12 Rules For Life:  Return of the Jordan (Final Part of the Review Trilogy), Charles Atlas, The Simpsons . . . and Being a Man, The Definitive Review

“No. Not yet. One thing remains. Vader. You must confront Vader. Then, only then, a Jedi will you be. And confront him you will.” – Star Wars:  Return of the Jedi

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The Boy in full Vader get up.  He looked at me and said, “You are my Father, John Wilder.  Can I have more cake?” and then force-choked me when I said no, three pieces was enough.  So I cut off his hand.  That’s good parenting where I come from . . .

As promised, this is the final part of my book review for Dr. Jordan Peterson’s new bestseller, “12 Rules for Life.”  You can find the first part here (LINK) and the second part here (LINK).  Quotes, if not otherwise noted, are Peterson from the book.  Sorry for the delay – the flu was busy attempting to eat my lungs.  I’m better now.

 

I strongly recommend this book – and get no money if you buy it at this time – in the future, who knows?

Rule 9:  Assume That The Person You’re Listening To Knows Something You Don’t

If you listen, most people are really not boring.  Okay, some are.  But they are mainly parents of children who haven’t graduated from high school and anyone from Iowa.  Everybody else is interesting.  Dr. Peterson talks about how he sat down with a woman, and within minutes she was telling him she was a witch.  And not only that, a witch whose coven regularly got together and prayed for global peace – a world peace witch.  By day?  She was a minor bureaucrat; I imagined a driver’s license lady.  Not who you’d size up to be a witch.  Oh, wait.  EXACTLY who you’d size up to be a witch.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve interviewed lots and lots of people for my job.  I was never bored once.  But I had people blurt out amazing things in the interview.  “I got fired for stealing.”  I was hiring for a position that had lots of financial responsibility, and maybe kinda lax oversight.  No job there.  “I hated my co-workers.”  Yup.  Big points for working well with others.  Again, people will tell you amazing things if you just shut up and listen.  Dates were interesting, too.  Had one date where the girl’s plan was to go off and find herself in the Peace Corps after she’d just gotten out of a relationship with her husband who had buried a bus so he could grow illegal weed.  Yeah, that night was an early exit.

But few enough actually listen (I’ve been guilty of that myself, lots of times) without responding – i.e., defining the problem for the speaker.  Even worse is defining the situation for the speaker – Peterson discussed a woman who was unsure if she had been raped after continually getting drunk and going home with guys.  He could have defined it as “yes” or “no” for her but that would have prevented her from sorting it out herself, which was crucial to helping her.  He used this example to point out that being too intrusive in a conversation often warps it in a manner that changes the framework for the other person . . . and prevents them from getting better.

Peterson listens, because his theory is that people talk to simulate their reality.  Humans are the only critters that do that – simulate entire worlds with our words and model the results of present actions into the future.  When we run these simulations, we often simulate the words and behavior of others – I know I have a pretty accurate simulation of The Mrs. running.  It’s over 98% accurate.  The Mrs. likewise has one of me, too.  We have tons of conversations with each other without even speaking to each other, because the other just our simulation.

Honest listening – turning off the simulator – is required for real conversation.  Our filters and feedback contaminate the discussion.  Once we get to that honest listening stage, we can have Real Conversations – Conversations where we truly hear each other and can create new knowledge, and sometimes solve our own problem.

Rule 10:  Be Precise In Your Speech

Dr. Peterson begins with a discussion of the coming obsolescence of laptops.  Most of our laptop experience is located outside of the laptop – it’s only a “single leaf, on a tree, in a forest . . .”  Our laptops feed from all of the other computers out there – from the Facebook© servers to the wonderful servers that bring you Wilder, Wealthy and Wise and that Japanese cooking site you don’t want your wife to see that you’ve been to visit after she goes to bed so you can dream about sushi.  Those exist outside of your laptop – and your laptop only pulls information from them.

But we don’t inhabit that forest.  We inhabit a simplification of that world.  In our world where we give objects purpose and meaning – we don’t let them simply exist – we give a car purpose – it must take us from one place to another.  A light switch ceases to just exist – it gives us light, and in a blackout part of us is shocked (pun intended) when the switch doesn’t bring us light.  Peterson feels that precision is required so we down drown in the vast amount of detail that surrounds us.

Our model gums up when violated.  I used a light switch – Peterson uses a cheating spouse – inviting Chaos in.  Peterson then pops some Yeats in the CD player for good measure:

The Second Coming, by W.B. Yeats

 

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Speech is required to sort this chaos out, to make sense of it, to dispel it.  A night light might also be nice to scare the rough beast away?

“Say what you mean so you can find out what you mean.  Act out what you say so you can find out what happens.”

Rule 11:  Do Not Bother Children When They Are Skateboarding

Skateboarders are pretty talented, and Peterson spends some time discussing their skill, and the methods by which they optimize risks, which is crucial, Peterson felt, to growing as a man.  Unfortunately (in Peterson’s opinion) there are adults who what to spoil all the fun by putting in features that make skateboarding impossible while also looking ugly at the same time.

Those adults are then (at least by proximity in the chapter) compared to a friend that Peterson had.  Peterson’s friend (also discussed in earlier chapters) had a problem:  he hated mankind.  He came to no good, making himself a victim at every turn, and learning to hate beautiful, successful people.  They seemed to make him even madder.  Dr. Peterson then followed up with a description of a TEDx talk by a professor . . . who also hated the human race.  These self-appointed judges spoil the fun . . . and the risk.

And the result?  Boys are being pushed out.  25% of college degrees granted are in the fields of healthcare, psychology, education, and public administration.  80% of these degrees go to women.  Peterson feels that this is Not Good.  If projections hold, there will be very few men in non-STEM fields in the next few years.  And this is bad for women.

Huh?

How many college-educated women consider, say, a plumber a great catch?  Some, to be sure, but not many.  When it comes to marriage, women tend to marry someone either at the same social/economic status or of a higher status.  As those guys disappear?

Marriage becomes something for the rich.  The rest of the girls get hookups in their twenties, and a basket of cats when they hit 33.  If they have kids, the results are similarly grim – because single parent families are statistically inferior in every way to dual parent families.  So those rich kids?  Yeah, life will be better for them.  Because they have two parents.

Maybe patriarchy isn’t so bad?  Feminism is a creation of Marxism (per Jordan), and between that and post-modernist thought – we’re trying to fundamentally remake civilization in ways that may not be as stable as civilization created over the last 11,000 years or so.  And Marxism led to Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.  And that idea became the most deadly idea of the entire 20th century – killing more people, primarily their own citizens than any other idea.

