Myths of the Veritas: Stories, then Plans

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There are some things whose memory we retain throughout our lifetime. Some remember their first look through a telescope or a microscope. Some remember their first taste of alcohol or coffee. Many remember their first kiss. All remember the first time they held their newborn baby and grandchild. So too, was it among the Veritas. 

Tree Vines and Gathers Acorns immediately recognized the voice of their daughter despite their many years apart. They began to run toward the sound, but when they came within sight of her, they stopped. The couple held hands, and stared at their daughter who had now grown into a young woman. 

Tree Vines thought of so many wasted years, but so many stories to tell and listen to. He would make it up to her — ever allowing her to be stolen in the first place. 

Gathers Acorns regretted never have had a chance to talk with her daughter about so many important things. And who had raised her exactly? And, what kind of a person was she? But she’s my daughter, she thought.  I want to hold her at long last. 

Cat Eyes bit her lip. She thought: Could these be my parents? I have a family? Why did they let me get stolen? Of course, they had no choice. Tu-Swift doesn’t hate Many Paths for letting them steal him. I shouldn’t be mad at them but at the Z-Lotz and the ROI. That’s who I’m really mad at. But I am mad at my parents as well. It’s crazy. I wish I could have talked with Tu-Swift before I met them so suddenly. That didn’t happen so…I do feel like hugging them though.

All this flashed through each person’s mind in a split second of awkwardness and indecision. Then, the three of them melted into one six-legged, six-armed goddess of love. There were tears of joy and there were tears of regret and there were tears of anger and frustration as well. 

Many Paths approached the reunited family holding hands with both Eagle Eyes and Shadow Walker. Soon, Many Paths noticed that the gaze of Eagle Eyes had shifted away from Family Together at Last to Trunk of Tree. She ran toward him and flung her arms around him. Many Paths noticed that Trunk of Tree smiled with true happiness. She was happy for him. She let out a little chuckle. 

Shadow Walker then smiled as well and tilted his head at Many Paths in a clear sign of query. The smile upon the face of Many Paths broadened. She rested her head on the shoulder of Shadow Walker. She spoke quietly so only he could hear. “I love you so much. I missed you. Among other things….” She paused and looked up at his large, warm & smiling eyes. “Among other things, I missed your wise counsel. I was just thinking how desperate I was to talk with you or Eagle Eyes or Tu-Swift. And, you were all gone. She Who Saves Many Lives is still sick and she’s asleep, so I didn’t want to disturb her. And, I’m not sure…well, sometimes she seems delirious. The other night in her sleep, she sat upright suddenly and said something like:

“It’s all happened before! This has all happened before!” 

I was about to start a conversation with her but she fell back down into a deep sleep. I mean what does that mean? So, I’m not sure I can trust her judgement right now. And everyone I really wanted to talk with was gone. And, now, you’re all back. And I don’t know … I know what I want to do. But there’s so much to do with the tribe. Can you wait a few hours while we deliberate?” 

“Wait for what?” Shadow Walker pretended not to have any idea what she was talking about. 

Many Paths simply hugged him tighter and said, “I must ask you this though. Are you all right? Did they harm you?”



Shadow Walker winced. He didn’t want to think about how he and Eagle Eyes had been ambushed so easily when they thought they were sneaking in unseen. “Not really. It’s no fun being in prison, but they were going to torture all of us. If it hadn’t been for Eagle Eyes, I’d be dead. She’d be dead. The parents of Cat Eyes would be dead. We really cannot thank her enough.”

Many Paths laughed. “Let’s let Trunk of Tree thank her first.” She smiled at him coquettishly.

Shadow Walker laughed with her for a polite period and then said, “Well, if they are going to have a private thanking session, then we … and well met, Trunk of Tree. Well met.” 

Trunk of Tree went straight to the point. “There is much to discuss and many people to thank. But right now, we must prepare for war.” 

Many Paths took on a serious tone as well. “I agree. We need to prepare for war — but not in such a way that it makes war more likely. We don’t know what the Z-Lotz will do. First, let us delve into what we have learned. Then, we may prepare more completely and thoughtfully. We must hear all the relevant stories first and then make plans.” 

Eagle Eyes, who had accompanied Trunk of Tree, said, “Don’t wait too long. But I don’t think we are in immediate danger. They seem to have lost their horses. And, I think they will be preoccupied for a time choosing their leader. I can’t tell how long, but the very people who would argue that Shadow Walker wasn’t a “real” king because he hadn’t by himself slain NUT-PI now face a situation in which no-one can claim to have killed NUT-PI or Shadow Walker. So, to regain legitimacy, they may well try to kill Shadow Walker, but they must first fight amongst themselves about who should do it. I think it will delay their plans. You see, none of the would-be kings wants to share the killing with any of the others.”

Many Paths shook her head and muttered, “What a lovely system. And I suppose no-one else gets hurt in the process?” 

Eagle Eyes and Shadow Walker exchanged glances. He spoke thus: “People — innocent people — do get hurt in the process. Of course. How could it be otherwise? NUT-PI, in his attempt to kill the eagles, instead killed several of the Z-Lotz. I’m sure he didn’t care, but I felt bad for them. That’s one reason — I hope I did the right thing — I destroyed the killing stick and then later, when I had a chance to take one or two, I took none. It may not have been … we have no idea how they work. I was afraid if we tried to take one apart to understand better how it works, we would have killed ourselves. Also, I remembered our “imagining exercise” where people pretended to have them to think about their uses. And two of our tribe were about to use the killing sticks over nothing. I mean over something so trivial that I cannot recall what it was. And, I guess that they don’t recall either. There is a reason that they are called “killing sticks.” Because that is what they do. Kill.”

Many Paths said, “I think we must continue to debate this, but not now. Now, we must focus on hearing the stories about the Z-Lotz and their likely tactics. And … but, Trunk of Tree, where did you come from? How did you get Tu-Swift and Cat Eyes?” 

“I discovered a very short path to the Veritas on the other side of the mountain. I was hunting deer and the deer led me to this place that was a narrow cleft and then, I was at their village and there was Tu-Swift and Eagle Eyes. These two are … well, they know more about bawks than anyone else! You should see it.” 

Tu-Swift, who had also joined the small group, said, “He means ‘books’ — it’s ‘books’ Trunk of Tree. Anyway, there is so much in those books, so many stories, no much information … and so much we still don’t understand. But this much we do understand. I have to tell you something. It is amazing and wonderful, but also … difficult. But we must understand the true story of how we got here before we plan what to do next. Do you agree?”

Many Paths shrugged. “I cannot disagree, at least not until I know more about what it is you’ve learned. What is it?” 

Tu-Swift took a giant sigh. He looked down at the ground for a moment and then right into the eyes of his sister, Many Paths. 

“This has all happened before.” 

——————————————————

The Myths of the Veritas: The Orange Man

The Myths of the Veritas: The Forgotten Field

The Myths of the Veritas: The First Ring of Empathy

You Must Remember This

Ah Wilderness

The Forest 

Inside Trump Tower

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It is a good thing to try to put oneself in someone else’s shoes. We shouldn’t fool ourselves about how well we can do that, but for some situations, we do a pretty good job. For example, if we watch a movie and someone gets attacked by a Great White Shark, we know we would feel pretty terrified and it’s a fairly good assumption that they are going to be terrified. 

Let’s imagine how it feels inside the experience of a person who lies constantly and absurdly about how wonderful and great he is; how beloved he is by everyone; how he is the best at everything. Let’s say he declares himself to be a wobble-free genius. Can you imagine how empty he feels inside? He believes himself to be utterly incapable of anything which is why he insists he are successful at everything. 

I saw the results of such a pathetic hypothetical person once up close and personal in real life. Trump took over a golf course that I was a member at. He made some nice improvements. At that point, I didn’t know him from Adam. But some people at the club did and they quit. Some of those people had been former club champions. So what does Trump do? He orders that the plaques be redone with his name as club champions for those years. He not only had not won those tournaments. He had not even played in them. 

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Just imagine how you would feel looking at a trophy with your name on it knowing full well that you had done nothing to deserve it. Would you feel proud or ashamed? My guess is that you would feel ashamed. This false “accomplishment” tarnishes every real accomplishment you ever had or that you ever will have. This is a normal response. 


