Category Archives: irony

Why I Must Be a Spiritual Nudist

This is actually a repost of an older essay since I am ill again and fighting to think in between coughing fits. Where this says I have only been naked once at the nudist park, that is no longer true as I have revisited the same park with my AANR membership.

I do now admit to being a nudist… or naturist if you prefer. To me that means, if given a choice, I would prefer to be naked all the time. Especially in a natural setting outdoors. I have probably spent more time in the company of naked people than you have, even though I was never myself nude in a social setting until my one and only visit to the Bluebonnet Naturist Park in Alvord, Texas. I was a visitor at the clothing-optional apartment complex at Manor Road in Austin a number of times in the 1980s when my girlfriend’s sister was a resident there. They asked me to disrobe a couple of times, but, as a visitor, I exercised my option. And I corresponded with Floridian nudists by letter, email, and subscriptions to nudist publications through the 1990s.

“Nature Walk”

But it is very nearly an ironic notion that I am literally a nudist. My wife is opposed to nakedness for religious reasons. Although members of my family were fine with skinny-dipping in our pool until it developed fatal foundation cracks, we no longer tolerate nudity at home, except in the shower and the bedroom behind closed doors. And being naked outdoors, though it always used to be good for my health, now is a problem with my increased susceptibility to the return of skin cancer, and the fact that my psoriasis sores, in addition to being ghastly to look at, get dry, cracked, and bloody with a chance of infection far easier than they ever used to. And I have more of them.

If I am being honest, I am not really a literal nudist anymore. I don’t get naked much at all anymore. I do correspond via Twitter with other nudists, especially other nudist authors and cartoonists. But that has its down sides too. Twitter followers who are evangelical Christians un-follow me instantly when they actually see a nudist-friendly post or comment from me. Nudists are apparently among the vast multitudes of sinners destined for Hell. And being part of the Twitter-nudist community also seems to attract unwanted attention from those who love pornography, as well as those who wish to exploit the “prurient interests” of others (which, in my humble experience, is not the interests of real nudists.)

So…

I have always found it challenging to be an actual nudist. I do the best I can, but, as I have repeatedly written in other posts about the subject, I was sexually assaulted by an older boy when I was ten. I spent years overcoming an aversion to ever being seen naked by others.

That aversion prevented me from embracing a positive body image of myself for the rest of my childhood and well into my young adulthood. I was deprived of the joys of skinny-dipping in the Iowa River and being comfortable in my own skin. That was a definite drawback when it came to showers in school after P.E. Class, or showers after football, basketball, or track practice. I was robbed of my sense of naked childhood innocence. I felt like I had a terrible secret to keep, and I was secretly a monster for having naked feelings.

So, in order to be more like a valid, real person, Mickey, as a nudist, has committed himself to being a Spiritual Nudist. A Spiritual Nudist doesn’t hide anything by wearing clothing. A Spiritual Nudist is honest, and tells the naked truth. And a Spiritual Nudist doesn’t have to be actually naked to be Spiritually nude.

I may not now fit the definition of an actual, literal nudist anymore. But I can think like a nudist, tell nudist stories, and draw naked people (in a non-pornographic way). And like a real nudist, I no longer worry about what other people think. The naked truth is still the truth. And maybe even more-so than when people wear their clothes as if it were a disguise.

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Filed under autobiography, humor, irony, nudes, Paffooney

Thinking About Thinking with a Thought-free Thinker

Yes, today is another in a long, tepid series of Art-Day posts, but it is also about metacognitive thinking. Specifically thinking about thinking using pictures to think with. (Maybe that title should say, “Free-Thought Thinker” rather than, “Thought-Free.”)

To start with, what does a person actually see when they close their eyes? My brain does not color everything on the inside of my eyelids black. Even in the dark of night with no nightlight so that nothing shines through my eyelids, my brain interprets the dark as shapes, patterns, and colors. Hence the inspiration for this picture.

