Wednesday, December 21, 2016

COD: ...The Fish That Changed the World in 1,000 Years

Review of COD: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World
by Mark Kurlansky

A literary award winner, this history
of the last 1,000 years
of Western Civilization is given
all from the perspective

of a biography of one fish only, the cod.

The powerful history, especially shows the effect that this one fish had on multi-millions
of Europeans, Americans, and Caribbeans over hundreds of years.

It explains how it was part of the slavery/rum/cod
cycle of commerce, how it changed political, social
and economic fortunes, led to world travel, and finally how,
unexpectedly, this incredible sea story became an ecological disaster
for the Grand Banks of the North Atlantic.

As an American literature/history teacher,
I have an extensive background in history,
but time and again,
this book surprised me with new facts, bizarre
interrelationships between cod commerce and other events in human history--
fascinating side-tales about European countries,
their world exploration and their fishing industry,
all centered on the huge availability of this one species of fish.

Definitely, the most unusual biography I've ever read!

Of course, it's not really a biography so much of the cod itself--
though there are many descriptive details about the fish, even
a few delicious recipes from the last few hundreds
of years of European chefs, describing how multi-millions
of Europeans ate the fish as a staple in their diet
but in a wide variety of different ways.

Rather this page-turner
is a biography of all the many humans, beginning with the Basque and the Native Americans
who caught the millions of cod, even fought serious wars over fish, including the non-lethal
"Cod Wars" between the United Kingdom and Iceland in the 1960's and 70's.

Kurlansky helps us readers "see" the catching, processing, shipping, and eating of cod,
and its strange effects, some of them dramatic, on major historical events.

A real 10+ of an historical tome.

I've read the riveting book twice.

Don't miss the scrumptious virtual eating;-).

And, guess what, yes, I gobbled up seafood for breakfast this morning (as well as seafood at supper last night, though not cod this time. Smoked salmon and shrimp. Maybe, cod in a couple of days.

from the Amazon precis of the history book:
"Cod, it turns out, is the reason Europeans set sail across the Atlantic, and it is the only reason they could.

What did the Vikings eat in icy Greenland and on the five expeditions to America recorded in the Icelandic sagas? Cod, frozen and dried in the frosty air, then broken into pieces and eaten like hardtack.

What was the staple of the medieval diet? Cod again, sold salted by the Basques, an enigmatic people with a mysterious, unlimited supply of cod.

As we make our way through the centuries of cod history, we also find a delicious legacy of recipes, and the tragic story of environmental failure, of depleted fishing stocks where once their numbers were legendary.

In this lovely, thoughtful history, Mark Kurlansky ponders the question:
Is the fish that changed the world forever changed by the world's folly?"
from Amazon description

“Every once in a while a writer of particular skill takes a fresh, seemingly improbable idea and turns out a book of pure delight.
Such is the case of Mark Kurlansky and the codfish.” –David McCullough

Transitioning toward vegetarianism...
currently, a fishatarian:-)
Good to the 'finish.'

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, December 16, 2016

Stephanie: Life Beyond Faith, The Tragedy of Islam from Ex-Muslim Mother

Not Without My Daughter, again. Only this time the daughters
are taken away by the Muslim father,
and the ex-Muslim mother is exiled.

Ex-Muslims of North America:
"We Envision A World Where Every Person Is Free To Follow Their Conscience."

In the LIGHT of Goodness, Tolerance, Human Rights, Compassion, Justice,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Rescue refugees!

For centuries, the United States opened its arms to many refugees
whose lives had been torn apart by war,
and those ruthlessly hounded because of who
they are or what they believe in. But today, the people of Syria

are suffering these hardships on an unimaginable scale, and we're still waiting
for US leadership on the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time.

Take action. Urge Congress to increase the number of Syrian refugees
resettled in the US.

Please, let us accept at least 200,000 refugees.

How will we pay for this?

STOP funding oppressive Muslim governments such as Pakistan!

STOP supporting the wars and human rights violations of Saudi Arabia.

SUPPORT AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, WORLD VISION, and other human rights and development organizations.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, December 10, 2016


Please support Human Rights.

Write for prisoners of conscience.

Give to Human Rights organizations such as Amnesty International.

Vote for helping the millions of refugees suffering in the world today.

Oppose blasphemy penalties, Sharia Law, anti-freedom rules, and other oppressive Islamic, Christian, Jewish, and Hindu laws.

FROM Martin Luther King Jr.:
"...the first principle of value that we need to rediscover is this:...this is a moral universe, and...there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws.

...we have adopted in the modern world a sort of a relativistic ethic...have accepted the attitude that right and wrong are merely relative...

But I'm here to say to you this morning that some things are right and some things are wrong. (Yes) Eternally so, absolutely so. It's wrong to hate.

(Yes, That's right) It always has been wrong and it always will be wrong. (Amen) It's wrong in America, it's wrong in Germany, it's wrong in Russia, it's wrong in China...

It was wrong in 2000 B.C., and it's wrong [now]...It always has been wrong, (That's right) and it always will be wrong."
From A Knock on Midnight, speeches by Martin Luther King Jr.

"I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history.
I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man's present nature makes him morally
incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him."

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
--Martin Luther King Jr.

In the Light of Human Rights,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Failing Why of Prayer

Here's my brief response to one atheist's
carefully reasoned views of prayer,
psychologist Valerie Tarico's thought-provoking article,
"If "Nothing Fails Like Prayer" Why Do People Keep at It?"

Part 2 of a series on her website:


Here’s my thoughts on prayer:

At first, Valerie Tarico PhD., writes,
“One simple answer, of course, is that human beings are wired for superstition.”*

But are all of us human beings "wired for superstition"?

That was never the case with me in the 55 years that I was a Christian,
mostly of the very liberal Quaker sort.

Many humans, even atheists are superstitious,
such as the famous novelist and atheist Ernest Hemingway.
And, of course, millions of religious people are superstitious in strict conservative Christianity and Islam.

But, in our family, and our Baptist church, we positively berated and strongly opposed superstition.