Peterson REALLY doesn’t like Post Modernism, either, since it’s a philosophy that says there’s no truth and makes the claim “that logic itself is a merely a part of the oppressive patriarchal system.”

Boys are boys, but society is trying to force them to be girls, per Peterson.  Which is really, really wrong.  Biology is a huge part of what makes a boy act like a boy, and a girl act like a girl.  Then, a large amount of (enjoyable) discussion about ancient gods and Disney© animated movies.

Then we get back to Peterson, talking about when he worked on a railway crew.  Peterson uses these (amusing) stories about men and how they want particular behavior from other men:  Do your job.  Don’t whine.  Don’t be a suck up.  What to men want and value from other men?  “Be tough, entertaining, competent and reliable.”

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The above ad is from comic books, literally all comics books, of the 1950’s and 1960’s.  I sent away for as similar set of books.  You, too can learn Karate for only $19.95.  If you can learn karate by yourself from a book.  With a poor work ethic.

Peterson (really) feels that the Charles Atlas ad captures a lot of human sexuality in seven panels.  Women want tough men.  It’s here that he combines The Simpsons and Fifty Shades of Grey in the same hilarious paragraph.  Lisa Simpson doesn’t want Milhouse, dude, she wants a kinky billionaire.  Or that bad kid from Springfield Elementary.  Or a dude that will keep you safe on the beach.

Because women want men.  Tough men.  And you get men through risk.  Through . . . skateboarding.

Rule 12:  Pet A Cat When You Encounter One On The Street

Peterson baits and switches here – starting with a discussion on dogs.  But he brings back to cats, and also to the theme of the chapter – human suffering.  It will literally suck to be a human.  People die.  People suffer, sometimes horribly and inexplicably.  But, somehow, Superman™ needs Kryptonite© – this suffering makes life, well, not interesting, but certainly not fake.

It’s a worthy chapter, and my summary is short because I’m not one to use Peterson’s tough times, and I rarely write about my own.  I’ll give you my bullet point summary:

  • Dogs are Happy
  • Cats have Terms and Conditions for Love
  • Enjoy Both Dogs and Cats – They Have Purity of Being
  • Because Life Sucks

CODA:  Not The Led Zeppelin Album

Peterson caps it off – again, buy the book.  I’ll just ask you – what do you want for yourself tomorrow?  What about next year?  Who could you be if you really tried?

So, that’s it.  It’s a pretty long review, and I’m glad you stuck it out this far.

Pluses of the book?  Amazing philosophical content.  Easy read.  Original thoughts.

Downside?  Chapters could be more evenly edited to tie the content together, and follow the old rule – tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em, tell ‘em, tell ‘em what you told ‘em.  There are several chapters that I read a second time after about a week to write this review, and being prepped with the previous read and knowing what to look for, I enjoyed the chapters much more.  Maybe this review will act as a guide you can use when you go through it to look for more content that sparks your interest.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Peterson also dictated this book – many of the passages sound like speech turned into text, though I might be wrong since I’ve heard a LOT of Peterson speaking but very little of his written stuff.

Overall verdict:  totally recommend it.  Best way ever to confront Vader.  And then the Ewoks burned my copy – because they stopped making Star Wars® in 1983.  Wonder what would have happened if they had made a sequel or two?  I’m glad they never did.

Facebook, Why People Quit, and Why You’re Not Important

BRETT: What’s the matter?

LAMBERT: I can’t see a goddamn thing.

KANE: Quit griping.

LAMBERT: I Iike griping.

Alien

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The Cub Scouts had a lousy record of shooting down incoming enemy plains, even though they designed their jobs.

This month on Google news, I saw a link for an article called, “Why People Really Quit Their Jobs,” at the Harvard® Business Review™ (HBR).  I clicked on it.  I don’t suggest that you do, but if you want to it’s here (LINK).  Since it was before I had enough coffee to engage the higher reasoning centers of my brain, I nodded, zombie-like, as I read it.  I probably drooled a bit, too.  I wrote down on a sticky note that this might be a good topic to blog about.  See, I think about you, dear reader, all of the time-even in my sub-human decaffeinated state.

Now, I’ve visited this topic before (LINK) in a definitive post about one of the most definitive books on the subject ever written – First Break All the Rules.  I heartily recommend this book, and get no money if you buy it at this link (as of this writing).  Read my post first – it’s the Wilder’s® Notes (Cliff’s Notes™ was taken, and neither of us wanted to be sued by Cliff Bars®).

If you don’t read the HBR article (again, I don’t recommend it, it rambles and is as poorly edited for flow as a copier fixed by a Chihuahua – and that comes from a one-man-show blogger who does these posts start to finish in three to six hours, admittedly in a flash/flourish of brilliance) the TL;DR version is:

  • OMG, I totally cannot believe that people quit Facebook®!!!
  • OMG, why???
  • Stock options are awesome!!
  • OMG here’s why:
    • “They left when their job wasn’t enjoyable,”
    • “their strengths weren’t being used,”
    • “and they weren’t growing in their careers.”
  • OMG, fix that by:
    • Designing meaningful jobs (for stars) that people enjoy. Let them design their own!
    • Use their strengths, silly!
    • Allow people flexibility when they don’t like travel or want to make babies.
    • Babies? So 1990.  So toxic!

Yeah.  It’s that shallow.  Here’s an example sentence embedded in the squalid mess of pretentiousness if you don’t believe me:

At Facebook, our head of diversity is a former lawyer, journalist, and talk show host; one of our communications leaders used to sing in a rock band; and one of our product managers is a former teacher.

Yeah.  I’m pretty sure that they have no idea how stupid that sounds.  And I’m also pretty sure that the head of diversity . . . does absolutely nothing of value for Facebook®.  Nothing.  A communications leader?  Not sure what that is, but I’d bet they’re just another leach on the profits the company produces.  And a product manager sounds good.  At least it involves capitalism in some fashion, maybe?

Whenever you think of a position and its value – ask yourself this:  does the NFL® have that position?

No.  There is no VP of Football Diversity at New England.  Belichick would give birth to living kittens if they hired one, and I would pay $1,000,000 for the rights to broadcast that on YouTube®, and an extra $1500 per Belichick-cat hybrid.   Football teams have a mission – winning (except you, Cleveland).  And a business should have a mission – creating mutual value for customers, but also creating profit for shareholders.  You know, because they own the place.

