Rediscovering Books & Repeating History

Computers may have ruined my literary attention span. I used to devour books in my childhood but, since I discovered the World Wide Web, I’ve not been as much of a reader of books; I read a lot of news articles and journals but physical books have sadly been fading out of my life. I would like to reverse this trend.

One of my favorite things to do in a quixotic rediscovery of books is coffee shop camping – simply go in to a coffee shop with a book, order a coffee, sit at a corner table, and lose yourself in your book for a couple of hours. Obviously there are a few safety measures to take when coffee shop camping during a pandemic (bring a mask and perhaps a bottle of hand sanitizer and keep a reasonable distance from other people). If the shop is too crowded, maybe turn around, and come back another day. You may find coffee shop camping to be incredibly rewarding for your mind.

My latest literary endeavor is a secondary source of American history, The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America by Drew R. McCoy Ph.D of Clark University. At its core, it’s a book about the philosophical foundations of America’s Founding Fathers as well as that generation of people. McCoy references many familiar names such as Samuel Adams, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Adam Smith and describes common ideas from that time period revolving around Britain’s apparent corruption and a growing necessity for the colonies in America to break away from the empire. The ideal was for the colonies to become a model for “republican virtue” on the world as well as a trading source of raw, agricultural materials for the rest of the world – an ideal that I think still has merit for modern humans.

The philosophy behind the republican ideal of an agrarian republic is an interesting theory on the development of human civilizations and describes stages through which civilization advance. These philosophical “stages of civilization” are:

  • hunting;
  • pasturage;
  • agricultural;
  • and commerce.

Whereas hunting is the most simple form of civilization and commerce is the most complex, hunting is also referred to as the “rudest” stage of civilization. The republican ideal and a prevailing theory in colonial America preached that the agricultural stage of civilization was the most ideal for liberty because it was the stage of civilization that was most conducive to the human propensity for productivity (the Protestant work ethic) and allowed for the greatest degree of happiness in individual citizens. These supposed stages of civilization was a part of an Enlightenment-era effort to apply a scientific process to human sociology.

This supposed scientific method for sociology largely comes from the French philosophe Montesquieu and his French and Scottish contemporaries including:

  • Claude Adrien Helvétius,
  • Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de l’Aulne,
  • Adam Ferguson,
  • Henry Home, Lord Kames,
  • John Millar,
  • Adam Smith FRSA.

The dilemma amongst purveyors of classic republican theory in colonial America was how to maintain virtuous simplicity throughout the republic’s cultural zeitgeist in an effort to prolong the agricultural stage of civilization, staving off the corrupting influences of the later stage of civilization. This dilemma provided republicans with a convenient justification for westward expansion to provide a surplus of land to “virtuous republicans” looking to establish homesteads for their ideal America.

Is it accurate to classify 21st century America as in a post-industrial stage of social development?

The classic republican ideal for early America revolved around financial independence for each citizen through land ownership. We have to remember that citizenship and civil rights were limited to a select group of people in 17th century America but the ideal was fairly progressive for the time considering it was a divergence from the strict gentry and titled nobility of the old European societies. The ideal was for “virtuous citizens” to become land owners and establish themselves as productive members of society through industrious farming. The antithesis of this ideal was that settlers might become disconnected from the rest of the nation and devolve into a lower stage of civilization in their isolation. The republican solution to this antithesis was to expand public infrastructure to keep frontiersmen connected to the fledgling republic’s internal markets.

Is it possible to maintain the classic, republican ideal for an agrarian republic but with a large post-industrial economic sector?

Reading about 17th century America, I’m noticing similar concerns to the issues that plague 21st century America – worries over large populations of unemployed, skepticism towards immigration and fears over emigration, concern for future generations and changing trends, etc. The predominant political debates seemed to be over the preservation of the agricultural sector versus the growth of the manufacturing sector with the democratic-republicans (Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, etc.) on one side and the federalists (Alexander Hamilton, Robert Morris, etc.) on the other; the fear being that an excessive manufacturing sector would lead to “superfluous luxuries” and ultimately “corruption in government” and “effeminacy in citizens.”

How often do we hear politicians today chastise the population on accusations of degeneracy and a lack of personal responsibility and “masculine values?” It’s funny how history tends to repeat itself.

Why is cannabis illegal anyway?

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

(I wrote this essay in college and it has been in my Google Drive since. After submitting it to two local newspapers two weeks ago, I finally just came to the conclusion, “fuck it! I’ll publish it myself!” So, here it is.)


The cannabis plant is relatively easy to grow, it can grow almost anywhere on the planet, and humans have neural receptors that respond specifically to cannabinoids (THC and its relative chemicals in the plant).  Cannabis possesses multiple medicinal properties as a pain and stress reliever and it seems to be impossible to overdose on it.  The fiber from the plant can also be used for multiple industrial and commercial purposes.  Why would a government criminalize such a versatile plant?

