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The doctrine of the strenuous life
October 14, 2009 2:34 AM   Subscribe


 
Interesting. Ironically, my plan for next week was to spend a week in D.C. and number Republican Legislators.
posted by HuronBob at 2:55 AM on October 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


Ironically, my plan for next week was to spend a week in D.C. and number Republican Legislators.

It would save you some time to just number the 6 or 7 that aren't Republican.
posted by cmonkey at 3:07 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's been done. Congressman Flaky is #137; ask him where he got the idea (and ask him to roll up his left pant leg).
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 3:42 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I read that article. I thought, how can you possible spend a week on a desert island and make it so boring? Not that the actual experience couldn't be boring, but to write about it so poorly, and at such length.....gah.
posted by Diablevert at 4:10 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Despite the fact that I don't like fish much, don't eat crab and only like coconuts when filled with cheap Cuban rum, I really envy this guy.

Sadly the nearest to a pacific island I can get is probably the Isle of Wight. Not quite the same thing, really...
posted by twine42 at 4:12 AM on October 14, 2009


i'm no anthropologist but i don't think it would take much brainpower to ascertain how those crabs got numbered.

and seriously, couldn't he have spent the week reading healthcare bills? instead of generating epiphanies like
Day 4

Another day, and I'm sitting here watching another beautiful sunrise. It strikes me that something so beautiful goes to waste: It happens every day, yet, like the tree that falls in the forest "without making a noise," nobody in the world sees it.
get a job, hippie.
posted by Hammond Rye at 4:21 AM on October 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Anthropologists don't give a fuck about crabs, moron.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:25 AM on October 14, 2009 [66 favorites]


What do you call a Republican congressman on a desert island?




A good starting point.
posted by TedW at 4:45 AM on October 14, 2009 [16 favorites]


I wonder what Bobby Jindal would say about a crab numbering program on a volcanic archipelago.
posted by DU at 4:52 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anthropologists? More like arthropologists, amirite?
posted by Slothrup at 4:53 AM on October 14, 2009 [23 favorites]


Sounds like Tom Neale, except without the amazing story. His writing was certainly a lot better.

Previously on Mefi.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:16 AM on October 14, 2009


Anthropologists don't give a fuck about crabs, moron.

But they do study artifacts that give clues about cultures of people that don't exist anymore. So if archaeologists dug up a bunch of shells that were numbered, cultural anthropologists might try to figure out who numbered them and for what reason.
posted by burnmp3s at 5:16 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I had five children, as Rep. Flake does, a week alone anywhere would be fantastic.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:26 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is probably just a cover story for his real trip: hiking the Appalachian Trail.
posted by Flunkie at 5:40 AM on October 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


What a flake.
posted by Goofyy at 5:49 AM on October 14, 2009


I am not a number, I am a crab!
posted by Molesome at 5:52 AM on October 14, 2009 [6 favorites]



WARNING: This is a man sorely lacking any basic intelligence

Another day, and I'm sitting here watching another beautiful sunrise. It strikes me that something so beautiful goes to waste: It happens every day, yet, like the tree that falls in the forest "without making a noise," nobody in the world sees it.

A) "Nobody in the world sees it?"

Um... didn't you just see it?

B) "...tree that falls in the forest 'without making a noise,'..."

Nice attempt. Its the tree that falls in the forest when no one is around to hear, and the question is "does it make a noise?" But I'm going to cut you a little slack on that one. I see an "R" next to your name which means you have the inability to acknowledge the inherently absurd and vague nature of life, and you're the type of guy to throw quotation marks around phrases without any attempt to verify the source or correct quotation.


Get a job, yuppie.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 5:57 AM on October 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


So if archaeologists dug up a bunch of shells that were numbered, cultural anthropologists might try to figure out who numbered them and for what reason.

The life span of a crab is perhaps at most a few years -- I think. As an anthropologist, I wouldn't really know. A dead crab's shell turns into sand on the shore in a few weeks of surf action. So unless the Natives of said island a) make something out of the shells; b) use an Arabic numbering system (or even a base 10 numbering system); and c) have fucking sharpies (we can test for the presence of modern inks!) no anthropologist would give a fuck about these particular crabs.

My guess is this guy doesn't actually understand what he's talking about and thinks anthropologists are people who study animals.

Also, cultural anthropologists and even archaeologists *really* don't give a fuck about "deserted" islands, unless there is material evidence there of an extinct or migrated group of people.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:06 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who had sharpies.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:10 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


At what point are members of a civilization self-aware enough to fuck with future researchers? Is it possible that a number of unexplainable artifacts from the past are examples of these kinds of inter-millennium pranksters? Linear A? The Voynich manuscript? Plato's description of Atlantis?
posted by Plutor at 6:20 AM on October 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


MetaFilter's a tough room, Flake.
posted by Shepherd at 6:20 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can't wait for the book and dramatized TV mini-series.

