Monthly Archives: August 2016

Bisque du Homarus americanus

Bisque du Homarus americanus


Bisque (food) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bisque is a smooth, creamy, highly seasoned soup of French origin, classically based on a strained broth (coulis) of crustaceans. It can be made from lobster, crab, shrimp or crayfish. Also, creamy soups made from roasted and puréed fruits, vegetables, or fungi are sometimes called bisques.

Bisque | Definition of Bisque by Merriam-Webster

bisque: a thick cream soup made with shellfish or game.

What’s the Difference Between Bisque and Chowder? — Word of …

Sep 9, 2014 – Bisque. Bisque is a type of soup that’s rich and creamy, and traditionally made from pureed shellfish. Authentic recipes ground the shells into a fine paste and use that to thicken the soup. More commonly now, bisques are thickened with rice, which can be pureed or strained out at the end of cooking.


So there you have it… A simple introduction to the primary challenges you’ll face if you want to make homemade bisque:

  1. buy ‘em and boil them on your own stove;
  2. buy ‘em pre-cooked fresh at your favorite fishmonger’s; or
  3. buy pre-packaged lobster meat.

How squeamish are you? How much of a mess are you willing to tolerate in your kitchen? Are you going to use the shells in your recipe?

The traditional recipes call for boiling the crustaceans alive until they are bright red (but don’t overboil them), pulling them apart and pulling the meat out and setting it aside for some other recipe, and then roasting the shells, then pulverizing them, and making the base stock out of shells. (Naturally, some straining is necessary with cheesecloth and a colander.)

In the summertime, it’s handy if you have an outdoor grill or fire pit with a cooking rack and you can boil them outdoors.  That will save some wear and tear on your kitchen decor and you can keep the messy dissection process outside too.

For most lobster fanatics, it’s the succulent meat you’re after. The scale of excellence goes from the tail to the claws; most sunny-day lobster eaters stop right there. If you are a full-blown addict, and for a bisque, you use the whole thing.  Everything.

The way I do a bisque is an experienced-based amalgam of recipes and approaches.

I first encountered lobster bisque 42+ years ago when, on our honeymoon, I took my bride to lunch on the outdoor patio of the Jordan Pond tea house in the heart of Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. My family roots are in Maine at the nexus of estuarial river, rocky coast, peninsula and … lobsters. Sitting on that patio, the Atlantic Ocean and the scents of salt air come in fom behind; clean mountain air and water lay out in front of you in the glacial fresh water pond at the end of which are the oft-noted Bubbles. The location and atmosphere work on the appetite and the mind, and the waitress beings this large bowl of creaminess of lobster.

So, however you decide to deal with the shelled seafood, you’ve got to have enough for your plans for feeding a small group of people. My wife may rank as the #1 lobster fanatic this side of the Connecticut, so we have devised this plan.

Go to the fish store and buy a 1.5-lb. lobster for everyone at the table. If the catch of the day is limited to smaller lobsters, buy more. You want an absolute minimum of a pound per person.

Have your fishmonger steam or boil them. They’ll end up hot and dripping in multiple large plastic bags. The sooner you get to the prep phase with the lobster meat, the better. Cooking flexibility moves you toward cooking them yourself, but if the fish store is nearby, you have it made.

Dis-assemble the lobsters.  I won’t provide a lesson on how to do this, but it’s easy once you learn.  Crackers and cleavers may be useful.  Snap off the tails and slice or snap open the shell in half and extract the tail meat; it’s the single largest piece you’ll get out of each one. Rinse them and set them aside.  Melt some butter and squirt some lemon juice on them and put them in a plastic storage device; they’ll keep for some time, even overnight, in the fridge.

Take apart the claws.  The main claw meat is the second largest piece you’ll get.  Take the tiny sub-claw or “thumb” off and set it aside to use as a garnish. Get as much of the knuckle meat as possible using a lobster pick. If you are doing only a bisque, you don’t have to get fussy. Traditionally, the lobster is served boiled or baked at table side with warm melted butter, but for the bisque, you are simply assembling a pile of meat.  Take the largest parts for the rest of the dinner you’ve contemplated; lobster tail and beef is the classic “surf and turf”.  In this case, we made a fresh cold lobster salad. Set aside the rest of the meat in melted butter and lemon juice; you still have a lot of work to do.

At this point I should mention that there are a number of recipes you can find that also use clams, crabs, shrimp and more. This will lead you into a survey of the differences between soups, bisques and chowders.  Then there are the seafood boils served plain or with or over a pasta. Emeril Lagasse grew up Fall River.

For your mise en place,you are going to need basil, thyme, parsely, pepper, paprika, Tabasco sauce or cayenne, fresh lemons, butter, seafood stock (or, alternately, clam broth or juice), a small can of tomato paste, a white onion, garlic cloves, shallots, chives, scallions, bay leaves (or Bay seasoning), all-purpose flour, extra-virgin police oil, and cooking sherry.

Here is where the rubber meets the road. You have to cook to your tastes and preferences and those of your guests. Fresh is best. I tend by necessity to always lean towards low-salt or no salt. Some judgment must always be used in terms of final volume, amount of ingredient, brand/quality, etc. In the case of bisque, you’re aiming for a quart of liquid per person. Often you end up with a bit more; it will keep in the fridge, but only for a short time.

So take all those shells you took off the lobsters, put them in a crude newspaper or parchment envelope, and pulverize them with a rubber mallet.  Toss them all (especially the bodies and their abdominal goodies like tomalley) in a large pot.  Throw in a bit of butter to provide some lubrication so all the left-over meats and juices you didn’t bother to get out of all the many crustaceans’ nooks and crannies ooze on out into the pan. Cover them with water and put on high heat, but do not let this boil over or you will have a major stove-top mess. When you get to boil, turn down to simmer. Boil down the water for half an hour or more; the more time spent here in the process, the higher the concentration of lobster flavor.  Let it cool and then strain the water into a fresh clean holding container; drape cheesecloth over a colander in that storage container in your sink and carefully and slowly pour off the liquid.  Keep the liquid; discard the shells in a double plastic bag with some lemon or pine soap to keep smells down and critters away and put them out into the trash ASAP.

Get out a large pot, and put about 5 ounces of extra-virgin olive oil in the bottom, and maybe a pat of grass-fed butter like Kerry Gold. Peel and chop the white onion and set to sweat or sauté until the onion is translucent (about 8 minutes).  Add minced garlic and chopped shallot and continue for another three to five minutes  Do not burn. Take them off the heat the moment they start to brown.

Add to your preserved lobster water whatever liquid flavoring you choose to use (Worcestershire, Tabasco) as well as selected spices.  I tend to hold out the bay leaves and the thyme until after you have added the roux, and use three-quarters of the allotted amounts of seasoning up front, adding the last quarter toward the end of the cooking process. Fish out the bay leaves just before you serve.

Open the can of tomato paste and take a healthy teaspoon of it and add it to the lobster water/stock pot. Stir it in and keep sitting regularly. It adds color as well as flavor.

Make the roux. The roux is the keystone to the bisque. Roux is simply a flour/butter thickening agent; learning to make a good roux quickly and simply is a useful skill.  Simply melt some grass-fed butter in the bottom of a saucepan and fairly quickly add all-purpose flour. The Culinary Institute of America instructional encyclopedia called “The Professional Chef” suggests a 3:2 dry weight mix of butter to flour, but you will learn to adjust this (and cooking time) to develop thickness and color, characteristics that will vary from recipe to recipe.  The key to roux is that it demands someone’s full attention from start to finish; using a whisk, you beat the flour into the butter (or is it the other way around?).  You must constantly whisk; do not allow the mixture to burn. You may want to add a bit more butter or a bit more flour as you do this; it’s okay.  Just keep whisking and do not turn away.  You whip it into a smooth and silky light brown or nutty brown mixture.  You can also add a smidgen of tomato paste for color if you choose; I would be wary of adding any flavoring of any sort beyond this.  Set the roux aside on the back of the stove until you are ready to add it.