What they’re missing is that it’s not just these jobs that don’t produce value, it’s that most of the things they do at Facebook® produce little to no value.  Price’s Law (discussed in my Jordan Peterson post here (LINK)) shows that of the 20,000 employees at Facebook™, 141 (the square root of 20,000) produce half of the value.  It is a certainty that the “head of diversity” is not one of those 141.  Nor anyone in HR.  Or probably anyone who wrote this article.

I assure you, those 141 people are enjoying work, using their strengths, and get whatever they want from the boss if there’s an issue.  They’re probably getting paid a king’s ransom, too, if the culture allows it.  And they deserve it.  Those 141 people account for $20 billion in revenue.

I had a chance to manage an amazing performer – Willie.  I’ve mentioned him before (LINK).  Although the company wouldn’t allow me to pay him more even though he’d routinely save them a million a year, in a bad year, and would have saved them from a billion dollar investment based on bad physics (really) if they would have listened to him.  But what’s physics when you’re trying to do a business deal, right?  Oh, yeah.

A billion dollars (and I’m not making this number up).

Me?  I have Willie the maximum amount of flexibility that I could.  I couldn’t give him a raise, but I could let him buy almost unlimited computer goodies.  It seemed like he had a new laptop every month.  Plus the cutting edge in peripherals.  As his boss, I generally got the best of his cast-off equipment.

Another employee (not a high revenue employee, but still nice and pleasant) decided to order a new computer.

John Wilder:  “Send it back.”

Other Employee:  “But you let Willie have one.”

John Wilder:  “You’re not Willie.”  And they knew that, too.  I didn’t treat everyone in the group the same, but I did try to treat them fairly.  I think they knew that, too.  At least they all nodded when I asked them that during employee review time.

The 141 are the most important people at Facebook™.  Honestly, most of the remaining 19,850 or so people at Facebook® are interchangeable and simply lucky to be working at Facebook© rather than being a barista or hauling garbage or working at a cement kiln.  And that’s not bad.  You need people who just go to work, put in their time, get their job done, enjoy it, and go home.  Not every part in the engine is a spark plug.  I’ve been a spark plug, and I’ve been a broken wiper switch, sometimes at the same company (though rarely in the same year).  The company needs both.

And that’s not to say that you don’t have the ability to make everyone feel awesome, too.  I’m willing to bet that Facebook® probably has baristas and jesters and blacksmiths working for them.  You can allow and encourage everyone to have fun – there’s no reason not to.  And I firmly believe that managers should support their employees – and not be dictators.

I’ve always viewed the position of manager as having a moral dimension – it was important that every employee that ever reported to me was touched positively by the experience – they may not have liked me, but they were a better employee, more productive, more moral person because of the experience.  I figured if I could do that, the company had to win, too, even if the employee wasn’t a spark plug.

Remember, those 19850 remaining employees still produce half the revenue – though the formula is recursive – 140 of those 19850 make $10 billion for the company.  Oops.  But, really, if everyone designed their own job, nobody would do the dishes and the toilet would never be clean.  And that would describe my basement . . . sigh.

12 Rules For Life: The Peterson Strikes Back (Book Review Part II, Episode 5)

“Search your feelings, Lord Vader. You will know it to be true. He could destroy us.” – Star Wars:  The Empire Strikes Back

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The Boy and Pugsley engaged in an epic Lightsaber® battle.  At the end, The Boy cut off Pugsley’s arm and said “You are my brother, Pugsley, join me and we’ll rule our parent’s house . . . together.” 

As promised, there is the second part of my book review for Dr. Jordan Peterson’s new bestseller, “12 Rules for Life.”  You can find the first part here (LINK).  The third and concluding post is here (LINK).

You can bet I won’t call it “The Peterson Awakens.”

Rule 5:  Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything That Makes You Dislike Them

Children, are, perhaps the only legacy many people will leave on this Earth after they die.  Some parents are horrible and provide no limits to their children, creating tiny toddler tyrants, rather than children people like to be around.  You have seen these children.  You despise them.  Yet they exist.  Why?

Increasing divorce rates since the 1960’s increases the severity of this problem, creating fractured families.  Peterson blames a LOT on the 1960’s:  “. . . a decade whose excesses led to general denigration of adulthood, an unthinking disbelief in the existence of competent power, and the inability to distinguish between the chaos of immaturity and responsible freedom.”

See, I told you he was Dangerous.

This is the opposite of the nihilistic (at its core) “if it feels good, do it” philosophy that stems from Aleister Crowley’s “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”  Which was written by this guy:

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Wilder Rule #56:  Hats make the man!

Here are some takeaways from this chapter.

  1. Order is required – children want limits.  But there can be too many rules as well, and parents are the key to sorting that out, as their interactions with their children determines the future of society.  Parents seem to have difficulty imposing their will on their children.
  2. Peterson: “Two year olds, statistically speaking, are the most violent of people.”  This cracked me up.  But it’s true.  And you have to tame them, either with rewards or punishment.
  3. Is physical punishment acceptable?   But only the minimum amount required.  The world is filled with physical punishment – just check out any middle school fight.
  4. You need two parents because being a single parent is a tough, tough job. Single parenting isn’t preferable – Dan Quayle was right, Murphy Brown was wrong.
  5. Understand your weaknesses, your dark side as a parent.
  6. Parents are simulators (for their children) of the real world. Use your efforts to make them “socially desirable.”

Peterson must be an interesting parent.  But I assure you, growing up at his house wasn’t boring.

Rule 6:  Set Your House in Perfect Order Before You Criticize the World

This is, so far, my favorite chapter (though the next one might be even more impactful).  Although I expected this to be based on an outward focus, this is Dr. Peterson adapting and providing a more generalized version of his “clean your room” lecture.

“Clean your room” is Dr. Peterson’s advice to those who have issues.  And, it’s literal, not just a silly metaphor or slogan.  He wants you to clean your actual room.  Why?  A variety of reasons – but it’s a way to start you off realizing you can make the chaos in your life go away, if only you try.  And cleaning a room, making it better, is something anyone can do.  It’s not hard.

But in this chapter, Dr. Peterson starts at the basics of broken people.  It’s a dark path.  “Everyone is destined for pain and slated for destruction.”  He takes us from mass shootings to serial killers to a suicidal Leo Tolstoy (The War and Peace author dude) who wouldn’t be around rope for a period of time, since he was pretty sure he was going to hang himself.  Peterson takes us to these places, because it’s important to understand what brought them to this state.