Perhaps Rep. Flake should have re-read the doctrine of the strenuous life:
I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.
So you intentionally went out to an inhabited island with supplies you thought you would need, with the knowledge that you would be "rescued" in 7 days time. The island itself was teeming with easy-to-procure food sources, devoid of any real threat to human health. How is that a strenuous life? Did you get your calloused hands back after this week on the island? You were a well-prepared tourist. Your writing is enough to interest those who are stuck in their office jobs, but this is no tale of Man surviving The Wilds, becoming hardened and tough.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:23 AM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


cultural anthropologists and even archaeologists *really* don't give a fuck about "deserted" islands, unless there is material evidence there of an extinct or migrated group of people

I interpreted it as meaning that thousands/millions of years from now, some other culture would be looking for evidence of our civilization, and that the crab shells (if they had not been destroyed) would be material evidence that people at one point spend time on that island. So for those anthropologists in the future, base 10 numbering systems and sharpies might be ancient rather than modern things. It's also possible that he doesn't understand what an anthropologist is, but I was giving him the benefit of the doubt.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:35 AM on October 14, 2009


I love how we're all nitpicking about the hermit crab line, so I guess I'll weigh in as well-

He understands that hermit crabs switch out of their old shells and abandon the old ones, right?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:54 AM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Man ya'll got some pee pee in your cheerios this morning. His writing was blocky and forced, but no more than that of the dozens of pieces of hipster drivel we see all the time.

Honestly, I like the idea of a politician doing something other than politics, and I like that I don't care in the least who he is other than to be jealous of his trip.

Everyone's a critic. Get over yourselves, ya'll.
posted by TomMelee at 6:58 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


When it came time to leave home and go to college, I traded boots and Hank Williams for sandals and Jimmy Buffett, ending up on Hawaii's North Shore.

Oy vey.
posted by blucevalo at 7:05 AM on October 14, 2009


If only it were the senator from Arizona. Then I could make that "Walden for Walnuts" joke I've been saving up.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:07 AM on October 14, 2009


At what point are members of a civilization self-aware enough to fuck with future researchers? Is it possible that a number of unexplainable artifacts from the past are examples of these kinds of inter-millennium pranksters? Linear A? The Voynich manuscript? Plato's description of Atlantis?

early cultural anthropology was plagued by misleading information, outright lies, and yes, some fucking with the researchers cause having a total stranger come out of nowhere and then ask you very detailed, very personal questions about your sex life and whatnot does not engender honesty or openness.
posted by The Whelk at 7:08 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


US Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ) spends a week alone on an uninhabited island

"Finally, a place where everyone sees sense"
posted by biffa at 7:09 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Amazingly jealous. I spent two years on the island of Kwajalein during my childhood, and it is without a doubt the single most beautiful place I've ever been. I can certainly understand the appeal of a survivalist adventure in the Marshall Islands.
posted by bfranklin at 7:10 AM on October 14, 2009


I'm considering selling "urban survivalism" courses, where people are abandoned in a city with no housing, no money, no ID, and only their ability to forage for food and shelter. It's a good idea, as many people live near cities, so it's more convenient than going to a deserted island, plus you can go to the police or a hospital if you really screw up. Plus, it's a more realistic survival strategy than the usual "buy a bunch of guns and live in the woods." If everyone does that, suddenly there isn't enough wildlife to support a bunch of neo-hunter gatherers. The cities are where all the structures and canned goods will be, as well as any fragments of a functioning economy.

If anything, it'll get far-right "survivalists" to empathize with the plight of the homeless.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:16 AM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


If anything, it'll get far-right "survivalists" to empathize with the plight of the homeless.

Nah, they'll just send the homeless out into the woods and tell them to become survivalists, too.

I can see a new Republican social program coming...

"Where's my 40 Acres and a Gun?"
posted by chambers at 7:35 AM on October 14, 2009


I'd like to snark about how the sharks were so close to a republican congressman. However, I merely find myself wishing that I could do something like this someday.

I would have been much more impressed if he had come prepared only with a knife, some string and the Book of Mormon.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:52 AM on October 14, 2009


Although he believes in the beneficial effects of magic underwear, I tend to give Flake credit because he has been a reliable critic of out of control federal earmarks, even when republicans controlled Congress.
posted by minimii at 7:54 AM on October 14, 2009


Man ya'll got some pee pee in your cheerios this morning. His writing was blocky and forced, but no more than that of the dozens of pieces of hipster drivel we see all the time.

