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As one writer writing (and administering) two websites and a forum, I rarely have the luxury of consulting an editor. And yet, the talented editors I’ve consulted with, now and then, have often made suggestions that greatly improved my writing. Therefore, I’ve been intrigued by the commercials for “Grammarly”, a background program that makes editing suggestions while you write.

I’m still considering the app and have only just installed the free version, yesterday. While in self-imposed Beta testing I thought it might be useful to pass along the best review I found on Grammarly, so far.

When I first heard that there was a piece of paid software that simply did a spellcheck, I thought that was ridiculous.  Why would anyone pay for spellcheck or grammar check when every computer comes with that ability for free.  Then I heard that Grammarly will even run a spell check while I write blog posts like this one.  But WordPress already does that.  Who would pay for software that fixes a problem I don’t have?  In this Grammarly review, I seek to share that answer.

The Review Outline:

  • My English Qualifications
  • Writing Pays My Bills
  • Taking Grammarly for a Test Drive
  • My First Grammarly Test
  • What is the Difference Between Free and Paid
  • Does Grammarly Make Mistakes?
  • You Must Be Online
  • Check Your Workers
  • Dealing with Plagiarism
  • Vocabulary Enhancement
  • How Does Grammarly Work?
  • Web Interface
  • Standalone
  • Chrome/Firefox Plugin
  • Word Plugin
  • I Read Some Negative Grammarly Reviews
  • Are You English or Canadian?
  • Can it replace an editor?
  • Advanced Techniques
  • Final Review of Grammarly – Is it Worth the Money?

An Honest Grammarly Review by Jonathan Green

One of the conclusions coming out of writing “12 Things to Consider Before Starting a Virtual Community” is how powerful these new platforms are. The forum software I’ve purchased and installed on DivineCoucil.org could handle the needs of a large corporation (And actually does serve in that capacity for many large companies). Under the right circumstances, one forum could easily be shared by multiple groups, just as branches or departments are handled on one corporate forum.

McGillespie Private Forum

To fully exploit the many wonderful features of the platform, I’ll be setting up private forums for McGillespie on the DivineCoucil.org forum.

You might have noticed a new “Forum” menu item on the top of this McGillespie blog page. That will take you to the DivineCouncil forum where you can interact with myself, and other McGillespie readers, on things such as articles, courses, books, products, etc.

Features & Benefits

There’s a special resource manager setup to disseminate materials and make it easy to find things. Each resource can be reviewed, and have discussions formed around them, so people know how they can be used, the ideal audience, attributions, etc.

There’s also a live chat area, so you might be able to catch fellow listeners online for a brief chat while you’re on the forum.

Better Than Facebook

Facebook is fun, but if you’re tired of conversations scrolling off the screen (and other FB pitfalls) the private forum environment is more conducive to organized and focused discussions that can be searched later by yourself and others.

So, if you’re looking for a more private and trusted environment for discussions around this material you have another option available in which to do that.

What Next?

Over 50 people have signed-up to the forum in the first week, and the platform will scale up to as large as it needs to be.

Once you’ve signed up for the forum, please e-mail me at tg@McGillespie.com to request access to the McGillespie private forum area so you’ll have access to the entire forum.

I’m Looking forward to seeing you there, and please bear with me as I make this into a seamless experience for all visitors!

A few months ago, there was a 60-day preview of Unseen Realm on LOGOS and Michael Heiser asked some of his more veteran readers to help shepherd newcomers to the material on the FaithLife Forum.

Growing out of those discussions has been what I hope to be the first sister website and forum for writers, artists, and those looking to interact with others on the material: DivineCouncil.org.

What is it?

It’s a full website & forum with three writers contributing to the front page blog. I hope the site may also serve as an outlet for others. So, if there are any believing writers, artists, photographers etc. Looking to contribute, this might be a good fit for you.

The forum part of the site is structured around the Unseen Realm in terms of the overarching missions of Jesus.

So What?

There’s a special resource manager setup to disseminate materials to small groups and make it easier to find things to bring to your church. Each resource can be reviewed, and have discussions formed around them, so people know how they can be used, the ideal audience, attributions, etc.

There’s also a live chat area, so you might be able to catch fellow listeners online for a brief chat while you’re on the forum.

Better than Facebook!

Facebook is fun, but if you’re tired of conversations scrolling off the screen (and other FB pitfalls) the private forum environment is more conducive to organized and focused discussions that can be searched later by yourself and others.

So, if you’re looking for a more private and trusted environment for discussions around this material you have another option available in which to do that.

What Next?

Over 50 people have signed-up to the forum in the first week, and the platform will scale up to as large as it needs to be.

Nathan, Terence, and Zechariah hope DivineCoucil.org will fill a need for the Kingdom, empower small groups, and be a worthy site for the Church.

Over 50 people have already signed on to the forum in the first week!

See you there!

DivineCouncil.org Website
DivineCouncil.org Forum

If you want to start a virtual community, don’t. If you have to start a virtual community then what I’ve discovered, after three weeks of exhaustive research, may help you create a good one, and realize the benefits.

#1 Facebook for the Masses

Facebook is the best and worst of the social media community platforms. They all have one thing in common: you are the product. You are the value they “provide”. Your data, your community, and anything Facebook can gather through your interactions, is the product they sell back to … You.

In return for the value you provide, you’ll be constantly reminded that your presence on Facebook is a privilege. In return for that privilege, you agree to:

  • Lose control over your data.
  • Forfeit exclusive copyrights of your data.
  • Be unable to locate threads, links, or documents of interest after they’ve scrolled off the main screen.
  • Put up with the ebbs & flows of FB’s politically correct censorship.
  • Be subject to the collapse of your community at their whim.

If need compels you to “go where the people are” then start a FB group (Not a personal or business page, but a group). Don’t get too attached to your “likes”. What may take you years to build, Facebook can, has, and will, collapse overnight. And just like that, thousands of conversations, links, documents, and stories disappear down the memory hole.

#2 A Forum for Serious Matters

If you’ve decided to run a virtual community on a serious subject, with people that matter, then skip Facebook and start interacting with the actual people. If you can’t do that in person, install a private forum on a private server and encourage people to join.

Facebook, and most other social media outlets, are best used as a supplement to a garden that already feeds your community. That primary garden is either personal “real life” interaction, or, a private online virtual community. Both are under the stewardship and control of the community, itself.