My father, a Baptist minister and history teacher, was also very practical, a carpenter and skilled handy-man, too. And my mother, tended to be very realistic about life.

They had survived the Great Depression and suffered through WWII, knew that despite best efforts by people, sometimes horrific events happen. They both took a dim view of popular Christian beliefs such as "Name it and Claim" magical prayer, for instance.

So, I don’t remember ever having any sort of superstition when I was a kid. We were completely against all those sorts of beliefs from astrology to praying for your car to keeping lucky coins, etc.

So then why did I continue for many years to pray fervently, even long after I had quit believing in most traditional Christian beliefs?

Besides, NOT ONE of my many central prayers
(unselfish ones, centered healing for others, for world peace, etc.) in 55 years was ever answered. NONE!

So why continue to pray?!


#1 We heard many sermons from brilliant and caring leaders which gave various excuses that I took to heart. If leaders who I deeply respected, said that ‘it wasn’t God’s time’ or that ‘we didn’t have enough faith,’ etc., they must know more than I did.

#2 Prayer was, at it deepest level, much more than requests for miracles, etc.

Prayer, especially among Quakers, focused on communion, empathy, sharing, and transcendence.

Such prayer wasn't the magical/superstitious "trying to figure out the cause and effect relationships that govern our lives" by God/Gods so that we could "manipulate what they do."

NOT at all.

Like so many words, "prayer" has become so connotatively associated with bad stuff, maybe it's a word that we people ought to recycle, not use at anymore.

My deepest experiences with "prayer" weren't anything like "magic" or "superstition." They didn't involve petition or "trying to figure out the cause and effect" and "manipulate" God.

There was the dramatic conversion experience with God (that's what I felt and thought) when I was young in the family car on a country road in southeast Nebraska.

And then later as an adult, I encountered several inexplicable transcendental experiences
(like Ralph Waldo Emerson’s sort of Transcendentalism explained in his essay, "Nature"),
experiences in which I was very clear-headed, not in a church, experiences that greatly
affected me for the positive and the best.

I don’t claim to know their nature from a scientific point of view, but they were joyful, life-changing,
and beneficial.

Long after, I had come to the conclusion that there are no miracles, that all such claims are hearsay, placebo, misdiagnosis, false-reports, even fraud,
I still
thought that the human sense of the transcendent is real,
and, for that matter still do.

Also, when I was an adult, I became a liberal Quaker, and many modern Quakers tend toward the rational side. Einstein in later life said that if he wasn't of a Jewish background, he would be a Quaker.

#3 Also, prayer was an important response--a form of deep meditation--when all possible humans actions have failed.

Many humans curse, others kick the wall, etc., I prayed:-)

My prayers did no good for any real-life changes,
but the inner communion helped me emotionally in the midst of despair and sorrow.


FROM If “Nothing Fails Like Prayer,” Why Do People Keep at It?

Posted on December 5, 2016 by Valerie Tarico, PhD.

“If prayer actually worked, everyone would be a millionaire, nobody would ever get sick and die, and both football teams would always win.” –Ethan Winer

"The phrase “nothing fails like prayer” was coined in 1976 by secular activist, Ann Nicol Gaylor, and the evidence is on her side. Research on “petitionary prayer,” the kind that makes requests, shows no overall effect or one that is very weak.
And yet, despite a stack of evidence that God is either deaf or dead (or otherwise unaffected by human supplication), theists by the hundreds of millions keep sending their requests heavenward.

In a 2010 Pew Survey of 35,556 Americans over half said they prayed daily, with 48% of Millennials (born 1982-2002) and 68% of “the Greatest Generation” (born 1900-1924) reporting prayer as a daily part of their lives.
Millions more respond to “acts of God” like hurricanes and tornadoes or, worse, to violence committed in the name of God like bombings and mass murder with words like “Please pray” or “Our prayers are with the victims.”

Since prayer has no measurable effect and religion often plays a causal role in mass violence, requesting or offering prayer in response to a natural disaster or terrorist assault may seem particularly cynical or cruel.
One simple answer, of course, is that human beings are wired for superstition. We see patterns in all sorts of random phenomena and engage in wishful thinking that knows few bounds. The scientific method is powerful precisely because it erects barriers against our tendency toward wishful thinking, forcing us to ask the questions that could show us wrong. It has been called, “what we know about how not to fool ourselves.”

So why is it that intelligent, compassionate educated adults—folks who would laugh if you suggested they carry a lucky rabbit’s foot or sacrifice a small goat or cross the street to avoid a black cat—still pray?"
(She deals with more complex issues which I will answer later.)

READ the full thought-provoking article at Valerie Tarico's blog:

Then share your own views and experiences--positive or negative at her website and here on this blog.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Quaker Corny Humor #13

After the 3 am tragic results of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, the next morning early, one tired liberal Quaker turned his combine left into the next set of corn rows in southeast Nebraska and ruminated:
“The good candidates always seem to lose these major elections. It’s so discouraging, but I do see a little corn-husking humor
in the thrashing." And grinned.

He stopped the gears, picked up a a little corn cob by his feet, and pulled at the shucks.

Later, he said to his wife, "As a former University of Nebraska Cornhusker (1965)—and literally a corn husker
with my dad on my grampa’s farm near Table Rock, Nebraska, I can combine;-)
those memories with the current thrashed debacle.

"NO, dear, don't go there!"

He shifted the tooth pick in his mouth, grinned and said, "Ear, ear! Countrymen give me your...Or, how about this sweetheart?

See, I usually am on the outs with whatever group I am in, particularly in being a citizen of the U.S.

With ‘wrong’-wing American voting patterns, I keep getting liberated from U.S. policy. For instance, I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primaries, though I am actually left of him, so in the final election, my views got left out,
But I and others aren’t left-OVER."

"Forget your corn, and come help me snap these green beans, please."

He got up, gave her a hug and said, "On the contrary, we are determined to ‘left’ up--

"NO, no," she pretended to scream and laughed.

"Seriously, we need to--especially with this bad turn of event--lift up
all those ignored by this new U.S. president, and continue to oppose
the increasing religious intolerance of Christians—
(you know)
help the needy, the suffering,
the persecuted,
undocumented immigrants,
hard-working single moms,
prisoners of conscience in various Islamic countries,
and so forth."

