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Dr. Dreimer's Diary,  January-June, 2011                                                                                        

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June 30, 2011

We did respond Yesterday to a Knock at the Door, to find ourselves Prey to the dreaded Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The first Clew to our Peril was the Bible clutched by the younger of the two Ladies.

We do not recall the opening Gambit–something to suggest a friendly Chat with Residents of the Neighbourhood-- but the Bible inspired us to a Foreshortening: "We think we know where this is going," we opined–suggesting that it was a Place on a Par with that occupied by Root Canal, or Angioplasty.

This led the young Lady to proffer the prearranged Carrot: "Would you like to live forever?"

We recalled our very first Experience with Sales Pitches (See Drivel, February 25, 2010), in which the Carrot was a free Encyclopaedia. We briefly considered the Plight of Jonathan Swift’s Struldbruggs, who did indeed live forever, but were subject to all the Infirmities of their advanced Age.

"All religion is Bunk," we replied. "There is absolutely no Evidence for any of it."

The young Lady said she appreciated our forthright Honesty, and played her final Card:

 

"Do you not believe the Bible has something to say to us?"

"Absolutely not," we replied, judging that this was no time for Nuance, for the Suggestion that the Bible is extremely important in understanding our Culture. "Who would take seriously a Book written so long ago in such a primitive Society?"

This had the desired Effect. For Someone who could reject the Bible, there was no Hope. Doubtless the Proselytizer saw the Flames of Hell in hungry Pursuit; she had encountered that very Danger of which she had been warned: one of the Devil’s own.

The two Ladies hurried away.

On Reflection we thought we might have mentioned–as an Alternative–our own private Religion, Abracadabra (see Diary, June 2, 2011), and handed her a copy of the First Prayer, to the Great God Murphy. (See Drivel, March 20, 2011.)

Perhaps next time.

 

 

June 29, 2011

What Technology giveth, Technology taketh away.

We note the Sale of HMV Canada, Canada’s largest retail Record Chain to Hilco U.K., for 3.23 Million Dollars. This is undoubtedly because of the Ease of Downloading Music from other Sources, and the home Reproduction of any existing Compact Disc.

We note also the Declaration of Bankruptcy by Blockbuster Video last Month, also a Victim of changing Technology.

This is a story of rags to riches, to rags once again.

In the very old Days–before the Capacity for Recording-- a Performer could garner Revenue only from an immediate Audience–the Number of Patrons who could gather in a single Hall at one time. With the ability to record on Discs and Tapes, a Performance could be sold to the World at large, and Revenues to the Performer could be dramatically increased. The Key to the Success of the System was the Record Company –which had control of the Means of Production and Distribution. Competition was limited because of the Costs of obtaining and maintaining that Control.

But now, new Technology has taken away the Control from a few large Corporations and has given it to the Individual, who can create, copy, and exchange recordings at minimal Cost. It is not quite full Circle–there will doubtless always be a Market for Recordings–but it would appear that many Artists will find themselves relying more on Public Performance than in the Past.

 

We note that the Pirating of Film, and the Rise of Netflix has a similar Effect on Film Theatres. It seems unlikely, but we wonder whether the Desire for instant Viewing at a low Price may cause Films to be distributed primarily on Television and rather secondarily in Theatres. The Theatre may always retain the Allure of a "Social Event" –an Appeal rather different from that of the comfortable Slouch on the Television Couch.

We are uncertain of the Effect of this Change on the Film Industry: the Revenue per showing may decline, but the Audience reached may be far wider.

Only does the Realm of Sport seem relatively immune–and this is because of the Time Factor: once the Game is over, Interest in the Portrayal declines dramatically. Those who control the Filming and Distribution of Sports Events will always be few, and their Profits large. Athletes, therefore, will be able to continue to command large Salaries. We are not so sure about Musicians and Actors. Certainly it would appear that Musicians have lost some of the Advantage produced by limited Control of Recording and Distributing.

 

June 28, 2011

We do note with approval the acquitting of Geert Wilders on Charges of Hate Speech by a Court in the Netherlands. (National Post Editorial. June 24.) Mr. Wilders views Islam as a political, rather than religious Ideology–one which is incompatible with western Values. He has called for a Halt to Muslim Immigration until Assimilation of the existing Population can be achieved.

