Sunday, March 24, 2013

Back to the Drawing Board

Ford Motor Company released a series of ads in India that depicted women celebrities being bound and gagged in the back seat of one of its car models. It still boggles my mind that a company like this can generate these sorts of ideas which are screened and then approved by scads of people.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fun with History

For the last couple of days I've been reading a book by Patrick Dillon detailing the so called Gin Craze that London went through in the early to mid-eighteenth century. It was very interesting in describing how it began from the Dutch development of distilling wine to becoming widespread problem, and then to slowly declining. What was most interesting were the vivid descriptions of the usage of gin and its effects. Most people weren't just getting drunk off of gin; they were drinking it until they would pass out, work only enough to get money to purchase more gin, prostitute themselves until they could purchase gin, and then sell the clothes off their back to acquire even more gin. Parliament passed several different Gin Acts, but the most restrictive one effectively outlawed gin with absolutely no change in gin consumption.
Mr. Dillon doesn't ignore the parallels that England experienced to the USA's 18th Amendment which prohibited alcohol, and then the subsequent drug wars in both countries, but points out the similarities in terms of the actions the governments took and the similar ineffective results.
I never remember history being this exciting. The USA went through a whiskey rebellion in the late 18th century because of a tax imposed on distillers. The only problem is that the government conveniently ignored the fact that they were taxing a bunch of pissed off people, who then physically demonstrated just how pissed off they were. This sounds exciting, doesn't it? And I think most of history is, but the history I remember was extremely different, especially 11th grade US History.

Mr. Merret was our history teacher with a penchant for pleated pants, striped shirts, and garishly colored ties. He would walk in as we would be seated and say, "Awrightnowchirrenletsgitstaaahted." This would always prompt a couple of confused stares and "huh's" to be muttered, so he would take a deep breath and repeat, "Ah saaaaaaid awrightnowletsgitstaaaahtedlearningboutthathistooooory!" Bloody rebellions were summarized down into the simple facts that they had occurred and were put down and that life continued. Occasionally some point would excite Mr. Merret and he would start waving his arms around which would hike up his shirt and display his fleshy white belly. But more often than not, we had to make our own fun in history class. And consequently get into trouble.
"CAMERON! BRADLEY! WHY are y'all taaaaahlkin'? Ithoughtisaidididntwanttohearno taaaaaahlkin'!"
"Oh, we weren't talking Mr. Merret. We were singing."
"...Oh. Ok. Now as I was sayin'....CHAAASTOWN wastheporthathadthemostsugarexportsin-"
"Mr. Merret, where is Chastown? Isn't it in Bolivia?"
"OfCOURSEitsnotinBolivia! This is US HISTORY! It's in So' CarolIIINA!"
"Oh, ok, Charleston."
"Yes! That's exactly what I saaayed! Now if we-CAMERON! BRADLEY! WHY are y'all taaaaahlkin'!"
"We were just discussing the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act, Mr. Merret."
"Yes! And what an act it was!"
"....Oh. Ok. Nooooww second to port Chastown was Nawlins."
"...That's in...Idaho?"
"Well, there's no such thing as a dumb question! Where is it?"
"It's in Looseyanna."
"Oh! Louisiana! Ok, I think I understand now. I'm going to make a hundred on the next test, don't you worry Mr. Merret!"
"[indecipherable mumbling] Awright, now if there aren't any more questions, can we PLEASE continue?!"
"Mr. Merret, why didn't economists step in and point out that a tariff act would effectively raise the current prices of goods in addition to lowering consumer surplus? Why didn't they point this out? Why didn't the Federal Reserve Bank step in sooner for the Great Depression? WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE?!"
Mr. Merret would pause, face flushed, and would begin waving his hands, exposing his belly, "AH CAIN'T DEAL WITH ALLTHISNONSENSEYOUCHIRRENAREEXPOSING ME TOOOOO! Y'ALL DRIVE THE POPE TO DRAAANK!"
And it was usually at this point that the bell would ring and we'd all hightail it out of there before detention could be awarded. So although the history was rather dull, the process of learning it was the most exciting.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Dog and His Morals

Morals are most burdensome things. Half the time people carry them all over, never getting a rest from them and never needing the use of their morals. It isn't until they reach their twilight years and begin pondering that they never had much use of their morals and that if they shed them thirty years ago, perhaps they wouldn't be so tired now. The other half of people get their exercise by wrestling and grappling with their morals every chance they can get; usually on the weekends and in dimly lit pubs and seedy bars.
But of all the animals that are the most moral and honest, the dog is top in that he has no morals to speak of. At first it sounds strange and downright backwards to make such a bold statement as this, but make time and hear me out. A dog is not burdened by morals like the rest of us. He knows he has no morals, but doesn't attempt to disguise unlike some of us, and makes no attempt to seek some out.
The dog came into this world naked and figures that that's the way he was meant to be and conducts his day's business au naturale. He isn't burdened like we are, in that we cloak our hides in various get ups and fashions of the day, perhaps to conceal how much hair we've grown in certain areas or poor decisions with ink and needle. But a dog is happy to greet people and old friends naked and revel in that fact, whereas if we just stepped out of the bath, we immediately clothe ourselves or wrap up in several towels before we dare think of seeing company.
A dog isn't burdened with tiresome conversation or events. Often when we see children fidgeting at some event or activity, we also see the mother telling them to be quiet, behave, and act like they're having the times of their lives and be sure to thank the host or hostess when the event is over, even if they'd rather climbed trees or run pell-mell underneath the tables. And often one of us has experienced a run in with an old acquaintance who proceeded to talk our ears off when we wish at the moment that they would hurry up and drop off as that would give us a reason to excuse ourselves and carry on. But a dog is just as likely to fall asleep at these events or during these conversations with no ill will meant, and possibly give a light nip to warn not to bore him so again. He doesn't have to carry out a lie but instead lets the observer know exactly what he wishes and what he thinks of such things.
When we meet strangers, we smile and nod, even without knowing who they are, where they're from, or if they've just escaped out of Sing Sing with the intent of coming across us and doing us in. We're conditioned, despite all logic or reasoning, to be nice to people we don't know a thing about. A dog doesn't have that burden of acting nice, but will run the stranger right out of town or up a tree until he thinks it over and decides that he probably won't do any harm, or that as long as the stranger stays there, he won't bite him. If a stranger gives the dog a bit of food or a pat on the head, the dog realizes that he has a friend for life, since any man that is kind to animals is sure to have a good heart.
A dog isn't burdened by what time of night it is. If he believes that the household is in danger, he has no qualms about raising cain and letting all know that a twig snapped outside of the window, or the wind blew quite vigorously, or that you were snoring too much for his tastes. If we were to attempt acts such as these, we'd be saying "sorry!" a thousand times over, whereas if you point out to the dog that no burglars are outside, he will glance at you and soon fall asleep since you are clearly boring him.
A dog isn't burdened by what some may deem gluttonous behavior. While we clink wineglasses and slowly, methodically masticate our food to a pace that would make a turtle impatient, a dog takes quick note of his growling insides and devours as much food as possible while attempting to make off with yours when your head is turned. It isn't so much that the dog wants your food, but he figures that if you're taking that long on it then you must not be terribly hungry to begin with.
And so, a dog is the most moral animal that I know of. If a man were to attempt all of these acts that I just described, he would be declared insane. But when a dog attempts and succeeds at such things, we beam with pride at his lack of morals, pat him on the head and declare with truth and conviction, "That's a damn good dog!"

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