"Yes, darling, I agree." But now please snap the green beans."

He picked up a bean and snapped its ends. "I wish we could say that we are so hopeful that we could afford to enjoy a little leftar;-)"

With that his wife hit him with a wooden spoon and kissed him.


As we used to say in Adams, Nebraska, “Shucks, that ain't nothin' yet. I reckon I can get to the bottom of the corn crib before I'm done.”

For those who always want Scripture verses with their reflections, no matter how corny
here's a few:
Genesis 1:10 “And they came to the thrashing-floor of Atad,”

Numbers 28:27 “As though it were the corn of the thrashing-floor”

Ruth 3:7 “Ruth lay down at the end of a heap of corn on the thrashing-floor.”

from The Farm Engineer by Robert Ritchie, page 6, 1849

The taciturn Quaker in northern Oregon, suddenly, spoke up with fervency,
“What ought one to call a line
of rabbits hopping backwards, losing their hairy fur,
across several generations from the young
getting older, to parents, to grandparents, and great grandparents?”

A visiting Portlander looked puzzled. "I don't know. What's your meaning?"

“A receding ‘heir’ line,”
and the old Quaker grinned and went back to hoeing his corn.


What is the fastest country in the world?

What is the slowest country on record?

In what country is running a passionate activity?


What country doesn’t run at all?



The danger of semantics! See below:

William Penn crossed the road despite lots of horse-drawn vehicles.

Can you spell that without any r’s?

Huh? I’m baffled.

It’s easy, T-H-A-T.



Why did the jolly Quaker stop grinning early one morning, on the Oregon Trail,
when his oxen stubbornly refused to be hitched up?


They wouldn’t take a yoke.



Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Those Who Forget the Central Cause of Past Wrongs...

What Americans are forgetting in their current debacle of political, religious, and social name-calling are these words:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Artesian Well of Hope

Most Christian leaders now claim I and many others were never
Christians, never lovers of God,
that our deepest most meaningful experiences and beliefs were false heresies:-(

According to them, we were conceived in sinfulness
and long before our births foreordained to eternal damnation
along with billions of other "worthless" evil humans:-(

It's very weird--and despairing--that even some U.S. Quaker meetings
are promoting such negative religious leaders!


Back in the 1950's, we grew in a very different sort of religion,
one with a wonderful story,

one where every newly conceived infant was precious and innocent,

one where every human was of inherent worth and value,

one which encouraged us to work for equality, justice, human rights and well-being.

We were convinced that Ultimate Reality
cared about every single human who had ever been born and would ever be born.

My favorite heroes were those compassionate leaders who gave up comfortable lives
and went to harsh places to help the impoverished, the suffering,
and even those who chose and committed unjust, immoral actions.

There was hope for everybody, for every single human being!

When these generous, hopeful leaders spoke at free will Baptist gatherings and conferences, I asked for their autographs and kept them in a special box, like the autographs of sports heroes.

When I discovered the moral truth of the Sermon on the Mount,
that of peacemaking and nonviolence,
one such inspiring leader gave me encouragement to stand up against all those--
almost all the Americans I knew (including our Christian club leader)--who were telling me to go and kill Vietnamese.

I will always be grateful for his witness against the slaughter of war, even if his religion was an illusion.

And I will always be thankful for the witness of Friends in meeting, one of whom
sang of communion, compassion, and inclusion, when I and others were experiencing so much despairing theology.

Here's a short poem in which I tried to distill one very meaningful,
and deeply blessed experience of my hopeful youth.

A transcendent experience, one of ecstatic joy
and the commitment to work for ethical change
and deep idealism--

Artesian Well

I can’t carry a basic tune
Anymore than a bat can sing Hebrew
Or envision hieroglyphics,

But once I welled up bursting forth
Beyond all melodious barriers
Of sensuous fountaining,

Songing the voice of all singing.
Hosanna to the Highest and Deepest,
All-embracing universal cosmic Ultimate

Usually, I vocalize low
And hesitantly with insecure effort
But on that humid, many peopled

Saturday evened night in the crowded hall
In the midst of a thousand voiced praise
I not only caroled the Keys but was mused,

Songing the voice of all singing,
Hosanna to the Highest and Deepest
All-embracing universal cosmic Ultimate

We human instruments, fluting beautifully
One glorious open canticled Magnificat
With so much climatic passion;

Me, a human oboe in a great orchestra of tone
Being Bached and Beethovened,
To the alleluiaed heights,

Songing the voice of all singing,
Hosanna to the Highest and Deepest
All-embracing universal cosmic Ultimate.

Lava-hot harmonied, a chorale of joyous, exultant
Joy, the Transcendent's artesian well bursting forth,
Geysering up in ecstatic adulation,

Welling skyward beyond all measuring
Bursting beyond all selves
To God, our lover, all communioned,

Songing the voice of all singing,
Hosanna to the Highest and Deepest
All-embracing universal cosmic Ultimate.


-Daniel Wilcox

First pub. in
The Clockwise Cat in
different form and in
selah river poetry collection

The Thinking Class

Here’s a friendly satire/parody of a great song lyric
by a fine country singer Lee Bryce
and songwriters Frasier, Hill, Kear.*

Some drinking has bad side effects*;
so I changed a few words.