But Trump, for whatever reason, has such subterranean self-esteem that any semblance of praise, however false or ill-deserved, feels to him as a seeming life-saving desperate drop of moisture for the shriveled old soul that lives within the shriveled old body. If someone flatters him and he knows it’s flattery, he values that more than he would an honest complement. Because to him, opinions about his abilities or behaviors don’t interest him in the slightest. He’s not going to change because of feedback from this or that politician, family member, thinker, advisor, etc. But he just wants the shadow of true praise that is not based upon fact at all but upon power. 

He failed as a businessman. He failed as a family member. He failed his own honor when he dodged the draft a half dozen times. He proved himself a racist by calling for the death penalty for four black youths — who it turned out were innocent. Trump didn’t really know anything about the case. He just wanted to take advantage of an opportunity to put his “hat in the ring” for being a racist candidate. Just in case anyone slept through Act 1 due to jet lag or too much wine or whatever, Act 2 was ranting and raving about Obama being an African. “I’ve got proof and I’ll show it the day after the day after the day after the day after….” And, let’s think about it. Here’s a guy — Trump — whose known as a golfer, a playboy and a real estate developer. He’s on record supporting many liberal policies like being pro-abortion. Why would he really care whether Obama was born in Africa? This guy who dodged the draft six times and is already cheating on his taxes suddenly becomes outraged at a particular part of the Constitution that says you must be born in America to be President. Seem plausible? 

In case the fifteen foot high blinking neon-Nazi sign from Act 1 wasn’t bright enough, let’s put on the fifty foot high blinking neon-Nazi sign in Act 2. Oh, and if that doesn’t do it for you. I mean, if you were really really zonked on for Acts 1 and 2, don’t you worry! The message of this play is simple and if you didn’t notice the neon-Nazi signs before, now they flashing out a new warning on the subway walls: “Civil War! Then, make me dictator of AmeriKKKa!” 

It’s evil and it’s horrible, but it’s also pathetic. Imagine how empty and worthless TFG must feel that he wants the support of people, like him, who derive their sense of worth from something like their supposed race (itself a fiction) or their gender or their inherited wealth — and not from anything they’ve ever accomplished. 

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At this point, an image occurs to me. A black hole, metaphorical but also quite literal, exist at the very center of TFG. In order to fill it, he is compelled to suck every shred of truth and goodness from everyone around him. More and more people get sucked into the vortex. Who knows? Maybe in some parallel universe, it all comes out as beautiful anti-matter. That may be nice for them. Over there. In that universe. 

But for us, back here on the earth we’re familiar with, it’s just plain out — terrible. It exacerbates the emptiness disease that TFG has become. It corrupts all those around him. They all know they’re lying and they each know each of the others is lying. Just like the false championships, if anyone famous goes along with the big lie, that action tarnishes everything good these Senators and Representatives and Newscasters ever did. It outweighs everything from the day, 40 years ago, as a cub scout, they helped someone cross the street to the day that they helped craft significant legislation. All of that is gone. And, for what? Nothing. That’s the real hell of it for them. For nothing. 

All of them realize that if there is a coup, none of them will ever be safe again. And, they’ve already pledged their allegiance to the dictator. So, they have no real power. They have to do whatever the oligarchs tell Trump to make them do. They were afraid they’d lose power if they acted ethically; so instead, they acted unethically and as a result lost every shred of power. It’s a great dramatic thread for a farce. Unfortunately, it’s embedded in a real tragedy. And that kind of takes the fun out of it, at least for me. 

They could, theoretically, have a great awakening and decide as one to throw off the shackles of the oligarchs and rejoin the difficult game of government by democracy. They would have more power than they ever had before because they would be free to work creatively and solve actual problems with actual work. They would help build a better world for their children and for everyone’s children to live in. They would certainly feel cleaner. That would be something that they could be proud of; that they wouldn’t mind the history books touting; a legacy for grandchildren. 

I wonder how the Nazis who were still alive in Germany after the war explained their role to their grandchildren. 

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Trumpism is a new religion 

The Ailing King of Agitate

Essays on America: The Stopping Rule

Essays on America: Wednesday 

The Invisibility Cloak of Habit

What about the butter dish?

At Least he’s our monster

Cancer Always Loses in the End

Donnie Boy Gets his Name on a Tennis Trophy

Donnie Boy Takes a Blue Ribbon for Spelling

Antifa? 

Essays on America: The Update Problem

Absolute is not just a Vodka

Come back to the light

Author Page on Amazon

What to do? Whom to Believe?

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What to do? What to do? 

Everyone seems about to go for the throat. Many people are not sure whom to trust. Should they trust doctors who spend years and years learning about calculus, chemistry, biology and then more years in Medical school learning about anatomy, physiology, and medicine and then more years as an intern and resident? Or, instead, maybe how about believing a yelling, screaming talk show host? Hard to tell? Maybe no-one ever taught us how to tell liars from truth tellers. There is no simple formula that will guarantee us to be 100% accurate, but maybe we can think together about it. 

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(Processed photo from one I took on Maui.)

Sam sit alone at the local sandwich shop, and began contemplating whether to have dessert after his nice lunch. It was a club sandwich, already a lot of calories, but what the hell, he thinks. With what the doctor said this morning, I should be free to eat anything I want, 

Three older guys — strangers — come in and waddle up to a table next to Sam’s. The trio have their menus but before glancing at them, they look up at a nearby TV and raise their fists. There’s a roar because someone has just run back a kickoff for a touchdown.

Andy says, “Wow! What a run back. I played in high school. Not easy running back a kickoff all the way into the end zone.” 

Sam regards the threesome. It’s hard for him to believe any of them were ever fit enough to play football, but most people do gain weight with age and lack of exercise, so — he could be telling the truth.

Bob says, “I played in high school and college. I was good. Blew my knee out as a sophomore though and lost my scholarship.” This too seems plausible to eavesdropping Sam.

Cal says, “I played in high school, college, and went pro. I was fantastic. Probably the best runner and wide receiver and quarterback in the history of Ohio State. I played free safety too. Had more tackles than anyone before or since. If I were playing quarterback, no way that guy would have scored. I was the top draft pick five years running. A lot of quarterbacks these days are too chicken to tackle anyone. I would have nailed him. I was breaking all the records for the Houston Texans! But I got bored. Football’s really a simple game.” 

Sam thinks that Cal is bragging way too much. His story is a priori unlikely. Regardless of what he says or how he says it, the chances that a random person is the best anything at Ohio State is highly unlikely. He played back, wide receiver, quarterback and free safety? That’s unlikely. Extremely unlikely. 

Sam frowns and shakes his head. What does it mean to be the “top draft pick” for five years? If that were true, it would lead naturally to an explanation but none was provided. Further, quarterbacks may be told not to risk their careers making a tackle on a punt return. But what quarterback is on the field to defend a kickoff return? 

Houston Texans? Their first season was 2002. This guy looks to be at least 65. So…he was playing all those positions when he was 45? That seems highly unlikely. Got bored playing football? Possible, but again seems very highly unlikely. Football’s a really simple game? Really

Cal’s story has a lot of holes in it. Now Sam laughs that he ever swallowed any of it.

Bob says, “You played for the Houston Texans? You mean the Oilers?” 

Cal shoves his chair back hard enough to spill water on the table. He pushes on the arms of his chair and manages to stand up and he yells even louder, pounding the table to illustrate just how much he believes in what he’s saying. “I said Texans and I mean Texans! I was the best in the whole damned state of Texas! The whole south for that matter!”

Sam laughs to himself, thinking, Well, that settles it I guess. Cal is really passionate and loud so he must be telling the truth, right?

No. 

Wrong. 

People who are telling the truth do not feel the need to scream and yell and make even more outrageous claims the first time someone questions them. 

Sam snorts at the ridiculous claims and then has an idea. It takes Sam 20 seconds to pull out his  iPhone and look up Eli Manning, the first name that popped into his head. 

Sam reasons: “If Cal were really the best football player in the history of Texas, he could have easily verified it by finding his own entry on the web  (likely on Wikipedia) and shown his table mates the entry. He would not have had to scream and yell and pound the table.”

Sam thinks: Okay, but no-one’s going to fall for a con man like that. 

{Really? Don’t be too sure, Sam}. 

Cal says to the approaching and attractive server: “Hey, darling. You look yummier than anything on the menu. Do you know who I am? Do you know what I did before I became a billionaire? Go ahead guys. Tell this lucky sweetheart who’s going to be leaving someone a very big tip!” 

Andy and Bob may think: Well, at least he’s going to leave the tip.

