Extremes Just Ain’t Required

Apologies for grammatical colloquialism in the title.

Here in Vermont, last week, my county-of-residence was deemed as “the safest place in the contiguous U.S.A.” to ride out continued Global Warming, Pandemics, etc., etc.

I get it. I live here. Not a day goes by when I don’t step out of my humble village ranch-design of the mid 1950s home onto our comparatively large yard, breathe in and thank the Powers that I am here, now.

However…as in all things, location-location-location comes with all the drawbacks of anywhere one or more of us humans hammers in the tent stakes.

I am going to do my best to break it down…

Glass Half Full – or Half Empty

Vermont, politically, has a schizophrenic history. As a state, we voted Republican for generations. This is well documented. In the 1960s, for a myriad of complicated reasons, not the least of which was the rapid growth in Chittenden County, Vermont’s largest, with down-country “flat-landers” (a truly unappreciative moniker) invading across industry, community and more. Plus, the celebrated “Hippie Communes” were also in play. Some still exist.

During the beginning of “the Upheaval”, the needed social attention to civil rights, environmental concerns, the war in Vietnam, etc, etc… (Vietnam War begun by JFKennedy, remember…) Vermont was a hot bed of change. As a state, we now vote Democratic; with rare exception to the deft Republican Centrist. (We like balance up here… wildly nutty leftist progressiveness should be kept in check by individuals who can accurately see a doable future and have an eye on taxpayer expense…a small idea lost on our trust-funder-esque Vermont legislature of late.)

Currently, in Vermont – as in most places in the world – we have an excess of Administrators. Across the board, through out every government department, educational institution, and large corporation. (Successful small companies are successful in avoiding this, typically, due to Benign Monarchies of oversight and control and family-run ideals.)

Administrators, God Bless ‘Em, have an important role, but many don’t really make the grade… as they truly do not have “in the trenches” experience of those they manage… and therefore can’t accurately campaign for the good of their employees and their employee suggested projects to Higher Ups. This takes a real amount of solid character… which, in my experience is rare. Glass half empty… and at the expense of forward progress AND a more ethical manner of actually working through both the glaring and nuanced daily challenges of work / life / life when living in a society that has disparate expectations, and no patience.

Glass half full? These are the leaders who embrace their teams, acknowledge them constantly, and remove themselves (the leader) from the accolades… celebrating their teams instead. Whoa, that’s a whole lot of humility. This being said, I know of such leaders, and they are complex, but mostly get this done. Embracing the possibilities of opportunity… and doing this in a manner that “floats all boats” is completely achievable, but only if you find the individual who can function as a leader, by leading by example.

“I can’t understand the CEO of an car company that can’t build a car.”

This is one of my favorite quotes from a now passed, extremely smart, CEO of a commercial electronics giant. As a sort of related aside, it amuses me that a complete script of Monty Python’s epic “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” exists on MIT servers.

Our youngest son (28) reveres this particular scene, below, (take the time and roll with it – and yes, it may be here multiple times over the 11 years of blog entries) as it accurately and I think, humorously, pertains not only to Political realities, but to corporate, governmental, educational leadership, etc…

King Arthur and his trusty servant Patsy “ride” into a field where peasants are
working. They come up behind a cart which is being dragged by a hunched-over
peasant in ragged clothing. Patsy slows as they near the cart.

King Arthur: Old Woman!

The peasant turns around, revealing that he is in fact, a man.

Man (Dennis): Man!?!
King Arthur: Man, sorry…. What night lives in that castle over there?
Man (Dennis): I’m thirty-seven!
King Arthur: (surprised) What?
Man (Dennis): I’m thirty-seven! I’m not old
King Arthur: Well I can’t just call you “man”…
Man (Dennis): Well you could say “Dennis”–
King Arthur: I didn’t know you were called Dennis!
Man (Dennis): Well, you didn’t bother to find out, did you?!
King Arthur: I did say sorry about the “old woman”, but from behind, you looked–
Man (Dennis): Well I object to your…you automatically treat me like an inferior!
King Arthur: Well I am king…
Man (Dennis): Oh, king, eh, very nice. And ‘ow’d you get that, eh?
(he reaches his destination and stops, dropping the cart)
By exploiting the workers! By ‘hangin’ on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society. If there’s ever going to be any progress…
Woman: Dennis! There’s some lovely filth down ‘ere!
(noticing Arthur) Oh! ‘Ow’d’ja do?
King Arthur: How do you do, good lady. I am Arthur, king of the Britons. Whose castle is that?
Woman: King of the ‘oo?
King Arthur: King of the Britons.
Woman: ‘Oo are the Britons?
King Arthur: Well we all are! We are all Britons! And I am your king.
Woman: I didn’t know we ‘ad a king! I thought we were autonomous collective…
Man (Dennis): (mad) You’re fooling yourself! We’re living in a dictatorship! A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes…
Woman: There you go, bringing class into it again…
Man: That’s what it’s all about! If only people would–
King Arthur: Please, please, good people, I am in HASTE! WHO lives in that
Woman: No one lives there.
King Arthur: Then who is your lord?
Woman: We don’t have a lord!
King Arthur: (surprised) What?!?
Man (Dennis): I told you! We’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune! We’re taking turns to act as a sort of “executive-officer-for-the-week”…
King Arthur: (completely uninterested) Yes…
Man (Dennis): But all the decisions of that officer ‘ave to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting–
King Arthur: (perturbed) Yes I see!
Man (Dennis): By a simple majority, in the case of purely internal affairs–
King Arthur: (mad) Be quiet!
Man (Dennis): But by a two-thirds majority, in the case of more major–
King Arthur: (very angry) BE QUIET! I order you to be quiet!
Woman: “Order?!?”, eh, ‘oo does ‘e think ‘e is?
Arthur: I am your king!
Woman: Well I didn’t vote for you!
King Arthur: You don’t vote for kings!
Woman: Well ‘ow’d you become king then?

(holy music swells up)

King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake– her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king!
Man (Dennis): (laughingly) Listen… Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government! Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some… farcical aquatic ceremony!
King Arthur: (yelling) BE QUIET!
Man (Dennis): You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!!
King Arthur: (coming forward and grabbing the man) Shut UP!
Man (Dennis): I mean, if I went ’round, saying I was “an emperor”, just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they’d put me away!
King Arthur: (throwing the man around) Shut up, will you, SHUT UP!
Man (Dennis): Aha! Now we see the violence inherent in the system!
King Arthur: SHUT UP!
Man (Dennis): (yelling to all the other workers) Come and see the violence inherent in the system! HELP, HELP, I’M BEING REPRESSED!!!
King Arthur: (letting go and walking away) Bloody PEASANT!
Man (Dennis): Oh, what a giveaway! Did’j’hear that, did’j’hear that, eh? That’s what I’m all about! Did you see ‘im repressing me? You saw it, didn’t you?!


At the end of the day, power is as power does… and I have discussed this too much within the pages of this Blog.

However, IF an administrator can humbly rise to the occasion, give credit to her or his Team, and have the talent to SELL positive project ideas to higher-up administrators, that is the “glass half-full” perspective. It is doable, if only more in positions of authority would realize just how beneficial a perspective it can be.

The Gelatinous, but Larger than Everyone Thinks, Center

Squeaky wheels get the grease. This is proven daily by the centuries of “no news is good news” relentless drumming of media outlets that take particularly glee in promoting all the bad crap that happens and rarely if ever, holding up the good. Mostly because promoting all the bad crap takes such little effort, and making a full 30 minute, hour or even a minuscule “Tweet” or “Instagram” post of something really good for society takes more effort. In reality, there is a whole lot of good going on in the world, even if these little miracles are difficult to make out. (Glass half-empty).

And here, mostly silent and quietly stewing over it all are the quantities of individuals that in habit the Gelatinous Center, to which identifying and encouraging this gigantic group is the ultimate point of this blog entry.

Consensus, within a severely “Gerrymandered” reality is challenging. Equally challenging is the bullying concept of “if you are not with us, you’re against us”. However difficult building consensus is, it is the ONLY way forward with any equanimity involved.

Considering all this, there is a vast stack of issues, current and long held, that I personally agree or disagree with, as most people do. Finding the commonality in our collective values is where the rubber hits the road. This cannot be achieved by decree (“but I am your King!) or executive mandate with any long-term success. But where does one begin this process?

