Every moment is unique. Every situation is unique. A door that was closed seconds ago may be open now. A door that seems open now may slam in your face as you attempt to enter. Persistence is no more a predictor of success than acquiescence, and adaptation is no more a predictor of success than stubbornness.
This is no Earth mollusk. Its stacked shells are translucent. The "pearl" at one end functions as the lense of an eye. It walks on tube feet like a starfish. Its internal anatomy is still a mystery. All attempts to capture one have failed since they just slip under the sand when approached. Merchandise with this design is available in my store.
One does not need to be able to cite an example of a general pattern to be sure of the truth of its existence any more than one needs to be able to count the pickets on a picket fence to recognize that it is indeed a fence and not an elephant. Humans better remember broad rules or principles of the relationships between things than they remember every detail of every waking moment of their lives.
This creature lives in the deserts of a dry planet. Its body is filled with liquid mercury. It can walk slowly on its six legs or travel quickly by whipping its tail.
When threatened, it pumps all the mercury out of its tail into its body, giving it the weight to stand firm while it slashes its enemies with rapid swings of its knife-edged tail.
Merchandise with this design is available in my store.
There’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time that I started thinking was important to share. If you agree, I encourage you to repost or print out this post to share with others, especially at church. I was mulling over these principles from a Christian perspective, but they can be made to apply to any theistic religion.
It seems sometimes that the world is spiraling faster and faster out of control with hate and greed – and of course no one listens to me. People seem to be perpetually at each other’s throats, verbally at least, if not always physically. The world is in trouble. It seems that we should be trying to do at least something, even if only to speak out. There are principles that we once knew but many seem to have forgotten, and I believe that from time to time we need to be reminded.
I don’t normally approve of mixing politics with church teaching. This is not only because it may cause division in the church, and may violate tax law, but because it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the very essence and definition of government. God’s Kingdom is a kingdom of the heart, interested in straightening out our personal spiritual lives and our relationship to God, freeing us from sin so that we may then decide how best to arrange public affairs. God exhorts us to love one another, but he does not tell us what the penalty should be for a second violation of microwave oven manufacture safety regulations. The Bible is a bit short on details. When he came to minister to the Jews, Jesus did not overthrow the Roman Empire to make things right. He came to show everyone – Romans and Jews alike – how to be free of our sinful nature so that we would have the ability to work out an equitable political arrangement among ourselves.
There have been those who think little of The Gospels because they did not speak against the evil of slavery, which was common in that part of the world in those days. I believe the reason is that when we love one another, who is officially considered to belong to whom becomes a moot point. Indeed, if slavery were abolished – as it was abruptly in the Confederate States of America – without love first taking root, the cure may be worse than the disease, including poll taxes, segregated facilities, fire hoses, dogs, bombings, and the Klan.
There have been times when God officially endorsed a new government – but only as a concession to sinful human nature. Before Israel’s first king – Saul – was anointed, God warned that a Kingdom was not what he had in mind for his people. Through the prophet Samuel, he warned, “The king will draft your sons into his army and make them run before his chariots. Some will be commanders of his troops, while others will be slave laborers. Some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, while others will make his weapons and chariot equipment. The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own servants. He will take a tenth of your harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. He will want your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves.”
Luther, Calvin, Augustine, and others understood this dichotomy: that the Kingdom of God exists among and through us while the Earthly kingdoms are still here, and that we fight not flesh and blood, but “principalities of the air.” When directly asked whether it was right to pay taxes to The Roman Empire, Jesus only said to give to Caesar what belongs to him, and to give to God what belongs to him, leaving us to work out ourselves who is owed what.
Once this principle is understood, that God’s Kingdom exists in parallel to human governments, the true nature of government becomes obvious. Government is not sacred, but is a tool of the community, composed of our fellow human beings and equals, to be altered as we see fit. It does not rule us, but rather we rule over it. Put this way, we see that government is not here to protect us from ourselves, as if others know better than we how to run our lives, but only to protect us from each other, so that we may each have the opportunity to run our own lives. This is something that those whom, in the name of our protection, insert themselves into our private decisions by force of law need to be reminded of from time to time.
