I’ve been splitting wood the past few days with a hydraulic splitter.
It’s a delightful task. With my ears plugged I reduce a massive pile of rounds into an equally massive pile of split wood suitable for our wood stoves.
For the most part it is piece by piece by piece by piece,
The repetition allows for contemplation about many things, from the ecology of grubs to the evolution of hardwoods, the differences between fir and oak, and though I resist, the ongoing calculations of how much time remaining to complete the job. There is also abundant time to muse on my theories, the latest being challenged by a silly hat on a football player’s head.
I have a lot of theories about life and I don’t care if they are right or wrong. Caring would demand a standard of proof of which I have no desire. My theories come free of charge and play no significant role in the world. Paraphrasing radio commercials selling Oregon Lottery Games, “My theories are for entertainment purposes only.”
I have a theory that human beings are hard-wired to form strategic alliances and that in trilateral relationships (Three sides with you in the middle) generally form one ally and one enemy.
This holds for siblings,
neighbors, cities, states, and nations.
For example, the United States loves Canada but we’re not so sure about Mexico.
Check the border if you doubt it.
In Oregon we either hate Washington and love California, or the other way around (I’m sorry Idaho, I haven’t figured you into this yet). France and Germany have a bit of history too, so do Serbia and Croatia
The complementary theory that goes with this is – you hate what and who you know more than who and what you don’t know. And it’s not just Schadenfreude (taking pleasure in the suffering of others). No, its serious business meaning that civil wars are far more bloody than foreign wars because the intimate knowledge and contempt you have for someone you know is greater than someone whose ideas you feel threatened by or whose resources you want. BUT, part of the hard wiring of this hatred is an instinctual competition for what your neighbor has and you want. In biological terminology, you are intraspecific competitors for the same resource in biological terms.
(Intraspecific competition is a particular form of competition in which members of the same species vie for the same resource in an ecosystem (e.g. food, light, nutrients, space). This contrasted with interspecific competition, in which different species compete.)
This all leads to Colin Kaepernik, the quarterback for the San Francisco 49’rs who was at the center of a shit storm last month when he was photographed wearing another team’s hat, the Miami Dolphins. For his part, Kaepernik said essentially, “It’s just a hat people” but that didn’t silence the debate about whether it is right for a player on one team to don the apparel of another. True, this debate took place largely in the mind sucking world of sports talk but I have another theory that sports culture is the proving ground for mass culture. The debate cooked down to those who felt he is free to wear whatever he wants versus those who felt that because he gets paid by the 49’rs he should only wear their apparel. Even though I didn’t much care either way, it remained on my radar and a few weeks later I stopped by the offices of the University of Oregon Track and Field staff to say hi to two young friends of mine who work there.
I am a volunteer who bristles when we get directives about wearing Nike apparel, Nike being the main supporter and sponsor of UP Athletics. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the support of Nike for what they support, but I am old school, call me 60’s generation and I think that it shows no class to require this kind of loyalty, especially as I am a volunteer who works hundreds of unpaid hours to help run the track and field meets.
I digress. Years ago my father said that he thought corporate logos on apparel or cars or anything were silly, and that if someone wanted him to wear one they should pay him, just like any other advertising outlet for the privilege. I agree. (I often imagine depositing a check for 100 thousand dollars a year in exchange for tattooing some corporate logo on my forehead like Michael Jordan (Gratuitous snarky slam).
I had a teaching student years ago who was about to graduate. She wasn’t the best teacher under the stars but she worked hard and cared a lot. She was also a Cheerleading coach and had been a cheerleader in college. One day, in an attempt to find a way to help her improve, I stopped by to watch her coach cheer. Everything she lacked as a teacher: confidence, command, and instinct was present in her cheer coaching. She was a passionate natural. I encouraged her to bring the whistle to science class the next day… Two months later she was about to graduate and a job at the rival university to hers came open for the best cheerleading coach position ion the state. She asked me if she should apply. With an eye for her bright future and to save thousands of students a less than ideal science teacher in the future, I offered an emphatic, “Yes! It is what you love and are great doing. Hesitating she said, “But its the Beavers and I’m a Duck. It took a little counseling before she lowered her resistance and applied, got the job and she’s still there. I hope she’s happy.
The University of Oregon and Oregon State University rivalry is known as the Civil War. For the most part it is a harmless and playful rivalry just like any other rivalry. It makes for some very amusing contention, even within families, and most people have a healthy perspective about it. But it isn’t the healthy balanced perspective that a demagogue can exploit by stoking artificial kinship bonds into pathological impulses that lead to genocide and war. Go Ducks!
Which brings us back to Colin Kapaernik and how the outcry against him wearing the Dolphin’s cap has a direct relation to genocide. Boom! Because of all the above theories I believe that anything that divides humans into antagonistic units opens the door to the baser instincts of survival and violence, and that caring whether your quarterback wears another teams cap forges a separation that is perverted and begins to establish a cultural psyche that can lead to genocide. Boom!
When I asked my friends in the Athletic department about CK, one thought it was the same as someone in their Nike affiliated department wearing an Adidas garment.
Nike’s big rival and that It was at least a faux-pas in the world of sponsorship. The other thought it was CK’s choice what he wanted to wear in his free time, but agreed that it was stupid. Fair enough, and these are two people who I respect, but they are of a younger generation and in positions where a certain corporate loyalty is mandatory to their survival. I had a few similar situations in my life but, being the committed contrarian that I am, usually refused to obey. I think that if I found myself magically deposited into a utopia I would find something to complain about.
Do I need to connect the dots?
CK wears the wrong cap, People who have had their ethos forged by profit driven corporate imperatives are predisposed to loyalties think that is wrong, A despot rides into the world and stokes the fires of hatred and division, The shooting starts.
So much for hauling water and chopping wood.
No more genocide for a while. I promise.