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.

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®?

Jordan Peterson’s Cannon Lobster and 12 Rules for Life Review

“This is Peterson, your new replacement.” – Idiocracy

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The Texans had a cannon, the lobsters did not.  Therefore?  The lobsters lost control of vast swaths of Texas very quickly.  Except the Alamo.  The lobsters won there. 

Here is the first of three posts on Dr. Jordan Peterson’s newly released bestseller, “12 Rules for Life.”  The second post is here (LINK). The final post is here (LINK).  There’s a link to the book on Amazon down below.  I don’t (as of this writing) get anything if you buy it there, but that might change over time.  Regardless, buy the book.  Jordan Peterson is amazing.

Peterson puts more ideas into a five minute YouTube video excerpt from a lecture than most college courses do.  Dr. Peterson is unfailingly moral and gutsy.  He is willing to share uncomfortable facts and naked truth, which is anathema to those that would prefer the safety of soft and pretty lies.  He is unfailingly polite.  And blunt.  And I’d be fascinated to see him with a glass or two of wine in him.

Dr. Peterson’s work is based on decades of study combined with a keen intellect and countless hours of work as a clinical psychologist helping people with everything from addiction to performance measurement and enhancement.  He has earned his wisdom.

Jordan Peterson is Dangerous.  He’ll make you think new thoughts, and question your basic assumptions about who you are, and who you can be.

We need a thousand more like him.

I’ve only read a third of the book as of this writing (it was released on Tuesday), but that’s enough to get the first four rules.  By observation, the book is already in thirds – the first four rules are about an inward focus.  Rules 5-8 are about obtaining and creating control in your own life.  Rules 9-12 are about facing outwards, so my strategy of breaking this review/discussion into thirds makes sense to me.

Rule 1:  Stand Up Straight with Your Shoulders Back

This is also the first lesson in super hero school, except they add “and put your clenched fists on your hips, and stare up at a waving American flag.”  See, Dr. Peterson and I just saved you $75 in superhero school tuition.

This is actually awesome advice, even as weird as it sounds, since adopting this pose will immediately make you feel better, more powerful and more in control of your own life.

Huh?

Yeah.  And the secret is buried 350,000,000 years back into the past.  As Dr. Peterson notes, that far back there weren’t even trees on land.

But there was serotonin.

How do we known this?  Crunchy, tasty lobsters whose life diverged from ours 350,000,000 years ago.  Turns out that lobsters have social status, and those who have good status produce more serotonin.  And a big lobster that wins the big lobster fight?  A big boost of serotonin.  One of the same, powerful brain chemicals in humans.

The loser?  The loser of the big lobster fight, well no serotonin for him.  He has to settle for having his brain melt so it can rewire itself because it literally cannot cope with his new, lower status.  And you thought you were depressed after losing the annual Christmas Monopoly game to your snot-nosed nephew who still has a lisp.

Serotonin, winning, losing and social hierarchy have been around forever. Prozac® works on lobsters to make them less depressed.

But the winning lobster wins even more and becomes more dominant.  If he were a person, he’d be setting himself up for a successful career.

Because loser lose. And they pay for it.  They’re sicker, they die earlier, and they have a lower likelihood of producing offspring.

Dr. Peterson then references Price’s law – Price’s law pertains to the relationship between the literature on a subject and the number of authors in the subject area, stating that half of the publications come from the square root of all contributors.

Winners win.  He brought up classical music.  Half of classical music played is from four composers:  Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky.  And only a small number of the songs from those four are the most beloved songs in classical music.  The same principle explains why Jeff Bezos is planning to create an Amazonian Interstellar Empire while you can’t afford to pay your car insurance bill this month.  Winning is awesome.

It’s so awesome that if you win?  You live longer.  You’re healthier.  You enjoy life more.  You’re confident.  And you have all the serotonin and PEZ® that you could want.

And we can’t all be Bezos.  But we can stand up straight like a hero.  It will make you feel better, stronger, and just adopting that confident pose will help spike your serotonin and stop your lobster-brain from melting into loser configuration.

