The Agnostic Pulpit: Toxic Advertising Great American Dumb Ideas: Sanctity of Life
If you have a fantasy, daydream, or secret desire, there is someone out there ready to help, for a price. The most toxic and seductive advertisements play into our fantasies. When in comes to advertisements, we can be our own worst enemies.
A toxic advertisement is one that lifts you out of reality and promises imp... continue reading
Great American Dumb Ideas: Designer God
In the beginning
Most of the silly ideas I write about did not begin in the United States of America. It's just that this country is a hotbed in which dumb ideas can rage out of control and cause great social damage. A majority of Americans, unfortunately, are undereducated, especially in science. They are often drive... continue reading
Great American Dumb Ideas: Gang Phobia
The Bible tells us in the first verse of Genesis: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."
And then He did a whole bunch of other snuff until we get, "27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."
Or did he?
In the United State... continue reading
Great American Dumb Ideas: Debt-life
In the beginning
America has a long history of gangsters, leaders of gangs that form in economically depressed urban areas. In human evolution, no behavior was more adaptive than a tendency to form close-knit work groups. The survival advantages of the gang are clear. When the guys went hunting, it worked best if sev... continue reading
Great American Dumb Ideas: Prohibition
Money may be the root of all evil, but lack of it isn't far behind, and massive debt can be a living hell for many people.
In the beginning
In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Lord Polonius says:
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry
... continue reading
Great American Dumb Ideas: Elder Blues
Americans can't claim any special ability in thinking up dumb stuff. However, we do have a talent for carrying a dumb idea to the extreme.
In the beginning
When something bothers, hurts, or scares us, prohibition immediately comes to mind. The urge to prohibit, ban, excommunicate, or banish is primal and childish, ... continue reading
The Agnostic Pulpit: Self-help
Fads in mental health diagnoses come and go. Something called Existential Neurosis was popular for a while, but seems to have lost some of its gloss in recent years. For a long time now, any high-energy, active child risked being diagnosed - often misdiagnosed - with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).
No... continue reading
Great American Dumb Ideas: Atheists are Evil
If you are counting on using religion as part of a self-help program, forget it. As agnostics are fond of saying, "Nothing fails like prayer." No one has ever prayed away the fat or prayed away cravings for drugs, alcohol, or any other addiction.
Prayer won't get you through college, fix a nagging spouse, or elect ... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 20: Asking For Help
It's time for me to come out of a dark closet. I am a proud non-believer, a better-than-thou, evangelical atheist, if you will. And that's not a comfortable position to take in the United States today where one is expected to pay polite attention to public displays of religion. In recent years, such displays have becom... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 19: Growth Through Practice
Humbly asked the help of others in the removal of our short comings and be resolved to work to remove these faults ourselves.
The first versions of this step talked about the removal of character defects, but often the removal service doesn't show up and the addict has to do the work. So, the version above places s... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 18: Confession, Honesty And The Open Life
Were entirely ready to practice the program in order to remove all these defects of character.
The word practice in this step means to become good at something by repeating it, by doing or practicing it over and over as a part of life. In other words, Step Six suggests incorporating into every part of life all the ... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 17: Self Knowledge
Step 5. Admit to our Group, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
If loneliness is your problem, confession may be a solution. There’s nothing like holding secrets to shut you off from others. Leading an open life in which there is no deception or deliberate lying takes practice an... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 16: The Surrender Of Ego
Step Four: Made a searching and fearless inventory of our character for ourselves.
The word inventory is a bit misleading, but this step comes down to the adage, “Know thyself.” In business, an inventory has important value. The store owner can borrow money against the store’s inventory. It tells him what needs to... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 14: The Art Of Being Powerless
Step Three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of this Program and to the loving care of this group.
Hopefully, as you come to the third step, you have accepted one or more earthly higher powers. No spiritual or religious higher power can substitute for obedience to the laws of nature a... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 15: Living With Higher Authorities
Step One: We admitted we were powerless over addiction—that our lives had become unmanageable.
