Friday, July 29, 2011


AS SOON AS I HEARD THE RUMORS, I MADE MY WAY TO HIS CAMP. I will need all my courage and skills to get this story. With some trepidation, I approach. You are looking at a man who has taken well over a hundred thousand lives---who proudly identifies himself as a killer.

I'm afraid of him-----and yet mesmerized. I ask him about his scooter, its mileage and his travel style. He answers---I marvel---ask more harmless questions---get permission for pictures. His loneliness is my way in.

Soon I am a welcome guest. I do believe I could interview Satan---even He would enjoy telling his story to an inquiring mind.
He shows me how he transports his worldly goods on this makeshift rack. For some years now he has wandered the world ---purposeless---angry---hopeless----unwilling or unable to build a new identity.
And then----and then---I get the story---he's convinced that I care---AND I DO! Here's the story: He has personally killed more than a hundred thousand animals---mostly cows and pigs--and some horses. His only career was killer in a slaughter house---started at 18---was hired not knowing what his job would be----was shocked at first---but got on with it. Said he suffered horrible nightmares for a long time---then they went away-----then something astounding happened---HE BEGAN TO ENJOY KILLING---began to love it---said he would often kill a string of cows to jam up the processing line so he could take a break.

Then something horrible happened: HE BEGAN TO ENJOY CRUELTY! I will spare you details of his cruelty---(though he did not spare me) The only good news is that it was soon noticed and the company moved him to another job. It did not satisfy and he went off to another state and began a second career as a self employed killer and processor for small farmers.

He got married and had kids but she divorced him after 23 years. A minor stroke and mental stresses a few years ago disabled and qualified him for SSI compensation on which he travels and survives living in a tent.

Says he's not killed anything in a while---but shows me that he could. Oh sweet readers---this interview nearly did me in. I came home and cried. Here is a soul that has been seared by killing---and I'm afraid that everyone who eats meat helped do the searing. I don't know how to feel. Is there a way to kill that does not scar our being?

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: I thought of Cain---killer of Abel---marked and cursed by God to be a restless wanderer on the earth. This guy looks and fits the name. Strangely, he tells everyone he meets that he is a killer. (puzzled over this awhile) Now I think I understand why he does it: As dreadful as this admission is-----it is less dreadful than NOTHINGNESS. (being Nobody)---Killer is at least an identity---and any identity is more bearable than being nobody. (Nothingness is the anxiety of non existence----and PUSHING AWAY NOTHINGNESS is the full time obsession of all humans)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


DOWN, DOWN, DOWN FROM RUIDOSO---fire danger has closed the forest--so we will drift north to the high mountains of New Mexico. But we're in no great hurry. Considered winding my way to the top of that mountain to get cool---Gallinas peak--8,500 ft. But learned that it's closed too.

Settled for the night at the edge of this tremendous lava field---45 miles long---different from most lava fields because it oozed out of a hole in the ground instead from a mountain cone. About 25 miles due west is Trinity site where the first atomic bomb was detonated.

Next day North across the flat yellow plains, stopping to walk the remote town of Corona---visit its museum.

A missed turn took us to Vaughn, NM---a walk past this motel let us meet these two interesting guys---with a serious message for America---they're riding scooters across the nation--stopping at churches to give a rather shocking report: "There are about 120,000 slaves currently in America. Mostly sex and labor slaves--tricked into coming here--hidden away--exploited and abused."

Then North on a lovely back road (NM hwy 3) for 40 miles without meeting another car.

Headed here: Villanueva St. Park---Can you see my rig parked on that ridge?

It's a wild and wierd wasteland.

With just a bit of arable farmland. It's hard to believe that a caravan of settlers in colonial times made their way here to live their lives.

There's the sleepy little village. I'll go for a closer look.

The community well---Artfully done--right in the center of town.

Old houses of stone and tin.

And adobe---most are still occupied. About 160 people in the vicinity.