But my brain is never satisfied with raw shapes, colors, and patterns. It has to interpret ideas into them. The mass of yellow and black resolves into a butterfly, or a sunflower, or an etude by J.S. Bach. The pink mass becomes a blond girl playing the music in my head…. a girl from piano-lesson days in the early 70’s. But naked. The way I always thought about her while sitting and waiting for my piano lesson and listening to hers. How else does a boy think about a pretty girl when he is fourteen?

And as the items in the picture take shape, they do also begin to tell a story. Who is this Dr. Seabreez? Is he a shaman of the Republic of Lakotah People? Is he a white man? Seabreez is not a Native American name. The naked boy by the tent flap has a crutch, and there is a mouse silhouetted nearby. Does that make him a medical doctor? A veterinarian? A professor of Native-American Studies? The mind begins to piece together a script.

But here we see that Dr. Seabreez has set up a new practice in Japan. Again the boy near the door has a crutch and there is a silhouetted mouse near him. But now the other boy has horns on his forehead. Why horns? And pointed ears? Is he a Doctor of Magic and Wizardry? Demonology perhaps? And what is an anthropomorphized panda doing in Japan? That’s clearly a Japanese castle in the distance. The collar Kanji is definitely Japanese in character.

And now there are horns again. Three of them by my count. And another naked character. But a Grecian background. The mind is here making connections between the pictures, noticing patterns. Appreciating colors. And turning every detail over in the mind’s eye, evaluating and analyzing.

Art, especially on Saturdays, totally engages the mind. That is one of the reasons we keep art around to look at again and again. It is the purpose of art to make us see something. And not just once, superfluously. We must see it in depth, looking beyond the surface.

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Filed under art criticism, artwork, humor, irony, magic, Paffooney

That Bluebird of Happiness

Blue birds

Yes, this is an old post from 2017r that is ironically about going back and rereading old posts.  Sorry about that.  But it made me laugh when I reread it.

I often go back and re-read old posts, particularly when I discover that someone else has read them.  It is amazing to me how differently I perceive things from when I actually wrote the post.  As you write, squeezing huge, boulder-sized portions of hot, magma-like burning ideas and passions out through writing orifices not nearly big enough to accommodate, you usually hate what you wrote and are still writhing in pain from the creation of it as you try to edit it, trim it and brush its unruly hair.  (How’s that for a mixed metaphor to make you cringe?)  But given time and distance, you can really appreciate what you wrote more than ever before.  Things that you thought were the stupidest idea a man ever put in words suddenly have the power to make you laugh, or make you cry.  You are able to feel the things the writing was intended to make you feel.  You begin to think things like, “Maybe you are not the worst writer that ever lived, and maybe that’s not why nobody ever reads your books.”  But then, of course, your sister reads the post and tells you that you write like a really old, really crabby, really ancient old man.  And you use the word “really” too much too.  I know I deserve that, Sis.  Especially the “really” part.

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Here’s a post that I reread and liked today about Bob Ross.

This is the thing about happiness;  It is elusive and rare as a real-life blue bird. But capturing it for a moment is not impossible.  And as long as you don’t try to salt its tail and keep it prisoner, you can encourage it to sing for you.  (Much better metaphor this time, don’t you think?)  vintage-coca-cola-ad-1950s-1960s-clownb

When I am accused of being gloomy, old, and boring, I can happily admit it and make it into something funny.  I am something of a conspiracy nut, but not so serious that I believe all my own assertions.  For those people who took offense at this conspiracy theory of mine; Coca-Cola Mind Control, I would like to point out that “Hey, I was joking.  I actually like clowns.”  Even though there is a serious side to everything and there can’t be laughter without some tears, I am basically happy with the way things are.

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I started listening to “Live Happy Radio” on Sunday mornings on KLUV in Dallas.  They point out on their program of endlessly droning happy-talk that happiness is something that you can work at.  Like humor writing in blogs, it takes practice and practice and time.  They even asked me to share the word about their happy magazine and products, so I am doing exactly that right here.  Sometimes you simply have to put your cynicism in a jar on the shelf next to the lock box where you keep depression and self-loathing.  So you can find their Live-Happy folderol right here.