But he's no hipster. He's trying to claim that this luxury excursion is "hard living." The trip sounds like great fun, but it's written up in such a way that he appears to miss the strenuous part of the "doctrine of the strenuous life." He has his religion, so he's not finding himself, he's just trying his ability to survive without the pre-packaged comforts of the world (except that hammock, which wasn't that comfortable, and the hatchet, which he had to use to make food edible).

I would have been much more impressed if he had come prepared only with a knife, some string and the Book of Mormon.

I think that's it. Perhaps those "Man vs Wild" type shows and documentaries have jaded me about people's ability to survive with less, or maybe I disliked his tone. Either way, fun to read but I was not impressed by his daring week away from people.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:55 AM on October 14, 2009


Well, this is irresistible, sorry:

Everyone's a critic. Get over yourselves, ya'll. y'all.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:57 AM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hey, this is awesome. Cut him some slack. I can't imagine most of the legislators I've met successfully buying a ham sandwich at a deli without some 19 year-old nephew/aide showing them how to use a menu. Kudos on him.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:57 AM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


A dead crab's shell turns into sand on the shore in a few weeks of surf action.

And if it's not on the shore? There's a reason why googling "shells anthropology" turns up a million hits, beginning with discussion of finds several thousand years old. And just as finding shells tells us something today about how far trade networks went thousands of years ago, finding sharpie markings in the future might be one way of telling what otherwise-uninhabited islands still saw tourist visits. If you're an anthropologist who thinks that non-human objects are never worth studying, even if they've obviously been handled, much less altered, by humans, that would make you a bad anthropologist.

But now that we're done overanalyzing this JOKE, what's next on the list? "Chickens rarely are found outside human pens, and would never make it across a major roadway without becoming roadkill!" "The price for black market services in less trafficked areas is definitely not the same as in town!" "The biological, cultural, and culinary aspects of a plate of beans are complex subjects with a great impact on human history, and cannot be overthought!!"
posted by roystgnr at 9:32 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


He has his religion, so he's not finding himself

You know, it's possible to have religion and still be trying to find yourself.
posted by The World Famous at 9:57 AM on October 14, 2009


At what point are members of a civilization self-aware enough to fuck with future researchers?

I don't know if this counts, but I've often said that if I were rich enough to afford these kinds of eccentricities, one of the things I wanted to do was build a large solid alloy flying-saucer-looking object around a chunk of some kind of radioactive material just big enough to give off readings and then I wanted to sink it into the bottom of some deep lake that people only occasionally dive in.

Eventually someone would find it, and the questions would begin.

I suppose if I really wanted to screw with people in the distant future, I'd stick it in under a lava flow and let an island or a mountain or something form on top of it.
posted by quin at 10:01 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hm. Eponysterical subject. That's a new one.

<Scribbles notes for future generations to snark over...>
posted by rokusan at 10:31 AM on October 14, 2009


Ooh, he saw mid-size white birds AND gray birds.

No, seriously. It's a cute story, sounds like he had a good time.
posted by redsparkler at 11:22 AM on October 14, 2009


reminds me of the letters scratched in the backs of turtles and crabs, exchanged by princess ateh and mokadassa al-safir, a way back when the Khazars were deliberating over which of the three faiths they were going to choose..
posted by Philby at 5:00 PM on October 14, 2009




reminds me of the letters scratched in the backs of turtles and crabs, exchanged by princess ateh and mokadassa al-safir, a way back when the Khazars were deliberating over which of the three faiths they were going to choose..



would you like some salt?
posted by The Whelk at 5:05 PM on October 14, 2009


....Reading this reminds me of this bit from that old Richard Bach book, Illusions:
The world is your execise-book, the pages on which you do your sums.
It is not reality, although you can express reality there if you wish.
You are also free to write nonsense, or lies, or to tear the pages.
... What does it say about this guy that, when he gets bored with killing things, he starts numbering them so he can keep track of them?

PS: XQUZYPHYR: He understands that hermit crabs switch out of their old shells and abandon the old ones, right?
It's even better than that - since crab-habitable shells are sorta rare, as a crab migrates to a bigger one, a smaller one tends to move into the recently abandoned shell. In the wild they sometimes do a conga-line style thing, where A moves into a new shell, B moves into A's, C moves into B's, and etc.... So the numbers aren't even necessarily correct for monitoring behavior while he's there.
posted by Orb2069 at 6:42 PM on October 14, 2009


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