Dog Years and George Orwell

Dog Years and George OrwellDog Years and George Orwell

You know that saying about how you calculate a dog’s age? Your dog supposedly lives seven years by the time you live a year. It is true that animals age much faster than humans, for the most part, we do have our exceptions with sea tortoises and a few other animals. So what do dog years have to do with George Orwell?

George Orwell wrote the English class staple, Animal Farm. It’s a book about a farm full of animals that takes over its own rule and declares something of a communist society, but it doesn’t really work out the way anyone envisioned it, except for maybe the way the faithful and dear leader Napoleon envisioned it. My claim is this, by picking animals on a farm instead of humans, George was able to write about the entire rise and decline of a government over a short period of time.

Let’s just go ahead and equate Animal Farm to the Soviet Union ok? Everyone knows that is what George was talking about anyway. So there’s no point in beating around the bush and making all these euphemisms and winks about who we’re really talking about. The Soviet Union came to power in 1917, roughly, and fell from power in 1989, this is a generally accepted year for the end of the Soviet Union anyway. That is seventy-two years. The Soviet Union was one of the biggest empires in the history of the Earth for seventy-two years, granted it wasn’t always as large as it was at the height of its rule. That’s roughly the lifespan of a person. A person could have conceivably been about eight when the Soviet Union came to power and still be alive when the Soviet Union officially fell from power. The lifespan of the Soviet Union was roughly the age of one person. Now let’s look at this in terms of Animal Farm.

The events in Animal Farm take place over a few years. It’s not twenty years. It’s not even ten years. Let’s go down a bit and say it’s like six years. We know it’s enough time for Napoleon and several of the other animals to age into elderly animals. It’s enough time for Boxer the horse to go from being this big strong horse to a horse that can’t really stand under his own steam. Horses can live over twenty years, if they’re well taken care of, but we do have to consider that Boxer was already several years old when the story started and he died before his time because he worked so hard. Some of the animals on the farm die while Napoleon is still in power.

Animals are perfect for this story. They live out their lives much faster than we do. It only makes sense that their government would rise to power and fall much faster than our own governments. We have the golden age in which people were happy, it  lasted about a year or so for the animals, so it’s more like ten to twenty years in a real-life government structure. We have the age when the animals were not so happy, but still believed in the system, that lasted a year or so. This would equate to maybe twenty years or so as a comparison to the real-life Soviet Union. Then we have the age in which the animals were terrified into believing the system, this lasted a year or two, so that would be twenty to forty years in real life. Then we have the time period in which the animals knew things were bad, but didn’t really know what to do about it, that lasted a year or so. This would be twenty years, and most likely the tail-end of the Soviet rule. I can’t really equate exact year times to these comparisons, I can just make educated guesses, so I know the math might not exactly add up here.

If George had based this book on people instead of animals, we would have to include all the things that happen to a human over seventy plus years. A human has to grow up, get married, have a family, have a job, have meaningful relationships, be full of despair and hope, and all manner of other things. All of those things take up precious real-estate in the world of a book. George didn’t have to explain all of this about his animals because they’re animals. They don’t get married. They don’t worry about doing their taxes or if another animal is cheating on them. They’re simplified. They can live out their entire lives dealing with this government without having any of the drama that goes on with a human’s life during the same type of government lifespan. George was a genius when he decided to use animals to illustrate his obvious distaste for communism’s problems.

Also, I think it does make the story more interesting for pigs, dogs, goats, and such to be participating in communism. The idea is silly, but that makes the book more readable and the ideas stick in the brain better.


It’s all Snowball’s Fault!

It's all Snowball's Fault! It’s all Snowball’s Fault!

A scapegoat is a person or thing that is used to take the blame off of someone else or an entity. The tradition of the scapegoat goes back to the Bible. Remember when Isaac was about to sacrifice his son? God said, “Whoa, wait a minute, I don’t really want you to kill him. Use this goat over here instead.” That was one instance of the idea of a scapegoat in the Bible, but there are a couple of other sayings in there.

These days, we don’t associate the word scapegoat primarily with the Bible. We associate it with anyone trying to blame something on somebody else. Marie Antoinette is a famous scapegoat that I like to use when I talk about the idea of scapegoats. The poor woman was murdered simply because she was the queen. I feel bad for her family and what happened to them. Things had been at a boiling point for a while. The people of France wanted someone to blame, so they blamed her. It wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t any one person’s fault, but they felt better when they had someone to blame, and murder.

