The Myths of the Veritas: Night Moves

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Shadow Walker sat in silence at the edge of the dimly lit “Royal Chamber.” It was his turn to “stand watch” and though he had trained his mind to concentrate, his mind nonetheless wandered from time to time. He thought of many things, but mainly of Many Paths. Despite the myriad talents of Eagle Eyes, he wished Many Paths were there instead. The mind of Many Paths was well suited to thinking through the current dilemma. Shadow Walker and Eagle Eyes had agreed to provisionally treat his three chosen ministers as confidants. He had hated to do it, but he fed each one of them different “confidential” information which he asked that they not share with anyone else. In this way, he could eventually success whom he could really trust. 

In the “Royal Bed”, as it was known, they had folded extra blankets to make it appear that two people were sleeping cuddled together. Meanwhile, he and Eagle Eyes had agreed to take turns watching to see whether any assassin would appear. This much, at least, seemed like a good plan for now, but they needed their sleep. It wasn’t sustainable to stay alert on short sleep indefinitely. And besides, it wasn’t only in their sleep they could be assassinated. Even if they managed to avoid death at night, could they be on their guard sufficiently to protect themselves the entire rest of the day? Day after Day?

At least being potentially beset on all sides helped Shadow Walker stay awake for his shift. He could see the form of Eagle Eyes lying asleep on the floor near the opposite wall. He cared for her. She had already saved his life at least twice since arriving at the City of the Z-Lotz. For now at least, the Z-Lotz as well as the remnants of the ROI treated him as king and bowed down deeply to him. This was a move which invariably sickened Shadow Walker inwardly, but he tried to portray the face of someone who would find such actions pleasant. For this image, he chose his memory of Trunk of Tree whom he imagined would like it if people bowed down to him. 

Trunk of Tree. There was another dilemma. Trying to convince Many Paths that I was dead? Trying to take her for his own mate though — what about Eagle Eyes? He was good in a battle. That much was so. Perhaps, he … he takes actions that might lead to war because that is what he’s good at? This will not help me here though…although, it does relate to trust. Trust. 

Trust is hard! That much seems certain. Trunk of Tree and I have been friends our whole lives and yet…

Suddenly, Shadow Walker stopped breathing to listen better. He had thought he heard a commotion outside. This “City” as the Z-Lotz called it, was always noisy, even at night. But the noise was not a harmonious, peaceful song as given by the birds, bugs and bullfrogs of night. For a moment, it was too quiet and then … a disconcerting noise. So, maybe it was nothing. He heard nothing more and gradually relaxed his muscles. His mind turned back to trust. 

(Weaving in different directions makes it stronger.)

He did actually trust Tree Vines, and to some extent, Tree Vine’s wife, Gathers Acorns, as well. And, that degree of trust may have slowed his hand just enough as he leapt to his feet and nearly beheaded her. In an instant, Eagle Eyes was awake and on her feet as well, bow in hand and drawn. 

Shadow Walker was so taken aback by his nearly killing one of the few people they could trust, he stood speechless. Eagle Eyes hissed, “What are you doing here? You sneak into someone’s chamber in the middle of the night? You could have been killed! How would that be? How would we explain that to Cat Eyes? How … “

Gathers Acorns held up her hand and shook her head slowly. “Stop! Listen! You must hear my tale and then you can decide whether I acted stupidly.” 

Shadow Walker and Eagle Eyes looked at each other a moment and sighed. Shadow Walker calmed his breathing but his mind was still not totally convinced she wasn’t there to assassinate him. He tightened his jaw and nodded for her to speak. 

“No time for long explanations, but many, many Z-lotz are coming to kill you tonight just before dawn. You must leave now. Immediately. Tree Vines and I will accompany you if we may. We have provisions. Take whatever is close to hand. Your weapons. We must go quickly!” 

Shadow Walker and Eagle Eyes again looked to each other for guidance. Then, they realized they were both doing it and it struck both of them as funny. In different circumstances, they might have laughed. As it was, however, Eagle Eyes spoke, “We don’t have time to destroy — or take — all the killing sticks! Should we take a few?” 

In Shadow Walker’s mind a picture flashed: As a young brave, he had been looking over the edge of a deep well. His dad held him tight across his waist. Far below, he thought he could see a reflection of himself, but it was dim. He wasn’t sure. So, he waved to the reflection to see whether it would wave back. In his excitement, he had forgotten that his waving hand held his favorite rock — a gray crystal of galena — lead ore. The rock slid from his hand. He realized in an instant it was gone forever. Inaccessible.

Shadow Walker looked at Eagle Eyes and said, “We don’t need to destroy them. Let’s make them all inaccessible.” 

“How?” Eagle Eyes shook her head and shrugged her shoulders. 

For all we know, no-one but us actually knows how to move the partition or even that the weapons are there. It would be just like NUT-PI not to tell anyone about it. He would have that special lever made and then likely killed the carpenter who did it. Or, perhaps, the threat of death would be enough. In any case, we can likely destroy the link between the knob and the partition. We can’t count on no-one knowing. Or, breaking through the wall if necessary.” 

Gathers Acorns drew near and put one hand on each of their shoulders. “We can also make them inaccessible another way. It won’t take long. I’ll see to it while you pack up. Don’t make a disturbance and keep whatever you take to a minimum.”

Shadow Walker strode to the knob on the back of the bed. He thought it possible that yanking hard might break the connection. He didn’t feel it had actually broken, but a narrow wooden rod now stuck out a few inches. Shadow Walker drew his sword and hacked straight through the rod. He could hear a clattering down below the floor.

Eagle Eyes looked at Shadow Walker. “You realize, we can’t get them either.”

“I know. I know that I made a decision for the whole tribe.” 

Gathers Acorns reappeared with Tree Vines. She said breathlessly, “It is done! Let us go!” 

For a brief moment, it occurred to Shadow Walker that it could all be a trap. 

“Trust”, he whispered to himself, “a difficult puzzle. For another time and place.”

Out into the night, lit only by a few oil lamps, they sped to the edge of the city, whereupon they vanished into an even darker night lit only by stars. Traveling fast at night held its own dangers, but they wanted to put as much distance as possible between their party and, what they imagined would be, much larger search parties. 

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Killing Sticks 

The Forgotten Field

A tale of greed: The Orange Man

Another tale of greed and division: Myths of the Veritas: Stoned Soup

Rings of Empathy

A Parachute Ripped by Lies

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You need not wear a parachute

If you should plummet from the sky.

For gravity is just a hoax

That’s spread by all those liberal folks*. 

If what you’re hearing irks, just mute! 

Just listen to The Crooked Guy! 

You need not care he rakes in cash

Entices you to act the ash.

