Saturday, April 30, 2016

Freedom and dignity

Freedom and dignity are lost when we think about the "them." When freedom and dignity are seen as belonging to "me," they are lost again. Only when freedom and dignity are about "us," can they be secure.

Friday, April 29, 2016


Art is never what you think it is.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

What is art? (Another round)

Art is means to delve deeply into the complex and perplexing experience of being human.

Art is a powerful language, which like the verbal language and the mathematical language, is a means to help us make sense of the world.

Art is an aesthetic, intellectual, social, psychological, emotional and spiritual journey.

Art reminds us of what it means to be human.

Art, no matter how it resists, eventually becomes a commodity.

Art is a tool for deep seeing.

Art is a transformative experience for maker and viewer.

Art is a conversation.

Art, in time, demonstrates why it is art.

Art is a means of showing that you are fully alive in the world.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What is art?

Art is anything visual that anyone makes.

Art is exactly what you expect art to look like.

Art doesn't cause stress or problems.

Art is so comforting it eventually blends into the wall.

Art is immediately understandable in the 6 seconds you have to give it.

Art will make you feel, but not think.

Art is something everyone loves but no one wants to pay for.

Art is important, but not that important.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Moral compass

Public figures speak of their moral compass. But they never tell you where their needle always points.
They never reveal their true north, the place they unwaveringly commit to.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The perfect marriage

Find each of the following ratios:

--the ratio of the number of "to-do's" she has for him to the number of jobs her has for her

--the number of hours she spends on house and yard chores to the number of hours he spends on house and yard chores

--the number alone hours he spends to the number of alone hours she spends

--the number of times she's out with the girls to the number of times he's out with the guys

--the number of hours she shops for personal apparel to the number of hours he watches sports

--the number of times she asks for sex to the number of times he asks for sex

--the number of times she says yes to the number of times he says yes

--the number of hours she spends on child supervision to the number of times he spends on child supervision

--the number of hours she spends on household finances to the number of hours he spends on household finances

--the number of times she says "I love you" to the number of times he says "I love you"

Multiply all of these ratios together, and if the result is 1, you have the perfect marriage.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Principles or practices...just flush

A male transitioning to a female using the ladies restroom must go into a private stall. So what's the problem?

A male transitioning to a female using the mens restroom uses a urinal or a stall. So what's the problem?

A female transitioning to a male using the ladies restroom must go into a private stall. So what's the problem?

A female transitioning to a male will use a private stall. So what's the problem?

Go in. Do your business. Flush. Wash your hands. Exit.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Trump logic

After appearing as a sexist, egotistical, anti-immigrant thug with no clear policies on anything in order to near the magic number of delegates, now is the time to begin to act presidential.

Will his loyal followers recognize how bizarre this is? Will they recognize what a slap in the face it is to them? Will they think this is a brilliant strategy and that he will become the real Donald once he is in the White House?

God bless America.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Free speech

Across the world, people fight for the right to free speech that is guaranteed to Americans. We are often reminded of the sacrifices of the patriots and soldiers who gave their lives to preserve this freedom.

But what we need to recognize is that today in the world of media and social media much of this speech is not free speech but cheap speech. It's crude, uncivil, provocative, self serving, attention getting, vulgar. And this is what gives it its value in the public domain.

I personally don't believe lives were sacrificed so we could say fuck on TV whenever we wanted or so we could tell our neighbor to fuck off.

I believe free speech should be speech arising from courage and conviction, the same courage and conviction that has preserved and defended it in lives lost.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Love one another

Why are we so threatened by issues of race, gender, sexual orientation? If we believe the great teachers and the great religions, "love one another" is the healing action principle. This kind of love in action is so rare we should support it in a full and just way at every turn. But we cling to cultural dogmas and hide in fundamentalist rhetoric. In this way we constrict love instead of expanding it. We turn our backs on love and run into the arms of narrow prejudice.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ask Mr. Manliness

Dear Mr. Manliness,
I've often been told that my body would be perfect if I only had a bubble butt. So I am seriously thinking of getting surgical implants to make this dream come true. What do you think?
--Dreaming of a new butt

Dear Dreaming of a new butt,
We usually have to make a concerted effort to look admiringly at our own butts. Squeezing them may a a pleasure all its own. But in the long run, the real question of whether this would be a gift to yourself or a gift to others.
--Mr. Manliness

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Imagine the world your grandchildren will inhabit. Then imagine how you contribute to making that world.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Good and evil

Did you ever give any thought to whether good or evil is the more powerful force in the world? I think it's never really possible to determine. Still it seems easier and even more natural sometimes to do evil. Doing good takes effort and concentration. (Am I too cynical?)