So, Andy and Bob outline Cal’s biography in the football hall of fame (where his name definitely does not appear should anyone actually look it up). 

Andy and Bob feel pretty sheepish about joining in this pack of lies. But Cal doesn’t think they have been anywhere near lavish enough in their description of him. Cal says: “Oh, on, guys! Make this girl’s day! Tell her she’s had the pleasure of serving the greatest football player in the history of the game! I don’t say that. That’s what everyone says! Right, guys?” 

Now Sam looks over and can see that Andy and Bob are both a bit embarrassed. They’ve gone along with Cal’s lies, but they don’t want to admit to that now because it makes them out to be liars too. So they go along with the bigger lie. 

Andy says, “Yeah. Something else, right? He was OSU’s best player ever. Yep.” 

Bob says, “Uh-huh.” 

Cal shakes his head at Bob. “Come on! God, that’s the damndest weakest most candy-ass description I’ve ever heard, Bob. Tell her how many touchdowns I had. Just me. At OSU!” 

Bob looks bewildered. He knows it’s all a lie. People all over the restaurant are starting to look over at the table and more than a few are looking admiringly at Cal. 

Bob thinks to himself, Quite a few cute chicks here. Cal can’t handle all of them.”  He feels inspired. He takes out his iPhone and says, “Damn. Battery’s about gone. Let me just … here … fifty touchdowns. My God! That is amazing!” 

Cal rolls his eyes. “Give me that damned phone! That’s not right! It’s two hundred and fifty. Not fifty. Yep. There it is. I’m going to look up how many interceptions I had. Oh, crap! Battery dead. Hey guys, I gotta skedaddle. Here’s your crap cellphone back Bob.”

By now, Andy and Bob are both too embarrassed to come clean. Cal makes a big show out of taking out his wallet and thumbing a large pile of cash. He makes it look as though he’s leaving a big tip but actually only leaves a couple bucks. Andy and Bob split the entire bill.

Sam shakes his head slowly as he watches the three waltz out. Their server looks in awe of Cal and stares him out of the establishment. She even stares with some desire — despite the fact that Cal is grossly overweight and barely able to wobble his way out of the restaurant. But she imagines how once he must have been quite a specimen and it’s that image that is the real target of her desire. 

She also looks forward to finding out just how giant of a tip he left her. A few moments later, she walks over to the “billionaire’s” table and before opening up the placard, tries to guess how much it is. Several of her colleagues have come over as well. She turns around and tells them to back off. “It’s my tip, thank you very much” she says. “Just remember, I’m the one who tried to convince you all to share tips but you wouldn’t have any of it.”

They back off, slightly miffed. Now, the young lady has made up her mind it will be at least a hundred dollars, but she dares to hope that maybe he did something crazy and left her a thousand!! 

She notices her hands trembling as she opens up the placard and sees three bills. 

All ones. She looks more carefully at the bills. 

They

Are 

All 

Ones

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She blinks. She sets her jaw. She’s not going to let her colleagues see her disappointment or that he stiffed her, especially after he felt her thigh. All the way up. She forces a gleeful tone into her voice and jams the outer corners of her lips up towards her ears. “Oh, boy!” She shouts with intended but pretended joy. “This will buy me a new iPhone!” As she said this, each successive word increased in loudness and pitch. She sounded a lot like someone desperately peddling costume jewelry on channel 666 at 4 am.

Her colleagues glance at each other. She fooled no-one. They all realize she got stiffed. Each is torn between comforting her, making fun or her, or just pretending along with her. For the sake of keeping a reasonably happy work environment, they all choose to go along with her. 

Sam shakes his head and looks down at his melted coffee ice cream with hazelnuts. Now it’s just cold coffee with a lot of wet nuts. 

And, then Sam realizes that that is the least tragic thing that happened here today. In the length of time it took his ice cream to melt, one liar became seven liars. 

Same took a deep breath. This is what’s happening inside me, he realized. 

That’s how my cancer grew so fast. 

———————

A lot is not a little

The Truth Train

Try the Truth

The Orange Man

The Wobbly Man

Come back to the light side

My Cousin Bobby

Where Does Your Loyalty Lie?

Cancer Always Loses in the End

Author page on Amazon

An Egg and a Half

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If a chicken and a half can lay an egg and a half in a day and a half, how long does it take ONE chicken to lay ONE egg? 

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What do you think? 

Before we discuss the answer to that one, let’s move on to the American House of Representatives. There are 435 people in the House of Representatives. What is the probability that at least two folks in the House share a birthday? 

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We will return to these two puzzles shortly. Meanwhile…

Imagine that you are one of our distant ancestors foraging for food. You come across something that looks just like a blackberry bush. On it are what appear to be nice ripe blackberries. They feel like blackberries so you pick one. You pop it in your mouth and it tastes like a blackberry. It has the same seeds that you are used to being in a blackberry fruit. It smells like a blackberry. Chances are extremely good that it is, in fact, a blackberry.

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Don’t get me wrong. There are some plants out there that could give you trouble! The deadly poisonous amanita mushrooms are said to taste good. And, the white “death angel” has been mistaken for an ordinary field mushroom with deadly results. A single mushroom will kill you but a half a mushroom may only make you wish you were dead. 

In general, however, plants, animals, and situations are redundantly coded right at the surface. A blackberry plant has leaves that look like blackberry leaves. It has thorns that look like blackberry thorns and also feel like blackberry thorns. The fruits look like blackberries! They have a texture of blackberry. They smell like blackberries. They taste like blackberries. Though there are some deadly exceptions, in the natural environment, we are generally clued in to what something is by multiple senses. If it looks like a blackberry and smells like a blackberry and feels like a blackberry and tastes like a blackberry, chances are excellent that it really is a blackberry. 

When it comes to things produced by human beings, however, we must be much more cautious.

In some cases, such as the puzzles at the beginning of this blog post, the intention is pedagogic. But in other cases, people mislead you for much more nefarious purposes. Someone could intentionally spray the blackberry patch where you go with an odorless, tasteless, invisible poison. It could poison your body and kill you stone cold dead. Or, they could poison you and make you so sick you wish you were dead. Who would do such a thing? Well, the name “Vladimir Putin” springs to mind. He has arranged for the poisoning of his political foes and critics. 

It isn’t only your body that is at risk, however. So is your brain. The tricks that people play are not necessarily all deadly. Often, they just want to take your money. So, they will tell you a drink is “All Natural Fruit Drink” because they know that most people care about their health and the health of their families and “All Natural Fruit Drink” sounds like something natural, healthy, and nutritious. But legally, as it turns out, those words mean absolutely nothing in America. That “all natural” drink may be anything but! It could be mainly water and corn syrup! It might have as little as 5% fruit juice. 

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What do you think is in “Air Freshener”? “Air Freshener” sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? After all, who doesn’t like fresh air? If you’ve been in a musty cabin waiting for the rain to abate and you step outside into the cool, crisp, fresh air, that is a wonderful sensation. Ah! Breathe in that fresh air. And, of course, when you see a commercial for “Air Freshener” on TV, or read the title which might say, “Ocean Breezes Air Freshener” it reminds your brain perhaps of your first trip to the ocean. 

What is really in air fresheners is, in many cases, anything but an air freshener. Do you know what a really good air freshener is? Opening your windows. But the sprays that you buy in the store can contain: 

Carcinogens
Perfumes
Chemicals that mess with your hormones

Chemicals that deaden your sense of smell

Huh!? 

Not exactly an “Air Freshener” is it? 

In the puzzles above, the description is also misleading, not because I want to steal your money or poison you, but because I care about my fellow citizens being sold their death warrants packaged as something wonderful. Hopefully, if we become aware of how the surface features of a situation can mislead us, we’ll be less prone to fall for such tricks. 

The tobacco companies were good at such tricks. They would sell you something deadly and addictive but advertised to make you think that smoking their product would make you “manly” or “sexy” or “sophisticated” or “urbane” or “adult.” It wouldn’t make you any of those things. It would harm your lungs and your heart and turn your skin gray and make your breath smell bad. But those aren’t very good selling points, you see. Eventually, the government required cigarette companies to put health warnings on the packages. Do you think that the cigarette companies eagerly complied? Guess again. They fought tooth and nail and paid off politicians for years so they wouldn’t have to own up to what their product was really doing to you. 

So, let’s return to the puzzles. In the first puzzle, many people are led by the structure of the language presented to answer wrongly.