#3 Forum Software

The time, people, and data involved in maintaining and participating in a forum is so precious, it’s foolish to compromise on platform or functionality, if you don’t have to. Happily, the costs and capabilities of the software and servers that host it are such that compromise is unnecessary.

I recommend myBB as a “free” starting point, and XenForo as your final platform. If cost isn’t a factor, skip myBB and start your forum on Xenforo. Otherwise, there’s an import function built-in to Xenforo, enabling the import of your myBB forum data, later. There’s also a professional service that will perform the migration for you, cms2cms.

My research on forum platforms was comprehensive and inspired by my own desire to start an online community. I have no skin in the forum software game, other than that. However, if you want to do your own research, here’s a good starting point comparing the features of 67 forum platforms: forummatrix.org.

Click here to subscribe

#4 Why Not vBulletin?

With it’s large installed user base and functionality, I thought vBulletin was a slam dunk as the optimal platform. I was wrong.

Four leading developers of vBulletin split from gelsoft because they wanted to re-write the code from scratch rather that keep adding patches (per vB mgmt.) Sure enough, after the lawsuit was settled vB has had difficulties keeping pace with bugs and new developments. The latest V5 version has a terrible reputation and they stopped supporting version 4.3, which is what most of their large installed user base is using.

On the other hand, XenForo (which has all of vB’s functionality and the benefit of having been re-written on a new platform) is sailing smoothly due to their re-write. The developers “won” the lawsuit because they re-wrote new code from scratch during their 365-day non-compete clause.

If you go with vBulletin, I think it will lead to a boxed canyon in the mid-term. New plug-ins, and integrations with new internet functionalities, will be slow in coming, if they come, at all. If some functionality comes along that’s crucial to your business, you’ll have to migrate to Xenforo to get it. Therefore, why not just start with Xenforo from the beginning?

Surprisingly, myBB is has almost every feature vBulletin has. It’s also free, open-source, and well-designed. Still, if you have the money, skip myBB and start building from the start on Xenforo.

#5 Scalability

Here’s a Xenforo forum with 56 million posts.

Enough said on scalability.

#6 Time

20 hours per week in administration and board moderation is a good rule-of-thumb for a forum that has enough visitors to pay for itself. The maximum amount of time I could spend is between 3 and 10 hours per week. Therefore, if the forum I’m considering ever “took off” I’d need immediate help so it would not detract from larger purposes.

Including this article, I’ve put 20 hours of research into vetting platforms, and the possibility of starting, a virtual community. That’s time well spent in avoiding getting stuck on the wrong platform. It might turn out to be time well spent in deciding not to start a virtual community, at all. If I do move forward, it will be with the experiences of others informing the implementation so the whole enterprise doesn’t become unwieldy or detract from larger purposes.

#7 Money

Between the cost of the software and the cost of the servers, the monetary cost of putting on a sustainable private forum is $460 per year.

If you install myBB on a server you’re currently using for another website, the additional monetary cost of your forum will be ZERO. That is, until your forum starts to attract users, or you post things on the forum that require disk space and network bandwidth to downloaded by many simultaneous users. To account for that growth — which you, presumably, are trying to make happen — I estimate a mid-term monetary costs of $460 per year.

Xenforo is $140 – $290 for the initial purchase (varies with plug-ins needed) and perhaps 1/3 of that for upgrade privileges per year, thereafter. Since forums tend to eat server resources, I estimate a cost of $20 to $30 per month for server hosting for a moderately busy forum. Your other websites (with moderate to large traffic) could be hosted on the same dedicated server. Therefore, you could consolidate them onto the same dedicated server making the effective increase in server fees be less.

#8 The Hassles of an Online Community

For a birds-eye-view of the kinds of hassles a popular online forum can present, read Steve Pavlina article explaining why he shut his forum down. This article is a MUST-READ for anyone seriously considering the start of a virtual community.

#9 Monetization

All forums are monetized. Here’s my proof: All existing forums cost money and someone is paying for them. The only question is: who pays?

If a forum is paid for, directly, by one person or entity, the forum is sponsored. Sponsorship is a form of monetization.

Forum participants only view a forum as being monetized if they see ads or have to pay an entrance fee of some kind. There are many more ways than that to monetize a forum:

  • Sponsorship
  • Display ads
  • CPM – Cost per Impression
  • CPA – Cost per Action
  • CPC – Cost per Click
  • Classified ads
  • Affiliates
  • Premium Memberships

That’s not to say that a forum will ever become profitable. Most of the forums I’ve read about are considered to be doing well if they break even.

My view on monetizing a forum is that a community worth having is a one worth paying for. What I’m not sure about (that Steve Pavlina’s article has me contemplating) is whether a community that doesn’t pay for itself is worth having.

#10 One Forum, Multiple Communities?

Could one forum handle multiple communities?

Yes, but the communities that work best in that scenario are sub-communities of a larger purpose. A good example of this is a corporate forum handling company-wide categories and topics. Employees would log-in to keep abreast of the two or three categories of their interest. The remaining categories would be unread, or specifically reserved, for groups with other interests or responsibilities.

Another example of one forum serving multiple communities is a forum for a church. Only one forum need be created, and maintained, to accommodate a large church. Still, very few members would be interested in every category on the forum. A hundred or so ministries, and all activities, within one church could be easily handled by one forum.

The limit to the number of sub-communities a single forum can accommodate is a function of the coherence of governance between sub-communities.

#11 Customer Service Platform?

This is an interesting use of a private forum: For each product you sell start a new support thread on a forum. This enables all your customers to see the latest status of the product. Theoretically, it could save a busy retailer, or consultant, from being overwhelmed by individual customers asking the same questions. It could also be a great place to put FAQ’s for your company, service, or product.

The comment section of your product page could function in the same way. However, as most product pages are now designated landing pages, they no longer include comment sections. Starting a forum around your products might be a great way to serve that need.

#12 Should I Start a Forum, or Not?

With all the costs, time, and hassles involved in running a private forum, why have one, at all? This is a question I’ve not yet answered, for myself.

