But

This post has a couple of big buts. If you don’t like big buts then don’t read it. However if you do like big buts or are neutral this may be an article for you.

The most famous person who has gone to my high school, Elmira District Secondary School, is Malcolm Gladwell. However he was well out of the school by the time I attended. In my five years of high school I would say that Timothy Schmalz is the most famous of our lot. I was not in his grade. His brother was in my grade. I knew Tim through a mutual friend.

If you are wondering what his claim to fame is, he is a sculptor. A lot of thought goes into many of his pieces, including Homeless Jesus which depicts homeless Jesus huddled on a bench and Golden Leaves which commemorates Gordon Lightfoot in his hometown of Orillia.

But I choose to look at Homeless Jesus for the rest of this article. This is the sculpture that gets more people to think. It got me thinking about it. And there are replicas of it all over the world. Apparently Timothy didn’t break the mold.

It seems to be a sculpture for good. BUT I can’t help thinking about one big thing. Yes there is room on the bench to sit beside huddled Jesus. But the rest of this perfectly good bench is taken up by huddled Jesus. In other words, a homeless person can’t sleep on the perfectly usable bench of this sculpture.

This reminds me of the stadium seating in Waterloo Public Square. There are grooves at certain intervals along the seats so skateboarders can’t slide their boards along the edge. If they do they wipe out. Similarly a homeless person can’t lie on homeless Jesus for long without hurting their back or other parts.

On the surface I should view Homeless Jesus as bad because he is stealing a bed from the homeless. BUT I am just cognizant enough to realize that art can affect people. Perhaps someone who sees homeless Jesus will donate to the homeless. If enough people do then perhaps three beds will be filled by the homeless who might have used that bench.

And some Christians who see this sculpture might believe in charity enough they might try to organize their congregations to give more than this or other sculptures are worth. They might end up with permanent solutions to some people’s homelessness. Even if this never succeeds in getting rid of homelessness, it could get rid of specific people’s homelessness and thus be a boon to society.

My only problem with this is I wish I didn’t have to use the loosey goosey ‘art can affect people’ line. I wish there were established scientific methods that could tell exactly how many people could be affected. So I can’t say with certainty there will be a net boon to society. Still, I would give heavy odds that that is the case.

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This is a Work of Fiction

Janna was a broad consumer of books of fiction. So it was no surprise that she entered Epimenides Bookstore. What might have been surprising is how quickly she passed by the displays, not even reading a word. She was on a mission.

She went straight to the science fiction and fantasy books, her favourites. She opened the first few pages of a book by an author she wanted and was disappointed. She tried another of his books and still no luck. The store carried none of her favourite female author’s books so she went to another female author she liked. The words Janna was looking for at the front just weren’t there.

Then she thought a bit more deeply. The words she was looking for might not be there because of the kind of fiction she was looking at. She headed for the historical fiction section. There must be a book there that tickled her fancy. She found one set in the early 20th century. She opened it up and there was her prize:

“This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.”

She took it up to the front counter. She had chosen wisely the time of day so the cashier wouldn’t be busy. Indeed the cashier was pricing books with blank pages. “May I help you?” he asked.

“Am I supposed to give you the price I wish to pay for this book?”

“No. The price is on the cover.”

“But it clearly states inside that this is a work of fiction. So I believe the price is covered under that and also is a work of fiction.”

“Well if we’re going to just pick prices at random then I venture that the price is more than the cover price listed.”

“Poppycock! Everyone knows that the price on a book is the most expensive one that you ever pay for it. If it is to change it must be down. Either as a normal sale or an out of season sale.”

“Well there is no sale. So the price isn’t a work of fiction. Perhaps the work of fiction line just refers to what happens after that line.”

“The copyright is after that line,” Janna said smugly.

“Oomph! I feel like I just got gut punched.”

“Truthfully, I don’t think I have deep enough pockets to even try that one.”

“The copyright military industrial complex is backed by many big corporations. But perhaps they would do nothing if you wrote fan fiction. That might satisfy both sides. But mostly the reason no one tries your avenue of reasoning is the mind blowing ramifications.”

“Like what?”

“Just look at the line singly. ‘This is a work of fiction.’ If this is true then the line is a lie and it’s not fiction. Which means it is fiction. Which must be a lie…

“Ugh! My brain hurts.”

“Exactly. But this particular book is going to be half off next week if there are any copies left.”

“Thanks. I’ll take my chances next week then. I’d hide it but you might not reprice it then.”