The lobster water stock has been strained and set back on the burner to simmer. After an hour (or more), having made the roux, simply fold and slow-whisk the roux into the stock.  Add the last of your spices. Whisk and stir regularly; some people would even puree at this stage.

You are almost finished.  At this point, you are in the key holding zone. The stock is simmering and should simmer for at least an hour. Longer is okay.  This gives you that desirable period of time when you can greet and entertain guests, the cold salad having been prepared in advance to be served with oil and vinegar, fresh warm bread and butter, beverage of choice, and a small slice of cheesecake for dessert with coffee, or tea.

But the final assembly awaits and will take about 20-30 minutes.  You have the broth base; you can consider adding some seafood stock if you need more volume. Stir, stir.  To this you add a cup or more of cream; most recipes call for heavy cream, but I use light cream.  Heavy is better for taste and consistency, but light will please your cardiologist. Stir and stir again. Add a healthy amount of a cooking alcohol of choice.  You can spend a lot of time thinking about this choice. You can use a standard supermarket dry white cooking wine, or you can let your oenophilic tendencies out to run.  Someone suggests amontillado, which I think a bit heavy.  I almost always end up using a cream sherry. How much is always your choice; the alcohol will burn off.  My bisques tend to be loaded with lobster and sherry.

So you’ve stirred the cream and the sherry into the stock, and just at the end is when you can add the lobster meat. Let it all “get happy” in the pot for a while while your guests get happy on the patio or the deck.  This part makes my wife happy because she says most bisques have barely been introduced to the lobster. Ours is a full celebration of lobsteriness. When you’re ready to serve, bring out the bread and the cutting board, the salads, the beverages, and ladle the soup into the bowls with the remainder into a tureen. Garnish the bowls and the tureen with a pat of butter, a swirl of cream, a swirl of sherry, some parsley, a few croutons, and those tiny little lobster thumbs or some other meat.

The keys to the whole thing are to play and practice, to learn the proper selections of spices, to not overdo any particular ingredient or spice, and to enjoy your guests.


Cheers. Thank you Lord for these Thy many blessings.

Featured photo from Acadia courtesy of Nancy A. Marshall


Awakened to Responsibility

Awakened to Responsibility

Someone, having been told that I’d suffered a stroke, asked me “What has the stroke done to you?”

My immediate reaction was that he’d asked the wrong question.

He should have asked “What did having the stroke do for you?”

The first approach implies damage, deficit, having been left in an unfortunate place.  The question was proceeded with a frown ;<(.

It should have been proceeded with a smile ;<).

He followed a natural tendency to think that I was left with some serious brain damage, sequelae, residua.  Brain damage was done; there are sequelae and residua. But…

What having the stroke did for me was to awaken me.


Regular blog readers probably know many of the details of the event. I had a left-sided hemiplegic motor stroke; during open-heart surgery, some pieces of plaque that were lodged somewhere (I don’t know where; I was asleep) were dislodged and found their way to my brain. When I woke up, I couldn’t move most of half of my body. My leg was a block of cement; it took me days before I could will my toes to wiggle, an event celebrated with alerts to the nursing staff, my chief family contact, my friends online getting relays from a caregiver. In those early days, things looked grim, people were down in the mouth, etc.

But when I woke up, I was a different person. I don’t know how to explain a lot of things; they are the types of things for which words are insufficient. I know that I had, during the coma, a deep and noticeable hallucination.  My son, hovering nearby and in close contact with nurses and doctors, spoke of it and asked me about it later. I won’t here try to analyze it (though a new clue emerged even as I type this). But I also know that three people noted and wrote about the fact that, at one phase of the hospitalization or another, we each had paranormal communications with the other while separated by hundreds and in one case thousands of miles, and I also know that I had a deep and profound spiritual experience of some sort while I was anesthetized.

The skeptics will suggest a side-effect of the anesthetic. But the skeptics should read Jill Bolte Taylor and watch her TED Talk.  She is a neuroanatomist whose post-doctoral studies are in the field of psychiatry and neuroscience. When I watched her TED Talk after my own emergence, I simultaneously laughed, cried and cheered. It spoke to my own experience and, years later, I find her mantra “You are responsible for the energy that you bring” to be entirely consistent with my own experience and my response to it.

I took into the event the idea that I needed to learn about and work on how to give love, how to empower, and how to give something to the world. When I woke up in the ICU and my situation became clear, I knew I needed to find energy and motivation to recover, and that my self-assigned missions were #1) to finish polishing (and sharing) my e-book “Summon The Magic: How To Use Your Mind to be a Better Athlete (or anything else you want to be)”; and 2) to continue to blog in an effort to make more people aware of the deep politics, evil, hidden agendas, and covert plans, et al.  Both have been accomplished.  The second needs to be continued; the first needs to be updated, polished further, shortened, turned into other formats, etc.

I walked my daughter down the aisle. I was able to attend the birth of two grand-children.  I have renewed my love of photography. I become an auto-didact in cooking. Since then, I’ve been told that I have multiple co-morbidities, that I have gone beyond the actuarial tables for someone with my diagnoses.

What I discovered in the event, though it took hours and days and months of observation, is a radically-enhanced kinesthetic awareness.  What obviously followed was a significantly-ramped-up commitment to health and nutrition and, with that, an improved attention to and understanding of medications. What followed was a deepening respect (already present) for nurses, physicians, and their support staff. What was necessary was for me to apply the lessons I’d read about and excerpted for “Summon The Magic”, turning them from theory to action.  What burgeoned was gratitude, a more intense focus on psychology, spirituality, even religion. What followed the stroke was renewed self-confidence. What grew was patience, my ability to forgive, my tendency to be less combative or confrontational, the length of my fuse.  What grew unquestionably was my understanding of relationships, my love for my wife, my gratitude for life itself, how precious it is, how quickly it can depart, how important it is to do “the work” you were sent here to do, and how little time there is in which to do that work.

I don’t profess to be important, to have an experience that is different from or any greater than that of others, to have learned something that others haven’t learned or have been able to express in more eloquent times. I was lucky. I dodged a number of bullets.

I’m simply grateful for having had the experience. I cannot begin to thank my care-givers enough.  I cannot pay it back.  I can only pay it forward.



born that way

born that way

Gay people not ‘born that way,’ sexual orientation not fixed – US study

Published time: 23 Aug, 2016 13:05

Edited time: 23 Aug, 2016 13:56

A cross-discipline study has challenged the belief that human sexuality and gender identity are determined by biology and remain fixed, saying that there is no scientific proof of this. The study cautioned against drastic medical treatment for transgender children.

The notion that sexual orientation is predetermined by biology is an important part of the current LGBT discourse. If a person has no choice over whether to be gay or not, society cannot demand that he or she be straight, so the argument goes.

But regardless of its political worth, the “born this way” paradigm is not backed up by sufficient scientific data, according to a new paper published in the autumn issue of the New Atlantis, a journal focusing on political, societal and ethical ramifications of technological advances.

The study does not claim that being gay is a choice, merely that stating the opposite may be wrong.

The 144-page paper was written by Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer, an epidemiologist and biostatistician also trained in psychiatry, who is currently a scholar in residence at the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Dr. Paul R. McHugh, a renowned psychiatrist, researcher, and educator and former chief of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The paper’s three parts focus on sexual orientation, links between sexuality and mental health, and gender identity.

Drawing on studies in fields varying from neurobiology to social sciences, the authors wrote that “The understanding of sexual orientation as an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings – the idea that people are ‘born that way’ – is not supported by scientific evidence.”

The term ‘sexual orientation’ itself is ambiguous and is used to describe attraction, behavior or identity by different researchers. Sometimes it refers to things such as belonging to a certain community or having certain fantasies.