Back to Peterson:  “To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open.”

And back to Wilder:  “I want to go out of this world as I came into it – screaming and covered in someone else’s blood.”  (This apparently is from Sniper: Reloaded, per the Internet, but I’m going to pretend I wrote it.)

Rule 2:  Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible for Helping

This chapter has a fairly long digression on Order and Chaos.  Interesting, philosophical, but Dr. Peterson could have anchored it more firmly to the Rule.  I’m not complaining, but I’m not going to talk as much about it since it was rather obliquely tied to the rest of everything going on in the chapter.  This chapter probably could have used a bit more ruthless editing.  Again, great stuff, just needed to tie it all up in a bow.  Dr. Peterson:  I volunteer if you need a hand next time!

Back to the Rule:

Think of how you talk to yourself when you look in the mirror or have just screwed up.  It’s horrible.  And if a friend talked to you EVEN ONE TIME as much as you berate yourself?  You’d cut them out of your life pretty quickly.  But it’s much messier when it’s you treating you like that, because you can’t tell you that you never want to see you again.  Just not practical.  Unless you’re an old timey vampire and your reflection can’t be seen in a mirror.

I digress.

Other takeaways:

On “protecting kids” from this chapter . . . you can’t keep them away from the evil of the world so . . . “It is far better to render Beings in your care competent than to protect them.”  Why anything less for yourself?

Peterson has several powerful questions at the end of this chapter, an example:  “What might my life be like if I were caring for myself properly?”  And no, I won’t list them all.  Buy the book.

Rule 3:  Make Friends with People Who Want the Best for You

Thoroughly enjoyable chapter, with all of the backstory that you’d expect in a superhero origin movie.  Reading Peterson’s version of his adolescence brought memories of mine back, as we both grew up in rather small, remote, cold places.  And, no, that doesn’t refer to our father’s hearts.  It ends with a friend that couldn’t be saved – because the friend didn’t want to be saved.

I’ve had a great friend walk down the drug path, where they’d do and say anything to get more money to buy more drugs.  Did I want the best for him?  Sure!  Did I try to help?  Absolutely.  But the last night he was in my car was the night he snorted coke in it.  And the reason why I didn’t lend him anymore money was he never paid me back the $75 that I lent him.  Oh, he paid me back, he said.  Left it under my front door mat.

I didn’t have a front door mat.

And friendships are reciprocal.  I was promoted at work (years ago) and placed in the partially uncomfortable position of managing the people who had been my peers, sometimes for years.  One of them was Willie.  Willie was a certified genius.  When he was a summer college intern, he (and all the other interns) were offered 3% of anything they could save the company.

He saved them three million dollars.

They gave him a cool computer and a check for several thousand dollars.  But not $30,000 to an intern.

So, I’m in the position where I’m supposed to lead Willie.

He kept coming in late to work.  It made sense because the people that he mainly worked with were several timezones west.  He’d get in later in the morning, and stay until 7pm or 8pm.  Makes sense, right?

Not to the company president.  “He’s late again.”

Oh, man.  First time leading a department and Willie was going to sink me.

“Willie, you’re killing your career.  The president of the company is on my back.”  The president was six layers of management above me.

“I don’t care.”

“Willie, you’re killing me.  They’re going to fire me if you keep coming in late.”

“Oh.”

And Willie was never late again.

A friend?  Absolutely.  We still talk to this day, even though we haven’t worked together in well over a decade.  If I needed to borrow silly amounts of money?  Yeah.  I could do that with a group of at least seven friends.  Find those people.

Surround yourself with people who will not stand for you hurting yourself, and would do anything to avoid hurting you.  Avoid those who you are friends with only out of loyalty, and whose motives are suspect.  Lies?  Deal breaker.

One of the things I love about Dr. Peterson is that he’ll quote Homer Simpson.  And Dostoevsky.  In the same chapter.   And he does it in this thoroughly enjoyable chapter.

