Trudging through Lord of the Rings Part 4

I am now done with the entire story of the hobbits.  Overall, I have enjoyed the books more than the movie.  Here’s what I have to say about The Return of the King:

I found the characters in the book seem a lot more hopeless than in the movie.  I mean, the movie does a good job of showing the despair of the city Minis Tirith, but the book really shows it much better.  I found myself at times forgetting that I already knew the ending and that most of the characters would be fine.  Speaking of already knowing the story, I kept waiting for the part where Gollum tricks Frodo into thinking that The Fat Hobbit has eaten the bread.  It’s not in the books – they added that for the movie.

In “The Scouring of the Shire”, which was left out of the movie, I felt it was a huge allegory about the failures of communism as implemented by Russia and other countries.  (As opposed to communism the theory which should be an awesome world)  Lotho and Sharkey have instituted a policy where they confiscate the goods from the Hobbits and claim this is so that they can be shared amongst all.  Yet the only people who end up getting the goods are Lotho, Sharkey, and their cronies.  Similarly, during the “Golden Age” of communism, the state would collect everything for redistribution, but only the Party Members got access to the high quality goods.

I wonder if it was a very barely concealed hint that the Elves and their companions went to Heaven as they went to a place called Haven and then they were able to live forever.

Other than Tom Bombadil, the only thing that I didn’t like over the course of the series was the way the author dealt with the story temporally.  Instead of going from character to character in each paragraph or chapter, as most authors do, he would go an entire ridiculously large amount of chapters with one set of characters and then go back and start again with other characters.  Although he provided some hints, this made it really hard for me to see when things were happening.  For example, when Frodo was being bitten by Shelob, what was happening with the battle in Gondor and so forth.  Perhaps that’s just the way books were written back then.

Finally, I found it a bit confusing that everyone had a ton of names.  For example Strider, Elfstone, Aragon, and something of the Dunedain are all the same person.  Gandolf is often called Mithrandyl (or something like that) and it makes it a bit harder to keep track of what’s going on.

In the end, I’m glad I read it and spent the money on it.

Trudging through the Lord of the Rings Part 3

I finished up The Two Towers a week or so ago and I have to say that “Trudging” no longer describes my experience (for the most part). While I preferred the first movie to the first book, I mostly feel exactly the opposite about the second book/movie. The only annoying thing was that we didn’t get to Frodo and Samwise until page 208 of a 352 page book. I can’t remember exactly, but I think the movie goes back and forth a lot more instead of doing like the book and telling each person’s day and then backing up to tell the next person’s day (if the party has been separated).

I also really liked the descriptions during the war.  I feel like I got a lot more about the history behind certain events and definitely got more insight into what the characters were thinking.

Finally, Gollum comes off as way more treacherous and smart in the book.  In the movie he seems to be tricky, yes, but not quite as smart.

So overall, I’m now very glad I’ve chosen to read the books and I’m about 1/4 of the way through The Return of the King.

Trudging Through Lord of the Rings Part 2

A few days ago I finished The Fellowship of the Rings.  Things picked up in the second half of the book and they accelerated in the last quarter.  I’m enjoying The Lord of the Rings a lot more now that Tolkien has gotten Tom Bombadil out of his system.  In the Wikipedia article, even Tolkien seems to understand how much Tom annoys the crap out of people.

“Tom Bombadil is not an important person — to the narrative. I suppose he has some importance as a ‘comment.’ I mean, I do not really write like that: he is just an invention (who first appeared in The Oxford Magazine about 1933), and he represents something that I feel important, though I would not be prepared to analyse the feeling precisely. I would not, however, have left him in, if he did not have some kind of function.”

“And even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally).