I recently read Animal Farm by George Orwell. It’s a satirical work all about a would-be communist society. It doesn’t turn out exactly how anyone thought it would turn out. Any time some misfortune befalls Animal Farm, Snowball is blamed. This is odd because Snowball isn’t even there at this point. Snowball was run off by a pack of nine trained dogs. Nobody saw him or heard from him since. He even becomes something of a legend. It’s all Snowball’s fault. The refrain is repeated over and over and over again. If it rained too much and drowned your garden, it was Snowball’s fault. Surely, he plotted somehow to make it rain too much. Nobody wants to point the finger at sheer misfortune or their beloved leader Napoleon, who can do no wrong. He’s always right, after all.

Snowball becomes this number one enemy and a legend all at once. He’s the ultimate scapegoat. In time, the farm would have seen rebels worshiping the idea of Snowball, because all scapegoats eventually become cool at some point in time. That’s not my point though. Snowball was probably dead. Some random farmer probably found Snowball after he was chased off the farm and turned him into a Christmas ham. Snowball wasn’t causing any of this mischief. It was caused by misfortune, political sabotage amongst the commune members, or it was a false flag.

Let me explain the idea of a false flag attack. Imagine there is a teacher whom does not like you at school. You never do anything to this teacher. You never give he or she reason to send you to the principal’s office, but still, this teacher really doesn’t like you. This teacher tries to complain about you to others, but nobody listens because this teacher doesn’t have any evidence. You’ve done nothing. Now imagine, one day, you come into glass and all of your teacher’s favorite desk decorations(apples and such) are smashed all over the floor, then there is a note, signed with your name, confessing that you did all of this. You even took your teacher’s teaching certificate off of the wall, and spit on it, like really nasty spit, you probably had a cold, supposedly, anyway. This is what it looks like. It looks like you did it. Unfortunately, there is really no way to prove that you were framed, but the results of this supposed attack are quite far-reaching. The teachers who did not support the idea that you were a nasty student, now are firmly behind the idea. They sympathize with your poor-old teacher. How dare a student treat he/she that way? They also believe that you are a no-good, rotten, terrible, brat who will flunk out of college. Your reputation has suffered, but the reputation of your teacher has been magnified.

So what happened? Your teacher did this to himself/herself as a move to garner attention and promote an agenda. That’s what a false flag attack is. It reeks of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, but in real life, with a real false flag, most of the time, nobody finds out that you cried “wolf.”

No doubt, Napoleon the pig arranged a few false flags on Animal Farm. False flags are an attempt to unite a people against something else. There are even those who conspire that 9/11 was a big false flag. It’s all over the internet; you can look it up, if you want. Treading on the edge of that conspiracy theory, who are we united against as citizens of the United States? If you said terrorists you would be correct. What terrorists? Does it matter? Any terrorist, just as long as they’re a terrorist. These days we tend to blame a lot of things on terrorism. Some of it may actually be terrorism, while some of it could be misfortune, government plots, karma, or any other number of things, probably also global warming.

Riddle me this Batman, if you’re old enough to remember, after the 9/11 attacks, did you not feel more American and feel like you belonged more to your country? If you remember how you felt back then, the answer is probably, “yes.” There was this phase of patriotism that swept the United States after that event, after that, everything was the terrorists’ fault. If you’re not with me, you’re against me, but if we both don’t like each other, but we both don’t like another person even more, we can be united in our hatred for that person. We may put aside our hatred towards one another and hate on the third-party.

That’s what was happening in Animal Farm. By blaming everything on this enemy, who probably wasn’t even real, the animals of the farm were united together against this foe. They were less likely to criticize each other or criticize their most benevolent and loving ruler, Napoleon. Don’t pay any attention to your corrupt leaders, we must fight Snowball! It’s not important if you get into a fight with your neighbor, we must fight Snowball! Don’t think for yourself, Napoleon is always right, any other deviance in thought is caused by Snowball. Snowball got your wife pregnant; it was all his fault.

George pointed out a very real practice in our society. We do tend to find scapegoats in our lives for various reasons. Snowball was a political scapegoat to blame when the system failed.


 

#403 Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm by George OrwellAnimal Farm by George Orwell

Revolution comrades! Rise up against your oppressors and run the farm your own darn self! Everybody is equal…but some are more equal than others.

Dear old George wrote this book as a work of satire. He was concerned that the media was being censored. The media is censored ok? Don’t argue. George puts forth an argument in the very beginning of his book all about this idea. George was concerned because some people praised this idea or that ideal in the media without presenting any of the darker aspects of those ideals. If anyone dared to voice the dark side of these ideals, they were excluded from popular thought by sheer will of the media. This happens today, this isn’t something that was only going on back when George wrote this book.

