The Current Affairs Principles Of Living

Sage advice from the nation’s premiere lifestyle magazine…

Here at Current Affairs, we are constantly being asked for our advice. Members of the public find themselves adrift, unsure how to properly navigate a world of crisis and angst. Face to face with the terror of existential uncertainty, they seek a voice of comfort, understanding, and sound judgment. Yet the advice market is dominated by charlatans and foreign impostors. Canadian psychologist Jordan B. Peterson, for example, known chiefly for his failure to empathize with transgender people, has recently produced a “self-help” book called 12 Rules for Life containing principles such as “Stand up straight,” “Make good friends,” “Be precise,” and “Pet street cats.” It is our position that these rules can do nobody any good. Street cats, for instance, often carry disease and are prone to biting those who molest them. Yet if the truly wise, such as Current Affairs, do not publish their own lists of maxims and exhortations, those with nothing to say will be the only ones heard, and the public will be led astray by hucksters and Canadians. We therefore present our own official Principles of Living as a guide to those readers who are frightened by the prospect of having to live life without a series of bullet pointed clichés to scrupulously obey.  We believe our own rules for living are superior to the Peterson Rules, not only because there are many more of them, but because they have the advantage of not being stupid. Obey these principles to the letter and we can guarantee that you will live, if not a happy life, then certainly an unexpected one:

  • If you can’t understand what you’ve just said, chances are others cannot understand it either.
  • Make amusing noises in public settings only if you are absolutely certain the noise will amuse.
  • Challenge the principal on his/her various abuses of power. Do not let him/her get away with replying “Didn’t we expel you months ago?”
  • Classiness is overrated. Novelty is overrated. Basic human decency is underrated.
  • Eliminate all nuclear weapons. Preferably quickly. Try not to detonate any in the process.
  • Take responsibility for your actions, even if your body insisted on doing them without consulting your brain.
  • Never live in a city that is not called  “New Orleans.” Never offer words of praise about states  that are not Louisiana.
  • Perform a citizen’s arrest of Peter Thiel.
  • Show peace and goodwill to all God’s creatures. Do not favor the cute ones just because they are cute.
  • If the situation could be improved, improve it. Be sure you know what you are doing. If you do not know what you are doing, hesitate momentarily.
  • Remember that everyone has an anus. If you forget, remind yourself by prodding your own.
  • Drafting furious letters-to-the-editor is usually ill-advised. You will regret them in the morning, but the editor will be wounded permanently.
  • Never start an aggressive war in a foreign country.
  • There is no place for humorlessness in a world so ludicrous as this.
  • If someone says “I have a disease” as an excuse for refusing to attend an important event, ask them which disease. If it is something curable, cure it.
  • Do not grow facial hair unless somebody has specifically requested it.


  • A good bowl of porridge now and then can’t hurt. Though what good it will do is unclear.
  • Make love at frequent intervals, but always with permission and never merely for the sake of it.
  • There is nothing shameful about building a tent indoors.
  • If you have a spare room, be sure to house a refugee in it.
  • If someone reads you their poetry, and the poetry is bad, remember that the pursuit of artistic excellence is ill-served by dishonesty.
  • The heart can cause us to do odd things. This cannot be helped, but always beware the human potential for romantic misadventure.
  • Lick the envelope manually instead of using a special industrial licking-brush. Your recipient will appreciate the extra effort. (Exceptions can be made for those who have to lick many envelopes in a row, or who lack tongues.)
  • Discount the opinions of blowhards. If someone makes their living giving opinions, trust nothing they say.
  • If your career involves denying people access to things they urgently require, seek alternate employment.
  • Be just as nice to the drummer as you are to the actual band.
  • Show zero tolerance for people whose values differ from your own, unless those values seem as if they might be kind of harmless in small quantities.
  • Never miss a parade if you can help it. If you can spare the time, join the planning committee.
  • If you must leave unexpectedly in the middle of the night, never to return, be sure to leave a handwritten explanatory note on scented paper. The choice of scent is crucial in determining how news of your absence will be received.
  • Pajamas are for children. The mature adult wears undies and a dressing gown.

  • Avoid efficiency. When you see efficiency emerging in others, stamp it out with haste.
  • Things that are new are rarely good. If you innovate something, and you are not sure whether it will help, err on the side of incinerating it.
  • Always ask rich people how they justify having so much when others have so little. Point out the holes in their justifications. Do not let them change the subject.
  • Do not hit people with sticks. Even if they work in the financial sector.
  • If you learn to play the piano, and you have not learned to boogie-woogie, you have not learned to play the piano.
  • Build more domes. Preferably elaborate ones. What happened to good domes?
  • Rebuild the original Penn Station exactly as it was, then hold an enormous hoedown in it and invite everyone in New York.
  • Do not tweet. Do not look at his tweets. Do not go near any tweets period.
  • Give hugs to strangers. Be sure to obtain consent.
  • Do not throw the newspaper away without first asking those nearby if they would like to read it next.
  • Only commit acts of sacrilege if they prove a point.
  • Do not read too much into a busy signal. They could just be busy.
  • Never ask a question you do not know the answer to. Failure to follow this rule can lead to calamity.

