A Shaggy Litmus Test

A notion presented itself when walking on the narrow bends of the West River Trail. I’m writing it and putting it out there to help me see if it’s valid. Since the path funnels everyone onto its slender and shared byway, I was wondering about people’s concept of consideration for others.

The gist of it is, society can be divided into four types of people:

1)People without dogs
2)Those who have dogs but let them go unleashed
3)Those who walk their dogs leashed, but with so much slack in the line they may as well be a mime holding an imaginary rope
4)Those who respectfully use the leash to keep their dog in control and within a proximity to themselves.

What Does The US Flag Stand For?

What does the US flag stand for? As far as all of the values of democracy and rights values are concerned we could more be flying a Swedish or French or any number of sovereign flags that would be better representative. Values these days seem to be changing every day and becoming more and more difficult to name and provide evidence. At this point, with our very uncertain future unfolding before us, the US flag may only be representing a certain defined physical territory that our government believes it is legitimately allowed to control and defend. Our fifty states and our several colonies. (The mere fact that we still have colonies, Puerto Rico being the major, immediately throws our supposed values into question). I believe that our real values are reflected in the way we live. We may have a good selection of moral values on paper but they only apply to those who have the money or other means to access them. It was set up this way from the very beginning (using our constitutional convention in 1788 as the beginning) when access to rights, security, comfort was tied to citizenship and private property of which wealth alone is a major part. From day one money and power swamped democracy.

Rabbi Weiss Was Not Billy Graham

Rabbi Weiss Was Not Billy Graham

The Rabbi was our synagogue’s spiritual leader for a decade or more. Since it was my childhood, it seemed like forever. Then he got fired. My parents were not happy. The governing board soon replaced Rabbi Weiss with a younger guy, who wore a United States Air Force uniform at his very first public appearance at the Jewish Community Center of Bayside Hills.

Oligarchs and Entrepreneurs

Ever notice how wealthy Russians are oligarchs and tycoons, but wealthy Americans are entrepreneurs and magnates?

Oligarch comes from the Greek, meaning “rule by the few”.

A Russian oligarch is a businessperson who rapidly accumulated wealth after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Emotional Musings Provoked By Squirrels

I was watching squirrels this morning and enjoying their peanut-driven antics when my mind went on one of those tangents far afield, this time pursuing the question of emotions in animals. The squirrels appear to have them, but are they anything like ours? If animals didn’t have emotions, would anything ever happen? Then it hit me — emotions are the spur that keep us going.


Desensitization occurs when someone is overexposed to scenes of violence, cruelty or suffering. Those scenes then become less likely to cause feelings of shock or distress.

The New 10 Commandments

There have been many attempts to re-write the Commandments. Many have been intended to improve  them with varying degrees of success. Some have been idealistic. Some have been humorous. And some have been cynical.

An Evolutionary Innovation: The Origin of Consciousness

While the exact origin of consciousness is debatable, and polarized on a mammalian time-chart, the fact that all mammalian creatures acquired consciousness as a datum, that is, as a fixed starting point in our brains, is not.The history of these living, yet mortal, creatures is documented by their fossils that are preserved in sedimentary layers over geologic time, where we can see (read) the small patterns to help understand the big picture, and that, is the progression of evolution. Yet, there are at least two types of mammalian evolution.

The first and most obvious is the aforesaid fossil record. That record, despite gaps, is of such an exacting nature that it is no longer considered a theory of evolution, but the established fact of evolution.

Know It All, Or Just Part?

Would it be better to have a supercomputer loaded with all the world’s knowledge, or just the “good” knowledge?

An immensely powerful AI engine could be loaded with everything we know, good or bad. It can know about love, puppies, and flowers. It can be told about torture and abuse. Those programming it can set a direction.

Would it be better to go forth relying on something that knows evil, or should evil be programmed out of the AI system?

Swimming with the Fishes

At the far end of our limbs we have the necessary appendages to propel our bodies through the water. We begin our lives floating in an oceanic body of fluids called the amniotic universe in a symbiotic unity with mother and child where we experience a “lack of boundaries and obstructions” akin to how we feel immersed in open waters.

