“If you are conscious to yourself that you possess more knowledge upon some subjects than others of your standing, reflect that you have had greater opportunities of seeing the world, and obtaining a knowledge of mankind than any of your contemporaries. That you have never wanted a book but it has been supplied to you, that your whole time has been spent in the company of men of literature and science. How unpardonable would it have been in you to have been a blockhead.” – Abigail Adams to her son , future president, John Quincy Adams
This quote hit me over the head at a time when I needed it the most. I was approaching complacency with a general unease and unhappiness with the way things have been going. The only thing more terrifying to me than being another young adult less than thrilled with post-grad life is the idea of complacency in the face of such feelings. I was born with privilege and have been given no shortage of once in a lifetime opportunities and blessings – it would be unpardonable for me to be a blockhead, a term my Mother has addressed me with on several occasions. While I begin to figure out the aspects of post-grad-ness that need some work – I am diverting excess time and energy to things that make me happy – reading, writing, quoting, visiting museums – things of that nature – with the goal of winning my battle against early-onset, terminal blockheadedness.
I saw Hamilton last weekend; and before you roll your eyes and close this page, we need to talk about dueling. I have actually been to the spot in Weehawken, NJ where Phil and Alexander Hamilton both famously lost their lives – it has a great view of Manhattan. If I were a born and raised NYC-er I could not think of a better place to lose a duel to a political rival.
While the traditional idea of duels features two men 10 paces apart and one shot in the barrel of a pistol – the reality is that duelers could fight in whatever matter pleased the. The goal of duels was not to murder the opponent – but for the honor of one fighter or the other to be satisfied. Because of this – duels were often avoided because of an apology or mutual agreement to avoid killing each other. Take this almost unbelievable story from the Smithsonian about a near-duel from early in Abraham Lincoln’s political career. Lincoln (Whig) was challenged by James Shields (Dem) to a duel after publishing satirical articles about him under the pseudonym Rebecca – which is a very likely future of this blog, a bulletin of anonymous slander…or is social media doing the job well enough already?
In short, instead of two pistols – Shields and Lincoln decided upon broadswords, an easy choice for Lincoln with his sprawling wingspan. Fortunately for the world as we know it, both sides were able to come to an agreement through the negotiations of their “seconds” before swords were drawn.
“Though the dueling code was, at best, a fanciful alternative to true law and order, there were those who believed it indispensable, not only as a brake on shoot-on-sight justice but as a way of enforcing good manners.” Is there merit to the idea that society has gotten too soft? Maybe we should bring it back to the good ole days and settle our disputes mano a mano. Wars should be fought between two champions – like the first scene in Troy, where a perfectly bronzed Brad Pitt takes out this guy named Boagrius (photo below) to prevent two armies the waste of a full battle. Maybe the first mistake we made was getting away from names like Boagrius.
Another historical dueling phenomenon that many first encountered during a particularly interesting twist in Game of Thrones is the trial by combat – where stalemate court cases could be decided by a duel. Why not bring this back – but instead of fights to the death, the duel should be over a mutually agreed upon game. Imagine it: Mark Nasca vs. The United States – to be settled between two champions over a game of Mario-Kart. The US court and I would then scramble to find the best Kart players that could be convinced to fight on our side.
Maybe the trial by combat should be dueling of minds where – an intellectual battle between two champions – have I come full circle? Did I just invent lawyers? Not quite – if my version of lawyers felt particularly stuck – they would have to settle the cases with a pair of swords instead of lame financial settlements or bureaucricide – my word for inventing words and meaningless paperwork and having long breaks between meetings of the court and years and years of rescheduling until things fizzle to death…a slowest, most jargony death.
In all seriousness – duels are a fascinating subject. With such quickness were men so distraught over their reputation that the only way to move forward was with a bullet. Today our only option is to tweet at each other – except in Texas, where apparently, it is still legal to mutually agree to combat with an opponent to settle a dispute…ah the fragile male ego.
Transition now to baby turtles. I have a story about a very special baby turtle – her name is Hope. An albino pinkbelly sideneck turtle, Hope was born with a defect where her heart is located outside her shell – completely exposed the world. While clearly problematic, Hope has managed to survive. The biggest concern is keeping her exposed heart from infection. Check out the photos of her in the full article here – or follow her owner’s page on Instagram! I knew social media had at least one redeeming quality.
Sustainability is a difficult subject for me. I can read and read and read – I can reduce, reuse, and recycle: I have more than enough ways to engage with overconsumption – but at the end of the day, I am a hypocrite. I live in and contribute each day to a society that has put the Earth below it’s desire to consume. As I write this – my laptop is plugged into the wall sucking up energy, the heat is on, television too – and tomorrow I plan on walking over to Trader Joes and buying myself more food than my body actually needs to survive.
With all that in mind – how do I take myself seriously when I begin to judge others on their over-consumption? You probably expect me to go on about all the big changes I plan on making – or how over the next 12 months I will pick three things I over-consume and cut them from my life entirely. That is not what I am going to do. Instead, I will share the article below about a few brilliant minds who managed to make coffee from the molecular level – as opposed to cultivation and treatment of coffee beans. Stories like this inspire me to consider the future of food. Is it outlandish to think that one day food will all be “built” from the molecular level and that the very insecurity of nutrition will be gone for good? I refuse to give up on my faith it will happen – and am confident I will see it in my lifetime.
The implications for molecular coffee, as the creators call it, are massive even if only taken as implications for the coffee industry in a silo. Frankly, coffee production is both devastating in terms of emissions (k-cups, this many years later, are still not compostable or degradable), and on the track to be completely devastated by the shifting climate – more here. While there are organizations and individuals working toward mitigating the damage done – and others who are simply not drinking coffee at all – the people that need the most support and encouragement to continue, are those working on finding a permanent solution like coffee production without the need for coffee beans.
The article is a quick read – I encourage you to check it out if you are any bit like me and would be happy to see coffee become a more sustainable (and better tasting) product.
If you haven’t noticed to this point – I do not spend enough time proofreading these. Maybe if enough people subscribe to this I can use it to get hired to be a writer for someone/thing, and then I’ll become a better writer, and YOU will enjoy my blog more.
Utnil then, mor typose!