Aphorism of the Week

To harm from faith is evil.

Dedicated to the Flood Wall Street protesters, and in admonishment of capitalists' refusal to accept the reality that fossil fuel use is fueling runaway global warming, and their consequent refusal to see that such willful blindness endangers the survival of our civilization and our species.

Parable of the Week

The Charm Bracelet, The Callus
During coffee break at the clothes factory, one's well-manicured fingers stroked the charms dangling from her bracelet -- the other's fingers rubbed a callus.
"My lucky bracelet will get me a promotion, and someday I'll run my own factory!" the first woman boasted.
The second woman had no money for even a manicure, let alone a charm bracelet. She'd saved her cash and invested it. She considered her lucky charm the callus acquired on her sewing hand from years of working overtime and over lunch breaks to make more money.
The woman with the charm bracelet often gossiped about the second woman.
"She's crude, with no charm! And look at her hand!"
But, since the second woman never spent much time on her coffee break or at the water cooler listening to idle gossip, she heard little of these insults, nor cared to.
Instead, she taught other industrious workers how to maximize their pay by sewing clothes in less time.
One day the foreman halted shop production and assembled the workers.
He turned to the woman with the callused hand, and said, "I am retiring, but I've watched your hard work, and the way you train the others. You will be our new shop foreman."
Then the retiring foreman turned to the first woman and said, "I've also seen your work, and heard your gossip and insults about those who've worked harder and saved their money."
He glanced down at the charm bracelet tinkling above her now sweaty, wringing hands.
"I hope your lucky charm is worth some cash. You're fired."
Thus, effort is rewarded more than luck.

September 20, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.

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Aphorism of the Week

Imperfection is the essence of striving.

Dedicated to the strivers among us -- who did not fear failure.

Parable of the Week

The Spinning Cog, The Toothless Cog
Revolving makes one sad.
The Cog knew it.
The Machine spun the Cog around and around, and the Cog grew dizzy and disoriented.
It knew only that it hated its job, but saw nothing better for it -- because it was part of The Machine.
And The Machine was all that counted -- or so the Cog thought.
Then, one stuttering cycle, one of its teeth got knocked out.
The Cog had lost a tooth!
Once part of The Machine, it was cast into the dirt.
The broken Cog sat, rusting and still, facing the empty sky.
It knew the hopeless peace of utter uselessness.
But one day the Cog was picked up by a young gypsy, spit-scoured and oily hair-polished to a burnished silver sheen, and a leather string knotted over the gap in its teeth.
For the remainder of its days it dangled under her billowing shirt, to come out every night before the hearth and make the orange firelight dance in smoky tents.
Thus, new uses may replace, and even better, those lost.

September 13, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.

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Aphorism of the Week

We all have dreams. -- via Joey Cheek

Dedicated to the failures among us -- who did not fear striving.

Parable of the Week

The Privileged, The Underprivileged
Opposite poles of the world were the birthplaces of two girls.
The first girl, bright of mind and heart, was born on a continent of wealth.
She attended a private school with individual tutors in the languages and sciences. Her parents smoothed the way, with money, for her matriculation at the best university in the world -- where she excelled. She relied on family connections to be placed in a major law firm upon graduation, with a starting salary one thousand-fold larger than those in lands on the opposite side of the world.
In time, she passed on the fruit of her many achievements to her children.
The second girl, equally bright of mind and heart, was born, in that distant pole of the world, on a continent of poverty.
She was barred from schooling because she was a girl -- so the languages and sciences remained to her only a fog of wonderment and confusion. Instead, her parents sold her into forced prostitution to ensure her brothers would prosper. From a small brothel waiting room, she quietly watched the television images of well-dressed students walking the halls of universities around the world. Once her body was used up by men and shriveled from AIDS, she was fortunate to be placed in a hospice so that she wouldn't die in a gutter. Lying in her sickbed, she overheard that women at the far end of the world made one thousand-fold more money -- for one person -- than the money her entire hospice made in a year. Irony briefly transformed her wan countenance.
In time, she passed on, the fruit of her many possible achievements plucked by not a single soul.
Thus, people can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps -- if they've been given boots.

September 06, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.

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Aphorism of the Week

Indirectly known truths are convergences of multiple independent streams of information: If the streams aren't converging, aren't multiple, aren't independent, or aren't information, truth isn't established.

Dedicated to the 14 year-old inventor of Email, V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai.