“It is important, then, that researchers are clear about which of these domains are being studied, and that we keep in mind the researchers’ specified definitions when we interpret their findings,” the paper said.

There are biological factors associated with sexual behavior, the paper acknowledges, but there are no compelling “causal biological explanations for human sexual orientation.”

Differences in the brain structures of gay and straight individuals identified by researchers are not necessarily innate and may be the result of environmental or psychological factors.

“The strongest statement that science offers to explain sexual orientation is that some biological factors appear, to an unknown extent, to predispose some individuals to a non-heterosexual orientation,” the paper said.

LGBT individuals are statistically at greater risk of having mental health problems than the general population, the authors say. As a more dramatic example, “the rate of lifetime suicide attempts across all ages of transgender individuals is estimated at 41 percent, compared to under 5 percent in the overall US population.”

The usually accepted explanation for this is social stress from discrimination and stigma, but the study said that those factors may not solely explain the disparity and that more scientific research on the issue is necessary.

The paper added that the notion that gender identity is fixed and determined by biological factors is also not backed up by data.

“In reviewing the scientific literature, we find that almost nothing is well understood when we seek biological explanations for what causes some individuals to state that their gender does not match their biological sex,” the authors said.

They strongly advocate caution in resorting to drastic medical treatment such as sex-reassignment surgery for people identified or identifying as transgender. This is especially true in children, whose sexuality is mutable and for whom such treatments may do more harm than good, they warn.

“There is little scientific evidence for the therapeutic value of interventions that delay puberty or modify the secondary sex characteristics of adolescents, although some children may have improved psychological well-being if they are encouraged and supported in their cross-gender identification,” the paper said. “There is no evidence that all children who express gender-atypical thoughts or behavior should be encouraged to become transgender.”

“Sexual orientation and gender identity resist explanation by simple theories. There is a large gap between the certainty with which beliefs are held about these matters and what a sober assessment of the science reveals. In the face of this complexity and uncertainty, we need to be humble about what we know and do not know,” it said.

The authors noted that their paper touches upon controversial issues and insist that first and foremost it is about science and the need for additional evidence in the field. Mayer said many people who contributed to the report asked not to be identified so as to distance themselves from the potential backlash.

“Some feared an angry response from the more militant elements of the LGBT community; others feared an angry response from the more strident elements of religiously conservative communities,” he said. “Most bothersome, however, is that some feared reprisals from their own universities for engaging such controversial topics, regardless of the report’s content—a sad statement about academic freedom.”

The paper was specifically written for the general public to draw attention to mental health problems of the LGBT community, the authors said. McHugh is an opponent of sex reassignment surgery for transgender people, arguing that it often fails to improve their well-being and instead does the opposite in the long run. 



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God Isn’t Transgender

God Isn’t Transgender

In what has to be a new low for the New York Times, the Gray Lady (or should we now say the Bearded Lady?) has published an op-ed piece titled Is God Transgender?” by a New York rabbi named Mark Sameth. Cousin to a man who “transitioned to a woman” in the 1970s, Sameth contends that “the Hebrew Bible, when read in its original language, offers a highly elastic view of gender.” He marshals many purported examples of gender fluidity in the Hebrew scriptures, in order to argue that religion should not be put in service of “social prejudices” against transgendering. But his treatment of the Bible amounts to propaganda, not scholarship.

Proposing that the God of Israel was worshipped originally as “a dual-gendered deity,” the rabbi asserts, untenably, that the etymological derivation of Yahweh is “He/She” (HUHI). His argument requires that the Tetragrammaton be read, not from right to left (as Hebrew always is), but from left to right:

The four-Hebrew-letter name of God, which scholars refer to as the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, was probably not pronounced “Jehovah” or “Yahweh,” as some have guessed. The Israelite priests would have read the letters in reverse as Hu/Hi—in other words, the hidden name of God was Hebrew for “He/She.”

But biblical scholars are in general agreement that “Yahweh” is derived from the third-person singular of the verb “to be” (hayah), whether a qal imperfect (“he is” or “he will be”) or the causative hiphil imperfect (“he causes to come into being, he creates”). This view is confirmed by numerous lines of evidence: the interpretation given in Exod 3:14 (“Say to the sons of Israel, ‘ehyeh [‘I am’ or ‘I will be’ (who I am/will be)] sent me to you”); the use of shortened forms of Yahweh at the end (“Yah” or “Yahu”) or beginning (“Yeho” or “Yo”) of Hebrew names; the spelling “Yabe” known to the Samaritans; and transliterations “Yao,” “Ya-ou-e,” and “Ya-ou-ai” in some Greek texts. No historical evidence supports Sameth’s reading—only his own sex ideology.

It is true that the Hebrew Bible describes God in both masculine (predominantly) and feminine imagery (for the latter, see Isa 42:14; 49:15; 63:13; Hosea 13:8; by inference Num 11:12; Deut 32:11, 18; Hos 11:1-4). However, for God to transcend gender is not the same as his being “transgender”—which refers to a person’s abandoning his or her birth sex for a self-constructed and distorted self-image. It is no mere coincidence that God is never imaged as Israel’s (or the church’s) wife, but always as her husband, nor that God is never addressed as Mother.

Sameth’s purported evidence for a “highly elastic” view of gender in the Hebrew Bible is anything but. For instance, Sameth alleges: “In Esther 2:7, Mordecai is pictured as nursing his niece Esther. In a similar way, in Isaiah 49:23, the future kings of Israel are prophesied to be ‘nursing kings.’” While the feminine participle ‘omeneth refers to a woman who nurses a child (2 Sam 4:4; Ruth 4:16) the masculine participle ‘omen can simply designate a male “guardian,” “attendant,” or “foster father” of children (i.e., someone who cares for all their needs), as the very example cited by the rabbi from Isa 49:23 indicates (so also 2 Kings 10:1, 5).

This is not to say that feminine imagery couldn’t be appropriated positively by a Jewish male in the ancient world. The fact that Paul could describe himself in 1 Thessalonians 2-3, in relation to his converts, as a brother, father, nursing mother, and even an orphaned child is no indication that he approved transgendering. In fact, his reference to “soft men” (malakoi) in 1 Cor 6:9, men who actively feminize themselves to attract male sex partners, among those who will not inherit the kingdom of God makes pretty clear where Paul stood on the question of transgendering.

Similarly, the ancient Israelite figures known as the qedeshim (literally, “cult figures” or self-named so-called “sacred ones,” connected with idolatrous cult shrines), men who thought themselves possessed by an androgynous deity, were condemned for assuming female appearance (sometimes including castration; so also the Greco-Roman galli). Indeed, the authors of Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History (Judges thru 2 Kings) characterize them as having committed an abomination (Deut 23:17-18; 1 Kings 14:24; 15:12 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7). The same tag is applied to any man who dresses like a woman (Deut 22:5).

Sameth’s further evidence mostly amounts to indefensible misreadings of orthographic variations. He claims: “In Genesis 3:12, Eve is referred to as ‘he.’” But this is an orthographic matter. The Hebrew consonantal text suggests hu’ (“he”) (with later scribes providing vowel pointing for hi’ [“she”])—an artifact of an early stage in writing, when hu’ was used generically of both sexes and the feminine form hi’ was used sparingly. By assigning her the pronoun hu’, Genesis is not imaging Eve as a man. This point is underscored by the fact that the verb form following this pronoun, nathenah, has a feminine ending (“she gave”).

Similar fallacies proliferate. Sameth writes that “Genesis 24:16 refers to Rebecca as a ‘young man.’” On the contrary: Here and elsewhere where the masculine/generic noun na’ar is used (of Dinah in Gen 34:3, 12; of young women in the legal texts of Deut 22:15-16, 21, 23-29) the context makes quite clear that no ambiguity of gender is implied by the non-use of the feminine na’arah. This instance constitutes either a generic usage (like Greek pais “child” for both male and female) or an orthographic variation in which the use of the final –h to indicate a feminine “a” is optional.