  • A belief that the world lacked meaning.
  • Suffering (in some cases) horrific abuse at the hands of others.
  • A belief that God or the human race was evil.

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Tolstoy, looking for all the world like a garden gnome wearing dominatrix boots.

Although Peterson starts with mass shooters, the same beliefs that led them down the road to hurting others causes some people to destroy not outward, but inward.  Those beliefs are poison for the soul.

But some people, when confronted with a great evil, turn and face it right back, like Alexandr Solzhenitsyn.  Dying of cancer, released in the nick of time for surgery to save him, Solzhenitsyn did what every good Soviet citizen did:  he wrote critical articles and, eventually, a novella critical of the Soviet state.  One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was actually published in the Soviet Union.  The Gulag Archipelago was published in the West.   Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel® Prize© for his writing – writing dedicated to making his home country better by showing the true horror of the Soviet state.  He turned what could have been bitter resentment into something that changed the world and toppled a totalitarian state.

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Solzhenitsyn, looking dapper in his Soviet prison outfit, circa 1950.  (image from http://www.solzhenitsyn.ru)

I went through a similar situation with my first marriage.  It was constructed on mutual mistrust, and was painful for both of us.  I used that experience to reflect on who I wanted to be, and used that experience to reflect on who I wanted to be, and used that . . . sorry, stuck.  I figured out who I should be as a husband, and as a result?  I became better than I was.

I got a better life out of my difficulties.  Solzhenitsyn’s work helped end the Soviet system and made nuclear annihilation less likely and won a Nobel®.  To-MAY-to, To-MAH-to.

But Dr. Peterson has a sure-fire (seriously) way to fix this:  clean up your life.  There are a large number of questions in this section that Peterson asks that you really think about.  I’ll not repeat them all here, buy the book, cheapskate.

Peterson:  “Start to stop doing what you know to be wrong.”  Start to . . . because starting is the hardest part.

And how do you know if it’s wrong?  Seems like if it feels good, you should do it, right?

Peterson:  “Do only those things you can speak of with honor.”

And after you fix one thing?  Another thing to fix will become obvious.  And another.  And another.  After a while?  You’ve fixed yourself.  You’re useful.

Peterson:  “You will be then left with the inevitable bare tragedies of life.  But they will no longer be compounded with bitterness and deceit.”

Rule 7:  Pursue What Is Meaningful, Not What Is Expedient

There is a LOT of philosophy in this book.  And there is a LOT of the Bible.  Peterson feels that the Bible itself is an “emergent” document – one that has properties that exceed its sum.  It’s the distillation of thousands of years of stories culminating in the crucifixion and resurrection, honed and explained and shared until they have literally changed the way the Western world thinks (and paved the way for pesky things like science, freedom, liberty, and the abolition of slavery).

One emergent property is the idea that instead of instant gratification (which would allow you to lie, cheat, steal, and kill in the extreme) is replaced by delayed gratification.  This delayed gratification can be Earthly in the Christian world, or it can be Heavenly.  This ability to delay gratification is a significant difference between animals and humans and a defining part of Western civilization (though not exclusive to Western civilization).

Dr. Peterson explains that the delay of gratification can be compared to a bargain with reality.  I can do something now-like lift weights-to create a future that I want to exist-being strong so I can drive my enemies before me and hear the lamentations of their women.  No single weightlifting session makes me strong, it’s the sum of them that create the future state.  But my actions, like magic, create a different future.

Honestly, Conan the Destroyer was better than this one.  But the music was sublime.

As we begin the religious parallelism – the future is a “judgmental father” that wants you to sacrifice now, for a potential future gain.  Sacrifice what, exactly?  What limits are there to the sacrifice?

Maybe everything?

Peterson:  “If the world you are seeing not the world you want, therefore, it’s time to examine your values.  It’s time to rid yourself of your current presuppositions.  It’s time to let go.  It might even be time to sacrifice what you love best, so that you can become who you might become, instead of staying who you are.”

Powerful.  And think to the parallel construction of God sacrificing Jesus to transform the human race.  Just as Cain and Able had a sacrifice war, as Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son, God swaps the equation and makes a sacrifice for us, so that we might be saved.

But, Peterson returns to Cain.  Cain sacrifices.  And sacrifices.  And sacrifices.  And God says:  “meh.”  So Cain kills.  And that is the tragedy.  Cain was not necessarily evil before he became a murder, but Dr. Peterson observes: “. . . convictions must die – must be sacrificed – when the relationship with God has been disrupted.”

In this battle between the now and the future, proper action must be based on honesty, and generosity that is aimed at producing actions that make the world better – actions with meaning.

Rule 8:  Tell The Truth, Or At Least Don’t Lie

I’ve mentioned (in some other post) before about The Mrs., and how I promised her (and, more importantly, me) that I would never lie to her.  It gave me the power/ability/responsibility to bet truthful.  “Do these pants make my butt look big?” is a question that she’s never asked me.

It’s almost as freeing as a superpower – the freedom to always be honest.  One time in the B.C. (before cellphones) I was late coming home from work.  Really late.  It just so happens that the governor of the state of Alaska (not Palin, Murkowski) was next door talking to my boss.  And there were at least three television stations broadcasting.  I stayed until they left, and then went home:

The Mrs.:  “Why are you late?”

John Wilder:  “Governor, television stations, all next door talking to my boss – and I didn’t want all the ladies in Fairbanks to come knock down our door chasing me?”

The Mrs.:  “Okay.”

No questions, no disbelief.  Just . . . “ok.”

And, as I’ve said before, if I told The Mrs. that aliens took me time travelling to go dancing with Marilyn Monroe, Gary Busey and Cleopatra, well, she’d at least believe that I believed that.  She might think I was as nuts as Busey, but she wouldn’t think me deceitful or doubt my sincerity.

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Dr. Jordan Peterson:  “What should you do when you don’t know what to do?  Tell the truth.”

Peterson is a Truth absolutist.  He believes (in opposition to Post-Modernist thought) that there is Truth.  All things are not shades of gray.  There is Truth.  Additionally, speech that’s spin – meant to manipulate you?  It’s a lie, too.

Life sucks.  It’s going to be hard.  But to make it Hell?  You need to add lies.

Why not lie?  It contaminates everything.  Small lies become big lies.  Which infect and overwhelm everything . . . it gets to a situation where “. . . lies have destroyed the relationship between individual or state and reality itself.”