Rule 4:  Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday, Not Who Someone Else Is Today

The Internet makes it easy to compare any aspect of yourself to the best of seven billion people.  And you’re not one of them.  Someone is smarter.  Someone is richer (unless your name is Bezos) and someone plays better guitar than you.  If you get caught up in making these comparisons, you’re always going to lose.

And we’re not wired that way.  We’re wired to know about 150 people really well and trust them.  We can get to trusting larger numbers (through various means) but the competition for best storyteller was once a village-wide event, not a world-wide event.  It’s not really hard to be strongest out of 150 people.  It’s not really hard to be one of the best singers.

But today?  At the touch of a button I can make myself feel inadequate by comparing myself against tons of different people.

Peterson:  “Who cares if you’re the PM of Canada when someone else is the president of the United States?”

But the only real competition for me is me.  Am I getting better?  Am I pushing myself to be the best Wilder I can be?  And are the people really happier?  Was Tom Petty (LINK) happier than me?  In a hobby, I sometimes look to see what happened to famous people who I envied in my youth.  Almost universally, I turn out ahead of them.  And many of them are dead, youthful, untimely deaths.  Tom Petty or me – who has it better?  Me.

Realize that you can strongly influence your daily progress.  Do you want to be CEO?  Really?  Probably not.  80 hour weeks every week probably aren’t your thing.  Understand how your talents can best be used, and then work like hell at being the best you possible, because competing against seven billion?  That’s going to kill you.

So will fighting a giant radioactive lobster with a cannon . . . more on Peterson next Friday.

I’ve written more about Peterson’s ideas here (LINK), here (LINK), and here (LINK).  Click on them if you love Truth.

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.

Simple Way to Avoid a Heart Attack, Roman Style

“Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing, ask what is it in itself?  What is its nature?” – Silence of the Lambs

 DSC03736

So, if I’m reading this right, I’m not supposed to stress out the alligators?  I’m not supposed to stress out the 400 pound armored killing machine?  Okay, getting right on that.

I ran across a health article about heart disease the other day by an actual medical doctor, not an amateur Civil War surgeon like me (Motto:  Splinter in your toe?  Amputate.).  Dr. Mercola’s theory was simple, that stress causes inflammation which causes the damage that kills you.  Here’s a link to his article (LINK).  Now this article was on a political site, so it wasn’t even related to the main focus of the site, but I read the article and immediately thought of you Internet.  And also me, since I was looking for something to write about today.

It just might be that stress is a problem for you that actually might kill you.  It also just so happens that I have a 2000 year old solution for you – all bright and shiny since I dug it up in my backyard last night:

“Your present opinion founded in understanding, your present conduct directed to good, and your present contentment with everything that results.  That’s enough.” – Marcus Aurelius, Mediations 9.6

Okay, okay, you say, it’s John Wilder Talking About Dead Romans Again.  And you’re right.  Because they were ever so much more like us than you might imagine.  Marcus Aurelius was a Stoic.  And he was also Emperor.  The book he wrote, Meditations, was just that.  His thoughts that he meditated on.  He wasn’t writing it for us, he was writing it to sort out his own thoughts and feelings.

Yeah, a Roman Emperor, able to command power few before or since ever had – King, President, Pope, and General all rolled up into one – had to work out his thoughts.  This makes sense, because Marcus was the last of the Five Good Emperors (spoiler alert) and thought himself something of a philosopher.  It’s like Vladimir Putin took time out of his busy schedule of wrestling bears while shirtless and dating Olympic gymnasts to attempt to deeply study and understand a philosophy of living that directly worked towards the quote from Marcus, up above.

But the quote above encapsulates in just a simple two sentences the core of the Stoic philosophy.  Let’s look at how it can help you reduce stress.

“Your present opinion founded in understanding . . .”

If I were to take liberties, I would re-write that one, “Your present opinion founded in truth.”

Dealing with reality was the core of the philosophy – that’s why it came first.  And if you are dealing with truth, you’re dealing in certainty.  You’re not lying to yourself.

“your present conduct directed to good . . .”

So, you’ve studied and know the truth.  Now you have the opportunity to turn your work towards the good.  You’re doing the right thing, the right way.