You need not wear a safety belt,

And brakes are over-rated too. 

Your faith is bountiful and strong!

It’s clear that nothing can go wrong!

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For all that matters? How you felt!

Who cares at all if it was true! 

You prove to all how free you’ll be

Repeating Pravda endlessly. 

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You brake a bone or crack your head — 

Then see your favorite talk show host!

Some salted trash or ragweed mash

Will cure each ill; just send them cash.

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If you should die from what they said, 

Well, they don’t care — so why your ghost?

With Voldemort at last in power

You’ll doubtless think your finest hour. 

The problem is dictatorship

Is something people die to leave!

So why lean in to tyranny? 

Have faith in our democracy. 

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Don’t pee into the power strip;

Insist on rights but act naive.

Adult’s a verb; not just a noun.

Lie’s not truth and up’s not down. 

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  • This is satire. Gravity is not a hoax. And, should you feel compelled to jump out of an airplane from high in the sky, you will definitely want a parachute and not rely instead on a Faux News commentator’s words to cushion your fall. 

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Essays on America: Wednesday

What about the butter dish?

Happy Talk Lies.

Plans for us; some GRUesome

Essays on America: The Stopping Rule

Essays on America: The Update Problem

Where does your loyalty lie?

Essays on America: My cousin Bobby. 

Come back to the light

Roses gilded by the sunset

You Don’t Say! (Cluelessness Edition)

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I love walking. According to my parents, I began early at 9 months. I love walking in nature best because it’s almost always the most beautiful. But when I travel, I enjoy walking around wherever I am. In fact, when I have time, I often walk in the airport. 

I wrote a blog post about a hike on Mt. Hood. 

Link to: Big Zig Zag Canyon

As you may or may not know, I even wrote a book about how to put more exercise into daily life. I developed a fairly complete upper body work-out to do while you’re walking. 

Link to: Fit in Bits

Aside from playing tennis, walking is my chief form of exercise. Recently, I began monitoring my steps and upped my goal. 

Often, when I play tennis, I come home and ice my left ankle afterwards. If I don’t, it gets stiff & painful when I finally stand up and take a few steps. After walking around for awhile, it feels better. Sometimes, when I’m playing it helps my feet to change shoes after the first set. That’s what I did on Monday, but I had a lot of trouble getting my left shoe on. I had to really push hard to get my shoe on. Finally. I was ready for more tennis. 

Or, not. 

Because something didn’t feel right. I retired and walked home (a short distance). To be more accurate, I limped home until I had to hobble home. I could basically put no weight on my left leg at all. We went to one of those 7 days a week clinic but they were closed. Then, my wife drove me to the UCSD Medical Center. They were awesome. An X-Ray showed that I had no (new!) Ankle break. But apparently, I had broken it at some point in the past. 

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Anyway, I got some crutches and am following the RICE instructions: Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. Luckily the US Open is on TV and I’ve already seen a dozen amazing matches! 

I suddenly get an alert on my phone! Oh, who could it be? 

It is from a health app! Maybe it’s checking up on my ankle? 

No. It just wants me to know that it’s thinking of me and it wants to remind me how important it is to walk! What a great exercise it is! 

Isn’t that sweet? Could you imagine visiting a friend who just sprained their ankle and telling them how much fun you had playing tennis or basketball or telling them all the reasons they should walk or that they’re really missing out by not being able to play sports? You don’t say such things! You realize that while, what you’re saying may be true, in the current context, it’s unhelpful and for some, hurtful. 

I had to laugh out loud at the ineptitude of the message about walking. Imagine instead of a hopefully temporary injury, I had just lost a leg due to an accident or from diabetes? Suppose I had lived my life in a wheelchair and I got this message? 

There’s a reason that sane people don’t walk up to strangers and say something with no preamble that presumes some sort of shared context! But marketeers and advertisers do it all the time! The have pop-up ads, “crucial” and “last chance” emails all the time and send it to millions of people. They blast it to you on TV and radio. Because of whatever is going on in someone’s life, these various messages will always be wildly inappropriate for a small percentage (but a large number) of people. 

Even though my mom died more than 20 years ago, I still get many admonitions every year about how she’d really like me to wire her some flowers. 

Mother’s Day

The marketing folks seem to want to have it two ways. On the one hand, they want you to believe that they care about you like a friend might. They care about your family. They keep track of time for you and have helpful reminders about people’s birthdays. They are on your side. But they don’t want to pay for actual sales people to do this. The can’t afford “Personal Shoppers” like Nordstrom’s does. Since everything is just cheaply generated by computer, of course they are often going to be dead wrong in their suggestions, their timing, and their message. 

Guess what? They don’t care. Why? Because when they do something inappropriate, we will say to ourselves, “Well, it’s just an algorithm. Of course, it’ll make mistakes.” WIth everything else going on in the world, it’s small potatoes and not worth caring about. 

When they chance to hit upon showing us something that is actually appropriate and appealing, we’re likely to buy it. 

Meanwhile, I have to wonder what the impact is on our society of emotionally tone deaf and inappropriate messages being spewed out by the billions. Is it possible that part of the reason so many people go crazy in department stores, airports, and even medical facilities insisting on their “rights” to kill other Americans with their germs is that everyone sees inappropriate messages sent by bots? There is no real consequence to the companies who send inappropriate messages and often there is no real consequence to those who scream and threaten violence at school board meetings if their toddlerhood is not automatically catered to. 

Is it possible these pandemics of inappropriateness are related? Is it possible that the toxic rhetoric of a hate-mongerer finds resonance in so many partly because they have been bombarded with so many tone deaf messages? 

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Freedom of speech is not a license to kill

As Gold as it Gets

Do unto others

Cars that lock too much

Bounce

The primacy effect and the destroyer’s advantage

Essays on America: Poker chips

Essays on America: The temperature gauge

You Don’t Say! (Sexism Edition)

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What are some things you don’t say? 

Here are a few that occur to me. 

We say, “He won her.” 

We don’t often say, “She won him.” 

And, when I do hear them, it seems to me it has a definitely different set of connotations. The first statement, “He won her.” Is un-marked. At least for me, I don’t feel I know any more about the person than I did before that statement. But all of the immediate connotations, vague as they are, are positive. He may have won her by a show of strength or competence. Maybe he slew a dragon. Maybe he outwitted all his rivals (notice their implicitly has to be at least one). Maybe he won her by being open and honest or showing how much he cared. It’s all good. 

Now, what stories come to my mind when I see, “She won him.” First, to be honest, there is a bit of a double take. Did I read that right? OK, well, sure, that can happen. Probably far more than men realize. What did she do? Did she use deception? And, what about him? Why didn’t he win her? I’m not saying I can’t overcome these connotations.