The pain from lying isn’t all outward – if you lie, your character is injured, and when life gets rough (as it will) you won’t have character to support you – only lies.  And lies hurt you in a different way – they create a victim mentality in you.  You believe that the world should conform to the lies that you have even begun to tell yourself, and when the world doesn’t?  You blame the world instead of yourself.  You create a victim narrative to explain it all.

What’s the benefit of telling truth?

Peterson:  “Truth reduces the terrible complexity of man into the simplicity of his word, so that he may become a partner.”

And that’s a pretty good reason to tell the truth.

And the truth is?  Peterson likes Trailer Park Boys, but probably not as much as I do.  Here’s a bit of Bubbles doing Bowie.  Enjoy.  Next Friday we’ll conclude this review, and maybe dismember some Ewoks®?

12 Strong Movie Review, Exploding Tide Bottles, Rifles, and Significance

“Good Lord!  We can’t get them.  I never figured on having to shoot through dirt!” – Tremors

 shoosting

Good times.  Not pictured:  plastic Tide® bottle.

How many of you remember that perfect day?  That wonderful day where the Sun was shining, everyone was in harmony, and you lost yourself in the activities you were engaged in?  Those days are significant in their perfection – days that you remember now and that you’ll remember when you’re 50 or 60 or 70.

I imagine The Boy and Pugsley will both remember watching their dad’s form silhouetted in front of exploding Tide® laundry detergent bottle at least that long.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

One of the place where I think I’ve been negligent as a dad is in not taking The Boy and Pugsley shooting often enough.  Shooting is fun, but it also teaches patience and persistence.  How do you get good at shooting?  By shooting.  Nobody’s great at shooting coming out of the box, but by patience and practice you learn to get better – and the feedback loop is literally supersonic – you can see the result of your efforts nearly immediately.  And you have to be patient.  And disciplined.

Two weeks ago we went shooting, and had a great time.  We brought only .22 rifles (I’m sure that in California these are registered as assault weapons or orbital bombardment cannons or something) that time.  It was about 40˚F out (-371˚C for you living in Great Britain) so after a while (400 rounds or so) we decided to go and get warm.  But a good time?  Absolutely.

metric

I have no idea where this meme came from, but I bet it wasn’t Europe.

I’d been watching the weather because it’s no fun shooting when it’s colder than a brass monkey in the fridge on the dark side of Pluto.  We couldn’t go Saturday, since The Boy was busy with athletics.

Fortunately the weather looked good for Sunday.  And on Saturday night we got home early enough to rope in Pugsley and go see 12 Strong.  12 Strong is a true story about the first Special Forces (Green Berets) unit into Afghanistan after 9/11.  It’s rated “R” primarily because it features Americans being unambiguously good, moral, and upright against unambiguously evil people even though it stars an Australian as an American Special Forces Captain (Chris Hemsworth) in a clear case of cultural appropriation.

12_strong_keyart2

I’m pretty sure Warner Brothers wants us to share this image, since it gives sixteen buttons to share it . . .

The movie was good, in a “I love America and the values that it stands for” way as shown by the bravery of the troops, the fidelity of the spouses, and the idea that a promise made is one to be kept.  In this movie there are no politics of division.  And the American men and many Afghani men (almost every character in this movie with more than two lines is a man) were brave.  And it didn’t try to discuss deeper issues – it had the decency to allow us to have and believe in heroes of flesh and blood.

How good was the movie?  Pugsley is 12, and is now contemplating how he’s going to become a Green Beret (a little less likely for The Boy – I think he’d rather create nuclear-powered x-ray space lasers).  Scary for a dad to think that?  Yeah, it is.  But boys grow up, and the responsibility of holding a rifle is sobering for a 12 year old, given its sheer destructive power.

My ranking on the movie?  5/5.

Okay, back to shooting.  Today we went shooting again.  It was one of those fun coincidences that as we left the house “Freeze Frame” by The J. Geils Band was playing on the radio . . . Pugsley started doing a dance when the lyrics, “shoot, shoot . . . deedle leedle lee” kept repeating since I think he was excited about going shooting, or “shoosting” as we called it, in an homage to Lisa from Green Acres®.

However, we also brought two additional things that we didn’t bring last time:  an AR-15 I’d bought from a friend several years ago that I’d only put about 20 rounds (for New York readers – that means I’d shot the rifle 20 times) through.  The Boy had NOT liked shooting it several years ago.  Scary.

Also, I brought explosives with the explicit idea that we’d shoot them and create a series of explosions.

I know what you’re thinking.  More on that later.

The Boy and Pugsley each jammed out a few hundred rounds of .22 down range.  Then I pulled out the AR-15.  An AR-15 shoots a .223 caliber bullet – really only slightly larger than a .22, but whereas a .22 comes out of the barrel at 1600 feet per second, a .223 comes out of the barrel at over 3,000 feet per second.  And a doubling of speed is a quadrupling of energy.  (Really closer to 8 times, since the bullet is larger.)  For all of you purists – we are NOT getting into the difference between a 5.56 and a .223 in this post – go get technical somewhere else.

The Boy and Pugsley each shot the AR and pronounced it . . . amazing.

So, I thought, perhaps it’s time to mix up the explosive?

Sure.

We tried to use the .22 to initiate the explosion.  You were supposed to be 100’ away . . . and we shot at it for a ludicrous number of shots (it was about 2” x 1”, so it’s not that small of a target at 100’).

Nothing.

The Boy went downrange and checked.

“You went clean through it twice.”

Hmm. I put another explosive packet together since the powder had leaked out of the first through the bullet holes.  I stuck it on the side of a plastic Tide® laundry detergent jug – one of the big ones that does 5,000 or so loads of laundry.  I took a shot with the AR.  Hit the Tide® jug, and the explosive fell off.  (Stay 100’ away, the instructions said.)  I went down range and put the explosive back on.  Walked back.  Shot, and hit the jug again.  And knocked the explosive off.  (Stay 100’ away, the instructions said.)  Again.

I finally determined the add-on sight that I was using wasn’t even remotely accurate, and pulled it off to use the basic sights (“iron sights”) that come with the rifle.  Frustrated, and thinking the explosive was a dud based on the previous experience we’d had with the first packet, I stuck the packet back on the jug, and then moved back and I took aim at the explosive stuck to the Tide™ jug not 20’ away from me.

There was a flash.  Lots of smoke.

And the Tide® jug . . . ceased to exist.  Gone.  Left this plane of existence.  The only thing left was the label.  I could see something that looked like tiny orange fragments of plastic jug, but only a few.  But the jug?

Vanished.

Wow.