So I am bird-watching again with an eye out for the bluebird.  You know the one.  It is out there somewhere.  And I need to hear that song one more time.

Blue birds

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Filed under artwork, goofy thoughts, happiness, humor, insight, inspiration, irony, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

I Love to Laugh

“Mickey, why can’t you be more serious the way smart people are?”

“Well, now, my dear, I think I take humor very seriously.”

“How can you say that?  You never seem to be serious for more than a few seconds in a row.”

“I can say it in a high, squeaky, falsetto voice so I sound like Mickey Mouse.”

“You know that’s not what I mean.”

“I can also burp it… well, maybe not so much since I was in junior high.”

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“I distinctly remember getting in trouble in Mrs. Mennenga’s third grade class in school for pantomiming pulling my beating heart out of my chest and accidentally dropping it on the floor.  She lectured me about being more studious.  But I made Alicia sitting in the row beside me laugh.  It was all worth it.  And the teacher was right.  I don’t remember anything from the lesson on adding fractions we were supposed to be doing.  But I remember that laugh.  It is one precious piece of the golden treasure I put in the treasure chest of memories I keep stored in my heart.”

Groucho

“I always listened to the words Groucho Marx was saying, even though he said them awfully fast and sneaky-like.  I listened to the words.  Other characters didn’t seem to listen to him.  He didn’t seem to listen to them.  Yet, how could he respond like he did if he really wasn’t listening?  In his answers were always golden bits of wisdom.  Other people laughed at his jokes when the laugh track told them to.  I laughed when I understood the wisdom.”

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“Laughing is a way of showing understanding.  Laughing is a way of making yourself feel good.  Laughing is good for your brain and your heart and your soul.  So, I want to laugh more.  I need to laugh more.  I love to laugh.”

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Filed under autobiography, comedians, commentary, goofiness, goofy thoughts, humor, irony, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, wisdom

Good Versus Evil in Today’s World

Innocence, Purity, and Courage are Good

It is the goal of those who write humor to reveal truth and make you laugh about it. Unexpected truth is funny. It is also the main reason that far-right political kooks have no sense of humor Simply put, for the evil and stupid people who are taking over this country, truth is not funny. It is the enemy.

The fact that so many who are quick to argue cannot be quieted by a joke anymore means that the conversation can’t end until they’ve owned the libtard, or punched him in the face… or worse, shot him dead with their beloved Second-Amendment Rights.

And a source of that evil is the whole conservative-bubble propaganda wheels that never stop turning on Fox News, Breitbart, One America News, and Stormfront publications.

They take up arms against the things they fear. And they fear those people that their propaganda wheels identify for them as the “other.” That means people of color, Democrats, liberals, ANTIFA (which stands for anti-fascists, and as far as I can tell are mostly fictional… which prevents me from joining them,) and intellectuals (meaning anybody that is smarter than they are… specifically me.)

Yes, White Priviledge is real, though they will complain you’re being racist if you say it out loud.

The most frustrating thing about the armies of evil is that they are made up of good, basically God-fearing, fine-hearted people who would do anything for you if you are identified as a member of their group by the color of your skin or your support of their glorious leader Don Cheetoh Trumpaloney. Unfortunately the consumption of propaganda from their fear-centered and conspiracy-theory-prone propaganda wheels stimulates the fear centers of their amygdalas (also known as their lizard brains) and suppresses their natural empathy to the point of being able to do violence in the name of leaders who are basically robbing them, conning them, and laughing about it behind their backs.

Enthusiasm for an idea like this… good or evil?

And the leaders who are doing all of this, they are the primary beneficiaries of corporate greed and control of politics to the point that they can make more profits than ever from fossil fuels at a time when the planet is dying from green-house gasses that cause fires in the western States and the ferocity of Hurricane Ian in Florida.

So, what are people who would rather see good happen than have the world die in fire and a hail of bullets going to do about it?