Adobe houses unlived in soon melt

They have a church ----and on a nearby hill -- a shrine--with stations of the cross marked along the way.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: I walked around letting the village speak to me--chatted with a few citizens----asked myself if it was soul-killing or soul enhancing to live ones life in an obscure, remote, sleepy village. I really ought to know---because I lived 17 years in one. I SAY IT IS SOUL STIFLING. Especially in this Catholic village--tyrannized by guilt-inflicting priest, frustrated by crazy old customs, isolated from fresh thoughts and visons. The English poet Grey--in his classic poem: Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard----spoke of such stifled people:

"but knowledge, to their eyes---her ample page,

rich with the spoils of time, did nere unroll;

chill poverty repressed their noble rage

and froze the genial currents of their soul.

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife

their sober wishes never learned to stray;

along the cool sequestered vail of life

they kept the narrow tenure of their way

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I'M MOVING ON----RELUCTANTLY---BECAUSE THE PREVIOUS POST WAS SO MUCH FUN. I'm delighted to be at the intersection of such interesting insights----delighted to attract the attention of bigger brains than mine. I hope I never forget Michael's succinct summary of an advanced mind: (one that can) EMBRACE NUANCED VARIABLES. (this phrase may be the social equivalent of E=MC2) I've pondered how to make it clear to myself----then realized I'd already done so in a poem from years ago entitled "The Religion Warehouse". Here's the relevant verses with the important phrase in caps.

------Gone was arrogance and dogmatism,
Their study of religion and history
embrace the human mystery.

In a few short years, religious wars ceased.
All nations made a truce.
Every civilized person now agrees:
Indoctrination is child abuse.

Freedom to choose your religion
is a universal human right.
Parents stopped "laying their trip" on kids,
and the world sleeps better at night. Now I really will move on. With a companion driving Uphill to escape the heat, we pause to read this sign: Billy the Kid killed someone here. And it set me thinking: Why so much hoop-te-do about this sociopathic snot?-----and then I remembered a line from a Walt Whitman poem: THERE IS EVEN GLORY IN GREAT EVIL.

We found the cool at 7000 feet and settled into this casino parking lot---walked along that cool man-made lake and stayed the night. I pondered the glory/evil question and will pick it up later.

Next day, we moved on to Ruidosa Downs ---a small town with a big racetrack----a perfect place for a museum about horses. I learned something astonishing about a breed of horses called MORGAN horses that is worth a separate blog.

And of course sidled up beside the Kid to share his glory.

Then some real evil befell Luke---can you guess what's happened here? He just got skunked. I will report his thoughts: "OH DEAR GOD this is awful---my lungs and eyes burn---I'VE BEEN SLIMED and I cant seem to get away from it. That striped creature looked like such an easy target---just waddling along---so tempting to grab it and have some fun----BUT OH DEAR GOD what hit me? Maybe I can rub the foul stuff off on the dirt."

"OOOOOOOOhh SWEET JESUS THIS IS AWFUL. I'll try rolling in this dirt. WHAT THE F--K WAS THAT THING. Nothing I do seems to be doing any good."

"Oh WAIT----I KNOW WHAT TO DO------FIND MAMMA. She's in there--- MAMMMMAHH---MAMMMAAA------This is sooooo awful----Come fix your little doggie. I know you can make me feel better. You get stickers out of my paw all the time. MAMMAAAH!!!"

"OOOOOOHHH YESSSS---OOOOOOHH YESSSS----it's working, its working----I feel better already. Go ahead and soap me up four times---do what you have to do."

"Water's cold---but I don't care----life is sweeter now----I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT! Yeah--things look better now---My tail might just rise again. Whew, Thought for awhile there You'd just have to bury me. Ok, Ok I'm clean now---ready to go play again---do safe stuff----like fetching a stick. And Mamma---I wanna tell you---from now on I'M GONNA BE A BETTER DOG---I LOVE YOU MOM!"