The mind of the active addict works in a hazardous environment surrounded by a swirling fog of mistaken ideas, a world that swings rapidly back and forth between terror and giddy elation and sometimes oblivion. Acceptanc... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 13: A Universal Secular Twelve Steps
Step 2. Came to believe that The Program, as a power greater than ourselves, could help us toward normal living.
The term higher authority, in the original context, referred the God of whatever nature the individual chose to believe in. In the Universal Twelve Steps it refers both to the wisdom of the group and to ... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 12: The Stages of Addiction and Recovery
There are two important thoughts to keep in mind when we consider what have been called the Twelve Steps of Recovery. First, each step is really an important idea that can be incorporated into every aspect of life. These ideas are intended to make abstinence easier. A step is not like a move in a board game, something... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 10: Dark Feelings
While interviewing hundreds of addicted clients over the years it became obvious to me that addictions are what mental health experts call developmental disorders. That is, they develop over time as the result experience, genetics and growth. Sometimes they appear quickly and sometimes it takes years, but the stages of... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 9: How Attitudes, Beliefs And Values Create Vulnerability
Euphoria is a good word that today has a negative meaning; it is often used to describe the artificial high or altered state of mind produced by an addictive trigger. It’s earlier meaning was joy, excitement, enthusiasm, and exhilaration. Euphoria derives from a Greek word euphoros, a word that refers to healthy elatio... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 8: Risk Factors
If you’re miserable you probably know it even if you think you can’t control it, and you can very likely tell exactly what is making you miserable. On the other hand, some people have been so miserable for so long that they actually don’t recognize or appreciate their feelings. And that’s why, upon first exposure to t... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 6: Triggers
Just as I ask addicts to consider all the different addictions, I urge them to think in a very general way about potential risk factors, situations that may help set the stage for the development of an addiction. These risk factors, like triggers, make up another important group of conditions that lead to addiction. O... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous. 11: The Addiction Cycle
What addicts do involves either a substance such as alcohol or a behavior like gambling, but that’s just the surface. Addicts often describe themselves as crazy; non-addicts look on in horror and agree. Once again, however, let’s listen to what the addict is saying and admit they could be at least partly right because ... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 5: They Sneak Up On Us
We can summarize the conditions that create addictions this way:
Risk Factor(s) + Attitude + Dark Feelings + A Trigger = Vulnerability to Addiction
If someone is careful in taking an inventory of risk factors, attitudes, feelings and triggers he or she will have a pretty good idea of what creates the soil in w... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 4: A Bit Of History
Addictions usually develop over time, and that’s why I think addictions are problems of human development. Although they can and do happen quickly, it usually takes time for an addiction to develop fully.
Addictions tend to begin at critical life stages. In stressful life transitions we often find the emotional s... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 3: An Incident on the Boardwalk
Historically, people made moral judgments about addictions without doing much about them. Calling addiction a sin, of course, is not very effective in bringing about a change in behavior. The early moralistic period is the First Level of our understanding of addiction. These were the times up until about 1900 during wh... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 2: Self-help, Professionals And The Role of Religion
I like to write about addictions and about how to live without them, but if you don’t happen to have an addiction, you may be reading this for the wrong reasons.
If you’re reading it when someone close to you should be reading it, someone who does practice an addiction, I wish you good luck and remind you that tryi... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 1: The Challenge Of Normal Living
If mental health professionals find problems with my ideas, senior members of the various Twelve Step groups may well join them in the complaint department because I suggest, in the pages to follow, some re-wording of those basic Twelve Steps.
Times and people have changed in the seventy years or so since William W... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous: Introduction
If you are addicted to something there are people out there who will offer to fix your problem in a hurry, with little effort on your part, and without having to change anything important about your life. These people lie.