It is disturbing that he was charged at all. It seems that the Concept of Freedom of Religion is often confused with the Concept of Protection of Religion from Criticism. Of all Things, Religion, which claims the Truth of Matters which cannot possibly be known with even the most modest Degree of Assurance, should be subject to the most searching Criticism and Suspicion.

It is, of course, precisely because Religion is so vulnerable to Skepticism, that its Adherents wish to claim that it should not be questioned. It appears to us that the Religion which most strongly claims to be above Criticism is Islam–One has only to note the Outrage which is provoked by the Ridicule contained in the Danish Cartoons. The greater the Vehemence in Claim of Certainty, the greater the Vulnerability that is suggested.

 

Giving Religion an unquestioned Passage entails great Danger–precisely that Harm which Mr. Wilders sees with Islam. If the Wolf of a tyrannical Political Ideology wears the Sheep’s Clothing of Religion, and None is allowed to question it on Grounds of the sacred Status of Sheep–we should be wary of welcoming Sheep into the Fold, and finding Ourselves in the Jaws of a Wolf.

We suggest prospective Immigrants be informed of the relative Status of Religion and State in the Country of their Proposed Destination. Our personal Preference would be for a compulsory Danish Cartoon Test.

 

 

June 27, 2011

We were intrigued by an article in the June 24th edition of the National Post by Patricia Adams on the Nationalizing of China.

It is apparently the Intention of the Chinese Government to pursue a Policy called: Guo jin min tui– "the state advances as the private sector recedes." It is the Apprehension of those in Government that they are capable of picking "winners and losers" in the Economy. According to Prime Minister Wen Jiabao:

The socialist system’s advantages enable us to make decisions efficiently, organize effectively and concentrate resources to accomplish large undertakings.

Ms. Adams notes that the Deficiencies of this Approach are already evident in Cities constructed that remain deserted, and Highways, Rail Lines, and Airports which lack Traffic.

We had rather thought the Idea of Central Planning had been tried, but abandoned as unworkable.

 

It is an understandable human Impulse to regard the Market system as inelegant, chaotic, and unfair. That System has its Roots in the Reality of actual Life–the Interaction of human Beings acting in self-interest. Nobody called a Conference, and sat down to plan it. It simply grew from the Soil provided.

It is not surprising that it falls short of some of our Ideals, and the urge to sit down and organize it is strong. All "free market " Economies do yet contain an Element of Central Planning. But it is Hubris to think that the Market can be completely transformed, and that the Decisions of a few Organizers can replace the Decisions of Millions of Individuals acting in their own Interests.

The attempt to create Perfection may seem admirable, but it is doomed. As Dostoevsky noted (in Notes from Underground), human Nature is not amenable to grand Schemes of Perfection–Man will always act perversely to prove that he is a Man, and not a Piano Key. The Market System is the one that comes closest to providing "the most advantageous Advantage"–independent Choice.

It will be interesting to see the Progress made by the Chinese Government in achieving its Aims.

June 24, 2011

We do applaud the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, for not attending the Gay Pride Parade in that City, choosing instead to follow his family Tradition of going to a Cottage for the Weekend.

We have always thought that the Attendance of the Mayor at such an Event was a Case of protesting too much–like the Iranian Government boasting of its Human Rights Record, or the Saudi Arabians celebrating Women Drivers’ Day. There are many who would extol the Virtues of Poverty; Riches does not require Encomium, for its Advantages are manifest, and evident. And so, the perceived Need to make public Assurance of Inclusiveness to any Group is a sure Signal of inferior Status. Surely the Time has come that Gay Pride has no longer the needy Status of Poverty, but can assume the assured Mantle of Riches.

Beyond that, there should be no Pressure on the Mayor to attend such Events, whether it be Caribana, the Jazz Festival, the Southern Baptists Devil-Worship Parade, or the Chamber of Commerce Knitting Competition. His Job is to run the City, not to proclaim Approval of Groups who feel the Need of it.