Tolkien did go on to analyse the character’s role further:

“I might put it this way. The story is cast in terms of a good side, and a bad side, beauty against ruthless ugliness, tyranny against kingship, moderated freedom with consent against compulsion that has long lost any object save mere power, and so on; but both sides in some degree, conservative or destructive, want a measure of control. But if you have, as it were, taken ‘a vow of poverty’, renounced control, and take your delight in things for themselves without reference to yourself, watching, observing, and to some extent knowing, then the questions of the rights and wrongs of power and control might become utterly meaningless to you, and the means of power quite valueless…

“It is a natural pacifist view, which always arises in the mind when there is a war… the view of Rivendell seems to be that it is an excellent thing to have represented, but that there are in fact things with which it cannot cope; and upon which its existence nonetheless depends. Ultimately only the victory of the West will allow Bombadil to continue, or even to survive. Nothing would be left for him in the world of Sauron.”[3]

Tolkien even seems to justify Tom Bombadil’s presence:

At any rate, what I like about the book over the movies in the last half to fourth of the book is that a few of the plot elements get explained a little more clearly.  Sauron’s origins are explained a lot more clearly.  Gandalf and others talk about how he came to power and why he’s just an “eye” now.  Gollum is a lot more treacherous in the books.  The characters know who he is and he menaces them a few times.  I think this elevates his dangerous aura and prepares the reader for the fact that Smeagol has been following our protagonists.  Finally, the elven queen Galadrial is given a much more cohesive treatment in the book.  In the movie, from what I can remember, she just talks to Frodo in a dream.  In the book, all of the characters leave the forest changed in some way because of her.  Also, she gives everyone a special gift.

So, perhaps LoTR can be enjoyable….if you can get past Tom Bombadil…

Trudging Through Lord of the Rings

I’ve read time and again that the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (which is actually not a trilogy, but one massive book published in 3 parts) has all kinds of allegorical content and contains a lot of stuff Peter Jackson had to leave out of the movies.  Well, they’re certainly right about Mr Jackson leaving material out of the movie.  I’m on page 160 (reading during my lunch breaks) and I’d have to say that roughly 90% of what I’ve read does not appear in any form in the movie.  I’m about a little less than halfway through the first book (in the size they’ve printed) and the main characters JUST got to The Prancing Pony.  I think this happens in the first 10 or so minutes in the movie.  And what a great idea to cut all that chaff was!

I have absolutely no idea how the Lord of the Rings became such a revered book amongst the fantasy crowd.  Tolkien appears not to have had an editor, or perhaps his editor was a pushover.  If I were his editor I would certainly have made him remove the stupid chapter and a half about Tom Bombadil.  This chapter does not further the story in any way and just leaves you with the same feeling as when you thought you’d be getting lucky to realize that your girl was only wearing the sexy panties because everything else is in the laundry basket.  I kept reading thinking that Tom Bombadil would drop some bombs about some key part of the story or that the Black Riders would show up and tear his place apart and  kill his wife.  Oh, and the insufferable singing!  It didn’t even make any sense!  What’s with everyone speaking in the third person?  Eric doesn’t like that.

And the hobbits are always breaking into song.  One could be forgiven for thinking that Peter Jackson would have make Lord of the Rings the Musical.  They sing songs about everything from travel, to hotels, to taking baths.  And I’ve found out more about hobbit genealogy than I ever cared for.

Interestingly, the relationship between Frodo and Sam doesn’t seem to have the same sexual overtones that it does in the movie.  And, I’m pretty sure Peter Jackson didn’t do that on purpose.  It just came out so ridiculous that TBS had everyone almost literally rotfltao when they had a commercial for their broadcast of LoTR featuring clips of Frodo and Sam and the song “Secret Lovers”.

At any rate, this is mostly a rant about how slow-going this book is.  Had it not had so many decades of reputation to rest upon, I would have probably returned the book to Borders and not even attempted to finish.  Then again, I found the movies really boring, so perhaps the Lord of the Rings just isn’t for me.  Ironically, I’m loving Terry Prachet’s Discworld series which is, partly, a parody of the Tolkien universe.

Spiderman Predicts the future

It’s interesting how Science Fiction often predicts future technologies and trends. For example, this morning on CNN they were talking about a research group that is trying to switch on the gene in humans that would cause limbs to regrow. Apparently they haven’t seen what happens when you do that (I say tongue-in-cheek). Peter Parker’s favorite professor was trying to regrow his arm and his technique, which I believe involved splicing reptilian DNA, turned him into one of Spiderman’s fiercest foes, The Lizard.

