Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Epigrams, Slogans, & Bumperstickers

  • The best things in life are messy.
  • A violent revolution is no revolution at all.
    • The real revolution is against violence itself.
  • If you can’t break your chains, use them.
  • Big Brother is watching: KEEP HIM ENTERTAINED.
  • If it’s falling, push it over.
  • When you make a fool of yourself on purpose on a regular basis, it doesn’t matter so much when it happens by accident.
  • Sex:Liberals::Money:Conservatives
  • Every day is a gift – even if it doesn’t fit.
  • Big Brother loves you SO MUCH… he can’t keep his eyes off you.
  • When the dip is gone, the party is over. When the party is over, it’s time to go home.
  • Education should be dangerous.
  • Unity, not uniformity; diversity, not division.
  • We need some new isms.
  • “Mistah Galt, he dead.”
  • Go with the Greatest Common Factor, not the Lowest Common Denominator

Some things of which I disapprove

… fundamentalism (of all stripes) … pessimism … cynicism … hoplophilia (worship of weapons) … belligerism … rhetorical deception … commercialization/exploitation/trivialization of sex … Puritanism … apostrophe abuse … militarism … “American exceptionalism” … bullies … authoritarianism/totalitarianism/fascism … torture … alpha-holes trickle-down economics … isolationism …

Some things of which I approve

… responsible hedonism … creativity … intellectual inquiry … logic … humor … polyamory … single payer healthcare … polyculturalism … multiparty democracy … world music … massage therapy … aikido… t’ai chi … media literacy … children … “New Economy” ideas … education … live music … community singalongs … naps … natural beauty … mortality acceptance … cooperatives … ambient music … miscegenation … absurdist theatre … puppets … space exploration … pacifism … breakfast … ecumenism … non-violent communication … surrealism … science fiction … cognitive-behavioral therapy … laughter … holism/systems thinking … visionaries … minimalist music … public libraries … community radio … progressive, independent journalism …

Holiday Letter 2016 (Skip’s part only)

My wife & daughter have stronger senses of privacy that I do, so we generally don’t put our family holiday letter up on the Net, or even send it out as email. (You’re either on The List or you’re not.)

But this year, it so happened that I took up one side of the page all by myself, and I kinda don’t mind who knows what’s in it. This is because (a) there are a couple of links in there to stuff I feel is pretty important and could use some wider propagation, and (b) there’s nothing sensitive or particularly “private” about it…  So, if you’re interested, and you haven’t gotten your copy in the mail, check it out by clicking the link below – and if not, then “Happy Merries!” to you anyway!

Skip’s Holiday Letter 2016 (PDF)

The Wisdom of Hu Sei Dat

That man who has made death his goal – to him alone is success guaranteed.

The wise man is free, though his body be broken and chained in the darkest of dungeons.
The foolish man is a prisoner, though he stand unfettered in an open field.

Your fear is a ring in your nose, by which you may be led around at will.

When one is fighting a tiger, victory is gained only when one has killed the tiger. But when one is fighting quicksand, victory is gained only when one has escaped from the quicksand and walked away. Pity the man who cannot distinguish between the two situations.

Sometimes the catastrophe must be allowed to happen.

Sometimes you can escape the prison by denying its existence.
Sometimes you cannot escape the prison until you admit its existence.

Recognize chaos as an opportunity for practice.

 Live as long as you like: it will not make your death any shorter.

When the wolves demand that the chickens be freed from their bondage, the welfare of the chickens is not their main concern.

Change in human affairs, like the changing of the seasons, is indeed inevitable – but like the changing of the seasons, it can neither be hastened nor impeded. It will happen only when it absolutely must happen, and not one moment before.

You cannot be at peace with war – but neither can you be at war with it.

The best way to defuse a rebellion is to make the rebels believe they have won.

The problem with rich people is that they have more money.  The problem with powerful people is that they have more power.

Even a dead tree has a destiny to fulfill.

A student once asked Hu Sei Dat, “Once I have achieved the state of ‘waiting without expectation,’ how shall I know when the time has come to act?”

Hu replied, “You will know that the time has come to do something when you find yourself doing it.”

If someone accuses you of absent-mindedness, bow and say, “Thank you. That is the state for which I have been striving.”

This “unity” that you seek is not something that can be imposed. It is already there. It can only be discovered, recognized, and accepted.

