Things To Do To Pass Time – During the War

The administration, the neocons, and all their heirs and assigns have promised us a long "war." Let us take them at their word, if only on this point. It follows that we shall be in need of various activities and distractions during the War. They can't actually expect us to believe in it, can they?

To fill up the time, we suggest the following:

1. Read very old books by Bill Buckley Jr. in search of insights. Note: nothing after Up From Liberalism is really worth your time, even during a War. To extend the life of this project you may have to cut the pages into pieces, paste them together while blindfolded, and edit the resulting text. See if Mouton will publish it.  

2. Get a satellite dish and watch cricket matches. Some of them take aeons to finish. You might outlast the War just with cricket. Also, read C.L.R. James on cricket, even though he was a bloody great Marxist. 

3. Take up shoe repair. Fix all the shoes in Argentina. 

4. Tour all the flea markets within a three-state radius of your house. 

5. Read the entire Marx-Engels Gesamt-Ausgabe in German. Good Lord, there must be fifty volumes of it. If the War is still “on” when you've done that, read all of Lenin in the old Progress Publishers edition. The seventy-some volumes are chock full of bad ideas, but you're killing time, remember? 

6. Search for the Holy Grail. 

7. Check the Congressional Record for the period 1946-to-last-week and make a note of every time someone denied that federal aid to education would lead to federal control. Add them up. Compare the total to that Big Number in the Mayan calendar. Write a book about the conspiratorial implications.  

8. Teach your dog to yodel. 

9. Go from Anchorage to Vladivostok by unicycle, the long way around.  

10. Get two PhDs, one in psycholinguistics and one in equine management. Then write a book proving that Mr. Ed could so speak. Change your name to Willllburrrr. 

11. Work for the destruction of the Republican Party. If the War is still “on” when you have accomplished your aim, work for the destruction of Democratic Party.  

12. Discuss the Oedipal conflict between Gilligan and Mr. Howell. Feel free to write four volumes on the subject. Reference every one of Shakespeare's plays. 

(There is no #13. Bad enough there's a War "on," without having to deal with 13.)

14. Square the circle, solve the pre-Socratics' paradoxes in two steps, and climb the Matterhorn. It will help if you learned to yodel while teaching that dark art to your dog. 

15. Draw up a transformational grammar of Bushese. Test the hypothesis that the Bush family speaks a Germanic language distantly related to English. Consult with Noam Chomsky and Sebastian Shaumyan if you run into trouble. Write a lengthy book about the ensuing controversy.  

16. Smile when the warmongers look grim. Look grim when the warmongers smile. Go manic when they are depressed, and the other way around. 

17. Get an old turntable. Play the Beatles backwards. Play the Stones backwards. Play the Who backwards. Play a country song backwards. Warning: the Geezinslaw Brothers have already done the last experiment. On the basis of their research, you must be prepared for some funny post-Einsteinian time flows.  

18. Achieve apodeictic certainty. Understand and expound the category of action. Eliminate all performative contradictions from your life. If the War is still “on” after that, take up Buddhism. 

19. Find inner peace.

20. Explain Frege to the masses. 

21. Work two weeks in every fast food restaurant in North America.  

22. Reconcile the early Wittgenstein with the later Wittgenstein. Reconcile the early John Gray with the late-early John Gray, then with the early-middle John Gray, followed by the middle-middle John Gray, the late-middle John Gray, the early-current John Gray, and so on, down to last week. Reconcile Jekyll and Hyde and Moe and Curly.  

23. Separate the Neo-Conservatives from the War with a hypothetical crowbar. Invent a time machine and go to Mexico and prevent the assassination of Trotsky. Listen to Trotsky drone on about how he and Lenin agreed on everything and were always right. This will take years.  

24. Set up a noisy NGO and lobby for animal rights. Set up a government quango to negotiate with the NGO. Take up the bongo and move to Roratongo. 

25. Prove or disprove Benjamin Whorf's “phonesthetic” hypothesis that words with -ng- in them involve some psychological notion of strangulation, anger, or angst.  

