It’s that time of year again, when high school and college graduates all over the country are trying on caps and gowns and making post-graduation plans. Today, for the eighth year, I will present here my own carefully prepared commencement speech to those grads – presented here because there’s damn little chance of my being asked to deliver it in person to a group of impressionable yutes.
So, here it is. Enjoy.
“Graduates of the Class of 2021, let me be the first to extend to you my congratulations on this, your day of entry into reality.
For the last four years you have been working towards this goal, towards this day. That’s a good thing. One of the most important skills you will ever need, one of the most important ways to achieve success in the world into which you are about to enter, is the ability to formulate goals, to plan how to achieve those goals, and to see things through until you reach those goals. Today you’ve shown you can do that. Congratulations and good job.
Now, before you go out to enjoy the rest of this day, before you go out to celebrate this goal you have achieved, let me tell you a few harsh truths about the world you’re entering. I’m not going to give you any trigger warnings; if you can’t handle what I’m about to say, there’s damn little future for you out there in the real world, so cowboy up. Moments ago I congratulated you on your day of entry into reality, so to get you started off right, here is a hefty dose of reality for you.
In spite of what you may have been told during all your years of education, nobody owes you anything, and you aren’t special. Any perceived ‘need’ you may have does not entitle you to anything – most especially, not to one red cent of the product of anyone else’s effort. If any of your professors have told you that, then they are economic illiterates, moral frauds or outright charlatans.
Our wonderful Constitution, which has stood for well over two hundred years as the founding document of our Republic, guarantees you the opportunity to your pursuit of happiness. It does not require anyone to provide you the means to your happiness at their expense. You and you alone are responsible for your own life. You have no moral claim on anyone else’s productivity. Accept that fact and you are already one step ahead of most of your peers.
You are entitled to what you have earned through your own efforts, and not:
If you are accepting a degree today in LGBT Studies, or Women’s Studies, or any of the other assorted bullshit Underwater Dog Polishing degrees our universities crank out today, then you have my sympathies. You are the victim of a fraud perpetrated by our university system, a vicious and cynical fraud that has resulted in you spending a lot of money for no gain. But more importantly, you are the victim of your own poor judgement. You decided to pursue a useless degree, and now you’re stuck. Here is another harsh reality: You are responsible for your own situation. It’s not anybody else’s fault. Nobody else is responsible. You are.
Your university experience had one goal – producing a young adult with marketable skills, someone who can provide value to an employer and to the economy. In this your university has failed, and in choosing this degree, so did you. You have relegated yourself to uselessness in the workplace, and when a few years from now you are working as a barista or checkout clerk and crying over your six figures of student debt, remember what I said a few moments ago: You and you alone are responsible for your own life. You made a decision; now you get to deal with the consequences of that decision. Pull yourself up, look around at the other opportunities around you, and figure a way out of this mess your youthful indiscretion has landed you in.
But you still have one thing going for you. You have shown that you can set yourself a goal and achieve it. Do so now.
So, where do you go from here?
Because nobody owes you anything, including a living, one of the tasks ahead of you now is finding gainful employment. If you’re going to find employment, it will only be because you can demonstrate to the employer that you can provide value to him or her in excess of your costs of employment. Employment is an economic transaction. In any free market transaction, both parties have to realize a perceived gain in value or the transaction won’t happen. If a prospective employer doesn’t think you’re able to provide value to his/her business in excess of your cost of employment, which includes not only your salary but all the extra taxes, fees and other various government extortion that you never see in your pay stub – then they won’t hire you. So be able to present yourself as someone who can provide value, in whatever field you have been studying these last few years.
Show up a little earlier than the other guy,
Work a little harder than the other guy,
Never pass up a chance to learn something new.
Words that should never pass your lips include such things as “that’s not my job,” and “I don’t have time for that.” Your reputation in the workplace should be, to put it bluntly, the one who can get shit done. Results matter. Be the one that the boss can count on. Be the one who brings things in on time. Be the one who finishes the job. Be the one that produces value and you will never have to worry about where your next meal is coming from.
Bear in mind also that you are entering the workforce as a tablua rasa as far as potential employers are concerned. You’re not going to leave these halls and be CEO of General Motors. You will be working in an entry level job, probably not making a lot of money, probably doing work your longer-term co-workers don’t want to do. Suck it up. There are no lousy jobs, only lousy people. Any work that produces value is worth doing. How do you know if your work is producing value? The answer to that is trivially easy: If someone is willing to pay you to do the work, then you are producing value. Bear in mind also that the job belongs to the employer, not to you, and if you don’t meet the employer’s expectations, someone else will.
Be known for your integrity. Don’t say anything you don’t believe and don’t make promises you can’t deliver on. Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who means what you say and who delivers on your promises.
Be known for your reliability. Show up on time, every day, for every event. Show up on time for meetings. Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who will always be there when you’re needed.
