Axiometry, Part IV: “The Right Side of History.”

On the right side of history

Yes indeed, here we are! Axiometry! Looking at commonly used sayings, axioms, and bits of conventional wisdom to see if there really is any wisdom in them . . . or if they’re just full of wis.

. . .

Okay, that one was a bit of a stretch, I know.

Today’s subject is a relatively new one, or one that we hear incessantly, especially in the incessantly obnoxious world of politics. I am, of course, talking about the expression–the very idea–of being on the right side of history.

Blech.

Okay, I kind of tipped my hand there, but let’s be fair: As always, I’ll be subjecting this cultural shibboleth to the same low-budget quasi-legalistic analysis that I test all of my axioms with. Hence the completely made-up neologism Axiometry,

(Technically it’s a portmanteau, I guess, but who cares).

Here we go! Continue reading “Axiometry, Part IV: “The Right Side of History.””

Axiometry Part III “Don’t Think About What You Could Have Done Differently.”

“Don’t think about what you could have done differently.”

“Don’t beat yourself up.”

“Let the past go.”

Sayings we’ve all heard before. But are they valuable bits of wisdom, or valid, empty words?

Thats right! It’s time for more axiometry, my made-up word for examining common aphorisms and figuring out if they really make any sense:

Axiom: “A rule or principle that many people accept as true.”

metry: “Art, process, or science of measuring.”

There are many variants of this particular axiom, but they all focus on the same thing: regret.

Ah, regret. A favorite topic of mine. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you should know how I feel about regret:

Carry around your past regrets, not as an anchor, but as a guide.

So you maybe you think you already know where I come down on this particular axiom.

But as with everything , we shall see. Continue reading “Axiometry Part III “Don’t Think About What You Could Have Done Differently.””

Feeding the Perfection Beast

Today is February first. In addition to things like Black History Month, President’s Day, and whatever else is celebrated in February,* it also marks the beginning of the annual RPM Challenge

Think of the RPM Challenge as the musical equivalent of November’s National Novel Writing Month. The Challenge, which started in my home state of New Hampshire back in 2006 by local music magazine The Wire, is a call to record either 35 minutes or 10 tracks worth of new music in the month of February. 

It’s a lot of fun. Or would be, if I ever finished the challenge. 

Unlike National Novel Writing Month, which I accomplished this year, the several times I’ve began an RPM Challenge project, I never finished it. 

The one time I sort of did was in 2009 when I played bass on my brother’s album. He’s finished the challenge four or five times, now, maybe more. And he has more kids than I do. 

Me, I always petered out somewhere along the line, sometimes due to time restrictions, sometimes due to technical or equipment difficulties, but usually due to being my own worst enemy. 

You see, back when I had the music equipment and the space to record, I fell into the thrall of that dreaded monster perfection.

Perfection is one mean bastard. He gets into your head and makes you think you’re some kind of rock star when you’re really just a dude with a 9-to-5 and a hankering to pretend, just for a few hours here and there, that you’re something bigger than you really are. 

And there’s nothing wrong with that. 

This is the difference between me and my brother: I let perfection play on my immaturity and narcissism. My brother, while only a year and some change older than me, got married, started a family, and finished school far younger than I did. 

In short, he grew up faster. 

He knew the value of time and realism. He didn’t dicker around with trying to get everything just right. No, he said to himself, and I’m making this up based on observations but bear with me, “There is something I want to do. If I do X, Y, and Z for this amount of time every day, I will accomplish what I set out to do.”

He had a goal, and a system to achieve that goal. 

Process and not perfection. 

In short, he went for it. 

Me, not so much.  Continue reading “Feeding the Perfection Beast”

There’s Nothing Wrong With “Idols”


Lots of talk against idols. 

Of course, if you’re a Christian, or a Jew, or a Muslim, there are deeply serious prohibitions against idolatry (and no, neither iconography nor Jesus Christ are “idols,” so knock that argument off).

What about “secular” idols? Celebrities, politicians, atheletes, and other people who inspire is to do great things and whom some of us, gulp, seem to worship. 

Now, things get be “idols” too (Drugs? Money? Bloodlust?), which can obviously be problems. 

But let’s get back to people. Putting faith in human beings is bad, isn’t it? It’s harmful to be so obsessed; it’s common knowledge, after all. 

But you all know how I feel about the conventional wisdom. And I have a confession to make here:

You see, Frank Zappa helped me get through high school. 

Now I know what you’re thinking: Aren’t you a guy who routinely mocks celebrity and celebrity culture? 

Yes. Yes I am. But I’ll tell you what I dislike more than celebrities: A lack of balance. 

Back to Mr. Zappa.  Continue reading “There’s Nothing Wrong With “Idols””

Axiometry, Part II: “Sharing is Caring”

In our continuing quest to re-examine and measure the validity long excepted idioms and axioms–in other words, axiometry–here’s another one that I’m sure we all encountered in our youth, especially if you grew up in the United States: “Sharing is caring.”


This one sounds simple enough on the surface, but what does this really mean? What does “sharing is caring” really entail? In what context is this axiom commonly used in?

First, let’s review what it is I’m trying to do here. In the initial post in this series, I defined our mission, and this made-up term, thusly: 

Axiom: “A rule or principle that many people accept as true.”

-metry: “Art, process, or science of measuring.”

I want to measure these axioms to determine whether we should accept them as true.

Why? Because it’s fun to think about things like this, and it’s even more fun to share these thoughts with you. 

We’ll think about this axiom and judge it in a bogus low-budget legalistic manner, as is my wont. 

I contend that the phrase “Sharing is Caring” is meaningless and ultimately distorts the true meaning of sharing, implanting a false idea of the concept into children’s minds. 

Let’s perform some axiometry! Continue reading “Axiometry, Part II: “Sharing is Caring””

Axiometry, Part I: “We Fear What We Don’t Understand”

There are sayings, quotes, and mantras that permeate our world, formulations that have become shibboleths, accepted as true because they have been around forever. They are, shall we say, the conventional wisdom.

You know how I feel about the conventional wisdom.

Like my series on what I call “cultural traps” I’d like to examine some of these sayings in-depth, testing whether they even make any sense. And given my love of portmanteaus (for example, the name of this blog), I call this series Axiometry:

Axiom: “A rule or principle that many people accept as true.”

-metry: “Art, process, or science of measuring.”

I want to measure these axioms to determine whether we should accept them as true.

Our first is that well-known old saw: “We fear what we don’t understand.”

Do we?

Is the unknown always frightening?

I have several problems with this statement. This is almost too easy an axiom to parse, but as it’s so commonly used and taken as “The Way Things Are,” I think it’s worth discussing.

I contend that the saying, “We fear what we don’t understand,” is feel-good shorthand for people who want to sound like THEY CARE to signal to other people the depth of their empathy.

Let’s perform some axiometry! Continue reading “Axiometry, Part I: “We Fear What We Don’t Understand””