Tuesday, March 31, 2020

death, taxes and joie de vivre

by decree, a bouquet of dark humor unto thee
as western consumerists doth writhe in macabre danse
Nature serves up a warm slice of Strüdel-19
dripping with jazzy downward note-spirals a la NASDAQ

the measure of a human; viva la rÉvolution
L'appetito exclaims It's Alive! sans consideration
Blitzen! tribal myths of fleshy resurrection 
the emperor and the pope hook up for holy digestation

each of us plays our part in the H. s. sapiens show
genetically encoded for carpe diem and family first
wielding compassion like a switch-blade
and reason like a cerebral plume con autoerotica
thinking better to act better...maybe next time?

Monday, March 30, 2020

Love in the Time of Covid-19

It might feel like a strange topic to bring up with a world pandemic underway, but cliche or not, love runs strong in times of need. 

There are many definitions for love but I primarily see love at its core and in action as when we put the well-being of others ahead of our own.

During this crisis, civilization will implement all kinds of imperfect medical, social and economic processes in the fight against Covid 19. If we keep love in mind as the motive for these efforts then our species can level up as a world presence.

Thus and therefore, each of us needs to reach inside, center ourselves, and reach out to our friends, family, community and world to give good energy to the compassionate and rational solutions that the CDC, WHO, and experts in general share. During this time, each of us in our own way can step up to support those we know, and even those we don't; the estranged, homeless, immigrant, and curmudgeonly. 

Yes, this emergency will come to an end eventually, and how we as individuals acted guided by our own inner love will say a lot about ourselves and the human race. Then, after the grief wanes, as we evaluate our losses and implement better science and systems with loving care, we can look back and laugh at this crisis as "the 'one' where stores ran short on toilet paper."

Monday, March 23, 2020

Thursday, March 19, 2020

A Call for Transcendance

Hear ye, hear ye, fellow human spirit!

It's become obvious, it is up to us as global stewards to transcend Nature with ethicality. For eons we've listened to priests and priestesses, to their gossipy wive tales of yore, to the phantom whispers of our own misguided conjectures. We've even labeled some of these directives as the infallible word of higher powers, though they've never shown up to lend a hand. 

Well, I say "no more!"

It very well may be okay for foxes to slink up on their prey in Nature, but our slaughter of sentient creatures is no longer necessity. We may have designed corporations as constructs to hyper-efficiently work the loopholes of "free markets" so that they may steal from labor and planet to generate excessive profits for shareholders. We each may have been sold the idea it's okay to cheat to win the game, alas our ethic can be reforged integrating evidence based feedback loops and heartfelt integrity. 

Together we can chant "forward!" 

The time has come for caveat emptor to meet internet fact checking in the court of the living. If we choose, we can compost the myths and the conspiracy theories. We can implement compassion and reason to achieve realistic dreams for each of us, our communities and our planet. If you dare, let's build a new civilization that pursues a rational ethic, a reasonable lifestyle, and relationships worth their weight in Unobtainium.

Indeed, let's dream the unthinkable, to be the best we can be, and shout within ourselves "if not today, then when!" 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


I'm still processing a week-long silent meditation retreat I just attended this month. The experience didn't enforce stringent isolation nor did it establish a blissful zone of peace for me. For the dozen of us present it did encourage speaking only when absolutely necessary or for brief questions during meditation talks. Eye contact was discouraged or any real interaction. The primary task at hand was to focus on presence of mind through breath work and during mindful walking throughout each day.

Having meditated off and on in the past, I had anticipated that a week of silent attention might provide a breakthrough exploration of what exactly consciousness is. In execution, the "being present" activities were intriguing and vivid at times, though toward the end of the week I developed a mild headache from the intense persistence of attentiveness. In the final days I ended up journaling and contemplating a variety of ideas rather than sticking to the meditative regimen. The many solo nature walks I made were joyful, taking on the guise of childlike adventure.  (There was also a "secular buddhist" component to the experience, but I'll reflect on that aspect another time.)

In the end, I still like the idea of choosing to immerse in short silent periods to stay in touch with the real world, a world of sensation that often gets set aside in favor of the busyness of everyday life. And though ones own mind may have mysteries to reveal in its depths, I have become a bit cautious of trying to deconstruct what millions of years of precarious evolution have assembled.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Let's Do the Covid-19 Shuffle!

So much daunting, depressing energy flowing in the world at the moment. Indeed, there is a lot our weakened, but still strong institutions (with our help) need to accomplish, and we all will step up to get it done. Still, to do this effectively we need to refresh our psyches, and purge the pooled, bad energy, so why not...

"... do the Covid-19 Shuffle!"