The very essence of government, without which it could not exist, is rule by the use of force. Because of this, all government activity, no matter how well-intentioned, and no matter how beneficial, is at least somewhat evil. The trick is in balancing competing evils against one another, recognizing trade-offs, remembering that there is no perfect government, and being aware of diminishing returns as government programs reach their maximum effectiveness. This is something that those continually pushing for the creation and expansion of government agencies and programs need to be reminded of from time to time.
I have to share with you today a short paper written by one of my favorite historical figures. It touches upon much of what I have said already, and more. This paper speaks of man’s relationship to God, and of how God respects his children enough to grant them certain freedoms, even when he knows we will misuse them. It speaks of human dignity and the value of life. This paper establishes the concept that right and wrong exist independently of whether any human entity, government or otherwise, recognizes the fact. The paper goes further to speak of man’s relationship to his fellow man, claiming we should treat others as we would like to be treated, with respect and as equals, refraining from the use of force, and that no one should have absolute rule over another. The author of this paper understood that governments exist to serve the community, not the other way around, that all governments are evil, and that no government is perfect. The author of this paper also understood that without the use of force, there can then be no protection from the use of force, and so while governments are evil, governments are also necessary. The author of this paper understood that a people can be enslaved just as well by a lack of laws, than by the laws themselves. The author of this paper valued prudence, and realized that since no government is ever perfect, it behooves us to choose our battles carefully and let some things go. This is something that those blindly opposed to all government activity need to be reminded of from time to time.
This paper is often considered a political document, and therefore unfit for inclusion in church teaching, but I disagree. It endorses no specific policies. It says nothing of the definition of marriage. It says nothing of whether we should belong to NATO or the UN or both or neither. It says nothing of what the top income tax rate should be. Indeed, it is a religious paper, covering the relationship of God and Man, and of Man to his fellow Man, both of which are certainly within the purview of the church to teach. It is not exclusively Christian, but it is certainly not atheistic. Any religion that teaches and values the authority of God and the dignity of human beings should have no quarrel with this paper. Because this paper does not aim to push any particular political agenda, but on the contrary embodies rebellion against the very idea of serving a political agenda, insisting instead that politics should serve us, I claim that it is the least political document ever written. I cannot overemphasize this point: this is the least political document ever written; it is religious, and every church, mosque, and synagogue should be teaching it – not just across this nation – but across the world.
And so, without further ado…
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Repost as desired.
This sea creature has tentacles to capture food particles like an anemone. It also walks around on a scaly skirt-like appendage filled with tube feet not unlike those of starfish. Its skin contains chromatophores to allow it to communicate visually not unlike a cuttlefish. Eyespots are located in each scale. Merchandise with this design is available in my store.
Anyone can make a math mistake and not feel particularly bad about it. They either catch it later or accept it when someone else points it out. Many people seem almost proud to be bad at math. When they mistakenly conclude that 19+19+15= 33 because they forget to carry the two into the tens column, they do not stubbornly insist that 9+9+5= 3, or that 18+5= 3, or 18= -2, or 9= -1 or any other absurd statement that can be derived from the original mistake. Instead, they accept it when they are shown the truth.
Morality is different. While we might all agree on the morality of actions under very simple circumstances, when things get complicated the underlying truth can be obscured and we can make a mistake. Instead of accepting correction, most people hold tightly to first impressions. Then they build on these foundations.
Is this because it is considered that wrong moral beliefs make us a “bad person” while incorrect math beliefs simply make us bad at math, but likely talented in other ways?
Logic is not a social construct. Logic cannot be taught. In order to teach someone anything, they must first be able to learn. In order to learn, they must first be able to think and process information. In order to think and process information, they must first be able to use logic. Logic is innate.
