Stuff I’ve Learned to – UH – Dislike!

hate

Hate is one of those things we’re not supposed to do anymore.  It’s on this unwritten list of things that are strictly verboten in the 21st century.  There’s a lot of other stuff on the list, but that’s not our concern today.  (Besides the list kinda keeps changing, so it hard to keep up.)  Anyway, hate is a biggie, so if you’re going to do it, you better keep your mouth shut about it.  And that’s the problem.  You see, hate is one of the primal emotions.  It’s hardwired into our DNA — like love, jealousy, fear, sadness, etc., etc. — and we can’t just switch it off because a Twitter mob tells us to.  Think about it!  Every religion on the planet made its bones preaching that our spiritual needs must overcome our baser emotions; Twitter’s no different.  Yet, throughout history, we’ve managed to harvest a pretty substantial crop of sinners.  Personally, I think a little sin is good for the soul: just don’t let it get out of hand.  So, with that in mind, here are a few things I — uh – dislike very, very much.

Eggplant – When I was a kid, this was a particularly insidious brand of child abuse, and I vowed when I became an adult, I would never let this slippery, slimy, sludgy purple horror darken my doorstep again – and it hasn’t.

Wine Snobs – These are the guys (and they’re always guys) who take one sip of wine and start orating its qualities like Cicero in front of the Roman Senate.  Here’s the deal.  It has been proven (literally hundreds of times) that ordinary people cannot actually tell plonk from pinot noir— and even seasoned sommeliers can’t do it consistently.  In fact, in one study (University of Bordeaux) white wine was coloured red and nobody knew the difference!  Fruity aftertaste, my ass!

“The Little Drummer Boy” – Listening to this dirge every Christmas is like getting beaten over the head with candy canes.  This is one holiday tradition that should be shot in the head, dragged by its heels into the back garden and buried without ceremony.

“Relationships” – This is what’s wrong with contemporary society: we don’t have the cojones to love each other anymore.

Faux Foodies – I love genuine foodies.  Anyone who spends that much time and trouble just to find something different to put in their mouth is a dedicated connoisseur of the oral experience.  However, those other clowns who insist guacamole is an entrée, refuse to serve any vegetable with a recognizable name and prowl the trendy shops, looking for esoteric crap like Peruvian pygmy goat cheese, are just assholes.

And finally:

Pompous Asses – Years ago, I had a university professor who thought he didn’t put his pants on one leg at a time.  I decided to squeeze some creative points out of the old boy by giving him a gag gift for his office.  I bought a plaster figurine of Pan at a local garden shop.  Then I created a long-winded provenance that said it was a replica of a full-sized statue, discovered in the ruins of Pompeii.  I even printed a tag that read, Frederico II, University of Naples/Gift Shop.  I thought it was all in good fun.  Unfortunately, Professor X and his colleagues didn’t really have a sense of humour.  They were quite impressed with the gift!  They marvelled at the craftsmanship, and a couple of them commented that it was an excellent example of 1st century Roman art.  One fellow, overcome with one-upmanship, casually mentioned that it was indeed a very good replica because he’d seen the original.  (I needed the marks, so I kept my mouth shut.)

Law — A Brief History

law

Ever since our hairiest ancestors came down out of the trees and grouped themselves together against the dangers of an unforgiving world, we have made laws to govern ourselves.  In the beginning, they were simple tribal dictates that set out reasonable behaviour within the group.  Things like no stealing another guy’s vegetables, no peeing upstream from the village, everybody gets a slice of the mastodon, and no loud music after 11:00.  In those days, there was only one punishment for breaking the rules.  You were banished from the protection of the tribe and your life expectancy went from short and brutal to zero.  Early humans understood that society was fragile, and if some wiseass wanted to be a jerk, he endangered the entire group.  It was simple, rough and ready, but it worked.  Humans, as a species, not only survived but thrived as a communal beast.

As our society progressed and got more complicated, so did our laws.  We still had to protect ourselves against the unreasonable acts of certain individuals, but we measured the punishment in accordance with the severity of the crime.  We remember this period today in the often quoted homily “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”  These were still simple laws, but they worked well because everybody in the group understood the rules, and they were enforced by the entire community.  For example, if Benjamin got caught eating Abraham’s carrots, he was expected to replace them – with a little extra for Abraham’s trouble – and all was forgiven.  Once again, these rules allowed us to progress as a society because we didn’t have to spend all our time guarding ourselves and our property against theft and vandalism, and we could concentrate on other things, like food and shelter.