Firstly, in one’s relationships with family, friends and work associates.

LISTEN. Learn. Offer objective, but kind (please) alternatives, but only when asked to participate. I have been relieved of many an occupation by not being able to translate, “So, what do you think?” into “Accept my idea without comment” from higher level administrators. Clarification is key. “Do you truly wish my honest and experiential thoughts, and will there be unwanted discipline – or worse – if I disagree?” Sometimes even going so far as to “get it in writing” may be worth it. I can’t begin to tell you how many severe Non Disclosure Agreements I have signed with my work for multinationals…

…but seriously, building consensus within Family, Friends and the Workplace is an excellent way to begin the process of reaching out from the large, gelatinous center of society. From there, growing a well vetted perspective and resulting concept is more easy than one may think.

Word of mouth. Worth of mouth. World of Mouth. If the first local politician doesn’t “buy in” to your little groups way of thinking about a project or impractical mandate, ask why. Get it in writing. Then either convince them of the logic of your group’s position, or move on to the next individual. Gradually make your way up the chain until your belief or cause, again, well vetted, can be brought up at the regional / State level. Make inroads. Make a difference.

Yes, it’s difficult in someways to do this. I for one have tried this a few times, and failed miserably. But, I have also succeeded, and so, I keep trying. Consensus is hard. I am thinking, though, that Complete and Utter Anarchy is harder.

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The Last Train for the Coast

Within Don McLean’s seminal song, American Pie®©, are the following lines:

And in the streets, the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died

(copyright © Songs Of Universal Inc., Benny Bird Co. Inc.)

Mainstream religious practices in the western world have been on the decline for decades, I mean, McLean recorded American Pie over half a century ago. And this has started to bug me. Not that the decline, amidst scandal after scandal (and worse) wasn’t inevitable once religious organizations started to coalesce their power structures, but on a social basis, what the heck happened?

Here is an open exploration of the “why’s”… and please know this is an open speculation, feel free to comment back with (hopefully constructive, emotionally considered and kind) observations.

Part One: The Well Documented Shift from “the Us” to “the Me”.

There are is an epic library of publications talking about “the Me Generation” etc., etc., and it’s many permutations.


There are hundreds more articles, all mostly overstating the obvious.

It is ironic that the rise of nearly complete isolating self indulgence parallels the separation of ourselves via electronic communication devices. I mean, “Me” folks are hitting their forties about now, and iPhone version 01 was released in 2007, so when the “first” ME-ers were in their late 20s. What about before this? Well, there’s the alternate form of play, in the sense of electronic Gaming, which DID begin in earnest, during the early 1980s. [Atari® obtained a license from Taito® to create the Atari VCS home console version of the arcade hit Space Invaders®, which was released in 1980.] It was a symphony of profits from then on for the biggies like Atari®, Nintendo®, Sega®, etc., etc.

And, during the 1990s, the lid was well off the box when 3D graphics were introduced.

So, no more outdoor “socialization” exercises, a.k.a., “tag”, “hide-and-seek”, and the like. Movement is now relegated to back yard football games, school related team sports, and not a lot else.

In the 2000s, with all these devices and methods of personalized (and often, completely anonymous) communication, the true nature of humanity starts to reveal itself… lots and lots and lots of bullies. No longer socially regulated by a community (the decline of churches, decline of community events, decline of neighborhood events, is likely all intertwined.)

So, did organized religion step up to meet the challenge?


By this time, most “mainstream” Christian denominations, along with peer world wide religions such as Islam or Buddhism started circling the wagons in fear and self protection. Plus, you have the Middle East woes and conflicts from our quiet US Government military training of Afghan “Patriots” against the “then” USSR (a.k.a. the Taliban), to various terrorist attacks, the September 11th 2001 debacle and more and so on. Clearly there’s an issue here, but as per typically, is “us” against “them”, just like the seminal Pink Floyd musing…

And so, instead of making use of these events to strengthen the (surprise!) concepts of “turning the other cheek”, “do unto others as you would have done to you” and “forgiveness” that organized religions have thought to have been teaching for ever, denominations did not. Or at least, not very publicly (keep those gifts a-coming!) for fear of alienating anyone that might be willing to be alienated, which was just about everyone and still is.

I was viewing an film a while ago of the beginning of skiing on Vermont PBS’s excellent series, “Made Here”, well curated by the station’s Eric Ford. The fact that one of these early films showed skiing enthusiasts WALKING up the infamous Tuckerman Ravine with little more than a crappy set of wooden planks, questionable bindings and footwear and a wool sweater wasn’t lost on me. Particularly their sense of self, purpose and willingness to trade experience for anticipated risk.

This last portion is significant to me: Experience vs Anticipated Risk.

Why is this significant to the loss of the community and church participation/congregation?

Because younger folks have apparently decided that their participation in community events, save for the Bohemian “music festival” scene, really doesn’t matter all that much. It simply doesn’t have value.

And this is a crying shame.

In my small town, participation in the long held New England tradition of Town Meeting has withered along with Church attendance.


Part Two: Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

Disillusionment is a nearly text book response to the thousands of egregious events detailing world wide behavior of religious leaders over the past few decades. The Catholic Church is hardly alone when it comes to the misuse of power by those in Religious leadership who attain it.

Within the book, “The Dictator’s Handbook”, there are many examples of how this takes place. One of the Book’s reviewers, Martin Patriquin of Maclean’s wrote [cleverly in my opinion] that the authors “…make a frightfully good argument by turning an old cliché on its ear. Power doesn’t corrupt. Rather, power inevitably attracts the corrupted.”

Now, that’s a bold statement, and likely not true in every occasion, but for human beings, temptation is a very real deal. Want fries with that? A very real deal.

It’s the centralization of authority that so many have issues with, unless of course, you benefit from that centralization or ARE the centralization.

Before the thousands of streaming channels, (so called) Social Media, and instantaneous wireless communication just about everywhere, there was “congregating.”

Within a House of Worship, people would communicate and share, face to face. In more open environments, levels of sharing could border on the cathartic, with epic emotional experiences by a confessor as well as those experiencing the confession. As humanity is still genetically disposed to Tribal-ization of groups, and often “like minded” groups (which is both good and bad), the current “congregating” is taking place online, often anonymously, and often not being flexible enough to allow folks who “aren’t on board” to participate without a scathing response.

I can’t remember this happening within House of Worship sanctuaries in my youth. Perhaps I am utopian in my memories, but it seems to me that issues, when vetted by a local community that really cared about its present and future, were worked out. Especially when those issues were not sent upstream to some distant “Head of the Denomination”, the latter having no real connection with the local House of Worship, anyway.

So, as a result of not feeling a sense of purely local community and community action, folks have simply decided that organized religion is something to be avoided, and in Its current Edifices and uninformed “woke” corporate offices, folks may be right.

But, there is a cost. Missing is a common sense of morality, a shared practice in understanding religion’s capacity to heal, and each of our individual capacity to heal others in the process. And as importantly, the concept of meeting each other in the middle ground… to seek a level of consensus. Let’s face it, none of us are perfect, and our individual ideas, probably less so… but when we actually take the time to listen to another perspective, in a calm and rational manner, good things for more people can come out of it.

Most Church services that I recall from my youth always had time AFTER the traditional service, where folks could catch up… learn about each other’s trials and tribulations, console or offer possible channels of solutions, or just provide a welcome shoulder to lean on.

Part Three: Time and an Individual’s Actual Value

I listened to a remarkable Krista Tippet / On Being exploration a few weeks back, with a fascinating person, Oliver Burkman

Excerpt: “I have a completely untested theory that impatience in all sorts of physical settings, like people honking their horns angrily in traffic and people getting furious waiting in line, gets worse when those same people are accustomed to not having to wait two seconds for the app to call up the song that they just thought of that they’d like to listen to, or one second to find out what’s happening in the world, thousands of miles away. It makes all the remaining ways in which we don’t get to set the pace of reality all the more, kind of, insulting. I think that the closer technology brings us to the cusp of feeling like we are the gods of our time, the more incredibly offensive it seems to be reminded of all the ways in which we still aren’t. So, you know, you get this utterly bizarre situation where the world speeds up and gets more and more efficient, and we have all this technology for saving time, and it doesn’t make time feel more abundant. It makes us feel more impatient, which, on the face of it, should not be the case.”