SM Comparison Table
 Service Capability
1 to 1 1 to Many Many to 1 Many to Many
E-mail Y Y Firehose N
Twitter N  Y Clumsy N
FaceBook Y  Y Confusing Share Rules
Forum Y  Y Y Y

 

There are four things a private forum does, extremely well. They:

  1. Provide a means for communicating with people you want to talk to, or have to talk to, for which the conversations are most beneficially conducted in a group setting.
  2. Serve as a rare, nearly optimal, vehicle for all four types of interactions with people: 1 to 1, 1 to many, many to 1, many to many.
  3. Function as online knowledge and resource repositories. I’ve greatly benefitted from forums around subjects I didn’t become interested in until the most active phase of the forum had already passed. Such forums, to me, were like floating spaceship libraries I was very thankful to find in “outer space”.
  4. Facilitate group conversations with people that matter.

Four months ago, I received a “Must Read!” article from my wife: “6 Ways electronic screen time makes kids angry, depressed and unmotivated“. Sure enough, our 8-year-old son was showing some of the symptoms described in the article:

  1. Disrupts sleep and desynchronizes the body clock.
  2. Desensitizes the brain’s reward system.
  3. Produces “light-at-night.”
  4. Induces stress reactions.
  5. Overloads the sensory system, fractures attention, and depletes mental reserves.
  6. Reduces physical activity levels and exposure to “green time.”

Reset Your Child’s Brain

That lead to reading the author’s book, “Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time by Victoria L. Dunckley, MD

We didn’t go through all “TEN STEPS TO PREPARE FOR A FAST” that Victoria recommends:

  1. Define problem areas and target goals
  2. Get your spouse and other caregivers on board
  3. Set a date and create a schedule
  4. Inform relevant adults in your child’s life
  5. Obtain toys, games, and activities to replace screen-time
  6. Schedule breaks or treats for yourself
  7. If possible, enlist a playmate’s parents to join you
  8. Inform your child and involve the entire family
  9. Perform a thorough “screen sweep”
  10. Set your intentionMy wife and I talked for an hour on Friday night mapping out activities, games, and alternatives and how to break the news to the kids. Then, on Monday, we went cold-turkey on the ipads for both boys.

My wife and I talked for an hour on Friday night, mapping out activities, games, and alternatives, and how to break the news to the kids. Then, on Monday, we went cold-turkey on the ipads for both boys.

The Results?

After two weeks, the symptoms were gone! Now, at four months, the absence of these two “little” ipads in their lives (and ours) has been working out, splendidly.

The ipads were replaced with more outdoor time, interactions between them and with us, looking out the window on the way to school, lots of storytelling, and one thing we’ve still got to work on: watching Japanese dance videos on YouTube (via the TV).

Storytelling Design

The bromide that “Children are natural storytellers” is true, but it’s deeper than that. Children live in the story version of their lives, going in and out of what we adults would call the “real” version.

Here’s Lucas living in his story. Notice that his dad is standing six-feet away, recording him, but he takes no notice. Then, when his stuffed animal drops, he’s jarred into the “Real” life of eating his cereal.

Have you ever tried to get a yes or no answer from a child? They answer every question with a story because they’re living in one. By telling you a story, they’re not evading; they’re giving you a more complete answer.

Rory’s Story Cubes

A month after the ipads “disappeared”, I found a game that fit Victoria’s advice to replace screen-time with other  activities: Rory’s Story Cubes.

They come in packs of nine cubes. The 6-sides of each cube has a picture on it of either a thing or an action (a noun or verb in adult-speak). You roll the cubes and make a story out of the ones that roll face-up.

As I was reading the box, and wondering if the game would be too much for our 4-year-old, Lucas rolled the cubes and cut me off saying, “Once upon a time …”

It was more than adorable; it was wondrous to watch his brain firing on all cylinders, reaching into the vast experiences of his four years of life experience, and telling us a story. “Can you believe this?!”, I asked my wife.

It’s not only possible; it’s their preferred means of expression. Children are designed to communicate in story. Before they have words for the things around them, before they put words together in sentences, they’re tracking the story of what’s happening to them, and around them. A few weeks after they’re born they look at you while you’re changing their diaper and you can see them taking it all in. There are no words, but they’re recording the beginnings of their own story.

The Gillespie Cubes

When playing, we give each player six cubes to roll for a new story. We have 27 cubes in all (Rory’s 9-cube starter and 9-cube action sets, 3-cube pre-historia, 3-cube sports, and 3-cube medic sets). If I was purchasing for the first time, again, I’d get this bundle:

As long as you have the self-contained 9-cube starter set there’s no wrong way to add to the set.

If you’re expecting this article to end with us going through every step of the book and living happily-ever-after, that didn’t happen. Although Victoria’s book outlines steps to reintegrate screen-time back into your child’s life in a non-destructive way, we haven’t even thought about bringing the ipads back to battery life. We’re on pause, for now, and not looking for the “play” button.

There are a few things that would make me reconsider: if the Kahn Academy greatly improves their app, or a similar life-changing technology appears on the scene. If so, we’ll make the kids earn every minute of screen-time like an allowance. Until then, we’ll stick with the best killer apps, of all: playing outdoors, talking with people, reading, and telling stories.

This is a quick demo of the 2 things that matter to me about Dragon dictation software. The text below the video are the actual words, as transcribed by Dragon, that you’ll hear me speak in the video (5 minutes).

The Transcription

“This is a quick demo of the two features that matter most to me in Dragon speech recognition software for the Mac. This demo is being made with version 6 professional.

The first feature is what most people think of when discussing dictation software: talking words onto the screen, exactly as you’re seeing me do now.

The accuracy is about 97%, which is about 9% better than the built-in feature on the Mac using the Siri engine. That’s 9% increased accuracy and it’s a big deal when it comes to editing, later.

You may have noticed that I’m talking a little differently than I would in casual conversation. That’s because I want the accuracy to be as high as possible. I don’t want to have to go back and edit mistakes that only happened because I didn’t clearly pronounce a word.

There are two other ways I speak differently in dictation than in casual conversations: I speak the punctuation and also some of the formatting, such as

In line breaks. Sometimes, I’ll even speak the syntax for markdown language, but let’s save that for another demo.

After a little practice, I found that speaking the punctuation, and some of the formatting, doesn’t interrupt my thought flow. In fact, it helps me think more clearly about the subject, helps me understand the context of what I was dictating, as well as eliminating most of the hassles of editing, later. The second Dragon feature that matters most to me is the ability to write anywhere.

#Writing Anywhere!

That’s right! Wherever I am I press the voice recorder icon on the iPhone and start talking. When done, I press “stop”, and then “save” buttons.

When I want the recorded files to be transcribed I send them to the Mac using airdrop and then drag and drop them onto the transcription window of Dragon. That gives me the capability to capture thoughts wherever, and whenever, they occur.