They will take your money and your time and leave you worse off than before. If you are looki... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 7: Common Elements In Addictions
In this series of columns I describe a universal and secular self-help program for recovery from addiction. It is universal because it includes all addictive behaviors in a single program. It is secular because it avoids controversial references to religious themes while preserving and developing the philosophy of the ... continue reading
Great American Dumb Ideas: Disneyism
Earlier I mentioned dark feelings and this, I think, is a common factor running through all addictions of whatever sort. Knowing how to live with, control and even eliminate unpleasant emotions is a survivor skill that people have in different amounts. Those who become vulnerable to addiction always seem to lack skills... continue reading
Great American Dumb Ideas: External Identity
In the 1920s, Walt Disney started a uniquely American religious cult that I call Disneyism. It has never stopped growing.
Faith is accepting something as fact when there is no evidence or logic to support the belief. This is what both religion and Disneyism do. Disney creations use every fictional device to capture... continue reading
The American Republican Party as a Militant Minority
In the beginning
Most living creatures don't worry much about, "Who am I?"
Humans do, of course, and sometimes we let it show. We want to know who we are and we want others to recognize us as unique. Americans didn't invent external identity. It's a human characteristic. We all wear the signs and symbols of personal ... continue reading
Fortress America: The American Love of Guns
The American Republican Party as a Militant Minority
Following the second election of George W. Bush in 2004, liberal Democrats experienced a deep despair. Many voiced an inclination to move to Canada. Bush’s policies continued to fail miserably leading to an economic depression and an endless war. In the 2006 elect... continue reading
How to Survive a Writers' Critique Group
My love of projectiles and guns began as a child with a slingshot, bean blower, and an air pistol. Soon I had an air rifle, and then a .22 caliber single shot rifle to keep in the closet with my bow and arrows. When I got to high school, so long ago, I joined the rifle team. We practiced target shooting in our school b... continue reading
Growing New Body Parts
How to Survive a Writers’ Critique Group
All over the United States, and perhaps around the world, aspiring writers meet together for mutual support and development. Groups of would-be writers haunt the basement rooms of churches, family living rooms, and back rooms of restaurants. Since retiring from my career, wri... continue reading
The Theater of God
Future Technology: Grow Your Own Body Parts.
Within the next twenty or so years it may be possible for people to re-grow a lost body part. Some species retrain that ability throughout life. Humans do not.
Transplant surgery is wonderful, but there are always the problems of finding a good cell match or dealing with... continue reading
Creativity Requires Discipline
The Religion Industry: How They Do It
Although religion is universal, it amounts to little more than entertainment: a prosperous and wealthy religion industry covers the globe. The poor and uneducated, lacking access to inexpensive entertainment, are religion’s best customers. What is truly amazing is that religion ... continue reading
The Agnostic Pulpit: The university eduation fraud
The first experience of sex with another person often does not go as well as fantasy may predict. However, with a little love, some self-discipline, and a lot of creative practice, sex can become a fantastic part of life.
Real creativity in life is possible if a person is smart, well educated, and able to think ind... continue reading
The Day the Wine Rack Collapsed
The first job of the agnostic is constructive skepticism, not just about the lies of religion, but about most worldly matters such as education.
Many years ago, as a newly minted Ph.D., my first full time teaching job put me in front of a large lecture hall with about one hundred students sitting in ascending rows b... continue reading
Obama and the Liberal Personality
It all began when I decided to make root beer at home. It seemed easy and harmless, although no one in the family actually liked the stuff, and we never bought root beer at the market. Nevertheless, I collected used soda bottles, got a bottle capping machine, and bought everything needed to make a tasty brew: root beer... continue reading
A Gentle Death
Party loyalty and personality. Where does Obama rank?
Training in experimental psychology taught me to examine behavior and to look for marked differences or striking similarities between and among individuals. However, my personal notes, taken while examining behavior, are little more than subjective impressions; t... continue reading
The Agnostic Pulpit: The Unmentionable Minority
Once you get born it eventually becomes clear that there is only one way out, and it’s called dying. As the police sometimes say, when they arrest a violent criminal, “You can do this the hard way or the easy way.” When it comes to getting dead, we often don’t have much choice. There are thousands of horrible ways to d... continue reading
The Narcissism of the Terrorist
Julian I. Taber, Ph.D.