As our society progressed even further, more and more people came under the protection of the law.  Our rural villages developed into urban towns and started to interact with other large groups who had also adapted laws to protect their societies.  This caused a serious problem, though, because our social groups were getting so large that not everybody knew all the rules nor understood them.  Plus, although the rules between different groups were very similar, sometimes individual laws were surprisingly different.  For instance, if the people in Town A understood that donkeys must be tethered, when those same people went to Town B, where donkeys were allowed to roam free, their first thought would have been, “Wow! Free donkeys!” and they would have helped themselves.  You can see how there’d be some misunderstandings; wars have been fought over lesser things.

Luckily, it was about that time that a guy named Hammurabi came along.  Hammurabi was a Babylonian king who took all the rules he could think of and wrote them down.  (Actually, he had them chiselled into stone, but the result was the same.)  It was called the Hammurabi Code; a big, heavy copy of it is sitting in the Louvre in Paris, if you want to take a look.  Hammurabi also set down all the punishments that fit the crimes, so everybody in his kingdom knew exactly where they stood – vis a vis the law.

This was great, and even though laws changed dramatically over the centuries, Hammurabi’s system worked for the next three plus millennia.

But, wait a minute!  It ain’t over yet!

Fast forward to the late 1960s, and suddenly everything went to hell.  Somehow (for no reason I can fathom) our society decided that nearly 4,000 years of success didn’t matter, and we’d actually gotten the entire system backwards.  Back in those days, the thinking was: we’d been making laws to protect society from those individuals who wish to do it harm (murderers, thieves and such) but what we need are laws to protect those individuals (murderers, thieves and such) from the wrath of the society they’d harmed!  The idea caught on even though it’s based on a weird dichotomy.  The fact is, the only way to protect individual rights within a society is to have a strong society to begin with, and protecting individuals who wish to harm it weakens our collective trust.  In other words, if Benjamin gets caught eating Abraham’s carrots and nothing’s done about it, the rest of us begin to think we should get some free carrots, as well.  Do that enough times and it’s called anarchy.

It’s an interesting experiment: I’m curious to see how long it takes us to get out of it.

Stuff I Learned From Covid-19

covid

I’m officially sick and tired of Covid-19.  Oh, I’m still going to wash my hands at every opportunity and keep my distance.  Hugs are off the agenda and, for the time being at least, I’ll wear a mask in public.  (Just because I’m fed up doesn’t mean I’m irresponsible.)  The thing is Covid-19 has hung over my life like a black cloud for the last 2 months and I’m done with it.  It’s spring, the flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and last night in the darkness of my silent city, I heard coyotes howl.  This is the end you, horrible little virus.  I’m going to outlast you, but I’ll be damned if I going to spend any more time thinking about you.  So here are just a few things I’ve learned from Covid-19– and then I am going to close the door and get on with this new “normal” everybody’s been yipping about.

I don’t care where Covid-19 came from.  It came from China, okay?  Wasting a lot of time and energy trying to find the exact address is bullshit.  It’s like running around trying to identify which particular iceberg hit the Titanic!

Professional athletes earn 5,000 times more money than nurses because – uh — reasons.

First World problems still aren’t real.  They’re a pain in the ass; they’re difficult; they make our lives miserable.  But hot and cold running water, heat, light and a roof over our head is nothing to complain about.

All the scientists and medical people around the world can work flat out for a thousand years and they’re never going to develop a vaccine against stupid.

I really didn’t need all that crap I used to buy at the grocery store every week.

Hearing the same set of common-sense instructions 50 times a day is really annoying.

I don’t care what the “official” data says.  When China (population 1.5 billion) only has twice as many confirmed cases of Covid-19 and fewer deaths than The Netherlands (population 17 million) somebody’s lying.

In a crisis. most people will do the right thing.

In a crisis, celebrities are useless.

Crisis or not, Elon Musk is weird.

Shoehorning someone wearing medical scrubs and a surgical mask into your advertising to sell everything from breakfast cereal to diapers doesn’t mean you’re a caring/sharing/socially responsible contemporary corporation.  It means you’re despicable.

My neighbours are all pretty friendly.  (Who knew?)

Despite the hype, only about half of Netflix is any good.

The Television, Doritos and Pepsi Diet doesn’t work.

I like digital money if, for no other reason, than I don’t have to fight with a pocket full of coins every couple of days.

Zoom is fun — and I only have to dress the top half.

And finally:

The world goes on, and I’m going to go with it.

geese

Photo by C. Bourcier
May 6, 2020