“If a chicken and a half can lay an egg and a half in a day and a half, how long does it take ONE chicken to lay ONE egg?” The first answer that will likely pop into many minds is “ONE day!” It “seems logical.” 

But it’s dead wrong. Consider this analogy: “If nine women can have nine babies in nine months, how long does it take ONE woman to have ONE baby?” One month? No, of course not. It takes nine months. And it will take a day and a half for the one chicken to lay one egg. (Or, a hundred chickens to lay a hundred eggs).

The second puzzle will probably only cause problems if you have been educated about probability. 

What? Yes. If you ask a smart ten year old, they will figure it out. Basically, there are only 365 days in a year (or 366 in a leap year). Since the number of Representatives in the House is 435, even if the first 365 people in the House have different birthdays, the next person you look at has to overlap with someone. It’s just like this: Suppose you only have some identical black sox and identical white sox. If you pick three sox in the dark, you have to have at least one match. 

If, however, you studied statistics, you may have come across “The Birthday Problem.” As it turns out, if as few as 30 people are in a room, the chances are greater than 50:50 that at least two share a birthday. If the puzzle reminds you of this, your mind runs along lines like this: “Oh, yes, I remember this. It’s “The Birthday Problem” and with even 30 people the odds are good, so with 435 people the probability must be really high. I’d say the odds are 99:1.” No. Wrong. Close, but wrong. There must be at least one match. 

It’s very easy for us to rely on the surface of things — including its label or what advertisers say about that thing — as a valid indicator of what’s underneath. And, in nature, that is often true. But in modern society, if you simply believe what someone says, you will certainly lose some money and at some point, you may also lose your entire fortune, your freedom, and your family.  It’s happened before. Hitler, to name one famous example, told people he was going to make Germany great and that the “Third Reich” would last a thousand years. 

He killed himself in the end. But not before causing the deaths of millions — including millions of Germans. He told people lies that they wanted to hear. He divided people and made people believe that all their troubles would be over if he just had complete power over their lives. Don’t fall for it. 

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Essays on America: Wednesday 

Essays on America: The Stopping Rule

Essays on America: Where does your Loyalty Lie?

Essays on America: My Cousin Bobby

Absolute is not Just a Vodka

It’s Not Your Fault; Send me Money

Myths of the Veritas: The Orange Man

Myths of the Veritas: Stoned Soup

Poker Chip

The Ailing King of Agitate

The Truth Train

Come Back to the Light Side

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Guernica

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Something there is that doesn’t love a “Civil War.”

(As though War could ever be Civil.)

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And, speaking of Love…

Love, of course, is a major casualty of war. 

For every person killed, there are friends and families 

Who suffer the pain of loves lost as well. 

Check your local listings … 

There may be a “friends and family” discount! 

Truth!



And, speaking of truth…

“Truth is the first casualty of war.”

So they say. 

And, what do liars hope to gain by war?

I think they like to say: 

“Truth is the first casualty of war” 

To excuse

Lies. 

“This is war! Of course, we lie!” 

But you see, that is just exactly the delicious irony. 

War doesn’t kill truth

No, not at all.

War doesn’t kill truth. 

Truth remains truth. 

The earth still revolves around the sun

No matter how many you kill who say so.


And, COVID? 

It kills people just as dead no matter how many liars scream

Or how loudly they scream,

That it’s just a bad dream.

What dies is not truth, but honesty

The aggressors tell lies to start the wars.

The defenders tell lies to escape the aggressors. 

And, meanwhile…

All the time-energy-money that could have gone to 

Discover more truth

To save lives

To make lives richer

That energy-work-thought is directed instead to killing other human beings. 

Human beings. 

Soldiers. 

Among others. 

Because, as you probably know, 

(But maybe were conveniently trying to forget),

It isn’t only soldiers who die in war. 

As though twenty million soldiers were not enough,

WWII killed forty million civilians too. 

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You may know some civilians yourself: 

Grandmothers, toddlers, babies, mothers, nurses, 

Oh, look, there’s one now!

A guy putting gas in his car.

A fit-looking woman jogging.

Oh, look! There’s another — two actually.

A grandmother, I’d say, pushing her granddaughter in a stroller. 

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It’s so hard to count the dead accurately

And, God knows, we need to know accurately

Did only a little over 600,000 Americans die in our Civil War?

Or was it really more like 750,000? 

We really need to know. 

After all, if it is merely 618,000 dead, 

What’s the big deal? 

“In Flanders Field the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row.” 

“Between the crosses.” 

Nice line, that. 

Enough! Enough! 

No more “Golden Rule”

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

A rule that’s meant for your grandpa’s time!

A modern rhyme

Much more sublime 

Would keep the label but 

Cut out and then replace the gut: 

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“Do unto others to maximize the profit!

What matter if we come to kill 

All the sneetches

On all the world’s beaches?


Our ROI will top the sky!
And I will be the richest guy!
Even into space I’ll fly!

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The buzzing of the liar’s lies, 

Will be replaced by flocking flies, 

Humanity, they’ll maggotize. 

I think the trees won’t be surprised.

It is the fate hypothesized.

Our greedy branch grew oversized.

Yet Fate can turn upon a dime.
We need not slide into the slime.
Nor worship sin, corruption, crime.

Take a minute; take a day.

Take the time to love and play.

Just let the hateful — slip away. 

In Flanders Field the Poppies blow

They have a message: “Let us grow.”

Enough of war. Let heart love glow.

Enough of lies. Help truth to flow.

And, be sure to see Guernica.

——————

The Isle of Right

Come Together Right Now

Imagine All the People

Myths of the Veritas: The Orange Man

Myths of the Veritas: Stoned Soup

Author Page on Amazon

Occam’s Chain Saw Massacre

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Who is Occam? 

And, why does he have a chain saw? 

And, why did we let him get away with a massacre? 

Patience. We will address these questions presently. 

First, who is this Occam anyway? 

Wikipedia provides a pretty succinct summary. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam’s_razor

There are some interesting details, however. The most important detail is that what is “simplest” or “requires the fewest assumptions” depends on the representation system that you use and upon the assumptions that are so basic that you don’t even count them as assumptions. 

Let’s take a look at flowers. Why flowers? Because they are nice to look at. I could make the same argument with anything else, so why not pick something beautiful? 

Let’s say that you land on planet earth from a flowerless planet. You wander around and you see this flower — a yellow rose. You observe this flower over time and you see that it emerges from a bud. Then, it grows bigger. Eventually, the petals fall off. 

Now, you see another flower. It is in full bloom as shown here. 

What will happen in the future of this flower? We have stipulated that this is only the second flower that you’ve ever seen. Right now, it’s in full bloom. Is it more parsimonious to believe that it too will lose petals? Or, is it more parsimonious to believe it will forever stay in its current state? 

If you came from a planet in this universe, your overwhelming experience will be that most things change over time. Some things change quickly and some things change slowly, but all of these “things” change over time. From that perspective, even if you don’t know that all flowers eventually lose their petals, you might well think it most parsimonious to think that it will change somehow on some time scale. 

Now, you see more flowers and observe them over time. In every single case, flowers grow from buds, they blossom and eventually they lose their petals. Now, you come upon your 4000th flower. You see it in the steady state shown below. 

Is it more “parsimonious” to think it too will lose its petals? Or, since you have no direct evidence about this flower’s future, do you think it more “parsimonious” to think: “Oh, no, it will stay in this state forever.”? 

Now, let’s change the situation slightly. You don’t just see flowers. You see thousands of different life forms on earth. Some of them live to be thousands of years old. Some of them live for days. None of the individual life forms you see live forever. Now, you come upon a life form you’ve never seen before; e.g., a snail. This is your first snail. Interesting. It moves rather slowly, but it does move and respirates and if you study it closely, you will  eventually discover that it ingests food, excretes waste, mates, and dies. 




Now, you come upon your first lizard. It looks quite different from a snail. Do you think it will die? Is it more parsimonious to believe it will eventually die or more parsimonious to think it will not die because you don’t see it dying? Do you think it more parsimonious to think that it mates, breathes, eats, grows or do you think it’s more parsimonious to think that none of those things are properties of lizards because you’ve never seen one mate, breathe, eat, or grow? 

When it comes to your own experience, you notice that your experience is related to external and observable behaviors and states. When you haven’t eaten for a time, you feel hungry. If you feel hungry for a long time, it’s rather unpleasant. If you eat, you notice that you feel better. If you have been exercising hard and sweating, you may feel thirsty. If you drink, you feel better. If you are awake for a long time, you begin to nod off. Your mind begins to wander. You feel like sleeping. 