A few years ago, I drew some of the creatures mentioned in my novel, The Spider, The Witch, And The Spaceship. These are intelligent races that young Nate (then called Nathaniel) encounters in his travels.
The Zleesnits and the Nops are always seen together. The Zleesnits build cities out of their bodies and have telescoping limbs. The Nops fly and create sonar pulses with their tongues.
The Blentites have insectoid bodies, cat-like faces, and the wool and horns of a sheep. They live primarily in snowy environments and build domed, windowless cities.
Meekons are apes with many toes. They live on many planets.
Above all other political issues, freedom of speech must be protected, because without speech we cannot organize, educate ourselves, or advise each other on how to vote. In a democracy, it is the voters that are in charge and we need to be able to make informed decisions. To lose speech is to lose it all.
Above all other political issues, the right to bear arms must be protected, because with no physical means of defense, all our other rights are protected only by the goodwill of the officials currently in charge – goodwill which has already been proven to be in very short supply. To lose our weapons is to lose it all.
Above all other political issues, American sovereignty must be protected, because Americans will know better how to regulate Americans than some foreign power we cannot control that does not share our culture, economic interests, or form of government. This also means we need to control our borders and immigration, become energy-independent, and take care that too much foreign trade does not expose us to economic disruption originating outside our jurisdiction where we cannot control. To lose our self-determination is to lose it all.
Above all other political issues, the environment must be protected, because if the ecology suffers, we lose our food supply, we lose our oxygen supply, erosion increases, and the climate changes. When no human can survive, no human institution can survive either. To lose the biosphere is to lose it all.
Above all other political issues, health care must be made affordable, because without our health, our finances suffer, our education suffers, our family suffers, and…everything collapses…hmmm…
“Above all other political issues” can apply to almost anything.
YouTube channel Journey To The Microcosmos is a calming, beautiful, and highly informative trip into the world of rotifers, tardigrades, nematodes, and paramecia. I’ve learned a lot. Sometimes they will even release several minutes of footage with music instead of the regular show. It almost makes me want to spend a thousand dollars on a good microscope.
Ten Global Trends by Marian Tupy and Ronald Bailey is a collection of graphs with short commentaries on each. The world is getting better, not worse, is the basic premise. We are more efficient at using natural resources than ever, we are richer than ever, and the birth rate is dropping fast enough that we will likely never reach ten billion. Democracy is on the rise, wars are smaller and fewer, and the internet is educating billions. Tree cover is increasing globally and only in South America is it decreasing. While property damage from natural disasters are increasing (largely because of where people are choosing to build), deaths from natural disasters are down. While the total number of people living in slums has increased (due to increased urbanization), the percentage of city dwellers in slums has dropped. Literacy and communications technology are on the rise. The average workplace is sixty times safer than it was in 1910. Every doom-and-gloom prediction of last century has failed to pass.
The book was basically good, but slightly disappointing. Not all the graphs were explained well. Deaths from cancer are down, but is this because it is being diagnosed sooner, meaning people are living longer with it known to be there? This was never explained. Are less people dying in general? Are they living longer? What is killing people if not cancer? I had heard that heart attacks and strokes used to kill a lot of people in their 50s and 60s, but because of medical intervention such as defibrillation, more people are living long enough to get cancer, making it the new number one killer, meaning the rate was up. Is this true? The data lacks context.
Some graphs covered too short a time period to extract a meaningful trend. For example, the number of smokers went from 25% to 20% during the period 1980-2020. Death by homicide went from 6.5 per 100,000 to 5.1 per 100,000 during the period 1990-2015 – although there was a big jump in the middle to 7.5. Child labor is down twenty percent since 2000.
Some trends claimed as good were questionable, such as increased urbanization and decreased trade protectionism. While much good is associated with both, so is much bad and the jury is still out on whether good or bad dominates. Also, while I believe increased internet use is generally a force for good, it also increases risks of dependency and privacy violations. These things are very complicated.