We can vote. Here are the names of some people who support evil ideas and have made lots of money in their respective offices; Ron DeSantis (Mickey Mouse’s new nemesis), Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Greg Abbott (Evil Emperor of Texas,) Marco Rubio (enemy of immigrants everywhere,) and basically anyone who rules with a Maga hat on, or calls himself a Trump Republican.

We have to keep fighting for public education, fair and equal and well-funded, free of book banning in school libraries that target classic works of black authors, gay authors, truth-tellers, and authors of science books that include climate change and evolution as scientifically established, and willing to treat kids as valuable learners no matter what color, religion, ethnicity, culture, or sexual orientation they are blessed with. Kids are kids and deserve love and respect (even the naked ones, though I am not advocating for nude schools… that’s just a joke.)

We have to treat the aggrieved and fearful members of the evil armies not as evil, but as our misguided brothers and sisters, neighbors, useful members of society, and people who can be reminded that they do have good hearts, and only cold-hearted lunatics and despots are truly evil.

And I will continue trying to open eyes and hearts with humor. Hopefully the kind that brings smiles and laughter. But also the kind that brings tears and self-examination as necessary. (Of course, I can’t promise to be good at it. Funny is in the brain of the laugher after all.)

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Filed under angry rant, education, empathy, feeling sorry for myself, humor, irony, kids, politics, red States

Humble Pie

The difference between who you want to be and who you are is humbling.

The recipe for humble pie requires good, clear eyesight.

And you need a reliable mirror that only shows the flaws in the reflected image, not in the mirror itself.

And you need to look at every detail in the whole of you. Even the secret things that you tend to conceal from everybody, especially yourself.

And writing a novel, if you do it right, is a form of baking humble pie.

The good and the not-so-good is reflected in reviews, which are often written with mirrors that have flaws.

But what you see, if you are honest with yourself, can show you that, even though you are far from perfect, you are exactly what you are supposed to be.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, commentary, empathy, feeling sorry for myself, irony, Paffooney, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Mickey’s Secret Identities

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Yes, there is very definitely a possibility that there is more than one me.

If you look carefully at the colored pencil drawing above, you will see that it is titled “The Wizard of Edo” and signed by someone called Leah Cim Reyeb.  A sinister sounding Asian name, you think?  I told college friends that my research uncovered the fact that he was an Etruscan artist who started his art career more than two thousand years ago in a cave in France.  But, of course, if you are clever enough to read the name backward, you get, “beyeR miC haeL”.  So, that stupid Etruscan cave artist is actually me.

It turns out that it is a conceit about signing my name as an artist that I stole from an old episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show and have used for well over two decades through college and my teaching career.

And of course, the cartoonist me is Mickey.  Mickey also writes this blog.  Mickey is the humorist identity that I use to write all my published novels and blog posts since I published the novel Catch a Falling Star.

Michael Beyer is the truest form of my secret identity.  That was my teacher name.  It was often simplified by students to simply “Mr. B”.  I was known by that secret identity for 31 years.

Even more sinister are my various fictional identities occurring in my art and my fiction.  You see one of them in this Paffooney.  The name Dr. Seabreez appears in Catch a Falling Star as the Engineer who makes a steam engine train fly into space in the 1890’s with alien technology.  He appears again in The Bicycle-Wheel Genius as a time-traveler.

The young writer in the novel Superchicken, Branch Macmillan, is also me.  As is the English teacher Lawrance “Rance” Kellogg used in multiple novels.

So, disturbing as it may be to realize, there is more than one name and identity that signifies me.  But if you are a writer of fiction, a cartoonist, an artist, or a poet, you will probably understand this idea better.  And you may even have more than one you too.

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Really Odd Things are in the “Wrong File”

On my computer I keep a lot of picture files for inspiration both as an artist and a writer.  One of those files is labeled simply the “Wrong File”.  Everything in that picture file is in there for the wrong reason.  Or does a wrong file need to be filled with the wrong stuff for the right reason?  I don’t know.  There is a lot wrong with this world.  The fact that I am going to post stuff from the “Wrong File” is merely proof of that.

