A good friend teaches Political Science at UNC/Chapel Hill. Said early last school year he assigned a research paper to an undergraduate class on some highfalutin political issue… an assignment one of his graduate aides was to grade.
The aide came in after having had the papers for a day or so to show Joe this one paper which demonstrated some considerable insights into the issue… even for Joe’s tied old eyes, which have studied the science of politics for near half a century. They tried to place the student by his name, but neither the aide nor my friend could. Just a vacant-faced underclassman in a large UNC classroom.
Brilliant dissertation, however. Roughly drafted, but very smart.
The next day, the aide returned with another paper. It was a verbatim copy of the brilliant piece of work they had examined the day before.
Word for word.
Different student. Same paper.
They called the two guys in… who didn’t know each other.
Seems they had gone on line – each totally separate from the other – in search of a cut and paste answer to the homework. And separately had found a paper that met the assignment requirements exactly. Separately they had copied it. Separately turned it in.
To find out the paper had been written by a 13 year old up in New England somewhere.
You never can be too sure who writes internet crap.
Like these love-lost or eharmony columns that tell you how to handle relationships… they’re probably penned by dowdy old maids or short order cooks from Denny’s who have bad hygiene habits.
Stock market advice? Failed financial advisors.
Everyone has heard about people who meet on the internet and the emails get steamy and all… when the person on the other end turns out to be a pimple faced adolescent. Or worst, a convict in for life on murder one.
And we all get unsolicited emails on how we had it so good growing up or ways to achieve peace of mind in the turmoil of the 21st centuary and live a productive purposeful life…
But listen to me here, some are drafted by single 40 year old bed-wetters who spend their spare time collecting milky phrases from Reader’s Digest, graffiti from bus station bath rooms and Chinese fortune cookies. And in passing ‘um on, feel like they are doing good for humanity. Gives meaning to their otherwise wasted existence.
Some of you are guilty of sending on these sappy words to live by – that always seem to end with “send this on to 5 of your closest friend if you really care about their happiness.”
In the spring I got an unsolicited list of LIFE LESSONS from some mystery sage and…. I’ve done this before…. I made my own ‘comments in review, as follows:
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
Unless we’re talking about ice on a lake.
4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.
Well some friends and some family, but don’t push your luck… it’s best really not good to get sick too often. You can call in sick and go fishing, that’s OK. Don’t waste sick leave on being sick. That’s not the way God intended it.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
Credit’s easy to get, merchants can be clever and the American culture encouraged conspicuous consumption. Odds are stacked against paying off your consumer debt every month, certainly in December and January. Don’t offer encouragement to do something sounding good that’s almost impossible to a person just starting out. And certainly not # 5 on your list.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.
No this is no good. White lies, even to yourself, are a necessary part of a successful life. Men and women living close together in a marriage often have different objective in life, and white lies are occasionally needed to keep the peace.
And what’s with “stay true to yourself?” What can that possibly mean? It’s like someone says, “Have a good one…” what exact are they talking about?”
“Stay true to yourself”?!!!
Come on, you want to give advice, say something that makes sense. Too little of it out there. Like people from Louisiana putting Chinese character tattoos on their arms or neck. What possible connection can there be between Louisiana shrimpers and China. Plus a Chinese friend told me once, half the Chinese stuff used in tattoos is stupid. Like a Chinese man once spotted walking around with “Tubor the Limber dog” in English on his shoulder. Maybe someone told him it meant “Stay true to yourself.” Below is a photo off a TV network in Eastern Europe in which the wrong (I don’t know, maybe the right) US words were used by someone not up on English slang.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
No, listen. Here’s a tip. Don’t cry.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
This isn’t part of a good life plan. It gets too close to that old axiom that it is fairly easy to get rich if you are very, very stingy, but then what’s the use? You find yourself at 18 years old with a $50,000 inheritance, buy a Mustang convertible and big, big cigar. Retirement will take care of itself. You want to come screeching into that grave site, broke and worn out, anyway.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
This was written by a fat person.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
We talking about head games here, aren’t we? Here’s something…don’t make apologies so easy. Don’t internalize, just do it. Just keep on. Trust your gut and keep on. Don’t look back, they could be gaining.
