its a bizarre world, after all

In the early months of my blogging career, which coincided with my pursuit of the well-respected law degree, I set out to understand the universe.  As I read more and more laws, I found myself thinking often, wow, that’s really stupid, or worse, stupidly complicated.  The justification that had sufficed for my entire life, because that’s the law, had lost its unquestioned credibility.  For so long, that had been the end of my logical analysis.  If it was written, it was written by people more knowledgable than I, and therefore they must have considered things I don’t even know I don’t know, and therefore it’s right.

Now, I’m not talking about the blatant stuff like civil rights, and I get that laws evolve.  But let’s put that to the side for now.  I’m looking at taxes and court rules and the regulations that require certain forms which stand in between a disabled veteran and his or her benefits.  These laws weren’t sent down from a higher power.  Some were crafted by egos, some by corporate interests, some by good but under-informed intentions, and some just slipped by.  If life were a board game, and these were the instructions, I’d say fuck this game, I’m not playing.

Once the walls of the law had buckled beneath the rising tide of uncertainty in my mind, I came up for air and saw the world was fucking bizarre.  People were doing the silliest things for the silliest reasons.

People were doing shit everywhere, seemingly because everyone else was doing the same shit.  Wearing ties, telling children lies, and dressing a certain way on a certain day.

People were doing shit for the sole reason that some other dude, or one book that the dude read, told them to do it.  Blowing people up because of cartoons.  Telling other animals who they should and shouldn’t partner with.  Tithing their hard earned money for institutions to buy robes for leaders and pay for the leaders’ lawyers.

People were doing crazy shit for currency.  Leasing other peoples’ vaginas, making armies out of children, scanning your emails, and acting stupid for cameras.

And, people were doing shit because they had to do the same things all animals have had to do since springing into existence.  Sitting in traffic and sitting in offices.  Me need food and dental care.  But the real silly part is the less noticeable shit people are doing in the process of playing their small role in the fictional play called The Economy.  It works the same way as most successful scams: screw a lot of people out of a little bit of money.  The net effect is you get a ton of value and the victims barely notice.  Like paying the middleman to hold your currency, deceive you on you home loan, and make 6 billion dollars in one quarter of one year.  Oh, now, now, the educated Mr. Pennybacker will tell me, there’s this vague thing called the financial market, and it increases the availability of capital, which really helps you because at the end of the day, that capital is invested into new ways to take your money.  Yeah, well fuck you too.

When I started, you’ll remember, I was looking for a quiet place of truth.  Yet all I’ve found is a babylon of arbitrary rules.  I wanted to see that the human world — with Congress and Consumerism running the show, religion masking hatred, neighbors fighting over boundary lines, and weight-loss pills poisoning your liver — actually made sense if you studied it long enough. I wanted to conclude that these things were the undeniable results of an ongoing chain of reactions heading toward a universal truth.

Maybe I did find that ultimate truth.  Maybe it just wasn’t the one I wanted.  If destruction is the universal truth, then life on Earth, as a member of the human species, makes perfect sense.


The Power of Slow: Part 2

The distant past is shrinking.

A friend of mine told me a story about something that occurred a few weeks back and he referred to it as being a super long time ago.  Does a few weeks in the past constitute a long time?  Well, let’s see.  Would money earn much interest or land appreciate significantly in that timespan?  Mm, not so much.  Let’s just take a look at time itself.

Early American settlors spent months crossing the Atlantic.  It took just as long if not longer to send and receive letters.  A completed correspondence (“how are you?” and “I am well, thanks.”) might take nearly a year.  Generally, long courtships occured before people got intimate.  Now, its a second date.  Or a late-night text.  My theory is that a long time ago, a long time ago was much, much longer.

So what’s the problem?  Well, this perception of time may be limiting our emotional and financial well-being.  I’m too lazy and too right to go looking for hard scientific data right now, so please confirm with your own reflections.  Cake tasted good this instant, but being ten pounds lighter, which took way more time and effort, tastes even better (perhaps), but significantly, the positive feeling lasted longer.  Saving money also takes time and discipline, and rather than buying beers at the bar, you buy a plane ticket.

What both examples have in common is that they require you, at an earlier point in time, to acknowledge that that point in time will become a much more distant point in time, and that to achieve a desirable outcome in a future point in time, requires action in that earlier, soon-to-be distant point in time.  You can’t just sit down a press a button for sustained happiness.  You’ve got to plan for it.

The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago.  The second best time is today.  This is surely common sense.  But with a sense of time that makes two years feel like twenty, you may be screwing yourself twenty years from now.

Read The Power of Slow Part 1

The only person who deserves my vote is me

This election season, I propose you vote for yourself.  You are a different, special kind of politician.  As such, you shall head the Committee on Action, the committee where things go to get done.  First up on your agenda: planning the obsolesce of planned obsolesce.

Grandma’s freezer lasted 50 years.  Today, your fridge will experience some catastrophic mechanical failure that, according to Sears, costs more to fix one broken rubber gasket than to throw the whole fridge away and buy another.  Such asinine behavior is no match for you, since, as a member of the Committee on Action, you lodge your attack from all angles.

Instead of subsidizing ineffective recycling programs that use more resources than they save and make more pollution than they reduce, you reuse what you can, refuse to buy things that are overtly over-packaged, and compost your organic materials. In fact, you buy things that can be re-used and ignore the convenience of disposable, since, as you know, no convenience is without cost.  You have a library card because, like your time, your books are borrowed.

You are the politician who refuses campaign contributions.  Perhaps your time and your reputation can be bought.  But your children’s well-being cannot.  So you refuse to tailor the world to financial profiteers because there has to be more.  You value beauty and independence and the experience of being human.

As a result, you sacrifice some creature comforts.  You bring back family heirlooms, and maybe even cloth diapers.  You catch the bus and occasionally catch a cold.  After all, it is the next you for whom you are really concerned.  The world in which the next you lives is not to be run by advertisers and big business because the previous you withdrew the power you once lent them.  You broke them with the law of supply and demand.

On this election day, forget voting.  Become incensed with billboards and commercials.  They’re patronizing you with their talk about dreams and passions.  Don’t let the indie music in the background fool you.  They’re just trying to sell you shit.  Fuck em.  Support the guy who doesn’t advertise.