He sighed. “Fine, I’ll reshelve it, too.”

With a simple “Thanks,” Janna was out the door.

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Devout Capitalist, Kenney, To Go On Strike

Everyone knows that Jason Kenney, the new premiere of Alberta, is a devoted capitalist. After all he is such a lap dog to the oil industry of that province, how could he be anything else? Well he is planning a strike against the government of neighbouring province, British Columbia.

A capitalist striking? Surely this must be sacrilege. But, no, that is exactly what he is doing. He made bill 12 law which will allow his government to stop working for B.C. even though that is at a profit. He will ‘turn off the taps’ of a pipeline that provides B.C. with petroleum products.

Kenney wants as many working pipelines as possible to the B.C. coast so he can fill up oil tankers there and get his petroleum products to international markets. So he is willing to go on strike in order to force B.C. to accept more pipelines and oil tanker traffic.

If there is any doubt that Mr. Kenney’s plan is to strike, then let the record show that Bill 12 was written up by the former NDP government. The NDP is known to ally itself with unions all of which know how to strike.

The former NDP government drafted the bill for the exact same reason but never passed it in their legislature. This was a strategic move.

Kenney said that this was silly. So he passed the bill right away to look tough. And within hours, the province of B.C. had a constitutional challenge in court which will likely tie the bill up for years and by most accounts defeat it.

Not one drop of oil was stopped going to B.C. And now Alberta can’t ‘turn off the taps’ as the matter is before the courts.

Capitalist Jason Kenney is inept at striking.

The NDP knew B.C. would challenge them in court so they had planned to pass the bill at a later date of their own choosing in order to ‘turn off the taps’ for a few hours and cause chaos in B.C. for that time. That’s why they didn’t pass the bill into law. If it’s not officially law it can’t be challenged. So the NDP planned to wait until they were ready and ‘turn off the taps’ immediately after passing the bill. Kenney can’t do this anymore. He’s banking on bill 12 passing legal challenges which is unlikely.

So not only did the capitalist announce his intentions to strike, he did it incompetently and became ineffectual and likely lost.

Maybe he was a true capitalist all along and always intended to lose the strike. He had no other way because the NDP had hit on an idea that was popular in Alberta. Well played Jason Kenney, super capitalist.

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Trump’s Border Fence

If you don’t believe in the power of words, I would dare you to be the Trump flunky that tries to call his border wall, the border fence. Maybe I underestimate Trump’s tolerance but I just recall his reaction to being told he has little hands.

After being told his fence would have regular gaps in it to see the other side, I think it lost a lot of respect. This is no Hadrian’s Wall. And it is certainly lesser than the Great Wall of China. The word fence just seems to sit right.

‘But wait’ you might say, ‘this wall is just as important because of the huge amounts of money being spent on it.’

Fine, then. We’ll just have to call it the Money Fence and leave Trump’s name off it completely. Wait! Is that the sole reason that he wants it built – so he can have a legacy as big as Hadrian’s?

Let’s see. He names his buildings Trump Towers. He has more than a couple Trump Plazas. There are a whole host of Trump National Golf Courses as well as one Trump International Golf Course. For beverages, there is a Trump Winery and a Trump Natural Spring Water. Then you can see all the former things named Trump (like Trump University) at the Wikipedia page: List of things named after Donald Trump.

Then of course there is Donald Trump Jr. as well as Donald Trump III.

If the Money Fence gets built I think it would make the perfect metaphor for two lovers with a rift between them. Much like the fence that was used in the music video Kayleigh by the rock band Marillion.

If the Money Fence does get built then I will say kudos to the couple or couples that first “Kayleigh” the fence. That is they’ll each walk along the fence on their side while holding their hands out to the slats since they can’t hold hands through it while walking. Both of the lovers’ fingertips will bounce against each slat as in the video.

Imagine that. 6 billion dollars all to just be a prop for a newish rock music video. It will be money well spent.

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My Pepsi Boycott

Pepsi announced that they were going to advertise in the evening/early-morning sky with cubesats that have reflective mylar sails. They will spell out, like constellations, the image Pepsi wants us to see. This is a horrible idea that will be seen over large swaths of the Earth at a time.

Pepsi may be stupid. They might have missed the cries of foul back in the late eighties when France tried to put up a 100th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower space tribute.

So why could anyone be against advertising no matter the form it takes? After all advertising is the lifeblood of economics, isn’t it?

Imagine two lovers in the twilight. The one might say, “You are as lovely as the stars themselves.”