More generally, we are rather tired of seeing Politicians don strange Headgear in order to indicate their Solidarity with the Australovenians, the Hittites, and the Easter Islanders. We are not sure whether the Terms Pandering, Prostitution, or Condescension may properly apply. We are certain that Posturing, Pretense, and Phoniness do. There might be some argument for such Gesture in a Foreign Land, in accordance with the Principle: when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

 

But in Canada, our Advice would be: do as the Majority of Canadians do; wear what you normally wear; stop the Pretense.

Lest we be misunderstood–let us express the Hope–naive, perhaps though it may be--that one Day, there will be no Need or Desire for a Gay Pride Day at all–it will be on the same level of Urgency and Desirability as Parades for Heterosexuals, Left-Handed Males, or Blue-Eyed Women.

We do record here our Observations:

Deferring appropriately to the concerns of others may reap the gratitude of the favoured and garner general respect; changing course to the breeze of the moment gains neither; weathervanes do not make good leaders.

Flexibility can be an advantage, but not when it arises from an absence of backbone.

The man who sets out to please everyone is on a fool’s errand.

 

June 23, 2011.

We have written on the Vancouver Riots, suggesting that the Cause is a kind of Primitive Nature which resides within. We referred to the Account of Camile Cacnio, a self-confessed Looter, who described herself as seeking an "adrenaline rush" and being overcome by a "mob mentality."

In today’s National Post, Terry O’Neill points out that the Explanation of Camille Cacnio contains a Contradiction. At the same Time that she wishes to see herself as Victim of powerful Forces, which led her to steal, she maintains that she is a "good person" who exhorted Rioters to stop trying to destroy Trees. Mr. O’Neill points out that this shows that Ms. Cacnio, was, in fact capable of making moral Choices–she cannot claim to be a mere Victim of the Powers of the Moment in one Instance, but not in the other.

We think Mr. O’Neill is perfectly correct in this. While we do think that there is a Primitive Strain within the human Animal–a potential for mindless Destruction--for throwing off the protective Curbs of Civilization–we do not think it to be irresistible.

Indeed, it is our Contention that the modern View of Mankind–that Individuals are born good and Corrupted by Society may be characterized as the feel-good defecatory Residue of a Bovine Male. It is Taurus Dung. It is Bullshit. When the Notion of Original Goodness displaces the notion of Original Sin, there is a Complacency, a Tendency to overlook the Necessity of Resistance, to accept that moral Choices must be made.

 

In Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (See Diary, June 17) Marlow recognizes the Primitive Appeal of the Natives dancing on the Shore –he sees "the wild passionate uproar" as a kind of Truth --a Truth which must be met with one’s "own inborn strength."

An appeal to me in this fiendish row–is there? Very well; I hear; I admit it, but I have a voice too, and for good or evil mine is the speech that cannot be silenced...You wonder I didn’t go ashore for a howl and a dance? Well, no–I didn’t.

Marlow’s own inborn Strength appears to be, in Essence, a kind of Duty. He is the Captain of a Vessel, and must attend to leaky Steam-Pipes, the Steering, and the Circumventing of Snags.

Thus, though the Vancouver Riots may represent the Expression of a Kind of Primitive Truth–that Truth is resistible–a Snag that can be circumvented with careful Steering. But the first Step is to recognize the Enemy.

 

 

June 22, 2011

 

No one ever suddenly became depraved.  (Juvenal, A.D. c.60-c.130)

We speculated on June 17, that the recent Riots in Vancouver were, in part, the Result of the Operation of an uncivilized Element which lurks beneath the Veneer of our Custom.

We were intrigued, therefore to read an Article in this Day’s National Post, entitled "What was going on in my head"-- an Excerpt of a posting by Camille Cacnio, an admitted Looter. Here are some of the comments which seem relevant to our Thesis:

What I did was completely out of character for me, but I did it because I was influenced by mob mentality.

...at the time of the riot everything just seemed so right.

At the time, being a part of the riot was simply to fulfill the adrenaline rush I was looking and hoping for–an adrenaline rush that I previously got from post-winning games: hugging randoms, dancing on the streets, honking car horns non-stop, and high-fiving just about everybody.

