controlled by the cerebral cortex which comprises part of the outer layer of the brain. The drive to write, on the other hand, is controlled by the limbic system, a ring-shaped cluster of cells deeply buried in the cortex which governs emotion, affiliated instincts and inspiration and is said to regulate the human being's need for communication. Words and ideas are cognized and understood by the temporal lobes behind the ears, and these temporal lobes are connected to the limbic system. Ideas are organized and edited in the frontal lobe of the brain. Temporal lobe lesions cause temporal lobe epilepsy; however it is also known to run in families. Hypergraphia is not a frequent manifestation of temporal lobe epilepsy."

"As of current, hypergraphia is understood to be triggered by changes in brainwave activity in the temporal lobe."

"It is also associated with manic and bipolar disorder. Manic and depressive episodes have been reported to intensify hypergraphia symptoms. Additionally schizophrenics and people with frontotemporal dementia also experience a compulsive drive to write."

So I guess this proves it - not only am I stupid, but I'm deranged as well!

God knows Mark wouldn't bother to even read this drivel - he'd all-of-a-sudden be too busy... or something - and he'd probably get mad if I forced him...

... Which leads me to what I really wanted to write about.

Patricia Ritsema van Eck...

... At Thin Electrons has been soliciting thoughts from her members about the reformatting of her site to something with a little more interaction using Web 2.0 standards; and, in particular, she asked her members for their favorite resources to be included on the new site too.

So... I'd already gotten cold feet about posting in her forum about the availability of a free download of our little comic strip... thinking... "What a stupid thing for somebody to want to download in the first place"... which of course it is.

But she seems so nice - I know for a fact she ain't dumb either - and I wanted to comment in her blog about a favorite niche she wants to target more in the future, generally identified as happiness.

Now you know how I am - more than a little bit wordy - and as I'd never had the courage to come right out and say hello in her blog, I felt more-than-a-little creepy about being the first to comment on this... her latest post.

So Patricia... forgive me... if I just post the wordiness right here...

Hi Patricia!

Thought you'd enjoy hearing about this Dutch guy, Matthijs van Boxsel, as I guess he's a library historian who's written and compiled a thing called... get this... "The Encyclopedia of Stupidity".

And it's received rave reviews too!

Anyway, I had some thoughts about Thin Electrons, and some great resource ideas for you too. But I'm embarrassed to place such a long comment in your blog... especially since this is my first time.

So would you mind looking at it over at my blog first?

Just click on "See the Blog" at our site, Mark and Lark dot com, and scroll down.

Thanks for allowing me this space to comment!


[P.S. - That's a great viral marketing tip you gifted us with the other day. Mark and I consider it one of the best actionable ideas we've seen yet!]

... And to continue... directly from her blog...

May I suggest laughter (jokesters & merry pranksters), like in a "Just Kidding!" section, as a nice way to point towards happiness?

And "Yummy Eye Candy" (featured artists, etc.)?

How about "Show-and-Tell" ("how to", "what for", etc.), organized with sub-categories?

Remember, like in grade school?

And did you ever have to present - or share - a "Current Event" (political/human affairs) in front of a "Civics" class?

How about an "Angels" (help-mates, heroes) and "Demons" (anti-heroes) section... or a "Controllers" and "De-Controllers" section for those wanting to pitch something?

Or sections called "The Road Less Traveled", "On the Bandwagon!"... "Life in The Slow Lane" and "Life in the Fast Lane"?

And different word cloud sections organized by groups suggested by the members, like "Interesting Fluff - The Stuff of Us"... or "Great Big Cloudbursts" and "Little Puffs of Smoke?"

Your instincts are indeed correct about the Web 2.0 format... but I don't see you as writing solely in the "Happy Warriors" section... divided up maybe as...

... Rich Bitches | Sons-of-Bitches | Rags-to-Riches | Let's Talk About Me-Me-Me... only talking about making money. Instead, I see you as a person who genuinely wants to promote all kinds of happiness!

Since you're already a very good marketer - and others can certainly learn from you - your members will be more than glad to promote the site... especially if it also helps promote themselves!

The new interactive format will allow others, besides yourself, to share ways making money can contribute to happiness... and what's not to make one happy seeing others so happy at your reformatted Thin Electrons site?

Heck, let the members vote on their favorite stuff that makes them the happiest!

Personally, my own site would have me as a features page editor of sorts... and my column might be called "My Stupid Opinions".