Notice, I don’t think she did use deception. I don’t have any evidence about that. And there are many other ways to “win” someone. But why does it come to mind? It did not come to mind when I read the first sentence. Yet, I can think of numerous instances where men have used all kinds of deception, not to mention, cruelty, gaslighting, murder, drugs, kidnapping, rape to “win” someone. 

It is really an upstream swim not to fall for the bull$hit your culture inculcates into you about age, gender, race, etc. 

Do you think there is any practical significance to this? 

Let’s consider one recent example. In the “2016” campaign for US President, you may recall that the democrats chose one of the best-qualified candidate in US History on the basis of her intellect, experience, and character. Yet, her opponent, one of the very least qualified in US history on the basis of what he actually accomplished (mainly losing millions of dollars), his character, or his intellect, called her “Crooked Hillary” and it stuck for many people.

You may notice that in the previous paragraph, I put “2016” in scare quotes. Why? Because both sides began the Hilary (or Anti-Hilary) campaign years before 2016. The Republicans realized early on she was their best candidate and attacked her character mercilessly and with zero evidence. Zero. But it worked.

But what if Hillary would have called Donald Trump “Crooked Donald” first? Would that have helped her? No. About 40 % of America, as we now know, would have simply said, “Yeah, so?” They don’t care that he is a tax-evader. They don’t care that he is a pu$$y grabber. They don’t care that he had a fake university or that he defrauded a kid’s cancer charity. They don’t care. It’s what guys do. There’s winners and losers. And a guy’s gotta do what he’s gotta do to win or he’s not really a man. So if he’s stupid, maybe he has to bend a few rules to win. So what. That just makes him street smart. Since he’s a guy, all that is just fine. It’s fine to be a real crook if you’re a guy, but not okay to be untruthfully branded as a crook if you’re a woman.

Gee. That sounds fair. 

The thing is this. It isn’t just unfair to Hillary. It was unfair to America. And every time our presumptions trump reality, we all lose. We are all the poorer because we have not made the best decision in accordance with reality but merely comforted ourselves with the lie that we were right all along. 

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Essays on America: Wednesday

Essays on America: My Cousin Bobby

Essays on America: The Stopping Rule

Essays on America: What about the butter dish?

Essays on America: The Update Problem

Author Page on Amazon

Let the Rainbows In!

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Something there is that doesn’t love a meeting.

I could say “elves” — but I think “selves” may be

Closer to the mark. We might walk along the river.

We could sit around my oaken kitchen table.

We could gasp in cold and driving rain and laugh

Beneath an overhang as thunder rounded under.

We might take a darkish corner of a happy pub

Sketch out worlds to conquer, castles to build;

Order another pitcher of Guinness or Sam Adams.

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But the formal corporate tables – row on row –

Are cookie-cuttered, soul-guttered, flat.

Inside the gray walls, the gray points are made.

One by one the problems raised, dissected,

And out upon the table laid. That’s that. 

If the world outside is sun and rainbow rain,

It’s all just too Crayola for the corporate brain.

Chart of Acronym, Chart of Org, Chart of Plan.

Chart of Acronym, Chart of Org, Chart of Plan.

And all the while, a child grows; a world flows. 

Vines laugh their magic miracle of transmutation:

Water into wine. Sun shafts energy into raindrops:

Outside, a prism of possibilities seen and unseen

Is painted for our pleasure. Inside, our insight fades. 

But someday soon, I may open up the windows

And let the rainbows in. Would that really be a sin? 

Or, might the colors flash those numbers into life?

Might the living flesh of nature help us see?

Dissolve the strife? Prevent the strike? May be.

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You like to think you know yourself all too well.

But maybe — just perhaps, you cannot tell. 

Spring may put a notion in your head too:

A meeting out of doors where people talked 

Of how things really are and then we’d dream a bit

Of how things then might really come to pass. You, yourself,

Might just open up that flat gray glass and 

Let the Rainbows in! Let the Rainbows in! 

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To see the earth is vast expanse

Divining divinity

The Tree of Life

Life is a dance

Dance a whirling while or three

Maybe it needs a new starter

The Magic of Numbers

Dream Glider

Somehow

Come back to the light

The teeth of the shark

Ah Wilderness

Piano

Author page on Amazon

Come Together Right Now

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“But, Doc, she can’t be really dead.

It’s all most surely in her head.

This Pandemic’s all a hoax.”

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It’s not my style for telling jokes

Spewing lies and swill to kill 

(Oh, yes, oh yes, lies surely will!). 

A funny kind of funky freedom

To owe your soul to Tweedledum

And give your body to disease

Enslaved & doing as you please

Or so you think.  It’s so absurd

To disavow a doctor’s word 

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But think that talk show hosts are sane.

“Don’t tell me that they rot my brain.

Aside from cash, they’ve naught to gain.”

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So, on we go to chapter four.

Where selfishness is de rigueur.

Those who scream the loudest score.

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Democracy is shaken more

Than simply stirred. It’s time to pour

Your heart and soul into the fray—

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Or Nazi crews will win the day;

Ineptitude and treason sway;

As Putin smiles his work to see.

But we can still show unity. 

And touch a touch of sanity.  

Restore our sense of dignity. 

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Rebuild our country full of love.

Kick away the thrown glove.

See the land as though above. 

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That we all differ? — That’s our soul! 

We must recall our journey’s goal. 

Diversity! It makes us whole! 

Outside forces force our hand

Trying to destroy our lovely land. 

But you and I and everyone 

Don’t have to play one for one.

Our common fight for freedom’s fun. 

And, one fine day, pandemic done,

We’ll all shun GRUesome treachery;

We’ll shun the grime of lechery;

Instead, adults will opt for good. 

We always knew we should and could.

You’ll be amazed what we can do:

When all of each and each of you

Together seek the light that’s true. 

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Roar, Ocean, Roar

Imagine all the people

Opponent is not an enemy

Comes the reign

The only them that counts is all of us

At least he’s our monster

Plans for us some GRUesome

The isle of right

I can’t be bothered

Walkabout diaries racism is absurd

Walkabout diaries Life will find a way

That cold walk home

How did I get here?

That first time is so special

What about the butter dish?

The stopping rule

Where does your loyalty lie?

My cousin Bobby

Essays on America: Wednesday

The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-academic

Death Cultery on Parade

The Watershed Virus

Masklessness is not Manliness

Use Diversity as a Resource

Not-Separateness

Author page on Amazon

Not-Separateness

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Not-Separateness

It seems odd to specify a property of natural order in terms of what it is not. On the other hand, I cannot come up with a positive alternative that doesn’t bring other connotations with it. I think it’s related to “unified” or “integral” or “belonging” or “inter-related” but none of those seem quite so on the mark as does “Not-Separateness.” 

