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Showing posts from March, 2020

The Opposite of Communism - Part 2 of 2

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Chapter 2 of "The Communist Manifesto" is only 16 pages long. With just 9 quotes from these pages we can reveal the ideas that are the basis of the horrors of communism. And by taking their opposite, we can reveal important truths for a Free and Just society.


In order, let's begin.

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In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single phrase: Abolition of private property.

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That makes the matter rather simple. Either you are for the "Abolition of private property." Or, you are for the Protection of private property.

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In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend.

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At least Marx was plain. Others are not so forthright in stating that doing "away with your property" is what they stand for.

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Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists.

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An Email About Writing, and a Reply

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A friend sent me an email recently asking some pertinent questions about writing.


Here is part of the email from Sharon.

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Have you ever coached a fantasy writer? How silly do you consider this genre?
I have this dream to finish my story before I die and that’s not looking as good as it used to! Years go by really fast as it turns out.
What’s a good first step for this process? Or, do you have a series of essays on how to get off your butt and just write?

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Those are good questions, and hard to answer questions. Here is my response.

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I quite like fantasy.

My writing coaching has just been on the skill rather than on projects, so I've mostly played with tiny little stories that we make up at the time.

There is no correct process for writing, and no correct writing time frames. Patrick Rothfuss worked on his first book for 14 years before it came out. Stephen King took 30 years to finish the Dark Tower series. J. K. Rowling had all seven books pl…

The Opposite of Communism - Part 1 of 2

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My father used to leave a copy of "The Declaration of Independence" laying next to "The Communist Manifesto" in the middle of the dining room table. Just to see what people would say. In the manifesto he left a bookmark on page 94, where Marx and Engels laid out a ten point plan to transform advanced countries into communist utopias. Communist utopias are the greatest dystopias ever created, so let's see what happens when we reverse those ideas.


Marx and Engels precede this list by stating that, "These measures will of course be different in different countries. Nevertheless in the most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable." So that's where we'll start. If you want to be communist, here's your list.

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1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.

2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

3. Abolition of all right of inheritance.

4. Confiscation o…

A Custom Religious Wedding

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All weddings are unique. Some are more unique than others.


When I first sat down with Joel and Kelly we had already rejected the wedding ceremony that I had created and used three times previously. It's an excellent ceremony, but they wanted something religious, and that one really wasn't. I didn't know how the meeting would go, but I knew that I wanted to be open to exploring the possibility of something custom made and tailored just for them.

The Bible offers a plethora of stories. Humans think in stories, and we live stories. They contain more of a comprehensive framework for interpretation and interaction with the world than can ever be processed in a less symbolic way. I thought I might be able to use that.

I wasn't sure if I could turn any story in the Bible into a wedding ceremony, but I was willing to give it a go. I was curious to see if it would work. If it did, then we would have an awesome wedding. And, if it wasn't working, then we could just switch to…

A Bilingual Wedding

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I've given hundreds of speeches, but I never had one translated live. Until this wedding.


My friend Jelitza is originally from Puerto Rico. Her first language is Spanish. She's done very well at teaching herself English over the last few years, but some of her family still prefers Spanish, especially the ones who traveled from Puerto Rico to Michigan for the wedding.

Luckily Jelitza has a cousin that is fluent in both English and Spanish, who was also willing to speak in front of a crowd, Margarita. The core group of the wedding party met a few times before the ceremony so that we could figure things out. There were a few things that were different about this ceremony, such as the blessing done at the end by two of Jelitza's cousins from Puerto Rico who are ministers. But, the translating was the part that I was most concerned with.

Margarita and I worked out where I would stop and she would repeat what I had said. I gave her a copy of my ceremony so she could translate it…

A Rogue Flower Girl, and the Ring Bearer Follows

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Something will go amiss at the wedding. It's one of those rare things that you can count on in life. Those are the things that you remember, and they are often the things that make a wedding unique.


At the rehearsal for my cousin Alexis and her then-fiance Josh almost everything went well. There was some hesitation about the flower girl and the ring bearer both being so young.

The prudent decision was made to have the ring bearer carry the box without the rings in it. When he was coming down the aisle in rehearsal I wondered if he was going to make it to me. Everyone had a guess on where he would end up. I figured he would break into a run to one of his parents at some point. I was completely wrong. People were directing him to come to me. So, he ran up to me and clung to my leg! Hahaha.

I assured everyone of a few things. One, if that happened during the ceremony then he would have successfully delivered the box. Two, that if anything went wild then I would be the one to step in …

Receiving Praise

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It's a dangerous thing to read the comments on your writing. It's dangerous to your mental health. We often take comments that we receive online as if it were people talking to us. And, it's different. People are often willing to be insulting and threatening online when they wouldn't be in person. Even if that's not happening, it's difficult to communicate tone and such in writing, so things that would come across differently in person are lost when done in writing. But, sometimes it's great to read comments.


I've been debating things online for the last couple of decades. I've benefited from some of the discussions, but being able to ignore comments, or to read them and then not respond, is an even better skill.

Public comments are unique because there can be different intentions. Some people are honestly engaging with you and asking sincere questions or making sincere comments. In those cases I try to respond in kind.

Then there are all of the peo…

Fun Training for Short Answer Questions with Masha

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I always found writing exercises in school boring and not useful. That's probably why I didn't become a writer earlier in my life. When I teach writing I therefore strive to avoid repeating that sense of agentic boredom that school propagates so well.


Let's do a little bit of deep thinking before we dive into our fun and creative writing exercise.

It's important to actually learn things. School is very bad for that, so you have to take care of that on your own. But, it's also important to be able to get through school. Most people think that school is important, they just don't really know why. It's for a couple of reasons. One, success in school selects for a useful form of conformity, i.e. a high level of conscientiousness and a low level of defiance. Thus, it acts as a societal filter. Two, school is a form of social approval. It's hard to know what's good, or real, or true. One of the two main ways that people determine these things is by lookin…

I Went to a Writing Group - March 11th, 2020

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The world is gripped in collective fear of the Wuhan coronavirus right now. Our writing prompt hit that note on the head.


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How would you (or your character) react if the whole world shut down for a virus?

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Literature plays with the most important and serious subjects that humans encounter. Death, killing, abduction, violence, loss, lying, grief, deception, war, murder, law, medicine, politics, technology, love, etc. There's a reason that these are all common subjects in stories.

Cannibalism is a very rare phenomenon in real life, but it's fairly common in stories, e.g. zombies, Hansel and Gretel, the Three Little Pigs, vampires, werewolves, etc. These stories are playing at the fringe of human experience, and yet revealing important truths about human nature and the structure of existence.

Playing with virus stories during a virus outbreak is thus appropriate. Not to mention, putting any type of experience into a coherent narrative helps you to proces…

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