Slaughterhouse Five Quotations #3

“The visitor from outer space made a serious study of Christianity, to learn, if he could, why Christians found it so easy to be cruel. He concluded that at least part of the trouble was slipshod storytelling in the New Testament. He supposed that the intent of the Gospels was to teach people, among other things, to be merciful, even to the lowest of low.

“But the Gospels actually taught this: Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn’t well connected. 

“The flaw in the Christ stories, said the visitor from outer space, was that Christ who didn’t look like much, was actually the Son of the Most Powerful Being in the Universe. Readers understood that, so, when they came to the crucifixion, they naturally thought, and Rosewater read out loud again: Oh, boy — they sure picked the wrong guy to lynch that time!

“And that thought had a brother: ‘There are right people to lynch.’ Who? People not well connected. So it goes.” (108-109)

Book Review | Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

This book, all in all, still rings true a decade after it was published, which is a haunting fact. Collapse is an environmental book, though you wouldn’t know it from the title. Diamond surveys several past and modern societies, including Easter Island, Norse Greenland, Papua New Guinea, Japan, China, and Montana. In each, he examines how their proximate causes of collapse were all, ultimately, environmental degradation for one reason or another.

Now, as someone who is remarkably up-to-date on all things environmental, much of this book made me go “Duh!” However, for people not so up-to-date on environmental statistics or causes of environmental destruction, this book would make a lovely introduction to the subject. It also makes a persuasive case that environmental problems are, in fact, real for any global warming deniers out there. So, if you don’t believe in global warming, or if you do but have never really understood or cared to learn why these things are happening, Diamond will explain these things to you in a compelling narrative.

For those of us well-read in the problems of our modern environment, this book, redundant as it may be, is still quite fascinating. The broad spectrum of former and present societies that Diamond explores is what makes this book more than just an introduction to the causes of our current environmental issues. For us, though this is clearly an environmental book, it is also a history lesson. Have you ever wanted a crash course in the history of Easter Island? Tikopia? The Viking expansion to Greenland? Have you ever yearned to learn about the Rwandan genocide, Papua New Guinea, or Southwest Montana? Well, look no further. Jared Diamond paints a clear picture of the relationship between history and environmentalism. The way he explains the collapses of each of the societies is very political and anthropocentric, but all the while the link to that political and cultural history is rooted in the facts of environmental destruction. So, even for those of us who would say “Duh!” when he explains why deforestation will negatively affect both the environment and out economy, the crash courses in the histories of small and disparate societies still keep is engaging and fresh.

Some of his arguments are rather flimsy (such as his argument that the Rwandan genocide was directly caused by overpopulation and famine), but most of his arguments are solid and stand alone. So, ultimately, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about the relationship between history and the environment.

However well researched and well written this book may be, and however optimistically Diamond tried to portray is book, this book should haunt all who read it today. The fact is that his arguments about modern society are still 100% accurate. Not one thing has changed in our cultural opinion or attitude towards our environmental problems. Not one thing has changed in policy that is strong enough to actually halt the environmental forces bearing down on us. Ultimately, the First World is not willing to give up it’s conveniences and high standard of living for the good of the future of humanity. And ultimately, the Third World is not willing to give up aspiring to the same standard of living as the First World. This book rings as true in 2015 as it did in 2005, and that is a scary thought.

The Second Decade

Approx. Age 2

Approx. Age 2

Yesterday, I turned 20. In light of this milestone, I took a look back at my Before-I-Turn-30 Bucket List to see how far I’ve come. I only completed 3 items out of 50 before turning 20, which means that to complete the list in time, I’ll need to check off about 5 items each year through my twenties.

Age 4

Age 4

In 2014, I checked off #2 Skydiving, #22 Hiking Mt. Katahdin, and #33 Roasting marshmallows in my fireplace. I also got 1/10 of the way through #12, which is to read 60 classic books that I hadn’t read prior to making the list. I feel good about getting as far as I did, especially since I’m young and make practically no money.

Age 7

Age 7

With the money issue in mind, the items I want to complete this year are:
#5 – Go Hang Gliding
#10 – Go to Times Square for New Year’s Eve
#19 – See the new Diagon Alley section of Harry Potter World
#20 – Swim with Manatees
#48 – Go to a Renaissance Festival

Age 16

Age 16

Additionally, I need to read at least 5 more classics by my 21st birthday. I’m also planning a trip to Peru in August, during which I’ll complete 1/7 of #47 – See all new seven wonders of the world – by visiting Machu Picchu.

Age 19

Age 19

Officially saying goodbye to my teens has been a long time coming. Now that I’ve finally entered my 20s, the game is on to finish my list.

Why “Jealous” by Nick Jonas is Such an Awful Song

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Pop music is my (not so) guilty pleasure. That being said, I’m completely aware that the pop being produced today is terrible music. The lyrics are unimaginative and shallow; the melodies and chord progressions are formulaic and unoriginal; and the vocalists themselves almost universally lack talent. However, I’m capable of overlooking these glaring faults because the music just makes me want to dance and have fun.

But “Jealous” by Nick Jonas is just not a song for which I can overlook the numerous faults. There’s a simple reason for this: “Jealous” is a misnomer. The feeling Jonas describes throughout the song is not jealousy at all, it’s the feeling of being threatened, it’s fear.

Jealousy is an emotion one feels when they want something they can’t have. Jonas already has the girl, but he claims to be jealous because other guys are looking at his girl. So, in essence, he’s jealous of an imaginary relationship. I suppose some people would argue that you can be jealous of a fantasy, but I disagree. The people in Jonas’ song that are jealous are the boys looking at his girl wishing she was theirs. Jonas, in fact, is the only person in the song who isn’t jealous. He should re-title the song “Threatened,” because that’s what he’s feeling. He’s protective and insecure, not jealous.

Plenty of other pop songs come out every year that have this simple fault as well. Another example would be “Classic” by MKTO; is the girl classic or is she timeless? Those two words mean incredibly different things, though many fail to recognize it.

So, although I can overlook the majority of flaws inherent to pop music, I simply cannot stand to listen to songs that misuse the English language. If you’re too incompetent to write good lyrics, at least make sure you know the meaning of the ones you do write.