America is Dead / Long Live America

America is dead – I see clearly that the country of my birth does not exist.  In 1984 I was pulled shrugging into a flophouse of myth and propaganda – and now, after thirty-six years of confusion, I shall go quietly out of it.  And no I won’t sign your petition on my way out.  Ink is too cheap – and I only write in blood if it’s ironic.

Long live America – Lighten up, ya silly goose – it’s time to get out the vote!  And this time is different than last time because now it’s really happening and we really mean it.  We were just pretending before – didntcha know that?  All the things that never change are going to change, all the bills that are never written are going to pass.  The debts and injustices will remain, but they’ll become meaningful again!  But only if you vote!  It’s your vote that pollinates the flower of democracy!

America is dead – Then I vote to end democracy.

Long live America – You can’t vote for that!  You have to vote for one of the parties!  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  Here’s a pamphlet that describes their positions about things, and here’s another one about why their entrenched dichotomy is sufficient, completely relevant and totally profound.  Oh, and here’s another one about how dissidence is really a Russian word that means outside agitator.  You better choose carefully – there’s guns and babies on the ballot!

America is dead – Guns, babies, queers, jobs, taxes, races, drugs, cops, masks . . .  None of this matters to me and I will no longer participate.  No one asked me if I wanted to be a part of it in the first place.

Long live America – Of course you want to be a part of it.  We don’t need to ask you that.  Everyone loves freedom, ya doofy dude.  You’re just gonna hafta buck up and accept the fact that you’re a lucky guy because you were born in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  A lucky guy with a lucky vote!

America is dead – It isn’t freedom if you can’t decline it.

Long live America – Well I guess they say freedom has a price, so ya got me there Aristotle.  But just because something has a price doesn’t mean it’s not worth anything.  So if ya can’t buck up you’re still gonna hafta pay up, bucko.

America is dead – There will be no more paying up.  I reject capitalism, I reject corporatism, I reject consumerism, I reject commercialism – and I won’t mention the coincidence of c-words, because the only others I know are corruption and conspiracy and cunt.  I don’t mean to be controversial.  I don’t even have a rational counterargument to put up against the gains of materialism.  I can only tell you that I reject the American currency like so much fetid vomit.  It stinks in here – I just want to take my hat and go.

Long live America – Well I know another c-word – and whaddaya know it’s communism.  Why don’t we sit down together and watch this Hollywood movie about how the commies are evil?  Or we could watch the news and they’ll tell us about the latest commie plot.  Or you if you’d rather be alone here’s a book about famous commies.  Spoiler alert – they’re all Joseph Stalin.

America is dead – Or I could take my hat and go.

Long live America – Oh grow up – since bucking up and paying up don’t seem to be in your wheelhouse.  You’re just a toddler running away from home.

America is dead – I was a toddler when I discovered that commercials lie.  I was a teenager when I understood that consumers are in the thrall of producers.  In my twenties I realized the Orwellian nature of the corporate hellscape.  And yesterday I woke up and said to myself – Money is not my god.  So much for growing up.

Long live America – So you’re young at heart.  That’s not un-American yet.  But if ya can’t buck up or pay up or grow up, then you’re gonna hafta knuckle up.  Ya know, get real tough inside and so all the B S down at the job factory doesn’t hurt your tummy so much.  Or if you’re feeling even younger we can ship you off to the desert for some wartime shenanigans!  You can put in an absentee ballot – those are loads of fun.

America is dead – Fuck war.

Long live America – Now just because there’s a bit of murder going around doesn’t mean we should swear about it.

America is dead – I know that war is a racket.  They tax labor to facilitate a war on the drugs that laborers love.  They tax labor to facilitate a war on terror – but the laborers are unafraid.  And they tax labor in order to subsidize the incorporated raping of the earth.  They’ve got us paying through the nose for our own gradual genocide.

Long live America – Genocide?!  That’s what Hitlers do!  Well I’ve had just about enough of this outside agitator baloney, mister.  If you can’t buck up, pay up, grow up, or knuckle up, then you’re gonna hafta shut up.

America is dead –

Long live America – Where are you going?

America is dead –

Long live America – You don’t even have your hat.

America is dead –

Long live America – You’re still going to vote, right?

America is dead –

 

How Many Books Does A Real Person Read In One Year?

I always stumble across these reading challenges online – where the participants pretend to read a book every week for a year, or sometimes they go even further and count each unruffled page – and it always makes me wonder how much an honest reader actually reads.  Because no morally decent person counts the words as he reads them, nor does he boast about the number of pages greased up by his fingers, nor does he remember reading half of the books that he’s read.  That leaves us in a bit of a conundrum if we want to know how much a real person reads: the counters are depraved liars and the readers can’t be bothered to count.

That’s why, in 2019, I decided to write down the name of each book as I finished it.  I had no special ambition, no one to impress, no reason to do it beyond mild curiosity.  And this is the unassuming pile of books I ended up with:


001


The answer to the riddle?  23 books.  That’s one book short of two books per month.  A respectably boring answer.  But since I’ve come this far I might as well go just a bit farther.  Let’s see how many pages have my finger grease on them:

  • Something Wicked This Way Comes (Bradbury) – 293
  • Infidel (Ali) – 350
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (Clarke) – 297
  • The Rationalists (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz) – 471
  • Mythology (Hamilton) – 336
  • Neuromancer (Gibson) – 271
  • Candide (Voltaire) – 146
  • In Our Time (Hemingway) – 156
  • Le Morte d’Arthur (Malory) – 512
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel (Diamond) – 490
  • The Oresteia (Aeschylus) – 330
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Jackson) – 146
  • The Histories (Herodotus) – 584
  • The Iliad (Homer) – 683
  • Foundation (Asimov) – 296
  • Gulag Archipelago Parts 1 and 2 (Solzhenitsyn) – 660
  • Stalingrad (Beevor) – 493
  • Robot Visions (Asimov) – 482
  • Foundation and Empire (Asimov) – 282
  • Fear and Trembling (Kierkegaard) – 165
  • The Time Machine (Wells) – 118
  • Childhood’s End (Clarke) – 212
  • The Empiricists (Locke, Berkeley, Hume) – 517
  •  = 8,290 pages

As a real person I read 8,290 pages in 2019, which comes out to 22 pages per day.  That sounds about right.  If you figure an average of 400 words per page and an average reading speed of 200 words per minute (both numbers grabbed from a quick google search) you end up reading about a ½ page per minute.  So in 2019 I spent 16,580 minutes, or 276 hours, with my nose in a book.  That’s 11 full days, or about 34 8-hour shifts.  It sounds like a lot, but spread out over the whole year it only amounts to 44 minutes per day – a relatively sane number.

As for the contents of those pages, that involves a more advanced calculus and I don’t really feel like going into it.  Infidel was pretty good, though.


 

People Should Have More Than Zero Talents

“Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” – that’s my favorite thing in the Bible. The verse is Exodus 23:2 if you want to look it up. I always thought the Commandments would have been better if they included that one, instead of railing on about god and Saturday. But what I really want to talk about is my least favorite thing in the Bible. All the way in the back of the book Mathew says – “Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” That’s a mouthful for us in the new century but the meaning is easy: Poor people have holes in their pockets and rich people have funnels in their gullets. Continue reading “People Should Have More Than Zero Talents”