The Thinking Class

We're up when the computer glows
Clock in when the Internet micros
Eight hours pixeling fast
And then tomorrow we'll do it all over again

I'm a member of a tech collar crowd
They can never, nah they can't keep us down
If you gotta, gotta label, label me in the cloud

I belong to the thinking class
Monday through Friday, man we bust our brains
If you're one of us, raise your facts
I belong to the thinking class

We laugh, we cry, we love
Go hard when the going's tough
Push back, use reason it’s enough
Knock us down, we'll get back up again and again

I'm a member of a good reflecting crowd
We get rowdy, we get wild and loud
If you gotta, gotta label, label me in the cloud
I belong to the thinking class

Monday through Friday, man we bust our brains
If you're one of us, raise your facts
I belong to the thinking class

We all know why we're here
A little analysis, a little music, a little logic, a little beer
We're gonna shake off those long week to-dos
Ladies, break out your dancing shoes
It don't matter what night it is, it's Friday
It's Saturday and Sunday
I just want to hear you say
I just want to hear you sing it
Y'all sing it with me

We belong to the thinking class
Monday through Friday, man we bust our brains
If you're one of us, raise your facts
We belong to the thinking class

Yeah, we belong to the thinking class
Monday through Friday, man we bust our brains
And if you're one of us, raise your facts
We belong to the thinking class

*My parents were strongly opposed to any drinking because their relatives
drank their lives, and that of their families, away:-(.

Some drinking has very bad effects; so I changed a few words, emphasizing, instead, thinking.
I've worked blue-collar jobs as well as other collar jobs in my long life.

Drinking in moderation, thinking to the limit—that’s the way to go.

Raise your glass,
We belong to the thinking class.

Original Song:

Original lyrics written by David R Frasier, Ed Hill, Josh Kear
• Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Round Hill Music Big Loud Songs, DO Write Music LLC

Critical Thinking photo from…/class-isssue/

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Conundrum of Christianity and Other Religions


Questions from an agnostic online:
"...why [do] some people grow more aggressive, muscular, demanding, authoritarian or judgmental after converting to the "religion of self-sacrificial love," i.e., Christianity;"

"...or why there are people who are more loving, kind and understanding in each non-Christian religion or philosophy when compared with some very devout and staunchly believing Christians"?

Excellent questions, especially the last one.

For years it troubled me why it was that the most Jesus-like individuals were outside of orthodox Christianity.

And that, in contrast, many of the leaders of Christianity held strong unethical views and behaviors that were the exact opposite of Jesus' own words, and against Jesus' own social ethics as seen in the Sermon on the Mount and in the Good Samaritan parable.

Contrary to what I expected, the individuals who I admired as being deeply ethical in thought and practice included an agnostic, a Baha'i, a Jehovah's Witness, a Mormon, and a member of Eddy's church, Christ Scientist.

Their religions all seemed bonkers, but somehow, they had become committed to basic ethical truths, ones every human ought to hold and be dedicated to living.

Strangely, when a few of us dedicated social activists sought to get Christians to work for peace, the Christians would say,
"No one can know peace until they first accept Jesus as their only savior."

YET all these Christians, and their leaders (indeed almost every Christian I knew) were strongly pro-war:-(
avidly supported, paid for, and fought in the wars the U.S. started in Vietnam,
Central America, Iraq, Syria, etc. over the years.

Where was the peace that Jesus was supposed to bring?

These millions of born-again Christians continued clamoring in favor of the newest U.S. wars,
and defended all of their country's past wars,
even the intentional slaughter of innocent civilians!

Yet they were devout Christians who said they were born again,
that only they were the people who had real peace.


I still remember when one Christian leader stated
that the atom bomb was "God's gift to the U.S."!!!

And our Christian youth leader personally told me
that God was calling me and others to go and kill Vietnamese for Christ:-(

And many Muslims and orthodox Jews make similar claims--
if only our enemies adopt our religion, then all will be well...

But, of course, it never is,
because those Muslims, Jews, Christians, etc. use unjust and harmful means
to accomplish their alleged good goal.

Even worse, all 3 religions claim that God/Allah/G-d
is the One who actually causes/wills/ordains ALL evil,
causes all the wars, and so forth.

None of it made any sense, still doesn't.

Troubled in the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Discussing CUSSING

ALERT: These urls and articles (and my responses) deal with the question of whether or not swearing, slurring, profaning, verbally attacking, etc. are amoral, only mores, or a question of ethical truth.
In the process some of the commentators use obscenities, profanities, and racial slurs.

This time around, the cursing started with the President Elect in a past video tape of him from Hollywood. 'We’ll show ‘em.' And he did.

Usually, I don’t print out obscenities in my articles any more than I put feces on the table at breakfast or dinner.
HOWEVER I do understand that sometimes academics use the actual words because they want to emphasize the exact nature of the particular words they are talking and thinking about.

Other writers use them because they are attempting to portray real humans how they really speak in conversation.
They aren’t approving or showing disapproval ethically.

Other thinkers use cuss words, racial and sexual slurs, etc. freely in their writing (and their speech) because they are committed to ethical relativism, and so put their finger forward from the first.…/rebecca-roache-on-swearing.html…/where-does-swearing-get-its-power-and-how...

Rebecca Roache on Swearing

What, if anything, is wrong with swearing? Rebecca Roache discusses the philosophy of swearing in this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast.
Warning. This episode contains quite a lot of swearing.
Listen to Rebecca Roache on Swearing
Read Rebbeca Roache's blogposts on the Uehiro Centre Practical Ethics blog


Later, I am going to write an in depth article to lecturer-in-philosophy Rebecca Roache, President Elect Donald Trump, and others, so this is only my basic abstract.

For those interested check out new blog articles in the soon future on my blogpost, where I write brief articles, and very long ones (which only literature teachers, historians, philosophers, etc. will be interested enough to suffer through:-)

Shoot! This is post is already getting fairly long.
(Notice, “shoot,” my favorite intense word back when I was a fundamentalist kid;-)

In the Light of Goodness, Truth, and Beauty

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, November 11, 2016

Doss: Conscientious Objector, Medic, Medal of Honor Winner

from the TIME Review by Eliza Berman:

"Doss, a Seventh-Day Adventist who refused to bear arms but enlisted as a medic in the U.S. army, is on the battlefield on Okinawa in the spring of 1945."

"Armed with nothing but a bible, he’s carrying his wounded comrades to safety, one by one, through enemy fire,
repeatedly beseeching God to “help me get one more.”

'He would spend more than five years after the war being treated for his wounds, losing a lung to tuberculosis. Because of his injuries, he was never able to work full-time, and he devoted the rest of his life to working with his church."


Thanks to ALL the veterans who sought to protect and save
those who were oppressed,
and especially the young men who wouldn't kill,
but who rescued
and saved as many of the suffering that they could.

