Human beings do not like being pushed around by gods. They may seem to, on the surface, but somewhere on the inside, underneath it all, they sense it, and they resent it. They know.
Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys
Nothing was ever in tune. People just blindly grabbed at whatever there was: communism, health foods, zen, surfing, ballet, hypnotism, group encounters, orgies, biking, herbs, Catholicism, weight-lifting, travel, withdrawal, vegetarianism, India, painting, writing, sculpting, composing, conducting, backpacking, yoga, copulating, gambling, drinking, hanging around, frozen yogurt, Beethoven, Bach, Buddha, Christ, TM, H, carrot juice, suicide, handmade suits, jet travel, New York City, and then it all evaporated and fell apart. People had to find things to do while waiting to die. I guess it was nice to have a choice.
Charles Bukowski, Women
At 9:13 AM, I received the following email: "And, by an act passed February 23, 1844, the time was further extended to April 5, 1846. Hill students or those of Hill’s distance learning partners. Kenneth Goodson in 1977."
That’s it. That’s the entire email. Sent from some other schmuck named Jonathan. The website from which the email was sent does not exist. It came to my inbox, not my spam… and because I’ve had a few beers (spring break, woo!), I’m spending entirely too much time trying to figure out what in the hell this cryptic (clearly bot-generated) email is trying to tell me.
I’ve seen too many movies to know that I shouldn’t ignore it.
So, I discovered in my research that Kenneth Goodson, already a convicted felon in prison, was in the Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma in 1977 was “convicted of the offense of Injuring a Public Building.”
As for what this means, I don’t know. As for the significance of the other dates, I’m still not sure.
But Kenneth Goodson, convicted felon who also injures public buildings, is trying to send me a message from the past. By email somehow. I’m sure of it.
This is serious business.
Clearly, I use my vacation time wisely.
Feel free to help me interpret this potentially life-altering email. Kenneth Goodson, perhaps I am your only hope.
It’s dangerous having to drive by one of these every day. It’s no Publix, but we make due in Pennsylvania.
1st Block Student: Hey Mr. James, could you write me a referral for my parents? You know, not a real one, but for April Fools' Day?
2nd Block Student: Could you, like, write me a referral? A fake one? And, like, say I'm suspended from school for the week?
4th Block Student: Do you think you could do me a favor?
Me: Considering the day, I doubt it.
4th Block Student: Could you write me a...
Me: Not happening.
4th Block Student: But if...
4th Block Student: Well, could I see if Mrs...
Me: No. Go sit down.
Above all remember, dear, that you have a great opportunity. … You are there by no desert or merit of yours, but only by lucky chance. Deserve it, then. Study, do your work. Be honest, frank and fearless and get some grasp of the real values of life. You will meet, of course, curious little annoyances. … Remember that most folk laugh at anything unusual, whether it is beautiful, fine or not. You, however, must not laugh at yourself. You must know that brown is as pretty as white or prettier and crinkley hair as straight even though it is harder to comb. The main thing is the YOU beneath the clothes and skin - the ability to do, the will to conquer, the determination to understand and know this great, wonderful, curious world. Don’t shrink from new experiences and custom. Take the cold bath bravely. Enter into the spirit of your big bedroom. Enjoy what is and not pine for what is not. Read some good, heavy, serious books just for discipline: Take yourself in hand and master yourself. Make yourself do unpleasant things, so as to gain the upper hand of your soul.
W.E.B. DuBois’s advice in a letter to his 14 year old daughter, sent after she left America to study in England.
Our century hasn’t been as free with words of wisdom as some others, I think, because we were the first to get reliable information about the human situation: how many of us there were, how much food we could raise or gather, how fast we were reproducing, what made us sick, what made us die, how much damage we were doing to the air and water and topsoil on which most life forms depended, how violent and heartless nature can be, and on and on. Who could wax wise with so much bad news pouring in?
Kurt Vonnegut, TIME (1988)
Hour fifteen of the seasons’s first maple syrup boil. 70 gallons of sap at the start, 12 gallons remaining. Almost there. I need a nap.
They chart my life. I don’t want to sound ponderous, but they chart my intellectual life. They chart everything that I’ve been interested in and thought about for the whole of my reading life. So if they went I would, in a sense, lose a sense of identity. They identify me. … Most of them I shall never read again, but you never know what you may want to go back to. And it does constantly happen to me that there’s something that I suddenly think, ‘Oh, I’ve got that book, let me just look that up.’ I do it every day.
Everybody has a hard job. All real work is hard. My work happened also to be undoable. Morning after morning for 50 years, I faced the next page defenseless and unprepared. Writing for me was a feat of self-preservation. If I did not do it, I would die. So I did it. Obstinacy, not talent, saved my life. It was also my good luck that happiness didn’t matter to me and I had no compassion for myself. Though why such a task should have fallen to me I have no idea. Maybe writing protected me against even worse menace.
We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.
When I say I am opposed to war I mean ruling class war, for the ruling class is the only class that makes war. … Capitalists’ wars for capitalist conquest and capitalist plunder must be fought by the capitalists themselves so far as I am concerned, and upon that question, there can be no compromise and no misunderstanding as to my position. I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth; I am a citizen of the world. I would not violate my principles for God, much less for a crazy kaiser, a savage czar, a degenerate king, or a gang of pot-bellied parasites. I am opposed to every war but one; I am for the war with heart and soul, and that is the worldwide war of social revolution. In that war, I am prepared to fight in any way the ruling class may make necessary.
If I just ate six pieces of extra thick Smith’s bacon, did I actually just eat a dozen pieces of bacon? This is why I usually don’t keep bacon in my fridge.
Look closely—you’ll recognize the formula: Underfund schools. Overcrowd classrooms. Mandate standardized tests sold by private-sector firms that “prove” these schools are failures. Blame teachers and their unions for awful test scores. In the bargain, weaken those unions, the largest labor organizations remaining in the United States. Push nonunion, profit-oriented charter schools as a solution.