It’s not uncommon for me to dictate a few thousand words on the 20 minute ride home from dropping the kids off at school. How is that for not starting the writing day off with a blank page!

By the way, I only use the Dragon software for the Mac desktop. I don’t have the official Dragon software for the iPhone – called Dragon anywhere – the cost $15 a month. I don’t need it because I prefer to dictate onto the voice recorder app and batch transcribe all the Dragon files in the Dragon’s transcription window. Each file is transcribed to a separate text file as I’ll show you now.”

It’s a shame to see people, who believe (or might believe) in the supernatural, engage in pointless arguments. Even more pointless is talking about it, at all, with those whose beliefs are confined to the limits of the five senses.

For the skeptic, new inventions must bring the invisible within range of the five senses. Only then are they  “free to believe” in anything invisible. Prior to the microscope, the skeptic would have reported you to the looney bin for your “outrageous” belief in the microscopic. After the microscope, the skeptic thinks it was your sanity that was restored by the invention, not theirs!

Separating Skeptics from Cynics

This is the sort of “progress” the skeptic is limited to unless they take a “leap of faith”. Fortunately, for the skeptic, that leap is possible. If presented with sufficient evidence, skeptics can be jarred into a reluctant admission that invisible things exist. The cynic, on the other hand, will remain unfazed by any evidence put in front of them.

Miracles, Defined

A miracle is a natural event with a supernatural cause.1

In other words, miracles look, sound, feel, smell, taste … normal. Their appearance is natural, their cause is invisible. So, where does that leave us with separating skeptics and cynics?

It leaves us where C.S. Lewis arrived a long time ago:

C.S. Lewis on Cynics

the question whether miracles occur can never be answered simply by experience. Every event which might claim to be a miracle is, in the last resort, something presented to our senses, something seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted. And our senses are not infallible. If anything extraordinary seems to have happened, we can always say that we have been the victims of an illusion. If we hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural, this is what we always shall say. What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience. It is therefore useless to appeal to experience before we have settled, as well as we can, the philosophical question.2

The skeptics “philosophy” is, “I’ll believe it when I see it”. The cynic’s “settled philosophy” is the supernatural does not exist, regardless of what is seen.

Skeptics are worth your time; cynics are not.

Prisoners of Time

Both skeptics, and cynics, are limited by the detection devices of their day. To them, everything discovered is obvious, and that which is yet to be discovered, is fantasy. Bring evidence in front of their senses and you’re being “reasonable”. Otherwise, the matter is closed to all but the “unreasonable”.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.3

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

The price of such “reasonableness” is imprisonment within the limits of their era. They are, for the same reasons, prisoners of science.

Prisoners of Science

Much of what’s left for mankind to discover is beyond the range of the five senses. Without access to an electron microscope, for example, you won’t be able to “see” much of anything in such areas of discovery. So, what do you do?

You’ll need a mediator between the known and the newly discovered; between what’s true or false, and the newly discovered to be true or false. What do you call someone who functions as a mediator between visible and invisible things?

They’re called priests. But the skeptic will use a different word for the same role: scientist.

Those who won’t contemplate the supernatural need no priest to interpret scripture. They do, however, need a mediator between themselves and nature.

As the frontiers of human knowledge push beyond the ability of the five senses to perceive, skeptics and cynics need their “priests” to be told what’s real, and what’s not real, more than ever.

The Secular Priesthood

And so, scientists have been promoted into a secular priesthood. They are the “reasonable”, and therefore trusted, mediators between what exists and what doesn’t; between what is true and false; and what is, therefore, deemed reasonable and unreasonable.

Who cares what scientists do as long as the remote control (invisible infrared beam) changes the channel of the TV?!

If that were as far as it went, there’d be reason only to celebrate. When mankind is working hard, and using the fruits of their labor to serve mankind, then everything is just dandy!

Unfortunately, Reality is not as simple, nor as benevolent, as all that.

And their ‘church’

Scientists, like priests, are not in charge. They serve their parishes, and report to their bishops, cardinals, and pope. The scientists know them as customers, labs, foundation administrators and benefactors. Can we depend on the good-spirited benevolence of this organization?

Unfortunately, we can barely trust the formal clergy, who’ve taken public vows to be Holy and good, pledging  loyalty to only their Creator.

Whether we like it or not, scientists are becoming more widely-accepted as mediators between the seen and unseen realms, than priests. And though science has no purview on philosophical or theological matters, scientists and priests are two kinds of priesthoods, pitted against one another.

Priests Travel Faster

The frontiers of human discovery have pushed out of pandora’s visible box and into invisible realms. Because of this, scientists may feel like they’ve finally arrived at the big game.

But, wherever a scientist may go, his arrival will always be preceded by either a priest or a poet. These travel faster than light; at the speed of thought. They do that by combining story with imagination. And while scientists may work on practical discoveries beyond the visible (finally!), priests and poets have been contemplating “the beyond” since the dawn of humanity.

Conflict? What Conflict?

Personally, I see no conflict, whatsoever, between science and faith. Science explores and quantifies the world as the Creator has turned it over for exploration. I thank God for every discovery and invention! So far, every source I’ve investigated, claiming a conflict between science and faith, has been one side, or the other, arguing past one another. Those who’ve thought through the roles of science and faith are left with nothing but the progress of each to celebrate!

Headline News of Devils, Demons, Witches, Robots, ETs, Exorcists, AI & Terror Threats

… And that’s just in one day! Here’s a snapshot of the drudge report headlines on the night of March 2, 2017, ~8 pm.

DrudgeHeadline 3-2-17

7 Questions for Mommy & Daddy

I have an 8-year-old son who reads well, now. I know the following questions could easily be put to a parent whose child is looking over their shoulder and reading the news headlines, above:

  1. What’s an exorcist?
  2. Do witches really cast spells?
  3. Is the devil real?
  4. What’s the difference between Satan and the Devil?
  5. Why did they murder someone for a demon?
  6. Do people come from God or are they grown in a lab?
  7. Are there really ETs or was that just a movie?

What are the answers to those questions, mommy and daddy?

If you’re a skeptic or cynic about the supernatural, that’s fine. Coming from your child, then, what’s your answer to this question:

If the supernatural does not exist, why is it all over the news?

Hollywood, Game Developers, or You?