Yep---that's the story--just as Luke told it to me. Momma did lightening fast research on her computer and discovered that this little problem can be handled in minutes when you know what to do: 1. Wipe down JUST the affected area with paper towells. Skunk spray is an oil and you can get lots of it off this way. Try not to spread it.

2. Mix in an OPEN container: 1 qt of peroxide---1/4th cup of baking soda and one teaspoon of dish detergent.

3. Wash thoroughly till you've used up the mixture.

The dog will be immediately tolerable with just a faint whiff of skunk detectable and even that will vanish in 3-4 days.

We settled in for the night at Billy the Kid Casino parking lot. See that rail above our roof? That's the famous racetrack.

Now I'll turn my attention to the title question?

But I need to travel right now---I'll just post this and finish maybe later today---I've not yet thought this through---The glory of great evil will take some subtle thought---but I'm sure there's something of substance there. Maybe a perceptive reader can see what I'm feeling around for and help me out. By the time I reach a suitable campsite tonight--the answer may be there.

Now I'm settled by a beautiful lake on the far side of the state and have had a chance to discuss this issue with friends and am prepared to deal with it. Here goes:


Why would anyone celebrate Billy the Kid days---or Bonnie and Clyde days as they do in Louisiana---or Ned Kelly days as in Australia? I think there's a good reason and something valuable we can learn from the likes of these such as D.B. Cooper, Butch Cassidy, Robin Hood, Geronimo, Jesse James and even Hitler.

What they all did was BREAK THE RULES-----They--- ASTONISHED US with their BOLDNESS.

They dared to do what ordinary folks only fantasize about--sometimes. We all know in our hearts that we are captives of convention----and religion---and fear---and laziness. Most of us lead "lives of quiet desperation". We can envision a bolder life for ourselves --leaving an exhausted marriage, a crazy religion, debilitating friends, etc and trying something new--saying something audacious that we feel, risking embarassment in reaching for something we want.

Hearing outlaw stories fascinates us, I think, and proves that the grip of convention is not complete----that some have cut the barbed wire fences.

When we celebrate Billy the Kid days we pay homage to DARK HEROISM and the thrill of taboo.

Ghandi said: " We should be sincere enough to admit that we love evil too well to give it up."

EVIL IS DRAMATIC ----and we do love it---else why do we name so many thrilling places---"the devils this or that. The glory of evil is that it awakens us to the drama of life.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I MAY BE THE WORLD'S FORMOST DRIFTER---30 plus years experience. Here's how I would distinguish a drifter from a traveler.

A TRAVELER has a destination, an agenda, time constraints, enjoys PASSING scenery but usually cannot spontaneously stay the night with it.

A DRIFTER has direction (i.e. North), interests (in place of agenda), no time constraints, can sit with the scenery, even camp with it till he's had his fill. ----As I have poetized in these concluding verses of "A FULL SET OF STUFF":

Down back roads by lazy brooks

I take a nap or read my books;

Chase the wind, drift and roam:

let night overtake me everywhere home.

Live my life in a thousand places;

Share myself with a thousand faces;

drink in life till I've had enough,

Thanks to my rig and a full set of stuff.

To make my point I have selected a day in my life and will share my mental and physical experience. I will pick up my adventures where I left off before my long opine about the meaning of life.

Motorcyclist entering the parking lot of White Sands, National Monument---see the sands in the distance? I motorcycled for years and can tell you that they are not the freedom machines they are touted to be----because they lack the essential element of comfort. I see these glory boys checking into a $60 motel at days end---do the math in my head---and feel sorry for them. A far better solution for the serious traveler is to engineer a high mileage car for sleeping.
With a companion, I took a long walk in these dunes---so seemingly similar but radically different from sand dunes. We were told that there's no place like this in the world---so I decided to get the story.
It was a blustery day, but Luke loved the dunes--romping all over them. Here's their million year story in a nutshell---WITH A VERY SURPRISING ENDING. An ancient sea covered this land--laying down layers of this stuff---the land rose to a tilt--rains dissolved the gypsum and carried it to a low point---lake lucero. When the water evaporated it left crystals of the stuff (sometimes 3 ft). Winds break off grains and blow them into dunes. The dunes slowly move like waves on the ocean across the land. Then (here comes the drama that only a drifter learns) at the edge of the dune field (comprising a total 275 sq miles) THE STUFF DISAPPEARS. Yes you heard me right---it disappears. Here's why: gypsum grains are soft (# 2 on the hardness scale---your fingernail is 2.5) and as they move northeast (prevailing wind) in dunes, they erode, becoming smaller and smaller---till at the end of their journey---they become dust particles and blow away.

