Imagination = Empathy

Humans are the only (to our knowledge) beings capable of intentionally imagining a fictitious or fabricated reality.

• Imagine you’re in a desert. There’s nothing but greasewood brush, tussocks of bramble and strange looking cactus, bulbous nodes dangling off platter sized palms like testicles on a dying mule. Overhead, buzzards like drones circle your desiccated shape, a shape barely wide enough to cast a shadow. You step aside an unsuspecting boulder to have your calf bit and pumped full of rattlesnake venom. No warning. No baby-rattle susurration before the strike. The agony hits like a hot brand. You stumble and fall, your breath squeezed from your chest. A sensation like molten mercury seeps up your leg. The beast bites and slithers off, content in the knowledge that, though you won’t be its next meal, you will most definitely feed a fellow high desert compatriot.•

OK. Did you go there? Did you read along and imagine your/their plight? If so, then it was your imagination that provided the empathy you felt for this unfortunate soul lost in the desert.

Empathy is your imagination placing you in the situation of another.

Empathy is you commiserating with, through the virtual world of your mind’s pictorial capability, another being, human or otherwise.

You can imagine, therefore you can feel another’s suffering—virtually at least.

It is due to our expansive, our far-too-large-for-our-own-good brains that we have been cursed with the ability to empathize with another creature. We can imagine their pain. Their suffering. Their soul crushing loss or failure, or shame. Our imagination gives us this ability.

Altruism is our ability to share, often to our own detriment, our personal safety, wealth and prosperity. Why would we ever do this? Dogs don’t do this. Dolphins, chimps, corvids—species with advanced intelligence, even consciousness don’t do this. Only humans go out of their way to ensure another’s survival. Why?

Because we can imagine how it feels to be that other being.

Our imagination is the source of our empathy.

Corporate Charity

Public corporation charity is a crock.

Public corporations, those with symbols on a stock market exchange, have a single master – share holder equity. Absolutely everything they (the executives in concert with the board of directors) do is with the intent to increase (or maintain) share holder equity.


Including pretending to “care” for the environment, community or their employees.

Last week the public corporation for which I work fired 10% of the corporate headquarters staff (40 people) and 10% of the shop floor staff (1000 people).

I slipped by (||) that far from getting the ax. Unfortunately, the fellow with whom I work, everyday—side by side—on software projects got the knife. His Business Analysis partner was cut too. And so, with a single whack of their brain dead sword, corporate gutted the “tribal knowledge” of one of the more important software applications in use by two dozen repair shops around the country. “The rest of you developers will have to take on the load.” — yeah right.

The CEO, up to now, had been one of those who touted the “we’re all one big family” vibe at every quarterly all-hands meeting. — yeah right.

And so it was with incredulity that I received an email which explored how important it was for this corporation to account for all the volunteer time we had invested in the last 12 months, including how important we thought the environment, community and education was and how this corporation should pursue supporting such things.

What a crock.

No matter what a public corporation says to the world, despite all of its press releases, all of its so called public principles of business conduct, there is one tenet they must obey above all others — increase share holder equity.

Everything else is a lie.


Writer’s Log: 2222 People v Plot

After months and months I’m actually back reading a novel. Previously, I’d limited myself to technical treatises on writing and such. It seemed every time I picked up a story (that is: read the Look Inside/Preview on amazon or google play) my internal editor would dismiss the offering.

Audrey Driscoll tenaciously slogged through my noobescent first novel and so I felt obligated to return the favor. Audrey’s The Friendship of Mortals is the story and her writing is levels above mine. I mentioned on her WP blog that I thought she seemed to have channeled Mary Shelley with her Victorian era descriptions and details. The characters are exquisitely developed and knowable. It’s told first person which helps in this regard.

But not much happens. I mean, there is story line, but not like I’m used to. Wham! Bam! Grab it and run!

And yet I’m enjoying it.

Which brings me to mention the quandary I continuously find myself in: I can’t write people. Not well anyway.

Audrey can. I see how she does it. She spends time with her people and they with each other—much more time than I can muster. Which means that somehow, in order to get my stories’ characters to feel more real, I’m going to have to spend time with them. Which is harder than you’d think…

Me: What do you want?
You: Well, there this coffee shop down on the corner which sells the most delicious…
Me: Get to the point.
You: You don’t have to be curt.
Me: Yeah? Hmm. Go away. I’m busy.

You see my problem. Oh, I can exchange written words just fine. But conversation? Reflection? Of/with people? Ugh.

Time for a cruise?

Cruise ship zombie crews

come drifting ashore.


The cruise industry is dead. Nearly 100 massive cruise ships are anchored around the world, still full of crew who are trapped with no way to disembark save to swim.

What do you do with a fleet of abandoned floating hotels?

Connect ’em in a circle and SeaStead? Waterworld anyone? Run ’em up upon the reefs in Tonga and Kiribati? Floating laboratories? Prisons?

If there was every an industry so tenuously poised at the end of exorbitant spending, this is it.

P.O.S.H.? Ha!

T.R.A.S.H maybe: Terrified Rabid Adults Seething Hysterically.

Dear Mole: Kickin’ It


You’re too kind, Sir, but your enthusiastic promotion of my little attempt at writing a soap opera is very much appreciated.

And you are correct: Fifty is officially in the can. I don’t do sales, especially when the commodity is me. Aside from the sock puppet performance, anything more than that is officially out of my hands. Perhaps a certain current Riverdale cast member will set some wheels in motion since that show, like most shows, is presently on COVID-hiatus. And I happen to know that she happens to know the real man behind the Deadpool mask, so who knows?

Moving on. My brain has been pleasantly quiet of late. That means it hasn’t bothered itself with concerns about a next project…or a next anything, really. It’s a relaxing place to be. But if I were unprepared to play along with that theme, I probably wouldn’t have started writing this reply. To that end, here’s a little visual aid:

Curmudgeon’s Lifetime Bucket List

X          Write a soap opera

X          Write a memoir

X          Watch Breaking Bad from start to finish

X          Quit drinking

X          Quit dating

X          Get a dog

X          Move to New Mexico

__         Eat a bug

Woah! I didn’t realize I was already this far along. Gotta run — off to search for a tasty-looking bug.


Dear Mudge: Fait accompli


Dear Mudge,

I hear you’ve spit-balled your last scene and have stuffed that writhing mass of film into its circular can. Smick/smack, done.

Bravo. Drinks all ’round.

For those of you who might have missed the cue:ENTER-STAGE-RIGHT, the Mudge has been writing a play? A screenplay? A caricature/parody of modern life? No, no, I got this: A tribute to a bunch of 90’s child actors who starred in a television show called Fifteen. The catch being that there is one special actor (remember that post about job titles a while back?) who made it kinda big in Hollywood and to find out who that actor is you’ll have to discover it on your own:

‘Mudge, now that you’re done. (I’m kidding, the work is just beginning. The creative work is easy; it’s the selling work that I’ve been told is the hardest. ‘Been told as, me? Sell? Fuck no.) But, now that you’re done, and idle—and we all know what happens to idle minds and fingers—I’m wondering what’s next on your agenda?

That is, between study sessions of course.

(And donning the telltale cap of the Vermilion Vigilante whilst slashing and gnashing at my narrative offerings.)

And don’t tell me it’s too early to start spy-hopping your next project.

But, if you wanted to dwell on the existential impact of pandemics, lockdown economic malaise, the need for dog-owners to counter stay-at-home quarantine and walk their puppies, maybe that, in and of itself, provided we discuss it amongst ourselves, could be construed as “research” for your next project.

Perhaps a certain actor needs his stage-name etched in rock? Costume included?

Virally yours,