The conscientious objector and medic Desmond Doss was one of these protectors.

He refused to kill, became a medic and rescued many wounded Americans, including 50-100 off a tall cliff.

And our hearts go out to the millions of young men who have been sent off
to wrong wars,
to unjust wars,
caught between bad politics
and moral questions.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Modern Thinkers

Two Opposite Views by Modern Thinkers on Ethics and Human Rights:

"When he rebels, a man identifies himself with other men and so surpasses himself,
and from this point of view
human solidarity is metaphysical."

"No cause justifies the deaths of innocent people."

"...exalt justice in order to fight against eternal injustice."

"Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal
to the essence of being."
Albert Camus

These quotes are from later in the life of Albert Camus. In his early writings,
he did present the modern view that ethics are subjective and relative, not real.
He even wrote of murder as amoral, in his book, The Stranger.

BUT then the world faced the horror of Nazi Germany. Camus worked for the French Underground, wrote against the Nazis and their atrocities.

And his thinking developed and changed. He wrote The Plague and The Rebel, and other books which emphasized goodness, compassion, and justice.

By the 1950's, Camus became deeply committed to human rights for everyone,
worked for social justice,
opposed wars,
especially objected to the killing of civilians,
and rejected governments' use of capital punishment.

"When he rebels, a man identifies himself with other men and so surpasses himself,
and from this point of view human solidarity is metaphysical."

According to Camus it is important to rebel against governments and societies which are unjust.



"So then, who...does an atheist believe gives them rights?
I obviously can’t speak for all atheists, but as for my own opinion
I would say it’s the same group
that gives all of us rights, namely society and by extension, the government."

"...rights in one part of the world aren’t the same as in other parts. Society defines your rights
based upon it’s culture and morality at the time.
These rights are given by society..."

"Now to answer your question about the Declaration of Independence,
as I understand it, the architects of the declaration were careful to leave out any reference to “god”."

from another atheist:
"Rights are derived from the culture or society doing the defining."

another atheist:
"Well, I think we have rights in the sense that we have the rights that society/ government...agrees that we have and grants to us...

"...“rights”...They’re not real things."

from Ask the Atheist

It seems very strange that Ask an Atheist
declares that the "architects of the
declaration were very careful to leave out any reference to "god."

What the heck?

It's exactly opposite in the Declaration:
The Enlightenment thinkers emphasized that God is the source of all humans' inherent rights:

From the Declaration--
" 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."

But even stranger--and far more despairing
is the claim by these writers at Ask an Atheist that it is societies and governments who give/grant humans "rights."


If it is governments who give "rights," then they can take them away.

And they often do deny millions of humans their natural born rights.

Those of us who work for human rights organizations have spent many years opposing governments including South Africa, Pakistan, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Guatamala, North Korea, the U.S., etc. who have denied humans their rights.

That is why Enlightenment leaders emphasized all humans are born with inherent rights.

All humans are born to "equality," and "certain unalienable Rights."

ALL conscious, rational, ethical beings have inherent rights.

(I would take it a step further. ALL conscious, sentient creatures have inherent rights.
Isn't this the very emphasis of the Animal Rights movement?)

Rights are inherent,
and "unalienable" (meaning that no government
or society has a right to take them away, though many
claim they do)
have the right
to reject any society or government
which denies them their inherent rights.

Listen to Albert Camus, again: "When he rebels,
a man identifies himself with other men and so surpasses himself,
and from this point of view human solidarity is metaphysical."

Don't listen to
these modern piped pipers who think that humans
in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, North Korea, etc.
have the rights that their governments
and societies grant to them.


Rights are inherent in every human being.

Societies and governments, of course, do often deny
humans' ability to exercise
their rights.

But societies and governments
don't give rights.

We are born into the human species with rights and equality.

As Camus wrote, "Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being."

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, November 3, 2016

America's Fixation on Political Insults While Millions...

How tragic and how immoral that Americans are fixated on political insults
and past behavior
of Trump and Hillary--hour after hour, day after day, month after month....

the terrible earthquake in Nepal which destroyed 800, 000 homes,
600,000 people still live in temporary housing.
Few Americans even know about this real tragedy
and need!

And in Syria over 400,000 precious humans have been slaughtered, millions wounded,

(Photo credit: ABU AMAR AL-TAFTANAZ/AFP/Getty Images)

millions turned into refugees...

YET Americans continue to support sending billions of dollars
for that and other wars:-(

Then there is Haiti and Iraq and Nigeria and Yemen and Somalia and Afghanistan...

And our own crises here...

BUT DID YOU SEE AND HEAR what so-n-so said

on CNN or FOX

about you know who?

Really obscenely unjust::-(


Historian Howard Zinn down-dated to the 6 wars the U.S. is now waging, bombing, especially Syria:

"We live in a world in which we are asked to make a moral choice
between one kind of terrorism and another.

The government, the press, the politicians, are trying to convince
us that [the U.S. support and funding
of Muslim killers in Syria, etc.], our "terrorism is morally
superior to [President Assad's] terrorism."

"Of course, we don't call our actions that, but...congratulating
[our]selves that the world's most heavily-armed nation [the U.S.]
can bomb with impunity..."

"Modern technology has outdistanced the Bible. "An eye for an eye" has become
a hundred eyes for an eye, [by the U.S. government, with over 400,000 slaugtered
by our side and Assad's side]
which tried to wrap their moral nakedness in the American flag."

"There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing..."

" a very old weapon of fanatics, whether they operate
from secret underground headquarters,
or from ornate offices in the capitols of the superpowers."
Howard Zinn

How great is the darkness of the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, Syria, Turkey, etc.

Please, for Aleppo's civilians, turn to the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, October 31, 2016

2 Divergent, Contradictory Ways of Human Perceiving

Poetry versus prose, fact versus story,
symbolic versus technologic,
intuitive versus rational,
emotion versus logic,
experience versus learning,
reason versus tradition,

religion versus science,
transcendent versus temporal,
sacred versus secular,
spiritual versus material,
supernatural versus natural,
personal versus impersonal—

What bipolar opposites!