Leaving White sands, going east, I saw this patch of rich green beside the road and recognized it as SACRED DATURA----sometimes known as witches' weed or loco weed or Jimson weed ( from the song: " where the lonesome cattle feed on the lowly jimson weed")---stopped to get this picture. This plant intrigues me like rattlesnakes do---it is equally deadly and probably kills more victims. read about it:

Moving on to Alamorgordo, (remember-closest city to the first atom bomb test) I opt to stay at Oliver Lee Memorial St Park--south of town.

Settled in on the mountainside, I survey the valley that Oliver Lee controlled. Got some of the story from the visitor center: He came to this frontier situation and by hook or crook rose to the top of the local power pyramid. An eccentric hermit named Frenchy lived at the mouth of Dog canyon, raising cattle and fruit trees---using the only reliable, year-round water supply. Lee wanted the water and after Frenchy was mysteriously murdered one night---got it.----I decide to go walk up the famous canyon.

But on my way there, I hear my named called out. These two friendly people recognize me----from reading this blog---a pleasant surprise--second time this month its happened. Meet Victor and Debbie, two super free spirits who live in that trailer and travel the roads of America--earning a living as traders on the internet.

I walk up the beautiful canyon a mile or so and photograph Luke in his Rin Tin Tin pose. Then As we rested by a pool---who should walk up but a historian---specializing in this area. He took the time to answer my questions. At days end we met a friendly astronomer with a big telescope who showed us lots of famous stars and galaxies. Thus ended one day of drifting.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: I think drifting is an art requiring three essentials:

COMFORTS----A reasonable set of them---food, clothing, shelter--so you can linger anywhere.

CURIOSITY----About nearly everything--plants, animals, people, history, architecture, art etc.

COURAGE------to go, to ask, engage, research, challenge.

If either of these are missing then movement becomes meaningless. Combined, they will surely polish your being----which is your real gift to the world.

Friday, July 08, 2011


To briefly review our cosmic situation: A mysterious big bang began our universe---energy condensed itself into matter and matter complexified itself to life---which evolved itself into ----US---self aware beings----who now understand much of the scientific WHAT of our origin and none of the emotional WHY of our destiny.----And thus we individually are--- forced to deal with the certainty of our own death--- our personal shortcomings--- and our hunger for meaning.

Those are the facts and that is the mystery that surrounds us. Courageous, thinking people deal with it every day---living lives of self-generated meaning. They are enlivened by the joys of CREATIVELY RESPONDING to our situation---somewhat like a unicycle rider who must forever adjust his balance, but loves and appreciates the challenge.

The unthinking and the cowardly live sheep-like lives. Four billion of them have swallowed their childhood indoctrination and doomed themselves to assorted miseries. They believe life is about OBEDIENCE to ancient laws--that ethics is REVEALED--not created by humans. We must deal with or dodge their doings.

HOW TO GENERATE PERSONAL MEANING: (the mental state of energized focus, full involvement and success in the process of the activity) Here is a better explanation than I can give. Click here

IS THERE ANY COSMIC MEANING?? Any grand plan?? What is the overall point of the whole process?? No one knows---but millions guess. I'll share a few with you:

1. Christians generally suppose that God created the cosmos and us to express his love.

2. Islam says God creates as an act of mercy. sustains, guides and will someday judge us.

3. Jews don't know but are sure they play a special role in whatever God is up to.

4. Mormons think there may be millions of Gods and that we may become one too; creating planets and people like the God that created us. (i.e. creating worlds is a fun thing to do) I remind you that two presidential candidates actually believe this story. (God help us!)

