Feb. 8th, 2009

demiurgent: (John Stark - Dude)
I think I figured out why Those People Who Get Their Underwear Bunched Up Uncomfortably Over Dumbass Things are doing the aforementioned thing with Michael Phelps, after Phelps was filmed taking a hit off a bong at a party.

They're upset, and talking about what kind of role model he thinks he's being, and as I recall Katie Couric asked if this means he might be taking performance enchancing drugs too (um... no, Katie. No, this doesn't mean anything beyond the fact that for a couple of hours Phelps was craving raw cookie dough). But that's not the real reason for their concern.

The real reason for their concern is this challenges the pravda.

The pravda is simple: if you smoke pot, you will either go on to harder stuff and then your brain will explode and you will die or kill people, or you will sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing with your life, ever. There is no middle ground.

Now, a man who went to the Olympics and effectively pwned them -- one of the greatest and most dedicated athletes in the world -- has been outed as someone who likes to catch the occasional buzz. And has neither gone on to harder stuff, nor killed anyone, nor wasted his life on the couch.

It's not that he's a bad role model -- it's that he's inconvenient as a role model now, in other words. If someone can use recreational marijuana and still will more medals than God at the Olympics, then it suggests that maybe... just maybe... pot isn't that dangerous a drug. That maybe... it's just a way to enjoy yourself for a little while.

And that's nothing these people want getting out. We have to think of the children.
demiurgent: (Default)
Things I did not know: "selling out" actually comes to us from the military. In particular, from the British military, but most European nations (notably excluding the Prussians and the Imperial Russian Army) had a system like it.

See, to become an officer in those days, you paid for the privilege. Each rank had a cost associated with it. To get a promotion, you paid the difference in price. If, of course, there was a commission available. It actually puts the end of The Three Musketeers into perspective. When d'Artagnan confronts the Cardinal with the Carte Blanche that will absolve him and his fellows of any murder charges, the Cardinal both recognizes the young man's bravery and recognizes his need to pay a recompense for his silence -- and thus offers him a Lieutenant's commission, blank, for d'Artagnan to use as he will. Ultimately, when all of the other Musketeers refuse it, d'Artagnan uses it himself as they suggest, thus ensuring his future.

Well, when a high ranking officer of some standing and renown were ready to retire, he could elect to sell his commission. In other words, a person who had proven his worth and proven himself to his men and his nation, showing success and building a military force of renown, could leave that life and receive a goodly amount of money. Of course, the person who bought the commission might not only not deserve it but might be downright incompetent.

The act in question? Was called selling out one's commission.

It was most infamous in the tragic Charge of the Light Brigade. The Regiment's head, Lord Cardigan, was utterly incompetent but absolutely loved the military, ultimately buying his way up to Lieutenant Colonel and then General. His legendary 'charge' directly into Russian guns was glorious but foolhardy, leading to the deaths of many under his command. In a later battle (the Battle of Inkerman), Lord Cardigan had spent the night on his yacht and not only missed the battle but had to ask passing journalists what all the shooting was about.

When a military officer is publicly demoted or dismissed, his sword broken and his rank and even buttons stripped from his uniform, it is called 'cashiering.' This is a holdover from the old system, since a disgraced officer who is cashiered from the service has no opportunity to sell out and make some money as he leaves the service.

So, when we talk about a band selling out because their poignant song of personal and intimate emotions has become the new jingle for Smuckers brand preserves, it's a holdover from a system that implies that the band is retiring, cashing in on their reputation and exploits, and allowing someone incompetent to take over their military unit.

There's no useful purpose to this knowledge, but I thought it was at least interesting.

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