The origin of our aquatic nature is suggested by Charles Darwin when he asked, “What can be more curious than that the hand of a man?” Our fingers typing on a keyboard began their journey over 350 million years ago when some tetrapod held its head high enough above the waterline to catch its prey. That’s when its evolutionary “modification of gene expression” realized there was another world.

What the Buddhists Teach: Finding Clarity in Everyday Life

How do we develop mindfulness and a compassionate optimism about a highly imperfect world? Author Dr. Polly Young-Eisendrath discusses the Buddhist model for remaining fully engaged in the ups and downs of everyday life in her talk “What the Buddhists Teach: Finding Clarity in Everyday Life,” May 4th at 7pm in the library’s main room. Sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council. Location Brooks Memorial Library Main Room. Contact Reference Desk (802) 254-5290 x109. For more information about Dr. Polly Young-Eisendrath, go to 

The Nature of Belief Abhors a Vacuum

One of the most disgusting postulates that unifies the otherwise deadly divided “Jukrislim” religions is the accusation that humans are born with and live in sin. The original finger-pointing, found in the shared book of Genesis, lays the blame of sin squarely on the backs of women. Women have never been the same since then, especially after the Jewish sects calling themselves Christianity and Islam took root.





Why Have An Age Barrier To Voting?

What is the idea behind having a voting age?  Why can’t anyone who can read or write, vote in elections?  Shouldn’t the young also have a say on who is to make the rules they are to live by and their families are to live by? The rules that will affect their lives later on.  Some people will think it ridiculous that a six year old should be able to vote, but why?  Because they are too young?  By who’s designation? Shouldn’t we be teaching children how to become independent adults?  Being young and part of the system allows them to practice.  And why should they not have a say in the political system anyway?    

The Importance of Being of No Consequence

Over the years, I’ve often posed this question to many people, “If I could somehow give you an eternal afterlife, but with the caveat that you cannot take God with you, would you still take the afterlife?

Because the question is unprecedented, it at first takes the person by surprise. After all, most Western people still connect an afterlife with the God they were raised to believe in. It would not normally occur to them to have one without the other.

So, there is often hesitation, but not for long.

A Political Hypothetical

Imagine a voter that generally wants to vote for their party. In an election cycle, this voter likes one of the party candidates and supports them actively throughout the primary and caucus season, but their candidate falls short and another candidate becomes the nominee.

The voter wants to vote for their party candidate, because the other party is, of course, y’know… the other party. However, the voter finds their official party candidate to be repulsive, dangerous, icky, and generally bad for the future of the country.

How should the voter vote?

Humanities For Artificial Intelligence

I’ve been reading about the early days of computers ((‘Turing’s Cathedral,’ by George Dyson) and one thing has struck methat I hadn’t considered before: we’re creating the digital DNA and artificial intelligence of future digital entities. Everything we have done with computers since their inception adds to the collective “being” of the next generation, allowing an evolving and increasingly complex core to develop over time.

An example: The very first instructions in code were for simple tasks, such as adding or subtracting. Those tiny sequences continue to be preserved today in every digital device made.

The Tree of Life – Whatever Happens To A Leaf

When I wrote the poem “Whatever Happens to a Leaf” in 1999 there lay within it the core of my philosophy of life and death. If the context of the scientific notion that we are but born of dead stars from the ashes and dust of an extreme unbridled supernova, my leaf analogy of what happens to humans when they die simplifies the question so often asked of me, “What happens to us when we die.” My answer, troubling to many, accepting by some, is “What ever happens to a leaf when it falls from the tree is the same thing that happens to you and me.”Our existence is coexistent with the leaves on the trees, as we are with all living things. The evolutionary trek that brought us to the very day you read these words is the same chain from the branches of evolutionary life we clung to from our earliest days and which we cling to still.

Why We Have To Love Texas

Why do we have to love Texas?  Because they teach us so much about our species.  Here’s a brief synopsis of an article from Governing Magazine.

The Texas Department of Agriculture just approved a new policy re-allowing soda and fried foods in public schools.  “Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller on Thursday restored the option for public schools to serve certain fried foods and soda by lifting a decade-old statewide ban on deep fryers and soda machines.”

“We are working to put an end to a one-size-fits-all approach mandated from Austin,” Miller said in a press release. “We want families, teachers and school districts to know the Texas Department of Agriculture supports their decisions and efforts to teach Texas students about making healthy choices.”