Thursday, April 29, 2010

Carriage Wit Classics: Non-Smokers : The Oppressed Majority

Today's Carriage Wit Classic comes from four years ago, during my days as a corporate wage-slave.

"Cover for me for a few minutes, I'm going to take a smoke break."  If I had a dime for every minute I covered for a co-worker so he could go outside and fill his lungs full of tar, I'd be making a lot more than minimum wage.  A LOT more. 

With new scientific evidence pointing out that second-hand smoke is EVEN MORE HARMFUL than originally thought, I wonder why at jobs we actively encourage smoking by letting people take five minutes off of work whenever they feel the urge to light up a cancer stick?

"But David, they feel so much more relaxed after a smoke."  Well yeah..that's called getting a five minute break from a stressful job.  Let me go stand outside for five minutes without anything to worry about and I'll be a lot more relaxed too.

"But David, they're so addicted that its impossible to go any period of time longer than an hour without smoking something."

Wow. That's really sad on a lot of levels.  Fine, let them take their smoke breaks.  But as a nonsmoker (and thus as an employee who doesn't tire as quickly, has better breath and teeth for customer service, and is far less likely to get cancer and suck up sick leave or company life insurance), I deserve to take five minute breaks whenever I'm sick of my job too.  Instead, I stay behind and have to cover the job of two people, instead of just myself.  Do I get paid more for my efforts?  Nope.  Its just part of the job.  Its what I get for not sucking on a stick of burning chemicals.

Another thing I was thinking about today as I swept up literally dozens of cigarette butts from the front of the store...Why does smoking give you a carte blanche on littering?  If I were to walk by and throw a candy bar wrapper on the ground in front of people I'd get glared at at best, and forced to pick it up and throw it away at worse.  But when someone finishes a cigarette, its perfectly acceptable to flick the toxic stub casually onto the sidewalk or road or wherever it is you are standing.  Anyone who's ever volunteered to clean up a highway can share my frustration here.  JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE TURNING YOUR BODY INTO AN ASHY JUNKYARD DOESN'T MEAN YOU CAN TRASH THE OUTSIDE WORLD TOO!

Its bad enough you're giving us cancer just by walking by, but do we have to do your jobs and clean up your cigarette butts too?

Why is it that whenever a restaurant is forced to prohibit smoking on the premesis it makes the papers and causes a huge fit about civil rights, but everyone accepts the above incidents like its just the natural part of life?

Your rights end when they infringe on mine.

(This has been a public service announcement from our good friend Common Sense)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Manly Library: A Reading List (Part 1/4)

Just because school is soon to be out doesn't mean we can neglect reading for three months!  Consider this my public service message for reading! The more you know!

Butterfly in the sky...I can fly twice as high! Take a look! Its in a book! Its


On the Art of Manliness website, I have discovered a list of the 100 Books every man should read.

Being both a man and literate, I decided to see how I am doing thus far in my man-life.  It seems I have quite a bit of reading to do before I die.

100. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald                    Status: Read
I remember reading this one in high school and finding it tolerable.  It does, however, teach the man-lesson that often times the wanting is better than the having.
“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles… It faced–or seemed to face–the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.”

99. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli                                Status: Read
Loved this one.  Machiavelli gets a bad rap, but really he's just putting forward a neo-realistic's guide to gettingn power and keeping it.

"From this arises an argument: whether it is better to be loved than feared. I reply that one should like to be both one and the other; but since it is difficult to join them together, it is much safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking."

98. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut                       Status: Unread.  Want to Read.

I think I'm the only person in the world who didn't have to read this book in high school.  From what I heard, I missed out.

97. 1984 by George Orwell                                                 Status: Read

Loved  this one.  Rarely is a book so influential that the author's name becomes an adjective to describe an entire concept, but 1984 introduces the "Orwellian" future dystopia to modern readers.

“But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

96. The Republic by Plato                                                 Status: Read

I not only read this, I was a student teacher for a class based around it.  Every man should be a philosopher, and there's no better place to start than with Plato, the foundation of western thought.

95. Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky              Status: Unread. Ambivalent.

This one is mostly intimidating by its bulk, though thankfully its not War and Peace.  I hope to get around to this one eventually, but its not high on the priority list.

94. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger                    Status: Unread. Ambivalent.

I think I missed the window of opportunity here.  When I was 16 or 17 I might've had enough angst and cynicism to be on board, but that ship has sailed.

93. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith                     Status: Read

Another gem of my college education, this little book of common sense set the wheels of modern economics turning.  

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.” 

92. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway        Status: Unread. Curious

Hemingway is one of those authors so manly that even his semi-auto-biographical adventure books turn out to be rather tame compared to the adventure that was his actual life.

91. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde           Status: Unread. Want to read.

