hands on the keys of a typewriter

Playing with Language and "Settin' the Woods on Fire"

I was reminded of language as playground again this week while listening to Delbert McClinton’s latest album, Outdated Emotion. The work consists primarily of covers of material that Delbert learned to love while growing up, and I was already familiar with many of them, but one in particular caught my ear, called “Setting’ The Woods on Fire.”

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Author Herb Bowie with Golden Retriever Hank

Welcome!

I write as The Practical Utopian because my twin desires are to be:
Down-to-earth — I try to write short pieces explaining big ideas that will be broadly useful;
Idealistic — I write with the goal of helping all of us achieve better outcomes, both for ourselves and for those around us.

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Cultural, as opposed to biological, evolution

Our capacity, through language, to manipulate the mental world and so deal imaginatively with the world of experience has been a major factor, perhaps the major factor, in giving humans the overwhelming advantage over other species in terms of cultural, as opposed to biological, evolution.

Edwin G. Pulleyblank, 1989

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Hammer and Nail Album Cover

Paul Thorn and his 800 Pound Jesus

I’d been aware of Paul Thorn for some time, but didn’t really become a fan until I saw him live last summer at The Ark in Ann Arbor. I convinced an old University of Michigan roommate to come with me while I was in town, as an opportunity to catch up, but we were both caught off guard by how much we loved Thorn’s show. I’ve been listening to Thorn’s recordings regularly since then, and can now bear witness to a great catalog that bears deep and repeated listening.

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