“and your present contentment with everything that results.”

You did the right thing for the right reasons.  You have purpose, clarity, and are taking positive action.  And, the best part?  You don’t have to win to win.  Whatever happens, happens.  If it didn’t work?  You tried.  Be content.  If it did work?  Great!  This is a formula for a low stress life.  The Stoics got to the core of it – things have meaning because we place meaning on them.  We think that the world should be a series of results, instead of a series of truthful opinions and actions directed toward good outcomes.

What happens, happens.

I know this is hard, because every day when I try to divorce myself mentally from the outcome of an action that I’ve taken, and just be cool when it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to work out.  The worst part?  When I get upset about something that didn’t go my way . . . that didn’t even matter.

Perspective that I need to remember.  Most things don’t matter – at all.

Back to Marcus:

Marcus Aurelius had a really, really awful son.  Commodus.  So bad Commodus’ wife poisoned him.  So bad that Commodus’ best friend strangled him.  So bad that they had Joaquin Phoenix play Commodus in Gladiator.  Did Marcus have a clue that Commodus would be so awful?  Probably.  But he did everything he could.  And his book has reached across centuries to us.

So, he did the right thing for the right reasons.  And it worked.

After a fashion.  To quote Marcus again:  “That’s enough.”

John Wilder is not a doctor.  Go see your doctor before you take medical advice from a blog written in a basement . . . .

What Stresses You, and Why That’s Stupid

“We’re doing him a huge favor!  And do you realize how extreme this is to go from no debt to good old fashioned American debt?  That’s the way to do it.  Plus, I’ve been envisioning someone else paying for this thing the entire time.” – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

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Yes, that’s stress.  And you didn’t have to spend 8 hours in the car with it.

Stress.  It will kill you.  That’s what I heard on a commercial once.  Or maybe it was the voices in my head.  I forget.  Anyway, probably it’s a good time to ask, “What causes stress?”

The American Psychic Psycho Psychiatric Association (APA) did a survey in 2010 that I found with a quick Google® search.  In it, they found a consistent pattern of stresses over a four year period, so I’ll generalize – the numbers are probably pretty similar today.  And I’m too lazy to look that up, so, if you’re real interested . . . you know how to drive Google©.  (Though, seriously, when the Internets were new, my boss thought I was a WIZARD for knowing how to find stuff with the search engines and directories of the day.)

Money – Yes.  Not having enough money is amazingly stressful.  At one point in my life after my ex-wife (PBUH) left (which made both of us happy) she handed me a plastic bag that represented my financial life.  It took three months to sort out and at least be paying everyone something each month.  And I realize how fortunate that makes me – some people go for decades like that.  And it is the single most common stress – up to 75% of people are stressed out about money.

I feel really fortunate – I’ve not stressed out about money since (really) 2005.  I paid off my last car in 2000.  There just might be a connection.

If money is a stress – change your situation.  The sheer discipline and communication required for a family to climb out of a debt pit might take years.  But the day you write the final check to pay off the car.  To pay off your credit card?  It’s worth all the time you spent.  And you won.

Lots of people have awesome plans, so there’s bound to be one that fits you.  If you’d like my comments on a particular plan, email me or hit a comment.  The plans all look the same on the basics:

  1. Stop spending now.   Necessities only.  Steak?  That’s for future you.  Current you gets rice, and Hamburger Helper® when you’ve had a really good week.  Eating at a restaurant?  That’s for rich people.
  2. Get extra income. Work a second job.
  3. Minimize transportation costs. Used cars you can buy with cash.  Bikes if you can.  Buy no new cars unless you have a million dollars in net worth (hint, when you get there, you won’t want a new car).
  4. Get cheap, healthy hobbies, like hiking. Or hobbies that create income, like crafts you can sell.