Be known for your responsibility. If you take on a task, finish it. If you commit to a timeline, meet it. If you accept responsibility for something, own it. It’s yours. Don’t expect anyone else to take care of it for you. Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who, when put in charge, takes charge.
Be known for your dependability. Plan your tasks to bring them in on schedule. If that means long hours, work them. If that means working a Saturday, work it. Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who can get the job done.
Success isn’t a mysterious thing. It’s not that elusive and it’s not even all that hard. I did it, and you can too, but it does involve one four-letter word:
Thomas Edison once said “people often fail to recognize opportunity when it knocks, because it usually shows up in overalls and looks like work.” At these commencement events it’s common to be told to follow your dreams, and that’s nice, flowery stuff, but in most cases nobody is going to pay you to follow your dreams. They will pay you to produce value, and that means work. Follow your dreams on your own time.
Finally, I will leave you all with some unsolicited advice:
All through your life, people will promise you things. Most of them won’t deliver. Many of those people will be people seeking political office, and many more of them will be people pushing some sort of supposed business opportunity. Some years ago the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein observed a fundamental law of the universe, which law is represented by the acronym TANSTAAFL: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Remember that; if someone offers you something for nothing, they are lying. If someone is offering you something at someone else’s expense, they are offering to commit theft on your behalf. The only moral answer to such offers is outright refusal.
There are only three types of economic transactions and only one of those – a free, unfettered, voluntary exchange of value – is morally acceptable. If a transaction is done by force, that is theft. If a transaction is done by deceit, that is fraud. Have no interaction with anyone who advocates either.
Accept responsibility for your own successes. Accept responsibility for your own failures. Learn from both. Rely on yourself. Rely on your own skills, your own abilities. Many other people will let you down, but you can always rely on yourself.
In her epic novel Atlas Shrugged, author Ayn Rand presents the protagonist, John Galt, describing his decision to solve society’s troubles by an epic act of creative destruction. He describes the ultimate moment of his decision process with two sentences, two sentences which I have found more inspiring than any long-winded ethical or political monologue ever delivered since the times of Plato and Aristotle. These words are the very essence of the self-directed man of achievement:
‘I saw what had to be done. I went out to do it.’
Those are good words to live by. Now, today, you graduates see what has to be done.
Go out and do it.
Thank you and good luck.”
If anyone was offended by anything contained in this hypothetical speech, too damn bad.
In ever-more-loony Los Angeles, a rare act of sanity has occurred; a judge struck down California’s insane law requiring a certain percentage of women on corporate boards. Excerpt:
A Los Angeles judge has ruled that California’s landmark law requiring women on corporate boards is unconstitutional.
Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis said the law that would have required boards have up to three female directors by this year violated the right to equal treatment. The ruling was dated Friday.
The conservative legal group Judicial Watch had challenged the law, claiming it was illegal to use taxpayer funds to enforce a law that violates the equal protection clause of the California Constitution by mandating a gender-based quota.
David Levine, a law professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, said he was not surprised by the verdict. Under state and federal law “mandating a quota like this was never going to fly,” Levine said.
All well and good; this idiotic law never should have seen the light of day in the first place, as quotas of any kind, for any reason, fly directly in the face of the founding principle of equal treatment under the law. But then, get a load of this asshat:
State Senate leader Toni Atkins, a Democrat from San Diego, said the ruling was disappointing and a reminder “that sometimes our legalities don’t match our realities.”
In matters such as this, you imbecile, the legalities are the realities. You tried to put in place a law that anyone with enough brains to drool would know is a Constitutional violation, not just of the Federal but also the California Constitution. You tried something stupid and you got smacked down. Once in a while, something sane does happen on the Left Coast.
“More women on corporate boards means better decisions and businesses that outperform the competition,” Atkins said in a statement. “We believe this law remains important, despite the disheartening ruling.”
OK, let’s see some data for this “better decisions” and “outperforming the competition” claim. I want details. Numbers. Names and dates. You know, evidence.
Of course, there is none. This is just another leftist California pol taking a dump; she knows it, we know it, and with a little bit of luck even voters in California will eventually figure it out. Meanwhile, good for Judge Duffy-Lewis. We’re not accustomed to seeing much in the way of sanity come out of the once-and-former-Golden State.
In the interest of better access to Alaska’s hunting and fishing grounds, Mrs. Animal and I have been looking for an ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) to get us farther afield, faster. Such are popular and, in some cases, near-indispensable for accessing good Alaska terrain.
Problem is, there isn’t much in the way of used inventory available. So we bit the bullet and ordered a new 2022 Polaris ATV. At least, as I reckon it, buying a new one and taking good care of it should ensure that it will last, well, as long as I’ll need it to. We should have delivery of it in late August, just in time for hunting seasons. Watch this space for narratives!
On To the Links!
Why Democrats are losing. Because they’re horribly out of touch and their policy positions are shit?