Christopher Alexander’s degree from MIT was in architecture. Part of the reason he may have chosen this particular term is in reaction to some examples of architecture in which the architect seems to be in the business of constructing a building whose primary purpose is to make them famous regardless of what that building does to the neighborhood or the occupants. 

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Imagine Mr. Bigg designs a house that is a perfect black cube set on on vertex. In effect, this design says to me: “I am BIG. I am Mr. Bigg! I am a genius! You would have never been brilliant enough to design a house that is a cube on its vertex! You would have wasted your time and done something mundane like placed the cube on the ground on one of its faces. Anyone could think of that! But I put it on a vertex!” Indeed, we may easily imagine that he says words to this effect when his interview is reported on in the (mythical) architectural journal, Things that look different! 

“Mr. Bigg, you made the Bigg House out of black steel and black glass. Some critics have argued that this doesn’t fit with the existing neighborhood of stone cottages with thatched roofs.”

“Of course, little minds will always criticize Bigg ideas.” 

“Yes, yes. It also means that the construction costs of the house were quite high. And, the estimated costs of heating and cooling are much higher as well.”

“Nothing that a worthwhile (i.e., wealthy) client can’t afford.” 

“Some have also argued that it is inconvenient for the occupants who have to walk up and down at a steep angle and that furniture such as dressers, tables, chairs, and beds do not accommodate well to the tilted walls.” 

“Let me ask you aquestion. Would you have ever thought of putting a cube on its corner? No. I didn’t think so!” 

Of course, this is exaggeration. But not much. 

We would hope that User Experience designers take into account the users, their tasks, their contexts, and the way in which their designs interact with other related artifacts, people and processes. We would hope that applications and artifacts and services are all designed with the property of “Not-Separateness.” 

In the early 1980’s, I worked in the IBM Office of the Chief Scientist. My main assignment was to get IBM to pay more attention to the usability of its products. As part of that process, I visited quite a few IBM development labs around the world and spoke to many development teams. On many of these visits, I was accompanied by the Chief Scientist, a brilliant physicist, who “got” usability. 

On one occasion, we watched a new printing technology. Instead of printing out black printing on a white sheet of paper sized 8.5” x 11” or A4, this printout was of no standard size. The printing was black on a shiny silver sheet that curled severely. The Chief Scientist asked the head of the development team how they envisioned this being used. 

Chief Scientist: “Once someone printed this out, what would they do with it?”

Answer: “Oh, anything they liked.” 

Chief Scientist: “I mean, would people tape this into a notebook or paste it? Or would you imagine notebooks that would bind such paper?” 

Answer: “It’s not up to me to decide how people would use it. Doesn’t it look cool?” 

Another type of answer we heard more than once to the question, “How would this be used?” 

— “Oh, it’s a (replacement/upgrade) for this other IBM product.” 


“But who would use it and for what?” 


“It has three main components. Would you like a description of the components?” 

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Of course, there is a place for “playing around” with technology and thereby discovering things which someone else may find a use for. But in design and development of a product or service, having a clear notion of context of use and the users and tasks is fundamental. Of course, other users may appropriate a product or service for purposes beyond those envisioned by the original designers. That’s cool. 

What’s not cool is designing a device that is to be used in the bright outdoor sunlight and then testing the display in a typical office environment. Have you ever run across something like that? I have.

A more subtle lack of contextualization in design occurs when the design team fails to realize how many interruptions happen to the user while they are trying to accomplish a single task with the new application. If you “test” the application while the user is in a quiet “usability lab” and can give your tasks their undivided attention, then necessitating them to remember the invisible internal state of “Insert” versus “Edit” mode may not be a big deal at all. They will simply remember. But in their office environment, they may be interrupted by a phone call, a message, or their boss entering their office and asking a series of detailed questions. If they now go back to the task at hand, there is about a 50-50 chance that they will correctly guess whether they are in “Edit” mode or “Insert” mode. 

A design which shows the property of Not-Separateness is the natural result of a process which shows not-separateness. Here are a few common ways to help ensure the design process grows organically from the users and their goals & contexts. 

* Put people on the design team who are familiar with the users, and/or their tasks, and/or their contexts. 


* People on the design team observe people engaging in the relevant processes, whenever possible, not — or not only — in a “Usability Lab” but in the actual work environment. 

  • Jointly develop a product or service with the group who will use the product or service. 
  • Observe people actually using product P (or service S), version N so that version N+1 will be better attuned to the needs of the users. 
  • Gather and understand feedback from service calls and help desks and customer complaints in order to improve over time. 

There will be benefits to a company who takes such approaches beyond initial sales. If you’ve done any gardening, you will appreciate that the quality of the tomatoes you enjoy eating is related to the quality of the soil and the quality of the care you give the tomatoes. Similarly, a product or service that has the quality of Not-Separateness will not only be useful — users will fight to keep your product or service. It becomes integrated with the environment. To change the brand means that they will have to change the way they work; possibly even with whom they work. Not-Separateness is likely a path to what business people like to call a “Cash Cow.” 

If you’ve ever walked through a neighborhood after a hurricane, you’ve likely seen many uprooted trees. When you look at the roots of an uprooted tree, what do you see? Of course, you see roots. But what else? You see rocks and soil all around and embedded into the roots. They are Not-Separate. In a hurricane, there are typically not only high winds. There is also a lot of rain. The trees are hit with a double whammy. The wind pushes the tree but the rain weakens the solid soil in which the tree is embedded. It is the combination that makes it very difficult for the tree to “hold on” and keep from falling over. 

Living things, just like us, have a 4.5 billion year history of living. The living things adapt over time to their environment and they mold the environment to their needs. They are not separate. Flowers appeal to the insects who pollinate them. The insects who pollinate them are adapted to the characteristics of the flower. A horse adapts to their rider and the rider adapts to their horse. A product or service must have a design that serves the needs of its stakeholders. For a product or service to have maximum beauty, utility, and longevity, it must also have a way to adapt to the changing needs of the users and other stakeholders. At the same time, if the users and their organizations adapt to the product or service, then true Not-Separateness is achieved. 

If you want to skimp on designing your product or service, you can make it more separate, more divorced from its context, its users, and its tasks. Of course, if you do that, you also make much easier for your users to abandon your product and switch to a new one. 

Another way to think about this in terms of systems theory is where you draw the boundary. If you draw a sharp boundary around your product, you may find that, over time, your product becomes ever more peripheral to the community you’re trying to support and your product is ever more fungible with others in its class. On the other hand, if you draw the boundary around the product or service and the people and organizations who provide the product or service then, you are on the path of ever tighter interconnect. 