...in my immature, intoxicated perspective all I saw was that the riot was happening with or without me, so I might as well get my adrenaline fix.

 

Boiled down, the Culprit seems to be the Adrenaline Rush–aided by alcohol--accompanying a "Mob Mentality." This, indeed, seems to be at play in Sporting Competitions which involve opposing Teams–especially where speed and violence are involved. We do not see much Rioting in the Adrenaline Rush of individual Sports–Tennis, Golf, or Badminton. And the Team Sports which involve a slower, more deliberate Pace, such as Cricket or Baseball are less vulnerable.

Ah! But the Battles of Speed, suggesting Predator and Prey, Home Side and the Invader! Are they not like Conrad’s Frenzy of the Natives, dancing on the Shore, spinning, leaping, and making "horrid faces" in "wild and passionate uproar?" Is it not in the "remote kinship" with some primitive Self that the adrenaline Rush of Mob Mentality finds its Genesis? (See Diary of June 17.)

 

We have decided to publish some Songs. We originally thought to put them in the Drivel Section, but have decided that they would be more comfortable in a Section by themselves. The Contact Page was looking a bit lonely and sparsely populated, so we have renamed it "Contact Us/Songs." To see--and hear--Granny's Piano and There Ain't no Flies on Me, click: Contact Us/Songs.

 

 

June 21, 2011

Last Evening we happened to see a Television Program entitled Prophets of Doom.

From the Title, we thought it might be an Examination of the Doomsday Mentality in the human Animal–the Psychological Quirk which leads to a Fascination and Preoccupation with the End of the World, preferably an End involving Fire, Earthquake, and Flood as a just Retribution for the Uppitiness of Mankind.

The Program was Nothing of the Sort. It presented some academic Gentlemen predicting, variously, economic Collapse, a Dearth of Water, a Depletion of Fossil Fuels, a nuclear Terrorist Attack, Overpopulation, and the Possibility that soon, robotic Machines, of greater mental Powers than our own, might decide that we are unnecessary Inconveniences who have outlived their Usefulness.

This last Possibility seems unlikely. If we neglect to include an "Off" switch on any Machine we create, we deserve to be replaced on Grounds of terminal Stupidity.

We have some Hope that the Discovery of vast Quantities of Shale Gas may postpone the Trauma from our Loss of cheap Oil.

As for the Rest, we have no ready Answers, and have decided that the best Option is Despair.

 

One of the Participants noted the Problem of Cognitive Dissonance, in which Behaviour may be at odds with rational Perception–thus the Knowledge that a Dam has burst and is about to engulf a series of Villages is considered more frightening by those at greater Distance than those in immediate Danger. Those under immediate Threat are the least concerned; they are unable to cope with the Information.

Another quoted Aeschylus to the effect that Mankind can only learn through immediate Experience; he cannot conceive and respond to theoretical and Distant Threats.

Both these Comments tend towards the same Conclusion, and suggest that, no matter how correct the Prophecies of Doom may be, we will ignore them. This Conclusion is not inconsistent with a Position we have long held--that, just as any individual Organism contains within it the Seeds of its Demise, so too of Civilizations and Species.

It is for this Reason we have decided Despair–tempered with as much cheerfulness as can be mustered--to be the only reasonable Response to the Impending Dooms.

 

June 20, 2011

We do note with our customary evil Glee a Headline in the National Post of this date:

Socialism debate too divisive for NDP.

We are not surprised. Socialism, like Religion, represents a longing for a World that cannot be. It is a better World, of course, characterized by Equality and Brotherhood, and were there the least Chance of attaining it, then the Attempt would seem to be a noble Enterprise indeed.

Thus far, the Attempts have always foundered on the Intractability of the real World. The real World is founded on Inequality, and is full of the Success and Failure that Inequality implies. Similarly, while Brotherhood, Peace, and Love are wonderful Notions, Striving and the Existence of individual Preference, inherent in the Impulse for Survival, ensure that they can be realized in only limited Degree.