Many years ago I served in a racially segregated United States Army in the southern state of Georgia. Black people had to use separate bathrooms, train cars, churches, and restaurants: this segregation was accepted without much question. Since those years, the United States has come an unbelie... continue reading
An American in London
The would-be terrorist seems to live in a fantasy world of symbolism dominated by thoughts of revenge, dreams of paradise, and hopes for becoming a hero.
The most common result of most terrorist acts, however, is the failure to achieve any practical goal. One the other hand, those who train, control, and influence ... continue reading
Ten Reasons Why the United States Should Get Out of Afghanistan
[extract1]Gatwick airport was bare and institutional. Long lines formed up behind distant desks where sat the officials of the Empire who would view my papers and baggage. Some passengers moved quickly through areas marked, U.K. and E.C. I decided with horror that I was now a Foreign National since, if I were a U.K. or... continue reading
The Agnostic Pulpit: Controlling Greed
The United States lost about 45,000 soldiers in Korea in the early 1950s. Had we stayed out of that conflict, the two Koreas might very well have united and evolved into a modern state as China has done over the years. Of course, they might not have developed the kind of government we like to see, but could it be worse... continue reading
The Agnostic Pulpit: The Truth about Christmas
Religious organizations will never do it, so perhaps it takes an agnostic to call for legal controls on greed.
Noble character—call it spirituality if you like—suggests self-control of appetite, humility, and a simple life. As we have evolved, however, we find ourselves the victims of the “I must get more” mentality... continue reading
The Agnostic Pulpit: The American War on Sex
The materialistic American Christmas is a huge pain in the ass for many of us. We spend too much, drink too much, eat too much, and act like fools. In the United States, let’s remember, it’s all about money. If you live there and forget that, they will eat you alive, even at Christmas.
The churches love all the medi... continue reading
The Agnostic Pulpit: Addictions
The United States government has been waging a War on Sex for decades. Like the failed War on Drugs, the inability to banish popular interest in sex is astonishing in view of the money and resources wasted in the effort. These moralistic wars seem to be driven by religious groups. For politicians, success is not as imp... continue reading
The Agnostic Pulpit: Explaining Non-belief
"What the hell is wrong with you?"
Every addict hears this question sooner or later. Why would any rational, mature person destroy a life with an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or gambling? To be brutally honest, addicts are generally neither rational nor mature. Addiction is a problem, but not the problem. And here i... continue reading
The Agnostic Pulpit: Voting for the Wives
Religion, depending on faith as it does, requires no evidence for its claims. I do not want to argue with religion's dogma in this column. Religion and its claims are not my problems until and unless they knock on my door and try to run any part of my life.
[extract2]Sadly, that happens often because religious peopl... continue reading
The Agnostic Pulpit: Food, Obesity, and the Quality of Life
One sharp contrast today in the American election is that between the candidates’ wives. Every day we see television shots of both McCain and Obama giving speeches at rallies all around the country. Almost every time we see McCain, there is a thin, blond woman hovering just behind him. She is dressed in the latest fash... continue reading
Great American Dumb Ideas: Automatic Citizenship
Many years ago another psychologist and I at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio did a study of weight control among women. We used two groups of about fifteen women who were all attending weekly meetings of a self-help group for weight control. One group got a weekly two hour group therapy session. The other group... continue reading
Great American Dumb Ideas: Writing Contests
During a meeting recently one of our most respected members announced that she had been awarded the status of a legal permanent resident of The United States. She would get what is called a "Green Card." There was applause, cheers and congratulations because we knew how long and how hard she had worked at this. She is ... continue reading
Great American Dumb Ideas: Christmas
In the beginning
Publishers are swamped by submissions. Some publishers and literary agents get dozens of manuscripts and book proposals every day. Low level employees keep busy stuffing rejection slips into self-addressed return envelopes and shredding the submissions.
