Original Sin

Look, that was a long time ago.  I wasn't even there.  I've never rebelled against God.  What does all that have to do with me? Have you not benefitted from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge?  Well, yeah, of course.  But it would be stupid to just throw away knowledge, once it's learned.  Besides, […]

Premature Deaths

Ever notice how some phrases that have always seemed innocuous suddenly get really offensive when you stop to think about what they actually mean? (Look up "rule of thumb" sometime if you want to spoil that figure of speech for yourself.) The one that's started bothering me since I got old enough to be sensitive […]

Yes You Can!

You may not like this.  We live in an era of excuses, and everyone has lots of them.  I'm here to tell you that they are mostly illusory and are holding you back from a better life.  You will probably think I'm just lacking compassion.  I don't mind if you come to that conclusion after you've […]

Costs and Benefits

Warning: coarse language!  I just finished struggling with a triply-sealed container for the umpteenth time.  This time I was wise enough to get out my needle-nosed pliers before I broke a fingernail.  It made me wonder how many person-years of frustrating effort are wasted on this nonsense every minute.  (See below for my estimate.) "Wasted?  […]


Many neologisms have inherited the connotations of literacy, some of which are formed by the addition of a prefix, like “science literacy”; others are shameless perversions of English, like “numeracy”. The latter is generally interpreted as competence in basic mathematical skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. I have come to believe that there […]

The Nocebo Effect

We all know about placebos, right?  From the Latin placēbō, "I shall please"?  When you take a placebo, you feel better because you think you're going to feel better.   Of course, it's just your imagination, right?  You don't really feel better; it's all a fake, right? Not so much.  A double-blind experiment on Parkinson's patients with […]

Poor Cuba!

Today the USA announced that it would drop its ban on travel to Cuba and relax the trade restrictions that have prevented Cubans from exchanging good cigars for electronics and cars from the USA for the past half century.  I fear this will serve to drain Cuba's remaining resources into the capitalist reservoir in short […]


We can learn everything we really need to know about politics and economics from watching dogs at play. We have two poodles, standard "Arlo" and mini "Tuffy" (well, he needs to be!).  The theme of all play between Arlo and Tuffy is "Mine!"  This is normal enough (and a good model for most human play), […]