A worldview without a handle on Realities beyond the limits of the five senses, is so incomplete it leaves one  unable to even discuss the news. I would prefer to lead such conversations with my children, not merely keep up, or react to the news.

When introducing a book called “The Unseen Realm”, and its more easily read version “Supernatural”, to friends, I say that, if we (parents) don’t teach our children about the supernatural then 20-something game programmers, and Hollywood screenwriters, will gladly fill in the gaps.

I would prefer to teach my children what I believe to be the truth about the supernatural aspects of the world. I don’t want it to come from the imagination of a screenwriter or game developer. And, I don’t want it to come from the imagination of a paperback writer who’s decided that vampires or demons are “Hot” subjects, right now.

My 8-year-old has me gasping for breadth (pun intended) with his questions. It’s astounding how discerning, and naturally oriented towards the supernatural, children are.  If you have kids, you already know this. If you don’t, just watch one for 5 minutes. Your world may be limited by what you can see. But, their world isn’t.

More than Child’s Play

Discussing the supernatural is more than child’s play.

“In the contemporary world where there is a strong current of postmodern relativism…many people are far more interested in their own feelings, or what “works for them”, than in the question of what is actually true. But there is a price to be paid for rejecting the truth.”4

End of Part 1
Attributions

Main Article Photo by Felipe Posada, The Invisible Realm, Toy Boat
Creative Commons “Attribution-NonCommercial”


  1. David Pawson 
  2. C. S. Lewis, Miracles, A Preliminary Study, Pg. 1 
  3. George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903) “Maxims for Revolutionists” 
  4. John Lennox (from, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism) 

Writers must know their writing personality. They must also discover, and write with, their unique voice. There’s even 7 Great Reasons for Non-Writers to Discover their Writing Personality.

In this essay, I’ll describe my writing personality and voice, for three reasons:

  1. So that my children will better understand their father, his vantage point, and the writing goals of McGillespie.com.
  2. To provide one example, one breadcrumb thrown down, for other writers (and knowledge workers).
  3. To complete the exercise under the artificial duress of having to publish it.

The Path of Discovery

I found my writing personality and voice by:

  • Writing, and singing, lyrics and songs. I remember melodies and forget lyrics. When I can’t remember the lyrics I make them up to fit the melody.
  • Writing for over 10,000 hours. Non-writers don’t need to do this. More crucial, for me, was …
  • Knowing what I wanted to write about. At the heart of good writing is angst and anger. I write to keep the former from turning into a toxic form of the latter. I’m thankful for angst. It impels me to read, think, and write to achieve clarity on what’s causing it.
  • Over-learning subjects that are important to me. I’ve taken many writing courses, such as  Stephen King’s “On Writing”, Julia Cameron’s “Artist Way”, and Jeff Goin’s “Intentional Blogging”.
  • Having a keen desire to master the “active literacies” of writing, argumentation, and public speaking to write the script of my own life.

Reading Personality

I love being immersed in a great story! That’s why I read so much non-fiction: The greatest stories ever told are about what really happens; what people really do.

My reading is non-fiction, punctuated by ecstatic binges of fiction (Which I’ll only read if recommended by a friend). If you often say, “You can’t make this stuff up!” or, “If this happened in a movie or book no one would believe it!”, perhaps you’d enjoy reading more non-fiction, as well.

Writing Personality

INFJ

I’m an INFJ on Meyers Briggs personality tests (MBPTs) with primary and alternative traits of:

Introversion over Extraversion (59%)
Intuition over Sensing (50%)
Feeling over Thinking (31%)
Judging over Perceiving (25%)

I’ve take more extensive versions of the MBPT but have misplaced the results. Those results are probably more accurate on the percentages. Still, I’m consistently an INFJ and, more rarely, INFP. That would be consistent with the above results as the “Judging” dominance is only 25% over “Perceiving”.

INFJ Personality Infographic

‘Careers’

The online test says INFJ’s might excel in “careers” around: Education, Law, Psychology, Psychotherapy, Arts and Humanities, Graphics Design and Multimedia, Humanities, Social Services, Health Care, Early Childhood Education, Librarian.

Note: I put quotes around “career” because it’s a silly word when applied to most people. There are lifetime occupations and callings. But, most people change jobs an average of six times over a lifetime. My experience in corporate America was that the word “career” is used to keep the employee motivated, and invested, in long term benefits that may, or may not, ever materialize. I’m all for people respecting the big picture of the company they work for. The word, “career”, however, is often a lying word used to sell something.

Communication Skills

To help others wherever possible, and even when it seems impossible, is what fills an INFJ’s life with meaning and serves as their main motivation. This is their main orientation in the world, and it defines how they relate to events and to people around them.

In communication INFJs come across as thoughtful, supportive, and caring. Communication with an INFJ is pleasant and easy, since they are inherently well-disposed towards the other party. They are attentive and empathetic to other people’s feelings. Whenever one communicates with an INFJ, he or she instantly feels just how much they care about the people they know.

INFJs find it easy to communicate with people of various types and on variety of topics. However, INFJs can occasionally come across as somewhat reserved in their communication. Yet what they do when they appear reserved is taking time to sort out their feelings and thoughts of other people or current events.

An INFJ’s everyday social circle is unlikely to be extensive. It mostly consists of close friends, colleagues, and family members.

Those who work in the same field (e.g. coworkers or colleagues) are often reliant on, or interested in, an INFJ’s expert opinion of counsel on professional subjects. An INFJ is perfectly capable of maintaining an eventful business communication agenda involving an exchange of ideas and opinions, as well as practical solutions.

BookGeome Project

Writing Personality Chart

This BookGeome personality chart is based on uses of dialogue, descriptions, prose, and pacing in fictional writing. Amber Helt explains how to use the chart. Though I write non-fiction I went through the exercise for the sake of completeness.

DIALOGUE — Expressive (E) vs. Stoic (S)
DESCRIPTIONS — Detailed (D) vs. Concise (C)
PROSE — Hefty (H) vs. Breezy (B)
MOTION — Patient (P) vs. Kinetic (K)

That would make me either an SCBP or an SCHP. That type, they say, is suited to write on subjects of Education, Business, Economics, Religion, Self-Help or Performing Arts. Those are, in fact, many of the subjects I’ve written about in the past.