And naturally, other commentators would be allowed to post under "So what's Your Stupid Opinion?"

I really think happiness can sell - as well you should too. In fact, if I could bottle it right now, I would... just for you!

Best regards,


[P.S. - Oh yea, here's some of my favorite resources:

Power 150: Top Marketing Blogs

The One-Sentence Persuasion Course: 27 Words to Make the World Do Your Bidding... and... The No-Nonsense Guide to Enlightenment

Zag: The #1 Discipline for High Performance Brands

Creating Pleasurable Interfaces: Getting From Tasks to Experiences.

Hope you and your members find them useful!]

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Foolish Words | Thoughts Become Things | Piece of Mind

Universal Law is the type of law we mean when we refer to the Law of Attraction.

It derives from the world of primitive human psychology, and, as such, is immutable with the law of nature – itself, in harmony with all other universal laws.

First, despite the fact that modern man has misinterpreted the extant definitions for these words; and, second, because he too-often equates the contemporary meaning with mere self-gratification or conscious greed, the words themselves have become synonymous with divisiveness and crass consumerism.

I look with askance... at all that I see around me... and find myself amused by this witches' brew of wonderment.

What could possibly be the mainspring - the motivating force - of our many discussions... thinking and speaking these words?

Unfortunately for some, and happily for others, these are buzzwords marketers love to exposit and turn to their own delight - so intent are they to spread the love... so as to help their desperate customers... finally get it too.

But for a pittance of a price... hey... we can all learn to be foolish!

Today's brainwashed consumers, hardly recognizable as human anymore... since taking on the characteristics... of mythical zombies, desperately want to believe this must be the elusive magic formula - the secret - granting them endless time to go shopping... whenever and wherever they want.

Standing apart from you and me, those so possessed of it already live in separate realities. In the conspicuous indulgence of their worldly pleasures - like shooting stars blazing past our dreamscape - they leave those who pretend to adore them basking in the afterglow.

And their lessers - those unfortunates who haven't yet acquired this attractiveness - are fated to pay the enlightened ones' American Express card bills... and service their vanities... and fight their wars.

I submit that resistance to understanding universal laws - like of attraction - can be instructive.

So foolish are we when we do get a grasp of these words... that I wonder if it is at all worth it - these thoughts becoming things, I mean.

Which leads me to want to break it down a bit... to see if we can learn to profit... otherwise... just for fun!

Thoughts become things
Like attracts like

And the joker in me says, "Thoughts become actions - all a part of everyday busy-ness."

Or, he laughingly inquires, "Guess who's laughing all the way to the bank?"

The greater the focus and intention the more likely a positive outcome can be affected – assuming, of course, we include desire, and have clearly articulated the result expected as being a positive one.

It is not a law – or a code – which derives from an authoritarian construct.

It can be said to manifest, however, a utilitarian principle... though not always in universal application.

For this type of law to serve a beneficent purpose... requires faith – in principle and deliberate action – naturally not pointing to the religious kind, which is authoritarian.

Faith becomes manifest when one understands it is not beholden to reason. We take the leap of it... and we can be blinded by it... but for our exuberant enjoyment of its experience... we cannot tell its truth...

... Because truth is scientific, and it is entirely beholden to logic and reason.

As a belief can be said to be held... faith cannot be held. We hold to a belief, like when we see the sky we hold it to be real; and when we hold fast to the water in the ocean, grasping at its fluidity to prevent us from drowning, we can still drown clinging to the belief our incessant kicking and dog paddling will save us. But by simply floating... we have faith that the natural inherent properties of water will sustain us without undue dread – all this irrespective of other factors, quotients and variables, etcetera.

And faith is not contingent upon belief... or, in and of itself, is it an authoritarian construct. But nor is it founded – or grounded – in science or principle.

The law of attraction, however, because it’s a universal law, has existed before the time man constructed symbols – or words – for it.

Man is funny in his ways; and with his creation of language, he selfishly has insisted on naming this phenomenon – because it’s in his foolish nature to want to talk about everything... as this brings him social unity and pleasure from watching Oprah on TV, for example.

How we do enjoy our entertainment - and our attachment to foolish words! For us it’s a shared reality we choose to believe will provide us with pleasure – though truth has little to do with it in the main. Truth we attempt to realize from such activities is impossible to obtain... but for all the damn noise!