5. Buddha boldly said he didn't know. (God bless him--the only honest religious founder) His disciples are not nearly so modest however---they speculate a desire for adventure was the reason.


EXISTENTIALISM: Life has only the meaning you give it. You are free to create your own personality and happiness---or misery.

ATHEISM: Life has no grand meaning. There is no convincing evidence of Cosmic intent. Meaning is personally generated.

MYSTICISM: It is possible to experience direct contact with the ground of being itself------- exhilerating beyond description and to receive subtle guidance for a wonderous life.
My friend Wayne Wirs is the best spokesman and embodiment of this position that I know:

Teilard de Chardin: the cosmos is a grand process where spirit condenses into matter and then evolves itself into spirit again. Click here and be inspired with his vision.

Ray Kurtzweil: Inventor--futurist--hailed as the successor to Thomas Edison---sees an accellerating spiral of technology that is headed very quickly toward a wonderful "singularity". Let him tell you about it:

F M Esfandiary: Futurist---Author of Upwingers---along with Chardin, one of my early mentors

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: I like these three visions and I urge my readers to give radical optimism a look. I think it is useful and inspiring to carry around in your head the very finest theory/vision of the future that thinkers have promulgated. I'd be interested in hearing about visionaries that inspire you.

And P.S. this wraps up my philosophical jag for awhile--I've been adventuring on the ground and will do a catch up report next.

Saturday, July 02, 2011


In part one I recommended new myths based on the best science available. It's tragic to see billions of people guide their lives with myths that fly in the face of scientific fact, (7 day creation e.g.) and myths that lead them to squander their energies and damage the earth. I will share a modern myth (story, vision) that might inspire you. I begin by reviewing the current
understanding of how we got here.
1. The cosmos began about 14 billion years ago---with a BANG. We don't know how or why.

2. Energy condensed into simple matter. (hydrogen) We don't know what either is. (though we do know how they behave)

3. Matter is attracted to matter by a mysterious force---gravity. We don't understand this force.
(we do know how it behaves)

4. Matter draws itself into balls, and when big enough--crush the matter at its core--releasing energy and a star is born.

5. Crushing hydrogen releases energy and creates helium. Crushing helium (fusion),releases energy and creates lithium. Fusing lithium creates berillium-----and so on--up the atomic scale of elements---to Iron. (Iron will not fuse in a star)

6. Very big stars are (relatively) short lived---become unstable and explode, (a super nova)
(creating in that instant all the heavier elements we are familiar with) and casting its variety of elements out into the cosmos in a vast cloud of matter.

7. The cloud of matter again draws itself together into a huge rotating disc with lumps forming at its center (second generation star) and further out in the disc. (proto-planets)

8. When the new star lights up, its radiating force blows away the lingering "dust" leaving a solar system--like ours, with planets rotating around a sun.

9. When conditions are just right--as on earth---life is possible. In about a billion years the various elements assembled themselves (somehow) into a living cell that could replicate itself.

10. Replication is imperfect--changes occur randomly--and beneficial (adaptive) ones survived. 11. Evolution slowly morphed simple organisms into more complex ones, finally producing US.

Thousands of dedicated scientist over the centuries have uncovered these truths for us. In a nutshell, WE ARE MADE OF STARSTUFF---matter has an inner urge to complexify itself--all the way up to the human brain--to self awareness--(and beyond?) This is the story of us--that science can tell. This is the "situation" we find ourselves in---deep mystery behind us and deep mystery in front of us. It's an amazing, beautiful, and awe inspiring story-----long on HOW --but absolutely empty on WHY----which is what we seem to crave. Only humans seem to care about the WHY.

