Jeff's Zipper

Does free will exist? Is everything determined? Do I have choices? The current models don't satisfy me.

There are a lot of debates and a lot of theories on this. But, we need a framework that we can use for life.

We are obviously limited, highly limited. We can't do anything we want at any time. We have reflexes, and we don't even have to think about our heart beating. Many things are not within any field that could be considered free will.

But, we do make choices. There are alternatives that we have. I could write or not write, publish or not publish. I could read a book or watch tv. Eat beef tartare or drink raw colostrum.

The further into the future that I think the bigger my choices become. Today I can write or not write an article. This year I can write or not write a book. Today I can work on a pricing strategy for a new business venture. This week I can build a website. This month I can launch the business. The further out in time the more impact my choices can have…

American Universities and Racism

The ideas that Martin Luther King Jr. died for, seem to be dying.

I mentioned to a friend a few days ago that I was afraid to write about racism. Mostly because you know people are going to attack you, and they are the violent type of people. It doesn't really seem like I should need to be involved anyway, I have other things to do. But, then I was thinking about the rise of the Soviet Union and the Nazis. How many good people sat on the sidelines while the society crumbled? How many people thought someone else would handle it? How many people thought that it wouldn't get so bad?

Appeasement to violent people doesn't work well. In the beginning these movements require appeasement. Later, they only require compliance in the face of threats, intimidation, and violence. So, if you aren't willing to stand against racism now, there won't be a point in the future that you will be able to.

The trend reminds me of "The Gulag Archipelago" by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn…

I Went to a Writing Group Today - April 24th, 2019

Should I go to the writing group today? That type of question runs through my head before all meetings and activities. Then, afterward, you never doubt that it was best to go. You can tell because you're re-energized. It was the same today.

I had a plan heading to the meeting, something I wanted to try. Neil Gaiman mentioned a good writing technique, coming up with a situation and then asking, "How did we get here?" You then construct the story leading to that moment. I wanted to do that. I didn't. Here's the prompt from today.

(Also, I went sporting this cool temporary tattoo done by a friend that says "Once upon a time..." across one forearm, representing the start of an unfinished story. I also have broken chains around both of my wrists representing Prometheus bound and unbound to the rock cliff by the tyrant Zeus in punishment for giving the gift of fire to mankind.)

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Left to Write 4.24.19 Prompt
Craig’s List Missed Connection
Below is…

Explorations in Business - Part 1 of ?

I have revealed my origination process in creative writing, theology, and personality transformation. Now I shall do the same in business.

I've been struggling with my next move for the last 6 months. I know I need to change something. I don't make that much money teaching English online, and I'll be squeezed out in the near future, I think. I've been doing it for about 2 and a half years anyway, so it's a good time for a change.

One issue is that I've had a lot of ups and downs over the last few years in my capabilities. I highly doubt my own ability now in a number of ways.

I knew that I wasn't making progress and that I needed to change something. That's part of why I'm always doing new things, I don't want to get stuck. If you lose momentum in life it's difficult to get started again.

A new environment with new people can change a lot. I'm on the email list for Start Garden, which is a small business organization in Grand Rapids, Mic…

On Responding to Stupid People

I struggle with responding to peoples' comments. Mostly because most comments online are insults. Now, people in general are not necessarily good, I know this. Many are even evil. But the prevalence of insulting people online seems outrageously high. I wonder how much cowardice comes into play. Maybe these people want to say this stuff all the time, but in person they are afraid to, so they do it online instead. Anyway, I have to try to figure out how to handle these darn people.

The most vocal people commenting online are people with serious psychological orders. You can tell that by their comments. They are usually aggressive and insulting. I think it's often something like resentment mixed with frustration mixed with projection. When I've done aggressive online commenting it's been because of my own emotional issues. I'm guessing that goes for these people as well.

Let's look at some of the recent comments on my article "Aphorisms on Grief, Suicide, and…

Creating a Comic Book - Dungeon Buddies - Part 3 of ?

We have a solid idea for page 1. We also have pieces and parts about the whole plot. Today I want to work on fleshing out the whole plot, which I'm thinking about as 10 issues of about 20 pages. The immediate scenes after our opening page are pretty obvious, but the overall story is still a little blurry in areas and I want to iron that out so that my first time through is decently smooth with, foreshadowing and such.

Here's page 1. Then I'll start working through trying to piece this whole epic story together.