This Week’s Idiots:
This Week’s Cultural Edification:
In 1991, just after we got home from the General Schwarzkopf Traveling Road Show’s Highway of Death Tour, Mrs. Animal and I were able to catch one of America’s most famous concert events when we saw the Grateful Dead at the old Mile High Stadium in Denver.
It was a hell of a show. As I recall we paid $17 for tickets. Carlos Santana opened; he played for 90 minutes. The Grateful Dead, backed up by Bruce Hornsby on keyboards and Branford Marsalis on sax, played for almost six hours. For comparison, I remember reading that same summer Michael Jackson did a show in Las Vegas. Tickets started at $65 and he was actually on stage for less than an hour.
Here, then, from the live album Without a Net, recorded on that same tour, is the 16-minute epic Eyes of the World. It’s probably my favorite Grateful Dead tune. Enjoy.
When I was a little kid, I always enjoyed going through the monthly National Geographic, once the Old Man had read it and passed it down through my siblings to me. It was a quality publication in those days, full of fascinating insights into exotic locales. Somewhere around here I still have an October 1961 edition, and it’s neat to look through that and see the state of the world the month I was born.
The current National Geographic – currently going by the childishly stupid NatGeo – is none of these things. Law & Liberty’s Mark Judge describes the fall of this magazine. Excerpt:
Today, National Geographic, like so much of the rest of the culture, seems gripped in a mania focused on guilt over race and gender. As part of the magazine’s April 2018 “The Race Issue,” editor Susan Goldberg offered this headline: “For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It.” Goldberg hired a scholar, John Edwin Mason of the University of Virginia, to dig through the archives and find white supremacy. Interviewed by Vox, Mason announced that “the magazine was born at the height of so-called ‘scientific’ racism and imperialism — including American imperialism. This culture of white supremacy shaped the outlook of the magazine’s editors, writers, and photographers, who were always white and almost always men.” Responding to a 2018 cover featuring a cowboy on horseback, Mason argues that “the image of the white cowboy reproduces and romanticizes the mythic iconography of settler colonialism and white supremacy.”
And then there was the ridiculous hagiographic Fauci, a documentary that gives the impression that the proper response to public authority is unquestioning obedience and unceasing praise.
It’s sad – read the whole thing, because Mr. Judge describes his father’s work and how he met many of the leading lights of the original National Geographic. But I think this, like so many things, is a sign of the descent of American society into kakistocracy. There are so many signs that it’s difficult to name them all, but I’ll give an example: Written English. In my business I have occasion to read written work, such as work instructions, investigation plans and reports, and so on, written in many cases by recent college graduates but also at times by experienced people with ten or fifteen years of industry experience. And the average writing skill? It ranges from middling to absolutely awful, with a few stellar exceptions that I can only assume are self-taught.
National Geographic is just another example. When I reached adulthood, I had bought my own subscription to this old periodical and maintained it until sometime in the late Nineties. The last straw was their cable TV channel, the mostly terrible programming thereon, and the descent of the magazine as Mr. Judge describes. Not to mention the stupid “NatGeo” appellation.
It was once a fine American periodical, professional, fact-based, scrupulously edited and fascinating. No longer. And that’s too bad.
The science nut (and science fiction writer) in me finds this kind of thing extremely cool: We can now see an image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Excerpt:
The image is a long-anticipated look at the massive object that sits at the very center of our galaxy. Scientists had previously seen stars orbiting around something invisible, compact, and very massive at the center of the Milky Way. This strongly suggested that this object — known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*, pronounced “sadge-ay-star”) — is a black hole, and today’s image provides the first direct visual evidence of it.
Although we cannot see the black hole itself, because it is completely dark, glowing gas around it reveals a telltale signature: a dark central region (called a “shadow”) surrounded by a bright ring-like structure. The new view captures light bent by the powerful gravity of the black hole, which is four million times more massive than our Sun.
“We were stunned by how well the size of the ring agreed with predictions from Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity,” said EHT Project Scientist Geoffrey Bower from the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academia Sinica, Taipei. “These unprecedented observations have greatly improved our understanding of what happens at the very center of our galaxy and offer new insights on how these giant black holes interact with their surroundings.”
Here’s the image:
I find this fascinating. Granted this is a composite made from tiny snaps from many telescopes, but it looks about like you’d expect the accretion ring around a black hole to look, so it’s certainly plausible – and it’s not like you’d want to get too close to the thing to photograph it with traditional means, as the center of the galaxy is probably a (literal) hotbed of radiation and super-heated gas.
We’ll probably never have substantial human colonies anywhere, even Mars, in my lifetime. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look outward, even if we can’t go outward – yet. But if the last few hundred years has taught us anything, it’s that we can do amazing things when we set our minds to them. And maybe, if our current crop of ineffective, incompetent and idiotic politicians stay out of the way, maybe we will be able to one day move outwards.