Again, Sameth claims: “In Genesis 9:21, after the flood, Noah repairs to ‘her’ tent.” The use of the suffix –h (usually feminine) with reference to men is common enough in the Hebrew Bible (it is used some fifty-five times) and associated only with a handful of specific words (such as the word for tent)—suggesting not “gender fluidity” but orthographic variations. Outside the Noah-Ham episode (which likely has to do with Ham emasculating his drunken father), the contexts for these other occurrences suggest no ambiguity of gender (e.g., of Abraham pitching his tent in Gen 12:8 and 13:3; and Jacob doing the same in Gen 35:21). By the rabbi’s reasoning, half of the protagonists of the Hebrew Bible were presented by biblical authors as candidates for transgender surgery.

Sameth’s propagandistic reasoning goes back to the very beginning. The image of the first human in Genesis 2, who is either male with a female element or sexually undifferentiated (the adam or earthling), from whom God then extracts a part to form woman, is no endorsement of attempts to erase one’s birth sex in order to transition to the opposite sex. Sameth’s statement that “Genesis 1:27 refers to Adam as ‘them’” is true, but Sameth overlooks the fact that “Adam” is here not a proper name but a description of “the human” or “humankind”: “God created the adam in his image.” Genesis 1:27 goes on to say, “male and female he (God) created them,” which is simply to acknowledge what Sameth denies: the significance of sexual differentiation for humanity.

Sameth opines that in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, “well-expressed gender fluidity was the mark of a civilized person,” and “the gods were thought of as gender-fluid.” In point of fact, there were many strictures against “gender fluidity” in the ancient Near East (e.g., men who assumed the role of women were generally denigrated). That opposition was ratcheted up in Israel, where any toleration of transgenderism was viewed as a mark of infidelity to Yahweh and an idolatrous concession to pagan religion.

Sameth has based his arguments on his left-of-center sex ideology, and not at all on a credible historical reading of the biblical text in context. His Times op-ed piece is historical revisionism at its worst.

Robert A. J. Gagnon is associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice. 

See the book Transhumanism: A Grimoire of Alchemical Agendas 



Google News:

US Judge Grants Nationwide Injunction Blocking White House Transgender Policy NPR

Opinion:Q&A: Judge blocks Obama directive over transgender students Washington Post




One of the chapters in Julia Cameron’s book “The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation Into the Writing Life” is entitled “This Writing Life” and so it is wholly appropriate — as I settle in on the upper floor overlooking the garden waterfall where a crow, a robin and a chipmunk are simultaneously frolicking — because it asks the reader to stop procrastinating and start writing.

“Writing is alchemy”, she says, perhaps a premonitory echo of my having written the outline for a major piece, a riff on a phrase in Joseph Farrell’s book on transhumanism. One term he used piqued my curiosity and gave me a key that would let me in to a fascinating and troubling shift in our barely-visible culture. See when you’re done metabolizing this.

If you want to write, you have to read. Perhaps it is better said “if you want to write well, you have to read widely”.  Or, if you want to write something that is of interest and value, you have to do your homework.

The carpenter came by yesterday.  He’s already put in the hand grips and bannisters that will allow me to get into and out of the 800-square foot space in which he is constructing a half-bath that will serve the household, the visitors to the garden patio, and the grandkids sleeping over. After the carpenter comes the electrician and then the plumber and then we empty the storage unit with the desks and chairs, the mountain of books, the bookshelves, and so on. Two windows look out through the tunnel under the bedroom deck onto the first three feet of airspace over the patio; the prominent image in that frame is the potting shed which will become the prime office of the resident gardener.  Once my office is set up, some time around Labor Day, I’ll have my full computer, the ability again to process digital photography, the music playback/storage/production capacities, and a library amassed over decades.  I’m just getting warmed up here. I envision a portable high-quality wireless speaker with which to entertain myself, the birds and the chorus of frogs.

Diamond (pages 31-32) says that writing is about change in our lives and how we can help it along, lean in to it, cooperate with it. She offers up an exercise through which we can document and reflect on our life and the environments and situations in which we found ourselves, in which we lost ourselves, in which we gained new understandings, new directions.  Speaking from the perspective of her experience in screenwriting, she speaks of “entrances and exits”.  The writing challenge she lays out at the end of that chapter is to write about those times in your life (past, present and future) when you had to “metabolize”.

Metabolization suggests change and acceptance. The first thing it brings to my mind is Reinhold Niebuhr’s “Serenity prayer”:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”

Is the serenity prayer a passive-aggressive insistence that insures the success of the hidden powers of social engineering and the collective?  Keep calm and carry on. Hold still; this will not hurt you.

The textbook definitions of metabolism use the word biotransformation, or “the physical and chemical processes by which living organized substance is built up and maintained (anabolism), and by which large molecules are broken down into smaller molecules to make energy available to the organism (catabolism).”  In other words, “the sum of all biochemical processes involved in life”, which obviously focus on food, nutrients, fuel for the cells, but must also include breath.

This obviously also intimates that we may reject, toss back, or excrete that which has been forced down our throats.

If we include breathing, we must also include spirit. Where in the body does the spirit live, the ki?  Is it in the brain?  It is associated with the breath.  Is it in the lungs? The diaphragm? The belly?

“The human body is not an anatomical structure that is fixed in space and time. The human body is more like a river alive with energy, information and intelligence. It has a cybernetic feedback loop and can influence its own evolution and its own expression. It has the ability to learn from mistakes and the ability to make choices. The human body is an astronomical amount of raw material that comes from everywhere. In the last three weeks, a quadrillion atoms have circulated through our bodies that have circulated through the bodies of every other living species on the planet. We could think of a tree in Africa, a squirrel in Siberia, a peasant in China…. In less than one year, we replace 98% of our physical bodies… a new liver every six weeks, a new skin once a month, a new stomach lining every five days, a new skeleton every three months. The bones that appear so hard, solid and permanent are dynamic structures. Even the DNA, which holds the memories of millions of years of evolution, comes and goes every six weeks. The physical body is recycled elements — recycled earth, water and air — matter in all of its solid, liquid, gaseous and quantum mechanical forms.

Any time I explain the quantum mechanical model to my friends and colleagues, they ask me this question: “If it is really true that the human skeleton replaces itself every three months, then why is the arthritis still there?”

The answer I give is that, through our conditioning, we generate the same impulses of energy and information that lead not only to the same behavioral outcomes but also lead to the same biochemical processes, and that these biochemical processes are under the influence of our consciousness, our memory and our conditioned responses.”


“Quantum Physics and Consciousness”, by Deepak Chopra, M.D., in The Emerging Mind, ed. by Karen Nesbitt Shanor, PhD, Renaissance Books, Los Angeles, CA 1999.

If, however, we are a brick factory that continually re-builds itself, that is subject to rapid and ongoing changes that may be manipulated or stimulated in some way, there is still that certain something that keeps us centered on a core intent and belief.  While core intent and belief is malleable or plastic, it is under your own control and it can also be hardened against external interference.

While we are arrogantly reminded that “The Mind Has No Firewall”, the spirit is nebulous (by definition, it has none) and thus is not subject to short-term hacking. Long-term engineering is another matter.

Political systems, pharmaceutical companies, the new sciences of epigenetics, and transhumanism are topics for another time and approach, as is the teleportation of information. We have the ability, however unused and undeveloped, to project or transmit information to others, just as we have micro-antennae that are tuned to receive.  What’s playing on your channel?

Julia Cameron’s metabolism exercise focuses on the personal.  In my case (and yours to the extent that you want to play along at home on your own writing pad), metabolization involves birth, family, maturation, adolescence, learning, geography, the behaviors of parents and siblings, the deaths of family and friends, interpersonal relationships, employment and career, geographic relocation, marriage, children and grandchildren, health, aging, and the decay and disease of physical and perhaps mental capacities.

