Sign in

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…


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. …


If you think you know, you don’t

Two young women in knit dresses and floppy hats talking and laughing
Two young women in knit dresses and floppy hats talking and laughing
Image by Pexels

Lord have mercy, if I have to hear another Yankee say that “bless your heart” is Southern for “you’re an idiot” — or worse — I think I might just blow a gasket.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t entirely blame non-Southerners for this misunderstanding. I have a sneaking suspicion that much of the blame lies with Southerners themselves who enjoy blowing smoke and making folks feel like they know something when they don’t just to play with them.

The reality is, “bless your heart” is a linguistic chameleon. It can mean…


Everyone asks for this recipe!

Cartoon of a sweet potato being sliced into medallions
Cartoon of a sweet potato being sliced into medallions
Image by Venita Oberholster

There’s this one dish that I know, if I haven’t made it for someone yet, they’re gonna ask for the recipe once they taste it. It’s that good.

And you can serve it with just about anything, frankly. It’s totally vegan but makes a great side for meats, a real all-occasions kind of thing. Bonus: When it’s cooking, the house smells amazing!

I’m talking about thyme-roasted sweet potatoes. Half a dozen ingredients, 40 minutes in the oven, easy breezy.

Here’s all you need:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves


No peeking, now

Woodcut of God presenting the 10 Commandments to Moses from a cloud as angels blow trumpets, with a view of the people below the mountain
Woodcut of God presenting the 10 Commandments to Moses from a cloud as angels blow trumpets, with a view of the people below the mountain
“Moses Receives the Ten Commandments”, Woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1860 (public domain)

How much would you bet you can name at least 5 of the 10 Commandments? I’ll give you two-to-one odds.

Tell you what, let’s bust it down to three. Only three. You don’t have to get them verbatim, either, the general idea is close enough.

Think you can do it?

OK, but first, you can’t pick just any ten commandments. After all, there are more than 600 in the Hebrew Bible. No cherry-picking here.

I’m talking about the passage where Moses goes up the mountain, God dictates a set of commandments to him, Moses carves them on…

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store