So, when it comes to you, you notice that there are fairly reliable experiences that correlate pretty well with repeatable external events. These are not perfect correlations. I observed a child once with a hypothalamic tumor who was starving to death but did not feel like eating. As people age, they need to be more careful to stay hydrated because felt thirst becomes a less reliable signal of their bodies need for water. We feel desperate to breathe when the carbon dioxide concentration in our blood increases, but what we really need is oxygen. A lack of oxygen, per se, does not cause us to “feel” the need to breathe more. Early pilots went up into the sky and failed to put on their oxygen masks and died. On Everest, many have died from lack of oxygen. If you get dunked under water, on the other hand, your carbon dioxide will build up and you’ll feel a desperate need to breathe. But if you suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning (which you prevents your blood from taking up oxygen), you will not feel such a need. 

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Despite these exceptions, in general, our subjective experiences are related to external events. We do not question whether we ourselves have subjective experiences. What about others? Do they also have subjective experiences? Most of us believe that other humans also feel hunger, thirst, pain, etc. And, most of us believe that others feel more subtle experiences as well such as love, hate, curiosity, pride, humiliation.

We may feel empathy for others, but we do not directly experience what they experience. We infer what others feel based on their actions and external signals. If you’ve studied science at all, you will also know that other people’s internal structures including their bodies, brains, nerves, hormones, and so on are much like ours — not just in terms of the organs but also in terms of the cells and the DNA and RNA within the cells. 

When it comes to a dog, you may know that they have pretty much the same body we have. We do many of the same basic behaviors and we have the same basic internal structures. Our brains are generally bigger. We generally stand on two legs and they generally stand on four. Which is more parsimonious? Is it more elegant to believe that they do feel pain or to believe that they do not feel pain? They certainly do get excited about having sex. Is it more elegant to believe that they enjoy it or to believe that it is just a reflex and declare that “we have no idea” whether they enjoy it. They take care of their puppies. If a puppy is taken away from its mother at an early age, it acts as though it is suffering. Is it more parsimonious to believe it is suffering or is it more parsimonious to believe that “we know nothing about his or her feelings”?

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Mammals share most of their biological history with us.
Mammals share most of their genes with us.
Mammals have most of the same organs and tissues as we do though they are of different sizes and shapes.
Mammals exhibit the same kinds of behaviors that we do in response to the same sorts of stimuli.
Mammals can learn and solve problems. 

Mammals mate and care for their young. 

Do you think it’s more “parsimonious” to believe that they do experience life in much the same way we do? Or do you think it’s more “parsimonious” to believe that they do not have any conscious experience? 

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The second and third questions, I believe, are best considered together because the answers are inter-twined. Occam has a chain saw, and not just a razor, because humans are generally greedy. Like height, weight, running speed, and virtually every other characteristic of humans, the greed variable shows variability. Variables, variability, vary. It is quintessentially life that there is such variability. Some people grow up to be taller than others. This is partly due to genetics and partly due to the environment. Similarly, some people grow up to be more curious; some are less curious. Some people grow up to be better sprinters than others. Again, this is partly due to genetics and partly to environmental pressures. Partly, it is due to their own choices. A person who runs fast in grade school, for instance, may think of themselves as fast and run more than a person who runs very slowly. They may seek out coaching. They may join a track team. Their choices impact the environment they put themselves in and this in turn, makes them even faster. 

It is the same with greed. People who have a natural tendency toward greater greed may also be born into a family or a culture of like-minded people. The people around him or her may actually admire and reinforce greed. So, they become greedier over time. There is, however, one huge difference between height, intelligence, running speed, and most other characteristics and greed. A very tall person cannot make themselves still taller by buying the height of others. A very intelligent person may, to some extent, buy a good education which will make them a bit more intelligent. But they cannot buy a doubling of their IQ. A person who runs well may attract, and be able to afford, better coaching. In that way, they will learn to run even faster. But not twice as fast. The best coaching and nutrition in the world will not turn a 10.0 100 meter dasher into a 5.0 100 meter dasher.

An extremely greedy person, however, may relish and thrive in environments that gain them wealth and power. They can do much more than merely double their wealth and power. They can have ten, a hundred, a thousand, or even a million times more wealth than others. They can leverage the greed of others to gain much more wealth and power for themselves. In the process, they will likely become greedier still. While “trickle down economics” is simply a myth to rationalize the flow of wealth from your wallet to the wallets of the very richest, “trickle down greed” does work, at least to a considerable extent. 

The greediest, wealthiest, most powerful people can afford to buy the services of the best lawyers, the best accountants, the best managers, the best politicians from amongst those who themselves have a statistically outsized amount of greed. That is largely why they can end up far, far wealthier and more powerful than “average” people. This is not to say that the very best lawyers, accountants, managers, and politicians can all be “bought.” There are undoubtedly some excellent lawyers who won’t take a lucrative case for a known criminal sleaze bag. But the richest and most powerful people will always be able to choose from among the most greedy people on the planet, those who are particularly skilled at anything. 

Humans can communicate and cooperate with each other. That is a good thing, in general. But it also puts a very strange “kink” in “survival of the fittest.” In a small tribe of humans who are trying to cooperate, imagine one among that tribe who was always trying to steal much, much more than their fair share. Such a person would not be likely to thrive. First, they would be easier for a predator to bring down. Second, people could see the outsized greed on display every day and the tribe may exile such a person or kill them outright. If an entire tribe arose which was overly greedy, they might easily hunt and gather and fish the local food supply into ruin and all starve. At a very local level, an exceptionally high level of greed is self-destructive. 

In a complex society however, it is possible for extremely wealthy and powerful and greedy people to insulate themselves from the natural destructiveness of wanton addictive greed. Such people can “buy” publicity, governmental exceptions, and hire some of the best manipulators money can buy so that, instead of the vast majority of people being upset with the very greediest amongst us, their natural resentment and anger are instead steered toward the very short, the very tall, the slowest, the fastest, the darkest, the lightest, people who like different food or wear different clothes. The possibilities are nearly endless in terms of the details but the basic strategy has been the same since the time of the earliest “ruler class.” Take, take, take and use what is taken to build castles, hire knights, mislead, mis-educate, etc. in order to rationalize and protect the outsized greed. 

The protection garnered from outsized addictive greed is time-limited, however. In the long run, nature wins. The outsized greed of a few, if unchecked, will destroy humanity, including the greediest. But for millennia, most of the negative impacts of greed have hit the people who have the least. As the planet cooks and poisons spread through our water, air, and food supply, everyone will eventually be hurt including the richest and most powerful.

Why, you may be asking yourself, did we take such a long detour into the nature of greed when we are talking about parsimony? The real reason that people have moved away from the stance of natural economic use of resources and a felt kinship with all of life is that our current disconnection from life and the sentience of other life forms is that it feeds the greed. In other words, it is a convenient rationalization to think that “science shows” that other life forms don’t “really” feel pain in the same sense that we do. If we were to recognize that all life is related; if we were to recognize that all life is sentient; if we were to recognize that all life is precious — then it would be much harder to hunt for sport, to force feed animals for slaughter, to treat animals as just another kind of tool.

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Conversely, when we treat other life forms badly, it not only provides a rationalization for killing more of them than we “need” — it also provides a convenient rationalization for killing, torturing, and exploiting other humans. After all, “they” are not fully human. If “they” look different or speak differently or dress differently or worship differently or make love differently, to a civilization that is used to exploiting other life forms and wantonly killing them, it is a short step to being able to rationalize being cruel to these other humans — to “them.” 

So…

There may be cases where we should use Occam’s Razor.

But we should not be giving Occam a chain saw. 

He has used that chain saw, not just to get rid of epicycles on epicycles or to erase phlogiston from thermodynamics. He will use it to cut us off from our larger family of all life on earth. He will use it to rationalize the belief that — despite animals being like us in every conceivable way that is fundamental — they have no real feelings. He will use the chain saw to rationalize the belief that irrational and addictive greed are just fine and that people who speak differently or dress differently or have different skin color don’t have any feelings that actually matter. 

What do you think?

——————

You know

Math class: Who are you?

