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For My Australian Friend Who Just Became a US Citizen

I’ll tell you something serious about america

that we didn’t know until we became much oldier

or maybe i won’t, cause even the soldiest

soldier won’t tell you this unless you sidle

innerwise and outerly up to his idol

and give him the anti-cycliest midol

becoming the Apache Arrow turned helicopter

YeS! Lunicopter! Yes! Astrocopter!

Yes America, go America, america, america

first in war first in nuclear war and first in the hearts of his countrymen

That’s George Washington! The dollar guy

His mouth had the teeth of slaves and every morning in school

We pledge allegiance to the idea

That the Washington Monument is not his giant penis

And anybody who says it is is wrong amen

with liberty and justice Feral, For all

do you know the story Young Goodman Brown

who in the forest he learned that everybody

his Mom and Dad his girlfriend and his buddy Indian Joe

were servants of the Devil

So he put on a Big Smile and said

I’ll sell you anything but my own death but that

I will vote for that on election day that I will eat with turkey

That I will marry on the bed with an American wife

And breed us an American boy — it’s me

Do you know the story of Oil of Dog

You have to learn the stories they are our stories

And therefore your stories because we a nation of immigrants

Where everybody can say

I am an American boy and those three things

Are indivisible like liberty and Justice and George

Everybody is ashamed to recite them everybody recite them

Everybody say

I know the story I rang the bell

Say it with me GG! I am an American boy!

“I” and “America” and “boy” I cannot tell apart

Was I even a boy if I wasnt American?

Was I even American if I wasn’t a boy?

Was I a I if I wasn’t both?

America, I’m sorry

America I’ll do my best

I ate my smile, I’ll come back twice as strong

Sad to say boy but it hurts too much to laugh

America, last food and lodging for miles

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The World of Bootbeep Solpolyp

How to do it, Bootbeep, how to do it, Oh Elixirious One, Quintessence of the Secret of three Moments! I come to you inquiring, requesting, beseeching knowledge. I come to you inquiring, requesting, beseeching clarification. I come to you inquiring, requesting, beseeching instruction oh Twice Born Gem of Ambrosia, Champion of the Two Realms of Being and Non-Being, Delicious Narwhal of the Inner Ocean!

Bootpeep responds: I incline favorably to your request, Noble son of a Good Family, I incline favorably to your inquiry, I incline favorably to your beseeching, worthy one: ask, beseech, inquire regarding knowledge, ask, beseech inquire regarding clarification, ask, beseech, inquire regarding instruction! What issue, pray me Tender Honest One, do tell seek you clarity. What issue I pray thee, Sweet Elixirious One, seek you knowledge? Down what road, Wanderer of the Three Aproias, Seek you Instruction? Speak without fear, Tender One!

I say to Bootpeep: I am teaching the children. I am entertaining the children. I am telling a story to the children. I wish the children to be brave, loved, satisfied, elixirious, mountainous, oceanic, mysterious, knowers of the vegetable mysteries, plumbers of the depth, playful, childlike, wise, able to become adolescents, able to become adults, able to become aged, clean-minded, ethical, adventurous, knowers of mysteries, plumbers of depths, kindly ones, safe ones, wise ones.

I wish my teaching to led the children to being brave, loved, satisfed…

I wish my entertainment to leave the children brave, loved, satisfed…

I wish the story I tell the children to plant the seeds in their minds then when germinated produce the fruits of being brave, loved, satisfied, elixirious, mountainous, oceanic, mysterious…safe ones, wise ones.

How shall I do it Oh Noble One. And is it worth attempting?

Bootpeel inclined himself to aquiescence and nectarously expressing himself responded, it is worth attempting. And I shall tell you how.

Sez Bootpeep: Tell the children thus:

THE TALE OF BOOTPEEP

There were two dogs named Josephus and Armando. Josephus was a lion and Armando was a bird. The lion was named Hoshea. The bird was named Alandoflap. Alandoflap lived alone but his friend was a Mutazilite of the Third Century. They will not be menitoned until the end of this story and then they will Glory in the Seventeen Imponderables!

The End

And everyone listening said: Well-answered, Bootpepp! Well-answered Noble One! We have obtained understanding, we have obtained knowledge, we have reached an end to our inquiry, we wander beyond the Last Tree, we transverse the furthest Star, We Have Tasted the Holy Casava.

We are At Peace.

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Creeds of Forgiveness

Imagine two families living side by side, the Abbotts and the Barneys. Mister Abbott is a successful engineer, and rich, while Mr. Barney tried a number of longshots in his youth which didn’t pan out and now works as a Lyft Driver. When Barney’s son wants to go to school, Abbott gives Barney a twenty year loan. Time passes and Barney’s son invests his time and money in a fish restaurant which goes bust.

It seems obvious that the Barney family will be attracted to a creed, such as Christianity, that emphasizes forgiveness. Both in the general — the Barney family should not be judged harshly for their failed ventures — and specifically — their loan should be forgiven. And I am attracted to this creed too. Why should the Barney children suffer under the weight of a promise their father made?