I felt my face.  Small particles of dirt or unexploded explosives were imbedded in a dusty patina all over my face.  Thankfully I was wearing glasses and hearing protection.

So, the explosive did work.  And 100’ was certainly a much better idea than my 20’ – I’m guessing something about fools rushing in where angels fear to tread?  I walked back to the firing line.

The Boy:  “How on EARTH can that be legal???”  His grin was huge.

It is, at least where I live.  Your mileage may vary depending upon what location you live in.  US Federal law allows this explosive to be sold because when they sell it, it’s two compounds . . . a “binary” explosive.  You have to mix the compounds yourself.  And you can’t transport it after mixing (without insurance, permits, etc.).  You have to use it for personal, non-commercial use.  And . . . you should research this yourself.  I believe in California they will ____ your ____.  And you don’t want your ___ to be ____.  Very uncomfortable for your _____.

No.  Seriously I think they’d call that a felony.  But where we live?  It’s Sunday afternoon.

Hint:  Google® “Tannerite©” – although Tannerite™ wasn’t the manufacturer of the stuff we used, it’s the easiest search term.  This is NOT a law blog – you need to figure out if this stuff is legal where you are.

So, it is legal here.  That doesn’t mean it’s always used in a smart – one gentleman filled a lawnmower with a binary explosive, shot it, and it promptly lopped off a leg.  But that’s the definition of freedom – not stopping idiots from being idiots.  If we go too much further down that road, every surface in every house will be mandated to be made of Nerf®.

Regardless, the Tide® bottle was gone and I still had all of my parts.

Second shot?  We taped an explosive packet up to the plastic cylinder the explosive originally came in.  The Boy took aim with the AR, and . . . first shot it exploded and likewise disappeared into another dimension.  I went to check for more things we could blow up in the car we brought (it was The Mrs.’ car) and was rummaging around in the back seat.

And found a Wal-Mart bag containing two pounds of thick-cut bacon and three pounds of hamburger.  Sitting in the back seat.  Of a car The Mrs. hasn’t driven in three days.

Pugsley:  “Oops!  Guess I forgot to bring that bag in.”

Normally I’d give him a much harder time about leaving $30 in meat to rot in his mother’s car, but in this case?

We had explosives.  And guns.  And meat.

It’s even better if you imagine they’re singing “gone shoosting”.

Two explosive charges and the bacon was unrecognizable.  One charge took care of the hamburger.  Both The Boy and Pugsley were dead-on in their shots, hitting the explosive charge on their first shot in almost every case.

We picked up the exploded stuff (left the bacon and burger for the coyotes) and packed up and went home.

But the bigger perspective?

I was talking with another dad the other day – he was coaching a group of kids at the same sporting event The Boy was at.  We talked back and forth.  He was coaching his own son, which he felt was really the toughest coaching he had to do.  But, he indicated, he thought he’d keep coaching even after his son was done.  He really enjoyed it (and he was a good coach – his team did well that day).

“You know,” I said, “it’s not the money.  It’s not the things you do to things that matters in this world.  It’s the opportunity to be significant to someone – to give them training and experiences that change them for the better.  And these kids will remember what you did for them and how you changed them, coach, for the rest of their lives.  Now that,” I paused, “is the definition of significance.”

“That’s pretty well said,” he responded.

“Yeah, I’m Noted Internet Humorist John Wilder.”

And these perfect days can be the perfect days that will form memories for The Boy and Pugsley that will reinforce their character forever.

I wonder how many perfect days I’ve got left?  Not too many if I stand too close to too many exploding Tide® jugs, so I think I’ll avoid those from now on.  It would be good to be around to see what happens with The Boy and Pugsley . . . Green Beret or not, I’m sure I’ll be proud of both of them.

The Iron Triangle of Retirement . . .

“Well, it’s not really fine, but it’s not why I’m here.  Hell, man, you know me.  Money’s not my issue.  I could’ve retired straight out of MIT, off to some island, let the business run itself.  Nobody told me to try and save the planet.  I wanted to.” – Kingsman, The Secret Service

DSC03557

Downtown Houston, reflected off a building at dawn.  No, I wasn’t there at dawn to catch the picture – I was working as hard as Jean-Claude Van Damme at a splits contest.

At some point, I’m going to retire.

No, not change the low-tread tires on the Wildermobile – I generally like to wait until the tires are completely showing steel before I change them out.

Silly, I’m talking about working all the time.  For money.  So this blog is safe.

Some people suck at retiring.  I work with one guy who retired six years ago, Ted.  About six months after Ted retired, he came back and asked, “Hey, have need for me to consult?”

Although Ted decided he wanted to retire (and got the cake, party, and everything), Ted wasn’t really ready.  He keeps coming in to work even now after six years.  Thankfully Ted has a unique perspective and awesome experience on technical systems that can help train some younger workers, so it’s a win-win.  But he’s not ready to retire.  That switch that says, “hey, I’m done,” or “hey, if I have to go to hell it’s worth it to never see you people again,” or, “I never, ever, ever want to live in this soul-sucking environment again,” never flipped for him.  And I don’t think it ever will.

Work for him is still a big part of who Ted is, the definition of himself when he gets up in the morning.

For a long time I was with Ted.  I could no more see retiring than I could see Kim Jong Un and President Trump forming a “Guys Only” fort in the Oval Office and sending the secretaries out for chocolate milk while they watched Loony Tunes® cartoons on a Saturday morning before Mom picked them up to take them to the skating rink and the movies after.

But recently?  Yeah.  I’ve started to think that I’ll retire one day, and that’s what this is about.  (The decision to decide to retire is a different post.)

I’ve discussed retirement before in the best and most comprehensive article ever written on early retirement strategies (LINK).  But that article was focused on people who retire young.  Which would be less than 1%.

Let’s see when people really retire, based on 2015 Census data, as analyzed by LIMRA SRI and as I found on Financial Samurai (LINK).

retirement ages

This excludes people like Abraham Lincoln who exit the labor force for other reasons, of course.

Most (68%) of people retire at age 65 or earlier.  This makes sense, but first I’ll have to introduce a self-serving concept and graphic.

Let’s talk about John Wilder’s Iron Triangle of Retirement Fate (JWITORF).

IRON TRIANGLE

I made this graphic at great expense, after paying Freddy’s Advertising, Kites, Etc. $2,300 and waiting six weeks for delivery as it came on a container from Shanghai.  Oh, wait, I threw it together in 5 minutes.