Remembering Live Aid

It’s been thirty years since the age of the modern benefit concert was launched by Bob Geldof’s seminal, trans-Atlantic “Live Aid” extravaganza, and reminiscences are popping up all over the place.  This wasn’t the first rock concert for a cause, of course – George Harrison’s “Concert for Bangladesh” in 1971 claims that honor. And of course we had had celebrity-studded fund-raising telethons for years before that, but Live Aid was the first such event to be broadcast live around the planet.

I remember it a little differently than some folks, though – I remember it more as a spiritual battle, one where the good guys generally came up short.

We have to keep in mind that Live Aid took place in the middle of the reign of Ronald Reagan, who had won re-election the previous fall in a stunning nationwide landslide over the hapless Walter Mondale. Reagan’s brand of conservatism was in full ascendancy.  These were the days when greed was good and ostentatious materialism held sway in America, the days of the Yuppie and the cocaine spoon.

As I recall, there was some hope that Live Aid might bring about some kind of reawakening of the Woodstock spirit, to counter the dominance of crassness and cynicism, but it was not to be.

I remember Joan Baez trying to start things off on a spiritual note by getting everyone to sing “Amazing Grace” together… but after two verses, you could see her reading the crowd and thinking “This isn’t working…” So she shifts on the fly into the day’s anthem, “We Are The World,” but you can tell from her face that it wasn’t what she had had in mind.

I remember U2, broadcasting from Margaret Thatcher’s London, also trying to awaken the conscience of the party-minded crowd. But just like Baez, Bono sees something else lurking there instead – that’s why he launches into “Sympathy for the Devil.”

I remember Bob Dylan performing, flanked by Keith Richards and Ron Wood from the Stones, looking for all the world like he’s under guard lest he try anything too revolutionary — and I remember Keith upstaging Bob by fiddling with mounting his cigarette on his guitar properly.

I remember Paul McCartney sitting at his piano, performing “Let It Be” – even though his vocals didn’t seem to make it through to the broadcast for some reason.

I remember the crowning moment being, not the final performances of “We Are the World,” but the hip-grinding duet between the oversized egos of Tina Turner and Mick Jagger.

Not everything was bleak; there were some more optimistic points. I enjoyed the pleasant surprise of seeing Madonna singing backup on “Revolution” with the Thompson Twins. She was clearly enjoying herself, and I imagined that being part of an event where the point was something bigger than herself might have done her some good.

But the key experience of the day for me didn’t take place on stage. As it happened, we were in Columbus, Ohio that day, visiting our Indian friends Shashi and Rainu. As we were watching the performance together, the phone rang, and Rainu answered. It was some of their kinfolk calling from Delhi.

They chatted for a while, and then Rainu asked what they were doing. “Oh really?” said Rainu. “We are watching it too!”

For one brief second, I felt the connection in my gut: for a fleeting moment, the phrase “We Are The World” made visceral sense.

a prayer for the rich

Dear Lord, for your assistance I must now humbly ask
For You have set before me a small yet daunting task
For if I am to demonstrate Your love, as is Your wish
Somehow I am supposed to write a prayer for the rich

It’s no big deal to come up with a prayer for the poor
We only have to ask that they might have a little more
But the wealthy, well, they’re something else, a very different breed
A different type of spirit, yes, with very different needs..

But first I have to ask that You look deep within my heart
And take away the feelings that might complicate my part
Let me not speak vindictively, no, let me show no spite
No envy and no hatred in these words that I might write

Help me, Lord, to understand the great burdens that they bear
The pressured expectations that make it hard to care
Help me to remember that they’re mortal just like me
Though they have more within their grasp than I could ever hope to see

Let them not be blinded, Lord, by the glitter of their wealth;
Let them have clear vision, let them see beyond themselves
Open up their hands, their hearts, yes, open up their minds
Help them be good stewards for the sake of all mankind

Protect them from corruption, Lord, from power’s evil lure,
Help them maintain perspective, help them keep their motives pure;
Help them keep peace within their hearts, and not rely on war.
Let them understand integrity. Keep them mindful of the poor.

Lead them through the needle’s eye, and help them to let go
Knowing all things have to pass, and that everything must flow
Teach them responsibility, and help them make the switch:
And then I’ll know You’ve answered my prayer for the rich.