Not-Separateness is not only a quality of good design in terms of not overly separating the context and users from the product or service. It is also a good quality for the organization that produces products & services. Of course, some people today must manage a giant amorphous “organization” of tens of thousands of people so they set up divisions, and departments, and groups, and teams, and positions etc. There may indeed be a “UX Department” and a “Software Department” and a “Hardware Department.” That’s all fine. But it is counter-productive if the UX Department sees itself as separate from the rest of the company. To a great extent the success of the UX Department depends on the success of the Hardware and Software Departments. The Sales Department’s success will, of course, depend partly on the skills of the Sales Department. But it will also depend on the success of the UX Department, HW, SW and Services. 

Have you ever had a paper cut? It isn’t just the skin on a quarter inch of the inside of your ring finger that’s cut. You’re cut! It isn’t just that the finger feels pain. You feel pain! That causes you to take steps to ameliorate the pain and to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. That’s why empathy in leadership is important. A leader must feel empathy for all, or the organization will disintegrate from lack of Not-Separateness. At some point, a raccoon may chew off its own arm in order to escape a trap. 

But it isn’t the first thing that occurs to them every time they experience a thorn in the paw! 

The raccoon doesn’t say to itself:  — “that paw is giving me pain! I’m going to chew it off! Then, it won’t hurt any more.”

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Evolution did not evolve a raccoon that acts that way. Self-mutilation exists but it is typically a last resort.

But not for corporations. It is the first thing they think of:

“Our (you name it) Department is not performing well. Let’s lay them off and outsource it.”

What does that say to every thinking employee in the entire corporation? It says:

“You know what? All this talk about teamwork and pulling together is a total bunch of bull$hit. You cannot trust management to do what’s best for everyone. You can only trust them to do what’s best for them.” 

Living forms in nature are living forms. Their parts have severe Not-Separateness with the other parts of that form. Often, as in well-functioning families or teams, that extends to all members of the group. 

Not-Separateness is essentially deep cooperation. I give to the larger community by becoming a part of it and doing my part in it. I lend strength to the community. In return, I gain strength from that community. It is not a zero sum game, of course. The community, if it is functional, is much stronger than the sum of the individuals in that community. 

This is so deeply embedded in 4.5 billion years of evolution that it does not surprise me that we recognize beauty as being even more beautiful if it is not separate. Not-Separate enhances beauty because, like all the other properties, it is essential to life. 

Eventually, if humanity is to survive, we will realize that Not-Separateness applies to all of us. We are not there yet. But that doesn’t mean we cannot appreciate and design Not Separateness in our products, in our services, and our lives. 

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—————-

The Declaration of Interdependence

How the Nightingale Learned to Sing

Roar, Ocean, Roar

Imagine all the people

Ripples

Author Page on Amazon

Thomas, J.C. and Kellogg, W.A. (1989). Minimizing ecological gaps in interface design, IEEE Software, January 1989.

Thomas, J. C. (2012).   Patterns for emergent global intelligence.   In Creativity and Rationale: Enhancing Human Experience By Design J. Carroll (Ed.), New York: Springer.

Thomas, J. C. (2001). An HCI Agenda for the Next Millennium: Emergent Global Intelligence. In R. Earnshaw, R. Guedj, A. van Dam, and J. Vince (Eds.), Frontiers of human-centered computing, online communities, and virtual environments. London: Springer-Verlag.

Thomas, J.C. (1985). Human factors in IBM. IBM Research Report. RC-11267.  Yorktown Heights, NY: IBM Corporation.

Simplicity and Inner Calm

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Simplicity and Inner Calm

(Christopher Alexander, architect and city planner, proposed fifteen properties as characteristic of natural order. I’m considering them one by one in terms of society, design generally, and user experience in particular. “Simplicity and Inner Calm” is number 14.)

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“Send me $50,000 and I’ll enroll you in a two year course in Simplicity and Inner Calm. All you have to do then is follow the twenty-five hundred rules on the Path to Enlightenment while renouncing everything else.”

Somehow, that does not seem to be in the spirit of simplicity and inner calm. Some of the properties I discussed earlier are closer to being about something “out there” that is somewhat measurable; e.g., levels of scale, boundaries, alternating repetition, roughness. Simplicity and Inner Calm are characteristics of things “out there” but they cause or at least resonate with simplicity and inner calm in a person. 

I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect a place to enforce a particular emotional state. If someone arrives at a beautiful still lake with hate and rage in their heart and possesses a determination to stay mad by God because he deserves to be mad! Then the mere presence of beautiful scenery won’t calm them in some immediate and magical way. But, I would bet money that they would be less upset an hour later than when they arrived. 

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Meanwhile, let’s imagine their identical twin also had an identical quantity of rage in their heart and arrived at a loud buzzing booming construction site and had to sit there for an hour. Such a setting, I would imagine, would do nothing to calm them and might make them even more enraged. 

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Of course, as any therapist can tell you, what you do inside your head often has more to do with how you feel than does the objective situation. I certainly believe that. Yet, I also believe that situations out there make a difference on average. In my experience, being in a safe situation surrounded by natural beauty tends to make nearly everyone feel better. 

Not all situations “work” equally well for everyone, but for most of the people I have interacted with, views of distant mountains; calm clear lakes; ocean shores; a clearing in the woods — especially if there is a calm animal there; a single tree on a small hilltop — these tend to induce a feeling of simplicity and inner calm. 

There are two things that have amazed me for a long time about natural settings. I think they both relate to why natural settings seem to produce more simplicity and inner calm. 

The first mystery is auditory. I have heard the calls of many creatures in nature. Most are, in and of themselves, attractive. Some are beautiful. A few are more annoying sounds. But for me, at least, they never seem to clash. Walking through a field and forest, I may hear insects, frogs, and a dozen species of birds. But none of them clash. That adds to inner calm.

The second mystery is visual. I’ve walked through many natural settings and have seen what must be every color possible to see. But the colors never “clash.” How can that be? It’s one thing to mix and match greens and blues. They don’t really seem to clash that much even in artificial settings. But what about pinks, reds, oranges? I’ve seen plenty of people wearing clothing that clashes and likely been guilty of it myself. But autumn leaves? They are all over the place, but they don’t clash. This also adds to inner calm.

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I think the genetic reason that clashes are not prevalent in nature is that we co-evolved with the environment. Perceiving harmony in what is would have been adaptive in two important ways. First, since harmony is the natural state, feeling good while surrounded by harmony would mean that you would feel good most of the time. As Harry Potter once put it, you would have something worth fighting for. If you enjoy life, then, when the going gets tough, you are more likely to tough it out.