Because ultimately truth is not contingent upon belief either, or anything derived thereof, since belief is borne from fear.

Now a law itself does not depend upon scientific principle, which we understand is subject to strict scrutiny by way of the scientific method.

But principle itself is scientific – though science, admittedly, does not always demand strict proof.

So what is a principle? And what is a universal law?

Theoretically, principle, because it’s derived from the study of physics (scientific, based on mostly a priori knowledge), or the study of ethical and moral considerations (branches of philosophy and psychology, based mostly on empirical knowledge), is, for all intents and purposes, the most vexing to define.

And naming things is always entertaining to man, though not always pleasurable either. To name things causes man to selfishly demand of his knowledge some reason – a purpose... with clarity... and a communicable definition of things - so his self-directed use of logic... can make him feel satisfied... and his consternation will be assuaged.

But because principle is foundational in nature... founded on observable phenomena... subject to scrutiny grounded in logic and reason... and supported by a preponderance of evidence... or we can say it serves its greatest purpose for the largest number of agents (or people) served by it...

... For these reasons... a principle really is scientific... supported as it is by our scrutiny of the evidence... and by use of the scientific method, no less!

A universal law is one which does not require belief to be reality-based, it is true; nor does it demand scientific scrutiny to be provable. Only by faith can its truth be realized, to effect change by constructive action... for the purpose of achieving an intentional outcome.

And it’s true in our world... and throughout the cosmos too – that by aligning focused thought... from the conscious mind... with purposeful action... we experience it... then know the truth of it – especially if we gain noticeable pleasure and/or things to prove it.

All this causes movement or change... as it activates our economy... dependent upon events to happen or come about.

Focused Thought + Purposeful Action = Attraction is theoretically, though not a law, the most powerful force to be found in the universe!

And, paradoxically, not mystically or in fact, we call this the law of attraction. Mysticism has little to do with it... and factual evidence does not support its truth... except that our conscious intention... faithfully harnesses its power... to action... and result.

And, for reasons of economy – let conscience be your guide – you are right to explain it... in your own inestimable way!

Never ever buy into it – unless you really intend to use it; otherwise, you’ll go broke or remain unhappy... probably both... just thinking about such things - like still another collection... of more foolish words.

It’s akin to making a bad investment... made worse because one simply chooses not to ethically capitalize on it in a timely manner.

And, as some of us know, this is just not good for our piece of mind - or your economy!


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

After Words: Retracing the Patterns of Language

After reading Language Garden, by Susanne Antonetta, in a past issue of Orion Magazine, I was reminded of one of my early heroes... whose books and articles I had read intensely before I became an adult, in those years from about 1968 to 1975.

Language Garden posits this: An orangutan with attitude meets a writer with a weakness for Shakespeare. And a writer wonders, if we give animals language, do we free them, or imprison them?

The same magazine features archived articles by Jane Goodall, famous for her work with primates, and I knew much research had been done over many years exploring their capacities and abilities to think and communicate like human beings, so I had become transfixed by this question put forth by Ms. Antonetta.

So what if one were to put forth this same question about human beings? How can children be taught ways to adopt language in ways which might improve our species, by their parents improving the methodologies by which they better communicate its meaning to them?

Furthermore, to address the central issue raised in the article, does language actually harm us more than it helps us, or does it follow that perhaps we might need to rethink how it is we indoctrinate our children - with language - to this world?

Adults themselves are already fearful, for instance, of putting their foots in their mouths; and cognitive dissonance - the uncomfortable tension that arises from holding two conflicting thoughts at the same time - in and of itself creates a type of fear.

So fear emanating from unscripted emotion... can only be perpetuated by scary thoughts - themselves borne from our words for them... in language.

An interesting article in Live Science suggests we may already possess the ability to read minds, much like clairvoyants. But what language symbols would we ascribe to whatever it is we read, if indeed this faculty actually exists?

Man had created language in order to attach signs and symbols to bits and scraps of observable phenomena commonly experienced by us the living - presumably so we could communicate in coherent ways - as signs and symbols had seemingly become necessary to his survival... and with them he'd hoped their usefulness might cause him to better adapt - or conform - within the environment he'd found himself.

Heck, our ancestors only wanted the ability to talk to each other! What could be harmful in that?

Our defenseless children needed protection and guidance. And we adults needed protection from fear - the reassurance that by our relative safety in numbers we could ensure our survival... in such a harsh bewildering environment... so full of life's mystery and wonder.