Regardless of the cheese factor of the graphic, John Wilder’s Iron Triangle of Retirement Fate does explain pretty neatly how retirement works, and why people wait so long to do it.  So, why 65?  Statistically speaking, you’re at or near your maximum wealth as you near age 65.  Additionally, you have a reasonably long life ahead of you (statistically speaking) but not an unreasonably long life.  Presumably, you’ve also reached the age of wisdom where you’re smart enough not to blow through your retirement cash on cruises, vacations, PEZ®, pantyhose, and chocolates.

But let’s look closer at the Quantum Entangled Boxes at the Vertices of John Wilder’s Iron Triangle of Retirement Fate (QEBATVOJWITORF).  Or, just the boxes with words.

The first one we’ll tackle is:

  1. Lifestyle

You can upsize lifestyle to spend virtually any amount of money including a fortune the size of Johnny Depp’s $650,000,000.  The world entrusted $650,000,000 to Johnny Depp over the course of 31 years.  .  He’s kinda broke now, since he buys mansions at the drop of a hat, and his personal expenses run to about $2,000,000 a month.  His security alone costs $300,000/ a month.  And hair gel?  Thankfully he saves on soap and shampoo.

My needs are a bit more modest.  Most planners say you should expect to spend between 70% to 80% of your take home pay when you retire.  But others say you only need to plan for 50%.  Or 100%.  Or . . . more!

Part of the problem is that their guidelines assume you spend everything you make.  If you have the ability to save (like in the earlier retirement article LINK) a very large proportion of what you earn, these metrics don’t make sense – you might only need to replace much less than half of your present income, since you’ve radically reduced your lifestyle and eliminated many items . . . like security for $300,000 a month.

Lifestyle is a retirement variable that you mainly control.  Get a budget and live by it.

Biggest risk?  Healthcare.  Who knows what that’s going to cost – might be $60,000 per aspirin by 2019.  You don’t want to guess what calf implants will cost . . . .

  1. Longevity

If you’re dying tomorrow, like Abe Lincoln, you already saved too much for retirement.  If you’re going to live another 80 years, you don’t have nearly enough.

When I first started looking at retirement with a spreadsheet and projected assets and lifespans, one fact popped out at me:  the earlier you retire, the less you earn, so your retirement savings will be less.  And you will pull money out sooner since you don’t have a salary anymore.  Sure, it sounds like a “duh” conclusion, but once I put my numbers in and played with it, it began to make perfect sense.

So, if you retire early, it helps if you die early, too.  And don’t forget your spouse!  If they’re much younger than you, you might want to try to convince them to pick up smoking, skydiving, BASE jumping, and prison boxing so they don’t outlive you by too much.  You’ll thank me for it later.

Outside of shortening life, you don’t control tons about your longevity, either.  Biggest risk?  You outlive your money and so does your spouse and you get a never ending stream of “I told you so” when you’re 90 but she just uses a crutch and can beat you and your walker.  Thankfully you can be a burden to the state and your children at that age.

  1. Amount of Money You Have

This is (mostly/kinda) in your control, too.  Bill Gates has billions of dollars saved for his retirement, and I know some people who work a whole year and don’t make a billion dollars.  Okay, I kid.  But I am certain that you could save more money than you are saving right now.  Part of the value is adding additional money to your savings, but the other value is in reducing your lifestyle and knowing what you really need.

A second portion of your money will come from your 401K.  Most of these are a really good deal, since you company will give you free money to add to your savings.  They do this to encourage you to contribute, since a portion of their bonus is based on how much you contribute.

Pensions are awesome if you’re part of the 0.0001% of private sector jobs that still have them.  If you’re working for the government?  Yeah, I guess you can count on* that.

Social Security is a real thing – and one that you probably can count on*.

*Bigger risks?

  • Inflation (here’s a LINK to my commentary on how that’s inevitable in our current monetary system).
  • Budget deficits (here’s a LINK to my commentary on what the likely impact of our deficits is).
  • Economic dislocation (here’s a LINK to a discussion on Bitcoin and how it can disrupt economic systems).

Best idea now?  Max out your 401K and savings.  Understand what lifestyle is really necessary and what you have to do to pay for it, both in dollars today, and in years of your life in the future.

John Wilder’s Iron Triangle of Retirement Fate© . . . ignore it at your own risk.  Assuming you’re not going to be like Ted (and 10% of Americans) and work past 75 . . . heck, I might have new tires on my car by then . . . .

John Wilder is not a professional financial dude.  Consult your attorney, financial planner, or shamen for real advice.  

The Chinese Farmer, Kipling, Marcus Aurelius, and You

“I’ve come back. Give me a drink, Brother Kipling. Don’t you know me?” – The Man Who Would Be King

Rudyard_Kipling_(portrait)

Kipling in 1895.  Good heavens, what a handsome mustache!  No wonder the English ruled most of the world – any group that can create such handsome whiskers deserves to run the place.

I first heard this from a friend in 2002 or so . . . there were several of us that would get together to talk about ideas and concepts, and one of the participants told this story:

There is an old Chinese story about a farmer.  One night, there was a terrible storm.  The wind blew so hard, it opened up his corral, and his horses got out.

“Bad luck!” said his friends.

“Good luck, bad luck.  Who can say?” replied the farmer.

The next week, his horses, lonely for home, came back.  But while they were loose, they got in with a group of wild horses.  The wild horses came home with them.  The farmer now had twice as many horses.

“Good luck!” said his friends.

“Good luck, bad luck.  Who can say?” replied the farmer.

A wild horse is good to no one, so the farmer’s son began to work on breaking the horses.  Most of them were no problem, but one particularly fierce horse bucked the farmer’s son off.  The farmer’s son broke his leg.

“Bad luck!” said his friends.

“Good luck, bad luck.  Who can say?” replied the farmer.

The next week, the Emperor, having decided to go off to war due to a very dangerous threat against the empire, marched with his troops through the farmer’s town.  They called up in a draft all of the able bodied young men to accompany them to war.  The farmer’s son could not go – his leg was broken.

I think you can see where this is going.

But the story does stop there (thankfully!), though you see that it could keep going indefinitely, probably ending up with the farmer’s son constructing an evil robot army to enslave the human race that ends up saving us instead by stopping the invasion of the mole people from below South Carolina.  Oops!  I think that’s the plot of the sequel to Pacific Rim.

pacific rim

Source:  Uproxx, by porkythefirst

Despite my firm belief in the power of self-determination, even I’ve got to admit that sometimes you just have no idea how an action will impact your future – what will the result be of a decision you make today.  Opposite effects aren’t unknown.