26. Take up insurance adjusting in Detroit. Specialize in fires.  

27. Read every book ever written denouncing South Africa. Read every book ever written denouncing Soviet communism. Express the resulting fraction as a ratio, a percentage, and a graph. Hint: the anti-Soviet works will be the numerator. If the fraction is larger than 1/100, check your work.

28. Pick out the cheerful bits in the writings of Whitaker Chambers.   

29. Build a private lighthouse. Staff it with refugee redheads who oppose the monarchical ambitions of the Jones family. Have the redheads reconstruct political philosophy while casting a bronze statue of Oskar Lange. 

30. Buy these two collector's edition DVD sets: M*A*S*H – Season One and M*A*S*H – Season Two. Watch all fifty or so episodes, and commit to memory season two's most famous episode, Five O'Clock Charlie. Or, watch the Dr. Pierce and Mr. Hyde episode (again, season two) where Hawkeye goes three days without sleep and tries to give the officer’s latrine to North Korea.

31. Write Pioneer Entertainment a series of nasty letters asking why the hell Al Pacino's Serpico hasn't been released on DVD yet.

32. Become familiar with Pierre Kropotkin's theories on altruism, and then determine whether the Atlantic Charter was genuine mutual aid on the part of fuzzy-and-warm politicians, or just plain old imperialism. As a sideline, ponder why Cordell Hull, "father of the United Nations," received a Nobel Peace Prize for his advancement of "peace" when, under FDR, all he really advanced was US entry into WWII.

33. Take up plyometrics to increase your power and strength.

34. Create a massive Eric Voegelin crossword puzzle, and figure out how to make it compliant with words such as gnosticism, millennialism, utopianism, Ersatz religion, Heidegger, and positivism.

35. Find a talented translator that can sing Roger Miller's "Dang Me" in Russian.

36. Study the Italian spatialism (or Spazialismo) movement in art. Upon learning the stated techniques, paint the exterior body of your car and any and all chrome a deep gloss black, and then slash the car paint with razor blades. You can now be self-assured that you have transcended the area of the canvas and conveyed emotions of color projected upon space.

37. Have a garage sale/yard sale to get rid of your Steely Dan, Carole King, and Santana 8-tracks. And while you're at it, think about selling your old banana seat Schwinn bicycle that is collecting dust in the rafters.

38. Write an essay on Sidney Hook, and discuss whether or not the government really acknowledges a prima facie duty to conduct itself according to the consent of the governed. Follow this up with the epistemological impediments to free consent. If so inclined, proceed to build a Sidney Hook seek-a-word puzzle, and bury within the puzzle – diagonally, going downward from the upper-right corner – the word "experimentalism."

39. Start buying your Halloween candy now to insure that you get plenty of bags of Alien Head Lollipops and Pixie Straws before they are all picked over.

40. For those of you in the North, terrify your neighbors by hanging out the South Carolina Battle Flag.

41. Scan the income statements, balance sheets, and overall financial reports of dotcom companies for debt-to-equity ratios, P/E ratios, and leverage. Then take a strong sedative. Lie down. Count Alan Greenspans to help fall asleep.

42. Go to a local junkyard and take close-up photos of bent steel and old rims, and include some shots of torn seats from a 1973 Chrysler Newport or 1982 Chevy Chevette. Matte them, frame them, and sell them at all of those flea markets within a three-state radius that you are supposed to visit. Include a Boxcar Willie songbook or black-light posters of Lynyrd Skynyrd as freebie items to entice the sale of said photos.

43. Count Alexander Hamilton's contributions to the Federalist Papers. When that is all done, and you are sure of your tally, count the number of times "insufficiency" is used in his essays. Then count how many times "taxation" and "necessary" are used. Then, just for kicks and grins, count how many times "taxation" and "necessary" (or some meaningful proxy for that word) are used in the same sentence.

44. Get a pair of Accu-Measure calipers to measure your body fat. If it reads like, say, 35%, you have been sitting around for far too long watching war coverage on TV.

If the War isn't over by the time you've done all these things, we're in a heap of trouble. Start over from the beginning.

August 31, 2002