Skeptical Blender
Something I hope they say about me when I’m dead:

"It’s not that he was fearless, it’s that he was motivated to face his fears."

That’d be flattering.. For now I can just strive in that direction.

Excerpted from “Goodbye to a River” by Texas author John Graves

"But there have always been some of the others, the willful loners. And out alone for a time yourself you have some illusion of knowing why they are as they are. You hear the big inhuman pulse they listen for, by themselves, and you know their shy nausea around men and their relief of escape. Or you think you do…

There was old Sam Sowell. He didn’t live on the river, but not far from it either, in the limestone and cedar country near Glen Rose. His home was a dugout on a hill with a grove of live oaks, on the backest back end of 180 acres that belonged to him. In those depression days the land would have been expensive at seven dollars an acre, but it was his bank. He subsisted on flour and beans and fatback and squirrel and mustard greens and such luxuries, and he dipped snuff. When he needed to buy anything, he would chop two cedar posts out of the matted brake that covered most of his estate, and would shoulder them and walk straight across country three and a half miles to a store on the Stephenville road. There he would trade the posts for two bits’ worth of whatever merchandise it was that he wanted, and would walk back home.”

21 Haikus In Support Of Doing The Right Thing

Mankind’s greatest lie:
“No good deed goes unpunished.”
Refute it yourself.

A tear, wiped away.
Wounds, set to heal. Each one is
A grand masterpiece.

Look back on your life.
Have you ever regretted
Doing something good?

No matter how old,
Or young, or rich, or poor, or
Sick - doing good heals.

The indifferent world?
But there’s love and kindness here.
It’s all around us.

Ever made someone
Smile? Remember how it felt.
Feel that way again.

Simply doing good
Trumps all other ecstasies.
No high can compare.

When is the last time
Someone cried on your shoulder?
On their behalf: thanks.

Ever needed help?
Someone out there needs you, too.
So go and find them.

What makes life worth it?
Isn’t it just everything
Good we’ve ever done?

Whatever happens,
Whenever, wherever, there’s
The right thing to do.

The world is scary,
But that much less if you do
What’s necessary.

Every evil fact
Is an opportunity
To do the right thing.

Dwell on this saying:
“Today you, tomorrow me,”
And pay it forward.

“Goodness: the only
Investment that never fails.”
Wise Thoreau said that.

Many helped you, but
There’s no debt you can’t repay
By helping others.

What is selfishness
But a disease to be cured
With simple kindness?

Is goodness cheesy?
Or is it cynicism
That’s spreading evil?

Bad news: you’re going
To die. So what do you want
To do while you’re here?

There’s no better thing
Than being renewed by good -
An eternal Spring.

Defend the weak, and
Comfort the weary and sick.
It *is* that simple.

Yes, this is a post asking you to donate money

No, it’s not a scam or a cheesy kickstarter, it’s for a non-profit I work for (so I can vouch how badly any money is needed): The New Orleans Fruit Tree Project! Our work involves harvesting fruit from people’s private trees that wouldn’t have used it anyway, and donating the harvests to food banks.

A sensible initiative, wouldn’t you agree? Today is GiveNOLA Day, a 24-hour donation-spree for local non-profits in New Orleans. Since there are so few of us that work at the Fruit Tree Project (and we are all volunteers), I figured I ought to do my part by publicizing the chance to help us out as much as I can.

So, if you would like to do a good deed today and throw a few dollars our way (which has the potential to be matched, and more), here is the link:

Thank you!


A Villareal fan throws a banana at Dani Alves before his corner kick. Dani Alves, a prominent victim of racism in Spain, eats it.

Alves: “I don’t know who threw the banana, but I’d want to thank him. It gave me energy to give 2 more crosses that ended up in a goal.”

that face when he’s walkin backward with his banana

"i cant believe these racists. im not gonna waste good fruit though."


New Orleans, Louisiana, 1980 — William Eggleston


New Orleans, Louisiana, 1980 — William Eggleston

Françoise Huguier, La Martinique, 1986

Françoise Huguier, La Martinique, 1986

"Sic Vita" - Henry David Thoreau
I am a parcel of vain strivings tied
            By a chance bond together,
Dangling this way and that, their links
            Were made so loose and wide,
                     For milder weather.

A bunch of violets without their roots
            And sorrel intermixed,
Encircled by a wisp of straw
            Once coiled about their shoots,
                                        The law
                     By which I’m fixed.

A nosegay which Time clutched from out
            Those fair Elysian fields,
With weeds and broken stems, in haste,
            Doth make the rabble rout
                                        That waste
                     The day he yields.

And here I bloom for a short hour unseen,
            Drinking my juices up,
With no root in the land
            To keep my branches green,
                                        But stand
                     In a bare cup.

Some tender buds were left upon my stem
            In mimicry of life,
But ah! the children will not know,
            Till time has withered them,
                                        The woe
                     With which they’re rife.

But now I see I was not plucked for naught,
            And after in life’s vase
Of glass set while I might survive,
            But by a kind hand brought
                     To a strange place.