The Real World–"nature red in tooth and claw"–is, of course, unsatisfactory in human Society which depends, for its Accomplishments, on some Measure of the Ideal.

Some Measure.

 

That vague Notion is at the Heart of the NDP debate, and at the Heart of all Debate about the proper Conduct of Society.

The Realists in the Party, sniffing the Possibility of Power–real Power in the real World, would drop the Term "Socialism." The Idealists, thinking that Socialism might still be possible–if only Everybody will try hard enough–cling to their doomed Hope.

We think Everyone would agree that Civilization is better than the Anarchy of the Jungle. The great Difficulty is in the Determination of the Limits of the Ideal. In attempting to create an Equality of Opportunity, and a Degree of Comfort for all–at what Point do we accept the Limitations imposed by human Nature–accept the fact that a man is "a man and not a piano key." If not of silk, then exactly what kind of Purse may be made of the Sow’s Ear?

 

We have published our Sigh from the Past, Granny's Piano in the SONGS Section.

June 19, 2011

We note the Resignation of Dr. Philip Baker as Dean of the University of Alberta Medical School, thus showing the Validity of the Adage: Cheaters never prosper. (See Diary of June 14.) We are aware, of course, that the Adage is more optimistic than realistic; but we sometimes enjoy a Flirtation with Optimism, as long as the Duration is short.

We have heard the Suggestion that Dr. Baker, being a busy Administrator actually asked a Flunctionary* to write his Speech, and the Flunctionary, being morally challenged, simply stole it from the New Yorker, which had published Dr. Gawande’s original Address. We think this is unlikely to be true, largely because of that striking Phrase: velluvial matrix. Surely Dr. Baker, on reading the Speech prepared for him would, at once, recognize he was swimming in uncharted Waters, where the Sharks of Probity might find him a tasty Morsel.

The other Day we expressed our Dismay at the Decline in Stock Prices. Indeed, our Portfolio, consisting entirely of Stocks promising high Reward with daunting Risk, has been severely damaged. We have been driven to the desperate Measures of attempting to eke out small Gains where we think they may be available. In recent Months, we reduced our Position in San Gold dramatically, and switched to Argonaut Gold. Argonaut recently came out with positive Results of Drilling, and normally we would simply bask in the manifest Advantages of Ownership, and congratulate Ourselves on our uncanny Prescience. Under the present Circumstances, we though any rally would be short-lived and so we sold 10,000 shares at approximately $5.37. Our cost was $4.86.

 

We have now added 10,000 shares of San Gold at about $3.30. We do not do this with untempered Joy; San Gold has actually done better than Argonaut since the Switch–we would have done better to have kept our Shares all along. We make the Move simply because San Gold has been added to certain Standard and Poor Indexes, and because the Company is poised to release Results on 100 Drill Holes. It may well be that the positive News is already in the Stock; our Bet is simply that it is not, and that the next two Weeks may provide a short-term Rise.

*We have been stricken by such Envy of the term velluvial matrix, (we have not googled the Term; we prefer to leave it–in our Mind at least–as a symbol of incomprehensible Pretentiousness) that we had thought to try a Neologism of our own. A Search of Google shows the Word has been thought of before, but the Definition seems lacking.

Hence– flunctionary: a flunkey with aspiration; a member of a group or organization who functions as a flunkey, but has a superior title--such as vice-president in charge of bank deposits, editorial assistant, etc.; the rank immediately above that of flunkey.

 

Dr. Philip Baker makes another appearance on Limerick Lane.

 

June 17, 2011

How doth the Market confound us! Once again, the world is coming to an end. Greece will collapse into the Aegean, the Eurozone will burst apart, flaming into the Sky like a giant Firecracker, the United States will declare Bankruptcy, and China will revert to an agricultural Economy.

That we have seen all this before does not mean we are less fretful. While our Shares in Gold Companies may eventually be a Boon, we fear that we will be forced to sell before that happy Day doth arrive.

On the other hand, Experience has often shown that when Times are darkest, a Revival is about to begin.

Turning to other Matters, we note that the Mayor of Vancouver, George Robertson believes that the Hockey Riots of Yesterday were caused by a "small group of troublemakers." (National Post, June 17.) As Brian Hutchinson points out in his Article, this is not true, since Hundreds were involved, and Thousands watched with Enthusiasm.