And then publishers found a way to promote thei... continue reading
Great American Dumb Ideas: Christian Sunday school
In the beginning
Carols and bells are incessant. Shoppers riot in stores for the latest gimmicks and toys. Credit card balances expand. Liquor and wine sales boom along with attempted suicides. The Post Office is swamped. The churches overflow. Welcome to the American Christmas madhouse, one of the most unspir... continue reading
Great American Dumb Ideas: Teleligion
In the beginning: In the beginning, we are all children; we all start out as wide-eyed, gullible, trusting children to be molded by the grown-ups. And what they want is people like themselves, people speaking the same language with the same beliefs, habits, and weaknesses. But, there’s more. People want the neighbor’s ... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 40: Problems in Learning Serenity
Television religion is a hugely profitable American business.
Organizations like Focus on the Family and the 700 Club beg and wheedle millions of dollars from Americans each year. They pay few taxes because Americans can't seem to realize that religion is a profit-making entertainment business. It is a busines... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 39: Problems with Relationships and Sponsors
During one evening therapy group, the topic of serenity came up for discussion. The comments of some of the group members started me thinking. Perhaps this serenity could be teased into its component parts and described in more detail. In other words, if you had serenity, how would you know? How would you recog... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 38: Problems with Emotional Pain and Service to Others
Unhappy relationships come up for discussion in many group therapy sessions. For some of us, all of life is controlled by relationships while, for others, relationships are few and relatively insignificant. Woe unto the relationship-dependent personality who gets involved with the detached or lon... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 37: Problems with Anger and Depression
Dealing with Emotional Pain
There are clinics for treating physical pain all over the United States, but emotional distress, one of the chief obstacles in the path to a normal existence, is often neglected or treated inappropriately. Everyone, of course, experiences emotional pain at one time or anot... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 36: Problems with Anticipation
A person can be angry and never realize it, especially if he or she grew up surrounded by angry people and learned to feel resentment toward the adults in life. Anger can become an enduring personal quality and is a major feature in the profiles of many addicts. Aside from addiction, there are other serious health risk... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous 35: Harm Reduction
While going through old notes from my therapy groups, I was reminded of many of our long and often difficult discussions of critical problems in abstinence and recovery. The next few chapters take up some of these problems, problems that can make worse the difficult struggle to maintain abstinence. . . .
&nbs... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous 34: Therapists Of All Sorts
Harm reduction is an ancient and natural plan for minimizing the unpleasant and harmful effects of dangerous behavior. Addictions certainly are dangerous behaviors, and some experts have championed the idea of a harm reduction strategy for addictive behavior. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of misunderstanding abo... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 33: Pitfalls In Finding Treatment
In general, there are two kinds of therapist qualifications: (1) earned degrees and, (2) licenses and certifications. Some clinicians, of course, may have both.
A high school diploma is nice, but not likely to be found on a therapist's office wall since it is certainly not a qualification for treati... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 32: When a Friend Needs Help
Problems confront addicts when they decide to seek mental health services. They can be serious problems, but they are not impossible. Here are a few of the big ones:
Biased recommendations. If a fellow addict recommends a certain path to recovery, be it self-help a group, psychotherapy, or grandpa’s hangover... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 31: Does Prohibition Work?
In the days when I was working as a clinical psychologist in hospital programs where we treated addictive behavior, it was common to have members of Twelve Step groups bringing people in for help. They would turn up at the hospital at any time of the day or night, often with no warning. Some self-help group members, of... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous 30: The Way to Be, Part Two
Experience and research show that gamblers and other addicts entering treatment are not exactly like the general population on a number of important psychological dimensions. Rather, addicts appear to be drawn from one or another specific, vulnerable groups that include, but are not limited to: ... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous 29: The Way to Be, Part One
(Continued from Chapter 29.)
