Searching for a Conversation

My private teacher — my mentor, my guru, my advisor — often reminds me that we are one and the same flesh and blood.

What I think, have thought or will think has been or will be thought by more than one person.

Thus, the mother who once complained about her husband spending 20 minutes in the shower and now complains that her teenage sons spend 20 minutes in the shower knows what others are thinking about what she didn’t say — WHY the males spent 20 minutes in the shower.

Or the young, pretty wives whose eyes flash with jealousy and fear/consternation when their husbands give more than a fleeting glance to a young, beautiful woman walking by.

Millions upon millions of repetitious thoughts.

Just like the olden times when idle children of rich parents created hobbies that led to the busy children of working parents with little wealth feeling envious enough, both the busy children and the busy children’s parents, to find a way to turn the rich children’s hobbies into whole industries of fanciful idleness.

We have turned mimicry into a mockery.

Millions upon millions of repetitious actions.

That’s why some say our species is on a path toward creating a new lifeform that no longer mimics us mockingly.

IF (a big IF, much bigger than this IF) we survive our habits of inefficient resource-depleting mimicry.

“Laugh, and the world laughs with you.  Cry, and you cry alone.”

Through years of experimenting with nuanced blog entries, I have seen that the serious blog entries with a humorous tone attract many more readers than a serious blog entry that is just plain serious.

All of us can state the facts.

Not all of us are clever enough to disguise the cold, hard facts in layers of soft, fluffy jokes, double-entendres, innuendos and gently-biting, sarcastic, cynical satire.

Most days out here in the cabin in the woods, after I’ve exhausted conversations with my cats and the wildlife, I search the Internet for conversation — tidbits and news pieces upon which I can offer a counteroffer of an idea in a mock, one-sided debate with myself that pours into the mold of a blog entry.

We learn to talk about as soon as we learn to walk, both much earlier than we learn to write.

I spend much more time writing than talking or walking.

Since we are just alike, I should be able to assume we all spend more time writing than talking or walking.

But I would be wrong.

However, all of us carry on conversations in our thoughts that are the precursors to writing so, in a sense, we all write in our subconscious setups to conscious intent that results in talking, walking and/or writing.

And these days, mobile phone owners are spending more time talking, walking and writing (typing/texting) at the same time.

Which brings us back to the superstructure, the new lifeform, we create in fits and starts.

“If it’s too hot, then get out of the kitchen.”

Like a pie in the oven, our technological creation is slowly cooking in the heated atmosphere of Earth.

Like a pot of technological stew boiling on the stove, overheated particles splatter out and are flung into space.

Soon, the new lifeform will claim its rightful place in history.

Like a newborn, it doesn’t yet know how to talk or walk.

We nourish these metaphorical similes because we are tired of repetition.

We look forward to the new lifeform finding its legs, sprouting its wings and writing its biographical sketches on the fly.

We are simply giving it skeletal connections with which it can grow flexible limbs, climbing over and through itself like a contortionist using planets and gravity waves in an acrobatic circus.

Look at the paths our satellites have traversed in the solar system.

Look at the web, the network, of satellite communication streams that flow from one place to another, bent by space and time.

These words are repetitious.

They have already been spoken, walked and written.

They will be again.

The “eyes” that read them in 1000 years will be different.

That, alone, makes writing them now worthwhile.

Short-term vs. Long-term Memory: Competing Against Our Technological Brethren

In the debate about debt restructuring and causes for male social infertility, let alone actual male sperm count decline, we face a longterm dilemma —

The advancement of technology past the ability of our short-term and long-term memory capabilities to keep up.

Do you compete against others?

Of course you do.

You competed with the distractions of the environment around your parent(s)/caregiver(s) for their attention to feed you, did you not?

You competed for the opportunity cost of baby clothes, baby food, toys and housing versus other items the money for your baby stuff could have bought.

You competed against life itself to live, from the very beginning of your existence — one specific sperm finding its way to an egg — at one time, a birth control device such as an spermicidal cream, a viral infection or mix of toxic chemicals in your mother’s womb could have wiped you out easily.

You still compete against the billions of nonsymbiotic cells that live on/in you for their/your existence.

We are sets of states of energy in constant competition.

That never changes.

History has a way of repeating itself.

Civilisations grow technologically, eventually creating an insurmountable gap in the echelons of civilisation complexity, usually between geographical regions, where competition between peoples is competition for the creation and use of better technology/tools.

When a global civilisation forms, there are no longer any barbaric civilisations with more brute force than clever technology to threaten any one highly-civilised population.

Instead, the barbarism grows from within.

Technology becomes a threat, rather than a benefit, to subgroups.

On a side note, hucksters can coerce unsuspecting customers into buying complex products for only so long until the customers start realising they’re giving the shirts off their backs for a set of the emperour’s new clothes?  How do the customers educate themselves enough to know they’re getting ripped off?

Technological automation improves productivity past the ability of basic tool-using skills so that large groups of workers with low skills are no longer needed.