The Truth–which can never be admitted– is that there is an Attraction to a throwing off of the Veneer of Civilization and the Engagement in mindless, energetic Destruction. Wars no longer provide that Outlet of Relief, so the Rivalries of Sport take their Place. One has only to regard the Excess of Emotion and National Feeling engendered by various sporting Conflicts which-- regarded rationally-- are of an Importance amounting to a large Zero in the actual conduct of Existence--to be aware that Mankind, now living in Cities, carries the Jungle within.

 

In Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Marlow, the civilized European watches the Natives dancing on the Shore:

They howled, and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity–like yours–the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar...if you were man enough you would admit to yourself that there was in you just that faintest trace of a response to the terrible frankness of that noise, a dim suspicion of there being a meaning in it which you–you so remote from the night of first ages–could comprehend.

 

We must note the Appearance of Anthony Weiner on Limerick Lane, and oddly, the Higgs Boson. Jack Layton and Olivia Chow also appear, celebrating their Move into Stornoway.

 

June 16, 2011

We must conclude that Google is now making custom Response to Searches. Just Yesterday, we googled Marise Myrand –the name of the Lady who infamously won a Parking Spot by appealing to a Victimhood Advocacy Commission in Quebec.

We were dumbfounded to see the first Entry on the First Page was a Reference to our very own Diary. For a fleeting Second, we felt a tiny Glow--that Type of Glow one gets from receiving a Gold Star from the Teacher in Grade Three.

Then Logic prevailed. How could a Diary, so largely sustained by Aunt Myalgia, currently a guest of the Shady Hollow Psychiatric Facility in downtown Toronto, possibly be at the Top of any List? When Aunt Myalgia is having a bad Day, and is restricted in her Use of the Computing Device, the Traffic to this Site plunges in a most alarming Fashion.

No, it is Google that has cleverly recognized the Preferences of our own Machine, and has decided to tell us what we wish to hear. Alas. We suspect that such Flattery will not prove to be entirely unpopular.

We have this Day written a Piece for the Drivel Section containing an imaginary Conversation between Dr. Philip Baker, and Dr. Atul Gawande, in which Dr. Baker’s recent use of Dr. Gawande’s speech–without Attribution–is discussed.

As a passing note–it appears that even Aunt Myalgia ignores the Drivel Section; we can commit our Thoughts there in plain View, without Fear of giving Offense. We also note the appearance of Dr. Baker on Limerick Lane.

We do not wish to appear obsessed with the Baker Speech. But we are. Possibly many see this as merely a Matter of the Pressure of Time, and the comforting, erroneous Assumption that "Nobody will notice, and Nobody will care."

"No Big Deal."

We suspect our Incredulity arises from a Circumstance which we noticed when quite young. When Gifts would arrive from Relatives overseas, a Letter of Response was required. We recall our Mother’s faint Sense of Exasperation at the Difficulty this seemed to present. We could not be satisfied with Stock Phrases and Conventions of Superficial Remark. We had to say Something "genuine."

Thus, it is impossible for us to put Ourselves in the Shoes of Dr. Baker; to us, he is an alien Form of Life. A more successful Form, no doubt–but alien, nonetheless.

 

June 15, 2011

We are most thankful for the Existence of Human Rights Commissions.

At any time we are feeling quietly depressed, or comfortably indolent, we have merely to think of Human Rights Commissions to become aroused, engaged, and furiously alive. Our philosophical Stance is that Stupidity is to be expected from Mankind; with that Expectation it may be considered odd that we still respond with Emotion when encountering it.

But perhaps we are like the Philosopher in Johnson’s Rasselas, whose stoic Reliance on Truth, Reason and Fortitude in the conduct of Life, was yet insufficient in dealing with the Death of his Daughter.

In an article in today’s National Post, Kevin Libin comments on the Annual Conference of the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies held in Calgary. The Title is wonderfully grand; the Sentiments often laughable.