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Page 1

Panel 1: Top third of page. A mountain ridge with two shadows walking along it, a soldier and a witch. Kind of dark and mysterious, ominous.

1. Narration: After the alliance won the war, the grand council sent a soldier and a witch to hide the Gauntlet of Kings in the X Mountains. Many had gone looking for it, none had returned.

Panel 2: Bottom two-thirds of page. Gauntlet floating above display mantel in the middle of the cave. Lut and Gaza on …

Making Speeches for the Harry Potter Festival - Part 2 of ?

You know when you start a project that's somewhat similar to one you've done before, and then it ends up being a bit more complex than you first imagined? That's what we're into here.

I've given hundreds of speeches on many different subjects. In the last month or so I've given speeches on resentment as the most destructive emotion, analyzing the philosophical roots of rock lyrics, how my family originated as Leprechauns, how I raised a dragon egg when I was a kid, the importance of comic books as an art form, and what a virtuous human being is. I've had people come up to me after every one of those speeches and tell me how much they liked it and how much it made them think, because I seem to have a unique view on most things. Next week I'm giving a speech titled "Alligator Wrestling and the Meaning of Life". But these Harry Potter speeches are a... challenge.

I have 2 things that are solid. I have 3, or 4, or 5 things that still have to be wo…

Flavor and Value

Do you like mint chocolate chip ice cream? Why? In this lies both the problem and the solution to many of life's concerns.

How do we know what is real? Reality is a perception. I know this computer is real because I'm touching it. If this computer were to suddenly disappear, then reappear, I might question if it's really real, or just an illusion.

This consistency in my subjectivity is one important piece. The other piece is the subjectivity of others. The fusion of our perspectives, this intersubjectivity, this shared reality. Sometimes even an imaginary perspective is used, a third person perspective, an omniscient perspective. These two things form our objective reality.

How do we know what's true? Truth can be a perception. Is the computer truly there? This is the type of truth that science studies. If perception is consistent across time and perspective we call it truth.

Truth also exists in valuation. Does Jeff truly like mint chocolate chip ice cream? Science tr…

Living in Reverse

There is one philosophy of life that says you should do things in a certain order. Here's how the plan goes: go to school, go to more school, work, do more work, and more work, retire, have fun and adventures.

How many people do you meet in life? I started working at a young age and talked with a lot of people about their careers and jobs before I was in my teens. I realized then that "the plan" had a high failure rate.

Before you ever get to do what you want to do you have to run a gauntlet. The odds are that you'll either die on your way to that fun and adventure, or soon after. Even if you make it you won't have the money needed for the road trip that you always wanted to do. Even if you have the money your health probably won't be good enough to hike to the top of that mountain you always wanted to.

Even if you live until retirement, and you have enough money, and you have some health left over, you've been putting off doing what you wanted to do for …

Aphorisms on Grief, Suicide, and Meaning in Life

For years I have contemplated these mysteries. While watching Hamlet, starring Mel Gibson, divine inspiration struck and thus was born in a sudden frenzy these concise insights of wisdom.


When we have a feeling of loss, what have we lost? But a false future that never was, and never will be.

The loss of a false expectation does not negate the past, for the past is immortal.

If false positive expectation of the future has been lost, then surely real negative expectation has been prevented.


To live is to suffer, and to choose life is to choose suffering. To make such a choice we must have reasons to live that outweigh the suffering. Else, it is not a justifiable choice. The brave confront their mortality, they confront their existential choice, and they choose to take hold of the responsibility for value.

Meaning in Life

To know what meaning in life means, we must first know the meaning of meaning.

There is dual meaning in meaning. One, to signify. Two, significance.


The Charismatic Elizabeth Holmes

Elizabeth Holmes built a 9 billion dollar company on her personality, and her personality alone. That's charisma. (Theranos is now worth zero dollars, but that's another story about corruption, fraud, deceit, empty dreams and promises, and her future prison sentence.)

My three favorite books on charisma are "Prophetic Charisma" by Len Oakes, "The Spellbinders" by Ann Ruth Willner, and "Charisma" by Charles Lindholm. There are tons of insights in each of them.

Without reading about charisma at all you would probably notice a few things about Elizabeth Holmes. She is a solid public speaker and tells a great story about her uncle getting sick. It's a great story to build a medical testing company on, which is what she did. She has a really deep voice and an icy stare. And she's extremely confident.

(None of this is bad. What's bad is that she used her skills to defraud a bunch of people by telling them that her and her company had invente…

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