For some, lather, rinse and repeat may be appropriate.

If you are writing, you can zero in on any sub-topic, any selected span of time, any place, any individual, any situation.

The questions may be “Did you change? How did you change? What happened to create the change?  What happened after the change?” Or how did you metabolize the inputs, turn them into energy or re-direction? What did you bring to that time or moment, and what did you take away?

There are three constants in life, says Steven Covey: change, choice and principles. As a child, and even up through the age of 25 (give or take a few years), you don’t get much choice, and your principles were not firmly cemented in place.

Socio-cultural context and physical/geographic environment have a good deal to do with the shaping of an individual. There’s a great degree of emphasis (too much, in my opinion) on development in utero, though in my case, I did try to return meditatively to that time when I was within ten days before birth. I’d have fitted my mom with a body cam if they’d been available then and I had the option, but we can’t go back, can we? She died of causes only hinted at, and there was no autopsy that I’m aware of; I wonder if in fact my father’s attitudes over the years were because he didn’t want a third pregnancy but got one anyway. The female is in charge of birth and its control and most often the mother who carries a child into the ninth month has created a bond that most men can only guess at.

So there I was, without her, five days out, in the land of pretzels and beer and coal and railroads and Pennsylvania Dutch farmers’ markets, in the era of Hopalong Cassidy, eventually with one male friend whose father ran a chocolate factory and another female friend whose father was my pediatrician and who drove a Cadillac in which we drove to ice shows at Hershey. My two most prominent memories were of sitting in a vacant lot pulling up and eating wild scallions, and of packing a suitcase, loading it into my red wagon, and running away.  What was I metabolizing back then? What happened in my first 10-12 years that still generates influence on my life?

I was pulled up by my roots and transplanted to a rural area tucked in just to the west of the Appalachian chain under the ridge across which ran the Appalachian trail itself out behind the plot of land we shared with a pileated woodpecker, a swamp, a pond and a deer trail. I was given the responsibilities of cleaning out the chicken roost, stacking the wood, breaking down the loose kindling, mowing and raking, and being told where and when to go to school.

Getting an education in grades 4 through 10 requires a ton of metabolization, especially when you change schools five times. It wasn’t as bad as being a military brat, but it’s hard to develop long-term relationships, themselves miniature training grounds for growing up and taking a seat in society, with anyone. If you are in an extended family that is spread around over a wide geographic space, or is distant from one another for other reasons, then you have to assimilate the arts of bonding and dialogue in other ways.

As an adolescent, you get to begin to assimilate world-view from your family, your teachers and, to some extent, the media. You begin to think about the world and your place in it. Your teachers begin to assess you with the tools of testing, psychometrics, and the challenges of a curriculum. In the classroom and out of school, you begin to gain a sense of what you are good at, and what perhaps you should avoid. Teachers, coaches and parents are quick to tell you; perhaps you have other ideas. If you are lucky, you are able to find a key teacher or instructor with whom you might start an ‘apprenticeship’ of sorts, even if it only lasts a short while. Perhaps you were lucky enough to have been graced with a parent who showed you, over many years, how to go about things, how to master a skill, how to build a toolbox, something of the external world. And then there you are, out in the world. Perhaps someone has had your back; perhaps you grew up with a pre-ordained life, a silver spoon in your mouth.  Perhaps you jumped or got shoved out of the nest, brandishing six-plus years of having assimilated or absorbed or experienced more than can be written anywhere except in your journal or in your DNA. You do understand how epigenetic change happens, don’t you?

So there you are outside the previous safety zone with a clear idea of where you are going (or not), how you are going to get there (or not), who is going to pay how much to put your through your learning curve and just what they expect to extract from you thereafter. I had the option of getting a lot of help from the US government in return for at least one tour of duty on point in some Southeast Asian jungle but I grew up in New England where the poet laureate wrote something about a fork in the road.  I did three tours of duty in an ambulance stateside. When someone asks me if I served my country, I can honestly say “yes”. I didn’t know where I was going, but I got there anyway.

Certainly the whole of life gives you the necessaries for metabolization.  Changing jobs, let alone careers, means re-wiring your brain and your situational awareness. Reading the unexpressed intent of your boss is an art form; most of my jobs entailed working for large groups of directors.  Physical and geographic relocation rewire your brain in different ways, both on the wider scale of terrain, weather, and road nets as well as inside the limited space of household.  My wife and still learning that we keep that particular thing over here now; it is no longer with those things over there.

Moving at large in the world, politics and people are what you get to deal with.  You look around with innocence and wonder and you get introduced to learned and important people who are conning you all the while, treating you like a disposable or dispensable plaything or tool. They use you if and while they can, blindside you, and then sweep you away.  And then you get your own kids.  Some of us promise our kids something different and sometimes we are able to deliver.   Sometimes some of us promulgate a continuation of the grand hoax while they feed them junk food and junk thought.  And we watch astutely as we necessarily hand them over the the guidance and direction of others who mean well and are well-prepared, or who are prepared by people with a hidden agenda, or who simply don’t have the slightest fracking clue what in hell they are doing with the tender minds and spirits of the special human being you’ve brought far down the path.

And then we discover the new diagnosis and we get to metabolize a drawerful of pharmaceuticals, half of which bring side-effects for which there are more pills. And then we discover the bureaucracies through which we learn to navigate.

There are really nice people out there who will help when illness and disease come to your doorstep; if and when you find them, treat them well. Love them. Thank them. Learn from them.

Keep learning.  Believe in yourself. Learn to pray.  Learn to meditate. Read voraciously.

Keep metabolizing.

If you stop metabolizing, you’re finished.

“The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering.” — Ram Dass

The capacity to choose one’s attitude, as well as “purposeful work, love, and courage in the face of difficulty” have been noted by Viktor Frankl,

the neurologist and psychiatrist imprisoned at Auschwitz

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”  Epictetus

To Epictetus, all external events are beyond our control; we should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline.

The philosophy of Epictetus is well known in the U.S. military through the writings and example of James Stockdale, an American fighter pilot who was shot down over North Vietnam, became a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, and later a vice presidential candidate. In Courage under Fire: Testing Epictetus’s Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior (1993), Stockdale credits Epictetus with helping him endure seven and a half years in a North Vietnamese military prison—including torture—and four years in solitary confinement.[63]

Faith and The Stockdale Paradox

Jim Stockdale was the highest-ranking United States military officer in the “Hanoi Hilton” prisoner-of-war camp during the Vietnam War. He shouldered the burden of command, doing everything be could to create conditions that would increase the number of prisoners who would survive unbroken while fighting an internal war against his captors. He deliberately disfigured himself so that he could not be videotaped as an example of a well-treated prisoner. He exchanged secret intelligence information with his wife through letters, knowing that discovery would mean more torture and perhaps death. (His story is told in a book written by he and his wife called In Love and War.) He instituted rules that would help his fellow prisoners deal more effectively with torture. He instituted an elaborate secret internal communications system to reduce the sense of isolation imposed by their captors. Personally tortured over twenty times during his 8-year imprisonment, he lived out the war with no prisoner’s rights, no set release date, and no certainty as to whether he would ever survive to see his family again. When asked years after his release how he dealt with this uncertainty, he said “I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted that not only would I get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life.” He went on to explain that it was the optimists who never made it out, the ones who said “Oh, we’ll be out by Christmas”, and then Christmas would come and go, and then Easter too, and Thanksgiving. They died of a broken heart.”

The lesson, he explained, was this:

You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, whatever the difficulties,., and, at the same time, you must also confront the brutal facts of your current reality and act on their implications.

from the book Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, cited in the sixth chapter of “Summon The Magic: How To Use Your Mind to be a Better Athlete (or anything else you want to be)” 

“… I really remembered Mark Van Doren’s quote. He said, “An intelligent person is one who, should a catastrophe strike, say doomsday… he could re-found his own civilization,” and I said, that’s what I’m here to do. And we had our own laws. I mean, I wrote them. And we had our own customs, and traditions, and proprieties.” 