Yet within everyone of us, the human species, homo sapiens.

Some thinkers claim they are irreconcilable.

Yet from a different angle, these 2 ways of perceiving, “seeing,”
so often divergent and opposite, do sometimes interrelate.

They aren’t always extreme clashers/antithetical/
contradictory/mutually incompatible/
not always (as in never shall the twain meet)
like “fundamentalists” of religion
and “scientilists” of science adamantly claim--incompatible.

But they do, indeed, offer 2 very different ways of perceiving reality.

The HUGE question is whether those perceptions are mutally exclusive
or complimentary, even married as in the old saw--opposites attract:-).

The issue of these 2 divergent ways of perceiving is like the old joke about sex:
Is the word, sex, an acronym for
“sensitive experiential ecstasy”?
the short term for biological interaction between a primate
with XY chromosomes with one with XX chromosomes?

Or like the joke about the elephant versus the mouse in the room?

It’s ‘irrelevant’;-
like these last few lines.)

#1 Our first contrast:


From the Jewish, Christian, Islamic religions,
the ancient text of Genesis (written 500 B.C.E.
in Babylon by Jewish scribes as a poem to honor
the 7th day of Shabbat)

1 In the beginning of G-d’s preparing the heavens and the earth — 2 the earth hath existed waste and void,
and darkness on the face of the deep, and the Wind of G-d fluttering on the face of the waters,
And G-d said, "Let light be; and light is."

On the 4th day of Creation:
14 And G-d said, "Let luminaries be in the expanse of the heavens...and the stars..."
And there is an evening and there is a morning, day 4.



From the Lecture 113--8. Early Universe
by astronomer Chris Impey,
University of Arizona, Tucson

"...the frontier of knowledge is...the Planck Era. An amazing ten to the minus 43 seconds after the big bang.

Conceptually, this is a time in the infinite universe when space itself was as curved as a particle. When the distinction between space and time did not exist. Or the objects in space and the space that contain them. This was when the universe was smaller than the smallest subatomic particle.

Just thinking about the Big Bang, it's an extraordinary event. A 100 billion galaxies and a 100,000 billion billion stars they contained were all compressed into a space smaller than a sub atomic particle. What the big bang theory really says is that...
The universe itself was created in a quantum event...

...a theory of black holes, of galaxies, and a theory of, of atoms, of light, of force. So we have two great theories of physics, the theory of the very big, Einstein's Theory of Relativity, and the theory of the very small, the Quantum Theory...

The exponential expansion of inflation essentially blew up quantum fluctuations to macroscopic size, where they would subsequently become the seeds for galaxy formation. That same expansion of course, is responsible for the flatness and smoothness of space. Whatever the initial curvature, and it must have been extreme, space has now inflated to an enormous size, or space curvature in any large region is negligible.

This idea puts the microwave sky in a whole new light. What is says is that when we look at the microwave background radiation through a radio telescope, we're look at quantum fluctuations writ large on the sky, the seeds for galaxy formation.

So hypothetically, about a microsecond after the Big Bang, the universe would have had a temperature of about a trillion degrees. That's the energy from which neutrons and protons can have their anti-particle pairs created spontaneously out of pure energy. Below that temperature, or after that time, such creation is not possible. The speculation is that there was a very slight imbalance in the amount of matter versus anti-matter.

From the time a few minutes after the Big Bang until just under 400,000 years after the Big Bang, the universe was simply an expanding and cooling plasma, cooling from a temperature of 10 million Kelvin down to about 3,000 Kelvin. When the universe reached this size, density and temperature, it reached the point where electrons could combine with protons to form stable hydrogen and also helium atoms.

It takes perhaps 100 or 200 million years after the Big Bang for the first objects to switch on
as light bulbs in the sky. Stars and galaxies."

The first account is poetic story, from us finite primates looking up and creating,
telling a narrative of meaning.

The second account is factual prose, from us observing,
discerning objective facts in the cosmos.

Are these two perspectives totally contradictory?

Is a complete divorce necessary as some secular scientists
such as biologist Jerry Coyne
and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins think?

Or are the two opposite accounts, a sharing couple, committed to interaction
like geneticist Francis Collins
and cell biologist Kenneth R. Miller think?

According to the astronomer Chris Impey, the two views are interelated:

"We're made of tiny subabtomic particles and are part of a vast space-time arena,
yet we hold both extremes in our heads....the powerful narrative that science
has created to help us organize and understand the world.

We have a story of how the universe grew from a jot of space-time to the splendor
of 50 billion galaxies. We have a story of how a broth of molecules on the primeval
Earth turned into flesh and blood.

And we have a story of how one of the millions of species
evolved to hold those 50 billion galaxies
inside its head."
How It Began page xii,
How It Ends, page 11

BOTH the poetic and the factual intrigue me; I love both ways of perceiving.


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Q.C.Humor #12: Remember Planking?

Remember planking?

Then there's always plenty of plankton in the ocean at the beach.

And, of course, don't forget pelicans, so we give you the plankton' pelican--
a post dedicated to punning, poetry, and all manner of lyin' of the innocent sort.

*The term plankton comes from Greek, planktos,
"errant," and leans toward the meaning of "wanderer."

*Pelican is related to to the Greek, pelekys "ax."

'Ax' not what this website can do for you but what you can do for this jabberwobblied jungle.;-)

What did the 3 pelicans say as they flew off from the roof of a Friends' meeting house in North Carolina?

Been there, dung that.;-)

Heard the story about the 'fun-gal' and the 'fun-guy'?

The couple, Gus and Gal, thought a great way to spend an evening was dining out on mushroom-stuffed cuisine.

"It's a lot of fun,Gus said;-).

The Quaker lady in Northwest Yearly Meeting endured her husband's groaning puns, but she had a bone to pick with him when he commented on her accidentally
banging her elbow (the funny bone) on his filing cabinet in their study.

For he laughed and said, That's very 'humerus.'