While the comic book is an extreme possibility of this research created in the 1960s and for the purpose of drama, I think that it shows (along with the basic theme of the series) that blind belief in the powers of science can have dire consequences. This appears to have been a central theme of other Marvel stories as well, such as The Fantastic Four. I think it’s time for a little bit of 1950s-60s suspicion about the claims of science. After Vioxx and the other recent revelations that drug companies are shoving drugs through the FDA, we need to take a look and see whether we can find a balance. We don’t want to reject all new technology, but we need to stop what some think is the inevitable march of progress. More testing needs to be done on our meds and therapies before releasing them to the public.

Children’s Book to teach them about DRM

Paradigms are a battle of the mind that take place when we prepare our children with certain expectations about the world. Don’t let them grow up thinking there’s something right about Digital Restrictions Management! Have them read The Pig and the Box and let them learn about why software and culture need to be libre. (That’s free as in speech!)

Why is DRM so bad? This is why!

My first published book of photography!

Today I received my copy of the photography book I’ve published, Eric Mesa’s Top 40 flickr Images. It’s a great feeling to finally have the book published after having worked on it since April. There were a few false starts with the publishing process as I figured out how to make sure my final PDF could be printed on Lulu.com‘s printers. But the journey is finally over and I was able to make the book available to the public today.

One of the interesting things about basing a book on my top rated photos on flickr is that they not only changed while I was writing the book, but even now they are radically different in some places while remaining the same in other places. It’s a snapshot, no pun intended, of where my work was at one particular point in time – April of 2006.

So why make a book of images freely available on the net? Well, there are two reasons. The first one is that Internet access is not yet ubiquitous and there’s a certain something about books that people still love. I know that I am a very technological guy, but I just don’t enjoy reading a book off my computer screen. I prefer good old paper and used to even print my college readings when they were given as PDFs. The second reason for the book, is that when I put my pictures on flickr, I usually don’t put any comments along with the picture because I want others to enjoy the picture through their own eyes, not the filter I have set up. I’m not a total purist, as I do give the pictures titles and thus a frame of reference. But beyond that, I don’t want to talk about what went on behind the picture or even the technical aspects if it happens to be a complicated one. In this book, I take each of the pictures and talk about how I got the inspiration for taking them, some of the technical difficulties, and sometimes the plain dumb luck involved.

I know it sounds a bit cliche, but I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Hitch Hiker’s Guide Quotes

The Hitch Hiker’s Guice to the Galaxy had such wonderful and amazing quotes in it that I was horribly dissapointed when the movie didn’t share more of these quotes. Here are two of my favorites, with more to follow.

The intro to the first book, which set the tone and got me very happy about the book to follow:

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

Orbiting this at a distance of roughtly 92 million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the time the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

And so the problem remained; lots of the people were mean and more of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches.

Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and tha tno one shoul dever have left the oceans.

And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small face in rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going worng all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.

Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, a terrible stupid catastraphe occurre, and the idea was lost forever.

This is not her story.

But it is the story of that terrible stupid catastrophe and some of its consequences.

And from the Hitch Hiker’s Guide, which is a book in the book for which it it named.

‘The Babel fish’, said The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quietly, ‘is small, yellow and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier, but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then extretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious though frequencies with the nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.

‘Now it is such a bizarrely improbably coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existance of God.

‘The argument goes something like this: “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without fait I am nothing.”

‘”But,” says Man, “the Bable fish is a dead giveaway isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore by your your own arguments, you don’t. QED.”

‘”Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

‘”Oh, that was easy,” says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.’

Quickies

1) In this post, wget had created a directory structure, foiling my plans to do the md5sum check automatically. The correct way to do what I wanted to do was use the option -nd for no directories. If I had typed

wget -nd address

it would have just saved to my current directory and the code would have worked perfectly. It would have also worked the roundabout way that I showed.

2) If you like Neal Stephenson’s style of writing then you MUST read Catch-22! Catch-22 is the literary father of his style of writing so be sure to check it out! I just finished the book a couple of days ago and I loved it! It was a little confusing at first, but then I couldn’t put it down.