And people today are not so different from people in the Stone Age. We still need to draw from our natural world the same resources other living things need to survive - be it air, water, food or shelter, etcetera. And competition forced all living things into certain collaborative arrangements within this environment, so we could feel safe from our would-be protectors - or our predators - much like today.

[Oh how I love games of irony and wordplay! :)]

Alan Watts understood this conundrum better than most. Which is why I'd decided to select him as one of my mentors. His words resonated more truth than I could read or hear about elsewhere at that time - and I had a voracious appetite...

... For words... and their truthfulness. And for my selfish pursuit of pleasure.

Even after revisiting recently much of what I'd come to appreciate about his teachings - and learning anew so much more about the man in the process - I'm empathetic still.

Which just means I can still relate to his takes on the significance of what he taught me - about language arts - even after learning more about his heroic journey to discover meaning in this life... knowing full well what he'd learned and shared with many others beforehand.

The man was not this scholarly old gentleman - a real life guru, as I had supposed, after all; he was youthful in his spirit. In fact, he was just as flawed as I am. As you are... as we all are.

He was an iconoclast, to be sure. And an autodidactic personality. But he was also a hedonist with an extraordinarily inventive passion for breaking the bonds of conformity... within society's self-imposed boundaries.

It was said he could suck all the oxygen out of any room he entered, and he could go through a bottle of vodka, by himself, in a day. And I imagined he could command attention alright, almost at will, simply by virtue of his presence.

But he also enjoyed casual walks outside his rural compound in northern California, or cavorting in a converted old ferry tethered beside San Francisco Bay... and his time spent in quiet contemplation - contentedly alone with himself. He loved good food... gardens... and nature... women... and architecture... the finer things of what we call living.

And he made me laugh, because he just didn't buy into any convention - especially with his repetitive allusions to boxes and wigglies!

In 1973 he was found dead at his beloved nature retreat, at the commandeered round house called Mandala, having apparently died in his stupor - or his sleep - ravaged from exhaustion... by all his pleasurable [sic] pursuits... at the ripe old age of 58.

Off the top of my head, the books I remember having read by Watts were, if I remember correctly, in this order...

"The Way of Zen" (1957)

"The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing who You Are" (1966)

"Behold the Spirit: A Study in the Necessity of Mystical Religion" (1948)

... But I'm sure I read a whole lot more. What I really remember is I had to read each of these more than once - to make sure I would absorb and hold onto the words they contained.

But then this was a violation of what I'd learned to be true, so I let it all go, just as he had schooled me... like in this essay from The New Alchemy.

In the end though I was mindful that - like these words - they were still... only words.

I but retained what he had learned from D.T.Suzuki, something called the "science of 'no-mind'" - the essence of which is "of no matter" anyway.

Watts was not so judgmental about himself or the world that he needed to subjugate his animal desire for pleasure - wherever it could be found. On the contrary, his intrepid investigation into many of life's curiosities proved he was possessed of a playful spirit... endowed with a noble and towering intellect. A notorious womanizer, the notion that he had to be or act in a certain way - at any given time - would have been to deprive himself of nothing but his freedom... for the cosmic wanderlust... he so craved.

In the mid-60s a term was coined called a "self-destruct trip" - for me, one of those memes which informs undesirable behavior. It'd be a pity today if we were to discard Watts' lessons because of his own obvious self-destruct trip through life...

... Because the example of his personal journey - and what he left behind - can still serve as a wake-up call for us all.

This is the ultimate value I place before the altar of Alan Watts - the theory of everything... can be reconciled... to all that is provable... to be good... in the end.

After words you read and hear are done, here's some more to soak in - before surrendering to their wisdom... as we trust you will.

"I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is."

"I find it a little difficult to say what the subject matter of this seminar is going to be, because it's too fundamental to give it a title. I'm going to talk about what there is. Now the first thing that we have to do is to get our perspectives with some background about the basic ideas that, as Westerners living today in the United States, influence our everyday common sense, our fundamental notions about what life is about. And there are historical origins for this which influence us more strongly than most people realize. Ideas of the world which are built into the very nature of the language we use, and of our ideas of logic, and of what makes sense altogether."

"Some believe all that parents, tutors, and kindred believe. They take their principles by inheritance, and defend them as they would their estates, because they are born heirs to them."