Weaknesses

My current weaknesses are in editing and speed of publication. I often write thousands of words per day but don’t publish thousands of words per day. My ratio of written-to-published words is about 5-to-1 and that’s too high. The ideal is probably closer to 2-to-1. My ratio is too high for three reasons:

  1. Lack of brain dominance leads to indecisiveness in the editing process. The many options for phrasing, wording, ordering of paragraphs and sentences, feel more like solving a math problem than editing words. A hypothetical audience would probably see little difference in drafts after the first two.
  2. Fear of being wrong about something important. The material I write about is often deep territory. There’s usually much research and reading that goes into it.
  3. Fear of burning through the attention span of the reader before imparting the important points of the piece. This impels me to spend more time — too much time — in the editing phase.

Remedy

Publish more under deadline. I imposed an artificial deadline on this essay for just that reason. The less time I stew over editing choices — after the first two drafts — the better. Happily for all, needless words are omitted by the second draft.

My Writing Personality(s)

Within Jeff Goin’s blogging types, the strongest, for me, is that of an Artist. Almost equally strong is Professor. Only with a subject firmly “in hand” does the personality of a prophet creep in.

Journalist? Only if an important job requires it. My book, The Creature from Galt’s Gulch, required a journalistic personality. Since it’s not my natural personality I find it difficult to write follow-up articles.

Star? None.

Artist

I gravitate towards creativity, beauty, music, art, and entrepreneurship. I appreciate all mediums in which they present.

Beauty and functionality are rarely seen apart from one another. The shape and skin of a dolphin is as beautiful as the jet plane or submarine that mimics it. The reverse is equally true: That which achieves a high level of functionality is inevitably beautiful.

By starting with art, an artist need give up nothing of functionality.

Professor

Writing in the role of a consultant often requires the personality of the “Professor”. The challenge is to impart the information, professionally, without sucking the “voice” out of it. Even dry material is more easily digested when presented in a unique voice.

I like “Playing the professor” as it forces me break things down into implementable steps. That turns data into knowledge, making wisdom possible, and action (Or silence), possible, as well.

Anything that solves a problem is also beautiful, especially to the one with the problem!

Prophet

With artistic eyes, and the eyeglasses of the professor, I can sometimes look out at the landscape of the subject and make predictions. Such “prophecies” are not outcomes I wish to be so. They’re  outcomes I think likely to occur given the trajectory of the predicting elements of the matter at hand.

Only a fool would underestimate the power of man’s free will. Even in the Bible, foreknowledge is not predestination.

Voice

Take away the voice and all that’s left are facts and data. Even formal expression is more interesting, and easier to digest, when presented in a unique voice.

The activities and desires in “The Path of Discovery” are how I discovered my writing voice. I’ll try to fit those discoveries in the acronym of S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose:

  • Spiritual Gifts — Writing, speaking, and possibly flying, are spiritual gifts.
  • Heart — Truth, delivered carefully, is the best form of compassion. It is evidence of, and often indistinguishable from, love.
  • Abilities (Natural) — Songwriting, musical instruments, learning complex things fast, solving problems, consulting, the “gift of gab”.
  • Personality — INFJ, SCBP
  • Experience — Musician, Consultant, Songwriter, Writing

Conclusion

The journey to find my voice has been the greatest adventure of my life. Every part of it has thickened the connection between my inner thoughts and outer reality.

It’s a great thing to read and understand everything one can to improve our own lives. It’s a much greater thing to parlay that work into something to inspire, lighten the load of, or shorten the path for, others.

Things that can do that are, in my view, masterpieces.

If you want your words to last as long as parchment use plain ASCII text with Markdown. When found, your writing can be republished at the click of a button. It’s digital; make lots of copies.

Markdown is . . .1

… a way to format plain text to show the formatting choices of the writer.

The syntax is natural and the formatted text is readable (Unlike HTML from which Markdown was derived as a form of shorthand). And, since most publishing software can read Markdown, directly, the writer can write once, skip the hassles of formatting, and pass the text directly on to the publisher.

Half of the Markdown syntax is just how a writer would format text, naturally. For example, you type an asterisk or a number in front of bullet points or a list of items, or hit enter to separate paragraphs. Heading levels are marked by the number of “#” signs placed before the heading. Even footnotes, tables and web links are straightforward and the text remains readable after formatting.

Storage

Plain digital text bypasses the problems of paper storage. It also bypasses the format wars of proprietary software. Your writing is created, stored, and published from the same text file. If we can read Egyptian hieroglyphs, today, perhaps people will be able to read ASCII text files, 5000 years from now.

Ideally, you make a (Digital) book available and distribute it to hundreds or thousands of people. Upload it to a website where it will be indexed, and possibly stored, by a third party. Less ambitious writers could put their text on as many mediums as they can find. Put them in a safe, wrapped in a paper printout. Tell your family about them and put it in your will. If your lucky, your progeny will see it and use the search engine of the day to find a copy, somewhere. Otherwise, perhaps one of your digital copies is readable. In terms of survivability, the paper copy is likely the weakest contender after 100 years or so.

How Long Will it Last?

Markdown_table
Markdown_table

 

Search

The presumption, even today, is that if you have the title, or the author’s name, you have a fair chance of finding the book. As more books are published in digital-only formats the odds of being able to find any book will increase.

Write Once, Publish Anywhere

Markdown makes it possible to write once and publish anywhere. Every platform I’ve needed to publish to can receive markdown text. But, it’s even better than that: Most of my writing is outlined, written, edited, and exported directly to the publishing platform and archived in markdown from within one program: Scrivener. The text can then be updated or repurposed from the same place it’s archived! It’s hard to describe the relief of simplicity this workflow provides. It makes for a frictionless writing environment that shifts the focus of the work back onto content. You just keep writing and let the publishing platforms handle the formatting details.

Markdown Benefits

  • Liberates the writer from formatting concerns both during, and after, writing.
  • Liberates the writer from proprietary software jail.
  • Gives the writer the widest number of choices in publishing platforms.
  • Enables the writer to use the same text file to feed multiple software and publishing platforms.
  • Updates and editions are made to one file: The original text file.
  • Enables the text to be read now and for the foreseeable human future.
  • Puts the writing in simple text format which will outlast all software programs currently in use.
  • Text processing programs are everywhere as are publishing software and platforms that can read Markdown, directly. Pick one and start writing.

WYSIWYG Live Preview, Yes!