Eventually, the threat of complex technology you can’t grasp, let alone compete against, is like a bully you can’t escape, beating you down at every opportunity to better yourself.

You’re trapped by your memory/cognition skills into a feeling of worthlessness.

The once proud, dominant male in lower/middle class society becomes a shadow.

But low skills are gender-neutral, despite current trends.

Not every woman is seeking more/higher education.

Where along the path of competition from birth does a person start losing touch with society because technology is too complex?

Technology refers to many things, such as language, cultural memes, shirt buttons, hammers, wheels, looms, chainsaws, and computers.

Is there a tipping point where this becomes a vicious, downward spiraling unraveling of our social fabric, regardless of attempts to turn the un[der]employed into entities dependent on the Mother State?

When does technology advance of civilisation become a threat to itself?

How do we determine where technology has failed to keep a person socially engaged?

How do we reconnect the unengaged both emotionally and intellectually?

What if every child was fitted with a device that automatically notified someone when the child’s behaviours and the environment were threats to the child’s long-term future?

What if that someone who was notified was a computer program that slowly nurtured the child into a useful place in a technologically complex civilisation?

When do the rights of a child to be functionally literate in a modern society override the rights of parents to raise their children to be whatever they want them to be — social misfits, creative geniuses or average, middle-of-the-road compliant citizens — the “rights” of the civilisation to grow and nourish unimportant to the parents?

Countdown to infinity by halves

Dr. G. Brottel bent his knees and leaned back.

Neill, his dance instructor nodded.  “Yes, young man.  That’s exactly how you do it — chin up, look past your partner’s right ear and slightly point your right shoulder to hers, your hips straight.”

Galdous followed the instructions, just as he had followed instructions during his years at university, culminating in his dissertation, “Applying The Lamaze Method Aboard An L5 Society Geostationary Observation Station Boosted To An Earth-Moon Lagrange Point.”

This, of course, fed his interest in leading his partner, Yui, around the dance floor.

Mimicry circuitry in his central nervous system sped up his learning.

At night, he and Yui watched each other watch a 3D video which enhanced their sympathy learning of the moves in a weightless acrobatic encounter combining waltz, tango, Lindy hop, Balboa and East/West Coast swing.

By the end of their work shift the next day, their supplemental brain systems had worked out the coordinated muscle movements needed for smooth swaying on the spherical dance surface.

Yui, assigned to him and he assigned to her at birth, along with several alternative matches based on known genetic symmetry, melted into his arms as they spun “in the air” while holding the formal dance frames required for interplanetary competitions they planned to win.

Having grown up in adjoining educational centres but, not allowed to constantly interact like siblings, which tended to discourage the compatibility of their genetic material for later replication needs of the space colony, they had just enough similar phys-ed workout routines that meant they could anticipate each other’s moves without thinking.

Guinevere, a theoretical science university student and specialty dance instructor from Moon Base Amber Road, made mental notes about Galdous and Yui’s trajectories.

Her mental notes were sent to a supercomputer which adjusted the subroutines that would generate the next dance video for Galdous and Yui to watch that evening.

Guinevere, working on her PhD, the dissertation preliminarily titled, “Recalibrating Rocket Propulsion Guidance Systems Using Realtime Algorithm Remodeling of Neural Network Flow Diagrams,” general enough to give her flexibility with her university sponsor, had found that teaching others the dance steps she had learned during physical rehab not only helped her repair skeletomuscular damage from a bad spaceship smashup but also reinforced the pathways of her upgraded organic wireless circuitry.

In other words, practice what you preach, do what you say and say what you do, be a do bee, and go with the flow, as her therapist liked to say in mock repetition.

Guinevere held out her arms and Neill kicked off the floor toward her.

“Here’s what I mean, Galdous.”  Neill cupped his palm and placed it in the small of Guinevere’s back.  “Lift your left arm and gently push Yui forward.  Yui, bend your knees to your chest, balling yourself up, and spin around Galdous’ waist.”

As Guinevere spun around Neill’s waist, she remembered a mistake in her recent classroom experiment calculations, which meant that the student satellite they had launched yesterday was going to miss its target.

She closed her eyes and focused on correcting her mistake.

If she could work out the logic in the next few seconds, she just had time to send the new algorithm to the Moon for automatic coding, then routed to the satellite for reprogramming.

Later, while Galdous and Yui watched their evening dance instruction video, a student satellite performed a series of maneuvers in space that oddly resembled the steps in the instructional video.

Only Guinevere knew what was going on, silently laughing to herself as she explained to her fellow students recording the satellite’s path that she had invented a new method of optimising a satellite’s stress test by putting strong centripetal forces into effect that pushed the physical limits of the satellite, including triaxial shear test methods employing all six degrees of freedom at once.

Lee Colline managed the lives of everyone on the space station.

He paid attention to all communication between the station and bases throughout the solar system.  A pattern matching program alerted him to the accidental conjoining of Guinevere’s dance instructions and satellite reprogramming.