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Liking Grumpy Cat posts on Facebook is an oxymoron of the lowest order.  It is an example of what is wrong in the “Wrong File”.

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Certain puns are just so wrong in a fundamental way.  That’s right.  They are both fun and mental.  So that’s wrong.

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As an educator I am aware that this thing we thought was true is now an untrue fact.  That’s wrong also.  My left brain tells me so.  But my right brain tells me it feels right.

Yes, these things are wrong.  Just wrong.

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Why did I put this in here?  This is not wrong.  This is right.  So I must’ve put it in the wrong file.  So that’s all right, then.

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Putting this in a file my wife could find on my laptop… Yes, that was wrong.

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Saddle shoes have been wrong for many years now.  I still draw them on the feet of kids, especially girls, especially school-age girls, and that is especially especially wrong because it means I am just too old and out of fashion.’

Boy!  Is that wrong!

These things are all older than me, but I remember two of them.  Is that wrong?

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I’m not sure I believe this is wrong.  So is that wrong?  To believe that it is right, I mean?  I’m probably wrong.

988289_10201821431282097_1326790710_nMy wife constantly tells me I am wrong… about everything.  And I probably am.  So that is not right.  And if you think that’s my wife in the picture, you would be wrong.  She’s much larger than that in real life.

And many people find surrealism is wrong.  Surreal is when you put wrong things together on purpose to make something that almost seems right.

So that’s what is odd about the “Wrong File”,  It is so wrong that it is right.

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The Philosophy of Bad Poetry

I do write poetry. But I must admit, I am not a serious poet.  I am a humorist at heart, so I tend to write only goofy non-serious poems like this one;

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So here is a poem that rhymes but has too much “but-but-but” in it.  A poem about pants should not have too many “buts” in it.  One butt per pair, please.  So this is an example of spectacularly bad poetry.  Why do we need bad poetry?  Because it’s funny.  And it serves as a contrast to the best that poetry has to offer.

As a teacher I remember requiring students to memorize and recite Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken”.  Now this sort of assignment is a rich source of humorous stories for another day.  Kids struggle to memorize things.  Kids hate to get up in front of the class and speak with everybody looking at them.  You get a sort of ant-under-a- magnifying-glass-in-the-sun sort of effect.  But in order to truly get the assignment right and get the A+,  you have to make that poem your own.  You have to live it, understand it, and when you reach that fork in the road in your own personal yellow wood, you have to understand what Frost was saying in that moment.  That is the life experience poetry has a responsibility to give you.

roads-diverging

Hopefully I gave that experience to at least a few of my students.

Bad poetry makes you more willing to twirl your fingers of understanding in the fine strands of good poetry’s hair.  (Please excuse that horrible metaphor.  I do write bad poetry, after all.)

But all poetry is the same thing.  Poetry is “the shortest, clearest, best way to see and touch the honest bones of the universe through the use of words.”  And I know that definition is really bad.  But it wasn’t written on this planet.  (Danged old Space Goons!)  Still, knowing that poetry comes from such a fundamental place in your heart, you realize that even bad poetry has value.  So, I will continue writing seriously bad poetry in the funniest way possible.  And all of you real poets who happen to read this, take heart, I am making your poetry look better by comparison.

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What We Are About to Lose

The world is on fire. The heat is getting worse than it has ever been (in the time we limited sentient creatures have knowledge of.) There is a very real chance that the end of life on Earth is actually a short time away in the near future (a thing some religions have been predicting unsuccessfully for thousands of years.) What will it actually mean for us to be at the end of time (realizing that we are only talking about our pale blue dot in the near-endless universe?)