Parable of the Week

The Aristocrat, The Inventor
Neath the rubber trees swayed pots of gold.
The plantation's hereditary owner was an aristocrat of fabulous wealth.
Living in an opulent palace with a mighty family crest emblazoned on its pediment, every day he hunted, golfed, or shopped for exotic tapestries and robes; and every night he hosted salons and balls.
Politicians and celebrities flocked to his plantation and ate of his roast duck, caviar and ancient wine -- and ate of his very presence.
So did Society men and women revere him -- even though his rubber went into the bullets shot from the guns of the junta that, with him, ruled those who slaved on his plantation.
The inventor lived in a two-room rental on the outskirts of the city, abutting the plantation shantytown.
Every day he taught the poor children who slaved among the rubber trees; and every night he created new uses for the gum that dripped from the rubber trees.
After years of effort, he created a sterile powder to stanch the bleeding wounds of the injured. This brought him a measure of wealth, but not enough to interest politicians and celebrities.
Yet the poor -- who saw him heal the lashes on their backs inflicted by the aristocrat's cronies, and sate their starving minds with his teachings - revered him.
Thus, neither thief nor inheritor of wealth revere, only its creator.

August 30, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.

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Aphorism of the Week

Not all who wander are lost. -- via J.R.R. Tolkien

Dedicated to the Community Ambassadors of Saint Paul, MN, who take to the streets to positively interact with and mentor at-risk youth, heading off social confrontations or potential run-ins with the police, and offering connections to jobs, skills training, college programs.

Parable of the Week

The Warrior King, The Car Salesman
Power once strode an ancient empire in the body of a warrior.
In merciless campaigns, he rode his steed over the steppes, wielding a bloody spear.
He conquered and pillaged the lands surrounding his ancestral birthplace -- and in time became king of all he surveyed.
The stories of his terrible exploits passed into history, then into legend -- and then into dust.
Millennia later, in a modern city, power again incarnated.
In the body of a man who, though dreaming of ancient adventure, was a car salesman.
When not kowtowing to prickly, disdainful customers -- who looked up and snickered at his tight necktie, and the bulging sports coat constraining huge muscles -- he imagined galloping down upon them bareback, his pony-tailed hair free in the wind and a curving sword in hand, lopping off their heads.
Customers complained about him -- although all they could say was that they felt a chill, whenever his brilliant-green eyes alighted upon them.
So, in time, was he fired from his job as a car salesman.
Yet he found a way to stride through his modern world.
Accepting that pillage and plunder were criminal and dishonorable, he became a soldier and peacekeeper.
Although he never became a warrior king, nor passed into legend ere into dust, he found his place in his time.
Thus, do not yearn for the best of times -- do your best in the time you are given. -- via The Lord of the Rings

August 23, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.

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Aphorism of the Week

To win a rational argument by evoking emotional irrationality is a sadly pyrhhic victory.

Dedicated to "T'Pring," Star Trek actress Arlene Martel.

Parable of the Week

The Literal, The Intuitive
Detectives were dispatched to the home of a missing person.
The junior detective was young and eager.
Briefly perusing the missing man's home, he noticed no signs of an altercation. "My husband's suitcase and clothes are gone!" his wife cried. Leaning deep into the junior detective's chest, the young woman sobbed.
"My husband's been so unhappy after losing his job, and with his responsibilities as a provider!"
The junior detective consoled her, breaking away only long enough to jot in his notebook that the man had deserted his wife.
The senior detective was an older and slower man.
He looked closely at the woman's face, and asked, "Where do you think your husband is now?"
For an instant, as he watched her eyes dart toward the backyard, the detective felt a deep chill. Then the woman looked down at her feet, sobbed, and cried, "He's just vanished...oh, we loved each other so much!"
The senior detective walked into the kitchen for a glass of water, and, as he drank it, stared out the back window into the dark backyard.
"'Loved,' not 'love,'" he murmured.
In the bedroom, he confirmed the man's clothes and suitcase were missing.But in the bathroom, two toothbrushes still lay on the sink.
When next he returned, with a search warrant, the senior detective found the missing husband and his suitcase of clothes, spread beneath a bed of newly planted roses in the backyard.
Thus, emotions must be clues -- and you a detective.

August 16, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.

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Aphorism of the Week

Might makes no right.

Dedicated to the fortitude of Iraq's Yazidi people; and in admonishment of ISIS' genocidal invasion of the Yazidi religious community and abduction of Yazidi women, in contravention of the teachings of their own Prophet.