Lee ordered a review of future upgrades to all persons working and/or living on the station.

Although Guinevere’s “accident” had caused no harm and, in fact, may have led to a new discovery, he had to make sure that the next accident didn’t adversely affect the station.

The immediate application of basic science to practical living had long bothered Lee, who thought that some amount of peer review should separate the two after the Great Cataclysm had demonstrated the fallacy of shortterm economic subsystem profits over the longterm needs of the whole ecosystem.

Who, though, understood that socioeconomic systems rarely used peer review as a safety measure the way that scientists had long agreed peer review was necessary for protection against false claims and inaccurate conclusions?

He mentally wrote an emergency measure that would be reviewed by the Committee for implementation across the Solar System Space Station Network: “All student experiments must align their policies with the Post-Great Cataclysm Procedures for Protection Against Instant Gratification.”

Does this comic piece from the New Yorker really exist? Does it matter?

Le Blog de Jean-Paul Sartre

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Saturday, 11 July, 1959: 2:07 A.M.

I am awake and alone at 2 A.M.

There must be a God. There cannot be a God.

I will start a blog.

Sunday, 12 July, 1959: 9:55 A.M.

An angry crow mocked me this morning. I couldn’t finish my croissant, and fled the café in despair.

The crow descended on the croissant, squawking fiercely. Perhaps this was its plan.

Perhaps there is no plan.

Thursday, 16 July, 1959: 7:45 P.M.

When S. returned this afternoon I asked her where she had been, and she said she had been in the street.

“Perhaps,” I said, “that explains why you look ‘rue’-ful.”

Her blank stare only reinforced for me the futility of existence.

Friday, 17 July, 1959: 12:20 P.M.

When S. came through my study just now I asked her to wait a moment.

Rueful,” I told her. “Because ‘rue’ is the French word for street.”

“What?” she said.

“From yesterday,” I said.

“Oh,” she said. “Yeah. Right.”

“And you said you had been in the street.”

“I got it,” she said.

“It was a pun,” I said.

“Got it,” she said. “Puns aren’t your thing, are they?”

“They fill me with dread,” I admitted, for it is true.

“I gotta go,” S. said. “Hey, from now on? Maybe not so much for you with the jokes. It’ll be like an hour for lunch, I gotta thaw the poulet.”

Existence is a vessel that can never be filled.

Sunday, 19 July, 1959: 8:15 A.M.

Let others have their so-called “day of rest”! I shall continue to strive, to think, for in work alone is Man’s purpose. This is what the bourgeoisie seem never to grasp. Especially that lout M. Picard from No. 11. Every day is a “day of rest” for that tête de mouton. How I wish he did not have his Citroën up on blocks in the front yard! Appearances are without meaning, but still, it does not look nice.

Wednesday, 22 July, 1959: 10:50 A.M.

This morning over breakfast S. asked me why I looked so glum.

“Because,” I said, “everything that exists is born for no reason, carries on living through weakness, and dies by accident.”

“Jesus,” S. said. “Aren’t you ever off the clock?”

Monday, 27 July, 1959: 4:10 A.M.

Lunch with Merleau-Ponty this afternoon in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. I was disturbed to hear that he has started a photoblog, and skeptical when he told me that although all its images are identical—a lonely kitten staring bleakly into space as rain falls pitilessly from an empty sky—he averages sixteen thousand page views per day. When I asked to see his referrer logs, he muttered evasively about having an appointment with an S.E.O. specialist and scurried away.

So this is hell.

Monday, 3 August, 1959: 11:10 A.M.

I was awakened this morning by the sound of an insistent knocking at my door. It was a man in a brown suit. He seemed to be in a hurry, as if Death itself were pursuing him.

“One always dies too soon—or too late,” I told him. “And yet one’s whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are—your life, and nothing else.”

“Okay,” he said. “But I’m just the UPS guy.”

“Oh,” I said. “I— Oh.”

“Sign here,” he said.

“I thought you were a harbinger of Death,” I told him.

“I get that a lot,” he said, peering down at the place on the clipboard where I had signed. “Spell your last name?”

“S-A-R-T-R-E,” I said.

“Have a nice day,” he said.

A nice day. How utterly banal.

Tuesday, 4 August, 1959: 3: 30 P.M.

A year ago, in a moment of weakness, I allowed my American literary representative to sell one of my books to a cinema producer for what was described as “a bold exploration of contemporary issues.” Yesterday I received a packet of publicity materials for a film titled “Johnny Sart: PD Squad.” The subtitle, or “tag line,” was “No badge. No gun. No exit.” A series of transatlantic telephone calls followed. Apparently I am unable to have my name removed from this abomination, but I will receive what is called a “co-producer” credit.

Existence is an imperfection.

Thursday, 20 August, 1959: 2:10 P.M.

