Saturday, July 19, 2014

Lack Of Update Update

I've really been trying to be good about updating this more regularly. There's been some pretty crazy stretches where I've let it go way too long between posts. You, my loyal readers, deserve more. So I'm sorry I didn't really write shit this week. I don't know where the time went. Actually I do. It went into making this 30 second video of me with some cats. So I guess that's it. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Henry David Thoreau Was a Jackass


Today is Henry David Thoreau's birthday. Had he not gotten tuberculosis he'd be the ripe old age of 197 today. As happens when an author has a birthday a lot of Thoreau quotes have been floating around the media both social and otherwise. I'll give the guy some credit he had some pretty clever quotes.A lot of people who have read his work love and respect him and are celebrating his life and legacy today. As someone who neither loves him or has ever read anything that he’s written, I am not. 
Pretty Clever

He has a reputation as this amazing conservationist. An amazing conservationist who accidentally burned down 300 acres of forest. That’s some pretty shitty conservation. That’s in fact the exact opposite of conservation. He was more like an environmental squanderationist. He then talked in his journal about how awesome watching the forest burn was. What kind of person claims to love something. Destroys it through his own idiot actions, and then sits and talks about how sweet watching his dumb destruction is. The kind of person who’s a monster that’s who. People never bring that up though. When you talk about Thoreau and nature you always get the hors shit I heart nature quotes like "Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it." That's a ballsy statement for a dude who sat and watched as lives of scores of animals were turned to ash for his own sick (maybe sexual???) amusement. He loved nature the same way George W. Bush loved Iraq. 

Dude was into watching shit burn

I can’t say I’m a big fan of his quotes talking about how not into possessions he was either even though I’m sure it’s true. Everything I’ve heard about the guy says he didn’t own all that much, but you don’t necessarily have to own anything to live a good life. He didn’t own a lot of shit good for him. He’s the kinda dude who didn’t need to be bogged down by the need to have a big fancy house. He was above those kinds of pursuits. He as not going to waste time trying to keep up with the joneses because he was enlightened or whatever. Know who wasn’t above those kinds of pursuits? His good buddy Ralph Waldo Emerson. I’m not saying Emerson was a douche about it, but the guy had some dough and wasn’t afraid to live comfortably. No shame in spending money if you got it. Emerson had previously made a lot of money in the wife dying market. As his first wife proved you can’t take it with you. You’ll never guess where Thoreau spent a lot of time living. It’s easy to forsake all possessions if you live with a dude who hasn’t, and has a lot of them you can use. So he was a fan of saying shit like “Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.” It’s easy to shit on working stiff living paycheck to paycheck if you can just waltz in and raid your buddy’s pantry whenever you’re hungry. The rest of us need to pay the bills. He was against possessions the same way a child can be. He was like a bad sitcom neighbor who constantly takes your stuff, and then has the balls to get after you for working so hard to sustain your lifestyle. Simple living is easy when you're a freeloader. 
Even he paid his own rent. Likes to say the N word though. 

Which leads me to the last thing that pisses me off about this character. Aside from Thoreau’s bullshit conservationism, the thing he’s most famous for is his bullshit civil disobedience. He went to jail and wrote about it. He went to jail for a night. One night he was in jail. That was it. He was approached by a  tax collector who was trying to collect a poll tax. I guess Emerson wasn't around to mooch off of and since he was philosophically opposed to not being a deadbeat he refused to pay. He went to jail for an evening. Then his rich aunt paid his fine and he was allowed to leave. And that was that. He said he was upset about his aunt paying his bill as he wanted to stay in jail. He still left. It’s not like not paying a fine is the only way to end up in jail. If you want to be in jail so much punch a cop or something. That’ll get you back in there right quick and then you can go back to bragging about what a great martyr you are. He didn’t do that though. He just left and forgot about it. Actually he didn’t forget about it. That was in 1846. Two years later he wrote an essay titled Civil Disobedience. It’s about civil disobedience and how important resistance is. That's right, he wrote about how great that thing he did two years prior was. How much of an egomaniac is this guy? He spent one night in jail, then two years later wrote about what an important act of revolution he committed. What kind of person is so enamored with themselves that they write dissertations about how they tried to stop a war for twelve hours once. If he were alive today he'd be the kind of asshole constantly linking to Upworthy stories who thinks there changing the world. 

So happy birthday Mr. Thoreau, but you were kind of a jackass. 