Not surprisingly, thousands of people have stepped forward to satisfy that craving. (like "rainmakers" during a drought) They make up stories explaining creation, (how and why things came to be), morality tales about how we should behave and the consequences if we don't----stories about the end of time--heaven and hell---various afterlife scenarios----stories of Gods and goddesses---some come to earth to instruct us humans and rescue us etc. Some stories are written down---collected into books and declared to be "holy." Religions arise--to comfort us and control us.

Most intelligent people today do not believe their stories literally or accept the morality they convey as authoritative.


Here's what I do:

1. I boldly admit that I do not know any ultimate answers about origin, destiny, morality---
I acknowledge that I live in a mystery. I believe everyone lives in a mystery, whether they acknowledge it or not.

2. I EMBRACE THIS MYSTERY---as best I can--going about my life as courageously as possible---guided by my deepest intuition--inspired by modern myths/stories/visions/guesses. I do not find it painful to live in a mystery. Perhaps the world was designed to be uncertain---mysterious. Perhaps uncertainty produces better people than a dogmatic certainty.

3. I believe it is possible to be happy, despite having no ultimate answers. (The best book on this subject is entitled FLOW by Csikszentmihaly )

4. I believe we have a measure of freedom to create and improve ourselves---inspire others.

5. I "try on" various metaphysical theories--from time to time--like trying on a pair of glasses--to see how they affect me. Here's an example I find interesting:

Maybe existence is best explained as ETERNITY ADVENTURING IN TIME. Perhaps the Baghavad Gita got it right: God created the world to amuse himself by incarnating into matter---becoming all that is--galaxies, rocks, trees, animals, us ---in a fantastical drama where He's playing all the parts---but is able to deceive himself--so as to experience DRAMA: He created time to experience the interplay of urgencies. We are all bits of God enjoying himself---given a "role" (and some flexibility) as an actor---our challenge is to play our part with all the courage and gusto we can muster. Evil is wired into the game as "plot thickener". (to my friends: when you see me as an outrageous pot stirrer---I'm probably in "Gita" mode.

Friday, July 01, 2011


Because it's the greatest of all mysteries. And because every sentient being on the planet to some degree is concerned about it. Humans have evolved a very big brain that is self aware and reflective---it ponders its own origin, purpose and destiny----and consequently suffers three fundamental ANXIETIES: DEATH----GUILT---MEANINGLESSNESS.

ANXIETY: a deep uneasiness of our being---(different from fear--which has an object--like fear of a snake or failure) ( humans cannot bear pure anxiety--they morph it into fear--inventing an object if necessary--to make it bearable)

ANXIETY OF DEATH: Knowing we are temporary--unease about our end.
ANXIETY OF GUILT: Knowing there is a gap between what we are and what we could be.
ANXIETY OF MEANINGLESSNESS: Feeling a need for something----around which to orient our lives----in terms of which to define ourselves----to which to give our energies.

Things that metabolize, replicate and evolve.

Significance, importance, intent, value. But that's not much help! What people are really asking is: 1. What, if anything, is the overall purpose of the universe? (metaphysics)
2. What, if anything, is expected/asked of me? (Ethics)

By inventing religion: Mythical stories about our origin and destiny---Rituals that ease our guilt---and codes of conduct to ease our anxiety of meaninglessness.

To some degree, yes, it has worked: Humans coped with their anxieties---survived--multiplied---created elaborate cultures and eventually science. And no, it no longer "works" and even threatens to destroy our planet. (over population---war--ecocide) Science has shattered the myths---- and ethical codes need radical revision. The major world religions, Islam, Judiaism, Christianity---all pretend to have access to CERTAINTY. It is the CLASH OF "CERTAINTIES" that account for most of the current wars.

I'm recommending humility---to all the religions of the world---STOP PRETENDING THAT YOU HAVE MYTHICAL AND ETHICAL CERTAINTY!

I'm recommending: 1. That we create new myths---BASED ON OUR BEST SCIENCE.
2. That we take responsibility for our ethics---admit that we are making it up as we go---that it may always need tweaking---free ourselves from cruel and outdated "holy book ethics."
That's enough for now---I'll complete my theory later.