So long and thanks for all the fish

Friday I went to go see Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, as you may recall. I was quite excited about seeing it as I had read one of the five books and watched the old BBC adaptation. The movie certainly started off very well with an entertaining opening sequence, but I was left quite dissapointed. Why? At first I couldn’t really articulate what it was about the movie that was lacking. There wasn’t anything specifically wrong with it, but then more and more things came to mind and I realized why I didn’t like it.

First of all, they got rid of a lot of entries from the Hitchhiker’s Guide. I consider the book to be, in a sense, the book’s main character. To leave out so many entries was akin to leaving out Arthur Dent, in my opinion. Additionally, to me it was the entries from the Guide that really made the book so fun for me. The story was pretty neat, but the hilarious entries were what I loved. Some of the entries I truly missed were (in summary):

-the entry about how the Babel fish disproves the existence of God
-the entry about the girl who had just figured out the key to happiness before the Earth was distroyed
-the entry about teenagers in the universe who would mess with Earth yokels as a prank
-the entry explaining the reasons for buying planets and why the earth-building planet had to be blown up
-the entry about Arthur screaming something which started an intergallactic war
and a few others.

While they would have added some length to the movie, it would have totalled to maybe an extra 15 minutes, if that! I was really dissapointed by that.

Also, perhaps it was just that we watched the movie in a crappy movie theatre, but I found it hard to sometimes hear what the characters were saying. This took away from the film since I had to be straining to hear what they were saying a majority of the time.

If I had to sum it up I would say that the book was overly complex – the genius of Douglas Adams and his cheeky humor. However, the movie was considerably less complex. The fans would have been done a better service had the movie done a much better job of potraying this complexity. Doubtless some people will be so fanatically dedicated to the series that they will find no fault with the movie. I, however, would probably give it a B- or worse. One thing is for sure, if they bring out the sequels, I will have to go by myself or with my brothers for my fiancee found the movie dreadful.

One more day!

Just one more day until two key things occur:

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy comes out and Daniel’s girlfriend comes up to Ithaca.

I’m really excited about the movie because it’s been getting some awesome reviews and I think that it is a wonderful and smartly funny story. Douglas Adams is awesome.

I’m happy that Ash is coming up because that makes my brother so happy. Anything that makes my family happy is awesome. I know he misses her a lot so I hope she arrives on time and they have have a good week together.

I am now a published author!

I am now officially a published author. Of course, my first published work wasn’t exactly what I wanted it to be, but I’m still excited about it! I decided my first book would not be a photography or fictional book. Instead, my first book is a report I wrote about migrating from a MS Windows environment to a GNU/Linux environment. Since I really want people to be able to read this, I am offering my first book for FREE on Lulu.com. It’s a PDF download that will cost you nothing! Go check it out and see how you can stop paying for software.

my book at Lulu.com

Why Lulu is the best thing to ever happen to indie writers….

I recently began listening to the followup to The Lexus and The Olive Tree, entitled The World is Flat: A Short History of the 21st Century. The latter was written in 2005 so the author has had time to absorb the true impact of the internet, while it was just getting revved up when he wrote the former book. His key point in the first part (of three) of the book is that there have been many events which have caused the world to flatten. This flattening is a metaphor for a leveling of the playing field across many different industries. For example, Linux has leveled the playing field in computers by allowing poorer people to afford computers since they don’t have to pay for an operating system or programs. Fiber optics have leveled the playing field for India by allowing data to be transmited so quickly and with so much bandwidth that companies are able to do more and more abroad, allowing educated Indians to have jobs of a caliber they could not have before. You get the point.

Let me offer one other example which he doesn’t talk about in the book, or, if he does, he hasn’t mentioned it yet. While the RIAA may consider MP3s to be the bane of their industry, it has been a boom to indie musicians. Unlike .wav files, which take up 10 MB per minute of music, MP3s take up about 1 MB per minute of music at 128kbps sampling rate. This has allowed, as everyone reading this knows, for music to become small enough to transmit over the Internet. While the recording industry claims that this is bad because of piracy, the true reason that they hate it is because it threatens their entire industry! While this is a slow process which may or may not ever reach fruition, MP3s allow artists to be independent of record labels. If I were an indie group or a garage band who didn’t get signed by a label, I could put up a website and post MP3s of my music. If I were good, word would spread over the Internet and everyone would download my MP3s. Then, if enough people from my surrounding area liked me, I could throw a concert. Maybe it couldn’t be at Madison Square Garden, but some smaller venue (like my friends in High School used to do). In the “real world” artists never make money on their CDs anyway, they make money on Tshirts, hats, and concert sales. Therefore, they can bypass the record companies and still make money if they are good. Of course the RIAA feels threatened by this!

