The Parable of the Three Choices

One day I put my child in a room with a box and a chair.  The box had wires coming out of it.  They were connected to the chair.  The box also had a one hundred dollar bill sticking out of it.

I said to my child, "Child, in one hour a bolt of electricity will come out of that box and flow into your chair.  It will be very painful for you.  There is but one way for you to prevent it from happening.  You must pull the bill out of the box.  Removal of the bill will trip a switch that will short-circuit the charge, and you will be saved."

My child responded, "Why, how easy is that? I'll avoid pain and receive $100 in the bargain!"

God Helping Humans, Take "1"...

God:  OK, Eve... Adam... thanks for coming.  I have a somewhat urgent matter to discuss with you.

Adam:  Urgent?

God:  Yes... it means that it's important we discuss it right away.  To delay discussing it might cause undue stress.

Eve:  Stress?

God:  Yes.  You know that little pang you get when you're hungry or thirsty... or when you're not with me or not with each other but you suddenly wish you were... or when you're working the garden here and your heart-rate increases too much... or the sensation of being curious... you know the things I'm talking about?

To Hell or bust...

There have been many visitors to this site who have felt it necessary to inform me, publically or privately, that in their studied opinions my immortal soul, such that it is, is doomed to smolder in the everlasting inferno commonly referred to as "Hell".  However, a highly pertinent fact that I've completely neglected to mention is this:  I've actually traveled to Hell and I sit here living in the flesh to tell about it.

When I tell people of my journey to Hell, the mere fact that I've been there is only the first surprise (although I admit that a disturbingly high number of people don't seem a bit shocked at all).  Much more unexpected are the many facts I have to share about the place.  Here I present them in FAQ form:

The minefield of free-floating egos...

I tend to avoid online forums at all costs.  Most of my experiences with them have included an unsettling amount of contact with flamers, grievers, and trolls who, for me, succeed spectacularly in making online forums zero fun.

The problem isn't that these people are blunt and abrasive.  That aspect doesn't bother me so much.  Everyone is entitled to her or his opinion and it's my choice as to whether or not I take it to heart.  If I don't agree with something another person says or if I think the comment is mean-spirited or insincere, I can just ignore it.  Nothing is hurt by a person simply stating their opinion, even if that opinion seems ill-informed or inflammatory.

The slow burn of the psyche...

When human beings perpetrate unthinkable acts, such as those we've witnessed in Darfur, Iraq, and in the massacres of Nickel Mines and Virginia Tech, a shock-wave sweeps out at light-speed in all directions from the epicenter of the event.  All of us caught in the wave are awash in horror, anger, and confusion.  We mourn bitterly for the victims.  We seethe with rage against the murderers.  And we avoid the question, "What's wrong with humanity?" by posing the much safer, "Why did this happen?" that often actually veils, "What can we blame for this other than ourselves?"

The bleeping secret to becoming a peaceful warrior...

So there you are.  Sitting at your desk at work.  Things have slowed down and you're taking a break.  Then it hits you.  A craving is what it is.  Not for a Mountain Dew or a Moon Pie from the vending machines.  No, no... this is something more.  A deep desire to know... to know the ultimate answers of the universe!

Where the bleep did that come from? Some very secret place, most likely. A place buried so deep, only a wizened and nimble Nick Nolte can reach it.

Fortunately, a number of recent films and/or DVDs can help you get there.

In many ways it doesn't matter which one you consume.  Much like the sweet snacks you can buy for a few quarters in the break room, these films mostly deliver the same kind of calories.  In particular, they all impart the sublime truth that all of the answers you seek can only be found within you, in the here and now.

Mmm... grilled cheese...

I don't have children myself, but there is a teenage boy who lives in my house.  I don't know what it's like for other teenagers these days, but this one definitely cannot seem to decide whether or not he wants to be a child or an adult.  One moment it's clear that the last thing he wants is anything that resembles adult responsibility (like doing regular chores without being asked).  The next moment he's insisting he's ready to be treated like a grownup (like being allowed to go to the mall by himself).

It's this age-role ambiguity, I believe, that has given rise to an interesting behavior the boy often exhibits.  I call it, "The Grilled Cheese Sandwich".  The process begins when any immature child very suddenly, most competently, and quite inexplicably exhibits utterly adult-like behavior.

If you'll permit me, a fable...

Once upon a time there were three little pigs who wanted to build new houses.

The first little pig wanted to build his house out of straw.  However, Wolf Enterprises had a monopoly on straw and the little pig couldn't afford to buy any.  So the first little pig went to work for Wolf Enterprises and became regional manager of their Stick Distribution Center (SDiC).  He was paid enough to build a fine straw house and he became a trusted spokesperson for the company.

The second little pig wanted to build his house out of sticks, so naturally he had to go speak to the first little pig at the SDiC.  The first little pig could see quite easily that the second little pig could never afford Wolf Enterprises sticks.  But, since Wolf Enterprises held a monopoly on sticks as well, the first little pig couldn't tell the second little pig to shop somewhere else.  Thus the second little pig was turned away homeless.

The Earth is held for ransom and the women lose their franchise...

How did males manage to eventually dominate nearly every culture in the world? The answer lies within the recesses of our ancient past.

Progress in the area of symbolic speech marked the emergence of what is often called "modern humans" 200,000 years ago.  Complex speech allowed for more abstract thought, which led to innovations in tool design, which led to humans seeing deposits of raw material in a new way.  Up until about 40,000 years ago, any given tract of land was only valuable during the seasons that edible plants and game thrived on it.  But that changed when somebody in the Nile Valley decided that an area rich in flint (used for sharp-edged tools) was worth staying in one place for.

Living on Mars or Venus? Try Earth...

How often have you heard (or even endorsed) the notion that "women are, by nature, catty and territorial while men are hard-wired to collect into gender-exclusive packs"? Both men and women often espouse this idea, including some alleged experts.  But consider this:

Imagine two rooms.  In the first room you find five women and a table with machine parts.  The women build machines with the parts and sell them for cash through a window in the room.  In the second room you find five men.  They have no window in their room and no table with machine parts.  If the men want money, and we'll assume that they do, they must knock on the women's door and see if the women will allow them to share in their industry.