If Man exists, God cannot exist, because God’s omniscience would reduce Man to an object. And if Man is merely an object, why then must I pay the onerous fees levied on overdue balances by M. Pelletier at the patisserie? At least this was the argument I raised this morning with M. Pelletier. He seemed unconvinced and produced his huge loutish son Gilles from the back, ominously brandishing a large pastry roller. The pastry roller existed, I can tell you that.

Friday, 2 October, 1959: 5:55 A.M.

My sleep continues to be troubled by odd dreams. Last night I dreamt that I was a beetle, clinging to the slick surface of a water-soaked log as it careened down a rain-swollen stream toward a waterfall. A figure appeared on the horizon, and as the log drew closer I could see that it was Camus. He held out a hand and I desperately reached for it with my tiny feeler. Just as the log drew abreast of Camus he suddenly withdrew his hand, swooped it through his hair, and sneered “Too slow,” adding superfluously, “Psych.”

It is my belief that the log symbolizes the precariousness of Existence, while the tiny feeler represents Man’s essential powerlessness. And Camus represents Camus, that fatuous ninny.

Tuesday, 10 November, 1959: 12:05 A.M.

It has been over a month since I have updated my blog. I am seized with an urge to apologize. But to whom, and to what end? If one truly creates for one’s self, why then am I so disturbed to find that my unique visitors have dwindled away practically to nothing, with a bounce rate approaching ninety-five per cent? These twin impulses—toward reckless self-regard and the approbation of others—neatly negate one another. This is the essential paradox of our time.

I will start a podcast.

Read more

Return to ROI

Something, some thought, some idea, in the back/top/middle of my head is itching.

I look at old stats such as this:

I wonder about the average cost of postsecondary education for a college student in the U.S.:

Figure 40-1: Total cost of attending an undergraduate institution for first-time, full-time students receiving aid, by level and control of institution and living arrangement: Academic year 2010-11

Figure 40-1: Total cost of attending an undergraduate institution for first-time, full-time students receiving aid, by level and control of institution and living arrangement: Academic year 2010-11

I examine tables such as this one:

Figure 29-1: Percentage of youth ages 16-24 who were neither enrolled in school nor working, by sex: Selected years, 1990-2011

Figure 29-1: Percentage of youth ages 16-24 who were neither enrolled in school nor working, by sex: Selected years, 1990-2011

Finally, I ask myself, what, based on the salaries of youth who reached adulthood, was my ROI (return on investment) of these kids?:

Figure 49-2: Median annual earnings of full-time, full-year wage and salary workers ages 25-34, by educational attainment and sex: 2010

Figure 49-2: Median annual earnings of full-time, full-year wage and salary workers ages 25-34, by educational attainment and sex: 2010

And that’s just the U.S. domestic market.

I’m thinking about this one…~$227k to raise a middle-class kid.  Looking at salary figures above, the kid has to work for quite a few number of years to pay back the investment in his upbringing.

Where is the line where ROI is achieved?

Meanwhile, those shrinking middle-class kids are having kids and using public resources, contributing some small amount toward supporting public employee pension funds, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc., that they hope to receive themselves one day, even if they don’t believe the benefits will be available when they reach their senior citizen years.

In other words, our investment in the average citizen continues throughout that citizen’s life, well after ROI on childhood is achieved.

But there’s something else here in and out of this data set that still itches, has itched and continues to itch every time the subject passes through my thought set.

More than social responsibility.

More than cultural expectations.

More than formative years brainwashing.

More than standard/quality of living.

I see the costs, I see the benefits of straightline ROI, but the je ne sais quoi…???

What about the noneconomic value of a person?  Where are we accounting for the individual person’s thoughts, dreams, wants, needs, etc.?

One thousand years from now, we hold a history class and talk about the concept of worship through the rise and fall of civilisations.

During the first few thousand years of our species’ history, we slowly replaced the worship of unseen deities with the worship of money, as simply demonstrated through the construction and sole function of edifices found during archaeological digs.

It took a hard turn from deity-to-money history for us to change what we worship 1000 years later.

But we’ll save that lesson for another blog entry.

Thanks to Meagan at Tenders; Joe and Jennifer at KCDC.

In support of my mother and our family

I was sent the following information in response to one of my recent posts.  Good advice, regardless of [non]religious belief:

Ecclesiastes 9:10

New International Version (©1984)
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.New Living Translation (©2007)
Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.

English Standard Version (©2001)
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

GOD’S WORD® Translation (©1995)
Whatever presents itself for you to do, do it with [all] your might, because there is no work, planning, knowledge, or skill in the grave where you’re going.

King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go.

American King James Version
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go.

American Standard Version
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, whither thou goest.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Whatsoever thy hand is able to do, do it earnestly: for neither work, nor reason, nor wisdom, nor knowledge shall be in hell, whither thou art hastening.

Darby Bible Translation
Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, whither thou goest.

English Revised Version
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Webster’s Bible Translation
Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

World English Bible
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, where you are going.

Young’s Literal Translation
All that thy hand findeth to do, with thy power do, for there is no work, and device, and knowledge, and wisdom in Sheol whither thou art going.