Again, for me this ties directly back to Parts One and Two… that our dependence, psychologically, on the false and likely very unhealthy so-called connections of our technologically advanced devices is likely an addiction unto itself… the sense of belonging that used to be the lands of community and churches and such – is now being supplanted (badly) via a device. And, worse, that the largest corporations this little planet has ever seen are sucking data out of each device, in order to feed it back to each user for fiscal gain.

Now, don’t get the idea that I am anti-capitalist. Hardly. But I am a bigger fan of consensus. And this can be difficult to achieve in a society that has investors clamoring with little regard for A.) what they are clamoring for and B.) the collateral damage of the profits achieved.

Part Four: Are there solutions?

Being a card carrying member of the Pathological Optimists Club (as my pal Henry Huston often states), I have to believe that yes, there are solutions… but they require careful ATTENTION to others, and to what the Other’s story is, and ultimately what their “beef” is. And, you have to work toward clarity to provide those Other’s an understanding of what your story is and what your “beef” is.

I believe that as impossible a goal as it is, building consensus is the key and the start. Hey, one can start small (our neighborhood here has done this three times in the past fifteen years) and work outward to invite others to the table.

How I believe this relates to Churches is for Churches to be “local” first… even if this often requires the bold (Experience vs Anticipated Risk) move to leave a formal denomination for something more effective on a local basis. Equally important is to find the balance between one’s ethical and moral “lines in the sand” and attracting those who may not be completely “like minded” into a venue where a focus on “shared needs” exceeds selfishly derived individual wants and desires.

It’s a maze to be certain. But I have to believe that humans can achieve these things and all the changes we will need (Life is Change or Its nothing) to provide for a healthy future for this planet, it’s living things, and us. And, I believe that Community in all Its iterations is something worth prioritizing.

There simply may not another option at this juncture.

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Why we can’t all get along / Why can’t we all get along?

I continue to ponder the fanned flames of division in the United States, and many other nations. I keep coming back to a vast array of scholarly pursuits into the same area of consideration. Here’s yet another deep dive, initiated by the fury of cancel (rage?)* culture moves by the “world at large” over the past decade, give or take, and the equally intriguing concept of cultural appropriation. (see my previous posts about Dr. Seuss’s “Sneetches” parable.)

Again, this is a deep dive. Not for the faint of heart…

*”rage culture” not my concept, but I find it intriguing

<Academic Portion Begins Here>

“It isn’t that residents of one or another nation all think the same, but rather that they are all embedded within a cultural framework of deep-seated preferences and attitudes – each of which a person may like or hate, but has to deal with nonetheless.” – Colin Woodard

Yankeedom began with the Puritans (Calvinist English settlers) in New England and spread across upper New York, the northern parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa, into the eastern Dakotas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Canadian Maritimes.

Deep South was settled by former Anglo-American West Indies plantation owners in Charleston, and spread to encompass South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, western Tennessee, and the southeast parts of North Carolina, Arkansas, and Texas.

New Netherland, established by Dutch colonists in the 17th century, is now Greater New York City, as well as the lower Hudson Valley, northern New Jersey, western Long Island, and southwestern Connecticut.

Tidewater was founded by Cavaliers (Royalists during the era of the English Civil War and Stuart Restoration), and consists of Virginia, Maryland, southern Delaware, and northeastern North Carolina.

Greater Appalachia was populated by waves of immigrants that Woodard calls Borderlanders, from the borders of Northern Ireland, northern England, and the Scottish lowlands. Greater Appalachia covers the highlands in the south United States, the southern parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, and Texas Hill Country.

Midlands, founded by English Quakers followed by the Pennsylvania Dutch (also referred to as the Pennsylvania Germans), consists of southeast Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, northern Delaware and Maryland, central Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, northern Missouri, most of Iowa, and the eastern halves of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas, as well has southern Ontario. The border city of Chicago is shared with Yankeedom and St. Louis with Greater Appalachia.

New France began in 1604 with an expedition from France led by Pierre Dugua. It grew to encompass the lower third of Quebec, north and northeast New Brunswick, and southern Louisiana.

El Norte is where the oldest European subculture in the United States is found, from the early Catholic Spanish settlers in the 16th century. Later augmented by Anglo-Americans from Deep South and Greater Appalachia, it includes south and west Texas, southern California and its Imperial Valley, southern Arizona, New Mexico, parts of Colorado, and the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora, and Baja California.

Far West is the interior of the United States west of the 100th meridian west between El Norte and First Nation. It includes the interiors of California, Oregon, and Washington, much of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alaska, part of Yukon and Northwest Territories, the west halves of the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas, as well as Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.

Left Coast was predominantly colonized by Yankees from New England, with a huge influx from Greater Appalachia and countries around the world when gold was discovered. It encompasses the land between the Pacific Ocean and the Pacific Coast Ranges from Monterey, California to Juneau, Alaska, containing parts of California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska.

First Nation(s), founded by the predominant indigenous peoples in Canada south of the Arctic Circle, consists of much of Yukon, Northwest Territories, Labrador, Nunavut, Greenland, the northern tier of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, northwestern British Columbia, and the northern two-thirds of Quebec.

Image and text from American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard, copyright and published 2011, Viking, ISBN 978-0-670-02296-0
…used completely without formal permission or consent.

<More Academic Quotes>

(Wikipedia®) “Cultural assimilation may involve either a quick or a gradual change depending on the circumstances of the group. Full assimilation occurs when members of a society become indistinguishable from those of the group dominating that society.

Whether a given group should assimilate is often disputed by both members of the group and others in society. Cultural assimilation does not guarantee social alikeness. Geographical and other natural barriers between cultures, even if created by the predominant culture, may be culturally different. Cultural assimilation can happen either spontaneously or forcibly, the latter when more dominant cultures use various means aimed at forced assimilation.

Various types of assimilation, including forced cultural assimilation, is particularly relevant in regards to Indigenous groups during colonialism taking place between the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. This type of assimilation included religious conversion, separation of families, changes of gender roles, division of property among foreign power, elimination of local economies and lack of sustainable food supply. Whether via colonialism or within one nation, methods of forced assimilation are often unsustainable, leading to revolts and collapses of power to maintain control over cultural norms. Often, cultures that are forced into different cultural practices through forced cultural assimilation will revert to their native practices, and religions that differ from the forced cultural values from other dominant powers. In addition throughout history, voluntary assimilation is often in response to pressure from a more predominant culture, and conformity is a solution for people to remain in safety. An example of voluntary cultural assimilation would be during the Spanish Inquisition when Jews and Muslims accepted the Roman Catholic Church as their religion, meanwhile, in private, many people still practised their traditional religions. This type of assimilation is used to convince a dominant power that a culture has peacefully assimilated yet often voluntary assimilation does not mean the group fully conforms to the accepted cultural beliefs.

The term ‘assimilation’ is often used with regard to not only Indigenous groups but also immigrants settled in a new land. A new culture and new attitudes toward the origin culture are obtained through contact and communication. Assimilation assumes that a relatively-tenuous culture gets to be united to one unified culture. That process happens by contact and accommodation between each culture. The current definition of assimilation is usually used to refer to immigrants, but in multiculturalism, cultural assimilation can happen all over the world and within varying social contexts and is not limited to specific areas.”

(Wikipedia®) “Between 1880 and 1920, the United States took in roughly 24 million immigrants. This increase in immigration can be attributed to many historical changes. The beginning of the 21st century has also marked a massive era of immigration, and sociologists are once again trying to make sense of the impacts that immigration has on society and on the immigrants themselves.

Assimilation had various meanings in American sociology. Henry Pratt Fairchild associates American assimilation with ‘Americanization’ or the melting pot theory. Some scholars also believed that assimilation and acculturation were synonymous. According to a common point of view, assimilation is a “process of interpretation and fusion” from another group or person. That may include memories, behaviours, and sentiments. By sharing their experiences and histories, they blend into the common cultural life. A related theory is structural pluralism proposed by American sociologist Milton Gordon. It describes the American situation wherein despite the cultural assimilation of ethnic groups to mainstream American society, they maintained structural separation. Gordon maintained that there is limited integration of the immigrants into American social institutions such as educational, occupational, political, and social cliques.