"We are all basically scams and if you haven’t found that — you are very unconscious. I know all sorts of people who are full of outward love, but of course it always turns up that they need money. And where it comes to money, the virtue flies out of a window."

"It is said that playing-cards were devised by the ancients to hide a secret where those not "in the know" would never think of looking for it. For heresy-hunters are serious-minded people who would never think of looking for religion in a game. It is curious to think how men have gambled, fought and slain one another over these unknown symbols, and it is interesting to wonder whether the most accomplished 'poker face' would fall a little on discovering that he was playing for lucre with emblems just as holy as the cross, the chalice and the crown of thorns. Probably not, for men have done things just as terrible in the name of symbols whose holiness they recognized. However, it is no less strange that the puritanic mind should see in diamonds, spades, hearts and clubs the signs of vice, to be avoided at all times and more especially on Sundays."

"The subject of this seminar is "Self and Other," and this is therefore to be an exploration into the subject that interests me most, which is the problem of personal identity, man's relationship to the universe, and all the things that are connected with that. It is for our culture at this time in history an extremely urgent problem, because of our technological power. In known history, nobody has had such capacity for altering the universe than the people of the United States of America, and nobody has gone about it in such an aggressive way."

"The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego."

"Faith is a state of openness or trust. To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. And the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on. In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all. Instead they are holding tight. But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be."

"Inability to accept the mystic experience is more than an intellectual handicap. Lack of awareness of the basic unity of organism and environment is a serious and dangerous hallucination. For in a civilization equipped with immense technological power, the sense of alienation between man and nature leads to the use of technology in a hostile spirit---to the "conquest" of nature instead of intelligent co-operation with nature."

"I find that the sensation of myself as an ego inside a bag of skin is really a hallucination. What we really are is, first of all, the whole of our body. And although our bodies are bounded with skin, and we can differentiate between outside and inside, they cannot exist except in a certain kind of natural environment. Obviously a body requires air, and the air must be within a certain temperature range. The body also requires certain kinds of nutrition. So in order to occur the body must be on a mild and nutritive planet with just enough oxygen in the atmosphere spinning regularly around in a harmonious and rhythmical way near a certain kind of warm star."

"That arrangement is just as essential to the existence of my body as my heart, my lungs, and my brain. So to describe myself in a scientific way, I must also describe my surroundings, which is a clumsy way [of] getting around to the realization that you are the entire universe. However we do not normally feel that way because we have constructed in thought an abstract idea of our self."

"Can any melting or burning imaginable get rid of these ever-rising mountains of ruin – especially when the things we make and build are beginning to look more and more like rubbish even before they are thrown away?"

"It would be, of course, much better, if this occasion were celebrated with no talk at all, and if I addressed you in the manner of the ancient teachers of Zen, I should hit the microphone with my fan and leave. But I somehow have the feeling that since you have contributed to the support of the Zen Center, in expectation of learning something, a few words should be said, even though I warn you, that by explaining these things to you, I shall subject you to a very serious hoax."

It's time to retreat! To pleasure or to wanderlust...

... But let's do talk soon!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Trackbacks are Useful

This morning I'm reading about a new blog post from James D. Brausch, entitled Words that Sell, so being a new subscriber I clicked right on over from the email message to his blog.

Here again I read about a piece of copywriting software called Glyphius 2007 - which purportedly is one of the most powerful tools available for online publishers out there.

James tells me there's even a physical book out about this thing Glyphius; and, in it, is some test results for sentences and paragraphs which have produced the best results for business copywriters and marketers.

So this is the deal: James will send the first person who leaves a trackback link to his blog from their own a copy of this book.

But first I have to find out what the heck this trackback is - and is supposed to do!

And Mark is still out of town and I'm on my own. Guess what? I just Googled it as "what is a trackback?"... and I arrived here.

Pretty cool for a confirmed technophobe, huh?

I'll keep you posted about this little experiment - and let you know more about Glyphius 2007 - or if doing business with this whiz-bang gadget is really worth it.

Words That Sell

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Word Matters | Economy Matters

So the other day I was in Richard Dawkins' forum - after-words of being in Amazon to check out the reviews for his latest book, The God Delusion.

Personally, I suffer through enough delusions to buy into another authoritarian construct which only keeps me chained to more illusions; but, nevertheless, I thought it might be fun to investigate what all the fuss was about (currently the #13 NY Times best seller).