“Blechhh! The ones that spell out Pepsi and take orders from a mega corporation? Double blechhh!”

Imagine a group of amateur astronomers, pulling an allnighter to see as many of the Messier objects as possible. “Just the M81 and M82 galaxies left and we’ve done it!”

“Oh no!” cries another amateur astronomer. “It’s early morning and the Pepsi logo is advertising in front of M81 and M82. We’ll never succeed now! I’m picking Coke!”

A professional astronomer checks the photographs she has been imaging for a couple hours. She thinks, even with all the space equipment, a surprising amount of astronomy is still done on earth. Anger sets in as she takes the photos from their housing and takes a first glance. There are streaks on the photos all running the same direction, ruining her work of the evening.

With her red light flashlight she examines things more closely. She imagines the streaks as dots placed at the end of each streak. This way she can spell out PEP. Of course. Advertising is much more important than mere science. Imagine once the newness (and expense) of space advertising has settled down. Advertising could be anywhere in the night sky.

Free at last from the way too busy cities, a couple turns out all their lights to see the beauty of the night sky and the milky way.

There isn’t even the glow of streetlights from nearby towns because the couple located many miles from any town or village that had them. They paid a million dollars for this view. And now they have to look at the Pepsi logo constellation even more brightly than it can be viewed in the city.

What is the public to do? We could fund raise to get India to blow up the cubesats. But this creates debris that is dangerous for all the other satellites up there.

A few days after the original article, Pepsi backed out of the deal with the Russian advertiser. But not before getting tons of free publicity once for the announcement and once for the pull back. This free publicity may have been the whole plan.

So to counter Pepsi’s greed, I will boycott products I know are Pepsi made. I will do this for a year, longer if I choose that at the end of the year. This is a huge thing to do because Pepsi makes so much of what is in the stores.

In beverages this means no Pepsi, Mountain Dew, 7 Up or Mug Root Beer. No Gatorade, Aquafina, Lipton or Brisk. No Tropicana juices and other beverages that I have yet to find out about.

Pepsi also owns Frito Lay chips and the host of chip products that company produces. And apparently to get to Gatorade this ravenous company had to buy Quaker, the cereal company.

Now that’s a long list of products I will need to avoid. I have no doubts that I will be able to avoid this company’s products for a year. After all in the early eighties I had a coffee at McDonald’s. It was so grotesquely bad that I don’t purchase or even use coffee from this corporation. McCafe permanently lost a customer. I remember.

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Web of Murder

The “call before you dig” public advertisements got me thinking. What if it wasn’t possible to bury a body in the back yard because there were no spots where that large of a space wasn’t crisscrossed with buried wires.

Indeed lets say that the entire yard was crisscrossed with wires every two or three feet apart. Digging in the ground at these spots would either have the shovel deliver a shock to the wielder or cut out the streetlights near the house and hydro at the house. In other words, it would be obvious who was trying to bury a body.

Alright, but what about gardens? These are spots that all homeowners like to dig up from time to time in the pursuit of horticulture. We could just build the web of murder detecting wires 3 feet deep and make the homeowner stay above this limit.

Of course there might be accidents in the gardens of suburbia, especially with rotor tillers and other heavy machinery involved. So I say the web of murder detecting under the gardens might just be the kind of wires that only turn out the streetlights and don’t shock the transgressor.

Special accommodations would also have to be made for planting shrubs and trees and hedges. First of all a line or fence of hedges had better be in the master plan of the house because there is no way that the web of murder detecting is going to be compromised that many times.

And trees develop phenomenally huge root systems. Again I think the time to add them is in the master plan of the house. If an original tree falls down or dies, a new one of the same size and type of root system could be planted at that exact spot.

Shrubs could be allowed. In this case the owner could tell the city worker where they want the shrubs. The city worker could, after looking at the web of murder detecting, spray small Xes on the grass in the closest spots to what the homeowner wanted.

Now the homeowner isn’t helpless and could easily buy wire detecting equipment. They could work much like a metal detector/stud finder hybrid.

The homeowner with murder in his heart would find that the biggest empty spot in his backyard was a 2 by 3 foot section. He could come up with the idea of burying his victim vertically instead of horizontally. This sounds like a triumphant idea until you realize that you’d have to dig at least 6 feet down. Then might come the realization that you can’t flip a normal shovel over with its payload of dirt in a 2 foot by 3 foot confined space. You would have to come up with another idea that might not prohibit you from successfully completing the hole in one night.