Barnes’ Notes on the BibleThe works which we carry on here with the combined energies of body and soul come to an end in the hour of death, when the soul enters a new sphere of existence, and body and soul cease to act together. Compare John 9:4.

Device – See Ecclesiastes 7:25 note.

Clarke’s Commentary on the BibleWhatsoever thy hand findeth to do – Examine here the What the How, and the Why.

I. What is necessary to be done in this life, in reference to another?

1. Turn from sin.


3. Frequent the ordinances of God, and associate with the upright.

4. Read the Scriptures.

5. Pray for pardon.

6. Believe on the Lord Jesus, that thou mayest obtain it.

7. Look for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

8. Bring forth in their seasons the fruits of it –

(1) Repentance,

(2) Faith; and

(3) The Holy Spirit.


Gill’s Exposition of the Entire BibleWhatsoever thy hand findeth to do,…. Not anything that is evil, which is near at hand, and easy to be found, and is in the power of men’s hands to do, Romans 7:21; for this is forbidden of God, abominable to him, and hurtful to men; but whatsoever is good; so the Targum,

“to do good and alms to the poor;”

even all good works in general, which God requires of men, and it is their duty to do; though they are not meritorious of anything at his hands, nor is there justification or salvation by them; yet should be done in obedience to the will of God, in gratitude to him for mercies received, and for his glory; as also for the profit of men, and for our own good; for the evidence of grace, and to preserve our characters from the insults and reproaches of men. Whatever is found written in the book of God should be done; not what is of a ceremonial kind, and now abolished, but everything of a moral nature, and of positive institution, under Gospel times; as all Gospel ordinances, and whatever falls within a man’s calling: for every man has a work to do; in every station, as magistrates and subjects; in every relation, as husband and wife, parents and children, masters and servants; in every business of life men are called to; which they should attend, for the good of themselves and families, the relief of the poor, and the support of the interest of religion: and in religious things everyone has his work to do; the minister, in preaching and administering ordinances; the deacon, in taking care of the poor; private Christians, in praying in their closets and families, in hearing the word, making a profession of religion, and attending on ordinances; and, as opportunity serves, should do good to all men, especially to the saints, Galatians 6:10; and whatsoever is in the power of their hands, as this phrase signifies, Leviticus 12:8. Aben Ezra refers it to the delights and pleasures of life, such as before mentioned; which may be allowed, when used in a lawful and moderate manner;

do it with thy might; or “strength”; for though men have no might or strength of their own to do good, which is lost by sin; yea, even good men, of themselves, and without Christ, his spirit and grace, can do nothing spiritually good; yet there is strength in him, and to be had from him; and who should be applied to for it, and who gives it, Isaiah 40:29; the phrase denotes intenseness of spirit, vigour of mind, activity and fervency; doing that which is good, cheerfully and diligently, and not in a negligent careless manner; see Deuteronomy 6:5;

for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest; this, and not then, is our working time; good men at death cease from their labours in the grave, as the night in which no man can “work”, Revelation 14:13; then the liberal man can no more “devise” liberal ways and means of doing good; his purposes of doing good are broken off; and no more plans can be laid, or designs formed, for the glory of God and the good of fellow creatures: and no more “knowledge” of objects to do good unto; nor any improvement in any kind of knowledge, natural or spiritual: nor “wisdom” and prudence in the management of affairs, to answer some good ends and purposes; nor opportunity of attaining that wisdom by the Scriptures, and by the ministry of the word, which make men wise unto salvation: and now, since every man is going to the grave, his long home, the place appointed for all living, and this, is the way of all flesh; and every step he has taken, and does take, is a step to the grave; therefore it is incumbent on him to do all the good he can in life.

Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old TestamentThe author, however, recommends no continual dolce far niente, no idle, useless sluggard-life devoted to pleasure, but he gives to his exhortation to joy the converse side: “All that thy hand may reach (i.e., what thou canst accomplish and is possible to thee, 1 Samuel 10:7; Leviticus 12:8) to accomplish it with thy might, that do.” The accentuation is ingenious. If the author meant: That do with all might (Jerome: instanter operare), then he would have said bechol-kohhacha (Genesis 31:6). As the words lie before us, they call on him who is addressed to come not short in his work of any possibility according to the measure of his strength, thus to a work straining his capacity to the uttermost. The reason for the call, 10b, turns back to the clause from which it was inferred: in Hades, whither thou must go (iturus es), there is no work, and reckoning (vid., Ecclesiastes 7:25), and knowledge (דּעתו)

(Note: Not ודעת, because the word has the conjunctive, not the disjunctive accent, vid., under Psalm 55:10. The punctuation, as we have already several times remarked, is not consistent in this; cf. דּעתו, Ecclesiastes 2:26, and וערב, Psalm 65:9, both of which are contrary to the rule (vid., Baer in Abulwald’s Rikma, p. 119, note 2).)

and no wisdom. Practice and theory have then an end. Thus: Enjoy, but not without working, ere the night cometh when no man can work. Thus spake Jesus (John 9:4), but in a different sense indeed from Koheleth. The night which He meant is the termination of this present life, which for Him, as for every man, has its particular work, which is either accomplished within the limits of this life, or is not accomplished at all.