Second, when things go sideways in external reality, you would quickly notice the disharmony. While normally, you would feel peaceful, when the birds suddenly starting fleeing in one direction and squawking, your feeling would change and you would be more likely to survive whatever comes next. 

These reasons are manifest in some of the other fifteen properties. For example, the roughness of shape of autumn leaves means that there will be natural variation in color as seen even if they are actually identical (which of course, they are not). Having distributions of color is a kind of “roughness” characteristic of nature’s colors. Clothing on the other hand is another matter. The goal of mass production is lack of variability. So, 10,000 items are precisely the same color (or as close as humanly possible). If one is slightly off, it is noticeable. If each of the 10,000 items were part of a very broad, multidimensional distribution, being slightly more extreme than most would not produce a perception of clash. 

That, to me, is also the problem with monoculture as a social philosophy. I delve into this in more detail in the blog post — “A tight flock united by division.”

A tight flock united by division.

Briefly, the more everyone is supposed to “toe the line” to a particular way of doing things; e.g., which restaurants to go to, which shows to watch, which religion to believe in, what clothes to wear, what food to eat, etc., the more intolerant it becomes. And the more intolerant it becomes, the more people try desperately to adhere to the middle of the crowded road they share with everyone they know. Everyone who does anything differently comes to be seen as a reproach to the lack of individuality in the middle of the road. And the people who insist that everyone must stay in the middle do not want to move. Not only that. They insist that they are exercising their freedom of choice by being exactly in the middle as determine by everyone else and not at all by them. It is kind of humorous at one level. 

But just as such sharp and arbitrary boundaries in artificially produced goods mean clashes are more common, so too in human societies, when there is a group that insists everyone be exactly like them and, at the same time, insist that they are expressing their freedom, clashes are inevitable. Harmony and truth are no longer conceived of as being desirable. When people reject the resolution of conflict via agreed upon rules of law, what results is inevitably chaos and death. It is almost the polar opposite of Life. 

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Some epidemiologists think the various recent explosion in the variety of pollutants that we are all subject to has resulted in a much higher incidence of auto-immune diseases and allergies. The immune system sees so many different invaders, it has trouble distinguishing real threats (streptococcus, covid, cancer cells) from imaginary ones (peanut oil, cat dander, tree pollen). 

In similar fashion, people stuck on a thin sliver of what they feel is “normal” feel assailed from all sides. They can no longer distinguish real threats (COVID 19, Climate catastrophes, racial inequities) from imaginary ones (chip implantation via needles, Medicare for all, mask mandates). Clash. Clash. Clash. No “Simplicity and inner calm.” 

But from their perspective, there would be “Simplicity and inner calm” if only everyone were just like them! They will deny this, when put so baldly, but that is essentially what they strive toward.



There can be many such factions, all with different rigid and implacable beliefs or only two (Right/Left; Catholic/Protestant; Striders/Walkers) or really, only one. It only takes one faction to reject all connection to truth in order to destroy simplicity and inner calm — even though, ironically, that is what they are actually trying to achieve. 

Moving from societal beauty to user interfaces, for the most part, I would have to say most UIs lack simplicity and inner calm. They seem to be splattered with functions and features everywhere. This is not surprising since most product managers believe that sales will be greater with more functions and features. 

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When I use pages, I would say my user experience is mainly one of simplicity and inner calm. That mainly comes from the fact that my attention is almost entirely on writing and I ignore everything else the interface offers “around the edges” of my vision. Sometimes, something untoward happens and the “harmony” of my environment is temporarily destroyed. Then, I have to stop writing and pop out to the interface level in order to diagnose and fix the problem. Once I do that and return to writing, I again feel “simplicity and inner calm.”

On much rarer occasions, I will wish to do something “unusual”; e.g., I might want to put a table in the text to illustrate a point. Then, before I can word on the task at hand — creating the proper table — I must first search for the proper functionality. Since I do not typically do this, I am like the creature in the forest suddenly alerted to the presence of possible “predators” (such as accidentally destroying my file). 

I have found very few UI’s that, in and of themselves, are conducive to feelings of simplicity and inner calm on first use. I have often come to feel that way fairly quickly after I become conversant with the basic functions. 

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We evolved for millions of years to resonate with the simplicity and inner calm of peaceful natural settings. It’s not surprising that it would be difficult to reproduce that feelings with an artificial interface. But familiarity does move us in that direction. When I glance at the toolbar across the top of the “Pages” page, e.g., I see a set of pull-down menus. I don’t recall exactly how the entire menu structure is laid out, but I do know how to use it and explore it. This familiarity, in and of itself, helps me feel more serene, more secure, safer. 

Although I am very interested in seeing new ideas in UI, I am more likely to use a different sort of UI if I am seeing a completely new kind of functionality or access to new kinds of data. I would be far less interested in trying a completely new UI for writing, say, or an application that had the same features and functions as twitter but with a completely different UI. 

Sometimes, even radicals are conservative. 

If you wanted to design something that evoked simplicity and inner calm, would you yourself want to be in such a state while you were designing? Would that help or hinder you? Or, perhaps you would use the design experience itself to force yourself to experience simplicity and inner calm. Do you have any examples of a UI with simplicity and inner calm? I don’t refer here to an application whose sole purpose is to guide you through meditation. There are surely many things available whose content is meant to evoke simplicity and inner calm. But are there UI’s which, in and of themselves, evoke simplicity and inner calm? 

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What if…?

The Isle of Right

John vs. Worrier

You must remember this

Shooting the moon

Checks and balances

How the nightingale learned to sing

Ah wilderness

Comes the reign

The jewels of November

Author page on Amazon

The Void

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The Void

While all the previous properties of natural order seem positive, clear, and obvious, this one seems mildly scary. It reminds me of death, somehow. It’s true that individual death is part of the overall reality of life, it still seems scary. It’s reminiscent of whirlpools, caverns, the abyss. I suppose some of our tiny distant ancestors may have faced the dark mouth cavity of a large predator — a shark, a cave bear, a saber toothed tiger. And a few of those who were terrified enough to flood their bodies with adrenalin may have escaped to reproduce and pass on the terror of utter darkness genes to their offspring, including me.

In a friendlier interpretation, the void could be thought of as “empty” space, or more accurately, extra space not filled with functional items. From that perspective, The Void promotes rest, relaxation, rebirth, regeneration. Your day should include “The Void” in terms of activity — sleep, certainly, but also times that are unscheduled and restorative. If you are scheduling a day long meeting and every minute is accounted for ahead of time, there is no “margin” for something which catches the passion of participants to spill over. There is no time for unanticipated contingencies or for people to reflect on what is happening. 

Similarly, a space (whether computer memory or physical space) that is completely “taken up” with data or things becomes inflexible. In extreme cases, nothing can be done because there is no room to move things. 