Not long ago I'd finished reading The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power, by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad, which recalled some of Dave Lakhani's experiences growing up as a member of a cult known as the Bible Believers - or the Branhamites.

In The Guru Papers I found some compelling words to describe the experiences of its authors... forever seeking fulfillment... or following the teachings of one New Age guru or Eastern thought leader after another.

As has been noted previously in this web log, authoritarianism speaks to any and all kinds of mind control and manipulation, and contemporary versions of it persist in our society in all sorts of disguises and permutations - much of the time when you don't even realize it.

A construct (think of it like a social construction) is anything which you yourself didn't invent - and if you did invent it - or build it - more than likely you borrowed heavily from others.

And a utility can be described as a useful article or device, or something useful. It forms the root for another ism known as utilitarianism, which postulates an ethical theory that says all moral, political or social actions should be be directed toward achieving the greatest good for the greatest number of people - something I grew up believing was also supposed to be true in a democracy nowadays... in conflict, as it often is, with capitalism too.

utility = the necessary criterion of action

useful = that which is good, or worthwhile

Whether they be delusions or illusions... all beliefs... we hold to be true... can be examined under the bright light... of an illuminated mind... for accuracy.

And the stuff of our examinations is often just a compendium of silly old words!

So... while in Richard Dawkins' forum I noticed a recommended article by A.C. Grayling called Pursue pleasure: it's the natural way to do good in the world, and, naturally, since I definitely want to believe this to be true, I decided I would comment.

But then my comment got too wordy - much too writerly and not readerly enough - and I didn't want to step beyond the bounds of good taste, or of etiquette, since this was a forum of philosophers, for Chrissakes; nor did I want to be identified as a troll either.

So I decided, rather than throw it out, I'd duplicate it here and change it into an imaginary conversation between Mark and me.

And I say imaginary, not only because Mark and his family are on Spring Break down in Galveston, because, if you don't know Mark yet, he'd simply just refuse to join me in such far out talk in the first place!

So here it is - strictly for your amusement, of course!


Read the article, beforehand, here

Between Mark and Lark, Who Leaves Whom... Dumbstruck?

I will try to stay on topic within this worthy discussion but I’ve got some problems I need you to help me address, okay Mark?

“You’re kidding me... but... well okay, sure. Go for it!”

You see a box full of people and gadgetry (one of my banks) has allowed me to live in my very own toybox (a home).

Other boxes full of people and gadgetry (utility and media providers) have me connected to more toyboxes (whiz-bang devices and appliances) inside.

And still another toybox, this one on wheels (my car), tethers me to suburbia (a whole slew of toyboxes), where I’m surrounded by an embarrassment of still more riches.

My goodness, but I’m surrounded by lots of pleasure – and all manner of stuff.

It could be said I’ve got toys and stuff running out both ears!

Same with you, right Mark?

“Hey, man, everything’s cool here!” he tosses off, as he checks in with a chat room client.

But herewith are my rhetorical questions – as I need a few answers to my problems.

Why can’t we reconcile...

... The good life...
... With living a life of goodness...
... And a life of principle too...

... If we support the view of Aristotle who “praised friendship, the quest for knowledge, and the appreciation of beauty...”

... And the Renaissance thinkers, who “argued that man is a part of nature, and that it is natural to please the five senses – colours and tastes, scents and sensations, music, and the lover’s touch...”

... Or in the view of A.C. Grayling (author of “Against All Gods” and “What is Good?”), “why there is nothing wrong with the pleasures and possessions of the good life; they are what people naturally seek and even need (provided they are not enjoyed at the expense of someone else, and so long as the business of acquiring them does not become an obsessive end in itself)?"

“I could use a bite to eat,” reports Mark, unaware I’ve just posed a question.

Principle does not need to be attached to religion - or even morals, does it? If it be a part of an authoritarian construct, then yes, it can be very harmful, but neither does principle have to be so rigidly burdensome to remain pleasurable.

And ethical considerations should never be so easily dismissed in our story – for it 's the story of all of us.

All this stuff we pleasure ourselves with has a price, which seen strictly from an ethical viewpoint, by all rights, should be called into question too.

By stuff, I mean to say, resources – whether it's knowledge-based or material-based - what is derived from human capital, especially as it pertains to the emergence of our knowledge-based economy; or what is derived from material taken from the environment, what can be called our natural capital.