I remind the reader who may be studying these choices that I have not announced my own preference in terms of which of the choices, A or B, I think is most appropriate to a mature and normal way of thinking. You may guess what they are, but the important part is to see where you fall on ea... continue reading
Chapter 28: Normal As The Gold Standard—Part Two
No one really teaches us the whole story on how to live in the world. We learn some of what works and some of what causes pain. We learn what people like and dislike about our behavior. Unfortunately, we don’t have teachers who teach us how to live comfortably in the world, how to develop and keep the everyday euphoria... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 27: Normal As The Gold Standard—Part One
In this chapter I finish a brief discussion of each of my proposed dimensions of noble character that I claim are important qualities of thought and behavior. They are both learnable and teachable.
12. Necessary Obedience
Agnostic noble character hardly suggests the old free-thinker style of do anythi... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 26: Searching For Normal
If normal is to be the standard towards which we strive, exactly what qualities of personality will be important? What will we try to measure, learn, and teach to others? In this chapter and the next, I present a list of seventeen proposed character dimensions and offer a brief discussion of each.
Suggested di... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 25: Normophobia
Beyond finding problems and flaws in the thinking of others, a philosopher might go the next step and offer some better path to what we hold as a valuable goal. As you know by now, I do not trust religion to produce that nebulous human condition it calls spirituality. If there is any cause and effect relationship betwe... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 24: More On Religion In Recovery
Normophobia: I made that word up myself. At least I’ve never seen it used anywhere, but I could be wrong. Being wrong once in a while is normal and the best reason to look for and listen to critical feedback.
Normophobia means a disabling fear or dread of being just, merely, and only, normal in every respect, ... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 23: Group Traditions And Management
The Steps, Traditions, and Promises of Alcoholics Anonymous have become important to millions of people throughout the world. In early chapters of this book, I looked at the philosophy that underlies the steps and traditions, a philosophy that is widely accepted and used in self-help groups. From the beginning, th... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 22: Continuing The Growth
Not long after A.A. was founded in Ohio
in the 1930s, meetings began to experience problems with personalities
and procedures. Recovering alcoholics proved to be a tough group to
lead without firm rules. They all knew they needed a group for support
in their difficult path to recovery, but most addicts live lives o... continue reading
Addictions Anonymous, 21: Setting Things Right
The last three steps in the recovery program deal with
personal growth, a renewed growth that is possible after some amount of clean
and sober time. By now, if the reader has been following previous articles, the
ideas behind steps ten, eleven and twelve should be rather obvious. Together,
these three steps offer a... continue reading
Boris Burns The Bible
8. Made a list of all persons we harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Step 8 calls for some
serious writing, but for now that's all it calls for. In this step,
however, we see agai... continue reading
Designing America :- #4: Some Problems In Constitutional Wording
Why learn calculus?
Boris asked himself again as he walked to his class at the local
university where he was registered as a non-credit student. At forty
years of age, he was comfortably married with three nice dogs and a
home. His career as a bakery technician was well along, and his leisure
was filled with garde... continue reading
Designing America: #3: What Changed From 1776 to 2006?
There once was a man who fell
in love with and bought a two hundred year old house. It had some
problems although it was attractive, historically important and
certainly worth preserving. But, he wanted to be able to live in it, so
he added new bathrooms, built an annex for a modern kitchen and some
larger bedro... continue reading
Designing America, #2: The Constitutional Convention
What would have happened in the year 2000 if the framers of The Constitution had included a sunset clause
that cancelled their version in that year, a year more than two
centuries in their future? I suppose we would have had to call a second
constitutional convention in 1999 to draft a new version. Had the
founders... continue reading
Designing America: Why Bother?
In eloquent language, our Declaration Of Independence of 1776 outlined the goals and ambitions, the lofty ideals of the nation’s founders. Many of these ideas were voiced earlier by English and French philosophers.
The Declaration presented a long list of reasons why political separation from England was necessary.... continue reading
Over Thanksgiving dinner a guest challenged a political opinion I’d offered. She said, “Why bother having opinions, you can’t change anything about this country?”
“Do you vote,” I asked.
“Of course not, it’s not worth the trouble.”
This lady, a naturalized citizen, enjoys a successful business career in which she ta... continue reading