The long history of immigration in the established gateways means that the place of immigrants in terms of class, racial, and ethnic hierarchies in the traditional gateways is more structured or established, but on the other hand, the new gateways do not have much immigration history and so the place of immigrants in terms of class, racial, and ethnic hierarchies are less defined, and immigrants may have more influence to define their position. Secondly, the size of the new gateways may influence immigrant assimilation. Having a smaller gateway may influence the level of racial segregation among immigrants and native-born people. Thirdly, the difference in institutional arrangements may influence immigrant assimilation. Traditional gateways, unlike new gateways, have many institutions set up to help immigrants such as legal aid, bureaus, social organizations. Finally, Waters and Jimenez have only speculated that those differences may influence immigrant assimilation and the way researchers that should assess immigrant assimilation.

(Wikipedia®) “The history of Western civilization, and in particular the histories of Europe and the United States, are largely defined by patterns of acculturation.

One of the most notable forms of acculturation is imperialism, the most common progenitor of direct cultural change. Although these cultural changes may seem simple, the combined results are both robust and complex, impacting both groups and individuals from the original culture and the host culture. Anthropologists, historians, and sociologists have studied acculturation with dominance almost exclusively, primarily in the context of colonialism, as a result of the expansion of western European peoples throughout the world during the past five centuries.

The first psychological theory of acculturation was proposed in W.I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki’s 1918 study, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America. From studying Polish immigrants in Chicago, they illustrated three forms of acculturation corresponding to three personality types: Bohemian (adopting the host culture and abandoning their culture of origin), Philistine (failing to adopt the host culture but preserving their culture of origin), and creative-type (able to adapt to the host culture while preserving their culture of origin).In 1936, Redfield, Linton, and Herskovits provided the first widely used definition of acculturation as:

Those phenomena which result when groups of individuals having different cultures come into continuous first-hand contact, with subsequent changes in the original cultural patterns of either or both groups…under this definition acculturation is to be distinguished from…assimilation, which is at times a phase of acculturation.

Long before efforts toward racial and cultural integration in the United States arose, the common process was assimilation. In 1954, Milton Gordon’s book Assimilation in American Life outlined seven stages of the assimilative process, setting the stage for literature on this topic. Later, Young Yun Kim authored a reiteration of Gordon’s work, but argued cross-cultural adaptation as a multi-staged process. Kim’s theory focused on the unitary nature of psychological and social processes and the reciprocal functional personal environment interdependence.[6] Although this view was the earliest to fuse micro-psychological and macro-social factors into an integrated theory, it is clearly focused on assimilation rather than racial or ethnic integration. In Kim’s approach, assimilation is unilinear and the sojourner must conform to the majority group culture in order to be “communicatively competent.” According to Gudykunst and Kim (2003) the “cross-cultural adaptation process involves a continuous interplay of deculturation and acculturation that brings about change in strangers in the direction of assimilation, the highest degree of adaptation theoretically conceivable.” This view has been heavily criticized, since the biological science definition of adaptation refers to the random mutation of new forms of life, not the convergence of a monoculture (Kramer, 2003).

In contradistinction from Gudykunst and Kim’s version of adaptive evolution, Eric M. Kramer developed his theory of Cultural Fusion, maintaining clear, conceptual distinctions between assimilation, adaptation, and integration. According to Kramer, assimilation involves conformity to a pre-existing form. Kramer’s theory of ‘Cultural Fusion’, which is based on systems theory and hermeneutics (the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts), argues that it is impossible for a person to ‘unlearn themselves’ and that by definition, ‘growth’ is not a zero-sum process that requires the disillusion of one form for another to come into being but rather a process of learning new languages and cultural repertoires (ways of thinking, cooking, playing, working worshiping, and so forth). In other words, Kramer argues that one need not unlearn a language to learn a new one, nor does one have to unlearn who one is to learn new ways of dancing, cooking, talking, and so forth. Unlike Gudykunst and Kim, Kramer argues that this blending of language and culture results in cognitive complexity, or the ability to switch between cultural repertoires. To put Kramer’s ideas simply, ‘learning is growth’ rather than unlearning.”

(Wikipedia®) “The interactive acculturation model (IAM) seeks to integrate within a common theoretical framework the following components of immigrants and host community relations in multicultural settings:

• acculturation orientations adopted by immigrant groups in the host community;
• acculturation orientations adopted by the host community towards special groups of immigrants;
• interpersonal and intergroup relational outcomes that are the product of combinations of immigrant and host community acculturation orientations.

The framework of these established among a structural political/governmental environment. Ultimately, the goal of the model is to present a non-determinist, more dynamic account of immigrant and host community acculturation in multicultural settings.

Essentially the model takes both sides of immigration (host and immigrant) and compares the values and desire to hold on to historical and cultural ties of the immigrant population versus the desire or degree to which the host population is willing to accommodate the immigrant influx. Examples of questions posed to the host population include:

• Do you find it acceptable that immigrants maintain their cultural heritage?
• Do you accept that immigrants adopt the culture of your host community?

The model derives two important pieces of data:

• the level to which the immigrant population is willing maintain its historical and cultural roots against;
• its desire (or lack thereof) to integrate and adopt the history and cultural traits of the host society.

The model essentially categorizes the population, based on the responses, as being in favor of integration, assimilation, or separation. When cross compared with the level of accommodation the host society is willing to provide, the model predicts whether the immigrant population will become fully assimilated, marginalized, or even isolated from the host society.”


There is much more about these topics in local Libraries and Online.

It is my personal assumption that, over time, human beings on THIS PLANET, due to unprecedented on-planet mobility will merge into a single variant, culturally and ethnically. We will indeed be “the beings of Earth”… and will have a pretty similar gradation of melanin, body size, eye shape, etc. This may take 500 years. 2500 years. 10,000 years. But, if we last that long and the Earth/Gaia doesn’t remove us first as an intolerable pest, certainly logic dictates that we’d be merged at some point.

There are many big GATTACA-type unknowns, however.

• How much of a role social and cultural redividing (We / They) will continue to erode social progress
•How much of a role the “sure-to-be-a-thing” genetic dabbling in the Human Genome will affect everything
•How much of a role our pesky inability to “control things” like the climate for instance, will affect food supplies, worldwide (more genetic dabbling… of FOOD?)
•How much of a role extra planetary exploration/settlements/colonization will play (see Amazon science fiction series “The Expanse”)

Frankly speaking, as individuals, our own perspectives and readiness to accommodate, within practical reason, others… is the paramount, near-field decider of things. Our perspective influence how we treat and respond to others, how we tribalize, how we vote, how we operate at large.

Theories abound. But, as I often repeat, “the future is a nebulous place”. We can imagine it, wonderful or dystopian, but we can’t really predict it with any accuracy.


It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
Songwriters: John Michael Stipe / Michael E. Mills / Peter Lawrence Buck / William Thomas Berry (REM)

That’s great, it starts with an earthquake
Birds and snakes, and aeroplanes
And Lenny Bruce is not afraid

Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn
World serves its own needs
Don’t mis-serve your own needs
Speed it up a notch, speed, grunt, no, strength
The ladder starts to clatter
With a fear of height, down, height
Wire in a fire, represent the seven games
And a government for hire and a combat site
Left her, wasn’t coming in a hurry
With the Furies breathing down your neck

Team by team, reporters baffled, trumped, tethered, cropped
Look at that low plane, fine, then
Uh oh, overflow, population, common group
But it’ll do, save yourself, serve yourself
World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed
Tell me with the Rapture and the reverent in the right, right
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam fight, bright light
Feeling pretty psyched

It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine

Six o’clock, T.V. hour, don’t get caught in foreign tower
Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn
Lock him in uniform, book burning, bloodletting
Every motive escalate, automotive incinerate
Light a candle, light a motive, step down, step down
Watch your heel crush, crush, uh oh
This means no fear, cavalier, renegade and steering clear
A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline

It’s the end of the world as we know it (I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)

The other night I drifted nice continental drift divide
Mountains sit in a line, Leonard Bernstein
Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs
Birthday party, cheesecake, jellybean, boom
You symbiotic, patriotic, slam but neck, right, right

It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)

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Implicit Bias

First, I want to be perfectly clear about the meaning of these words. Here’s the dictionary.