“… Every individual is connected with the rest of the world, and the universe is fashioned for universal harmony.[49] Wise people, therefore, will pursue, not merely their own will, but will also be subject to the rightful order of the world.[51] We should conduct ourselves through life fulfilling all our duties as children, siblings, parents, and citizens.[52]

For our country or friends we ought to be ready to undergo or perform the greatest difficulties.[53]

The good person, if able to foresee the future, would peacefully and contentedly help to bring about their own sickness, maiming, and even death, knowing that this is the right order of the universe.[54]

We have all a certain part to play in the world, and we have done enough when we have performed what our nature allows.[55] In the exercise of our powers, we may become aware of the destiny we are intended to fulfill.[56]

We are like travellers at an inn, or guests at a stranger’s table…” 


Do the right thing even if it means dying like a dog when no one’s there to see you do it.

James Stockdale


Advance to meet the incoming negative energy and step out of its way; then redirect that energy and move to your advantage in a way that forces its submission.



“… If you told me a year ago we could stimulate 20 neurons in a mouse brain of 100 million neurons and alter their behavior, I’d say no way,” Yuste is quoted in Medical Xpress. “I saw the results and said ‘Holy moly, this whole thing [the brain] is plastic.’ We’re dealing with a plastic computer that’s constantly learning and changing.”

This is precisely the premise in my e-book “Summon The Magic: How To Use Your Mind to be a Better Athlete (or anything else you want to be)”, published online right here at BoyDownTheLane.

STM, as it is known in my household, was born during the process of my kids’ adolescent forays into athletics, high school and life. Most of their focus was on the ballfields, and most of my early interest was in sports psychology.  But in my reading over 300 popular, academic and serious texts in the field (STM has a bibliography and is extensively foot-noted), the reality emerged in full vivid focus that each of us has the ability — right there where you are sitting, without invasive technologies, and under your complete control — to modify your brain in a way that it will work more readily and effectively to — how is it that Thoreau put it? — “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” That was the quote written artistically in calligraphic style on my personalized “graduation diploma” when I completed Stewart Emery’s 40-hour Actualizations workshop back in the 1980s. “… in the spirit of the work of Rogers and Maslow, he offered the interpretation of the word Actualizations as meaning “to make the spirit of the authentic self real through action in the world”, “with experiential learning processes, contemplative learning meditations and individual coaching conversations in a group setting.”

I got up off the floor (literally, many times, after my intra-operative hemiplegic motor stroke eight years ago) with the intent of polishing and publishing that work. That’s my story.  As I lay in my hospital bed, I could hear the frequent arrival of medical helicopters carrying people who had suffered strokes, injuries in auto accidents, et al.  I met a few of those people and realized how insignificant my challenges were, which spurred me to harder work. Debbie Hampton’s tale (see below) is even more dramatic. Stephen P. Hall, in the New York Magazine, writes the story of one teen’s recovery from traumatic brain injury (TBI).

STM is now in multi-pdf format, free and freely offered to those who can and will take advantage of it.

My three blogs are also littered with references to neuroplasticity. See and

“The human body is not an anatomical structure that is fixed in space and time. The human body is more like a river alive with energy, information and intelligence. It has a cybernetic feedback loop and can influence its own evolution and its own expression. It has the ability to learn from mistakes and the ability to make choices. The human body is an astronomical amount of raw material that comes from everywhere. In the last three weeks, a quadrillion atoms have circulated through our bodies that have circulated through the bodies of every other living species on the planet. We could think of a tree in Africa, a squirrel in Siberia, a peasant in China…. In less than one year, we replace 98% of our physical bodies… a new liver every six weeks, a new skin once a month, a new stomach lining every five days, a new skeleton every three months. The bones that appear so hard, solid and permanent are dynamic structures. Even the DNA, which holds the memories of millions of years of evolution, comes and goes every six weeks. The physical body is recycled elements — recycled earth, water and air — matter in all of its solid, liquid, gaseous and quantum mechanical forms.

Any time I explain the quantum mechanical model to my friends and colleagues, they ask me this question: “If it is really true that the human skeleton replaces itself every three months, then why is the arthritis still there?”

The answer I give is that, through our conditioning, we generate the same impulses of energy and information that lead not only to the same behavioral outcomes but also lead to the same biochemical processes, and that these biochemical processes are under the influence of our consciousness, our memory and our conditioned responses.”

“Quantum Physics and Consciousness”, by Deepak Chopra, M.D., in The Emerging Mind, ed. by Karen Nesbitt Shanor, PhD, Renaissance Books, Los Angeles, CA 1999.


“… neuroplasticity is an umbrella term referring to the ability of your brain to reorganize itself, both physically and functionally, throughout your life due to your environment, behavior, thinking, and emotions. The concept of neuroplasticity is not new and mentions of a malleable brain go all of the way back to the 1800s, but with the relatively recent capability to visually “see” into the brain allowed by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), science has confirmed this incredible morphing ability of the brain beyond a doubt….” [ ] “… In his book The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, Norman Doidge calls this the “plastic paradox.” (Read more: “Your Plastic Brain: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”)

I know the power of neuroplasticity first hand, as I devised and performed my own home-grown, experience-dependant neuroplasticity based exercises for years to recover from a brain injury, the result of a suicide attempt. Additionally, through extensive cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, and mindfulness practices, all of which encourage neuroplastic change, I overcame depression, anxiety, and totally revamped my mental health and life….”


I regularly and repeatedly go back and read this material myself; my arthritis is not only still here, but seems to be advancing.  Can you prevent the advance of aging?  Can you program your life for how it will look after your reincarnation? Those are subjects for a different time.

I strongly suggest — and because it is free there is no conflict of interest or financial incentive for me to proselytize — that you attend to reading STM ASAP (and sharing it with your children as they advance toward high school graduation)  before DARPA finishes its work.

Here are understandings and tools for you to accomplish the control of your mind and your life; read them honestly, with skepticism if necessary, and with trial periods.

Survey the world to see how others have used this and similar concepts to achieve new plateaus. I already have a small stack of personalized thanks; I already can point to results in my own children, their peers, and myself. Do you not think I recalled what I had read as I struggled to get up out of a chair and walk fifty feet across the room? As I navigated through a world of medical follow-up and personal interrelationship to get to the point where the entire encyclopedic collection is now on transportable media?

You have the option of getting to this work before entities associated with mind control, murder, war, totalitarianism and transhumanism beat you to the punch. Hurry; you have only a little time remaining.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.” 

mouse neurons.jpg-large

“… The team found that “activation of a single neuron” can spark a response across an ‘ensemble’ of neurons, an effect which can be “reactivated at later time points without interfering with endogenous circuitry”.

During the experiments, researchers used a laser to stimulate a group of cells in a mouse’s visual cortex and have even restored sight and hearing to rodents who had lost those senses. Prior to this ‘optogenetic’ technology coming on stream, scientists had to surgically implant electrodes into the brains of subject mice but this new technique is far less invasive and offers more control.

These methods to read and write activity into the living brain will have a major impact in neuroscience and medicine,” said the study’s lead author and researcher….

Little Pharm

Little Pharm

Overheard at the local pharmacy

Pharmacy Tech (burdened by a steady steam of drive-up customers and incoming phone calls announced by a repetitive and monotonous recorded robo-voice at a chronically-slow, understaffed and error-prone outlet of a  major retail chain of consumer health services and items that blanket the city and the region):  “It’s never ending…!” (perhaps in spite of or maybe due to the availability and use of smart phone apps and other social media tools)

Customer (me), standing patiently (I’m retired) in line at the untended and unstaffed cash register/inquiry desk: “It pays the bills.”