Work – A little over two thirds of people stress about work.  Sure.  We’ve all been there.  As a guy, for much of my life I’ve taken a significant amount of personal meaning from work, sometimes letting it be the thing that defines me.  I go there, and I want to do something important.  I want to go chasing dragons.  I want to do meaningful things.  I want to walk into a burning petroleum tank accompanied by two Chicago firefighters (spoiler, I’ve done that) and walk into stuff that’s just exploded to figure out how to fix it (spoiler, I’ve done that, too).  But a significant amount of work we do today isn’t meaningful.  And, based on observation?  60% of most people’s workday (assuming you’re in an office and not doing physical work) is wasted.  Outside construction work, for example?  I’m thinking about 40%.

TPS reports?  Yeah, we’re doing a new cover sheet.  Feel like your job has meaning now? 

I’m not sure how girls feel, or even if girls have actual feelings (beyond light/dark or salty/sweet, I mean) but I get the sense that the meaning they get from work is most often secondary to the meaning they get from “being mom” or their social circle and social interactions.

So, if you’re not getting meaning from work, get it somewhere else.  Be a kid’s sports coach.  Brew craft beer.  Find a passion to your life.  Heck, if you’re really boring, you could even blog.

Economy – A little under two-thirds of people stress about the economy.  This is borrowing future potential problems so you can worry about them today!  With no interest charge!  This was the most variable, but seemed stuck in third place.  What would a stoic say?  “Keep in mind you’re going to die, possibly in a painful and embarrassing situation involving a poodle, so the future economic indicators and the current price of bitcoin shouldn’t bother you.”

If you’re stuck worried about what might happen?  I can’t help you.  You will have problems.  They will get better.  The economy will tank again, hard, during your life.  The economy will grow again, massively, during your life.

Spend your energy improving you.  And, be like me.  When the stock market drops, microwave some popcorn and pull up a chair!  It’s always fun to watch New York people panic.

Family Responsibilities – About six in ten get tied up about this.  And at the point where I am in life, these take up about 50% of my free time.  The Mrs. does more, but she also has more free time.  But it really does seem like a vacation when you’ve had eight weeks in a row taken up by sports, Scouts or other kid activities and the ninth week you have NO PLANS FOR THE WEEKEND.  Sometimes I don’t get out of bed until 1pm on Saturday.  Delicious.  I love having kids around.  I also love time everlasting – time to play b-sides . . . and Blue Oyster Cult.

Okay, let me be the first to say, it looks like Blue Oyster Cult was right . . . according to our own Department of Defense.  No, not about their beautiful 1980’s beards, but about not being alone.  A future post on that, probably next month.

Relationships – More than half of people are upset about (romantic) relationships.  Blah blah blah . . . people.  I know.  I’ve been in a stable marriage for 20 years, so I don’t have as much as a foundation for discussing this.  For half the people to be stressed about relationships?  Yeah, sadly, that seems about right.  Choose your mate well – and for the right reasons.  Best case?  PEZ® heiress.  Worse?  Johnny Depp’s ex-anything.  Worst case?  Johnny Depp.

The biggest driver of this has been a group of societal changes that have really messed up the way that men and women relate to each other, and not for the better.  This will be a series of posts in the future, but I’m still working out the best presentation and point of view format.

Personal Health Concerns – A little over half of people are stressed about this.  And not that many people are really sick.  So, buck up, you hypochondriacs and stop worrying.  The rest of you who are really ill?  I’m with you, in spirit.  Get better.  I’m praying for you.

Housing Costs – Less than half are worried about this.  Much less than half would worry if you just moved out of expensive places to live.  Seriously.  Don’t live there.  Here’s a post on why your choice of location sucks (LINK).  Never spend more than 15% of your income on housing costs.

Family Health – Less than half are worried about this.  Math says that you’re worried about far more people than are worried about you.  So, pick some family members to care just a little less about.  Problem solved.

Personal Safety – This is pretty far down on the list of worries, but 30% get stress from this.  About (0.4%) of the people in the United States are the victims of violent crime each year.  If you’re that scared, I’d suggest you move from New York City if it bothers you that much.  Move to an area that’s high in Republicans – since gun crime is lowest there.  Oh, wait, stay in New York City.  I’m sure it’ll get better.  It’s not like you’d bring the same attitudes and values that made your location unsafe when you moved here, is it?

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!