Somehow, Baruch Spinoza managed to get himself kicked out of Judaism in 17th century Amsterdam, where they probably didn't have a lot of Jews to spare. He said he was going to quit anyway, thus originating the Groucho Marx/Woody Allen line about not wanting to “belong to any club that would accept me as a member.” Solitary, frugal, and monastic, he will probably never be the subject of an action-packed biopic. Spinoza earned his living as a lens maker. However, there is no evidence that he died after falling into his own grinding apparatus, thereby making a spectacle of himself.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Suddenly it seems everybody I know is in a big hurry to achieve their unrealized life goals before they die. Exotic vacations, skydiving, stuff like that. Me, I only ever had two ambitions: to be a jockey, and to play the title role in a roadshow production of Annie. Thing is, whether you drag your sorry frame to the Taj Mahal or throw it out of a perfectly good airplane, at the end of the ride it's the same old you. I'm thinking the most transformative way to cross an item off your bucket list is to stop wanting it.
Monday, August 4, 2014
Life, friends, is boring. Lucky for you, I have some ideas about how to make the fact of existence a little less tedious. For instance, elevated trains tend to run on rather flat tracks. Let's make them more like roller coasters, swooping through our cities to make every commute a laff-a-minute thrill ride. Let's replace the nitrogen in our atmosphere with a blend of helium and nitrous oxide. Then we'll all talk like cartoons, and we'll all find it hilarious. Let's put all our pockets on the inside so whenever your phone rings you have to take your pants off.
Monday, July 21, 2014
Heraclitus is sometimes called The Obscure because he wrote in such a way as to make his ideas difficult to understand. That he was able to do this without the benefit of PowerPoint is evidence of his genius. He said the sun was about a foot across. He also said you can't step in the same river twice, because he never walked a dog along the Mississippi. When he got a bad case of dropsy, he slathered himself in cow dung, lay in the sun all day, and died. They also call him The Weeping Philosopher, and that's probably why.
Monday, July 14, 2014
I don't like grass. Not reefer, which I don't want any thanks for asking it gives me the fear but you go right ahead, I mean like grass out front of your house. It's just stupid. Before mowers, lawns were for grazing critters who produced delicious cheese and fuzzy sweaters. Totally cool. But growing a crop just to harvest and discard is so wasteful it's kind of obscene. Also, I read that about 40% of domestic water is using for flushing and another 40% for watering lawns and gardens. Really, the best thing to do is pee in the yard.
Monday, July 7, 2014
Timothy Wilson is a psychologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He just did a study where, basically, subjects were given the choice between spending some time alone with their thoughts or voluntarily experiencing painful electric shocks. Most folks opted for a jolt of the juice in preference to a quiet ramble through their own heads. I can’t know what’s happened up in those noggins, but I’m figuring probably nothing good. Which might explain how come there’s so many sources selling ideas and opinions you can simply absorb and regurgitate instead of having to come up with your own.
Monday, June 30, 2014
Been driving for the past two days, basically coast to coast but vertically. Friends, there is a lot of corn and soybeans and precious little else to see between the Gulf of Mexico and the shores of Lake Michigan. We did notice again that many exit signs suggest names of imaginary silent film stars (Darien Whitewater) or riot grrl singers (Victoria Luxora). Then, I was in a men’s room having done what men do in those rooms, and at the sink I saw a sign that said WASH HANDS BEFORE RETURNING TO WORK. And I thought, “Hell, I’m on vacation.”