Maybe there is some sense to baptism as a means of cleansing away evil. The little bits of evil can perhaps be washed away. But the great evils destroy our souls.

Evil has its roots in all of us. Good is a potential in all of us. The big answer to good vs. evil is always elusive. So my solution is to ask how that battle is played out in myself. A scary assessment after many rounds. No final decision. Hope for the best. Work at it. Seek baptisms. Have faith.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Ask Mr. Manliness

Dear Mr. Manliness,
I think I'm a manly man. I dress like they tell me in the New York Times. I pay at least $50 to get my hair styled. I've had my teeth whitened and I smell good. So why don't women notice me?
--Thought I had it all together

Dear Thought I had it all together,
Try noticing them first.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The 1%

A friend recently told me that I was in the 1%. How could this be? It was scary more than flattering. Where were the 99% then? Are they hiding? Am I not sensitive to them? Are they in a different world from me?

My family never really denied ourselves, but we never had that many needs. We paid our bills on time and saved for retirement. We were charitable in our donations. Is that all it takes to be in the 1%?

But if I'm in the 1%, how can I be so far from the billionaires? From their multiple homes and their big art collections and their notable philanthropy and their lives of excess?

I'm happy to be in the middle class, with middle class values, with ambitions tied to those values and not to a dollar measure.

Friday, April 15, 2016


If you are a life-long learner, who are your teachers? Life? Nature? Your spouse? Children? The elderly? Experience? Literature? Art?

Whomever your teachers are, hold onto them. Be alert for new ones.

They are the ones who will remind you that you are in a rut and help you out of it. They are the ones who will help you find awe in a complacent world.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The god fearing bakery

You go into a  bakery. To the owner, you look suspiciously gay. Oh my God, you could even be transgender. No donut for you.

But wait. You ask the owner if he lives by the 10 commandments. Yes, he says. Then would he sell a donut to a liar? To an adulterer? To someone who hasn't gone to church in a year?

My God, the purchaser might be a murderer, and certainly wouldn't deserve a donut? What about someone who looks like an ISIS terrorist? No donut for him.

Now if the owner is a strict Catholic, no divorced person should have a donut.

If the owner takes the Bible literally, then of course, no adulterous woman should get a donut; and further she should be stoned to death with hard, day-old buns.

Prostitutes may get a pass since Jesus hung out with them. Maybe a leper could get a donut.

Are there any potential customers left? You see the irony?

Which God?

In reality, there are lots of manifestations of God out there. You get to pick the one you want to guide you.

So which one do you want?

The one who sits on a throne in heaven or the one who sits inside of you and whispers?

The one who judges or the one who forgives.

The one who will condemn you or the one who will laugh at you with compassion.

The one who freezes the nature of man in a distant time or the one who expects man to unravel his complexity as he unravels creation.

For the God you choose is the God you live out day to day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dear Amearican Children

Dear American Children,

We don’t care if you become morbidly obese like us. We love you anyway.
We don’t care if you learn to become mindless consumers. Shopping is our favorite sport.
We don’t mind if you develop early addiction to sugar. At least you’re eating, and diabetes meds are getting better.
Junk food is cheaper than good food, so we can save a little money there.
We’ll give you a lot of freedom but not much responsibility. After all, it’s always someone else’s fault.
We’ll set some good examples for you—like smoking, drinking and drugs.
We’ll make sure you get justice. Wealthy white in one line, everyone else in the other.
We’ll make certain everyone gets a good education, as long as we don’t have to pay anything for it.
We’ll talk to you honestly about becoming an adult, or maybe we’ll let the teachers do it.
We’ll make sure you’ll have everything you want, but we can’t guarantee you’ll have everything you need.


The Adults

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


The truth is, we all have halos. Some wear them all the time. Some wear them off and on. Some almost never wear them.  People can’t see them, but they can surely tell whether we are wearing them or not. Our halos connect us to our spiritual selves.

But they are more than connectors. They are our portals to the great mystery that is life in this universe. Great human endeavors like art, mathematics, science and mythology only skirt and tame this mystery.

Knowing this, and still chasing after this mystery is the glory of the human race.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Stone of love

Imagine you are a stone of love dropped into the pool of humanity. How far out do your ripples extend?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Hold a baby

Hold a baby. While you are holding this baby, recognize that by the time this baby reaches middle age, the world's human population will have more than doubled to 15 billion people. At that point, how much will the seas have risen? How much of the world's population will be poor and disgruntled? How will the world's wealth be distributed? What will the unemployed and uneducated youth be doing? How will the aged be cared for? What will be the state of personal freedom and personal privacy? Where will all the refugees be?