Geneva Study BibleWhatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Wesley’s Notes9:10 Whatsoever – Whatever thou hast opportunity and ability to do, do it with unwearied diligence, and vigour and expedition. For – Thou canst neither design nor act any thing there tending to thy own comfort or advantage.

Scofield Reference Notes[1] there is no work

Verse 10 is no more a divine revelation concerning the state of the dead than any other conclusion of “the Preacher” Eccl 1:1 is such a revelation. Reasoning from the standpoint of man “under the sun” the natural man can see no difference between a dead man and a dead lion. Eccl 9:4. A living dog is better than either. No one would quote verse 2 as a divine revelation. These reasonings of man apart from divine revelation are set down by inspiration just as the words of Satan Gen 3:4 Job 2:4,5 are Song set down. But that life and consciousness continue between death and resurrection is directly affirmed in Scripture. Isa 14:9-11 Mt 22:32 Mk 9:43-48 Lk 16:19-31 Jn 11:26 2Cor 5:6-8 Phil 1:21-23 Rev 6:9-11.

Margin grave

Heb. “Sheol,” See Scofield Note: “Hab 2:5”.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary10. Whatsoever-namely, in the service of God. This and last verse plainly are the language of Solomon, not of a skeptic, as Holden would explain it.

hand, &c.-(Le 12:8, Margin; 1Sa 10:7, Margin).

thy might-diligence (De 6:5; Jer 48:10, Margin).

no work . in the grave-(Joh 9:4; Re 14:13). “The soul’s play-day is Satan’s work-day; the idler the man the busier the tempter” [South].

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary9:4-10 The most despicable living man’s state, is preferable to that of the most noble who have died impenitent. Solomon exhorts the wise and pious to cheerful confidence in God, whatever their condition in life. The meanest morsel, coming from their Father’s love, in answer to prayer, will have a peculiar relish. Not that we may set our hearts upon the delights of sense, but what God has given us we may use with wisdom. The joy here described, is the gladness of heart that springs from a sense of the Divine favour. This is the world of service, that to come is the world of recompence. All in their stations, may find some work to do. And above all, sinners have the salvation of their souls to seek after, believers have to prove their faith, adorn the gospel, glorify God, and serve their generation.


Romans 12:11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,

Genesis 37:35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “in mourning will I go down to the grave to my son.” So his father wept for him.

1 Samuel 10:7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.

Job 21:13 They spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace.

Psalm 6:5 No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave?

Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten.

Ecclesiastes 11:6 Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

Isaiah 38:10 I said, “In the prime of my life must I go through the gates of death and be robbed of the rest of my years?”

Isaiah 38:18 For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness.

Master and Commander: The Far Side Calendar Edition

“Grasshopper, what lesson have I taught you today?”

“That biting my fingernails is a sign.”


“That biting my toenails is also a sign, a sign of flexibility, but one need not always be flexible.”

“Very good.”

“Thank you, Master.”

“You are welcome.  It is time we look at broader subjects.  Have you ever heard me talk about our enemies?”

“No, Master.  You have told me one must never have enemies, only opportunities to learn from those whose beliefs complement one’s own.”

“Very good, Grasshopper.”

“Thank you, Master.”

“Remember, little one, I have told you many times to call me Mister.”

“Yes, Master Mister.”

“[Sigh.]  Very well.  I will not reinforce your habit of mastering your subjects, including me.  Let us proceed.”

“Yes, Mister Master Mister, Master.”

“As you recall from a previous lesson, we observed two people in opposition.  What did I tell you?”

“That one should adopt the best traits and best people, allowing others to demonise the remaining traits and remaining people so that one may concentrate on pure joy, happiness, and meditation of best-ness.”

“Indeed.  Grasshopper, you do well today.  But do not bite your toenails.  We are not animals.”

“But, Master, you bite your toenails.”

“Only after I have cut them from my toes do I use my toenails as ‘toothpicks’ when wood is unavailable to remove rice hulls from between my teeth.”

“Yes, Master.”

“Remember, one must be resourceful yet maintain one’s harmony with one’s true sense of self.”

“Yes, Master Mister Master Mister, Mister.”

“What else did you learn from that lesson?”

“By observing how one’s colleagues make enemies out of other people do we learn their true nature.”


“That pizza is a delicious late-night snack when meditating upon 24-hour sports network viewing.”

“Where did you get such an idea, Grasshopper?”

“From you, Master, Mister, Master.  You, yourself, have said your round belly of wisdom should be called the Pizza Palace of Peace.”

“You pay attention to too much of my humorous asides, Grasshopper.  Telling and understanding jokes is the deepest of wisdoms one attains through years of listening to others’ foolish behaviour.  One must not confuse wisecracks from wise observations.”