Exhibit A:

implicit (adjective) ©Merriam-Webster Dictionary

im·​plic·​it | \ im-ˈpli-sət
1a : capable of being understood from something else though unexpressed : IMPLIED
an implicit assumption…
“Still another problem for Middle America was how corporations … were allowed to breach the implicit social contract of the postwar era.” — Kevin Phillips

b : present but not consciously held or recognized
• implicit attitudes
• implicit racism

2 : not lessened by doubt : ABSOLUTE, COMPLETE
There’s an implicit trust between them.
“The implicit confidence that her destiny must be one of luxurious ease…” — George Eliot

3a : involved in the nature or essence of something though not revealed, expressed, or developed : POTENTIAL
“… a sculptor may see different figures implicit in a block of stone.” — John Dewey
“… made a deep-fake video to demonstrate the dangers implicit in the technology.” — Andrea Bellemare

b : of a mathematical function : defined by an expression in which the dependent variable and the one or more independent variables are not separated on opposite sides of an equation

Exhibit B:

bias (noun) ©Merriam-Webster Dictionary

bi·​as | \ ˈbī-əs
Definition: (Entry 1 of 4)
1a : an inclination of temperament or outlook

especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment : PREJUDICE
b : an instance of such prejudice


d (1) : deviation of the expected value of a statistical estimate from the quantity it estimates
(2) : systematic error introduced into sampling or testing by selecting or encouraging one outcome or answer over others

2 : a line diagonal to the grain of a fabric
especially : a line at a 45 degree angle to the selvage often utilized in the cutting of garments for smoother fit

3a : a peculiarity in the shape of a bowl that causes it to swerve when rolled on the green in lawn bowling
b : the tendency of a bowl to swerve
also : the impulse causing this tendency
c : the swerve of the bowl

4a : a voltage applied to a device (such as a transistor control electrode) to establish a reference level for operation
b : a high-frequency voltage combined with an audio signal to reduce distortion in tape recording
on the bias
1 : diagonally to the grain of a fabric
cut the cloth on the bias
sleeves cut on the bias
2 : at an angle : diagonally to the fibers of something
cut the meat on the bias
carrots cut on the bias

bias (verb)

biased or biassed; biasing or biassing

Definition of bias (Entry 2 of 4) (transitive verb)

1 : to give a settled and often prejudiced outlook to
his background biases him against foreigners

2 : to apply a slight negative or positive voltage to (something, such as a transistor)

bias (adjective)

Definition of bias (Entry 3 of 4)
: DIAGONAL, SLANTING —used chiefly of fabrics and their cut

bias (adverb)
Definition of bias (Entry 4 of 4)

cut cloth bias

2 obsolete : AWRY

Exhibit C:

implicit bias (noun) ©Merriam-Webster Dictionary
plural implicit biases

Definition of implicit bias
: a bias or prejudice that is present but not consciously held or recognized
“These studies reveal that students, nurses, doctors, police officers, employment recruiters, and many others exhibit implicit biases with respect to race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, social status, and other distinctions.” — J. T. Jost et al.
“Research shows that the majority of people have an implicit bias that associates science and technology with gender, so from a very young age, girls are not encouraged to pursue these careers,” she [Caroline Simard] said. — Claire Cain Miller

First Known Use of ‘implicit bias’.
1925, in the meaning defined above


Let me acknowledge, at least for myself, that there is a whole lot of “implicit bias” going on right now, particularly in the United States of America, but also, within the Human Condition as a whole.

I have to think it has always been there.

The classic Warner Brothers “Bugs Bunny®” “Bunker Hill Bunny” cartoon between Yosemite Sam® and Bugs Bunny® sums it up…

What was taken for granted in the “they/we” department, at least historically, and at least from my singular viewpoint, is largely related to definable social “pods” of like thinking, like talking, and like people. These pods have not always featured purely ethnic borders.. in fact, anything can be a divider:

“We are in The Club… You are Not.”
“I have a College Education, You do Not.”
“I have managed to (make/inherit/win/steal) a boat load of Money, You have Not.”
“We can kick your asses, We are Strong. You are Not. Do what We say.”

I tease my long time pals about “all the best jokes you remember are from Sixth Grade.” Unfortunately for many Citizens of This Planet, how they perceived themselves – and others – also seems to stop at the Sixth Grade. Enlightenment is fleeting… especially if it removes one from the comfort of a peer group of like-thinkers. And, does enlightenment really function if not all Citizens are enlightened?

In this well defined, current era of instantaneous electronic transfer of messages, obfuscation is not only terribly prevalent, its risen to high stakes international purveyance.

It is easy to lie on the Interweb.

So, when an entire defined group is accused of implicit bias by another defined group… is there overwhelming global evidence, or just some evidence, horrible as it may be – – that implicates an entire group simply by (political leanings/economic status/celebrity/language/melanin content of skin) ?

Here in Vermont, there’s a lot of relevant concern about Implicit Bias from Local and State Law Enforcement. And there is data to back it up. However, there’s a similar concern about the number of “non whites” that are incarcerated vs the breakdown of “who lives in Vermont” by Ethic Group.

First of all, dividing residents by Ethnic Group for data purposes already blurs the “we” substantially into “they/we”. Second, the MATH shouldn’t be how many are incarcerated vs the population percentages, but by who was ARRESTED and CONVICTED. That’s the real math, and blurring it confuses important social facts even further.

With all the various “movements” going on Nationally and Internationally… at some point, a single individual, if one is being completely honest, has to come to grips with one’s own Implicit Bias. And acknowledge it when parsing the Constant Tsunami of incoming messages across all devices, including word of mouth from actual Humans.

For me, I don’t really live within an environment that is filled to the brim with other cultures. It is well acknowledged that Vermont is what it is. So, I don’t get to interface with different cultural concepts, except for our friends, several of whom (to our benefit) have different cultural backgrounds. But its not like Boston, Montréal or New York City… or even Burlington, Vermont. So what are my Implicit Biases?

1.) I am often far too suspect of those with displayed, significant wealth. This is hardly fair, but I acknowledge it.
2.) I am often far too suspect of those with displayed, LACK of wealth, culture or basic good manners.
3.) I am often far too suspect of the trailer with collected detritus around it. (which again, is hardly fair.. compared to my own “things” slowly marinating in our basement).
4.) I am often far too suspect of aggressive, flag-waving extremists. I have to ask, “What is the REAL agenda?” and also “Who benefits ($$$) from the acquisition of met demands?”
5.) I am often far too suspect of stuff being shouted at me… pick a feature… whomever it is that is not “getting their fair share” or selling some thing or idea and yelling it at me… I want to know, clearly, on what grounds and what premise the yelling and shouting and flag waving is based and do those grounds take in the broad scope of current and historical premise, or something far more narrow?

Human beings are, put simply, creatures of habit. Earlier in this multi year blog I quoted “Garth” from the movie “Wayne’s World” as saying clearly, “…We fear change.”

Yes, we do and, I do. However, meeting changes with clear headed thinking… from EVERYBODY is the only way the Species is going to move forward from Its long history of Implicit Bias and move forward.

Hopefully, as humanity integrates and likely becomes “khaki” in melanin tint… or at least “subtle shades” of Khaki…” these are the beings from Planet Earth, Milky Way Galaxy.”

And in the next five hundred years as we overcome the vast litany of struggles to become Citizens of the Planet, hopefully we will not turn out to be “Sneetches”. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

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Head Over Heart

First, a disclaimer. I am the one of the biggest victims of “intuition” there is.

It has proven me wrong, time and time and time again.

Across the current media and social media landscape there is much feeling and emotion (heart) but rarely is it backed up with a full and thorough and skeptical evaluation of not just the facts of any event, but the factual CONTEXT of any event. Chock it up to record levels of division in American society (many foreign powers enjoying it, you can bank on this…).

Sadly, we are not seeing what unites us! And the FACTS of what unite us are quite simple:

Common national border with no border crossings between individual states… this is huge, actually.

Common language… with a nod to diplomatic accommodation of newcomers, English (the language of all pilots worldwide) is spoken in American, albeit with many regional accents and flourishes.

Common Protection. Our US Armed Forces, Federal, State and Local law enforcement, though far from perfect, serve society at large. A look at history shows that many a march and protest has been absolutely crushed by The State. But not here. In fact, protesters seem to feel that freedom extends so very often to looting, which is something I can’t get head or HEART around.

Common Cause… at the end of the day, do we not all prefer FREEDOM along with all the RESPONSIBILITIES that incurs?