In the first half of the twentieth century, three legislative acts defined American drug policy: the Harrison Narcotics Act, passed in 1914 under President Woodrow Wilson; the Marijuana Tax Act, passed in 1937 under President Franklin Roosevelt; and the Boggs Act, passed in 1951 under President Harry Truman.  The Harrison Narcotics Act and the Marijuana Tax Act were designed to control movement of opium, coca leaf (cocaine), and cannabis products throughout the nation.

The flaws in these acts of legislation involved limitations on medical professionals to assist so-called “non-patients” with addiction troubles and drove a sector of the drug market underground.  Medical professionals came out against these two acts of legislation in a plethora of medical journals.  The federal government, recognizing an increased national issue with drug addiction, passed the Boggs Act in 1951, which set criminal penalties for drug possession.  Naturally, this punitive measure did not help in reducing addiction.  On the contrary, it increased drug crime by inadvertently placing more value on black market products.  While the Marijuana Tax Act was eventually declared unconstitutional in 1969, it was soon replaced with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which created categories for different drugs.

Cannabis was placed in the most restrictive category supposedly temporarily while President Richard Nixon commissioned a report on the drug’s level of danger.  However; despite the Shafer Commission’s recommendations, President Nixon kept cannabis under the “Schedule 1” classification arguably to push back against the counter-culture that emerged from the 1960’s.  In the decades following the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis’ “Schedule 1” classification severely limited scientific research on the plant.

Momentum for reform grew out of citizen-led movements like the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws at smaller government levels.  The states of Maine, Oregon, and Alaska were the first to decriminalize (not legalize) cannabis after President Nixon’s Controlled Substances Act.

The past efforts by the United States government to regulate drugs have been about controlling the crop and regulating the behavior of individuals; this does not fostering a safe environment for entrepreneurs.  Drug usage is an issue that revolves around a human conditioning for instant gratification, which comes from arguably the strongest part of our brain: the limbic system, which houses our emotions.  Governments are not going to rewire human emotions with punitive laws against drug use.  A more pragmatic method for dealing with drug use and the issue of addiction is to place it exclusively under the jurisdiction of medical professionals rather than law enforcement agencies.  Driving a product into the black market just creates more issues for our society, issues that are more dangerous than the original issue of drug addiction.  As a society, we should not be pushing the weakest among us into the arms of violent criminal enterprises, we should be shining a light on the black market with a benevolent domestic policy of liberty and justice for all.

New President, Same Shit

In the wake of a tense presidential election, amid an uneasy truce between two presidential administrations (one outgoing and the other just starting up), it’s important to remember that the average American is still fucked into submission by a twisted democratic process and a rotten economic system that exploits the down-trodden while rewarding the most ruthless.

The jig is up for President Donald Trump. A federal appeals court has ruled against the outgoing one-term president in Pennsylvania and stock numbers are rising in the face of a new president. The Republican Party now has some important questions it must ask itself as we move forward.

As we move forward as Americans, let us remember that winning an election is actually the easy part of the political process. The harder part is actually governing. Anyone can talk up their game during an election with the intent of gaining power but candidates need to back up all that rhetoric afterwards (if they win). The reality is that our two dominate political parties have been failing us for a long time.

Tricky Transition

The final electoral vote count for the 2020 election is 290-214, Joe Biden is going to be the next President of the United States of America. Of course, President Donald Trump is throwing a temper tantrum over the election results because it did not go his way and he’s nothing but a spoiled New York socialite whose was handed success by his father.

I’m not going to pretend that there are not a lot of undemocratic things about American democracy but that is par for the course. As far as American elections go, Biden is the clear winner. President Trump needs to stop the whining and accept defeat; there’s a first time for everything.

Let us not forget the setbacks that the Democratic Party experienced this year. While Democrats were optimistic about picking up as many as fifteen seats in the United States House of Representatives; they lost at least six seats in the House.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in Florida’s 26th District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Carlos Gimenez.

U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala in Florida’s 27th District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Maria Elvira Salazar.

U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn in Oklahoma’s 5th District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Stephanie Bice.

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson in Minnesota’s 7th District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Michelle Fischbach.

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres-Small in New Mexico’s 2nd District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Yvette Herrell.

U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham in South Carolina’s 1st District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Nancy Mace.

What do these losses mean for the Democrats? It doesn’t matter, it’s not like they’re going to learn from any of them.

Post-Election Madness

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

In the aftermath of an incredibly close election, it looks like former Vice-President Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States of America. The current electoral vote count is 264-214.

I did not expect this election to be as close as the final results are showing but, in hindsight, it makes some sense. I’ve heard pundits on both sides of the aisle brag about the energy of their own voters claiming that the election would be a landslide for their candidate. NPR even reported this election containing the highest voter turnout in American history. With each side being galvanized to the teeth by punditry, a close race is a logical conclusion.