So what is this book about? This book is about a farm of animals that revolts and takes the farm for themselves. They are led by the pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, who disagree on everything. Speeches are made. Everyone is equal. Men are bad. The animals can run the farm themselves. Once an animal reaches a certain age, it will be retired to live a comfortable life, provided for by the rest of the farm. Everyone will have enough food. Each person will do the work they are capable of. The animal must put off the vestiges of man and rule themselves. It works, for a while.

Snowball and Napoleon have taught themselves how to read and write. They speak of all kinds of ideas to the animals. There is a fight. Some men try to take back the farm, the animals win. Medals are awarded. Snowball fights bravely. Snowball soon envisions the idea of a windmill. The windmill can provide power to the farm. The animals will only have to work three days a week when the windmill is completed. Napoleon thinks this is a stupid idea.

Napoleon took away a litter of puppies and raised them to be his personal body guards and cronies. They chase Snowball off one day, things get worse from there. Boxer the horse always says, “I will work harder,” and, “Napoleon is always right,” whenever he is faced with any monumentous task. Napoleon soon says a windmill will be built. It was his idea all along. The animals seem to remember it differently, but no one really says anything about it.

Time passes. Some of the farm animals are executed for supposed crimes against the great and fearless leader Napoleon. Where the seven commandments of animalism were once written, the reading members of the farm soon see words in the commandments that they do not remember. An animal must never sleep in a bed, with sheets. An animal shall never kill another animal, without cause. An animal shall not consume alcohol, to excess. One by one the rules are changed. Some animals soon become more equal than others, namely pigs and dogs.

The animals go hungry. Boxer suffers from old age and too much hard work and is sent to the glue makers, but, of course, the vet bought the van from the glue maker. Napoleon would never send his beloved Boxer to the glue maker. The pigs soon start wearing human clothes and dealing with the humans, the sworn enemies. The animals don’t have long enough memories to know if this was how it was supposed to be or not, but Napoleon is always right.

What I liked

This book is obviously very political. It is about communism. I’ve mentioned it before, but in an ideal world, communism would probably be great. The ideas behind it are ideas that people like, everyone being equal, everyone being provided for, and so on. This is all great, in theory, but it never works. There have been plenty of countries and small groups who have tried ideas like communism or ideas similar to communism, the law of consecration practiced by early Mormons was an ideal similar to communism, but not exactly communism. None of these endeavors worked. It is true that we have communist countries on the earth today. How do they fare? Is every citizen equal? Does everyone have enough food? No, is the answer to last two questions, North Korea and Cuba being countries that come to mind when thinking of these questions.

People are volatile. People are greedy. People have vices. That’s why communism never works. Sure, it’s great that everyone is equal, until someone gets tired of being equal and having no power, money, or prestige over anyone else. George’s book illustrates this beautifully, with a bunch of farm animals no less.

What I didn’t like

The treatment of the farm animals in this book makes me sad and it’s not just because I like animals. It makes me sad because they’re treated like pawns. They’re just little pieces on a game board moved around for the amusement of Napoleon and his hench-animals. They’re lied to. Outright lies are spilled from the mouth of Napoleon. No, it wasn’t Napoleon’s idea to build a windmill, but he’ll claim it and say it was. No, he didn’t do anything to deserve medals, but he’ll award them to himself anyway. Of course pigs deserve more food than any of the other animals. Of course some animals are more equal than others. Yes, you can demand the unborn babies of the chickens to be sold as a source of revenue to buy food for the rest of the community. I mean, it’s awful the way these animals are treated. They’re treated as if they aren’t their own entities.

We’ve got brains right? We think for ourselves. We can make our own choices. We’re not stupid, at least we like to think we’re not stupid. We don’t need people telling us, oh just because so-and-so says it, it must be a good idea. Shut up! Not every idea that comes out a person’s mouth is a good idea. Look Stephen King writes some awesome stuff, but he also writes crap from time to time. He’s still a great author, but he’s not infallible. Following something blindly is never a good idea. You know better. You do. You know better. Somewhere in the back of your brain, you know that what the person saying on TV is bullcrap. You know, but do you listen to that little voice telling you this is a bunch of BS? Sometimes, sometimes not.

I feel bad people are ever treated like pawns, but part of it is their own darn fault. They listen. They let themselves be taken in by all the pretty words and empty promises. The animals on animal farm knew the commandments didn’t always have additions, but what did they do about it? NADA! They were scared because Napoleon had taken out punishment against some who weren’t one-hundred percent behind him, but you know what…there’s still more animals on the farm than just Napoleon and his cronies. They could have taken over lickety-split. Sometimes, you build your own cage. Sometimes, you let yourself be walked all over. I am sad because people are treated like crap, but I’m also sad that people let themselves be treated that way.