Ironically, writing in simple text was a big step for me. I worked as a typesetter before, and during, college and have always loved the look of well-formatted text and book design. My professional consulting is replete with word processors, project management software, presentations, adobe frame maker proposals, etc. To make it worse, I’ve relied heavily on HTML and InDesign for the past eight years. Must I do without the inspiration of formatted text to get all the benefits of writing in markdown?

Not at all! Marked reads your text file (Even a Scrivener file!) and displays a fully formatted version of your document in real time. As you type, Marked updates the displayed document. When you’re finished you can export the document from your original text editor or right from Marked, in all the standard formats.

Workflows

Website Articles

  1. Scrivener to WordPress.
  2. Markdownify plug-in within wordpress editor box.
  3. Images stored on dropbox or website image directory.
  4. Marked shows WYSIWYG of Scrivener file, including images, while the article is being written.

Guest posts

  1. Scrivener exported to publisher’s format preference.
    A. Cut/paste of Markdown txt?
    B. Html or pdf export from Marked
    C. Other?

Client Documents

  1. Scrivener to pdf export.
  2. Indesign for special formats only.

Books

  1. Scrivener to first draft.
  2. Edit drafts in Scrivener.
  3. Send to Editor(s).
  4. Make edits in Scrivener.
  5. Final copy to Indesign.
  6. Format for Kindle, PDF, etc.
  7. Succeeding versions in Indesign.

Project Planning & Tasks

  1. Omnifocus (Text only)
  2. Drafts (MD and Text)
  3. Scrivener (MD and Text)
  4. Excel

E-mails

MailMate

Notes

  1. Evernote
  2. Nvalt
  3. Drafts (iphone/pad) to Evernote to Scrivener

Misc. Tools

  • Byword
  • Brett Terpstra’s Markdown services
  • MultiMarkdown Composer

P.S., Nine Months Later

Shortly after starting to use Markdown I began using dictation software to talk words onto the screen. Dictation has now taken such a big place in my daily writing that my typing speed has declined. One thing I haven’t yet done is to train the dictation software to implement markdown syntax. For example, perhaps I could train the software so that saying, “Bold that”, puts double asterisks around the last word?

I no longer need Adobe Indesign or Word for daily writing. I much prefer to use Marked 2 for WYSIWYG of the draft folder of Scrivener. It’s not as good as Indesign but enough to be inspired by the clean text and formatting of what I’m working on.

When writing articles I sometimes use temporary droplink addresses of image files so Marked can show me how the picture will look with the text during the writing process. I also use droplink addresses to compose e-mails to friends (Also in markdown) if they’re to include photos. If I need the images to be viewable in the long-term I use “Transmit” to quickly upload the images to my website image directory and use that address in the markdown syntax.

When composing agendas and client documents I write them all in scrivener using markdown. I then use Marked to convert markdown to the pdf files that are sent directly to the client. Client work is started, and completed, in Scrivener where it remains in its final form. The pdf’s sent to the client are beautiful and archived in Scrivener.

Best Markdown Resources


  1. Invented by John Gruber and Fletcher Penny. 
  2. https://www.whalingmuseum.org/explore/library/from-the-vault/cuffe-manuscripts 
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutenberg_Bible 
  4. David Diringer noted that “the first mention of Egyptian documents written on leather goes back to the Fourth Dynasty (c. 2550–2450 BC), but the earliest of such documents extant are: a fragmentary roll of leather of the Sixth Dynasty (c. 24th century BC) 
  5. Jiahu symbols, carved on tortoise shells in Jiahu, c. 6600 BC 

Equations are shorthand for words.

The symbols can be so mesmerizing we forget they’re a form of shorthand.

This equation…:

derivative-of-an-integral2

 

… Is shorthand for these words:

“. . .the net change of a smooth and continuous quantity, such as a distance travelled, over a given time interval (i.e. the difference in the values of the quantity at the end points of the time interval) is equal to the integral of the rate of change of that quantity, i.e. the integral of the velocity,” said Melkana Brakalova-Trevithick, chair of the math department at Fordham University, who chose this equation as her favorite.”1

The equation and the paragraph describe identical truths with two different forms of notation. To the extent the equation represents truth so do the words behind them.

What’s Your Bias?

Which do you trust more: The equation or the words?

Equations seem to have escaped the post-modern distrust of the ability to know absolute truth. They’re more likely to be accepted as truth by contemporary Joe. In Reality, equations and words are equally prone to error.

Sock Loss Index

To advertise a new washing machine Samsung asked a psychologist and statistician to team up and develop a formula to predict the likelihood of losing a sock.

“The probability of sock loss equals the laundry size plus the complexity of the wash minus the product of the level of attention being paid to the task multiplied by the persons attitude towards doing washing.”

 

sock_loss_index

 

Where, ‘L’ stands for ‘laundry size’, based on the number of people in a household (p) with the frequency of washes (f). ‘C’ stands for ‘washing complexity.’ Types of wash (t) is multiplied by the number of socks washed in a week (s). ‘P’, or ‘positivity towards the laundry’ is subtracted from the sum of ‘L’ and ‘C’

Compounding Error

Only one “minor” symbol in an equation, or word in a sentence, need be wrong to invalidate the statements. This has profound implications.

When vetting the underlying truth of a situation it’s often required to combine the vetting of many component truths before putting them all together. A seemingly minor error may compound to dangerously false conclusions. The first result may be only a little off. Over time the conclusions drawn are exponentially wrong.

95% True!

If the sock loss index equation is 95% true you lose a few socks. If the fundamental theorem of calculus is 95% true it means untolled human misery. Some things in life must be 100% pure or they can’t be used, at all.

There’s another name for things that are 95% pure: Poison. Rat poison is 95 – 98% natural food2. With 2 to 5% impurity you don’t even have to wait for the errors to compound. The rat dies in a day.

 

RatPoison1


  1. “The 11 Most Beautiful Mathematical Equations” (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-11-most-beautiful-mathematical-equations/) 
  2. “In a most preferred range, the rodenticide composition can include the natural carrier matrix in a percentage by weight of about 95% to about 98%.” Rodenticide Patent, US 8574638 B1 (http://www.google.com/patents/US8574638). 
VISL Grammar Diagram
VISL Grammar Diagram

With a restored belief in the power of words came a renewed interest in exploiting their full capabilities. One way to do that is to map the form and function of words in a sentence.

Visual Interactive Syntax Learning (VISL)

Most grammar diagrams are created by hand with pen and paper. That’s fine for learning how to make one. For publishing I went looking for an online tool that would make them visually compelling. There aren’t many “Out there”. The best one was created and made available by a University in Denmark called Syddansk. It’s called VISL and presents a diagram of your sentence via java applet.