For all of you dapper gents and debonair swashbucklers, this book is full of impeccable wit and clever one-liners guaranteed to put the Bond back into your game.  Its a novel about pure decadence, and that's straightup interesting.  Its one of the reasons I loved "Dangerous Liaisons".

90. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck                 Status: Read.

Another high school English book, I remember it being long and dry, perhaps not unlike California grapes left too long on the vine in the sun.  It does have some manly qualities, most notably the lenghts a man will go to provide for his family.

“Fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live – for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken…fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.”

89. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley                       Status: Unread. Curious.

I'm always a sucker for a dystopian future..

88. How to Win Friends and Influence People  by Dale Carnegie             Status: Unread. Ambivalent

I've never been a fan of self-help books, but this one pre-dates that craze.  This is a subject I've never had much trouble with, thanks to a liberal dotage of wit and  charisma, but there's always room for improvement.  

87. Call of the Wild  by Jack London                            Status: Unread. Ambivalent

I'm a little tired of the 'man vs. nature' survival novel, but if I were to go back and read one, I'd select this one.  I love me some Alaskan sled dogs.

86. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris                 Status: Unread.  HOLY CRAP THIS BOOK EXISTS?!

Theodore Roosevelt is the manliest American president ever! Even his biography doesn't have a lame title like "The Life of Theodore Roosevelt" or even "Theodore Roosevelt: Bear Killer".  Its the RISE of THEODORE ROOSEVELT.  Like its the ascension of a new epoch of manliness and mustaches, which, in a way, it was. I can't believe I never knew about this book!

85. Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss                          Status: Unread. Ambivalent

I might've liked this one as a boy but the magic of building tree houses and fighting pirates is something that doesn't quite grasp my imagination anymore.

84. Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac                                                 Status: Unread. Curious.

A book about escaping the pressures of modern life and getting back to appreciating the simple things.  I'm basically living that life right now in my poverty...after reading this book I can say its more of a beatnik disdain for wealth and stability and less the result of student loans.

83. The Illiad and Odyssey of Homer                                            Status: Read

(2 for 1 special). The first thing I did after learning how to read was devour all the Dr. Seuss books in the kindergarten library.  Once that was done, the SECOND thing I did was wander into the Mythology section and start reading everything I could get my hands on in Greek and Roman mythology.  I've loved it ever since, and these two books do not disappoint my thirst for the epic.

82. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller                                                      Status: Unread. Curious.

Another book that influenced modern terminology.  Don't be a Michael Scott and use this phrase without a passing familiarity of its origins.  

81. Walden by Henry David Thoreau                                           Status: Read

This one goes back to my teenage years, sitting outside in a tree in the summer waxing philosophical and even sentimental about the tranquility of nature.  Though I'm not totally on board with the Transcendental movement, I think ever man deserves a sabbatical from the this modern life at least once.

80.  Lord of the Flies  by William Golding                                   Status: Unread. Want to read.

Another high school classic that I missed out on.  I've always been fascinated by sociology and human behavior, as well as what happens when you strip the veneer of civilization from our brutal natures.

79.  The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov        Status: Unread. Curious.

My exposure to Russian literature is sadly lacking, but this one sounds good.  The devil visits Moscow and makes fun of their enlightened skepticism. 

78.  Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut                                              Status: Unread. Curious.

Written as a fake autobiography, its supposed to be a hillarious take on abstract art that makes fun of the inflated self-importance of the artists and the high brow elite who consume it.

77.  Atlas Shrugged by  Ayn Rand                                           Status: Read.

An intimidating read at 1,084 pages, this was the perfect companion for one of my trans-atlantic flights to Europe.  The fundamental concept is that our world falls apart when individuals stop seeking their own satisfaction through personal achievement and feel a sense of entitlement to the accomplishments and work of others. This book challenges us on many levels…you may find it conflicting with your value of other people, her treatment of God, or any other beliefs you already hold. Yet, who can argue with “The most depraved type of human being … (is) the man without a purpose.” 

76.  The Metamorphosis by  Frank Kafka                                Status: Unread. Curious

A man wakes up in his bed finding himself transformed into monstrous vermin? Interesting premise..

Considering the bulk of my university education has been based around French literature, I'd say I'm not doing too badly.  Still, there's a lot left to read...  Next post I will look at 75-51 on the list.  In the meantime, what books have you read? Are there any on the list that I haven't read that you think aren't worth the read?  Men, what books on this list are on your "to read" bucket list?  Which ones have you read and enjoyed?  Which of my unread books should be highest on the priority list? Lowest?

Ladies, what about you?  Its a Manly Library, but there's no surer way to learn how we think than to read the compilation of literature on the subject of manliness.

And with that, I'm off to go sit in the park and read.