Pharmacist (and weekend wise-acre): “… and it creates high blood pressure!”

Customer (again): “Well, there’s always high blood pressure medication [with its numerous side-effects, acknowledged and unacknowledged] if meditation  doesn’t work.” 


Shipping: “To assure that the right medications get to patients right away, Toho Pharmaceutical built a distribution center that is so highly automated most of the products processed there are never touched by human hands” [DC Velocity][via ]. “The automation is so extensive that the 130 warehouse workers employed at the facility never touch about 70 percent of the products processed there. This is due in large part to several automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) and a small army of robotic pickers. Tying all of the automated systems together are five kilometers (three miles) of conveyors.”

a moment and forever

a moment and forever

Japan calls for end of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima anniversary Press-Herald


[Ed.: The early days of August have always been meaningful to me: I was born three years after Hiroshima, my mother died just days later, and my daughter was born 30 years and a day later, on the eve of the Nagasaki anniversary.  Like many, I grew up with “duck-and-cover” and the fears driven by the launch of Sputnik (the space object, not the media entity).  My college roommate, a member of the SDS, peeled off a metal Civil Defense bomb shelter marker for our dorm room. Decades later, the world has had and continues to have meaningless political dialogue about nuclear proliferation as the US has encircled Russia and China will instruments of active nuclear exchange. Putin’s warning to the mainstream press have been widely disseminated; the US continues to modernize its overkill capabilities with nuclear, chemical and biological methods.]  

Why the United States did not demonstrate the Bomb’s power, ahead of Hiroshima

Frank von Hippel and Fumihiko Yoshida

Arthur H. Compton was one of the many past and future Nobel laureates who worked in the secret US nuclear weapons project during World War II. He directed the Metallurgical Laboratory (Met Lab) at the University of Chicago, where refugee Italian Nobelist Enrico Fermi supervised the construction of the first reactor, future Nobelist Eugene Wigner, from Hungary, led the design of the plutonium-production reactors subsequently built at Hanford, Wash., and future Nobelist Glenn Seaborg developed the first chemical process for extracting plutonium from irradiated uranium.

With these tasks completed, some of the scientists at the Met Lab began to consider the implications of nuclear weapons for the future. One of the products of their concern was a memorandum on “Political and Social Problems” written in early June 1945 by a committee of project scientists chaired by the refugee German Nobelist, James Franck.

The “Franck Report,” which became the seminal document on nuclear arms control after it was published in the May 1, 1946 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, focused on the concern that revealing the bomb through a surprise attack on an already defeated Japan could make a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union impossible to prevent. (The “Memorandum on ‘Political and Social Problems’ from Members of the ‘Metallurgical Laboratory’ of the University of Chicago” with Compton’s cover letter, is posted here. The initial declassification involved some redactions that are discussed by nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein here.)

The scientists argued that the military benefits of using the bombs would likely be small:

It is doubtful whether the first available bombs, of comparatively low efficiency and small size, will be sufficient to break the will or ability of Japan to resist, especially given the fact that the major cities like Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Kobe already will largely be reduced to ashes by the slower process of ordinary aerial bombing.

They also contended that use of the bombs could undermine chances of preventing future nuclear wars:

If we consider international agreement on total prevention of nuclear warfare as the paramount objective, and believe that it can be achieved, this kind of introduction of atomic weapons to the world may easily destroy all our chances of success. Russia, and even allied countries which bear less mistrust of our ways and intentions, as well as neutral countries, will be deeply shocked. It will be very difficult to persuade the world that a nation which was capable of secretly preparing and suddenly releasing a weapon, as indiscriminate as the rocket bomb and a thousand times more destructive, is to be trusted in its proclaimed desire of having such weapons abolished by international agreement.

And so they advocated for a demonstration of the atomic bomb’s power:

From this point of view a demonstration of the new weapon may best be made before the eyes of representatives of all the United Nations, on the desert or a barren island. The best possible atmosphere for the achievement of an international agreement could be achieved if America would be able to say to the world, “You see what [a] weapon we had but did not use. We are ready to renounce its use in the future and to join other nations in working out adequate supervision of the use of this nuclear weapon”…After such a demonstration the weapon could be used against Japan if a sanction of the United Nations (and of the public opinion at home) could be obtained, perhaps after a preliminary ultimatum to Japan to surrender or at least to evacuate a certain region as an alternative to the total destruction of this target.

Compton was also a member of the Scientific Panel that advised Secretary of War Henry Stimson’s Interim Committee, which was deciding US nuclear policy. On June 12, 1945, Compton transmitted the Franck Report to Stimson, who responded by asking the Scientific Panel (Compton, Fermi, Ernest Lawrence, and J. Robert Oppenheimer) for its collective view. On June 16, the panel made two recommendations:

1) Instead of the Franck Report’s proposed demonstration for the United Nations, the United States should inform Britain, Russia, France, and China that the US had made progress on nuclear weapons, might use them in the current war, and was open to suggestions “as to how we can cooperate in making this ·development contribute to improved international relations.”

2) Disagreeing with the Franck Committee’s prioritization of post-war nuclear arms control, the group stated that as “we can propose no technical demonstration likely to bring an end to the war; we see no acceptable alternative to direct military use.”

The rest is history.

Since the end of the war, the popular view in the United States has been that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9, 1945, precipitated Japan’s surrender on August 15. There is a strong view among historians, however, that the massive surprise attack on Japan-occupied Manchuria by the previously neutral Soviet Union on August 8 had more impact on Japan’s leaders. [The most authoritative treatment may be Tsuyoshi Hasegawa’s Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman and the Surrender of Japan (Harvard University Press 2005), which is based on research in Japanese, Russian and US archives.]

We tend to agree with the latter view—especially since the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were exploded over relatively small cities about as far away from Tokyo as you can get in mainland Japan (700 and 950 kilometers distant, respectively). The news of the destruction came to Tokyo through the army, which reported the effects accurately to its leadership. (See the translation of US intercepts of Japanese communications, “’Magic’ – Far East Summary” here.) But the leadership downplayed the threat and reportedly even told its cabinet that, contrary to the information that the United States was broadcasting, the explosion over Hiroshima could have been of a conventional bomb. The military also advised the public that protection from the flash effects of the bomb could be provided by a white cloth.

But what about the idea of a demonstration? The proposal in the Franck report was for a demonstration to representatives of the anti-Axis alliance. The purpose of that demonstration was to set the stage for post-war nuclear arms control.

In its focus on ending the war, the Scientific Panel changed the proposed audience for the demonstration to the Japanese government. We consider below two possibilities they probably discussed and rejected. Similar considerations would have arisen had the proposal been pursued for a demonstration to the allied nations.

One possibility would have been a nighttime explosion over Tokyo Bay such as the United States set off in the desert of southern New Mexico on July 16, 1945, in its test of the plutonium bomb design later used on Nagasaki. Indeed, on May 31, 1945, at a meeting with the Interim Committee when the effects of the planned nuclear bombings on Japan’s continued willingness to fight were being discussed, according to the notes of the meeting, Oppenheimer emphasized that “the visual effect of an atomic bombing would be tremendous. It would be accompanied by a brilliant luminescence which would rise to a height of 10,000 to 20,000 feet.”

Tokyo Bay is about 15 kilometers across. Some fishing vessels or coastal ships might have been caught in the blast, but an explosion could have been set off over the center of the bay without causing damage on land.

The luminosity of a 20-kiloton fireball would peak, however, about 1.5 seconds after detonation and fall to about 10 percent of peak at about 8 seconds. Only a relatively few officials would happen to see it, and there would be no enduring evidence of the destructiveness of the explosion. Also, the fireball might blind those looking directly at it. (At the July test in New Mexico, observers looked at the fireball through welder’s glass, according to eyewitness accounts that can be reviewed here.)