The Knowledge Economy

Natural Capitalism

All this junk is just stuff!

If we subscribe to just a few utilitarian examples, it would seem all this stuff must be harmful to someone – or something – somewhere along the supply line...

... Wouldn’t you admit – at least, guess – this is true?

“I’m sorry, did you need a real answer – or just my opinion?” replies the Markster, as he continues to surf the net.

And does this accumulation of pleasure and other worldly stuff finally conflict with what is of the greatest value in our basic economy?

“I’m ready for a beer. Need one?” And he cheerfully heads over to the fridge...

... While Lark keeps prattling on.

By this I mean an economy which is the “careful and thrifty management of our households”, to include the management of our less-than-exhaustible resources, “as of income, materials or labor.”

If we choose to stay the course with purely principled scientific analyzes of these questions we must admit all other questions must derive from merely unprincipled – or unscientific – thoughts... then actions... as these things can only be principled if they are also scientifically deduced.

When what can be deemed scientific is kept apart from what is not scientific... only then can we begin to know what is meant by real principle... alongside universal law... and a new kind of more enlightened thinking – which guides our changed behavior – can emerge.

Science does not pretend to show strict proof; nor does principle aspire to be law which is necessarily authoritarian, even though it can be said to be universal. But as they both relate to the collection of empirical evidence based on the experiences of many it’s safe to say we are capable to decide if our conclusions will serve a universal utilitarian purpose supported by scientific methodology.

If this non-authoritarian construct serves the greater utilitarian good of us – and of our collective resources – it can be measured by how best it suits our overall economy.

And laws written for us should reflect on all these things – otherwise they will do more harm than good in their enactment and application. Then should a law be written as the authoritarian instrument it becomes... so it can have the principled effect of being good.

I submit that only by doing all these things can we finally differentiate between what is good and what is bad.

By taking introspective note of my emotional responses to each of my individual thoughts – and before my actions will lead me where I need not to be going – I can learn to disregard, or discard, what makes me feel bad – and replace these things with only what makes me feel good.

Maybe we can call this a gut check! You might just call it simply, and naturally, “pleasure is good.”

Wouldn't you?

“Uh... say what? Oh yea... I’m down with this stuff, go ahead on!”

But is our perception and value of this pleasure all that good if it upsets the balance of nature, is less-than-utilitarian, inconsiderate of our economy, or randomly applied – ill-suited for our best harmonious purposes?

“Do you mean to say we shouldn’t drink another beer?”

No one can stop Lark when he gets on a roll... and he doesn’t realize he’s wasting his breath.

To my way of thinking this is inconsistent with what is pleasurable or good!

So I’ll take my leave from you now... and leave you with even more rhetorical questions.

What about this stuff of my dreams – which never seems to jibe with the economic reality of all this damn stuff I see when I’m awake?

“Dude, you’ve got to get your mind out of the gutter!”

So much STUFF is always in my head – to ignore it or to meditate it away does not make it really go away – and, if I choose to manage it well enough to suit my own pleasurable purposes, I fear I’m just not being altogether good anymore.

And I’m afraid if I didn’t think I loved it so, it should make me go stark raving mad!

“Love what – madness?”

Why do I feel sometimes boxed in by pent-up emotions – in an intolerant or ignore-ant world – outside my toybox?

“Well, you know, you might need to go party in the sandbox with the kids – and step outside your own skin sometimes, Lark.”

And Lark does step out of himself, answering with another question. “Mark, have you followed a single word I’ve been saying?”

“Hey, Lark, I need to take a piss. Be right back.” He'd already walked away.

Why am I such a bad person – after all I’ve accomplished – trying to be so good? I feel this every time I eat most food, for instance, or even when I walk past a panhandler. And I feel it even when playing with my toys.

“You’re not so bad. A little weird, but not bad. Would you go with funny?”

Surely this exercise cannot be said to be considerate of your own utilitarian principles, in defiance of some of my own authoritarian constructs, or even in the best interests of all our economies!


Man... I’m such an insufferable fool... and so out of touch with the time!

Why should anyone care about my problems... about...?

... Oh, I am sorry... forgive me for my afflictions, and now your word fatigue, okay?

“Sure – no prob! But I’m okay with 'em... or whatever it is you're worn out about... aren't you?"

Of course, I...

"Lark, let’s go score some tacos, alright? And pick us up some more beer! Ya comin'?"