Not being able to bury someone in one night is a desired outcome. It’s true that any lock can be picked or otherwise broken into. The idea is to slow down the criminal enough that someone spots them and reports it to the authorities. The same could be true of our web of murder detecting.

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Please Don’t Make Trump Cute

I imagine most netizens have seen the giant Trump baby balloon by now. I object to this because it sends the wrong message. You see the vast majority of people regard babies as cute. No matter how ugly the baby is it is still regarded as cute. Trump is anything but cute with his actions.

Now, granted, the balloon is an unnatural orange which is a colour a baby can’t be. This is the first point that makes it a bit scary. And yes it is scary to breast feeders with those full adult teeth. And that hair swoop looks scary and unnatural for even a baby with bed head (crib head?).

Still the balloon is enough like a baby for some people to say “cute”. Trump is not cute. A man who in his very first election statement to the public used racist imagery against Mexicans is not cute. A man who kept children from their parents for months is not cute. A man who tries again and again to keep millions of Americans from their health care is not cute.

I definitely see the point that the baby terminology brings up. Trump acts like a baby so often in order to get his way. At his age the likelihood of incontinence is quite high and thus there is the diaper the balloon baby is swaddled in. Then there is the immature way Trump seems to lack filters. He might as well just cry for all the world to see – that’s just as immature an action as other acts of Trump.

Babies have all these qualities and still are considered cute. Let’s not give Trump this free pass.

Still I can’t help but think about the monologue from As You Like It by Shakespeare that starts with “All the world’s a stage…” and describes the seven ages of a man’s life. The seventh and last age is second childhood, indeed “sans teeth” implies it goes right up to second infancy. And that might be where Trump is right now. He is old enough to be in the last age of life. Someday soon he may be “Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.”

Finally I just have this to say. Stop dragging innocent babies down to Trump’s level. It’s unseemly. They don’t deserve the comparison.

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Shadowy Man on the White House

I was watching the news when they pulled back to a shot of the White House. I usually ignore such shots. For all I know it could be a stock photo and not a live feed. But this time I saw something move on the top of the White House. It was a shadowy man walking confidently on the roof.

Then I wondered if I should attempt to call the White House just to let them know that there is a possible perp on their roof. Chances are it’s nothing, but, if it is something then who knows how bad it might be?

Then I remembered who is the person in the White House. That is when he is not out on his golf courses. Only then did it occur to me that I might have things backward. The president’s life might not be at risk, instead he may be preparing a special welcome in the morning.

I tried to look up the itinerary at the White House but had zero luck. Then again the plot may be against everyday people of the White House like staff, security or reporters.

That last one had to be it. Perhaps the shadowy figure was getting a cauldron of boiling oil set up on the roof so the president’s minions could pour it on the unsuspecting watchdog press and Fox News. It’s not like ‘rump hasn’t gone back to old style “solutions” like walls to keep barbarians out.

With “fake news” warnings everywhere from this presidential era, the watchdog press couldn’t truthfully say that they weren’t warned or at least foreshadowed. But I can warn them of my intuitions and perhaps there won’t be a burn crisis on the lawns of the White House.

Still an evil spirit may have been on the roof of the White House. So I think an old time seance or building exorcism might be performed on the whole building. Maybe the evil spirits will leave. It may even take promises of socialism, but, by 2020, those evil spirits may finally be exorcised from the White House.

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Blinking To My Own Beat

The other day I was distracted watching a news broadcast when the interviewing reporter seemed to blink erratically. I came out of my suspension of disbelief (something a non-fiction consumer of news needs to have these days), and thought of all the great possibilities of being a reporter yet getting my own message out by blinking my eyes in Morse Code.

Now I know the power of Morse Code due to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew who it seemed got captured every book and manage to transmit S.O.S. by some means to the rest of the world and thus get freed again. S is three short blips in a row, followed by O, or three dashes in a row, and then back to S.

But as I imagine my career as the Morse Code reporter, I realize it is hard to say one thing by mouth and a complete other thing by my blinks. As such I intend to keep my blinks to very simple things. If this means I don’t have to become fluent in all words Morse Code, so much the better.

I will start my career as a lowly roving reporter. That is where I plan to use my first Morse Code insertion. As a shout out to the pioneering Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, I will blink out S.O.S. at random times in my roving reporting. I hope enough people notice that I will be promoted (and thus helped by the S.O.S.) to an in studio broadcaster and commentator.