For example, brush your teeth every day in order to keep them longer, right?  Well, at one point they used abrasives in toothpaste in order to scrub off that yellow tint that evolves over time.  Unfortunately, over time you weren’t brushing your teeth – you were sanding them down to nubs.

That’s an extreme example, but here’s another:

You work really hard at your job.  You’re smart, and come up with innovations to make things work a little bit better.  Your boss notices, but so does his boss.  Rocket ship to the top, right?  I mean, at least a promotion?

No.  Your boss is lazy and scared that he’ll lose his job.  The last thing they want to see is you breaking the curve at work.  He is now focused on . . . . getting rid of you.  Again, the opposite of what you’d expect, and the opposite of what your work merits.

Which brings me to this:

If

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too.
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make a heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

I am an unapologetic Kipling fan.  And in this poem is more good philosophy than you’ll find anywhere.  Well, anywhere but here.

At a certain point, you realize that you’re not going to be a trillionaire.  Or even a billionaire.  You have to settle for what you’ve done and not feel regret that you’ve not transformed the world entirely.  In reading history, it wasn’t just one of the best poets ever to live who understood that, but also, over a thousand years earlier people understood it.

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”  Pretty cool statement.  From?  A frigging Roman Emperor, Caesar Marcus Aurelius.  I’ve mentioned him before.  His book, Meditations was something he wrote for himself.  He didn’t write it for other people to read to see what a smarty-pants he was.  No, these were his private thoughts.

And as Caesar, he had more power than most people on Earth have ever had.  And he still worried about stuff.  He worried about doing a good job.  His back hurt him.  He worried that he wasn’t being a good dad (he wasn’t – his son was horrible and was destined to be played by Joaquin Phoenix – a curse of history).

But Marcus, the unnamed Chinese farmer, and Rudyard all had it tuned into the same thing – we can’t understand exactly what the outcome will be.  We can only go out there and do our best – break the horse, fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds of distance run, or do our best to run the most complex civilization ever devised.

So, today’s your day.  Go out there, and run as hard as you can.  Maybe, just maybe, one day you can have a mustache that will rival Kipling . . . .

Washington: Musk, Patton, and Jack Daniels all Rolled into . . . the ONE

“I, George Washington, born in 1492, freer of the slaves, and the first president of this, our country, though savagely impeached for the shooting of Abe Lincoln, I will lead us into the demise of all humans!” – Home Movies

Washington

General George Washington, 1776, when he was about 44 years old.  44 years old, a billionaire, a war hero from the French and Indian War, and now commanding a rebel group fighting the largest superpower in the world.  Hmmm.  Maybe that’s why all that stuff is named for him?

There is a time for fighting valiantly and dieting.  Then there exists the Thanksgiving/Christmas nexus.  I’ve been generally trying to minimize the carb content of what I eat, but Thanksgiving?  Yeah, I’m having pumpkin pie.  And stuffing.  And mashed potatoes.  And might drink a bit of gravy.  Just a quart or two.  Not from the gravy boat – I have standards.  I have standards . . . and a mug.  A great gravy mug.

Yes, I have willpower, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are more difficult times to stick to diets.  So, I don’t.  And I don’t spend a lot of time feeling guilty about it, but it’s also a good time to reflect that eating different things changes my mood.

If I’ve had enough potatoes to feed the Soviet Army, I know that I’ll feel differently both physically and mentally.  Sugar is similar. Ditto with bread.

So, how do I feel different physically?  For me, when I eat carbs I tend to retain a LOT more water.  It’s my theory that it’s used to think out my blood so it flows better than maple syrup.  When I jump back into the low carb regimen, I know that for the first few days I will dump water faster than the democrats dumped Al Franken.

I’m pretty sure that the extra water does NOT do anything really good for me.

How do I feel different mentally?  Again, for me the low carb (very low, like none) zaps me into a state of clarity and stability.  Stuff just doesn’t bother me as much.  And I seem to get better sleep.

But one thing that’s wonderful about the Holidays is . . . George Washington.

George was really tall for his time and place, and strong enough that he could crush walnuts in his bare hand.  British walnuts.  And he was known to party (from teachingamericanhistory.org):

First Troop Philadelphia City
Cavalry Archives, 1774
City Tavern
George Washington
Entertainment of
15 Sept., 1787

Light Troop of Horse, September the 14th 1787

To Edwd Moyston .. Dr.
To 55 Gentlemans Dinners & Fruit
Rellishes, Olives etc………………………………………..  20  12   6
54 Bottles of Madera……………………………………….  20   5
60 of Claret ditto……………………………………………  21
8 ditto of Old Stock…………………………………………   3   6   8
22 Bottles of Porter ditto………………………………….   2  15
8 of Cyder ditto……………………………………………..  16
12 ditto Beer…………………………………………………  12
7 Large Bowels of Punch………………………………….   4   4
Segars Spermacity candles etc………………………….   2   5
To Decantors Wine Glass [e]s & Tumblers Broken etc..   1   2   6
To 16 Servants and Musicians Dinners……………………   2
16 Bottles of Claret…………………………………………   5  12
5 ditto Madera……………………………………………….   1  17   6
7 Bouls of Punch…………………………………………….   2  16   
£89   4   2

 

If you study the above, you’ll see that George Washington and 54 of his best buddies had 114 bottles of wine, plus cider, beer, and 8 bottles of hard alcohol.  I’m thinking our Founding Fathers were knee-walking drunk at this point – you can see that they got well into the “smashing the bottles and glasses” part of the party.  And it was the equivalent of something between $15,000 and $20,000 that he spent on the party.

George liked to party.

And he liked to party at Christmas, which brings us to eggnog.

Now, I must tell you that I really, really hate eggnog.  Hate it with a passion.

Or I did, until I had George’s eggnog.  And it just so happens I’ll share his recipe with you (this will be the 306,001st place on the Internet that you can get it):

“One quart ye cream, one quart of ye milk, one dozen tablespoons of ye sugar, one pint of ye brandy, ½ pint of ye rye whiskey, ½ pint of ye Jamaica rum, ¼ pint of ye sherry—mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of 12 eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.”

And it’s amazing.  It tastes just like Christmas.  And George was right – making this stuff and drinking it on day one is NOT advised.  It tastes . . . strong.  But after three days in the fridge?  Amazingly smooth.

So, not only was George a billionaire president general that defeated the world’s largest and best trained armed forces?  He knew how to party.

Here’s to you, George!