Common Care… do you really want to disintegrate your neighbors, your fellow community members… even if they disagree with your opinion? Or, could you think about the VALUE of commonality in a community, state, region, nation and seek to find that extremely elusive thing, that nobody has discussed for at least twenty years, CONSENSUS.

So, lets go “Head” for a moment. (Heart, you can save your reaction to a good novel, movie or dramatic series.) Let’s explore the concept of “Enlightened Self Interest.”

According to Psychology Today®: “Enlightened self-interest refers to the understanding and trust that what a person does to enhance another’s quality of life enhances one’s own quality of life to a similar degree. More simply put, it is the idea that “what goes around comes around.””

So, it is a version of the “Golden Rule”, then? Yes. According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica®: “Golden Rule is precept in the Gospel of Matthew (7:12): “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. . . .” This rule of conduct is a summary of the Christian’s duty to his neighbour and states a fundamental ethical principle. In its negative form, “Do not do to others what you would not like done to yourselves,” it occurs in the 2nd-century documents Didache and the Apology of Aristides and may well have formed part of an early catechism. It recalls the command to “love the stranger (sojourner)” as found in Deuteronomy. It is not, however, peculiar to Christianity. Its negative form is to be found in Tob. 4:15, in the writings of the two great Jewish scholars Hillel (1st century BC) and Philo of Alexandria (1st centuries BC and AD), and in the Analects of Confucius (6th and 5th centuries BC). It also appears in one form or another in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates, and Seneca.”

So, the Golden Rule transcends major world religions. What a concept. It must have worked then, it surely would be a welcome alternative now. It probably ALWAYS works because it is based upon KINDNESS, not judgement, or worse.

Back to the HEAD… intellectual evaluation of all things is of great advantage when it comes to informing one’s self before any major decisions or commitments. The “Hearts” intuition, as previously stated, can be so terribly, terribly wrong. What are those facts. What did that individual actually say… is it in print or hearsay? Can it be corroborated… not just be an echo in a single silo that is sorely disconnected to any possible OTHER explanation? Since the turn of the new millenium (Y2K anybody), it seems like all the noise that comes at us from every single source, is largely someone’s “opinion.”

(Please shut up! That’s all of you who I do NOT know – – who attempt to fill up my inboxes with unwanted content! If I want your opinion I will ask for it.)

Instead, why not share your EXPERIENCE? Tell me what happened when you were there. I will add this to my information from others who were there. You know the time-honored adage that “nobody sees a car accident the same way” ? I have found this to be absolutely true. Even those who were accused of wrong doing in a car mishap are often being victimized by the actual wrongdoer. Again, head over heart. We had the unfortunate experience of having one of our vehicles in a bump and bender accident in the past couple of years. The perpetrator accused my spouse of being at fault. However, OUR dent was halfway down the passenger side and HIS dent was on the driver’s side FRONT bumper. So, given the facts, who is at fault? Clearly him. Physical evidence doesn’t lie. In order to avoid the accident, he simply needed to stop. He didn’t and rammed the side of our car. Turns out there was a significant amount of distilled spirits modifying his driving decisions. Head over heart. A simple look at the vehicles revealed the facts, no matter how loud the other driver yelled.

In our current social landscape… everybody has an opinion, and is hiding behind near anonomity of online identities. It’s sort of cowardly, on all fronts. Typing away in seclusion is hardly heroic or inspiring of integrity or honor. Twitter. Geez louise. Like so many things, a good idea gone bad. (“Breaking Bad?”)

But Tweets are the tip of a very large iceberg. We now find ourselves in a soldering pit of self perpetuating informational silos that throw refined gasoline upon the flames of the Heart, but rarely bring a single calorie to the intellect of the Head.



Generation Like

Yes, some of these links may seem dated. But do they? REALLY?

Head over Heart.

Here are two contrasting opinions…

“When something looks too good to be true, it usually is.” – Emmy Rossum

“Today remind yourself that nothing is too good to be true. Your great hopes can be realized. Your most wonderful dreams can come true. All that you really need, you can have. An incredible goodness is operating on your behalf. If you are living a paltry life, resolve to stop it today. Expect great things to happen. ” – Norman Vincent Peale

Which is correct? They both are, I believe. Or at least, most individual’s reality lies somewhere between. I note that Norman Peale’s version does have an imperative “…resolve to stop it today.”

It does complicate things a bit. But, in reality, no. If we are optimistic, but SKEPTICAL, and rely on our own do diligence (PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY), we can be informed on a wide and broad plain… and sift through an event, the multitude of reasons (all sides) for it, historical precedence (it’s all been done before, folks) and more… leading to a sound, and personally cogent amount of intellectual reasoning for an “informed opinion.”


Long John Silver: (Muppet Treasure Island – looking at skeletons) “Flint hung ’em up there after he gullied ’em… to mark the trail to the treasure. Wicked sense of humor ol’ Flinty had…

Long John’s Crew: “- I-It’s a sign. This is a cursed place. – Yeah!

Long John Silver: “Well, there’s an informed opinion.”

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Could In Ear Monitors (headphones) eliminate the need for Symphony Orchestra Conductors?

Okay, this is a weird topic, perhaps. But I have been watching PBS’s “Great Performances” series called “Now Hear This…” which is intriguing to me, as part of my world is being a working musician.


One of the very clear statements by the program host, “celebrated Violinist and Chief Conductor of the Mexico City Philharmonic, Scott Yoo”, is that the real reason for a “Conductor” is that the folks on one side of the Symphony Orchestra “…can’t hear the other side.” Extrapolation: If there was an effective multiple, in-ear monitor mix for EACH of the instrumentalists, you wouldn’t need a conductor. Unless for show.

Motion picture soundtracks have had this situation for years… with many recordings for film tightly timed (the performing instrumentalists) with headphones. In a live performance, in-ear monitoring has evolved to an extremely high level. Shure, Inc., out of Illinois, is a major player in this field as are others in the “transducer” manufacturing game… those who make microphones often make headphones. There are about 100, plus or minus, musicians in a Symphony Orchestra.


This means you’d have to invest a substantial amount initially for a 100+ feed monitor mixer with in ear headsets. However, this “one time” investment would last years. Not to devalue the position of a Conductor, but from a Post COVID economic standpoint, it seems that not requiring a conductor for timing might be a huge step forward. Plus, even WITH a conductor, certainly creating a better way for everyone to hear each other would be a benefit. The entire concept MUST have already been employed at better funded Symphony Orchestras… …just sayin’.






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What the Herd Heard and refused to Hurdle
















Forgive my selfish enjoyment of simple word play. However, I am returning to the theme of “The Herd” and how significant and often dangerous such “group-think” can often be.

First of all, I’d like to begin with a choice bit of text from Ayn Rand. But before I do, a short disclaimer. I am not the fan of Ayn Rand that I was in my youth, and mostly this has to do with Rand’s devotee Alan Greenspan, whom I continue to believe was mostly responsible, or irresponsible, for the banking, investment and real estate debacles that took place during the first parts of the millennium – – and still have echoes and eddies. (Sorry, Alan. You have been most successful at living well below the radar on this… with your allowing of all those “creative” investment vehicles to make the stratospherically wealthy even more stratospherically wealthy.)

From Rand’s Atlas Shrugged…

“Thinking is man’s only basic virtue, from which all the others proceed. And, his basic vice, the source of all his evils, is that nameless act which all of you practice, but struggle never to admit: the act of blanking out, the willful suspension of one’s consciousness, the refusal to think — not blindness, but the refusal to see; not ignorance, but the refusal to know. It is the act of un-focusing your mind and inducing an inner fog to escape the responsibility of judgment – on the unstated premise that a thing will not exist if only you refuse to identify it, that ‘A will not be A’ so long as you do not pronounce the verdict ‘It is’…Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone.”

(hints of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” starts to filter in here)

No, not really.

But, as my good pal Rusty often begins in his statements to me, “here’s the thing”:

If one – as an individual – is lazy about discerning the real facts surrounding anything (… and in these phone-laced-media-driven-unfiltered-blue-light-special-times, it is easy to be lazy… especially when the world is spoon fed information ever waking second), then that laziness will out itself in forwarded misinformation, an incorrectly promoted view of the reality of events, and will continue to contribute to the social unrest and divisiveness that seems to go on and on in a seemingly unending manner.