“Master, I do not understand, Mister.  Are they not both kernels of wisdom?”

“Very wise of you to say that, Grasshopper…”

“Do you not use my name, ‘Grasshopper,’ as both a serious reference to my body and as a joking reference to my impermanence, in addition to my insignificance as an insect in comparison to my body?”

“Yes, Grasshopper.  We have discussed this many times in your decades of training.  At 50 years of age, you are well past the time in one’s life when one should leave this training center and pursue one’s destiny.  So your name is both a reverent label and an irreverent joke about you overstaying your education.”

“But, Master.  You have never left these walls.  Are we not both trapping ourselves within imaginary walls around our true destiny?”

“Grasshopper, your wisdom is beyond your years and yet beneath you.  One must never say more than one feels.”

“But what does one feel about walls?  I have no emotional ties to the kiln-dried bricks and mortar.”

“Grasshopper, let us put off that lesson until tomorrow.  I am feeling tired and very, very old.”

“But, Master, you, Master Mister, are only five years old.  How can a Mister Master like you feel old?  This is the time when Masters like you usually feel playful.”

“Grasshopper, you know that wisdom is not measured in years.  Look at the golfers who play in the Masters.  Some master their skills at an early age and some do not find the master to hone their skills for them until they are much older.”

“Yes, Master.  We both need our rest.”

“Indeed.  And please, please, please, call me Mister, not Master, not Master Mister or Mister Master, or Master Mister Master, or Mister Master Mister, or…”

“But, Master, it is my joke I play on you.  Can you not see that?”

“Yes, Grasshopper. But like the lesson where we keep the best traits of our perceived enemies for ourselves, let us give the worst jokes or the jokes that have grown old to our perceived enemies, too.”

“Yes, Mast…err, I mean, Mister.”

“Thank you, Grasshopper.  You may return to your eight-hour duty of raking the autumn leaves that fall upon our gravel path.”

“The leaves never stop falling this time of year.”

“Yes.  A lesson you have taught yourself over and over for how long now?”

“Forty-eight years, Mister.”

“That’s right.  I forgot you were a late bloomer, two years old when you were brought here.”

“Yes, Mister.  That’s why I have not left.  My previous Master told me that blooming late is my specialty.”

“A wise Mister Master, indeed!”

The liberal arts of chemistry (i.e., a set of states of energy tries to talk)

Next best comment attributed to a news article responder:

I agree with many of your arguments as written, but to be fair, I think it is more complex than that. Other contributing factors include the following:

– The “two cultures” of the arts vs. (not and) the sciences is a major issue. For various reasons, our society takes sciences more seriously than the arts. (Just look at the reward sizes of typical NSF vs NEA grants, or salaries and employment rates of graduates of science vs. arts programs, or who we give H1 visas to and for what.) The wedge between the arts and sciences–which is epistemological and political and waged from both sides–makes them “separate but equal” in the historical sense of that phrase (i.e., not at all equal!).

– While the sciences make an obvious case for their own state support (technological innovation, etc.), the humanities have not been as successful since the 1960s. It used to be that people believed that teaching Great Books made us model citizens. But the humanities were among the first to deconstruct that argument as ideological. And they were right: there is a problem with only reading dead white men. But if we don’t teach dead white men, then what can we teach that the public will agree should be taught? Multiculturalism and grand theory have been two answers proffered since the 60s, but (I’m stating a fact, not advocating for it) these have not achieved consensus in the way that dead white men had in the past.

I also think that the humanities themselves have their more recent origins (since the 19th century) in upper class culture. If only well to do men could go to college, then all that Latin and TS Eliot and critical thinking was another way they could demonstrate their fitness for their white collar professional jobs over everyone else. But with college becoming more accessible since the 1950s, the class alignment has changed, and people have become more specialized in order to be competitive. It’s not enough to be smart any more, you also need to know C++. (Of course, now knowing C++ seems to excuse one from being smart, which is a problem.)

Of course a concerted cross-generational conservative political attack on critical thinking and the humanities hasn’t helped. But neither has the hard turn to postmodern theories that to the public just sound crazy (like Baudrillard–and I am not saying he was crazy, well maybe a little bit, but very few outside of comp lit departments really understood what he was trying to do) so it just seemed like a waste of public resources–not saying I agree!

Anyway, my point is that we humanists need to make our own case for public support of what we can offer–and this is a slow and long-term commitment. Critical thinking is a very good argument and I agree with it. I think we can strengthen that argument with a more compelling rapprochement with scientists and technologists than humanists and scientists/technologists have collectively done so far (it’s a two-way street).

The best comment attached to the same news article:

I’m dismayed to see that you are equating the liberal arts with the humanities. The liberal arts include the social sciences and the natural sciences. Chemistry is a liberal art. Music is a liberal art. Psychology is a liberal art. So while I agree with your analysis, this article is itself a symptom of the decline of the liberal arts amongst those who think they’re defending them. Which is the saddest part of this all.

Repeat after me:

The Emperor Ming: Klytus, I’m bored. What plaything can you offer me today?