Essays on America: Labelism 

The Tree of Life

How the Nightingale Learned to Sing

Life is a Dance

Myths of the Veritas: The Fourth Ring of Empathy

Myths of the Veritas: Stoned Soup

Myths of the Veritas: The Orange Man

Author page on Amazon

Myths of the Veritas: Homecoming

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Many Paths trotted over to the location specified by the drum rolls. Her eyes skimmed over the path ahead, skipping from one good landing spot to another. She gave a little chuckle as she reminded herself that there was no need for another sprain in the family. Images of her brother Tu-Swift and her lover Shadow Walker both loomed into her mind’s eye. She missed both of them so much. She believed it likely that Tu-Swift was fine but Shadow Walker was another matter. She felt he was okay, but being surrounded by ROI and Z-Lotz…? That was inherently dangerous and unstable. She really wanted both of them to be with her. 

Then she sighed and thought to herself, If I am really going to attempt to bring peace to the tribes — or bring the tribes to peace — I must be able to master my own feelings. Trunk of Tree is not the person whose counsel I most wish for, but still he does have a different perspective on things and I should tell him that I value that. But … 

She stopped in the path and listened to the drum signals. There were four people approaching. So far as Many Paths knew, Trunk of Tree had stomped off by himself. Who were the other three? She frowned and bit her lower lip, but she took a deep breath and waited for the drumbeats to signal who his companions might be. Soon, she knew, the signal drums would inform her of names for known people and transmit descriptions for unknown people. 

Her eyes widened. The drums did not speak of Trunk of Tree. No! It was Shadow Walker! She began sprinting toward the spot the drums indicated. And, Eagle Eyes! And two more Veritas! Her strong legs now propelled her forward even faster, fueled by a mixture of gratitude, longing, joy, and curiosity. At last, she came around a bend in the path, went up a slight rise and saw a party ahead on the path. Shadow Walker!

She screamed his name, “Shadow Walker!” 

Shadow Walker saw Many Paths and began running as well. They came together in a rib-bruising clasp. They closed their eyes and kissed each other wordlessly. Many Paths chided herself for forgetting how wonderful her partner smelled. And tasted. She pushed him away at arm’s length to allow herself a good long look at him and then hugged him to her again. “Shadow, Shadow, Shadow!” 

She again pushed him away and smiled at him. “You have no idea. What? We thought… Dear Eagle Eyes.” She embraced her as well. “Who —? I’m sorry. Forgive me, visitors. I am Many Paths of the Veritas tribe.” 

Shadow Walker’s smile of joy seemed to illuminate the nearby sheaves of grass. “Many Paths, allow me to introduce Tree Vines and Gathers Acorns. These are the parents of Cat Eyes! We — there is so much to tell, but we must save much for another time. We must — I am afraid that we suspect the Z-Lotz may come after us. I am sorry to say, we must be prepared for another attack.” 

Many Paths greeted Tree Vines and Gathers Acorns with a genuinely warm smile. “I am very happy to meet you. Come. Let us go to our Center Place where we may prepare guards so that we may tell each other our stories in peace and safety!” Many Paths took the hands of Eagle Eyes in her own and then hugged her. “I missed you too! I could really use your advice on so much. There is so much. But wait! Are you sick? Are any of you sick? You don’t look sick. But very recently we have had a plague here.” 

Shadow Walker quickly explained that he believed all four of them to be well though there were many among the Z-Lotz and ROI who were quite sick and many had died. As the small group proceeded toward the village, many other Veritas came out to greet them as well for all had heard the drum signals. By the time they came to the Center Place of the Veritas, a great crowd had assembled. 

Many Paths strode up to the speaking stone that stood at one end of the clear open space in the middle of the village. She called out in strong, happy voice: “As you can see, Shadow Walker and Eagle Eyes have returned! And, these two companions are Tree Vines and Gathers Acorns and all have tales to tell. But first, we must make sure the guards are on alert. Although they do not believe they were followed, they have reason to think we must be ready for another attack by the Z-Lotz, the people who steal children.” 

When she had finished her short speech a thousand questions began to be whispered while the drummers pounded out their message of caution to the guards that had been posted at the outskirts of the Veritas lands. When the drumbeat signals stopped, Many Paths held her hand out to Eagle Eyes. Many Paths desperately wanted to hear what Shadow Walker had to say, but she felt that Eagle Eyes should likely tell her tale first. 

She ascended the rock and described how she and Shadow Walker had quite easily tracked the recent envoys from the Z-Lotz. She told how the men they tracked had all fallen quite ill with red dots and how they had buried their bodies in rocks. She began to describe how unclean she and Shadow Walker had felt after. As she thought back on that, she felt the color rising in her neck so she quickly skipped ahead. “In any case, we snuck into the city of the Z-Lotz and thought we were unseen. We were captured and held separately. We had all been on the verge of being murdered in public by the King of the Z-Lotz, NUT-PI. He had a killing stick which he was going to use to torture and kill us along with many other prisoners. As she looked out on her tribe, she could see that they were spellbound. She nodded briefly and went on. “I looked up into the sky and saw eagles. I closed my eyes and imagined their calls.” By now, Eagle Eyes animated every aspect of her story. When she closed her eyes, she saw eagles right here and now. So did most of her audience.

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She continued, “I called them to me. They began to circle and then swooped down in a flash to attack NUT-PI. He tried to kill them with his killing stick but he was too slow. And…we had another weapon!” 

She paused, enjoying the expectant looks on the faces before her. “Not so long ago, some of you may have seen that we were playing with reflections and found that enough reflections of the sun, concentrated on one place, could cause small sticks to catch fire. The Z-Lotz put a shiny collar on us. While we were imprisoned, Gathers Acorns and I hatched a plan that, if we had a chance, we would shine the sun into the eyes of our enemies. Shadow Walker and the other men prisoners had similar collars. He quickly caught on to what we were doing and added their reflections. Since NUT-PI was the immediate threat, we all reflected our little suns onto him and his head burst into flames!” 

The eyes of the Veritas widened as they pictured someone bursting into flames. She let this image sit for a moment in the collective imagination of her tribe. Then, she resumed.



“Different tribes choose their leaders in various ways. The Z-Lotz choose by assassination! Since Shadow Walker, so we claimed, had killed NUT-PI, he should become their leader. As you might imagine, many objected to this, but, at least initially, since it was their habit, and the people were afraid, most accepted him — us really — as rulers. I can tell you more about how that went later, but first, there were several attempts to overthrow Shadow Walker by assassination. Last night, Tree Vines came at night and told us there was going to be an attack by many in the morning so we had to leave immediately. We came here. Obviously, the Z-Lotz already know where we are. But we didn’t see any signs that we were being followed. Still, prudence would say that we need to be careful. From the Z-Lotz standpoint, Shadow Walker is actually still king…so long as he’s alive, that is. But even apart from that, it’s clear that they would not mind exploiting us and possibly even destroying us.”

Many Paths spoke next. “Did you bring NUT-PI’s killing stick back with you? Were there more?” 

Eagle Eyes glanced at Shadow Walker. Then, their eyes locked. It was clear that Eagle Eyes wanted him to explain why he had made the killing sticks inaccessible. He nodded, almost imperceptibly and ascended the rock, unafraid to take a helping hand from his friend. “By sheer accident, we discovered a stash of killing sticks. By the way, I destroyed the one NUT-PI had. It was a thing of much violence, clearly, but beyond that, I knew nothing about how to operate it. So, I destroyed it. If I had kept it, it might have been used against me. I could not picture myself killing a human being in such a way with such a thing.” He paused as though reliving how difficult the decision had been.

Then, Shadow Walker continued his narrative.”We found a stash of killing sticks. By accident. We don’t know who among the Z-Lotz knows of its existence. We had not yet decided what to do with them when Gathers Acorns and Tree Vines told us we must leave with as little as possible. I made it so the Z-Lotz could not easily get to these killing sticks. If they know about them, they will eventually get them but, Gathering Acorns also poured a combination of fermenting acorns and sewage atop the killing sticks. She believes this will render them useless, not to mention disgusting, but we are not really sure.” 

Many Paths regained the gray granite stage, and said, “Now, here is another thing. These helpers of Shadow Walker and Eagle Eyes — Tree Vines and Gathers Acorns — are the parents of Cat Eyes. They have been apart for many years. And, as soon as these two are rested from their journey, we will have a group quickly take them to their village on the other side of the mountain so they can be re-united at last with their daughter.”

A clear voice rang out from the edge of clearing. 

“That won’t be necessary!”