It figures that such a tool would come from a country with the language characteristics of Danish. As one teacher describes the language:

“Danish is said to be the hardest Scandinavian language to learn because of its speaking patterns. It is generally spoken more quickly and more softly than other Scandinavian languages. Danish is also flatter and more monotonous than English.
Grammatically, though, it’s relatively easy. Danish has only nine verb forms, including the passive, which is peculiar to Scandinavian languages but familiar to English speakers.”

Here’s the key for interpreting their diagrams:

VISL Key
VISL Key

VISL Grammar Diagrams1

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”

VISL Grammar Diagram
VISL Grammar Diagram

 

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities”

Col-s6

“all things were created through him and for him.”

Col-s5

 

 

“And he is the head of the body, the church.”

Col-s3

 

 

“He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”

Col-s2

 

 

“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Col-s4

 

 

“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

Col-s1

 

 

Greek Grammar Diagrams2

These were not generated by the VISL applet. Dennis Wretlind’s grammar diagram of the original Greek shows the technique is, by no means, limited to English.

“15 ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου, πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως, 16 ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ a πάντα ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς b καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, τὰ ὁρατὰ καὶ τὰ ἀόρατα, εἴτε θρόνοι εἴτε κυριότητες εἴτε ἀρχαὶ εἴτε ἐξουσίαι· τὰ πάντα δι’ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται· 17 καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν πρὸ πάντων καὶ τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν, “

Copyright Dennis O. Wretlind, 2013

“18 καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ τοῦ σώματος τῆς ἐκκλησίας· ὅς a ἐστιν ἀρχή, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, ἵνα γένηται ἐν πᾶσιν αὐτὸς πρωτεύων, 19 ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ εὐδόκησεν πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα κατοικῆσαι 20 καὶ δι’ αὐτοῦ ἀποκαταλλάξαι τὰ πάντα εἰς αὐτόν, εἰρηνοποιήσας διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ σταυροῦ αὐτοῦ, [ [δι’ αὐτοῦ]] εἴτε τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς εἴτε τὰ a ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς·”

Copyright Dennis O. Wretlind, 2013


  1. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Colossians 1:15-20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. 
  2. SBLGNT (Colossians 1:15-20) 

My mother had two strokes leaving her unable to walk. She hates not being able to walk. A few years later her eyes glazed over with cataracts and she couldn’t see. Since she lives with us, and we see her everyday, we didn’t notice it as it happened slowly over so many months. Her eyes were a tough case but the doctors were able to fix her eyesight with an operation.

Off all her losses, by far the worst was when she lost the ability to talk. We had to use a board with letters enabling her to point to letters to slowly make a word. To say that she hated it would be glib. She was furious! Her fury turned to desperation and then to depression.

Thankfully, over the next four months, her speech was largely restored through swallowing exercises. Along with the gift of that restoration to her was a restored confidence and insight given to me about words.

As a lyricist I felt I’d reached the limits of what words can hold or convey. I’d received the Irish “gift of gab” to the extent that, when my mother and I went to Ireland and had the opportunity to kiss the Blarney stone, I declined in disgust saying, “No thanks, mom. I talk too much already. You guys make me kiss that thing and see what kind of blabbermouth you’ll get then!”

To be fair to the legend, kissing the stone purports to confer “Eloquence and persuasiveness”; much loftier and more useful gifts than mere gab. Still, I didn’t kiss that thing and don’t regret it.

Kissing the Blarney Stone in 1897

While searching for a picture to portray the point of this article I found the poster for the film, “A Life without Words”. The trailer is fascinating with the film telling the story of a brother and sister in Nicaragua who are deaf and can neither speak, write, nor read until a sign language teacher comes along and teach them their first “words”.

Their father says (At 0:30 seconds on the film trailer) that, “Because they are disabled the authorities can’t touch them. They’re incomplete. The law can’t touch them.”

No Law? No Transgression!

True enough. When you have no words you can’t legally consent to contracts (That you can’t read!). As you look at the kids (Young adults, really) you can tell they’re intelligent and can think clearly even though they “have no words”. And yet, think of it from the state’s point of view: If the kids were to “sign” a contract they could always claim they had no idea what they were signing. If problems arose, later, how could one argue the point? “For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.”1

Self-Defense from Psychopaths

The father’s words remind me of another story where a known criminal psychopath was able to manipulate all those around him except for those who didn’t speak his language. The criminal spoke English and was perpetrating his schemes in a Spanish speaking country. The English speakers around him were manipulated, one by one. The Spanish speakers were immune. The psychopath could not “get inside their heads” with his words. His power was neutralized. Now that’s an idea someone could write a book about!

(I didn’t emphasize this phenomenon in the book I wrote about the story. However, if you’re interested in knowing more about the exploits and damage one psychopath can do, read “The Creature from Galt’s Gulch” (Free).)

That these two groups of people “with no words” were protected from their adversaries shows the power of words from the opposite side of the usual vantage point. Without words, you can’t be mislead or fooled by them.

The truth (And law) comes to us in words and can be taken away using words. Most of our liberties are not taken but rather given away by our own consent. We consent through various contracts and sign away precious liberties. I tackle these dangers in my book, “The Outlier’s Handbook”. In short, the wise must sometimes find ways to retain the advantages of the fool.

Better than Words?

Word Alternatives

These contenders are wonderful tools that may greatly assist your communication. They’ll probably decrease the number of words you’ll need to communicate. But, they won’t eliminate the need for words, entirely.

If you hand someone a picture without saying anything they’ll just look at you with questions in their eyes. You have to write or say something to put pictures in context. The inverse is not true: If you say something to someone you don’t have to follow it with a picture of what you talked about. Pictures and the rest are great, but optional.

Here to Stay, Forever

As long as mankind is walking the planet, words are here to stay. They’re the hardest ingredient to delete with any hope of communicating fully. “Use your words.”, the teachers at my children’s school say when the kids get frustrated. Those teachers know what they’re talking about!

Blindness is a dreadful affliction as would be the loss of any of the senses or faculties. However, take away someone’s words and you rob them of the dearest part of their humanity.

Postscript: My mother lives with us, now. We talk, everyday.

Mom and I on the cliffs of Donegal, Ireland


  1. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ro 4:15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.