Or, if I was Augustus Caesar, I’d do a lot more than put August into the calendar.
10) Abolish October.
The problem with Christmas is that October comes before it.
October’s just that sort of month which is completely disposable. It turns up between September and November and throws everything completely off schedule. You expect Christmas to turn up, but there’s an October in between. So by the time you reach Christmas, you’ve finished singing all the Christmas carols inside your head and you’ve moved on to the New Year blues.
But what exactly is the point of an October?
It’s a between here and there month. Like the plaster between rafters in attics. The space between two stations. Some of my closest friends have birthdays in October. It still doesn’t mitigate the feeling that this is a month in which nothing ever happens. It merely serves to build up an uneasy feeling of anticipation within. The trouble with anticipation is that it usually builds up to nothing. The feeling of having anticipated nothing is a very deflating feeling and usually leaves you with nothing left for Christmas joy and all that sort of thing.
You could try to distract yourself and by the end of your period of distraction, you’ve completely lost your way and forgotten that Christmas was coming along in the first place at all.
Or maybe cynicism sets in – what’s Christmas after all? It isn’t actually Jesus’ birthday, because we don’t actually know on which day Jesus was born. The months weren’t really in order back then. So there’s no actual spiritual significance which we can attribute to this particular day. And then there’s more cynicism – watching the Onering.net flood your newsfeed, for example, with Christmas cheer which almost always ends in The Hobbit, Now playing. Capitalistic fingerprints on spirituality.
Which leaves you back at square one. It’s Christmas day and you’re not quite sure what to do with yourself. Feel happy? You can try, but happiness doesn’t come trotting along for the wishing.
Maybe it’s about the giving. But what if you aren’t in the giving vein? It’s a distinct possibility.
Eventually it ends up with you, locked into the bathroom so you can avoid the carol singers and the other bringers of Christmas cheer.
And it’s all October’s fault.
9) Make Last Christmas mandatory store music at Christmastime instead of Kenny G.
It has been statistically proven that listening to this song is the best way to get into the Christmas groove.
8) Give Les Misérables a clean win at the Oscars.
Let’s just not have a mind-numbingly boring clever film win the Oscar this time, okay? Let’s have something that makes you pull your handkerchief out and weep to the heavens, win.
This has nothing to do with the fact that Les Mis is my favouritest musical ever and that I’ve been waiting years for this film to be made.
7) Ban The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. And The Darjeeling Limited. And Allen Ginsberg.
I love Bill Nighy and adore Dame Judi Dench, Wes Anderson is brilliant and Ginsberg is about the only poetry I can stand, but just, no. There are enough books, films, poems and songs fetishizing India. There is nothing extraordinarily spiritual about this nation, except, maybe, that we don’t have a Richard Dawkins and they do. And they have a George Harrison and we don’t.
So please, don’t make more movies or books about how some lost white soul comes to India and then suddenly discovers who they are because of no apparent reason except that it’s India and that’s what happens in India. Or where they read some kind of esoteric text produced in India, receive teaching from someone in India – in fact anything related to India. Just. Leave. Us. Alone. Okay?
It’s a misrepresentation. In the same way that The Economist’s illustrations for some of its India articles reek of colonialism. But then, one doesn’t expect The Economist, with its robust disdain for Derrida and Foucault and all things postmodernist to actually read its illustrations like texts. Heck, they don’t even read their texts like texts.
One does, however, expect more of Bill Nighy and Judi Dench. Just saying.
This is probably also the only sensible resolution on this list.
6) Introduce variable daylight saving time. For those extra smoggy days.
It’s sad, but it’s true. I woke up today morning at eight and thought it was seven. In fact, as I write this, it’s ten fifteen in the morning and in a perfect, non-polluted world the sun would be shining brightly. It isn’t, however; instead it looks like the sky can’t decide whether it’s seven a.m. or if it’s about nine a.m.