I believe that one has to take the time, on any major subject, to be certain that your SOURCES are legit and, more importantly that THEIR sources are legit (and if necessary that those sources are legit).  It can be a wild ride down the rabbit hole, and Google results, Bing results, Yahoo results might not be showing one the total picture.

For myself, a dear friend gave me library access to large city municipal libraries, that all have remarkable search engines at this point. One can get access to major libraries upon request. There’s nothing like some historical perspective from multiple historical sources to help shape a position or clarify one being presented.

Now, certainly, each of us has implicit bias from our upbringing, historical experience and general sense of “smell,” but all too often we are willing to let our emotional position over-ride the logical, researched, data driven position for any given topic.

This comes hard-to-port when conversations delve into all those topics your Grandmother told you not to address in polite company, namely: Politics, Religion, Money and Sex.

(Whatever happened to manners?)

However, as we stumble into the future, AND the aforementioned noise from social media, online, broadcast and word of mouth become louder and more aggressive, having the personal fortitude to refrain from snap judgement on topics can be a challenge. In addition, that snap judgement can easily make one a pariah among social groups, i.e., friends, and family.

The art of listening is an exercise more of us, especially myself, should give more attention. Listening and not knee-jerk judging is challenging for most of us, as the voices in our heads are ready and raring during a debate-laced discussion. It doesn’t have to be this way. And it’s mostly hard for it NOT to be this way. Being simply aware is a good first step, TRYING not to vocally step on your fellow conversationalist is good second step. With practice, debate can become the far more civilized “discussion.”

(My blood pressure understands this ever so succinctly.)

Discussions that produce a common ground of consideration… of topics to further investigate and fact check are worthy. The herds in 2020 are following both large and small parades. Some have their genesis in relevance, but few of size are truly walking the walk of their proclamations, and ever the echo are the spots lights of media and the rush to judgement.

By way of example, during this pandemic, I think I have experienced enough finger-wagging to create wind power for alternate energy acquisition.   My typical, emotional reaction is immediate: Get off your stink-free podium and think about who made you the Lord Arbiter of Correctness, when all the facts are still unknown about this pandemic! Sure, data would indicate that distancing and mask wearing is a good thing. But wait, has anybody questioned the long term health of our immune systems if folks are simply not exposed to things like this?  Herd indeed.

(Triclosan, developed in the 1960s is on my personal list for weakening society’s immunity.)

But I digress.

The reality is yours.  Make of it as you will. But please consider that sometimes, the safety of the herd – ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO DETERMINING THE TRUTH –  may not be as safe as you think. (Another lovely analogy of herd safety, The myth of Lemmings aside, only humans have been absolutely proven to commit mass suicide.)

I firmly believe that most discussions, and their topics, may be worth thinking about it and “going your own way”. Additionally and most importantly, we must be vigilant in allowing others to do the same… without recrimination. Democracy, real democracy, is messy.  Building consensus is nearly impossible, at least until and unless there’s a major shared catastrophe.  However, listening and respecting other’s opinions is an excellent foundation for building consensus.  We may never agree on most things, but it may be vitally important to agree on some things.

BRIAN: No. No, please! Please! Please listen. I’ve got one or two things to say.
FOLLOWERS: Tell us. Tell us both of them.
BRIAN: Look. You’ve got it all wrong. You don’t need to follow me. You don’t need to follow anybody! You’ve got to think for yourselves. You’re all individuals!
FOLLOWERS: Yes, we’re all individuals!
BRIAN: You’re all different!
FOLLOWERS: Yes, we are all different!
DENNIS: I’m not.

©Monty Python, PTY, Ltd

Be well.




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End Of Line


<END OF LINE> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newline

“End of Line” (EOL), line feed, or line break) is computer code-speak for the end of a line  or lines of code) within ASCII [American Standard Code for Information Interchange] or EBCDIC [Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code]. When displaying (or printing) a text file, this control character causes the text editor to show the following characters in a new line.

<END OF LINE> when applied to humanity’s short existing on the planet has many reverberant returns, invoking everything from extremely real scientific research going on at this very moment (and has been for the better part of a century) to wild ass conspiracy theories, with tidbits of actual facts molded and shaped to form an opinion.

Here’s mine. Artificial Intelligence, ESPECIALLY during this unexpected COVID-19 Pandemic, along with the social unrest fanned by both closet and actual anarchists, will quietly rise to levels of public and social integration, with the general public not even being aware of it.

Certainly, major news outlets and their incessant cycling and recycling of topics haven’t even considered it, with many of them being the beneficiaries of AI when it comes to audience retention via headline development.

What, you don’t believe it???


Believe it.

In my personal opinion, “Armageddon” is likely to NOT be instantaneous, but take a boat load of time. Maybe thousands of years. Maybe we avoid our species extinction, maybe we don’t. Comedian George Carlin, nearly 30 years ago, thought we would not.

George Carlin: Saving the Planet – Full Transcript

At the risk of being called out for it, here’s my personal up-to-the-moment opinion:

We’re not paying as much attention to all of this as we should be, and instead have devolved into name calling, finger wagging, judging, and much much worse on the “violence to eachother” scale. Surely this can’t be good for a bright future.

Here is a list of links – from today, 29 July 2020,  that support my position that we are not paying enough attention. Going through them all will take some time. NOT going through them all will keep readers more ignorant of where they are actually living, here and now. As with each of our personal historical arcs, decisions, decisions.

With a bit of an acknowledged full-body shudder from me, here we go…

[Of note: Skynet is a fictional artificial neural network-based conscious group mind and artificial general super-intelligence system that serves as the main antagonist of the Terminator® films franchise, begun by Director James Cameron]

These links are to real technology, in use and available now…











“…Its [OpenAI] goal is to be the first to create AGI—a machine with the learning and reasoning powers of a human mind. The purpose is not world domination; rather, the lab wants to ensure that the technology is developed safely and its benefits distributed evenly to the world. But three days at OpenAI’s office—and nearly three dozen interviews with past and current employees, collaborators, friends, and other experts in the field—suggest a different picture. There is a misalignment between what the company publicly espouses and how it operates behind closed doors. Over time, it has allowed a fierce competitiveness and mounting pressure for ever more funding to erode its founding ideals of transparency, openness, and collaboration. Many who work or worked for the company insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak or feared retaliation. Their accounts suggest that OpenAI, for all its noble aspirations, is obsessed with maintaining secrecy, protecting its image, and retaining the loyalty of its employees.”

James Cameron [“Terminator®” film director] has got to have a smirk on, followed by his own full-body shudder.

And thus ends the musing for today, a balmy day in July 2020 here in Northern Vermont.

Be well. Be safe. Be smart.


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A Fractal Sense of the Continuity of Choice

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“If you are just safe about the choices you make, you don’t grow.” — Heath Ledger

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

“We are our choices.” ― Jean-Paul Sartre

“It’d be great to be in a position where you can make choices regardless of money. My tastes are always gonna lead me to go for the amazing project where I’m being paid in Turkish cantaloupes.” — Will Ferrell


For those who have enjoyed (or been terrified by) a near death experience, I would ask… did yours feature a primary pathway that splintered into pathways, which splintered into pathways and so forth and so on?

Who knows. That’s was my experience, many years ago.

I was reminded of it last week, when my weedwhacker chucked a rock at our basement walk out door’s window. I heard the plink, then a quiet “tick” of a crack, and then another and then another…it basically went on for about two hours until the outer pane of the thermal, two pane window, had fully spider-webbed into a thing of beauty. (And an upcoming expense.)

Cellar Window After the Rock

The Cellar Door Window – After the Rock Hit

The idea of trunk, branch, branch, branch is integral to our decision making… at the moment, during the day and during our existence. It’s also extremely basic:

“If this, then that.”

As a young person, making informed choices is extremely difficult, simply because of lack of experience, lack of living. As an older person, making informed choices is also difficult, but for far more complex reasons as the distillation and discernment process can be arduous and full of potential peril.

None-the-less, the decisions have to keep coming until we get to the point in life where we are either unable to make them in an “omnispheric” manner or we have lost the faculty, or because we simply don’t want to anymore.

The very real synchronicity between super macro and super micro layers of “what we know” continues to fascinate me. The patterns of star dust in a Nebula. The way the Milky Way looks at night. A river delta from a satellite photo. A Tree. An Iris.