Suppose Abbott forgives their loan, and metaphysically, doesn’t judge them. In a few years the young Barney — Barney Jr. — asks for a loan from the young Abbott — Abbott Jr. He gets it. But history repeats. Barney Jr. can’t pay back the loan. Instead he has a dream that the gods, or god, don’t expect people to pay back loans. Or he decides that engineering is wicked, and the fruit of a wicked tree is poisonous, and he need not pay back the loan. Or he decides that the Abbotts in particular are jerks, did it on purpose to humiliate them, and needn’t be paid back. Or he decides that words mean different things in different contexts — when he said “I will pay you back in ten years” — “I” and “pay” and “years” — all meant different things or nothing — but what they actually meant, if they meant anything, which maybe they didn’t, means he does not have to pay back the loan.

If Barney III asks for a loan from Abbott III will Abbott III make it? He would be a fool to. And the consequences of this small scenario over the society as a whole will be about what you would expect.

Over time in a society where most — or I should say “enough” — people are like the Barneys, nobody will make loans. Because they will expect that because of the value loan-recipients place on forgiveness, they will come up for some justification for not paying them back. It could be a justification that is high flown and philosophical, or beautiful and poetic, or down and dirty. But they are incentivized to do so, so they will.

Maybe that’s okay. Because a world where people are crushing their future because of promises they made in the past is sub-optimal. But a world where people will never trust promises, because they know the promisers (and everybody else) believes the promises will never be honored, is no great shakes either.

Is there an ideal mix in a society of the creed of forgiveness and the creed of doing what you said you would do?

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Becca and Nissim

Sarah fell in love with Anthony because he was so dashing, and they had a child — LeRoy. Anthony pressured LeRoy to be a martial daring young man who would win the respect of Anthony’s drinking buddies. LeRoy joined the army to impress his father and was very badly hurt. He came back an invalid. Sarah said “You’re so stupid — all you cared about is impressing your friends — and they don’t care about you — and now we will have no grandchildren.” And because LeRoy did not want to cause his parents unhappiness he left home, and became expert at carving beautiful nut-shells, and I will sell you one for fifteen dollars, even though it took LeRoy two weeks to carve it. And Nissim said “OK!” and kept that nutshell with him as a good luck charm, and advanced into the quarter-finals.

The night before the quarter-finals one of the other players after practice heard this story and told Nissim that this was just a lie to get him to buy nutshells and he became very sad and wondered “What does it all mean?” Why would somebody tell a story that’s not true? Just to sell nut shells for fifteen dollars?

Maybe the stories they told me — that I am great at football — that we will win this year — are also not true.

When Becca heard that she said it wasn’t true at all, that Nissim’s friend had not known shit.

The next day Nissim scored the winning goal, and looking at him from the stands Becca thought and felt from head to toe: ❤️ .

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Dog-Master and Sweet-Monkey

Dog-Master and Sweet-Monkey dwelt together in the empyrean, but didn’t get along. I think it’s because they were each of them unhappy, and this made them angry at whoever they would run into, and since they dwelt together, each was angry at the other: Dog-Master at Sweet-Monkey and Sweet-Monkey at Dog-Master. Sure, the anger showed up in different ways because Dog-Master was more outgoing and would yell at Sweet-Monkey, while Sweet-Monkey was nervous and self-critical, and would seldom criticize Sweet-Monkey to his face, but in his heart, murder.

Why were they unhappy? For reasons that were different, opposite even, although viewed at a sufficient level of abstraction, the same. Although I will level with you: “viewed at a sufficient level of abstraction: the same” doesn’t mean so much — a hill and a hole are both deviations from level ground, but are they the same? Try falling in one, and see how the same they feel!

They both felt out of place. Dog-Master thought he deserved a higher place in Heaven: he had his heart set on the super-empyrean. The super-empyrean is for “those whose selves were simply vehicles for the good” while the empyrean is for “those who lived their lives in service of the good.” Dog-Master truly believed that his self had simply been a vehicle of the good. He was not simply a servant of the good.

He was wrong of course. He knew he was wrong. But he didn’t believe he was wrong. He wanted the super-empyrean!

Sweet-Monkey felt he belonged in the level two below the empyrean: the heaven of the super-lunary. The heaven is the dwelling place for those souls that are suffused with self — who are selfish — but because of a happy emotional constitution lucked out and did less bad than good. Sweet-Monkey thought he had been too high a dwelling place, and was afraid that he would be found out. Or worse, that he would never be found out! Because if the universe were such that somebody as low as he, could be rewarded beyond his merits, didn’t it make everything Meaningless?

Sweet-Monkey feared that it did. And that made Dog-Master’s railing that he should be placed even higher grate on his nerves.

I think they ultimately worked it out. Not sure. I should give them a call!

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Situations

The world is made of situations i.e. not facts or things.

People are part of the world and thus are part of situations. There are no unsituated people, languages, or knowers.

All situations are dynamic and unstable.

To understand a situation means to know what to do.

Situations involved other situations and at the limit they are all involved in each other i.e. there is no such thing as an isolated situation.