It seems rather unfair that daylight saving time can be enjoyed only from the temperate zones onwards. It’s hard pulling yourself out of bed in the morning when smog has blotted the sun out of the sky and your clock insists on telling you that yes, it is 8 A.M. and not six thirty as your dazed and confused body insists it is.
The obvious solution to the smog problem is to want to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and stop driving cars and all that sort of thing. Which is fine if you live, say, in the richer third of the world where there’s actually a decent public transport system and technology which allows you to produce as much with fewer emissions. And the tiny fact that this third of the world has also had about two hundred years’ worth of polluting the atmosphere before they decided to go all green on it. The less obvious solution is a lot more equitable – they have to wait on us for whenever we decide to start our working days.
Only imagine it; a world with variable daylight saving time. And this, obviously, is only applicable in very polluted countries of the world (yes temperate zone countries, I will thumb my nose at you). The night before, say, someone does a smog estimate and based on some kind of visibility calculation, people decide when 8 A.M. happens the next day.
This way you only gain more sleeping time. You never lose it. The sun still comes up at about the same time, whether you like it or not, you just don’t see it because some days there’s more smog than the other days. So you start out at what seems like 10 A.M. on your normal non-smoggy day, but it’s actually 8 A.M. on your smoggy day. The hours keep going by, but at about six on your non-smoggy day, it’s actually about seven thirty (though you would have to call it four o clock) on your smoggy day – which means you get to go home early. One hour early, in fact.
Less work, more sleep, the rest of the world waits for us because right now our economies are growing a lot faster than theirs. What’s to lose?
5) A new system for separating the developed from the undeveloped.
If your country has managed to procure the technology to screen Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit in IMAX 3D HFR Dolbysomethingortheother, then you, my friend, come from a developed nation.
In the same way that the measure of a company’s success at keeping its workers satisfied is by checking the number of higher-order grumbles in the company. Maslow’s words, not mine.
Yes India (and Big Cinemas), I’m looking at you.
A dissatisfied customer.
4) Sue Maslow for plagiarism.
If you, like me, have read Aldous Huxley’s Eyeless in Gaza and happened to study Abraham Maslow’s theory of self-actualization afterwards, you might be struck by the high degree of resemblance between the two. And then even more by the resemblance between self-actualization and Huxley’s next work, Ends and Means.
The problem? Huxley published in 1936 and 1937. Maslow? A full ten years later.
The plot thickens. Huxley is actually one of the people Maslow studied in his highly unempirical and biased pilot self-actualization study.
To illustrate just how unempirical this study is, let’s contrast it with Timothy Leary’s work on psychogenic drugs – work which has long been used as an example of what bad science looks like. Timothy Leary looks like good science when held up against Maslow. And this, despite fiddling the baselines for the sample in one of his studies.
So not only does Maslow not bother with empirically testing his theory, he’s a plagiarist who proceeds to call the person he plagiarized from a failed self-actualizer.
Bad Maslow. Bad bad bad Maslow.
3) Teach teachers how to use guns.
It’s a well-known fact that to fight fire you must use fire.
Giving teachers guns ensures the safety of both them and their students, particularly in inner city schools where students often carry weapons to their classrooms. In such cases, having a weapon of their own is the best idea – especially as physical discipline is not permitted anymore. Possessing this weapon will act as a deterrent to students, who will no longer feel that they can use their weapons without the fear of retribution.
Teachers should also be given the freedom to shoot on sight at their discretion – allowing them to take effective, preventive action with immediacy. This will lead to an immediate resolution of any class discipline problems there may be.
This is better than restricting an individual’s right to bear arms – people will still be free! It’s also more effective (cost-wise, in particular) than trying to provide psychotherapy or other effective social interventions designed to prevent at risk children from engaging in violent antisocial behaviour.
This is also good for the economy as it will boost armaments sales, injecting money into the production system, eventually leading to economic growth.
2) Re-introduce capital punishment for just about everything… but rape in particular.