For this baby, you must live optimistically. But you must also live responsibly. Hold this baby tight.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Think about this

Did you ever think about the fact that you are a device that translates light into thought?

Did you ever think that you are host to multiple colonies of bacteria without which you could not live?

Did you ever think that the atoms in your body were once produced in star ovens?

Did you ever think that everything in the universe gets filtered into your own reality by your brain?

Did you ever think that there are things that you know that you haven't yet realized that you know?

Friday, April 8, 2016


If we all understood the value of humor, maybe we would laugh at ourselves more.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

How much?

How much advertising money is spent on encouraging us to be consumers?
How much advertising money is spent on encouraging us to be better citizens?

How much money do we spend on making our outer selves more attractive?
How much money do we spend on making our inner selves more attractive?

How much effort do we spend on making ourselves physically healthier?
How much effort do we spend on destroying our own health?

How can the world be so out of balance?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I did nothing wrong

This, of course, is what those accused of corruption will say. What they mean is, "I did nothing illegal." But who makes the laws? Many are the consequence of the money and influence of lobbyists, corporations and special interests. The law protects them because what they do is legal.

But legal is not necessarily ethical. What's ethical is usually judged in terms of public good or social good. Moral corruption is deflected by legal protection. For those who don't have, corruption is a means to get. For those who have power, corruption is a means to get more.

While most would, I believe, desire to live in a moral and ethical world, it's increasingly harder to make the commitment to work toward building one.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Ask Mr.Manliness

Dear Mr. Manliness,
Millions of years of evolution have driven me to lock horns with my male competitors, do my mating dance at singles bars and try to contribute as much as I can to the gene pool. Isn't this what it means to be a man?
--Victim of evolution

Dear Victim of evolution,
Evolution invented the penis before it invented the human brain. So stick it back in, zip up, control yourself and use your brain. That's what real  men do.
--Mr. Manliness

Monday, April 4, 2016

Why am I digging up dandelions when I should be making art?

Dandelions…the little bastards
They crouch in the grass and spring up
In spring by the many dozens
Their yellow heads tell me where to dig
And distract me from the next round in hiding
I hate them and admire them
For their persistence and reproductive strategy
The seed puffs are exquisite geometry
Evolution out-designing the best computers
But evolution never anticipated the perfect green lawn

I’ll be back tomorrow

Sunday, April 3, 2016

NC vs. Syracuse...what I noticed

Since the game itself was fairly boring, this is what I noticed:

--Interviews with "sports celebrities" on one screen while the game was on another screen? What's with that?

--Product logos on everything. And the game is about character and sportsmanship?

--Monstrous crowds the size of which you would never come close to seeing at an academic event or conference. What's a university about again?

--Way more time spent on video spots about NC than Syracuse. Balance?

--An NCAA ad about fairness and equality while NC, who cheated and abused the system for decades, plays for the championship.

--Video spots of the NC team photographed like heroic figures and strutting with silly props.

--Graphic logos being persistently and boringly being thrown at my eyes while announcers yak on endlessly.

Saturday, April 2, 2016


More and more we are putting ourselves out into the wider world via social media. We are baring our lives, our families, our activities, our viewpoints, our interests. That's the outer persona.

But how much time do we spend with the inner persona, the one that really counts. Who are we there? Who have we buried? Who is asking to be freed? Who is the deeper source of ourselves?

Friday, April 1, 2016

Ask Mr. Manliness

Dear Mr. Manliness,
I am an inept, insecure and boring young man with a small penis. But I am an avid--even rabid supporter--of Donald Trump. I believe he had the penis to lead the free world.
--Dick Junior

Dear Dick Junior,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I also believe that Donald Trump is one of the biggest dicks we have seen in politics in a long time--and that's saying something.
--Mr. Manliness

Dear Mr. Manliness,
I work out regularly with real determination, but I can only get a 5 pack. Am I a freak?
--One Short

Dear One Short,
No you are not a freak! You are among the 1 in 250,000 men who suffer from the genetic disorder called DAD, dysfunctional abdominal deficiency, or "absent ab disorder." But there is hope in the form of a safe cosmetic surgery procedure. A modified breast implant is inserted under the skin. And as the rest of your body sags, this one will hold its shape. Start saving up and good luck.
--Mr. Manliness