Photo courtesy of the Neckbeard Hall of Fame in Portland

Sunday, July 6, 2014

4th of July (A Little Late, But Still)

Today is the 4th of July. This is the day we celebrate the founding of this great country (America). I guess we celebrate. Or at least we celebrate when we decided it would be a country. There’s an old thing that isn't true that people believe that on July 4th 1776 King George wrote "nothing of importance happened today." I thought for the longest time that this was true, because I read it in a book. Which I'd always thought books were synonymous with truth. I read it in the book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by a Mr. Sean Covey. You read that you might be thinking of another book geared towards people who want to be more effective. That’s a different book called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective people and that’s by a Mr. Stephen Covey. Yes, they are related. Stephen is Sean’s father. I guess he saw how highly effective his father was at making money by writing a book so he decided to write one as well. Oddly neither book lists nepotism as a highly effective behavior.
Writing a book? Effective!
Lazily cashing in your father's name? Highly effective!

My mother bought the book for me when I was a highly ineffective teen. Throughout the book there are a number of tips on how to improve your efficacy. Seven I think. Unfortunately I don’t remember any of those. That’s why to this day, I’m not a particularly effective teen. However, The book did have something that I do remember. Along the bottom of the pages it had all these little quotes. Some were supposed to be inspirational, some were supposed to make you think, and then there was the one about King George. I guess the point of that was to make us always be thinking about what history will make of us as effective teens. Because god forbid we write the wrong thing in our diary then generations of effective teens will be laughing at us for as long people read silly self-help books.

Highly ineffective
The quote never sat well with me, because, well, it’s dumb. That’s a quote that looks like it would be silly in today’s day and age, but is stupid in context. Hey that King George is such an arrogant ass he doesn’t even care that America decided to be it’s own country. How self involved could a guy even be to not realize that the crown jewel of the empire was slipping through his hands. But, that’s fucking dumb. How the hell would King George even know that the Declaration of Independence had even been signed. It’s not King George spent his days watching the developments on C-Span. He was in a castle an ocean away. This was quite a bit of time ago. There wasn’t much in the way of mass communication. Jefferson didn’t fax it over as soon as John Hancock was done making his silly giant signature. It would take a while to news to get anywhere. They would have to tell a guy. Have that guy write it down just in case he died. That guy would have to get on a boat. Then weeks later that guy would show up in England. Take a horse to London. And hope the King was not on vacation. If he was it might be weeks before he might get back. The revolution was probably half over before the King even knew there was one.

I'd make fun of this guy for keeping a diary, but I'm writing a blog. So whatever.

This is dumb for another reason. It’s a typical arrogant American thing to think that everyone would be waiting with baited breath to hear what’s going on with America. That’s something that we all still seem to think. That the whole of the world is pretty eager to see what’s going on with us and doesn’t give a shit about too much else. America is a pretty lady or a dude with abs taking selfie after selfie and then constantly monitoring how many likes it racks up on social media. What if by some crazy set of circumstances King George was able to find out that America had just declared its independence. Maybe he still just wouldn’t much care. America, was at that point, just a few colonies that was part of an empire that was about a third of the planet. The king has to care about everything that goes on in an entire empire on any given day? I’m not sure if you remember the late eighteenth century, but there was a lot going on with the Brits. They were irrevocably damaging native populations all over the globe. One king can't possibly keep all that squared away. For Christ's sake cut the guy some slack. He's a busy man. I read (just now to make this point) that The British Empire may have consisted of 192 separate counties, protectorates, and territories. So something happens to one part of that, that's only 0.005% of it. If I have $19,000, and I drop fifty cents that's probably not making it in my diary either. Just because a fax comes through that that one of its many countries is making some noise the king can't drop everything and spend his whole day writing in his diary about it. These days America is a country that has a bunch of shit going on. Maybe if tomorrow Guam kicked up some dust I bet that wouldn’t make it to the top spot of Obama’s diary. Maybe the king had other larger countries to worry about more.

British Empire: circa before the sun set on it

It doesn’t take much to realize that this is one of those too good to be true quotes that’s just false. It never happened, but that’s not the reason this doesn't matter. The reason this is dumb is for a far more important reason. We’re Americans. We don’t give a shit what some limey in a fancy hat thinks. USA! USA! USA!

Eagle says: Fuck you diary keeping Redcoat!