Some trends are framed in such a way to sound better than they are. For example, while military expenditures are up, as a fraction of GDP they are actually down. A better way of saying this is that most countries are finally rich enough to spend money on something other than the military. That doesn’t mean we aren’t still on the brink of world war.
I was also surprised to see that economic inequality was decreasing globally. I had always heard it was increasing. I never saw this as a very big problem so long as the poor were steadily getting richer too (which they are), but I had thought it was agreed by everyone to be increasing. It’s even part of the extended Kuznets curve. The graph was poorly explained, so I can only guess that there is a stronger income clustering of most people (2000-2010) even while the tiny number of super rich have become proportionally richer. Is this true?
Overall, the book does provide some food for thought and helps counter the claims of the alarmists, especially when it comes to things such as resource depletion. On balance, the world is doing quite well.
It never ceases to amaze me the width, depth, and number of prejudices that fit inside tiny, little minds.
Doodling relaxes me. It's how I reflect the creativity and liveliness of the world back at itself. I've been doing it my whole life. I start by drawing one line and seeing where it takes me. Most end up being alien creatures. Sometimes I will remake a doodle on good paper with some effort and foresight. This is how I make my art in my art store. Between 2013 and 2017 I drew many creatures and landscapes, but not all of them were scanned in. Some are better than others. I finally dug them out from under the bed so I could scan them and show them to you. I'm not likely to use most of them, so let them inspire you.
Friendly Dragon Head
Egg Helicopter Cyborg
Deep Sea Vents
Lizard Hiding In Jungle
Alien Pond Water
Door of Possibility
The Crystal Cave
I also made some small color drawings that I framed before putting into storage. Here are photos of them:
Move! written by practicing pastor Tim Hatch is his appeal to Christians to never stop growing spiritually. The overall tone is encouraging rather than admonishing. He models what it means to stay positive, to be always wanting more of God in our life, and to take risks when necessary.
What I like about the book is that unlike many authors of spiritual subjects, he does not shy away from the complexities and exceptions:
After telling us to be positive throughout chapter three, he admits near the end that this is very difficult and we are bound to fail (after 36.5 hours, by his estimation). Then he explains that God is so patient and so powerful, that even when we turn negative, there are still mercies poured upon us. That knowledge alone can keep some people positive just a little longer.
At the end of chapter five, he tells a story from the life of Corrie Ten Boom, to illustrate how even when we don’t feel up to some challenge, God can still come through for us at the last minute. Whatever weaknesses or sins we might be struggling with will not stop God from acting at the appropriate time. Nothing can stop that. The bottom line is that there is nothing holding us back and no reason not to move forward into our calling.
One part I was not entirely sure how to apply to my life was the idea to look for opportunities rather than follow dreams. Sometimes the opportunities are many, yet just out of reach, and the dreams are themselves an opportunity of the same kind. My life is messy and complicated. Some things you just have to figure out yourself.
Hatch also has a YouTube Channel and Podcast.
A while ago, I posted Questions Without Answers. Here are some more:
Are deaf people ever in their sound mind?
Is a sound mind one that hears voices?
Are they called “hot” potatoes because they’re stolon?
Can poor people perform rich-uals?
Why aren’t cowboys away from home called deranged?
Is one who creates fashion a fascist?
Is it better to be mauled by a bear or bare at the mall?
Sometimes I like to imagine that I am an inch tall walking among a forest of wildflowers. Other times, I imagine what it would be like if the flowers were as tall as trees. This is one way to turn a short walk around the neighborhood into an adventure. Watch out for bees.
Here are some things I saw in 2021:
Applying myself to see things from another’s point of view is a good thing. I should do so more often. It’s just that once in a while – just sometimes – I want others to see things from my point of view.
It is a hard thing when the one you love does not love you back. It is harder still when the one you love doesn’t even love herself. I’ve been there.
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.