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When I was a kid, I used to enjoy puzzles that consisted of 15 square pieces and one blank space. The idea was to move the pieces around until the pieces were arranged into a particular numeric sequence (or made a picture). It’s immediately obvious that if there is no space, there is no way to move the pieces and whatever order they are in is the order that they will stay in. 

It seems that people who want to control everything want exactly that — no space — no void — no possibility for change. It may be related to the mystery of overworking so many people with long hours despite decades of research showing people are more productive with shorter hours. 

In a living human being, there is typically “space” in our respiratory system and our digestive system. To have zero space means we cannot eat and we cannot breathe. We do have spaces within our body — ventricles in the brain, sinuses in the head, and — crucially — females have a place that can accommodate the creation of a new life within. 

A hive, or a garden, or a city may indeed be crowded, but if it literally has zero space, it dies, just as we would. The void allows flow — in the case of the individual human body, space allows for the flow of food and the flow of air. 

A science that has no void, no space, has no flexibility. It is no longer science but dogma. 

A budget with no space, no void, means every penny has been pre-assigned and this is not an effective way to budget. 

Games typically have space (Go, Chess, Checkers, Monopoly) as do sports (Tennis, Baseball, Soccer, Basketball). Play often consist of using, changing, and manipulating space. The baseball pitcher tries to throw the ball so that it crosses through spaces where the hitter cannot easily hit it well. The hitter tried to hit the ball where the fielders cannot reach the ball. The tennis player tries to “build a point” by creating more space; e.g., by pulling their opponent progressively wider so that a shot can be hit into such a large space that it cannot be reached at all. In most games and sports, the amount of empty space, particularly at the beginning of play is relatively large. In chess, as in American football, play begins with a large space between the teams. In many games, there are special terms for spaces. A “Luft” in chess is a place for your King to go if attacked on the back rank by a queen or rook. In American football, the quarterback throws passes from the “pocket” which is supposed to protect them from tacklers.  

Under Umbrage, everything living and loving was smothered by a rule, or at least she wished it were.

To me, “The Void” connotes more than space, however. “The Void” seems to refer to a relatively large, concentrated space. In music, for example, without any space, there is just a long, annoying noise. But “The Void” isn’t just the space between notes. It seems as though it must be a significant silence such as after the tuning and before the first note is played or the space between movements in a symphony. 

Of course, we can contemplate things at different scales. If we see Alternating Repetition from a distance that allows us to see the alternating repetition, we might see gaps as spaces, but not as examples of “The Void.” If we moved our point of view so that only one such gap were visible, it might become an example of “The Void” at another scale. 

Most of our everyday reality is physically made up of empty space. Every atom is more than 99.999 % empty space. At that scale, it’s mostly void or at least mostly space. And, at the other extreme, although it may seem that space is crowded when you see the Starship Enterprise go through the universe at “Warp 9” that’s an illusion to make it more interesting. Most of the universe (and our solar system) is empty space. The sun which is by far the largest object in our solar system has a diameter of 865,000 miles. That’s big! But the nearest planet, Mercury, is 40 million miles away. And, that planet is the only thing in its orbit. 

Once I was driving with my family from San Francisco to Salt Lake City. Around 3 am, in the absolute middle of nowhere with no lights and no moon, I stopped the car and ran a quarter mile from the road into the desert to look up at the stars. It doesn’t “look” empty of course. Far from it. Yet the sheer blackness of the background and the vastness of it made it seem like a true void. In fact, because of contrast with the sharp and sparkling stars, the vast void was made into even more of a vast void. 

An atrium, a central courtyard, a reflecting pool — can these be voids that strengthen the center? 

If we look at a void, does that produce a different aesthetic feeling from when we are in a void that surrounds us? If you and your family or friends or tribe huddle around a campfire at night, the fire is a center. You can see the faces of people in the firelight. But you are aware that each of you knows that surrounding your little group is darkness. Sometimes, in movies, someone will remark, “Well, it’s quiet.” To which, the proper response is, “Yeah. Too quiet!” When the frogs and crickets stop making noise, the heaviness of the silence becomes oppressive. It might mean that large predators are about, each with their own maw of void. Being in a large space that has no perceptible features is awe-inspiring or even fear-inspiring. Looking at a large space that is situated in the context of a pattern may echo that feeling slightly, but to me, it feels very different. 

The same tune can be played on a piccolo or a base vile. 

When it comes to user experience, what comes to mind for me is the empty page or the empty canvas or the empty spreadsheet. These are large unfilled spaces. To compose, whatever the medium, requires of us a kind of courage. We must “enter” the empty space. In order to write, we must also allow for empty space within us. As I write, I find that there is always a rhythm of “describing” things that have “come up” for explication and then pausing — staring as it were into the blackness, the void, of my own consciousness. I allow things to arise from that inner void and show themselves. I don’t always know what it will be. 

I think that process (and not wanting it disrupted) is one reason that I, like so many others, found “Clippy” to be so annoying. Whenever I was allowing for the void to reveal to me what I wanted to say, “Clippy” would imagine I was stuck and offer a suggestion (invariably irrelevant). 

Perhaps you or one of your kids has played “8-ball.” You ask it a question then you shake it a little and an answer “appears” in a little window. The most enthralling time is that space between when you ask the question and the answer appears. Of course, it’s fun thinking of the questions and interpreting the answers, but the most dramatic part is waiting for the answer to appear. In that moment, you may suddenly realize what answer you want to appear.

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If an application is to support any kind of creative activity, it should not “rush” the user and it should provide the user empty space in which to create. That emptiness can be intimidating, but I still think it’s necessary. 

My desktop has many icons, tool bars, and windows. The only true void is the blank part of the writing pane in Pages. Visually, since the blank part of the page is white, it doesn’t seem much like a void. There is enough space between the icons and menu items to make them legible, but there is no “void” there. Visually, the only thing that really strikes me as a void is the totally black rounded rectangle beside the color sphere in the Format window. It’s black because that is the color of the text I’m writing in. Its function is nothing like that of an actual void.

The void may symbolize death, but it also symbolizes life. It is the happening place. It is the dance floor. It is the game board. It is the playing field. It is waiting for the curtain to rise. It is the movie theater when the lights go out but the movie has not begun. It is also the movie theater when the credits have done rolling but before the house lights have come up. If it is death, it is also rebirth. If it is birth, it is also the end. 

As every moment of our existence and our attention becomes commoditized and sold to the highest bidder, there is ever more pressure to eliminate the “wasted space” inherent in the void. 