 

While we do not think all Expression is appropriate to all Occasion, we think that Grundyism is overvalued; indeed, it appears Mrs. Grundy is unlikely soon to be called to her Reward. In Response to the Argument that "commission would be better not prosecuting offensive publications, rather than chill debate," one participant insisted "there must be ‘consequences’ for those who cause ‘suffering’ with words..."

On the contrary, it is a Right and a Duty to be offensive to those who would define, prohibit, and punish for Offensiveness, and cause Suffering with Words to those who think a Freedom from being offended is an attainable human Circumstance.

The Pursuit of the Impossible seems magnetic in its Attraction of tiny Filing-Folder Minds: how many Angels may dance on the End of a Pin? How many Pinheads does it take to enforce the Angelicism envisioned by Human Rights Commissions?

O, Sweetness! O, Light! O, Folly!

We note the appearance of Dr. Philip Baker on Limerick Lane.

 

June 14, 2011

We have returned from Wind-in-the-Pines, where the weather was sombre and uninspiring.

We managed to write Words to a recent Melody in a Style reminiscent of the Nineties. We refer, of course to the 1890's when the Perception of the World was quite different from that of our own era. The Words are, we think, fairly typical of a more sentimental Time; a Friend has termed the Verse as "Soppy." We have no Defence in this Matter. We are simply a Medium for a Strange Force which hath its own Opinion. We are considering publishing the Words of Granny’s Piano in our Drivel Section, along with There ain’t no Flies on Me–another recent Verse, but quite different-- evidently from an entirely different Strange Force.

We hesitate only in Consideration of the Ridicule which may be heaped upon us.

At least, the Strange Forces which operate through us are not previously published, and we cannot be accused of Plagiarism. We have been intrigued to read of the Case of Dr. Philip Baker, the Dean of the Medical School at the University of Alberta, who delivered an Address to Medical School Graduates using, in large Measure, a Speech already published in The New Yorker, by Dr. Atul Gawande.

 

We find it extraordinary that one within the Academic Establishment should be so idiotic. It is well accepted, we suppose, that Politicians have neither the Leisure nor the intellectual Capacity to write their own Speeches. They make little Pretense of being authentic in any Sense; what they say today may be reversed tomorrow. Or possibly sooner. Others are hired to express the current, temporary Position. One would not wish to put too much of oneself into Ephemera.

But surely University Professors are esteemed, at least in part, for their Competence in intellectual Matters, in the Play of Words and Ideas. To be an Academic without Intellect would seem to be like a Bricklayer without Bricks, or a Plumber with a Fear of Water.

We do wonder whether Dr. Baker’s Education pre-dates the Self-Esteem Movement. One might hypothesize that only one with exceptionally low Self-Esteem would wish to pass off the Words of Others as his own. One confident in his own Abilities sees the Work of Others as a Challenge to equal–or supersede. But perhaps, indeed, Dr. Baker is a Victim of that very Movement, and his Esteem has always been bought, or fabricated, and is precisely the hollow Shell which needs the Accomplishments of Others to give it Semblance of Reality.

The Wizard of Oz indeed.

 

June 10, 2011

Of Prominence and Privilege

The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. George Orwell (1903-1950)

It is a Truth universally acknowledged that those Countries most devoted to the socialist ideal of Equality do engage in the most egregious Pretense: Those in Power, who proclaim the Advantages of Equality and Brotherhood do favour Themselves above all Others.

If this were not known, it could be predicted on the simple Truth of human Nature: it is natural to seek Advantage wherever it may be presented.

It is on the Basis of this Truth that we have always decried our System of Health Care, founded on the socialist Principle of Equality. We care naught for the flimsy Pretense: we know, that though Patients may die unattended in Emergency Rooms, or waiting for a much delayed Appointment, we will never see an Item of News such as the following:

December 23, 2012. Special to Forward News. Stephen Kharper, Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Canada died unexpectedly last night at the Holy Grace Hospital in Ottawa.