Some groups have already begun to do this. I wish I knew the name of the group, but an old 80s group has revived by doing this. Their label didn’t want to resign them so they began releasing MP3s on their website and have gained a huge following of fans who have begun to pour money into them through merchandise and ticket sales.

So what does all of this have to do with writing? Well, Lulu.com is poised to do to publishing what MP3s are doing to music. I discovered this company yesterday because a flickr group I am involved in is using Lulu to create a quarterly photo magazine. They were only charging $20 so I had to see what this was all about! Lulu levels the playing field for indie writers by not charging any money at all up front. If I create a book and upload it to Lulu, they charge me no fees. They tell me how much the book costs to print and then they ask how much profit I want to earn. Profit I want to earn + book cost = sales price. Lulu keeps 20% of this. So you only pay anything if someone buys a book. If no one ever buys your book, it’s ok because Lulu doesn’t charge you. In this scheme the reader really does cover all of the costs! You can even create an ebook, in which case it’s pure profit!

This gives indie writers many, many advantages. First of all, they can set a lower price because they do not have to cover the cost of distribution and markups from the distribution channels and store markups. Second, it allows an author to get his or her work out there without having to lay out any cash. Before, if an author couldn’t get signed by a publisher he or she had to pay for the printing themselves and then get it out and convince Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com to carry it. This is no longer the case! This is truly a wonderful time to be a great writer and you don’t have to remain unknown until a publisher finds you. Just as indie films are often the best, but studios wouldn’t produce it, indie books can be awesome, but not signed. This is dumb because it signals that publishers and producers don’t know what they are doing because good ones are not getting produced – their filter is too strong and it’s filtering out good work.

Andrew, you have some amazing work – get to Lulu now! The rest of you who have always had aspirations of being an author, get to Lulu now! I will blog about this again once I have my first book out. q:o)

Faulkner in a rap song…

I bought the Erace album when it first came out and I think I was just a freshman in high school if not younger. I really liked the rap put out by Gotee records courtesy of GRITS, et al especially because back then they had more of an experimental and underground sound. They’ve recently sold out, in my opinion, by sounding like every other rapper out there. But that’s not the subject of this post, so I’ll save it for another time. At the time I was unable to realize just how creative this song was. I used to play it over and over because I really liked the beat and the raps weren’t too bad.

It wasn’t until my senior year that I finally understood the meaning of these lyrics, in fact, even the meaning of the title. When I bought the CD I had assumed that the rappers had made up a word for the title since it was Yoknapatawpha (a mental mississippi). I figured that since it was a “mental mississippi” that Yoknapatawpha just stood for an ideal mississippi or something.

When I finally got to the grade where we had to read American literature, I was introduced to the magical writer William Faulkner. His brilliance both frustrated and enthralled me. Part of me hated him for being such a different writer. The other part of me celebrated what a gifted writer he was. He was to American literature at the time what Andy Kaufman was to comedy in the 70s. Some people got it and the rest hated him. Just which work of his did I have to read? “As I Lay Dying”

“As I lay Dying” has quite a crazy cast of characters (literally in some cases), in fact the entire plot is insane.