Sitting Duck

There in the urban lagoon
You are sitting drunk on Mountain Dew
Gabbled to the long-boarded bar
Waiting for another sotted-shot
To blast
Through your flapped brain,
One more mallard
For the boat-tender

-Daniel Wilcox
First published in Word Riot,
also in Dark Energy,
2009 by Diminuendo Press

Clammy Chops

I scooped in one huge mouthful of savory chowder
Swimming with succulent salmon reconnoitering
Wild from Alaska—my taste buds buzzed into singing,
But the stupid phone in the kitchen rang, yanking me.

I dropped my creamy spoon and rushed through the open door--
Wrong number! Frustrated, I slammed down the white thing,
Tended to nagging errands clanging for attention;
But then heard a loud slurp ... slurping 'round the den corner.

Oh, no! I rushed back into the aromatic room
And there crouched Fizzy, our calico, her cream-rootbeer
Mugged head raised, pleased, above the scent-wafted white bowl,
Just "fin-ished"—her pink tongue wiping those smiling chops.

-Daniel Wilcox
First pub. in vox poetica,
also in my book of previously published poems,
selah river, 2012

Heard about the Catholic-Mormon couple who had a large family of a dozen kids?

A negative neighbor criticized, "Haven't they heard of family planning?"

But another more philosophical neighbor with a bit of wit said,
"No, but they've heard of family planting!
They been spending lots of nights of sleeping together, dozin';-)"


"I've traveled all over America," Sam stated.


Ah, Bird Poop Van

Ah, bird poop van,
there in the far corner of the fast food lot
where wind-blown paper congregates,
and you squat against the curb,

a rusted Ford Econoline home,
spattered with a thousand puked starbursts
of smell on your dull finish,
a metal fadedness of has been.

Your owner in his tourist-trash hat
and long dirty hair hanging to his collar,
squats on the splattered grass,
grizzled before his future demise,
a throwback to Ashbury
where he used to panhandle.

He sits with his wilted wildflower
in her faded jeans splotched with patches,
sipping their mocha coffee on the matted grass
wary for the squad car to cruise by again,
and roust them out of their corner nest
under the gilded arches.

But, oh, you rest and rust so easy–
at least there are no fowl in sight.

-Daniel Wilcox
First pub. in The Bicycle Review,
also in, Dead Snakes, and
selah river

No, Eve, I won't touch that apple," he said adamantly.


The So n' So Argument

A modern couple lives on the seismic line
This of Sam 'n Andrea as in the city, so summered
Of Gardena, you know, Ada-'n Eve-r on, oh so pummed
Their hysterical house divided down geological;

They argue and argue until at the crack of dawn
Displaced tension 'rictors' up through their disjunction,
Until, until...they both shout, bellow so loud, "So,
It's YOUR fault, not mine."

-Daniel Wilcox
First pub. in Media Virus Magazine,
also in selah river

"My pet whale has died," Ahab blubbered.


Gum Up

Notice how ‘theoillogicalies’
Gum up the worded worlds

Stretchnosepuppet the truth

Jaw-chewing, teeth gnawing
It all out of shape
Are the ‘dickens-dammed,’
Bubblegummed worst

To remove

Undersides of study desks
Or our floored mind

-Daniel Wilcox
First pub. in Poydras Review,
also in Dead Snakes and
selah river

"I used to be a pilot," George explained.


Playing 'Heir' Ball

Our historic cat coughed up
a wadded brown object,
and yarned...

Ah forget
that long-winding 'tail';
go pell-mell
to your cultural
what was
your latest

-Daniel Wilcox
First pub. in The Clockwise Cat,
and in Dark Energy, my first book
of previously published poems,
2009 by Diminuendo Press

"She tore my valentine in two," said Romeo, halfheartedly.


confused poet

ever hear
of the absent-minded poet
who plunged his teeth
and flossed their toilet?

-Daniel Wilcox
from Dark Energy,
Diminuendo Press

"That's no pedigree; it's a mongrel," Tommy muttered.

"When I saw the snake, I became very upset and was rattled," said Martha.



Hugging his Friendly spouse, he whispered into her ear, "I love to camp with you," he said intently.


Has planking become an endangered species?

In the Light-hearted,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, October 14, 2016

Powerful Evidence Against Theology, But for Science, Reason, and Hope

Conjoined Twin Boys Successfully Separated in Rare Surgery


Twin baby boys conjoined at the head were separated on Friday in a nearly day-long operation at a New York children’s hospital.

Thirteen-month-old twins Anias and Jadon McDonald were successfully separated at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, and were undergoing reconstructive surgery...

“And then there were two,” the kids’ mother, Nicole McDonald, wrote in a Facebook post early Friday.

She added in a follow-up post: “TWO SEPARATE BABIES!!!...and yet I ache with the uncertainty of the future. I didn’t cry until the surgeon’s left the room. I was barely able to even utter the words “thank you” because of the pit that still sits heavy in my stomach. We are standing on the brink of a vast unknown.”

Dr. James Goodrich, who has now done seven craniopagus separation surgeries, led the risky procedure and broke the good news to Nicole and the boys’ father, Christian, around 3 a.m., CNN reports.

“Well, we did it,” he said, according to CNN. The surgery has taken at least 22 hours.

“When they told me they were wheeling Jadon up first, it took me a second to comprehend,” Nicole wrote in a Facebook post Friday morning.

“I actually asked why they rearranged the room because I hadn’t really internalized the idea that there would be 2 beds in here. Welcome back my sweet Jadon.
Happy rebirth day.
Anias is still in surgery believe it or not...
maybe 2 more hours.”

The journey to the separation has been a long, emotional one for the family. The parents had to decide whether to go through with the operation, even though the surgery included major risks like death or brain damage to the children.

“There was times where I just...didn’t want to go there and think about the fact that, you know, one or both...could maybe have a handicap or something like that,” Christian told CNN ahead of the surgery.

“I think now I’m at the point where I do that that is a possibility and, if that’s the case, It’s not gonna change anything. I mean, we’re still gonna love them. They’re our boys.”

Now, although the children have been separated successfully, the family has a long road ahead.