Try to make eye contact, even with the beady-eyed.

  • If you are a DJ, remember that you have a moral responsibility to ensure that the public only ever hears good music.
  • If you are a midwife, try to make sure the baby understands what she/he has gotten themselves into by joining the universe.
  • If you are a racecar driver, remember that going extremely fast around a concrete oval doesn’t necessarily make you a good person.
  • If you are the president, try not to make a hash of it like the rest of them did.
  • If you are Richard Dawkins, try to think how you might have framed things better.
  • If you are in the desert, lying on your belly asleep, with your mouth wide open, be aware that a snake might crawl into it.

  • Always do your best, even if it is functionally indistinguishable from your worst.
  • Always furnish rooms in a way that makes guests feel at ease. Do not contradict pleasing surroundings with an abrasive personality.
  • Form a doo-wop group. Serenade the elderly.
  • Dress well. When others are poorly dressed, do not disparage them. Buy them cravats and jabots as a “subtle hint.”
  • Never steal a police officer’s service pistol unless you have an uncommonly strong talent for persuasive apologies.
  • If you are a soldier, and you are asked to use a bayonet in an unseemly way, loudly question the propriety of the act. Resign if necessary, preferably in spectacular fashion.
  • If you have the opportunity, try to investigate whether your political opinions are correct before murdering someone in the name of them.
  • If you realize you know no sailors, do your best to meet one. Likewise for haberdashers, bricksmiths, handwelders, yardworkers, fishwipes, ironlaunders, longpushers, boatdockers, and tunemongers.

  • Never forget the dead. Be sure to occasionally ask them if they need anything.
  • “Mistake not the visions of your diseased brain for the truths of science.”
  • Avoid mutant pastries; perish the cronut.
  • All hats should have wide brims, all umbrellas should be the full length of a human leg. Anything less is barbarism.
  • Make sure not to become a fascist. If you see others around you becoming fascists, give them a stern talk.
  • Just because a magazine editor is incapable of hanging a collectible copy of the first edition on the office wall without bashing a large hole in the drywall, doesn’t mean you and the other staff need to mock him over his ineptitude for three whole months. Consider the possibility that he is self-conscious about his lack  of practical skills, and you are making him feel hurt and useless.
  • If you must ruin a child’s birthday party, try to make it up to them by declining to ruin the next one.
  • Leave generous tips, unless you are poor, in which case leave whatever you can, plus a nice little note saying how much you enjoyed yourself.
  • Tell children amusing lies. Only tell a child a lie if that lie is amusing.
  • Do your best to avoid furthering Satan’s plans. If Satan offers you a hamentash in exchange for your services, politely reply “No thank you, sir, I do not take the Devil’s hamentashen.”

  • From time to time, deliberately sprinkle some nonsense into your speech to check whether people are actually listening to you or just pretending.
  • If you like someone, build a colossal limestone monument to them. If you really like them, double the size and add a cupola.
  • Always use “Pardon me” instead of “Excuse me.” There are no excuses for what you did.
  • If you spot loneliness, stamp it out quickly through exuberant friendship.
  • Every time you consider eating a sausage, consider the forlorn faces of sad little piglets.
  • Unmask all falsehoods, puncture all idols, irritate all authorities, charm all acquaintances.
  • If everyone in the room is staring at you with their mouths open, it is possible you may have just accidentally said something racist.
  • Birds really aren’t all that bad, once you get to know them.
  • Leave no cake uneaten.
  • If you have not subscribed to a magazine lately, why not subscribe to three today? Better yet, get three subscriptions from one magazine, and give the extras to a gentleman you are trying to woo.
  • Always taste your own urine before encouraging others to do so.

  • Only have arrogance in proportion to your confidence, and only have confidence in proportion to your understanding. Also remember that you understand nothing.
  • Replace all public and private transit with adorable streetcars that have bells that go ting-a-ling.
  • If you can spare the time, revive a struggling city.
  • If you aren’t very good at singing, be sure to sing occasionally, in order to reassure others like yourself that they are not alone.
  • Give liberally to charity, but not bullshit charities that give apps to starving children or whatever.
  • Never adopt a dog that looks like yourself. This is narcissism.

  • Send friends postcards regularly. Be sure the postcards do not feature distasteful photographs.
  • Never insult a tradesman, unless he has paid you to do so as part of a televised advertisement.
  • Be sure every piece of knowledge you acquire is useful. If it is not useful, forget that you know it.
  • Overthrow capitalism, but preferably without making everything worse.
  • Subscribe to Current Affairs. (Obviously.) Make sure all those you care about have subscriptions to Current Affairs as well.

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