The rhythm of our personal Covid-19 Shuffle wants us to shake some mental moves to exercise our minds healthily. Take a second to consider; each of us knows where we can find joyful pockets of energy in our lives, but here are some melodious suggestions to remind ourselves in these dim-lit dance club times.

"Give your WFH body joy Macarena!"

Being present as an individual is key, and by that I mean allowing ones senses to be flooded with the experience of the "now." This might mean taking a focused walk and paying attention to all the sights, sounds and smells, even the sensation of each footstep. Drink in the sensory experience and let memories, thoughts and worries float by; sure, acknowledge those bits of driftwood briefly to consider and act on more effectively later, but for the moment do you best to refocus on the sensations at hand.

"Twenty-second handwash, Gangham Style!"

Basically, these neural gyrations make for a meditative tango. Traditional meditation would have you focus on the repetition of your breath because it can be done anywhere you are, but local scenery, funky music, jigsaw puzzles, even house projects can be your meditative anchor. Importantly, you choose the activity not to "stay busy," NO, but instead to engage in living in the amazing moment that we have at hand being alive. Escaping with a sitcom, a novel, or a video game can work too, sure, just be flexible with options depending where you are. At the office, working from home, running errands, no matter, find a way to set aside a few minutes or thirty if you can to recharge with your very own personalized, mindful dance moves!

"Everybody, engage! Do the neurologic twist!"

If you choose to dismiss my dancible moment suggestion with a "yeah right," well then at least follow your remark with a self induced chuckle! That single exhale of built up dark energy might give you some momentum to two-step with rhythm a little closer to the end of this crisis.

"Face, you can't touch this!"

Monday, March 16, 2020

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Take a Break: Sensate

Today I send out the simple encouragement to regularly allow yourself to take a mindful break. Consider taking a minute or many to simply experience the present wherever you are. When we focus on our senses, without undue abstraction in the Now, this is being.

(Me, I'm taking a break from writing on Goodness First for a week to immerse myself in a silent meditation retreat.  Here are a few resources where you can research mindfulness meditation further.)

Psychology Today (article on mindfulness)

Mind Illuminated (meditation guidebook)

Waking Up (app with talks and meditation resources by Sam Harris)

Friday, March 6, 2020

States of Change: Chapter 24: Show Me (Missouri)

States of Change is an ongoing work of serial fiction.
The speculative story-line seeks to inspire thought on ethics, culture and our planet's future.

The year is 2076, decades after Oosa's defederalization. 
Fifty independent States have forged unique societies from revolutionary technology and ideology.

No one knows exactly who first called it The Slicer. Like so many cultural traditions spontaneous group-think sometimes just happens. In fact, the roots of Missouri's regulation of citizen life-span began as a trans-humanist meditation practice. To an outsider Shelving might seem like a techno-cult ritual right out of a Gibson novel.  Dusty references to suicide booths and soylent green aside, the current statisticians and influencers hail Compromise 2.0 as our State's economic and creative salvation.

Even if The Slicer has no known namer, it's obvious why the State's euthanasia system earned the deli inspired title. No need for spinning stainless steel blades though, instead high energy particle beams perform the bodily dissection. Over the space of sixty seconds every synapse state is scanned, indexed and uploaded to the State Library's Citizen Archive. Nervous system death is an intentional after effect. Such is the price of being shelved eternal for the good of the people.

As one of the last Missourians who lived under Oosa, my recollection of that disunited, divisive era is mostly reconstructed pseudo-memories.  Youthful curiosity indexing my parents media archives revealed age old power games: corporate constructs bent on libertarian pyramid schemes, wealth collected from youthful labor and pooled at the feet of the aged, and of course the wasteful expenditures battling senescence, ever pretending that physical immortality was just around the corner.

Nowadays, a healthy life where we're not obsessed with longevity is the rule.. Most Missourians willingly accept the trade-off UBI in exchange for a known finite lifespan. Personally, I've always felt fifty-five years offered plenty of time to live. The consolation that ones memories will be made available to other citizens is bonus. And I sure don't worry about reanimation conspiracy theories; Missouri law is clear, each Shelved citizen shall be patterned with deliberate fragmentation sufficient that no resuscitation as a digital construct could occur. The Missouri Library of Citizens was designed with an architecture for public reference, never for consciousness selfies.