Let us not dwell too much on our collective orgasmic experience that was #ElectionNight and let us get back to the reality of the two shitty options that we Americans had to choose from in our supposed democratic-republic. Personally, coming from a family of loyal disciples to the Democratic Party, I expect the Republican Party to put up a shitty candidate (a childhood full of partisan brain-washing has engrained that bias in me). But the Democratic Party started this election cycle eleven candidates and THIS SHIT IS WHAT WE ENDED UP WITH?! Pervy-old Biden and Copmala Harris? Notwithstanding the fascistic corruption of the 2-party duopoly that has maintained control of American politics for a century, gradually dumbing down the national conversation with increasingly similar “opposing” candidates both favorable to the corporate interests that have become akin to a new aristocratic class. Presenting #Election2020 – the chance to choose between a Democratic Party man with a voting record of fraudulent war, “tough on crime” bullshit, and further degradation of higher education and a Republican Party outsider born into money with the emotional intelligence of a toddler and grabs whatever junk he wants to grab. If this is the best we can do as a nation, than we don’t deserve to hold the reigns of global power.

I used to be more involved in American politics – I’ve volunteered for three presidential elections and one gubernatorial election – and I’ve come to realize just how undemocratic our democracy really is. The democratic systems that govern Americans are far from ideal democracy/republicanism. I like to view our progressively degrading political candidates as a sign of our increasingly declining empire.

Is anyone interested in learning Mandarin with me? Which Chinese language would be more practical to learn: Mandarin or Cantonese?

What holds people back?

Take the right turn in Duke City and you can find anything.

The feeling of “living just enough for the city” as Stevie Wonder so elegantly phrased it is becoming more common in American cities.  Housing prices are soaring above wages and the gap between the working lower classes and the upper affluent classes is stark but opportunities remain.  There are always opportunities for the less fortunate, it just requires a little creativity.

I commute to my job on public transit and every day I see people who look as though they are going hard times – not well dressed, poor hygiene, a little spaced out (possibly on a foreign substance) – but they all seem to be able to scrape together enough money for a bus ticket.  What’s even more amazing is that most of these people have a smartphone in-hand with ear-buds or headphones on their heads.  Regardless of how my lower-class peers are able to afford these small luxuries, I don’t think they realize the kind of opportunities they can access with these devices alone.

A mobile phone can provide one with organizational tools for planning a day and recording other phone numbers for future reference (the start of any entrepreneurial endeavor) as well as grant you access to an internet connection via any public library or city-owned building.  Are most people even aware of the existence of public libraries these days?

I’m not the most entrepreneurial or business-minded person but I can still hold a job and keep hold of some money; it doesn’t take a lot of thought or effort.  What is holding so many people back?  Drugs, mental health, an inability to utilize money effectively, obsessive personalities combined with addictive (or even criminal) behaviors?  I genuinely want to know.

7-Ways-to-Stay-Motivated_v3-01-1

The Game Awards 2019 (Round-Up) — Daily Gaming Report

The Game Awards 2019 (Source: GameSpot) – The Game Awards happened tonight, December 12th, live from Los Angeles, California.  In case you missed it, The Game Awards streamed live on YouTube and was hosted by the show’s creator, Geoff Keighley.  The most notable moments include: The brand new Xbox console, Xbox Series X, trailer, The Muppets . . .”

via A Round-Up Of The Game Awards 2019 — Daily Gaming Report

Watch the awards here:

 

Milk Mustachio Stout – Tractor Brewing

Creamy, smooth, muted hints of coffee, and superb drinkability – this stout is Tractor Brewing‘s coup de grace (if you like stouts).

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Milk Mustachio Stout, Tractor Brewing Company, 2019.

A smooth coffee-flavored, alcoholic beverage seems perfect for a Friday night as a lone guitarist provides some euphoric background tunes.  I may have been a little harsh in my last review of Tractor, one cannot judge a brewery by on beer.  It’s a good place to relax after a busy day at work serving fried food to fat Americans, a place where nostalgic millennials can go to lament about their lost hopes and forgotten dreams.

Happy holidays, you degenerate pig fuckers.  Be safe out there.

Bungie Explains Why Some Destiny 2 Eververse Content Costs Silver Only — Game Rant

“The microtransaction side of Destiny 2 known as Eververse has had a complicated history ever since it was first introduced in the first game.  Its addition post-launch and periods of time, especially at the launch of Destiny 2, when it felt as though really good content was locked behind its paywall among other issues have left many players feeling slighted by Bungie’s implementation of Eververse that has not always appeared very player-friendly. . . .”

via Bungie Explains Why Some Destiny 2 Eververse Content Costs Silver Only — Game Rant – Feed

 

Remember Self-care

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

Happy Friday, people.  It feels good to be productive after a vacation, be it your day job hustle or your side hustle, and I’m in an especially good mood considering I get paid today. 🙂

It’s also easy to get caught up in your hustle which is why it’s important to take some time every day to take care of yourself and relieve some stress; working is virtuous but not if you forget to live as well.  Being health conscious includes your mental health as well as physical health (perhaps more so) so remember budget time for yourself to avoid burning out.

Personally, I like putting on some lo-fi music in the evening when I’m unwinding from my day job at Wingstop.  There are several channels to choose from on YouTube but lately, I’ve been tuning in to some synthwave.