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Ghost writer, essayist, marketer, Zen Buddhist, academic refugee, living in Athens GA, blogging at A Quiet Normal Life: https://www.quietnormal.com/

The Soul and the Id: Understanding the Hard Problem of Consciousness

Sorry, folks, but digital immortality by upload is impossible

Image by Gerd Altmann

Like the song says, “everyone wants to be on a postage stamp, but nobody wants to die.”

And lately, one of the hottest topics for those who’d like to keep the party going forever is mind uploading, the notion that we can transfer our consciousness to machines. But like all immortality schemes that have come before it, there are fatal flaws in the plan.

The first thing we need to recognize is that consciousness — the only type of “mind” that could reasonably be uploaded in order to bestow an immortality worthy of the name — is a bodily function…


It’s tasty, healthy, good looking, and almost sinfully easy

Table with potluck dishes including boiled eggs, tuna salad, stuffed olives, brie, hummus, and asparagus wrapped with ham
Table with potluck dishes including boiled eggs, tuna salad, stuffed olives, brie, hummus, and asparagus wrapped with ham
Image by congerdesign (edited)

There’s times you really want to pull out the stops for a potluck and fix that specialty dish everyone asks for — rum cake at Christmas, three-tier dip for the Super Bowl bash, hot and spicy deviled eggs for the family reunion, that sort of thing.

Then there’s other times…. Like when you forgot to put the neighborhood block party on your calendar and you’re so covered up you’ve barely got time to think.

OK, I hear you — just bite the bullet, you say. Go and pay an arm and a leg for the sandwich tray in the deli…


It’s not a trend or a social construct. It’s biological reality.

Silhouettes of people
Silhouettes of people
Image courtesy of OpenClipart-Vectors

Imagine you wake one morning to find a third arm, fully formed from the elbow down, extending from your solar plexus right in the center of your chest. It looks like your other limbs, you can move it just as easily, and it senses touch and hot and cold and pain just like the others.

And yet, it feels alien. Like something foreign that has been implanted inside of you and grown out on its own. Not really “your” arm at all.

What do you do?

Do you think, “Ah, well, now that’s convenient! Now I can type and drink…


Forgiveness was turning me into a chump

Image by Timisu

Forgive and forget, right? I used to think that. I don’t anymore.

Now look, I know I’m up against some real heavy hitters here when I say maybe you should stop forgiving people. After all, isn’t forgiveness a cornerstone of the major religions?

The Tanakh says that one who forgives an insult keeps a friend (Proverbs 17:9). The Christian New Testament says to forgive, if you have anything against anyone (Mark 11:25). The Qur’an says that one who forgives shall have reward with God (42.40). The Vedas say that forgiveness is the greatest strength (Mahābhārata 5.33.48).

Well, I tried that…


And who grills beans anyway?

Filmstrip montage of publicity shots from “The Jeffersons”: George and Louise with Mother Jefferson in the apartment; Louise, Lionel, and George in a family photo; Lionel and Jenny in an engagement photo
Filmstrip montage of publicity shots from “The Jeffersons”: George and Louise with Mother Jefferson in the apartment; Louise, Lionel, and George in a family photo; Lionel and Jenny in an engagement photo
CBS publicity photos from The Jeffersons (public domain: 1976, 1974, 1976)

A rolling stone gathers no moss. A watched pot never boils. Fish don’t fry in the kitchen. And beans don’t burn on the grill.

It is known.

But wait, hold the phone a sec. Of course fish fries in the kitchen. Where else are you gonna fry it, the living room?

And yeah, beans do burn on a grill. Cause they fall through the grate into the fire. Not that I’ve tried, but I’m saying, it just stands to reason.

See, this is why these two lines from The Jeffersons theme song bugged the living…


And shipped the pieces all over Israel

A painting depicting servants loading a woman’s body onto a donkey, flanked by a priest in a white robe and an old man comforting his daughter.
A painting depicting servants loading a woman’s body onto a donkey, flanked by a priest in a white robe and an old man comforting his daughter.
The Levite of Ephraim, 1837, by Alexandre-François Caminade (public domain)

Surely you recall the story from Sunday school: A rural priest is traveling across Israel with a member of his harem. They stop over in a town where the young woman is gang raped and beaten to death. So the priest cuts her body into a dozen pieces and has them sent all around the country.

Wait, no? Not ringing any bells?

OK, well, to be fair, the Levite’s concubine doesn’t get nearly the air time of, say, Eve and the forbidden fruit or Moses parting the sea. …


Once you know them, you can’t forget them — even if you want to

Woman standing in front of a blackboard next to the words shplorbing, geriosonic, and cinefeign
Woman standing in front of a blackboard next to the words shplorbing, geriosonic, and cinefeign
Original image by Tumisu

Some words, when you learn them, you wonder how you ever got along without them. And sometimes, there’s just no right word when you need one, so you have to make your own.

These 14 words fall into both categories for me. And I’ll bet, once you read them, you’ll end up adding at least one to your vocabulary. And hey, it doesn’t matter if other people don’t understand — they’ll probably just assume you read more than they do.

Glutothermophobia (GLOO-toe-therm-uh-FO-bee-uh), n: An aversion to sitting in a chair still warm from someone else’s butt

Orphan d’œuvre (OR-fun DERV)…


Because the fight is never over …

Matt Gaetz waving from a lectern in front of a “Students for Trump” backdrop
Matt Gaetz waving from a lectern in front of a “Students for Trump” backdrop
Matt Gaetz introduces Donald Trump at Dream City Church in Phoenix, AZ, 23 June 2020 (photo by Gage Skidmore, public domain)

Damned if I didn’t stumble across yet another article today by yet another befuddled onlooker wondering why in the hell Matt Gaetz doesn’t just hang it up and go home. Nobody likes the guy, even in his own party. And after all, it costs a person exactly nothing to keep his head down and at least look too busy to talk while supposedly false accusations of ecstasy-fueled sex trafficking of minors are being lobbed about.

I mean, couldn’t he be persuaded to “avoid even the appearance of scandal” and step aside from his duties “for the good of the party”…


This recipe is easier than it used to be

Black and white photo of a pecan pie in a glass baking dish on a kitchen counter against a woodgrain background
Black and white photo of a pecan pie in a glass baking dish on a kitchen counter against a woodgrain background
Photo by St0rmz, background by Michael Schwarzenberger

When I was a little boy, a pecan pie was a helluva lot of work. Especially for the kids.

I was born on the Florida panhandle in what used to be a fishing village, but grew up in a Georgia mill town. Our house stood at the crumbling dead end of a street built into what was once a pecan orchard. Looking down the yards, those muscular old trees ranged in perfect rows, standing at sufficient distance that their outstretched canopies just met at the branch tips. …

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