It is hard to win against a man who never give up.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
Not it is not.
13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
Yea, there is something to be said for empathy. There is also something to be said for greed and selfishness. And for being judgmental, just don’t whine or be embarrassed by it. Lust I know for sure is good. It’s normal. Ask Jimmy Carter.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
I loved my Spanish teacher when I was in high school. But it was OK. That reminds me that 3 people in a relationship is a three-some. Two people in a relationship is a two-some. Me? I had handsome relationships. And they were all secret.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don’t worry, God never blinks.
He’s never played poker with bulky guy named Rocky and his pal Killer and had to bluffed with $50 he didn’t have, either.
17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.
We’re talking divorce, right? How ‘bout parents who can’t do much anymore? Are they clutter? Some junk’s good.
18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
Somebody has been watching too many movies. That was cool the first time Paul Newman said it. Nowadays, who gets stretched out that much?
And here’s something else, what don’t kill you will make you stronger, except bears. Bears will kill you.
19. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.
No I don’t buy that. A hug from a happy, young, sweet-smelling pretty girl can make me happy. She’s someone else, right?
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
Well I think taking no for an answer with Ms Asque in Spanish One was pretty good advice. If I had told her I loved her heart and soul, she would have called Principle Leonard, and I had already had my conversations with Mr. Leonard.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
This isn’t meant for men, right? Right? Men as in the southern definition, not the same-gender marriage definition.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
I think this sage writer had some extra “o” letters to use in giving advice.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
Be very careful with purple. Only in Thailand where it is the royal color does purple look good. But then you got to be a King to be comfortable with it. I think one can live a pretty damn good life without ever, ever, ever wearing purple. And, hold on a minute.
OK, I just checked my closet. No purple. No purple ties, no purple shirts, no purple jockeys… except one I washed with some black socks.
Purple is the 254th most popular color in the south.
It’s # 3 in San Francisco, right behind pink and some other color I can’t pronounce.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
Yea, so you can go have sex with yourself. Allows for handsome relationships.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
See, too many chick flick movies.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?
Yea, there was that time I farted in church…. They still remember at the Church of Wide Fellowship, and it’s been 48 years. And “Frame every so-called disaster…” ain’t clear language. It’s pretentious.
This is something you don’t see on signs in locker rooms of professional athletes or on the walls of successful CEOs. A sign that says “Win.” with maybe emphasis on the period, might work better… you know what I mean?
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
Well yes it is, sunshine. Just don’t care what others think. That’s the up side of selfishness and vanity.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
No it don’t. Remember that church fart?
32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
Again not something you’ll hear professional athletes or CEOs or military leaders say.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
Screw that. My father had me working Sunday afternoons down at the ice plant when I was 8 years old. 8.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
Well, sort of yes and no. At the end, there are competitive people who think those that end up with the most toys wins. Whether they are right or not, you find them in every community, and they seem pretty damn happy.
41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need.
Naw, you don’t. Envy, lust, want, need… it keeps you goin’. You get too satisfied with what you got, you die. Remember that man at his core is a hunter and gatherer.
42. The best is yet to come…
Well in that there is more to come, is better than all things past…
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
Yea I like that. Except the dress up part.
No, shit no. Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. Fuck ‘um. Don’t every give up. Don’t go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the fading of the light.
OK in summary… this fat mystery person says – do good, forgive, forget, don’t lust, wear lingerie, love, cry, eat chocolate and save money though give some to that filthy bum that comes up to your car at intersections.
I say, look at that photo of Boykin again. There so deep truth in that photos. That man made a gazillion dollars last year travelling Europe wearing short pants… playing games.