Another possibility would have been to bomb an uninhabited area near Tokyo. There are forested mountain areas within 50 kilometers of Tokyo, from which the flash would have been visible. (Trees downed and burned over an area 3 kilometers in diameter would have given mute testimony of the destructiveness of the blast, as did a huge area of scorched and felled trees in Siberia (see photo below) for decades after the 1908 high-altitude explosion of a 100,000-ton space rock that had entered the atmosphere at an estimated speed of 15

kilometers per second.

Would a demonstration on a forest near Tokyo have had as much or more impact on ending the war as the bombings of distant Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Possibly.

Would non-use, a demonstration, and an offer of international control to 25 allies, including the Soviet Union, have helped forestall the post-World War II nuclear arms race? Given the paranoia of Joseph Stalin, perhaps not.

Would non-use at the end of a brutal total war have created a taboo against the use of nuclear weapons as strong as resulted from the demonstrated horror of their effects against the two Japanese cities?

Perhaps not.

But, of course, we’ll never know for sure.


von Hippel is one of the United States’ most prominent scientists in the nuclear policy arena. He co-founded Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security and the International…


Fumihiko Yoshida is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He was an editorial writer for the Asahi Shimbun with a special focus on nuclear weapons and arms control…

[Ed.: There was and probably continues to be some debate and discussion about the actual/potential/supposed role played by Mary Gifford Pinchot when she developed and maintained some form of dialogue with then President John F. Kennedy. Mary and her CIA husband are known to have been World Federalists (we now call them New World Order advocates) and there may have been intimacy, perhaps with the help or simultaneous experience of lysergic acid (a favorite tool of the CIA back then) and she may have been killed by or under the direction of a cadaverous-looking Israeli-linked counter-espionage expert named James Jesus Angleton, but we’ll leave those questions for another time.  The President himself was sent to his death. Recommended reading?: with special attention to his discussion about evil at the very end of the study guide section).

 The question remains why someone should be disregarded or discarded because they made love or took an entheogenic in the middle of a discussion about nuclear war. 

Last month, while I was in the middle of reading and writing notes in a composition book about Julia Cameron’s last book, I had a dream that was so real that I sat up in the middle of the night to record it in that same composition book.  I was in the audience — no shock there, since I regularly attended public presentations as a reporter for the local newspaper while I was in college — of a Russian press conference featuring a high Russian military official as well as Putin himself. One of the media pundits covering the event turned and asked me to help explore the mysteries of the current and ongoing nuclear confrontation between Russia and the US. 

I spoke of the things that both Russians and Americans loved and could share… of vodka and bourbon, of ice hockey and baseball, this fellow known as Jesus Christ, of women problems for men and men problems for women.   I spoke of a brother-i-law and his wife (A Russian) and their three little cherubim. I spoke of the memorials to the dead at Wounded Knee, Antietam, the slaughters at the Bloody Angle and Fredericksburg. I spoke of the Russian resolve and sacrifice during World War Two and the fact that they lost more people than any other nation.  I spoke of the fact that I had sidestepped death for a moment and forever.  I asked who, why and what is driving us to war. I thought that Americans could and should learn what it is to be Russian, and that Russians could learn what it is to be American, for a moment and forever. And I expressed the idea that we could put aside war and nuclear weapons…

for a moment and forever. 

But it was only a dream.]



Two political conventions have come and gone; we are getting more toward the meat and potatoes of the US Presidential campaign circus.  Perhaps we should call it a plateful of goulash: lots of paprika, kosher noodles, some form of grey meat in gravy. No slight meant to Hungarians or other Eastern Europeans.

I am formally transplanted. We bucked the trends and actually bought a yard with a house in it. The yard is quite small; the house is even smaller. It’s a one-bedroom, one bath on a plot of land that has been engineered for gardening enjoyment.  It’s Mrs. Blogger’s playground. There are bunnies, butterflies, and many birds, including cardinals and others that come by to drink and bathe in the book and ponds.  The house been wired for voice, TV, sound, Internet, and burglary and fire protection. It has a better kitchen than this fellow has seen in a long long time, complete with an island than can seat six, a convection oven and appliances that sing to us. The patio has been fitted with a fire pit with swing-away cooking grill as well as a standard backyard propane grill. . The bedroom has a deck overlooking this sanctuary. The bath has a built-in laundry. A second bath will be installed behind the pellet stove in the cellar where I will establish an office for photography, writing, our extensive library, and a family room/sleeping area for visiting kindertotten. Outdoors is ideal for hide-and-seek, complete with two outbuildings, many bushes, trees, slopes, and space for two four-foot vegetable gardens. We have had more interaction with surrounding neighbors in two weeks than we had in either apartment world or condo world in two years.  And the great surprise is that the total cost is several hundred dollars less per month than we were paying for less attractive living space.

While making slow progress with the move and the unpacking (I think Santa is bringing me some used library shelving for the sixty boxes of books still in storage), I have been catching up on my reading. I just finished a novel from the fertile imagination of the famous and somewhat controversial whistleblower Sibel Edmonds which brings past and current events into very sharp focus. There’s even a gratuitous sex scene which falls out from within a panoply of murder, torture, covert ops and Deep State shenanigans. It’s pure fiction, and it isn’t.

Before that, I read — and mined for its ideas — Julia Cameron’s “The Right To Write” [].  I am often asked about writing tips, techniques and so on, and Julia Cameron’s books rank highly. [There are others, but the 54” linear inches of writing books I own are currently in storage, awaiting their new home.]

Cameron’s thematic volume did not fail to make me want to write. It generated 26 categories noted in a wire-ruled composition book kept by the bedside, at least eight of which are major in that they will spawn either multiples articles, chapters or entire books. In an era of cheap online blogging and easy self-publishing, entire strings of cheese, hops, beans and more lie ahead. With a backyard that is its own photographic studio in a complex of villages that will provide fertile ground, stay tuned.

What computing/writing/online reading I’ve been able to do has been accomplished with borrowed and stolen time on my wife’s laptop, a prime input for which is a touch pad, not a mouse. I’m mouse-trained-and-experienced and it’s been an exercise in learning curve, especially in terms of cut-and-paste. I have thought of getting one myself and have been stopped by the thought that for only a few more dollars I could acquire an iPad Pro, complete with its photo, film, and artistic tools. I already have a copy of Eric Booth’s “The Everyday Work of Art” as inspirational guidebook.  Perhaps I can enhance “Summon The Magic” into an assortment of videos. In the end, the cost of an iPad Pro may be prohibitive. I can and have set up my iMac in the basement to function temporarily, only to be taken down again when the plumber, the carpenter and their dirt and dust come by. And I still have my Canon EOS Rebel Vi that I’ve only begin to enjoy, as well as the tempos, the seasons, the neighborhoods and the villages around my new home.

Speaking of Tempo, that’s the name of another book with which I’ve spent more companionable time. I read it before but the second reading was more lucrative. Venkatesh Rao’s little nugget is available through his blog and, while it takes time to digest, its nutrients are available to become seeds for almost anything you might be doing in terms of writing, thinking, re-organizing, changing, etc.

Also recently read was Atul Gawande’s book “Complications”,, certainly of interest to someone who is under the care of physicians and has undergone several life-saving surgeries. He is an outstanding physician and a better writer. I recommend this book as well as the previous ones mentioned, and especially commend Gawande’s book “Better”.

Oh, and I just ordered a copy of Keith Johnstone’s seminal book “Impro”.

On page 129 of Complications, in a chapter devoted to the management and analytic diagnosis of pain (a subject near and dear to my ass), he says

“… a compassionate approach to chronic pain means investigating its social coordinates, not just its physical ones… for the solution may lie more in what goes on around us. Of all of the implication of the new theory of pain [chronic pain outbreaks behave like social epidemics], this one seems to be the oddest and most far-reaching: it has made pain political.”

My new most recent Occurrences [Enormous Apparatus] — newest since moving —  is relevant.