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Running into the ocean; diving into a pool; deciding to have a child; moving; divorcing; falling in love; losing a loved one; starting a composition; beginning a design — these are moments when we brush up against the void or enter it or avoid it or incorporate it into ourselves. We like to fool ourselves that there is some process or routine or formula or piece of software that can take all the uncertainty out of these transitions into the unknown.

That’s all illusion. It’s the very nature of life itself — that dance on the razor edge between chaos and repetition — to embrace the void. We try always to “avoid” The Void. 


Nature doesn’t “abhor a vacuum.” Nature is mostly vacuum.

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But we abhor a vacuum. Our productivity tools are geared toward reducing “The Void” as much as possible. Children are shuttled from one high intensity activity to another to ensure that when they apply to college, they will get in one which will ensure that they will get a high-paying job that will enable to them to work their entire lives so that there will be no uncertainty.

I am also a product of that “Avoid The Void” culture, so I find it hard to imagine what it would mean to design a tool or UI or app that embraced and encouraged The Void. There are some specific mobile apps that support meditation or listening to music or breathing. What of composition though? Whether it is programming, writing, drawing, or creating a business plan, is there a place for The Void to be supported? How would you encourage it? What visual elements or other sensory elements could be used to support it? How would you measure how well you did? 

Or, is it easier to avoid the whole topic? 

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The sound of one hand clasping 

Take a while or three

That cold walk home

Wordless perfection 

Life will find a way

The bubble people

The jewels of November

The lost sapphire 

Author Page on Amazon

Death-Cultery on Parade

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Should we really be all that surprised? 

One quarter of the country is prepared to die and have their loved ones die for the sake of what they know or should know to be lies. 

But what happens in war? 

At least one side, and more typically both sides are willing to die and put their families at risk for what they know or should know to be lies. They don’t typically go into combat for their own benefit! They do it for country. They do it for their religion. They do it to protect their families. They do it in reprisal for some real or imagined actions in the past. But very few would willingly walk into combat hoping to “get more out of it” than they put into it! That would be like running through a rich neighborhood during a heavy lightening storm. Sure, you might be struck by lightening or hit by a falling tree and die or be permanently injured. But — hey! — there’s also a chance you might be able to sue one of these rich suckers and make millions! Yeah. That could happen. But, as I say, that’s not why most people put themselves in harm’s way.

So, to recapitulate, war itself is based, at least partly, on lies. 

Are we doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over and over again? 

IDK

But consider this: 

Suppose there are two teams Purple and Green. These two teams have a competition in something. It doesn’t much matter whether it’s soccer, baseball, debate, ice hockey, figure skating, cheerleading or anything else. What matters is that each side wants to “win.” But it also matters, and more than a little bit, that each side also wants to enjoy themselves. They value other things in addition to winning or losing. Some enjoy the companionship. Some enjoy the challenge. Some enjoy improving. Some enjoy the sunshine. It doesn’t have to be the same value for everyone. 

The point is that tennis is not a zero sum game. It’s true that a particular match has one and only one winning team. But there are other benefits. Everyone is a “winner” in the sense of the challenge or the emotional ups & downs or the sheer joy of movement. The score is only one part of the value of the game. The same is true for all sports and for almost all human endeavors in the real world. It is very seldom a zero sum game. We can almost always find some state of affairs as being bad (all out atomic war destroys the entire human species) 

Similarly, both the Purple and the Green team want to keep the game going. In most cases, they also want to have cordial social relations with all the other players. So, in the vast majority of cases, people “handle” disagreements about the score, the line calls, etc. within the bounds of civility. Let’s suppose that one person of the four is a narcissistic sociopath who thinks he’s always right and insists he’s always right no matter how egregious his line calls. Eventually, such a person would destroy the game. It wouldn’t take a majority. A single sociopathic teammate could spoil it for everyone. But only if everyone else lets them get away with it. 

Have you ever watched an all-out bench-clearing brawl between to baseball teams or two hockey teams? Every time I’ve seen it, it’s really only triggered by one person and accepted by one person. So, two, among those whole teams, are sometimes enough to ignite a kind of “war.” While a brawl isn’t the most pleasant experience I can imagine, it’s even worse among professional athletes. It’s potentially career-ending. For most, it’s a potential financial hit from the world of brand endorsements. There could be legal trouble. For a few, there might be regret. Similarly, guess what? Most people do not benefit from war! It’s so obvious that I hesitate to say it, but it seems as though people do not see it as obvious. A very few people get very very rich. Many people die; many are seriously and permanently injured; many people’s homes are destroyed; families are separated; possessions are destroyed; plans are accomplishments are destroyed; peace of mind is destroyed; forests and wild places are destroyed; innocent animals are destroyed; friendships are destroyed; trust is destroyed…I mean, are you starting to see a pattern here?

War is about destruction. War does not create beauty. War does not feed the hungry. War does not heal the sick. War does not comfort the soul. War benefits the few; never the many. 

At the extreme, there is dictatorship which will always be much more incentivized to war than will a democracy. The dictator will use the fact that there’s no free press to whip up hatred against an enemy. Then, he’ll attack (but pretend the other side started it), etc. Now, if attacked, the democracy has little choice but to respond. Encouraging a bully is a losing strategy. Going to war is also losing. War is never about winning. It’s about losing less. And going to war is better than giving in to a bully. If you succumb to the bully, you have no life any more. The bully is a parasite on you; one that you cannot get rid of while he sucks your blood and everyone else’s in the nation. Parasite is just another name for dictator.

In any case, a small number of people can start a war which, in turn, benefits only a small number of people, at most.

That doesn’t seem like a good system to me.

It sounds like “an accident waiting to happen.” And, it has. Over and over and over and over again. 

When will we ever learn?

And, while three fourths of America has battled their butts off for over a year and a half — socially distancing, wearing masks, making masks, getting vaccinated, staying healthy — in some cases working heroically — quite literally — heroically to fight the war against COVID. While that’s what’s been happening with about 3/4 of Americans….

One fourth of America has decided to join in the War on COVID — on the side of the virus! They refuse to get vaccinated; refuse to wear a mask; refuse to socially distance. Why? Because they’ve been ordered to by the leaders of a death cult. Make no mistake. This has nothing to do with personal freedom. If it were about personal freedom, there might be as many as seventeen people nationwide who would prefer to be intubated for weeks than to wear a mask for minutes. If it were really about personal freedom, the vast vast majority would choose a few moments of discomfort rather than dying or being permanently disabled. Ironically, most of  the cult leaders have been vaccinated, and when they’ve fallen ill, they’ve received expensive top notch care that you or I or the COVIDites will not be likely to receive.


Something there is that doesn’t love a war, not even a war on truth.

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The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

The Watershed Virus

Masklessness is not Manliness

Plans for us some gruesome 

Imagine all the people

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