More complete understanding means understanding what to do in a situation in various different possible situations that situation can be situated or situate itself.

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Looking at Things with New Eyes

I have noticed when talking with experts that they cannot wrap their minds around the depths of my ignorance. Mathematicians when I tell them I have a poor track record with math and would like them to start at something simple, inevitably don’t believe me and start with something hard.

Why?

I think the answer is that they understand math so well that they have forgotten what it’s like not to understand math and in some sense can’t imagine it, or can’t conceive of it. Obviously they know that there are people who understand math less well than they do — it’s the basis of their livelihood that they possess an uncommon skill, and they, many of them, have the additional job of teaching math to people who are ignorant of it. But in another sense they can’t think it. They cannot look at a mathematical truth that is obvious to them and see it as non-obvious. Just as we, the literate (assuming you are not listening to someone read this blog to you) cannot look at written words and view them as the illiterate do — as meaningless squiggles.

We just can’t.

Try it.

This wouldn’t be a problem if the moves that led us to our current way of looking at things — our expertise, our competence — were all inevitable and all correct. But some of them aren’t. Some of them, were wrong, either just flat wrong, or wrong in the sense that foreclosed other, better options.

And this is a problem because their wrongness is invisible to us.

We need techniques for unlearning the blindness that comes of expertise, and viewing the world as the ignorant do.

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A New Food

It is the new year and it is a custom to have a new food.

I recently read a book called “WALRUS” which is, as you might guess from the title, a cultural and natural history of the walrus.

It included a discussion of Yupik and Inuit cuisine. Colonialist explorers disdained this cuisine and even opted to get malnutrition eating the salted cod and grog packed away on their ships, but it was quite sophisticated. They would, for example, take a walrus flipper and allow it to decompose for a year before eating it. The most prized part of a walrus given to the lead on a walrus hunt was the stomach, because it was full of the fattest clams and oysters, which the walrus dug up from the sea floor, not with its tusks, as you might think — those were for fighting — but but blasting clams with water and then shelling them with its prehensile lips and whiskers.

I digress. It brought to mind a story I had heard in Alaska that after a whale kill the indigenous people’s would celebrate with “Inuit” or “Eskimo” ice-cream, which was made of snow, blubber, and local berries.

My friend Goldbloom told me that whale smells a bit like burning motor oil. A powerful taste. I would not eat a whale, because of how sophisticated they are, and also it violates the marine mammals protection act. So I ordered a powerful oily sea creature on the internet — the herring. I got it smoked and in cans, to make the taste more intense.

I also ordered cloudberry preserve although that has not come yet. But the herring did come. So I mixed it with frozen blueberries and ice in the blender.

It was a light blue color and smelled like smoky fish. The experience was cold, smoky, oily, and sweet — I added a little sage honey.

On SNL they mocked people who ate fish in a blender and I absorbed some of this prejudice — that frozen treats must be sweet not savory, and that fish is something to eat salted not sweetened. But these prejudices turn out to be foolish.

My home-made Inuit Ice Cream is amazing — it may be my favorite food.

L’Shana Tova — may you be inscribed for a new year that is both sweet and surprising.

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The Proverbs

The King Miltiades of Lydia in Asia Minor asked the wiseman Zoxis for a talisman that would gladden his heart when overly oppressed and make it grave in times of overweening exuberance and the sage responded by giving him a golden ring upon which were inscribed the words “This too will pass.”

Plato criticized any attempt to transcribe wisdom in books, because books, unlike men, cannot change their response based upon their interlocutor. Yet the talisman of Zoxis shows that this criticism, though it may be correctly leveled against books of the usual support, fails in its condemnation against other instances of writing. For example, Heraclitus had a mirror made of polished silver and above it inscribed αυτός ο άνθρωπος θα πεθάνει — This man will die.

Rabbi Bag Bag, one of the sages of blessed memory had a bell set over the house of study with a trip wire so that anybody who crossed the wire caused the bell to rang, whereupon the visitor would look up and see the form of an eye inscribed upon the metal of the bell and the words “Remember the eye above.”

The artist James Ensor formed a mobius strip made of the skin of his mother, who had lost a leg in an accident, and tatooed upon it “The one who comes is the same as the one who goes is the same…” and so the expression, looped back upon itself.

Li Po wrote the character for important as a tiny hair that could be mistaken for a smudge, growing out of the character for obvious. 中央明顯

A sage of Cambridge who does not wish me to divulge his identity wrote a program in LISP whereby an address would be made to each person based upon his name, inviting him not to throw love away.

There have been fragile sayings written on tough materials and tough saying written in smoke and in water.

Some have created phosphemes by pressing the thumb upon the closed eye and then straightaway devised a graphical dictionary where the phosphemes had meaning and the meaning was: repent. Others have done the same technique for the images of clouds, or the distinct smells arising from a pineapple tossed into a fire. In the first case the clouds said: behind the flow of thoughts remains the one true consciousness. The smells of the pineapple say: change your life, but first change your thought about what constitutes a change.

And when the smell of the burning pineapple mixed with the sea breeze the people did as they were told.

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