That stock thus thinned will soon redeem its hours,
            And by another year,
Such as God knows, with freer air,
            More fruits and fairer flowers
                                        Will bear,
                     While I droop here


Sahel Crisis 2014 Funding Status (via UNOCHA)

It bothers me that nations withhold so much wealth from each other. As if the United States can’t come up with 2 billion. 175 billion dollars a year for 20 years would end extreme poverty, according Jeffrey Sachs, which is 0.7% of rich country income. And yet here we all are. 


Sahel Crisis 2014 Funding Status (via UNOCHA)

It bothers me that nations withhold so much wealth from each other. As if the United States can’t come up with 2 billion. 

175 billion dollars a year for 20 years would end extreme poverty, according Jeffrey Sachs, which is 0.7% of rich country income. 

And yet here we all are. 

The long and short of it is, if you use some of your spare time and spare land to feed yourself, you’re doing a good deed for the earth. I hope to see more studies into this subject as time goes on!

What’s wrong with nihilism

I’ve been thinking about egalitarianism, ethics, and meaning a lot lately. It seems to me that if we take the egalitarian ethic seriously we must act extraordinarily in response to extraordinary suffering.

The alternative is to openly reject egalitarianism, or to pretend we value it when in fact we do not.

But this is not a question of personal purity, rather, a question of right and wrong. It is the simple, even humble, realization that we must either do what we know is right, or find a way to justify what we know is wrong.

We are gifted with magnificent, sophisticated faculties for carrying out the latter course, even becoming so convinced of our unsullied blamelessness that we dwell rarely on questions of right and wrong, having relegated them merely to brief, almost recreational episodes of “deep” thinking about life, the results of which, if any, are sometimes even forgotten in less time than the original duration of this fleeting moment of self-awareness.

What does remain of it, however, is the soft but lingering echo of doubt about the ultimate direction and purpose of our lives, which, even when wholly unacknowledged, unlike a physical echo, renders us first distracted, then ill at ease, then troubled by some unnamed worry, and finally consumed by dread and aimless despair – often un-diagnosed even up to that late stage. Thus this creeping phenomenon which propagates the hollowness of a life lived unexamined for too long is perhaps more aptly likened to a cancer than an echo. 

I believe the greater part of the existential melancholy that ails our people is the logical, if unfortunate, conclusion of unexamined living.

The one who scoffs at learning, calling ignorance bliss, may see wisdom in Voltaire’s conclusion in Candide: “Travaillons sans raisonner – c’est le seul moyen de rendre la vie supportable,” or “Let us work without reasoning – this is the only way to make life bearable.” But this is an empty husk of wisdom, following its style and phenotype without containing true wisdom’s rewarding fruit and substance. For it is the humble awareness of our surroundings and the constituent parts of life that afford each moment lived an inner beauty and meaning that transcends Candide’s merely “bearable” life, and approaches a truer, realer bliss instead.

This bliss, the unarticulated object of yearning for so many of us, is found in meaning. The points in the universe to which meaning can be attached afford the rest of the whole equal meaning, since it is axiomatically true that everything that exists is connected, and inextricably so.

It is a modern malady that we often infer that we are significant in direct proportion to the space we occupy, a malady because that most obvious source of meaning – transcendental humanity – is now known to be physically tiny in relations to the size of all things.

But our worth is not measured by what portion of space our bodies fill. Is not the humble, puny electron at least as important as the mighty galaxy? Indeed, could the latter exist without the former?

I see a plain hypocrisy in the view nowadays that we are but motes of dust: to pronounce the significance of one of the Universe’s constituent parts is to claim to know it all in sufficient measure to issue such a judgment. A haughtier claim by humankind was never made in the guise of self-effacement.

I call it wiser to cheerfully embrace the ancient, if unfashionable counsel that we humans are creatures of meaning. It is this motive, by which we were born, by which we live, and by which we will die. And it is that lack of its reassurance which drives to despair and folly the misguided masses of our day.

Can anyone defend meaninglessness? What basis would they use, those that would do it? If their god is Truth, let us call them right a moment and proceed to ask – what god can Truth be, without the meaning of Truth? It is by meaning that we are able to value, and without an ability to value, no argument for Truth or any other thing can thenceforward be made. It may truly be impossible for my words to reach a nihilist, if he is a true one, for my words appeal to value, and he can have none. By the same token, he cannot appeal to me, since without value there is in fact no appealing to be done. At least the false prophets of older times invoked the gods. Today’s false prophets of meaninglessness can invoke nothing at all to defend their heresy.

Today’s heresy is a gospel of meaninglessness. At least Solomon’s mild heresy in Ecclesiastes that “all is vanity” was accompanied by the caveat that there can still be value in simple human happiness (an essential caveat, in the end, since that one kernel of truth turned out to be the sown seed of all the meaning an honest and thoughtful person can hope to reap from life). All is vanity, perhaps, if simple fulfillment can be rightly called vain.