For the next step, I will learn the phrase, “Blah, blah, blah.” Or if I’m feeling cheeky, “Bob Loblaw” (say this out loud three times fast to hear what it means [It’s an Arrested Development joke.]). I will save blinking out this message until I find the interviewee pontificating too much. Which should be easy as long as the target of news broadcasts, the politicians, are of the usual order.

Then once I have built up my audience and they trust my commentary, I intend to learn one more word of Morse Code. That word will be, “Liar.” I intend to be as honest as I can and only use it when I truly believe the mark is lying. This will allow many, many people to be in on the truth especially during times of campaigning. Can I swing an election? I don’t know but at least I’ll have an opportunity to try.

And finally I will be able to be a truly fair reporter. I’d be calling the politicians on their BS while still keeping my likely slanted broadcaster in the dark.

Of course I could just stay away from reporting altogether and readily say whether the politicians are being truthful or not. But that usually just gets dismissed as random ranting. A long convoluted plan using lots of subterfuge just sounds better.

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Hobbes the Robin

Early on in his schooling Hobbes the Robin learned the expression “the early bird gets the worm”.

While he didn’t enjoy learning that he would have to get up earlier to see if this expression was true or not, still he resigned himself to it.

His parents allowed him to use an alarm and he got up while it was still dark and got himself ready to test the truthfulness of the saying. His Uncle Bob had warned him it’s a matter of statistics, that there might not be more or better worms the first time but if he did it 10 times it should be shown to be true.

Hobbes was out of the house before the sun’s first rays were visible. His head felt a little funny and his eyes burned from getting up so early. Still, when his eyes first adjusted to the dark he immediately saw his first worm and went to it.

The worm tried to go underground before Hobbes got to it but it was too late. Hobbes had his breakfast as quickly and as easily as he had ever had it.

Hobbes loved the saying that inspired him. So much so that he mentioned to Uncle Bob that he was going to try to be the early bird in another way.

“Where did you hear about this other way?” asked Uncle Bob.

“I don’t know.” said Hobbes. “It’s just something that was in the air. In the interest of completeness, I think I must test this to see if it is true, too.”

“It’s dangerous. I think what you heard was just worm propaganda.”

That spring, Hobbes headed north 3 weeks earlier. He had wanted to do it even earlier but his Uncle Bob had insisted. “You might be able to live for 3 weeks without food, but not much longer.”

The flight up to his summer stomping grounds was colder than he expected. At first he flew over patchy snow which is what it looked like when he normally arrived at his destination. This time he flew hours and hours over solid snow before he arrived at his favourite summer tree. It had a notch in it that Hobbes figured would keep him sheltered and warm.

Hobbes hadn’t imagined where the worms would be in any of his thoughts previous to arriving. In the cold winter he was now stuck in, he realized it was probably under the snow. That could wait for tomorrow to find out.

After all the flying he had just did he normally would have slept deeply. Instead he slept fitfully and his alarm woke him up before the sun.

His eyes adjusted but there were no worms to eat. He decided to work on a patch of snow that seemed lower than the rest. He shoveled the snow away with his feet. Halfway through his feet were numb with cold. He warmed up for another couple hours in the notch before returning to his work.

There looked like there were no wormholes at the site when he was finally through. But that was okay. Astute robins would use their beaks on the ground to uncover holes. Hobbes pecked at the ground. It had no give and was frozen solid. He tried for awhile longer before giving up.

The next two days were cold and hungry. The third day was warmish with rain. It was unpleasant to fly in the rain. Still Hobbes did some exploring. At the end of light on that third day, there were other spots where the ground was visible. Hobbes tried pecking at that ground and penetrated a couple millimeters before hitting the hard ground again.

The rain turned to snow the next day and in the stretch of time that it stayed cold, Hobbes vowed to torture the first worm that he found. He would do it worse than when a cat tortures a mouse.

It had been over two weeks and only that one day had it been rain that came down. Light snow came down a couple days but a sunny stretch melted the snow enough that the patches of ground reappeared. Two and a half weeks in it became warm enough that Hobbes beak could penetrate the ground to the depth of the average wormhole.

He dug and dug and dug with his beak until finally seizing something that tasted like worm. He pulled it out and was gratified that it was indeed a worm. He was so hungry that he didn’t torture the worm and gobbled it down.

When the rest of his family arrived in a few more days, Hobbes had had another couple worms.

“Well, did you manage to prove me wrong?” Uncle Bob asked.

Hobbes had seen his own reflection in water. He was still unhealthily thin. If he lied his family would see through it.

“It’s worm propaganda. Now let’s not speak of it ever again.”

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