————-begin spoiler, ignore if you hate them, but it probably won’t give away much———–
When the book begins, the mother of a yokel family has recently died or dies in the first paragraph. I don’t remember the exact details. She was survived by a husband, three boys, and a daughter. One of the sons is mechanically inclined and builds her coffin. The middle one goes nuts and drills holes in the coffin so that the mother can breathe. He ends up drilling right through her face, although he doesn’t know this since he can’t see into the coffin. Under the pretext that his wife wanted to be burried with her kin, the husband loads up a wagon with the coffin and heads to her town. Or he would, were the river not too high. So he waits a while. He waits so long that the corpse is actually beginning to smell and he hasn’t even left his town. In the meanwhile, his daughter gets empregnated by one of the farm workers. They had a series of misadventures while trying to get this coffin to her town including setting a barn on fire and having the coffin fall off the back of the wagon into a river. Eventually they make it to town and the middle kid is admitted to an insane assylum. The girl, desperate for an abortion goes to see a pharmacist who rapes her instead. The dad remarries some lady who we presume he went to marry in the first time.
—————-end spoiler———————————————————————-

What really makes this a crazy book, other than the plot is the way in which it was written. Each chapter is written to express the though process of a certain character. The mechanically inclined son has a chapter consisting of a numbered list. The crazy kid’s chaper never makes sense. The daughter’s chapter is written simply since she has no formal education. It is a VERY tough read to understand the plot fully.

So how does this relate to a rap song? First of all, most of Faulkner’s novels take place in a fictitious Mississippi city named Yoknapatawpha. The song also uses “As I lay dying” as part of the lyrics. There are also references to Mark Twain, other novels, and 19th century gospel music. Reproduced below are the lyrics.

Erase – Yoknapatawpha (a mental mississippi)
© copyright T. Collins, T. Carter, J. Painter, J. Elwood

Verse 1

Memories enter my psyche and they bite me
and once they leave my head its what I write see
when the cage bird sings it hums a memory
I sample my thoughts under an oak tree

Mystic are the ways of the southern life
puffing back the past with a blast on a corn pipe
easin’ thru the trees like the breeze in the August light
the sun kissed my life and made my mind bright

Our eyes are open wide but never seem to see
that knowledge is the air if you care truth needs to breathe
I mouth the words but never write life’s melody
time is better spent in my mental Mississippi

Chorus 1

M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I (in Mississippi)
M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I (in Mississippi)

Verse 2

As I lay dying spotted horses pass me by
in All The Kings Men Warren penned a poets cry
Go Down Moses to the river twain’s marked and looking high
the stares fall upon me and I fear The Blues Eye

Mental lapses left traps in our future for sure
satirical passes on the masses shot confederate lore
so watch where you sit if you ain’t sat here before
cause hanging from that tree is the tradition you adore

Metaphorical excursions tales told in first person
I live my life to love but can’t live before the learning
and ooh my mind keeps yearning
you know I’m reeling back the years and these southern eyes are burning

Chorus 2

Turn 1

Where oh where are you tonight

Verse 3

You know dawn pulls the shade on a new day
woke up still dreaming living in my Mississippi
Country roads take me home
to the place where I belong

Farm livin is the life for me
I find my past pointing back at me
you can’t see the things I see in me
the south’s a piece and not the whole of me

You know I’m kicking back doing some reminiscing
thinking how I was raised on southern living
nothing like a phat cup fill it up
with some sweet tea then you take a gulp

Chorus 3

Vamp

If the world was a series of gas station….

I am coming to the end of the Lexus and The Olive Tree. In part three of his book, he had a very interesting analogy for the world’s economic systems. If they were a gas station….

Japan – the gas costs $5/gal, but there are five guys who service your car. They pump your gas, fill your tires, and clean your windshield. They are all guaranteed to have their jobs for life.

Europe – the gas also costs $5, but there is only one guy who is always telling you that his union contract says he only has to pump your gas, nothing else. He works 35 hours a week, gets 90 minutes for lunch and six weeks of vacation every summer. His uncle and cousin are across the street playing because they make more money on welfare than their last job.

Third world country – the gas costs $0.35, because it is subsidized by the government. Fifteen people work there and they are all cousins. Only one of the ten gas pumps work. The station is owned by a guy in Zurich who takes all the profit back to his own country. He never goes to the station and doesn’t know that many of the workers sleep in the garage and use the car wash to bathe in the morning.

Communism – the gas costs $0.15 cents, but there isn’t any in the pumps because two of the three workers are selling it on the black market. They still come in on Fridays to collect their paycheck.

US – the gas costs $1 and you have to do everything by yourself. But you are in charge. You can pump gas or wipe your windshield or do as you wish.