Here’s what we face. The greenhouse gasses, particularly carbon dioxide, are keeping the heat from the sun from radiating back out into space. Temperatures have already passed what a few years ago was described as the point of no return. The permafrost in the northern hemisphere is melting, releasing increasing amounts of methane, an even worse greenhouse gas, and creating a feedback loop that makes the problem overwhelming. The glaciers in the north and the ice shelf in Antarctica are melting, and sea levels are rising. Major coastal cities are not preparing fast enough for being underwater. Huge populations will be displaced and become refugees. Food-production systems will break down due to drought and unrest amongst workers in both farming and the distribution of food. The mounting expenses of battling these unbearable problems will destroy economies. More wars will break out to add to the misery Putin has already caused by war crimes in Ukraine. Eventually, nuclear weapons may cool the Earth with nuclear winter and stop the production of carbon dioxide by obliterating all manufacturing and depopulating the northern hemisphere. The cockroaches will inherit the Earth. Hopefully, as the dominant species, they will do a better job of managing the environment. But one never knows how they will handle it once they reach their own industrial revolution.

The probable next dictator of the American Fascist Union of Republican States.

Politically, the party with the power denies the existence of the climate crisis. They are concerned with expunging any record of white-people guilt for any crimes against racial groups caused by slavery, Jim Crow laws, genocide against Native Americans, lynching, and any of the other fruits of racism from the history books. They are, after all, quite comfortable in all-white conservative bubbles of thought, and are easily offended by any defense of the Black Lives Matter group. They also focus on removing any suggestion of sexual ideas or knowledge from school books and libraries, because anything but Bible-touted notions of love and sex is pornographic, perverted, or somehow related to lifestyles they certainly don’t want to have anything to do with and prefer to legislate away. So, every effort they are willing to make to avoid the things in that previous killer paragraph involves loudly saying “No!” to any possible solutions to the problems that are going to kill us. Hopefully, the cockroaches won’t become Trumpist Republicans when they take over, giving their rise to intelligence and civilization a better chance of thriving.

It is probably still within our power to stop this relentless life-extinguishing future from happening. There are definitely people who understand both the scientific challenges and the value of all the things we will lose if we sacrifice the entirety of our future for short-term corporate profits (the things all the Republicans we will continue to elect will vote for because of where their priorities really lie.) The human population has shown repeatedly throughout history that they are resilient and inventive, and can overcome all sorts of evil if the will to do so is truly there.

I am a pessimist, which means I always prepare for the worst possible outcome. Fortunately, that way of thinking means I am usually pleasantly surprised at the outcome, and if it does turn out bad, at least I am prepared for that outcome.

So, if we are going to destroy our world and ourselves, I have to ask myself, was it worth it for us to have ever existed?

Can you look at the smiling face of a child and say the existence of the human race on planet Earth was not worth the effort?

And there are reasons to be glad we are here and we have a history that came before us. The Civil War and World War Two were both terrible things. But one eliminated legal slavery. The other eliminated fascist genocidal regimes from Europe and Japan.

We are able, as a species, to laugh at our own foibles, to create humor and music and literature and poetry. We were able to produce Shakespeare, Mozart, Rober Frost, Red Skelton, Robin Williams, Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, Beethoven, Kurt Vonnegut, the Beatles, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Elvis, Goethe, Socrates, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, T. S. Eliot, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Julie Andrews, Johnny Carson, and the list could go on for days…

We were able to rise up from the ground, fly through the air, and eventually land on the Moon.

We were able to survive the Black Death, Small Pox, Ebola Virus, AIDS, and Covid 19.

We unleashed the power of the atom. We observed and learned about the far reaches of the galaxy and the many other galaxies in the greater universe beyond the Milky Way using only telescopes, mathematics, and the scientific method.

Is it enough to justify the existence of our race? You tell me. I foolishly think we are worthy to live on into the future, even if I myself will soon no longer be able to keep living. I hope to die of non-climate-crisis causes with peace in my heart. But I realize, too, that it depends on a lot of other people besides me. And I do not have confidence in all of them.

If there is a God who can help us, He is certainly welcome to make an announcement in the comments. But barring Divine intervention, what are you willing to do to move the question forward? I am doing what is within my power.

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