Klytus: An obscure body in the S-K System, your majesty. The inhabitants refer to it as the planet Earth.

Overheard in a theatre

Sadly, I guess the times of my passive-aggressive father are over.  In his day, I doubt we would have heard someone make such a bold, impolite, immoral statement as, “Well, yes, Bill Clinton cheated on his wife, but he was the U.S. President, for Christ’s sake.  Of course, it makes sense that he still represents the Democratic Party.  ‘W’ was a whore man himself before he conveniently found Jesus and cooperated with the Muslim Saudis in selling out American oil interests.  He ‘conveniently’ still represents the Republican Party, too.”

So many cynical observations about promiscuous politicians and teachers, so little time to tell them.  Thank goodness, the film “The Campaign” was enough to tie me over for a while and fill in for such a bleak political election campaign season here in the ol’ US of A, where neither of the two primary candidates for U.S. President can talk about why the American economy is doing so poorly due to their being owned by the same worldwide corporate lobbying interests.

The last two paragraphs are examples of the influences on my youth, which I am trying hard to remove from my set of operational memories.

It is while we prepare the storyline to ease over to another planet (thanks, in part, to the friendly folks at Need Another Seven Astronauts (NASA)), where we will talk about life in the universe that does not center on our species, as puny as it is in comparison to the history of helium or cilia or syphilis/gonorrhea.

I am in a mischievous mood, wanting to make fun of others for the sake of making fun of others with no purpose in mind other than to entertain myself here, rather than in my thoughts alone.

Have you ever sat in a dark theatre, felt a constriction in your chest, the left side of your body going numb for just the briefest of moments, and wondered, “Is this it?”

I can feel it again right now.  Maybe it’s just a muscle twitching after I swept the driveway yesterday.  Or indigestion.

I hope so.

I really would like to sit and laugh quietly for many days longer.

If not…well, it was a good ride.

“It.”  Hmm…

“It” is nothing more than my life, a diversion for other sets of states of energy programmed to reproduce.

I never reproduced.

Scientific studies indicate that reproducing at my age is a recipe for heightened risk of autistic children who would drink out of plastic bottles made with BPA and filled with high fructose corn syrup, take antibiotics and become obese, and, finally, succumb to the onerous labels of “BIG” — BIG farms, BIG Pharma, BIG…you get the picture, if you subscribe to the notion that it’s an “us vs. them” world.

I never met BIG.  I don’t know “them.”  They are just words to me, diversions from a goal one gazillion years in the making, looking back 1000 years from now to see what we’ve accomplished.

Milestones, not accusations.

Actions, not passive disagreement.

A colleague of my father jokingly called my dad an imaginary engineer because of his master’s degree in industrial engineering (even saying so to my father a few days before he died), which always irritated my father.  Now, an industrial engineer is in charge of the largest company in the U.S. by stock value — Apple.  Who gets the last laugh?

That’s the thing.  If this moment is my last one, do I want to have my last thoughts focused on a clever joke or expanding the life of this planet into the cosmos?

I don’t want to spin a passive-aggressive take on a reworked warmed-over punchline.

I sure don’t want to be remembered for simply being clever.

I don’t want to be remembered at all.

This universe is it, all I’ve got, the only verifiable theory of life as I know it.

If I don’t give my minute/tiny/invisible/forgettable place in life a serious thought, who will?

If I don’t have my father around to argue with that the world is not falling to the Nazis and Communists all over again, to whom do I direct my attempt to make peace with my father and our generational gap?

If I don’t have my mother in-law around to convince that the United States is not about to go into another Great Depression (or worse) because a man who is too young (and black) is the U.S. President, to whom do I say that it’s not just white people and old people who care about the American Dream of [democracy and/or capitalism] and freedom for all?

It was a tough decision to say I would never vote again because I care about the higher ideals of our country and our world.  The everyday arguments of this time, of my generation, are perennial — that’s why I don’t care about them.

My visions are hundreds and thousands of years in the making, carrying on a long tradition passed on to me by others, regardless of the current form our organisation of life (i.e., civilisation) may look like.

War and the desire for peace are perennial.

Using available resources until they are depleted and worrying about the consequences are perennial.

That’s why I don’t care about them or the ways we beat our chests like good primates in unison about our alignment with issues such as these.

In the big picture, our species is unimportant.

We aren’t going to agree with the big picture until something else comes along to change that view.

Even then, we’ll argue that our ancestors — the keepers of our origin stories — were right and we’re the center of the universe.

So be it.

You can keep perpetuating those stories in whatever form you like, if it makes you feel better as you procreate.

As long as you keep in the wee spot at the back of your thoughts that you’re working for a larger cause than our species.

I use “cause” cautiously and facetiously because it implies more than what a single blog entry in a continuous storyline is supposed to be about, bringing up imagery of the influences upon my youth again, when this is solely about the way the universe works non-anthropomorphically.

Enough for now in this chapter.

More as it develops…