Overall

Animal Farm is essential reading for anyone with a brain. You brain card should be revoked, if you choose not to read this book.

I leave you with a video by CollegeHumor illustrating the mentality that happens in governments similar to the one created by Napoleon the pig.

Belated Birthday to George Orwell

I forgot about George Orwell’s birthday, not that I particularly wanted to remember. George Orwell was kind of a creepy guy. He would have been 109 on Monday June 25th, 2012, if he had possessed long life. Frankly, I am glad he doesn’t possess long life. He would still be scaring us today if he did.

George Orwell isn’t scary because he wrote about aliens or monsters. He is scary because he wrote about our world being doomed. Sure, I admit, there are probably some people who would like it that way, but most of us who read and know what 1984 is want to keep our brains and free thought, thank you very much. George scared us because we could see the glimmer of something like 1984. We could link it to modern-day events. We could link it to actions of our governments. 1984 is an alternate reality that scares the pants off of all of us.  

That dreary world isn’t the only thing Orwell wrote about. He also wrote about the dreary world of some farm animals, farm animals that became communists actually. I wonder if people were like, “Oh let’s not go to that farm to get eggs. Those chickens are communists.”

George Orwell did not only write about things we don’t want to happen. He wrote about being in Burma. I read a few of those stores. They’re interesting.

George Orwell died fairly young. Thank goodness. I mean…that’s so sad.

I have this love and hate relationship with George. 1984 and Animal Farm could be prophetic, but they’re also downright eerie. In fact George isn’t even his name. What a poser! No, I’m kidding. George Orwell was a pseudonym. His name was actually Eric Blair. I guess he thought George was better than Eric, I don’t know why.

The thing about George’s work is that some people love it and see the brilliance in how he was able to pull it all together, while other people see it as a blueprint. There are those that would claim that governments are using 1984 as their blueprints for how to handle the masses. The people of 1984 were constantly under surveillance. There was no such thing as privacy. If you had any qualms about someone else seeing you naked you better go ahead and get rid of them.

There are people who link the constant surveillance of Orwell’s novel to our modern-day world. How do they do they equate a fictional alternative timeline to our modern-day world? Well, they look at how much we as people are under surveillance. The idea of privacy has really been changed. What we used to know as privacy and what we know today are completely different things. We think nothing of cameras on the sides of our roads, we pretty much know that if you wear something embarrassing to Wal-mart your picture will end up on the internet, and we’re totally ok with strangers touching us at the airport. I know we’re supposed to love our neighbors, but that’s a little much.

What privacy used to be doesn’t exist anymore. I think that was one of the major points in 1984. There was no privacy. A tele-screen saw everything you did in your home. It could hear what you said. It could tell you what to do. People would turn you in for saying something that didn’t fit with everyone else. You were watched constantly while at work. If you didn’t show up to the designated leisure activities, you were suspect. Your life was constantly watched. We’re not there, yet, hopefully we never will be, but we definitely gave up our privacy.

As a computer person, I am interested in all the things that technology can do. The technology does exist for tele-screens. In fact, you may already have it. Technology is wonderful and is ever-changing. It’s not the same from day-to-day. This makes successive forms of technology more secure and complex, but even then, someone can always figure it out. There will always be hackers and those that would break the rules.

You have a cell phone right? It has a camera right? It has a microphone right? Guess what? Your cell phone can be hacked. Someone could be listening to everything you say. Someone could be watching everything you do. You have a laptop right? It has a camera in it right? Guess what? Someone could be watching everything you do. In fact, a few school districts have gotten themselves in hot water by observing students who were issued laptops from the school. You have an x-box right? You have a Kinnect right? Guess what? Now, you’re going to say, ” I already know the answer,” yes, you do, and you would be correct. A kinnect can be hacked. As long as you are linked into a network of anything you don’t have the privacy you think you do.

Unless you literally live in the woods under a heavy cover of trees, use no electronics, and do not have any utilities, you are watched. You are tracked. Someone is always going to know where you are, unless you a terrible fate befalls you. I’m not trying to weird you guys out or make you paranoid, I just mention this to let you know that you could potentially have a tele-screen in your life, just like 1984. OnStar is watching you.

Actually that reminds me of an episode of the show Reba. This show does not come on anymore, but you can catch reruns. It’s crazy. Reba lives next door to her ex-husband and his new wife. The new wife is quite ditsy. She gets a vehicle with OnStar and proceeds to talk to the guy at the other end all the time. They eventually break up at the end of the episode. I know it really doesn’t fit into anything I was talking about.

So happy birthday George, may you rest in a peace where animals do not become communists and people are not observed 24/7 by telescreens.