Monday, January 26, 2009

Useless Advice and Other Topics

Before we get to the useless advice, I wanted to answer Jacques Conejo’s questions that he left in yesterday’s comments. We try to run a full-service blog around here.

First, he wants to know where the term “neat as a pin” comes from. This one is easy: from the same person who invented the phrase, “cute as a button.”

Next question: have 77 billion humans indeed lived on this planet since our species became what we could call “human?” I thought this number was way high, so I went to teh googles and found that there are two main reasons for the high number of human predecessors who lie moldering on our planet. One, we’re talking hundreds of thousands of years, so the numbers add up. Two, early humans had very short lifespans – as short as 10-12 years on average -- which necessitated a very high birth rate to maintain human numbers. So... we had a lot of ancestors, but they didn’t live very long.

About Martian methane, I always thought planetary astronomy was a gas. It has been speculated that the methane outbursts observed in the atmosphere of Mars means that there is life under the surface. But this is not necessarily the case. Astronomers will be doing further research to try to pin down the cause.

About useless advice, I’m reminded of a person who used to write for Grassroots Press. She was talking about the collapse of civilization as we know it. One of her recommendations was to save seeds. I just had to laugh. The disconnect between the reality and our response to it is so vast as to be ludicrous. The absurdity level is almost unbearable.

Without further ado, my useless advice is to pay off your mortgage! See why it’s useless? How many Americans can just snap their fingers and pay off their mortgage? Many mortgage-holders might be able to make an extra mortgage payment from time to time, but their mortgage might still take many years to pay off. Our recent era of artificial prosperity would have been the ideal time to pay off your mortgage, but conventional advice encouraged people to make other investments (such as the stock market). In fact, a mortgage has conventionally been considered an asset rather than a liability.

The big disadvantage to my personal lifestyle choice – back-to-the-land homesteading-survivalism-whatnot is that I’m stuck here. I can’t just up and move. Southern New Mexico hardly seems like a logical choice. For many people, nomadism might make more sense.


Anonymous Jacques Conejo said...

Well! Thank you so much for turning on that carefully preserved fountain of knowledge that we all know lives within your skull...

As a source of wisdom and specialized information on key human issues, no one holds a candle to you Gordon. (let's hope no on Mars trys to, eh? - Hey, does methane burn without oxygen - Oh No! Forget I asked that!)

"Neat as a pin" - "Cute as a button" - Of course... now it all makes sense.

And thank you for your evaluation of the 77 billion humans issue. And Martian methane... well blow me down.

I had no idea that I'd be inadvertently collaborating
on "useless information" as an adjunct to your "useless advice" post. I'm honored to have been considered for even a small mention in your posting. I guess I've had my moment in the sun now. Fortunately, as Lao Tzu put it:
"That which has no substance,
enters where there is no space".

Save seeds and pay off your mortgage. Useless advice it seems can be great advice, and still be useless...

Now there's a fine distinction for philosophers to chew on. Is "utility", or the potential of application, the primary measure of value for advice? Hmmmm? I can hear now, teeming, roiling seas of the unemployed, sitting cross-legged in sweltering asphalt parking lots of abandoned malls across the country, palms turned to the sky, chanting meditations upon the issue of "useless advice".

Thanks for giving Americans something useful to do with all the excess time we'll soon have to invest... Yes, investing our time usefully - measuring the concept of uselessness...

Or I guess we could go directly to one of the pinnacles of "living uselessly". We could sit around and shout (certainly great, but still useless)advice at the T.V.on Superbowl Sunday!

As always... Thanks for putting some unequal torque to the lug nuts, on the wheels of our perception.

Peace to you and yours...


7:50 AM  

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