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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Rousseau lost out

A couple months ago, I went to the Albany Public Library to listen to Dr. Ron Bassman, former psychiatric patient and current psychologist, talk about how the mental health profession tends to warehouse mental patients, giving them a "one size fits all" treatment. One of the things he mentioned was the societal pressure for conformity and an intolerance of much variation. That certainly seems true in terms of the uncivil discourse of politics in the United States. It seems even more true, as Dr. Bassman alluded, to the fact that there are more people imprisoned in this country than any other country that people would consider "civilized". Are Americans more prone to criminal behavior? If not, why do we have so many locked up,when perhaps alternative sentencing may be a more viable option?

Ron told me to go to the Rousseau post in the Wikipedia and check out the highlighted quotation under the discussion of Theory of Natural Man:
"The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said "This is mine," and found people naive enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody."
— Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality, 1754

My first thought: I wonder if Woody Guthrie studied Rousseau. My second thought: I wish I knew philosophy better than whatever I studied in one freshman college course over 35 years ago.
There is a project aimed to collect limericks for every meaning of every word in the Oxford English Dictionary. There are over 49,000 approved limericks in the Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form and they're only up to Dd so far.

See, e.g., the 26 entries for aardvark, one of which is:
This really could be quite a lark,
Limericizing aardvark.
Though the rhyme is infernal,
The mammal's nocturnal.
(It only comes out after dark.)

There are 17 limericks for the Beatles, most of them British album specific, though not this one:
A beetle's a hardcover bug,
With an arthropod face for a mug,
While the Beatles were all
(John, George, Ringo, and Paul),
Liverpudlians I'd love to hug.


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