The departure lounge here is comfortable enough as I wait for my number to ping. I tune down my VisAR and observe a few of my peers playing chess; several engage in last minute conjecture of what an afterlife might hold. I'm not religious enough to entertain such foolishness. Personally, I've spent my last hours watching the century-old romcom Dead Again. Maybe I selected the title for a touch of irony, but mostly I want to face The Slicer's final cut of impermanence with a grin on my face.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

My Opinion on "The Right To Your Opinion"

*depiction is a work of satirical fiction

Too often I hear "everyone has the right to their opinion" exclaimed with vehemence. Yes, in America we celebrate the right to free speech, but it has always been tempered with the understanding that spreading dangerous lies (i.e. yelling "terrorist!" in a theater) was condemned.

To that end, I suggest we spread the meme "everyone has a responsibility to spread well-informed opinion." If we made this our species' motto it would go a long way to protecting the gullible flat-earther who launches himself in a rocket to disprove an obvious lie. It would also significantly protect society against contagion when a populist idealogue lies on national television that "the Corona virus is a hoax!" In general, it would encourage rational, positive dialogue on all the issues in between.

Today, humans have the ability and opportunity to share the best ideas across the world, and it's in our best interest for the whole planet to be sure the best science, reasoned logic, and mindful compassion are engaged in that ongoing process.

Think better to act better.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Ambition, Monster or Magic?

Human living in the modern world seems too often driven by an ethic of economic prosperity of individual and organization.  Certainly, the vast network of infrastructure we call civilization has permitted human beings to become prolific in numbers, travel extensively, create amazing things, and in general participate in a tremendous variety of experiences.  But will the planetary balance survive this economic matrix of miracles and mayhem?

Consider whether perhaps the human race has become a multi-billion strong force far to the right on the sociopathic spectrum. Each individual, community, nation, and the whole of civilization by and large focused on pursuing a path of outcomes that benefits the concerns of those human-based groups. In a fashion, this is the fault of evolution, itself an uncaring process that naturally reinforces the propagation of successful systems.

On the surface, it seems quite natural for humanity to look out for itself, its sub-groups and its individuals. The transcendent vision of the human mind can potentially see beyond its own selfishness, perhaps, in part due to tribal traits acquired by that said same evolutionary process. Because we can have the capacity for empathy and compassion for humans, in principle we can apply those perceptions toward other species, whether they be pets, wildlife or wildflowers. In fact, we can even apply this perception to constructs such as global climate, biodiversity, and prospective AI robots, not to mention the fictional characters and creatures in our favorite Netflix series.

The question to ask, is are the goals we are pursuing in our lives leading to positive, long-term, overarching outcomes? In great degree, much of society is driven in totality by achieving things for short-term (i.e. our lifetime) human gain, to create and enjoy a family, higher production rates, higher income levels, higher attainment of prestige and optimizing of our relationships.

No we may not be able to leave those cultural expectations behind entirely, but perhaps we can swerve dimensionally to avoid planetary implosion. Many will look to higher powers to take care of things, rather than use scientific skepticism to plan a better path for all the world ahead. The solution to that may be very simply to slow the fuck down. Too many humans is the stampede of elephants in the room nobody wants to talk about. Multiply that population mayhem by the increasing consumption per capita and you get a global catastrophic event.

Sure the Earth itself doesn't care whether we turn it into a sterile, blacktop sphere in the next hundred years or if the Sun sterilizes it in another four billion. Nevertheless, as the most powerful beings present and accounted for, humans have to do the caring for the rest of the planet. Only with our mindful ambition can a complex balance can continue for a joyful, long time beyond our own lives.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

midday moment

one black snake; anoles
three puppies and three housecats
an h. sapien

Monday, March 2, 2020

Burying Ares in Gaia Once and For All

Were I to call for an end to violence in society, I would have endless support. However, were I to suggest ending all military infrastructure, I would face dark stares and unpatriotic insults. As I see it, America, and to a great extent, the rest of the world has drank the Kool-Aid in regards to worshiping outdated military institutions, past deadly conflicts and violence as a solution to world issues in general.

Sure, in the past expansionist factions threatened the free world and subsequently were stopped by mobilizing military alliances. But the thing we truly celebrate is the relative peace after those horrible stretches of violence. Might we not consider the alternative path, where the world fully demilitarizes and no country is permitted to build offensive military infrastructure in the first place?

Trillions of dollars are spent annually worldwide to build weaponry that is meant to kill. This is money that could be spent on public education, civilization infrastructure, and planetary stewardship. Absolutely, there would be a tough transition to make, and the profiteering industrial war complex would fight insidiously every step of the way.

The time has come to work together for an alliance of countries to take the lead and plan for the elimination of military and weaponized police budgets to face the enormous challenges the world has. Sure there are other battles will remain in economic and virtual battlescapes, but with the long term elimination of all lethal machines civilization just might focus on nurturing thoughtful minds and a healthy world environment.

I admit this is a radical dream, alas without dreams we may as well already be dead.