“The next few months will be critical in terms of recovery and we will not know for sure how Anias and Jadon are recovering for many weeks...So we just took a huge leap of faith, but now we are back to taking baby steps.”

The wonder of modern medicine and hope!

In the Light of Reason and Technology,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Conundrum of Emphasizing What You Are NOT

Here's a baffling conundrum of modern society:

I have a complete lack of belief in
but I don't emphasize that I am an A-Muslim (a- means "without").

I have a complete lack of belief in
but I don't emphasize that I am an A-Calvinist-Augustinian!

So why do so many now
emphasize what they have a complete lack of belief in
that they are A-theists?

It reminds me of a short reflection by the astronomer,
Neil deGrasse Tyson,

“You know, the only ‘ist’ I am, is a scientist.
“It’s odd that the word ‘atheist’ even exists. I don’t play golf.

Is there a word for non-golf-players?
Do non-golf players gather and strategize?

Do non-skiers have a word and come together
and talk about the fact that they don’t ski?”

Atheists are now claiming that all human infants are Atheists at birth.

And I might add, are all infants at birth
A-Golfers, A-Skiers;-), etc.?

Thanks, Kurt V.

In Light-hearted satire against this weird Trumpped world,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, October 3, 2016

harvest or 'leaving'

harvest present
autumn 'leaving'

burned-over dreams in the rusted oil drum
behind our faded house of fallen child
midwest blown by dark thundered storm

hedged branches, clumped together on the lawn
waiting to become ashes wafted cumulus
piles of browned cuttings lost to history

yet writing stems up greening between
lined cracks in the disjointed concrete walk
behind our parsonage, weeds of wonder
between hard slabs of the displaced past

in front, raking my fallen memories up
shoving those windblown scatterings
off our green lawn, dumping them over
down into a gully-ditched pile

rising up, 3 feet of dry-colored splash
a crinkly mass of discarded leaving
bursting red-scarlet, yellow-gold, orange, and tan
for struggling kids-of-heart to jump in

-Daniel Wilcox
First pub. in Words-Myth Magazine,
then in the poetry collection, Dark Energy
Diminuendo Press, Texas


Leaving Off Leaving

Leaving in the fall of harvested years
Dark colors shade and give to grayness,
Vibrant and vivid memories fade away
Scattering with the barren wind of winter;

The past burst of life firework-spangled
Now only falls dead embered and ashed,
Sometimes one last fizzle of brief autumn.

Leaving off leaving

Leaving behind our shining, aspiring dreams
Dark forebodings rise, failed hopes fragment,
Broken crumbling shale of envisioned plans

Crunch under the shifting strata of history;
Now only grit, gravel and dust remain, 'ore'
The grimmed remainders of old 'talings.'

Leaving off leaving

Leaving off these soul somber dirges, we go
Deeply inward to the eternal equator
Of the transcendent within our inner becoming
Where ‘psalms’ forever green in their vivid verdancy
Of that brilliant light that candled the cosmos;

Behind this anguished world so fallen to despair,
Shines forth one Ultimate’s ideal, the shimmering
Lodestar of illuminable-illimitable
Beauty and glorious perfection.

Leaving off leaving

Regrets--life's most wept weapings, keen,
Laments leafing we never stop shedding,
Streams flow ever ill-crease and redden
The puffy setting of our swollen eyes.

Our plummeting wailing into the dark catacombs
Of elder age like black matter, forgiven wrongs
And destroyed hopes refuse to leave our troubled self
Dimming the Light shining into becoming.

Leaving this leaving

Relentless remorse and despair cancers away
Morning from tearing up in geysered joy.
And we grieve our journey'd 'trial' to demise,
Our only hope the Everlasting Divine.


--Daniel Wilcox
First pub. in the poetry
collection, selah river


Fall Impression

In that fall of Nebraska's weather so dying,
Sun-jaded trees ungreened and thundered color

Reverberating the world, 'Gogh'ing to the limit;
They left tremoring rainbows burst earth-bound and shingled

In that wind--melted yellow, orange, and maroon,
Fingerpaints jagged, leaved in those black wrought branches;

Then with the stroke of more rogue northerly gusts,
The zagged etchings counter-wheeled in swirling emotion—

Hacking our senses, 'hueing' our minds until acrylic glazed--
And so reeled and rolled diagonally down in that kaleidoscoping Monet.

--Daniel Wilcox
First pub. in The Write Side Up
and Dark Energy poetry collection

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, October 1, 2016

a short true story for when one is overwhelmed by the world's troubles

a true account for when you are overwhelmed, when events are going wrong,
from Swanee Hunt:

" old woman...lived in a little town in Croatia.

Every day she had one job, to go at noon to the church, to take the ropes
that were tied up on the wall, untie them, pull on the ropes,
and ring the bells in the tower.

During the war [Serbia-Kosovo-Croatian War] in village after village, when the Serb forces came in tanks, they would shoot up all the houses of the Catholics, the Croats, and then they would end up at the church.

They would go to the church and shoot up the church. At the very end they would shoot the tower.

Then they would roll out, and it would now be a Serb town.

This old woman whose church had been shot up, every day you would find her in the churchyard at noon.

There was wood splintered everywhere, but in the middle of the debris, the big bell
that had been in the bell tower
was lying on its side on the ground.

Sophia, this eighty-year-old woman,
was bent over with her old gnarled hands
grasping the clapper
and swinging her arms,
the bell.

I carry Sophia inside of me,
and I hope you will.

No matter what the circumstances
in which you are working,
in which you are living,
your job is to keep
your hands on that clapper,
ringing the bell."

by Swanee Hunt, diplomat, ambassador, founder of Hunt Alternative Fund,
for advancing innovative and inclusive approaches to social change
at local, national, and global levels, and professor at Harvard
from Global Values 101: A Short Course Edited by Kate Holbrook,
Ann S. Kim, Brian Palmer, Anna Portnoy

Remember the classic words:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

by John Dunne

And here's a little throw-away punning for those who need a laugh,
as well as a wing and a prayer:

To misquote the old Zen question--
What is the sound of one hand clappering?

In the light of hope and truth,

Daniel Wilcox