Parable of the Week

The Wasp, The Ant
Droning wafted through the forest as the Wasp hovered, searching.
It found a caterpillar feeding on a large leaf.
Flying down and landing on the caterpillar's back, the Wasp stung it. The caterpillar fell to the ground, unmoving.
Then the Wasp laid its eggs inside the caterpillar to incubate its young, who slowly consumed the caterpillar from the inside.
The newborn wasps broke out from the caterpillar's body and flew toward the sky, in search of more caterpillars as hosts.
As the wasps grew in number, the caterpillars grew scarce, until few wasps or caterpillars lived.
After one of the last of the wasps fruitlessly searched for prey in which to lay its eggs, it fell to the ground, dead.
While its body mouldered, a skittering noise approached it from below. Two antennae reached up and sniffed the mildewed chitin; then the Ant brusquely moved on, searching.
The Ant found a small cave in the rich soil, and then skittered up to a partly eaten green leaf, whereon it found an aphid.
The Ant bent down and, caressing the aphid's back with its feelers, picked it up gently in its jaws and carried it back to the cave, to live in comfort.
Each day the Ant brought the aphid a piece of leaf to eat, caressed it, and drank its sugary droppings. The Ant grew strong and laid a colony of its young, all of whom marched out to find and breed more aphids.
As the ants and aphids grew in number, the forest teemed with their colonies.
Thus, to use others destroys all -- to work with others renews all.

August 9, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.

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Aphorism of the Week

Life requires no other to justify itself.

Dedicated to a teenager, on the 70th anniversary of her final diary entry: "Believe me, I'd like to listen, but it doesn't work, because if I'm quiet and serious, everyone thinks I'm putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke, and then I'm not even talking about my own family, who assume I must be ill, stuff me with aspirins and sedatives, feel my neck and forehead to see if I have a temperature, ask about my bowel movements and berate me for being in a bad mood, until I just can't keep it up any more, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I'd like to be and what I could be if ... if only there were no other people in the world. -- Yours, Anne M. Frank."

Parable of the Week

The Meaningless Life, The Meaning of Life
Skin as grey and marbled as the ancient colonnade she leaned against, a wise grandmother watched her two young charges explore the Ruins of the Ancestors, long ago fallen to decay.
One grandchild darted from behind the white robes of his twin sister, and climbed upon a great, fluted pillar of marble, fallen and half-buried in the grass. There he grabbed a twig from the top of an olive tree and brandished it over his head.
"I am the conquering King!" he cried, stabbing his wooden sword into the ghostly bodies of men to come.
His grandmother watched her small grandson, and saw the man he would become -- and her face grew as solemn as the cold marble under her withered hand.
Yet the other grandchild, gathering her robes about her legs and unshodding her sandals, quietly joined her grandmother, there on the marble stairs of a small temple to a god long ignored.
She stared at her brother's strutting swordplay, then at the broken temple columns, and the azure of the empty sky -- then turned to her grandmother and asked, "What is the meaning of life?"
The wise woman's sad gaze broke away from her grandson and, growing radiant, swung toward her.
With dawning joy the old woman stared at her granddaughter's querulous blue eyes, and then, reaching out a wrinkled hand to caress her smooth cheek, replied, "Oh, my darling grandchild! In asking that question, you have answered it."
Thus, the meaning of life is that it's the meaning of life -- you are that you are.

August 2, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.

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Aphorism of the Week

Radicals are gestated in sophistry.

Dedicated to the Hebrew University psychology study showing that agreeing with ideologues to an extreme level -- to the point of Argumentum ad Absurdum -- can trigger them to question their ideology. And dedicated in admonishment of biblical creationist Ken Ham's assertion that intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe is impossible because all extraterrestrial civilizations would be damned by God to Hell with no hope for salvation -- a stance which ironically may attain that extremity of absurdity capable of driving children away from fundamentalist religion.

Parable of the Week

The Human, The Sentient
One day a human looked up into the zenith of the heavens, arcing above her blue and green-swathed Earth.
She saw a small, cloudy galaxy far, far away -- Canis Major, pulled along like a puppy on a leash of a billion stars.
The human felt a lonesome chill in her heart, and heard a distant voice calling to her -- and wondered, "Is there anybody out there?" She devoted her life to listening to the radioed songs of the spheres -- listening for but one word, one tune, one message.
And she pointed her antennae to Canis Major.
But there was only silence.
One day, a million years hence, a sentient will look up into the zenith of the heavens, arcing above its small, blue and red-swathed world.
It will see a huge galaxy spiraling above it, so, so close -- the Milky Way, pulling its own galaxy into her vast, slow embrace.
The sentient will feel a lonesome chill in its center, and hear a distant voice calling to it -- and wonder, "Is there anybody out there?" It will devote its life to listening to the radioed songs of the spheres -- listening for but one word, one tune, one message.
And it will point its antennae into the arms of the Milky Way.
And shall hear.
Thus, we are not alone, and we have a purpose.

July 26, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.

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