——————————————

The Myths of the Veritas: Stoned Soup

The Myths of the Veritas: The Forgotten Field

The Myths of the Veritas: The Orange Man

The Myths of the Veritas: The First Ring of Empathy

The Myths of the Veritas: Feast and Fire

—————————————-

Author page on Amazon

Stress Fractures!

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Stress Fractures!

From Wikipedia, 9/26/2021

Stress fracture
Other namesHairline fracture, fissure fracture, march fracture, spontaneous fracture, fatigue fracture
pastedGraphic.png
Stress fracture of the second metatarsal bone (below the knuckles of the second toe)


“A stress fracture is a fatigue-induced bone fracture caused by repeated stress over time. Instead of resulting from a single severe impact, stress fractures are the result of accumulated injury from repeated submaximal loading, such as running or jumping. Because of this mechanism, stress fractures are common overuse injuries in athletes.

Stress fractures can be described as small cracks in the bone, or hairline fractures. Stress fractures of the foot are sometimes called “march fractures” because of the injury’s prevalence among heavily marching soldiers.[2] Stress fractures most frequently occur in weight-bearing bones of the lower extremities, such as the tibia and fibula (bones of the lower leg), metatarsal and navicular bones (bones of the foot). Less common are stress fractures to the femur, pelvis, and sacrum. Treatment usually consists of rest followed by a gradual return to exercise over a period of months.” 

A few weeks ago, I was playing tennis as I regularly do about 3-4 times a week. Also, as usual, my feet really began to hurt after two sets. I find that changing shoes typically helps the situation, so I sat down to change my shoes. It was extremely difficult to get my foot into my shoe — I had to bang it hard to get it in. Finally — success!

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So, I was ready to play a third set. But after two points, I realized there was no way I was going to play more tennis. I hobbled home and could barely mount the shallow steps to the front door. It was “Labor Day” so most places were closed. We finally got my painful ankle X-rayed and the doctor who read the X-rays said, “Good news! No new breaks in your ankle.” 

That was good news. 

Except that so far as I knew, I had never broken my ankle in the past! That brings to seven the total number of broken bones I’ve had. 

I was born with flat feet and all my life I’ve had flat feet and pronated ankles. Now, however, things had moved to a new and much worse chapter. I could literally put zero weight on my left leg. Now, I can walk. Which means, I can now play tennis. 

Sort of. 

How could I have broken an ankle and not have been aware of it? Because of the structural defects in my feet, instead of having an arch that works to distribute the stress of running, jumping, and landing, one of the key bones in my arch has moved downward and toward the midline. So now, every time I land hard, the stress is not distributed evenly through the arch but smashes down into the outside of my ankle bone.

That sucks. And it makes playing tennis iffy. And, it’s painful. And, potentially dangerous.

Not so much as the fracturing of American democracy however. 

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The Trumputinists have been waging a War on Truth against America for years. They stepped up their game significantly with TFG. Who benefits from the War on Truth? 

Not the American citizens! 

The man who got TFG Putin office benefits. 

America has long been the major thorn in the side of Putin’s ambitions to reconstitute the USSR and possibly even to “rule the world.” It’s a crazy ambition, to my way of thinking. But not to would-be dictators. 

I like tennis. 

But some folks like stamp collecting. And some like to quilt. And some few like to destroy the love and livelihood of others in order to gain power. (Essays on America: The Game).

About 2400-2500 Americans were killed by the sudden attack on Pearl Harbor. FDR immediately declared war on Japan. That was like a traumatic bone break to a human body.

The Trumputinists, through their campaign of lies, false cures, false promises, and executive orders have driven up the number of deaths of Americans from the pandemic by hundreds of thousands. They have killed more Americans than were killed in 9/11 and Pearl Harbor and the War in Vietnam, and the Middle Eastern wars combined.

In 1860, the South seceded from the Union. Did Lincoln declare war on the South? No. Did he attack the South? No. The South attacked Fort Sumpter. Do you know how many Americans they killed? 

Zero. 

Two Union soldiers were killed in an accidental explosion while they were leaving the fort.

Even before the pandemic hit, TFG was rolling back safeguards on the food supply, clean water regulations, and clean air regulations. He was isolating America from our allies.



Stress fracture.

He divided the country using the methods that would-be dictators have used for centuries. (See: The Myths of the Veritas: Stoned Soup).

Stress fracture.

TFG replaced patriotic, non-partisan experts throughout government with inept lackeys who would do anything to curry favor with the Putin-backed coup. 

Stress fracture.

TFG did everything he could to destroy the careers of any patriotic Republicans who stood up to him. 

Stress fracture.



TFG, millions of dollars in “dark money” and the Trumputinist backers have subverted confidence in elections and passed “laws” that mean that they can simply “overturn” elections when they don’t win. Nonetheless, they have also passed laws to suppress the votes of POC, the elderly, Armed Services personnel, Native Americans, and students. Suppressing the vote, aside from being unfair, guarantees that inept, cruel, and corrupt politicians will be the norm.

Stress fracture.

The Trumputinists deny that their deadly attack on the United States Capitol was a crime. They claim it was just a regular day of tourism. 


Major stress fracture.



America faces serious problems such as the need for immigration reform, wealth inequality, racial injustice, crumbling infrastructure, COVID, cybercrime, social media companies giving in to brutal dictators like Putin, climate disasters. The Trumputinists pretend to want to be part of the solution but actually are doing everything in their power to prevent these crises from being addressed. 

Stress fractures.

As the stress fractures in your body continue to multiply, you will begin to bleed to death internally. And, being unable to move, you will be unable to battle predators of any description.

It’s past time to bring to justice those who are trying to destroy our democracy, even if that makes Putin upset. 

Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

It’s important to remember that in the last Presidential election, Republicans and Democrats worked together throughout the country to run the election. Those were actual Republicans — Americans who are typically more conservative than their Democratic colleagues. Those folks are being threatened with physical violence as are their families unless they pledge to be Trumputinists. Of course, the Trumputinist don’t call themselves “Fascists” or “Trumputinists” but so what?

(Essays on America: Labelism). 

Stress fracture. 

People who stormed the US Capitol; politicians who support the overthrow of democracy; people who threaten violence against actual Republicans who do not support the big lie — they all need to be dealt with legally, but quickly and thoroughly. 

One thing we do know from history: trying to placate a cruel ego-maniacal dictator by, say, giving them Poland, does not work. Ask the ghost of Neville Chamberlain.

I honestly cannot think of how the Trumputinists could make it more clear. 

They are not playing on team America. 

They have already attacked American democratic institutions and stormed America’s Capitol. 

They have already killed 1/2 million innocent Americans. 

They are still perpetuating the big lie. 

They certainly have no business being seated in the Congress of the United States of America.

Many of the Trumputinists have been trained to deny the efficacy of masks, social distancing, and the vaccines. 

But many Democrats have been trained to deny the severity of the crisis we are facing. Ignoring the X-rays and pretending it’s all business as usual won’t knit my bones back together. 

Ignoring the fact that Trumputinists are fighting an undeclared war on our country will not make us safe any more than shutting our eyes will make us safe from the circling wolf pack or the growing climate crisis or the unsustainable chasm in wealth and opportunity.

Trumputinists killed a half million Americans (and counting) by not addressing the pandemic realistically.

(See: The Truth Train).

Democrats will allow many millions to be killed if they do not address, with everything in their power, the slow coup that is breaking America. 

“There is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it…if only we’re brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman





https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stress_fracture

The Quinquagenarian

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(A birthday wish for a friend whose birthday is Saturday and he likes to bike).

Fertile fields will flit right by

Piston legs and open road.

Circles much like earth inscribe. 

Energetic coast and glide

Sprint with ease and wind swept face

Speedy grace; easy race.

Wheels of whirl and whirling wheels

Much like flying, so it feels!

(To those of Smokeless Flying Tribe).

Virginia Reel – toe to heel

Once more, Earth’s orbit serves as goad

To celebrate the cyclist’s high! 


Life is a dance

To see the earth in vast expanse

Roar, Ocean, Roar

Myths of the Veritas: Many Paths Finds Many Keys

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Many Paths frowned. She looked down at the wrinkly old lady who had been — and still was — her mentor, her shaman, her friend. She Who Saves Many Lives was drifting off to sleep but with a smile on her face, despite the difficulties and discomfort of the Red Spider Plague. Many Paths herself smiled. Even in sleep, the old Shaman made her feel better.