The only reason people commit crimes is because there is no fear of impending doom – the fear of the axe permanently hanging over their heads.
Re-instating capital punishment might actually deter them from their misdoings.
Rebekah Brooks? Phone hacking? Send her to the chopper! Tabloid journalists miraculously stop hacking phones for fear of death! Excellent! The intense competition between newspapers has nothing to do with it! The public’s open-mouthed consumption of this kind of cheap news has nothing to do with it at all! It’s all in the capable hands of the death penalty!
Activists who won’t toe the official line? Send them to the chopper! That’ll teach them to say nasty things about your government, won’t it now, preciouss? And we’ll be able to kill all the other people and keep their money for ourselves, won’t we preciouss?
Bankers with plush bonuses, playing around with other peoples’ money? Send them to the chopper! And when they’re gone, give us their money! Fund our university tuition fees! Our culture of consumption has nothing to do with it. And the fact that we can’t actually do math and calculate interest rates or figure out which deals are good deals and which deals are phony deals. Nope. Nothing at all to do with it.
Corrupt politicians? Send them to the chopper! Overnight, people will suddenly become more honest and put away the bad habits they’ve acquired over the years! They will also suddenly become more used to the idea of austerity and hard work and competence! Overnight! Miraculous!
Rapists? Send them to the chopper!
And this is true of rapists in particular. Because they rape because they know they can get away with it. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with the over strong invisible hand of patriarchy. Or the fact that somewhere in the back of their heads, they’re still medieval Saxons who’d put their cows at a greater value than their wives and that we don’t care enough to teach them otherwise. Nope. Nothing to do with that at all. You just cut their heads (and their balls) off and everything’ll be just dandy.
This will also be good for economic growth. I’m not sure how, but it almost certainly is.
1) Legalize Pot
For many years, America has engaged in an expensive and fruitless war – the War on Drugs. Little has changed in those years, except that the Mexican cartels have moved into the business of weed. Because it is now profitable.
It is, therefore, time to try a new way to cure this epidemic. And this can be done by legalizing Marijuana.
Marijuana, as we all know, has no dangerous side effects. Sure it’s potentially very psychologically and physically addictive – more so, incidentally than the far more potent LSD. And yes, there has been some disturbing research indicating that there might be a link between frequent marijuana usage and the onset of Schizophrenia. But what’s a little schizophrenia to 1 per cent of the population? That’s like 2.5 million people in a country of 250 million. Not much to write home about. More people catch the common cold from travelling by train – and that’s not illegal.
Legalizing this fairly mild drug will have more benefits, potentially.
For one, it will end this drug war. Because overnight the Mexican cartels will have nothing to sell. Except maybe a little cocaine and meth on the side.
Once it’s legal, students and teenagers will be less tempted to use the drug as most of its appeal would have gone.
More money will be injected into the economy, allowing for more economic growth! Your country needs you… to smoke some pot.
And smoking marijuana has many benefits. It’s a painkiller and would be effective for those people who happen to be allergic to Paracetamol and the other painkillers.
Obviously, not enough people have watched Mel Brooks’ A History of The World, Part 1 to know that the best way to win against your enemies is to get them stoned. It is physically impossible to use arms when you’re so stoned, you simply cannot move. This means this drug has the potential to resolve many international conflicts more painlessly than before. Listen, Mr Assad, smoke this joint and you won’t want to be a dictator anymore and we’ll keep you flush with joints, just don’t kill people okay?
See? Easy schmeazy. Much more efficient than teaching kids about dopamine and serotonin and all that jazz. Or using rehabilitation programmes like Portugal does.
Happy New Year. Next year? Maybe we can move on to getting Mr Leary back in the scientific community’s good books and take another look at Schizophrenia – should it really be included in the DSM or is it actually a case of pure unity of perception?
Tune in and drop out.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece were not meant to be taken seriously. Except point number 7.