If the Universe and All-That’s-In-It has been determined by some to be a random “decision”, golly — it sure remains aesthetically beautiful to me — at any viewpoint.

And for lack of a more salient explanation, the Universe has a “design signature” of continuity that is absolutely everywhere.  Trunk, branch, branch, branch. From the cellular to the deep space images of galaxy fields.

The River makes a choice to flow where gravity, tides and obstacles suggest, then everything changes, and it flows elsewhere, a process that repeats without end to create a delta. The Tree sprouts branches that reach for the sun, which sprout branches that reach for the sun, that sprout branches that reach for the sun. The proteins defined by the genetic code define the same patterns in an Iris.

What’s intriguing [to me] about this is: in each case, there is an implied destination and goal. The river flows down hill to the sea. The tree grows upwards to the sun, and simultaneously downwards to minerals and water. The iris grows to enable vision, to inform and (hopefully) delight.  And to better serve, at least with me, the processing of making a choice.

For ponderers, which is mostly everyone…though many won’t admit it, for philosophers and thinkers and for those with irascible, irrepressible creative urges, the idea of choice… and whether we are truly in 100% control of our own individual destiny, will continue to be argued, and expressed in the arts, even if barely perceptible.

Our unfortunate frame of reference for “time” as human beings on this planet is ridiculously short. If only our choices could be made with the benefit of really understanding that our single, individual lifespan is part of generations before us, and in the case of those of us who have reproduced, after us. The constantly shifting sands of genetic instructions, blowing and creating the dust of who we’ve been, who we are and who we will be.  Is this “always”?  What would all those folks who came before us, who MADE us, think of our choices?

I choose to consider it.

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Succeeding beyond the Job Concept

“Most people think life sucks, and then you die. Not me. I beg to differ…

I think life sucks, then you get cancer, then your dog dies, your wife leaves you, the cancer goes into remission, you get a new dog, you get remarried, you owe ten million dollars in medical bills but you work hard for thirty five years and you pay it back and then one day you have a massive stroke, your whole right side is paralyzed, you have to limp along the streets and speak out of the left side of your mouth and drool but you go into rehabilitation and regain the power to walk and the power to talk and then one day you step off a curb at Sixty-Seventh Street, and BANG you get hit by a City bus and then you die…Maybe.”

— Dennis Leary, Comedian (born August 18, 1957)

30 May 2019

First of all, the title of this entry is the “Long O”, old testament Job. Not the short O “job” as in “work.”

The NIV, or “New International Version” of the Christian Bible shows Job as a long suffering fella, just minding his own business and getting in the middle of, what is essentially a bet, between God and Satan. Nice.

And before you think I am getting all religious on you, note that this blog entry is not a plea to end all the suffering in the world, as there has been and always will be suffering. Instead, it is more of a “work through it all” personal observation piece.  Done in one afternoon skirmish.

For the Buddhists (and, frankly, how can a thinking person not appreciate the Buddhists?) it gets more nuanced, if not a slow meander on a Mobius strip-based pathway:

The Four Noble Truths comprise the essence of Buddha’s teachings, though they leave much left unexplained. They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering. More simply put, suffering exists; it has a cause; it has an end; and it has a cause to bring about its end. The notion of suffering is not intended to convey a negative world view, but rather, a pragmatic perspective that deals with the world as it is, and attempts to rectify it. The concept of pleasure is not denied, but acknowledged as fleeting. Pursuit of pleasure can only continue what is ultimately an unquenchable thirst. The same logic belies an understanding of happiness. In the end, only aging, sickness, and death are certain and unavoidable.

The Four Noble Truths are a contingency plan for dealing with the suffering humanity faces — suffering of a physical kind, or of a mental nature.
The First Truth identifies the presence of suffering.

The Second Truth, on the other hand, seeks to determine the cause of suffering. In Buddhism, desire and ignorance lie at the root of suffering. By desire, Buddhists refer to craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality, all of which are wants that can never be satisfied. As a result, desiring them can only bring suffering. Ignorance, in comparison, relates to not seeing the world as it actually is. Without the capacity for mental concentration and insight, Buddhism explains, one’s mind is left undeveloped, unable to grasp the true nature of things. Vices, such as greed, envy, hatred and anger, derive from this ignorance.

The Third Noble Truth, the truth of the end of suffering, has dual meaning, suggesting either the end of suffering in this life, on earth, or in the spiritual life, through achieving Nirvana. When one has achieved Nirvana, which is a transcendent state free from suffering and our worldly cycle of birth and rebirth, spiritual enlightenment has been reached.

The Fourth Noble truth charts the method for attaining the end of suffering, known to Buddhists as the “Noble Eightfold Path.” The steps of the Noble Eightfold Path are Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. Moreover, there are three themes into which the Path is divided: good moral conduct (Understanding, Thought, Speech); meditation and mental development (Action, Livelihood, Effort), and wisdom or insight (Mindfulness and Concentration).

For me, I just try not to whine too much, a far-too-easy reflexive action I have been honing for decades. Yes, I am terribly guilty of it.  As one of my close friends says, “Yes, we dwell at length on our ridiculous first world problems.”

Especially now, in an era that seems amplified beyond all capacity with the “End of Everything”.

Frankly, I personally have come to feel that the Apocalypse, as it were, may not be as instantaneous as many of us have been taught.

“The Greek word for Revelation is Αποκαλυψις or Apocalypse. Revelation always implies the unveiling of something previously hidden, in this case, future events. As the final book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation brings to fruition symbolism found in Genesis 3:15 in the first book of the Bible. “

I didn’t know that… that “Revelation” in Greek is “Apocalypse”, which is a rather rewarding piece of information and elevates my point:

What if the “Tribulation” portion of St. John’s Revelation lasts ten centuries?

Sure, there’s all these quite apparent signs… the collapse of bees and other pollinators, the critical fulcrum of human development and the resulting pollution of the small, isolated planet we live on (don’t poop where you eat), the political mayhem and insidious leveraging of speeding technological expansion and instantaneous communication pathways, and the ongoing lack of integrity of so many in such high positions of authority.

I wonder what folks thought in the late 1700s. The mid 1800s. The Late 1800s. The early 1900s. The mid 1900s. Etc., etc., etc.

I also wonder if we as a species have done this before — whacked a planet into near nothingness and then simply moved.  (Think long and deep about Mars, for example…)

These are hardly original thoughts, but I often think them none-the-less: we all see our own truth through our own eyes, filter and shape it through our own experience, and ultimately funnel it down our own faith and belief. I think that if all of a sudden, humanity was zipped in its entirety to a new home planet, this one would likely recover quite nicely. (Probably be a battle eventually between the big cats, the big bears and the big apes, but then again, they might respect the twins of death and destruction a little more than we do.)

A very close friend of ours recently disclosed his fresh diagnosis of multiple cancers. I am thinking currently that this diagnosis is his own apocalypse, his own revelation, and we who love him will try to do what we can to help… which can be difficult to achieve if the afflicted individual, and he is, has been highly independent his whole life.

Another close friend was at one time going through an absolutely painful and traumatic divorce.  Referred to spouse as “my Buddha”.   Sometimes suffering can be so visceral it sounds like a hard cracker being halved.

Another non-original tidbit: “What happens to the human soul as suffering becomes increasing ordinary?”

At the foundation of being a true human being is to be able to offer our best, most sincere attempt at providing comfort to those who are suffering, to accept it with grace from others when we are suffering, and to try our best to impart our experiential findings of that process to our family members, offspring and friends.  That’s about it.

(That last paragraph is way more wordy than “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  I would say that the simple version credited to Jesus is more succinct.)

As I type this, from one of multiple computers, in a funky, low brow but comfortable home, looking out the door at several vehicles in the yard, taking in the luscious, vivacious greenery that is northern Vermont in almost-June, sure: I could think about my troubles. My debts. All the cleaning I have to attend to. The work I have to complete by the end of the week.  Or, I can realize just how good I have it.  I will rise up and attempt the latter…

Disagreements abound. But, with a slow, mindful inhale and a hopefully generous dose of perspective, we might all find that we, as humans, as society, as a civilization have much more to agree about than disagree… and concentrating on this – the agreements – will likely make the disagreements more malleable.

At least it’s a hope. Or as Dennis Leary says, “…maybe.”

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