She decided to let her mentor sleep. Many Paths had been about to ask for a hint about the puzzle she had just been given. Many Paths laughed to herself thinking, Just as well. Her “hints” are just as likely to lead the student astray as they are to bring sunlight to the right path. 

Many Paths left the old shaman’s cabin and walked about the Center Place of the Veritas. She greeted various members of the tribe warmly, and once she had greeted everyone in sight and reassured them that she was cured and that The Old Grandmother was resting comfortably. She had discovered that greeting everyone and having a short conversation with them allowed the maximum chance for uninterrupted thought. So, she settled herself at the porch of her own cabin. She reviewed what the old shaman had said to see if there was a clue to this seemingly impossible problem. 

“There are two locked boxes. Each contains the other’s one and only key. Yet, I am able to use the keys to open both boxes. How is that possible?”  

First of all, why had she brought this up? Was it just something that bubbled up in the overheated brain because of the fever? Perhaps. But Many Paths reckoned it more likely that She Who Saves Many Lives had intentionally chosen this puzzle because it held something useful for the problem at hand.

Well, thought Many Paths, to be more precise — not the only problem at hand — there were so many. But the one she had shared with her mentor was how to bring together all the nearby tribes and broker a peace deal amongst them. Fires. Wars. Killing Sticks. Stealing children. It was all madness. And the Z-Lotz? Bringing the Red Spiders Plague on purpose? Giving them a gift which was really meant to sicken them? How could there peace with such as that? And yet — and yet, somehow her lover Shadow Walker and one of her closest friends, Eagle Eyes had become the leaders of the Z-Lotz! If, she reminded herself, the note brought by the Eagle could be believed. 

Many Paths sighed. She wished she could talk it through with someone. Yet…she had a feeling that She Who Saved Many Lives didn’t give her the puzzle because she wanted the answer. The old shaman already knew the answer. It was specifically designed to move something within Many Paths. Many Paths laughed aloud at her own train of thought. She shook her head and muttered to herself, “Here I am. I can’t solve the puzzle she gave me so instead, I’ve given myself a still harder problem — trying to read the mind of She Who Saves Many Lives! I think if I know why she gave me the puzzle, it would help me figure out the answer. The much more sensible approach is to solve the puzzle and then it will be much easier to solve why she gave it to me.” 

Many Paths closed her eyes and put her fingers to her temple. With her eyes closed, she became much more aware of the warmth of the sun on her face. She quite consciously relaxed her muscles and slowed her breathing. 

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

She thought: Inventory. What do I know? There are two boxes. There they are. Many Paths pictured two large wooden boxes side by side. They were identical. What are they made of? Are there holes? Is it still a box if there are holes? Maybe it’s still a box, but they are locked boxes. Locked boxes are not really locked boxes if their are large enough holes for me to slide my hand through and simply grab the keys. They are supposed to be locked boxes. But why are they made of pine wood? No-one said anything about pine or even wood. They could be carved out of stone, I suppose or even of ice. The boxes could melt! But she said ‘use the keys’ — well, I suppose you could take the keys and warm them in a fire and then, use that heat to melt the ice…but no, I wouldn’t yet have the keys. I could wait till they melt naturally. Then I could grab the keys, but I wouldn’t be using them to open the boxes. Is melting a box really opening it?

So, how do I know the boxes are identical? Suppose I am one of the boxes? I am in the tribe but I am also myself — my own person — even though I lead the tribe. Something is nearby. I can hear the answer rustling in the bushes but it is still too dark to see it clearly. Two boxes. Not necessarily the same. One could be the tribe. One could be me. If I had the key to the tribe … and the tribe had the key to me….they could me the key I need to open me and I could give them the key to open them.

In the mind of Many Paths, the two boxes began playing with each other. She made them mentally chase each other in circles. Then, when she grew tired of that game, she had them continue their roles to the end. One of the boxes opened its giant “mouth” — a hinged side — and “eat” the other box. 

Many Paths stopped breathing. Her eyes snapped open. “Of course!” She said aloud. Her first inclination was to run back to continue her conversation with She Who Saves Many Lives. But she shook her head. She’s likely still asleep, thought Many Paths, and besides. There’s the other half of the problem. Why did she…? Ah, of course! 

Many Paths saw that the second puzzle — why she had been given this puzzle when she had been telling She Who Saves Many Lives how much she wanted to bring peace to the tribes but she couldn’t even control Trunk of Tree — that wasn’t a puzzle at all. It was obvious. If she wanted to change the external world to be more peaceful, she herself would have to be changed — perhaps more peaceful — perhaps not. The puzzle didn’t specify exactly what about herself she would have to change. A puzzle merely illustrates a principle. It never dictates real world action. All the Veritas were taught this early, including Many Paths. 

Her intuition led her to believe the two “keys” were different in her dilemma just as they had been in the puzzle. But —she also believed that they would be closely related. Many Paths wanted to the tribes to be more peaceful, more truthful, kinder, more cooperative. She sighed and issued a short laugh.

Many Paths said to herself, I want all the tribes to be more like the Veritas. I want them all to be Veritas. But — I can’t bring six tribes together and explain that they should all be just like me … or even more like me. 

Again, Many Paths had a sudden impulse to run back to She Who Saves Many Lives to share her new insight. And, once again, she immediately suppressed that sudden urge. Instead, she sighed. She did wish that she could discuss this with one of her friends. It was clear that she needed to make a change, but it also seemed obvious to her that it was just the sort of change that friends could help with. 

She thought, My friends will see in the moment that I am assuming everyone wants to be a Veritas and point it out. Eventually, the new way will permeate my thinking. But which friends? My most trusted friends were all unavailable at the moment. I’m not ready to allow the spread of rumors about a meeting with all the tribes. It can’t be just anyone. Could I talk about it with Trunk of Tree?

Many Paths took a deep breath. She reckoned she could talk about it with Trunk of Tree, but first, she needed to really see and understand his point of view. 

She thought, Prior to seeing him, I need to make a guess at his perspective and then I need to check it out with him. I can’t just assume it’s right, but I might make a start. He’s always thought he should be the leader because he’s the strongest. In his mind being strongest is the most important thing. I need to make him see that we all do think it’s important. We value his strength and all wish we had more of your strength. We also believe that other things are also important. And, it may be the case, that in some instances, being the strongest is the very most important thing for a leader to have. And, it may be the case, that in some other instances, being able to see the best, or hear the best, or speak the most convincingly, or think the most creatively. Who knows? We have a way to choose a leader. And in that way, I was chosen. It doesn’t mean that you are not the strongest. It does not mean that we care nothing about you or your strength. It just means that for now, the shaman judges that the seven rings of empathy were the best trials. Of course, the people are the final judge and if everyone wants to change the way we choose leaders, so be it. Perhaps everyone will decide a wrestling match should determine the leader — or, as with the Z-Lotz and Cupiditas,  — a fight to the death. If the people decide that, then so be it, and I will support you. And so will Shadow Walker and Eagle Eyes and Tu-Swift. But as it is, I am the chosen leader. That doesn’t make me your ruler. I come to you as a friend and I need your advice precisely because you and I don’t always see eye to eye. Here’s what I’m thinking….

Her thoughts continued: Of course, I must be open to many paths of conversation. Perhaps I should suggest that I speak uninterrupted for a time. Trunk of Tree could be a good confidant if he will hear me out first. It requires so much work though to work with him. Of course, the same can be said of getting the six tribes together. It’s like trying to weave…yes…it is like weaving! The tribes can all be different. We can do things differently. But the question is, what do we want to work on together. And let us move in different directions and make the whole basket stronger. 

Many Paths felt relieved somehow and looked forward to having an honest conversation with Trunk of Tree. She circled through the village looking for him but he was nowhere to be found. She wondered if he had gotten so made that he had injured himself or even left the tribe. She shook her head. She was having a bad day of fishing or hunting. She chuckled to herself and thought: I was actually looking forward to talking with Trunk of Tree and he’s not here. Oh, I miss Shadow Walker! 

Just then, the attention of Many Paths turned to the air. She heard a distinct drumbeat pattern that someone safe was approaching. She thought: It looks as though I will have my conversation with Trunk of Tree after all. 

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The Myths of the Veritas: The First Ring of Empathy

The Myths of the Veritas: The Forgotten Field

The Myths of the Veritas: The Orange Man

The Myths of the Veritas: The Wobbly Man

Essays on America: The Isle of Right

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts