When Celebrities Attack

Back in the mid 90’s there was a brief but tacky series of television shows called “When Animals Attack.” It was produced by Fox, the network that serves up conservative values with a side order of scandal, and celebrities in bikinis. The series depicted graphic animal attacks on humans for an audience unlikely to ever be close enough to a wild animal to risk an attack, but there is no limit to the dangers we armchair warriors are willing to face in the virtual world.

Last week the virtual world erupted (steady, no need to duct tape the virtual windows just yet) when some images circulated of Celebrity, Ellen DeGeneres watching a football game in the company of Celebrity, Former President George W. Bush. The two appeared to be quite comfortable with each other. In fact, they actually seemed to be enjoying themselves. Ellen later revealed that she even considers Mr. Bush to be a friend.

The virtual world is particularly dangerous when celebrities attack. A sampling of the headlines, the tweets and posts would have you shivering in your virtual shoes. There was outrage, firestorm, ripping, lash and backlash (presumably you can’t have one without the other). Celebrities were divided. Ellen was forced to push back.

The “push” that preceded the push back was the accusation that she, as an individual admired by the left, should not be seen to be “rehabilitating the image” of someone like the former president, accused of being responsible for much death and destruction during his administration. (Apparently champion weapons dealer, Mr. Obama, and Hillary “We Came, We saw, He Died” Clinton are in no need of rehabilitation, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

It’s likely that quite a large portion of the country was unaware that the former president’s image was in need of rehabilitation. That, too, is a discussion for another day. But putting politics and the history of warfare aside for a moment, Ms. DeGeneres in one of her backlash push backs spoke truth when she said, “”Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean I’m not going to be friends with them. When I say, ‘Be kind to one another,’ I don’t mean only the people that think the same way that you do.” Ellen went on to say, “We’re all different, and I think we’ve forgotten that that’s OK that we’re all different.”

Simple truth, and utterly devastating to the virtual world that profits from our addiction to drama.

Humanity has a long history of fawning over celebrities and allowing ourselves to be influenced, led, dominated by the famous and the infamous. We often remind ourselves of sheep in our blind allegiance, or cattle in our tendency to stampede.

But goats gather here, my friends. We are independent, cantankerous and often contrary. However, the times we live in now call upon us to be shepherds. This is the relative lull before the storm as desperate partisan parties ramp up their efforts to capture the White House, dragging us all into the conflict with no concern for the collateral damage to the country.

We will begin to see it again soon, as bad as it was in 2016 or worse. The celebrities will step up their attacks online and over the air, and our friends and neighbors will parrot their words and respond to their entreaties. At family and social gatherings, at work, or even at church, we will begin to see the stampeding of emotions. Did we lose any friends in the last election? It can happen again.

When the herd begins to get restless, like the singing cowboy out on the range, perhaps a word of calm might ward off the stampede. Keep in mind, however, that the herd does not listen to reason. You can argue until you are red or blue in the face. The herd no longer responds to the great minds, to scholars, philosophers and poets. The western herd does not even hearken to the divine.

Our ability to recognize truth has been degraded, lost in the virtual world of shiny waxed apples and artificial coloring, makeup artists and sound bytes and computer generated graphics. They’re not going to listen to truth unless it’s delivered on the narrow band that spans our collective attention.

But they might listen to their celebrities. “Be kind to one another.” “We’re all different, and that’s OK.” They’ve heard it a thousand times, from countless sources. They’ve even read it in the Bible and heard it in church. But if Ellen said it, they might actually listen.

Where’s the Beef?

Last weekend I tried the much talked about “Beyond Burger.” Here’s my unofficial and entirely subjective review.

It tastes OK. Let me explain. “OK” is a step above “fine.” “Fine” is what my wife and I say when the hard working server who has been friendly and courteous throughout our unremarkable meal asks how we liked the freezer burned entree and the cold mashed potatoes. We ate it because we were hungry and it wasn’t bad enough to send back, but we leave a good tip and say the meal was “fine.”

So yes, for my money the vegan burger is OK and I would buy it again to keep in the freezer for one of those quick lunches when nobody feels like cooking. The taste and texture are more reminiscent of meat than any of the soy or black bean based products I’ve tried, though its not going to fool even the most casual carnivore.

It’s expensive. Two small patties sized somewhere between small burger and large sausage patty cost about 6 bucks.

It has about the same calories and fat as beef, and a good dose of sodium. It’s not going to lower your cholesterol because it delivers a sizable amount of coconut oil in the ingredients. It does have a wee bit of fiber, whereas your typical hamburger has none.

Contrary to the marketing campaign promoting the burger, it’s not going to save the planet. Maybe it’s a step in the right direction. After all, an acre of peas (pea protein is the primary ingredient in the Beyond Burger) will feed a lot more people than a single cow on that acre (if that cow is living in Florida). In most of the beef producing parts of the world it takes multiple acres to sustain a cow.

The fledgling vegan burger industry claims to produce a much smaller carbon footprint than modern industrial beef production. There are studies which back up that claim. But the highly processed burgers are being marketed as the “best” thing you can do for the environment, which simply isn’t true. By the time you plant the peas, fertilize, harvest, transport and process the peas and then ship them to market, energy intensive activities which require fossil fuel to accomplish, the carbon footprint is going to be at least in the same zip code as beef. Add to that the energy required for the manufacture and transport of the 20 or so ingredients. Energy is also needed to recycle the paper used in the packaging, and the polypropylene used in the container derives from natural gas or the oil refining process. The amount of trash leftover from two small patties was notable.

Eating any form of processed food is certainly not the “best” thing we can do for the planet in our kitchens. Eating a plant dominant diet, as much as possible from local sources, or making black bean burgers at home, or buying locally produced grass fed beef, are all superior in terms of environmental impact and energy use to buying processed food.

For example, White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Georgia, commissioned a Life Cycle Assessment study of their sustainable beef production, which incidentally uses techniques much closer to those practiced by our ancestors. The study indicated that their beef production was actually carbon negative, which challenges the current narrative about beef production.

As for the recent excitement over the vegan burger industry, as a die hard supporter of free enterprise, I’ll have to admit that there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a clever product and a brilliant marketing campaign. If it’s a worthwhile product, the market will embrace it. If not, the market will move on to embrace something else. As always, buyer beware. Free enterprise is not guaranteed to be happy enterprise.

Now if you’re trying to be a vegetarian for health or spirit reasons and you’re still tempted by the food humans have consumed for 40,000 years, this could be your burger. It really does taste pretty good, and it is somewhat healthier than a lot of fast food. If you’re looking for a virtue burger to impress virtuous friends who aren’t really into numbers or thermodynamics, then this could be your burger too.

If you’re looking for a virtue burger and you would like to help pump up the stock of a virtue burger manufacturer, then this is definitely your burger.

My takeaway is that you can eat the Beyond Burger, if you can afford it, and feel some virtue, or you can eat locally produced grass fed beef, if you can afford it, and feel virtuous as well. Or you could eat what you want, keeping in mind that “virtue” is not a zero sum equation, and your virtue does not depend on someone else being less virtuous. Unfortunately that’s not how our culture is currently being programmed.

Alas, if only life could be that simple, but in the age of induced and aggravated partisanship, everything we do has to have some kind of political spin. Therefore, if you’re still determined to save the planet, I recommend waiting for the launch of the new “Soylent Solution.” It’s a great way to reduce carbon across the board. Soylent Red will be made from recycled Conservatives: Tastes great but tends to pack on the pounds and harden the arteries. Soylent Blue derives from recycled Liberals: Pretty tasty if you add enough hot sauce, but you’ll be starving by the next meal. My favorite is Soylent Gray, made from the recycled Boomer generation accused of destroying the planet. A word of warning, however. Soylent Gray contains a lot of preservatives.

Partisans

There are some days we just don’t like democrats and republicans, and today is one of those days. That doesn’t mean that we don’t vote like they do from time to time. We even agree with them on occasion. Most of the time we genuinely like the folks who wear the hats or put the stickers on their bumpers.

Pressed for an opinion, we might say that what we really despise is the national organizations that claim to lead the two parties which have come to dominate the country’s narratives. (When do we ever have to press anyone for an opinion these days?) Apparently a lot of people feel the same way, because the single largest group of voters in America identify as independents.

Just shy of a quarter of eligible voters say that they are republicans, and a bit less than a third say they are democrats. These numbers have been in decline over the last 15 years as the level of disgust with politics and politicians has steadily increased. It’s no coincidence that trust in media has fallen in an even steeper trajectory than trust in politicians.

If you really wanted to discuss the subject, we might go on to say that Webster defines “partisan” as “a firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person, especially one exhibiting blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance.” If you want to get technical about it, that’s the real problem with democrats and republicans, or if you prefer, with republicans and democrats. We rarely get that far in the conversation, however. As Steven Covey said, most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.

The other day we read an article by John Pavlovitz called “Pick a Hill Worth Dying On, America.” Apparently a lot of people read it. Many people posted it without reading it, which rarely happens, of course. Some of our friends gushed about it. It made us kind of ill.

Wikipedia told us that John is a pastor who writes from a “liberal Christian perspective.” If you love irony as much as we do, your spider sense is tingling right now. When there were just a few Christians in the world, they were considered the most radical of all the liberal groups that the Romans had ever seen, but like Hannah Arendt said, “The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.”

Back to the article in question. It does have some positive things to say about good people crossing the lines of politics, faith and race in order to do good things. However, the primary “good thing” we’re encouraged to die on the hill for, is to do whatever is necessary to avert the disaster currently being visited upon us.

You might not be aware of the disaster to which the author refers, and be advised: If you’re not currently experiencing a “paralyzing funk of grief and sadness and disbelief,” then chances are you’re complicit in the litany of evils the article mentions. Or so the author would have us believe.

It’s not our intention to single out this article in an effort to call out liberals or democrats. There are many examples of similar articles written from a conservative or republican perspective (though we stopped reading Fox News when they started reporting Miley Cyrus’ latest fling right below their own righteous indignation section). Such offerings follow a similar pattern that aligns almost perfectly with the Karpman Drama Triangle of victim, rescuer, and persecutor.

Let’s take a short trip around the triangle. The “nazis” are marching in the streets again. We’re tired of being victimized by the nazis and we’re not going to take it anymore, so we’re going to pick a hill to die on to save humanity. Everyone wants to be either a victim or a rescuer, but nobody wants to be a persecutor. Too bad. The triangle is always on the move. The only way to rescue the victims is to persecute the persecutor, which makes us the persecutor and the persecutor becomes the victim.

Around and around we go, from democrat to republican governments and back again. Meanwhile the apolitical types are laughing at us, all the way to the bank, which, after all, is a very, very short trip indeed.

The good pastor’s article was not remarkable in its sanctimony. Not remarkable at all. Conpublicans and reservatives should not feel victimized by it, unless they have forgotten their own insufferable righteousness in their past treatment of Libocrats and Demerals, and by “past” we mean yesterday, though their own pharisaical attitude reached a crescendo when the “Moral Majority” set the agenda in Washington. What goes around has a strong tendency to come around.

We’re waiting, ever waiting, for someone to rediscover a more humble path for the redemption of whatever ills are considered to be plaguing the nation. We might begin with a deep breath of gratitude for the luxury of being able to consider such questions from the air conditioned comfort of our living rooms, minus the distraction of exploding American made munitions around us, or the necessity of carrying a bucket of water on our heads for a few miles so our children can have a drink.

From gratitude we might move on to empathy for our fellow citizens and the admission, as much as it galls us, that they also have a right to their opinions; that those opinions are just as carefully considered as our own, and that they are just as sincere in their efforts to affect change as we are in ours.

It would serve us well not to linger on our disagreements. We have mapped those out quite clearly. Let’s focus instead on our common ground and see if we can expand that.

In the meantime, whenever we encounter a voice reminiscent of a Civil War preacher from either side of the War Between the States, a voice that encourages us to partisanship, a voice that extols us to die on a hill in service of a Great Cause, a voice that opens a broad, indiscriminate, vilifying umbrella over a group of voters or a political party or a way of thinking, a voice that raises straw men and invites us to knock them down, we should ignore that voice.

Better still, we should laugh at it. “There is no compromise with evil,” say the voices of those people standing in the “light.” (Or at least the spotlight. ) We think they doth protest too much. Maybe they are closer to true evil than they would care to admit. So go ahead and laugh. It relieves the stress, and it’s also an ancient “litmus test” of sorts. The devil, said our ancestors, relishes anger, fear, and conflict, but he can’t stand to be laughed at.

Judge for yourself. Here’s the article that provided the helium for my balloon this week (I’m hearing “chipmunk” voices vis-à-vis helium ingestion). Cheer, snarl, or have a good chuckle.

A Little Advice

“Take my advice, Don’t listen to me,” is the first line in the old song, “Hippie Dream,” whined by Neil Young. Most people love or hate Neil and/or his music. Naturally your author is somewhere in the middle, and Mr. Young has penned some unforgettable lyrics.

So in that same spirit, we decided to write an advice column this morning, inspired by the good natured ribbing of a friend. My recommendation would be to heed our advice and ignore it in equal measure.

Why should you listen to advice? Because you have a first class intelligence. A first class intelligence hears the truth, recognizes it as truth and then acts on it. A second class intelligence hears the truth and then verifies it through personal experience. A third class intelligence must repeat the lesson. We all want to fly first class.

Why should you ignore advice? Because much of it has less to do with supporting you and more to do with validating the experience of the giver. Sometimes advice is a passive aggressive hook baited with an innocent suggestion, and for the large number of contrarians who read this column, any sentence beginning with the words “you should” or “what I would do” are automatically suspect.

Should you take advice on relationships? Maybe. It depends on the track record of the giver. If your well meaning friend is on her fourth marriage, simple math would suggest that her best advice is more likely to be on finding a good divorce lawyer rather than connubial bliss. Besides, there are thousands of books available on the subject, though their best advice may very well be on how to get a book published.

If you’re too busy to read and you don’t have any happily married friends to advise you, perhaps I can save you some time. There are two kinds of relationships. For the scientifically minded, we’ll call them ionic and covalent, like the chemical reactions.

In an ionic bond, one molecule has a positive charge and the other, negative. Think of sodium chloride, or table salt. In an ionic relationship, both parties “need” something. “He completes me,” is the motto of the ionic relationship and “opposites attract” is the rallying cry. Ionic bonds tend to be soluble in water, like salt, and ionic relationships have a tendency to dissolve in stormy weather.

In a covalent bond, the molecules are not attracted by a missing electron. Instead, they share a pair of electrons equally. Think of carbon, which has an extremely strong bond. Apply enough pressure and you may produce a diamond.

In practice it’s difficult, at a glance, to tell a lump of rock salt from a diamond in the rough . That’s what dating is for. Just don’t marry the first lump that comes along before you weather the first storm.

We’ll bring our experimental counseling session to a close today with some practical advice. Think back a few weeks ago when you were complaining about how much rain we were getting. Betcha wouldn’t mind a shower or two right now. But you’re not going to get one for a while, not until that big high pressure dome over the southeast decides to move on.

Here’s the practical advice: Pray for rain. Get your property fire wise right now. This dry spell could last a while. Rake those leaves and trim that brush and clean out those gutters.

Here’s some advice for the future: Don’t complain about the rain, ever again and for the rest of your life. Develop the art of gratitude. Some people believe this may actually attract rain. But even if it doesn’t, the art of gratitude makes you a much nicer person to be around on a rainy day.

Nobody’s Business. Everyone’s concern.

“It’s none of our business,” my wife said in response to my grumbling as we drove down the valley. I wasn’t quite foolish enough to remind her that she had voiced similar complaints the day before.

Over the course of several days we had observed from a distance the progress of a man working on a piece of property that he had just acquired. He appeared to be in his late 60’s, and we made up a story that he was recently retired and a newcomer to the area.

Over the course of several days, every favorite toy of the millennial male made an appearance, including a late model Kubota tractor with attachments and a Husqvarna chain saw and string trimmer. All these fine tools combined to transform a fallow creekside field returning to nature into a lawn to be mowed.

We’ll pick up on the conversation we started last week and declare in no uncertain terms that what the man did with his field, short of burying toxic waste, was absolutely nobody’s business but his own. But then he started playing with the banks of the creek.

First he sawed all the vegetation close to the ground. Next he burned several spots along the creek bank, using some kind of accelerant to start the fire. Apparently the shape of the creek was not pleasing enough to his eye, because he then dug along the banks with a backhoe to reshape the course of the creek.

If you’ve lived here long enough you will know that this is not the first creek in Towns county to be treated in this manner, and if you are at all conversant with Georgia’s environmental laws you could find several violations in the preceding paragraph.

We’re not here today to fight the “nobody’s going to tell me what I can and can’t do with my own property” battle. The ongoing struggle to maintain water quality and ecological health against the onslaught of profit oriented unregulated development is challenge enough, and we’ve made a lot of progress here on that front.

No, the problem at its root is one of perception, and if we can change that perception it would remove a lot of fuel from the economic fire that consumes mountain tops and destroys natural areas. While we may never be able to breach the self absorbed mind set that cuts down the trees blocking one person’s view from the top of the mountain (and spoils everyone else’s view of that mountain), perhaps we can chip away at the image of the manicured lawn as the highest and best use of a piece of land.

Let’s begin by paying our respects to Alnus Serrulata, the humble alder bush native to eastern North America and once quite common along the creek banks of our mountain counties. Alders are nitrogen fixing plants and they improve the soil wherever they grow. Their fibrous networks of roots stabilize the soil in wet areas, and many times in our own creek I’ve seen erosion by high water stopped in its tracks by mats of interlocking Alder roots.

Alders provide a much needed source of pollen for bees and native wasps early in the spring. Alder leaves provide shade for creeks and streams, keeping the water cooler for trout. With the demise of the eastern hemlock due to the woolly adelgid, the role of alders in the survival of trout is more important than ever.

Sadly, no trout will linger in the exposed waters of the creek passing through our neighbors field. Without a proper vegetative cover, heavy rain and high water will erode the creek banks, and the water will run brown downstream from his property. The areas he reshaped with his backhoe may never stabilize, and like several creeks in our area, the addition of unsightly riprap or shot rock along the banks may be necessary.

All of this to recreate the heavily marketed image of unbroken undulations of manicured green. Americans are conditioned to see that image as beautiful and desirable, but it is such a shallow image, and one that ignores the true beauty of a healthy ecosystem. It is the difference between a pallid complexion artfully concealed by makeup and the unadorned visage of a person with the radiant glow of good health.

“Everybody Complains, but Nobody Offers Solutions…”

…Said a wise friend. Alternatives and solutions to environmental problems are available if you look for them. But you have to want to look… So here’s an alternative in the form of an entire company dedicated to offering solutions. We’re proud to call them friends. Check out their good works at Applied Ecological Services.

Humans Acting

Life always conspires to test and challenge our beliefs. There are several beliefs I hold that are compatible with libertarian philosophy. That’s not a political declaration. There’s never been a political party with a platform I agreed with 100 percent. Much of what is presented as democrat, republican and libertarian, I find arbitrary and insincere, and socialism is cute and terrifying like the evil doll in a horror movie.

Where I think the libertarians get it right, not 100 percent right, of course, but mostly right, is in their live and let live approach to government and economic issues. Ludwig von Mises wrote a book called Human Action in which he makes the case that human beings, possessed of minds with a logical structure that is similar for everyone, make purposeful decisions to maximize value. Thus, when people are able to exercise free will, over time the aggregate effect tends to produce the greatest value for all.

Human Action is a masterful defense of human freedom and free markets, and since its publication in 1942, no nation has fully embraced its principles in practice, possibly because the book is longer than War and Peace and not nearly as exciting. In the United States, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have always contended with the coercive powers of government and business in their attempts to maximize their own value.

Libertarians and republicans share a fierce attachment to individual property rights. Democrats and socialists are generally more supportive of public lands. It’s difficult, not impossible, but difficult, to be both an environmentalist and a republican or a libertarian, although some say that Theodore Roosevelt managed it to some degree.

Even a hard core libertarian, however, would draw the line at dumping toxic waste in the creek that runs through their property on it’s way to the lake downstream. Most of us who believe in even the most limited forms of government would acknowledge the legitimate role of a government here in defending the public good, but decades of scientific advancement have not extinguished the conflict between polluters and public health or between property rights and ecological health.

When it comes to property rights, personal choice and free markets, I’m as libertarian as F. A. Hayek himself, but I’m also an environmentalist because I’m aware that we are all members of the same community. My creek runs downstream. The silt from the illegal road on the mountain runs into my creek. The acid rain from the coal plant falls on my timber, and every mountain in the Southern Appalachians.

Nevertheless, there was little conflict between belief and action while I was home on the farm. But when I became a landlord, some of those beliefs were soon to be tested.

“Do what you will but do no harm” was my initial philosophy with our renters in another county. They seemed like reasonable, hard working people, and I had little concern for how they would care for the house.

But the large, wooded back yard was another matter. The neighborhood sits in an area that was formerly known as “Sandy Flats.” There are beaches that would feel lucky to have the sand in that yard. The soil does not hold water well, and during the long, hot summers it takes a hardy ground cover to survive.

To complicate matters, my elderly father, during the last years he lived at the house, loved to feed his birds so much that they had stripped away most of the ground cover, and the sand was beginning to erode during heavy rains.

When my dad left the house and we began to care for the yard ourselves, we took an ecological approach to restoring the soil. We encouraged native plants and grasses to grow, selected for hardiness and drought tolerance. When the leaves fell, we let them remain in place during the winter, which added organic material and improved the tilth of the soil. In just a few years the butterfly population multiplied and we began to see fireflies on the property at night. The heaviest rain had little effect on the stability of the ground. It was a well balanced ecosystem again, and an oasis in a neighborhood of traditional lawns.

Last July in the heat of the summer, our tenants enthusiastically removed most of the ground cover in the back yard and spread some grass seed on top of the sand in the hopes of making the yard look like a ChemLawn commercial. They raked all the leaves in the wooded area, exposing the soil to the hot sunshine. Like so many Americans, they were blind to the ecology of the land under their feet, and fixated on the heavily marketed images that we are programmed to recognize as symbols of prosperity and the good life.

Of course every bit of their grass seed died, and the ground began to erode again during the next downpour.

In an instant I felt more like a big government democrat or a law and order republican than I did a libertarian. I had to take a day or two to cool down and consider my response. Was I willing to lose good tenants who pay their rent on time and fix things around the house? Did I want to curb their enthusiasm for taking on projects at their own expense? How could I respond in a way that would maximize value for myself, and my tenants?

In the end, like a libertarian, I left them to their own devices. Like a democrat, I explained the science of soil management with a short course on ecology. And like a big government democrat or republican, I reminded myself that I still control their security deposit.

In Real Time

We wish a safe journey home to our visitors from the coast who came here seeking refuge from the path of Dorian. No one in the world is more hospitable than our neighbors from the low country, and I’m confident that you found our mountain folk no less welcoming. Our hearts go out to everyone who suffered a loss in the storm.

Who didn’t spent at least some time watching the weather over the holiday weekend, or clicking on the spaghetti models on their computer, or checking the weather app on their phone? Big storms are big media events.

There’s no denying that technology has given us tools for providing life saving information like storm warnings and evacuation notices. That’s not what we’re here to discuss this week.

What troubles us is the ability of media through technology to tap into our voyeuristic instincts. Whenever an event provides sufficient drama, millions of people now watch it unfold in “real time.” If the event requires a bit of extra dramatization to capture more viewers, our information providers are adept at providing that as well.

Drama is addictive, and like any drug, it requires higher and higher doses to provide the same buzz. Witness the constant local, regional and national real time crime and misfortune reports that we barely notice unless the level of drama is high enough. To the normal challenges of daily life we now add a constant exposure to stress hormones injected by our habitual consumption of media.

For tens of thousands of years humans experienced the passage of time much differently than we do today, or perhaps more accurately, we passed through time in a different manner. Time was reckoned by seasons, the phases of the moon or the gradual movement of celestial bodies long before the calendar was invented.

The invention of clocks began the divorce proceedings between humanity and the natural world. The second hand was a tiny but powerful sword slicing away bits of time from our lives with death by a thousand cuts.

For all our ability to measure time in ever smaller increments, however, we seem to have lost time rather than gained it. The general consensus is that life is short and time moves ever more swiftly, and I’ll wager you that twelve moons of our ancestor’s time was considerably longer than our year divided into nanoseconds.

The problem with our obsession with “real time” events is that for everyone watching, those events aren’t real at all. Every advance in communication technology enables us to spend more time in virtual reality, and every advance in the science of marketing ensures that we do so. Our awareness of here and now is surrendered to outside influences, and we gradually lose the ability to host that awareness ourselves.

So let’s look back at the holiday weekend we enjoyed here in the mountains. Did you notice the clear blue skies? Did you enjoy the cool nights? Did you spend your time in the sunshine or in the virtual reality of tropical force winds and rain while you tweeted your thoughts and prayers and posted your concern online? Did your weekend pass by too quickly? I’ll bet you that the weekend was much longer for the people sitting in traffic on an evacuation route.

Civilization in the developed world bathes in stress hormones with a consciousness focused on real time events in virtual reality. We perceive time much differently than our ancestors. How this will change us is as unpredictable as the computer generated spaghetti models of a hurricane.