Mr. Kharper had been rushed to the hospital the previous evening, complaining of chest pains. The emergency room was understaffed at the time, and was experiencing a higher than expected volume of traffic over the holiday period. Mr. Kharper was still waiting to be seen by emergency personnel, when he was heard to groan: "This system is the pits." Thérèse de Repentigny, 78, a patient waiting nearby, managed to attract the attention of personnel by tripping a doctor with her cane as he hurried past. Unfortunately, it was too late; Mr. Kharper had already expired.

 

When asked whether an Inquiry would be held, Mr. Castro Chavez, the Deputy Prime Minister said: "We have the best Health Care System in the world, but unfortunately, these incidents, though rare, do occasionally occur. We are sure that Mr. Kharper’s family would not have wanted any special treatment, and doubtless Mr. Kharper is himself–somewhere up in the sky–smiling down in approval of our system which treats Patients with the equal disdain they have come to expect. We do not anticipate any further investigation of this unfortunate matter."

To this Point, beyond the Preference given to Saskatchewan Roughriders in obtaining Shots for Influenza, we have never had any Proof for our Certainties. We have simply relied on our Knowledge of the Ways of the World.

However, in today’s National Post, Kevin Libin, notes the recent remark of Stephen Duckett, a former Head of Alberta Health Services, which revealed some of his predecessors:

had designated ‘go-to guys’ for discreet waiting list adjustments on request from MLAs.

Mr. Duckett, in a 2009 memo had demanded that:

"requests for preferential or expedited care" for "‘prominent’ individuals or the family and acquaintances of ‘prominent’ individuals" be stamped out.

We accept the Fact that, under any System, Advantage will be sought, and achieved. We prefer a Market System where, at least, the Competition is open and acknowledged, rather than secret, and hypocritically denied. There are a Multitude of other Benefits–such as freedom of Choice, and reduced Wait Times which would accrue to a Market-based System.

We have dealt with this Topick on other occasions. See Drivel December 16 and November 18, 2010–and Limerick Lane May 16, and February 28, 2011)

 

 

June 9, 2011

We do take note of the Release of the annual Barometer Survey which reveals Attitudes of Canadians with Respect to social and political Matters.

We can scarcely believe the Elements of Common Sense therein. Consider the Question:

Should the government focus on creating equality of opportunity or focus on achieving equality of results?

Sixty-nine percent approved a Focus on Equality of Opportunity. The remaining thirty-one Percent, undoubtedly Socialists and Members of Human Rights Commissions, voted for Equality of Results. We are surprised that the Rot of foolish Opinion has been so well contained. The amount is still dangerous; even a few rotten Planks in the Deck of public Sentiment can lead to an unexpected Plunge and severe Injury for an unlucky, unwary Few.

At the Risk of tiresome Repetition we would refer to the infamous Case of Marise Myrand, in which an Attempt was made to achieve "equality" for Ms. Myrand by providing her with a convenient parking Space in the Parking Lot of her Condominium–a Space already allotted to her Neighbour, Jocelyne Nolet. Ms. Myrand’s Obesity and poor Health was deemed, by a Quebec Human Rights Commission, to trump Ms. Nolet’s injured Shoulder and prior Occupancy.

 

 

We recognize that there is a legitimate Argument to be made in helping the Unfortunate; to aim for "Equality" in any Result is Folly of the most Egregious Sort; it runs counter to the most basic Circumstance of Existence, in which Inequality vies with Change as the most persistent and reliable Element. 

Without Inequality, nothing would change, and nothing would be achieved; we have many Observations on this Topick–but we will repeat here our Observation Number Eight:

If, in the interests of equality, single-celled organisms had adopted the governing philosophy of socialism, the present population of the world would consist entirely of single-celled organisms.

There are many other interesting Responses recorded in the Barometer Survey. In an Article in this Day’s National Post, Kevin Libin links the Attitudes revealed therein to the Decline of our Faith in Big Government, Grand Schemes, and the Liberal Party.

Were it not for our unshakeable Belief in the Stupidity of Mankind, we might be tempted towards a modicum of Optimism.

 

June 8, 2011

This Morning’s Paper provides much worthy of comment. George Jonas notes the unpleasant reality of the Arab Spring: it presages a long hot summer. "Many of the Arab Spring’s stalwarts we’re invited by Western liberal-democratic governments to cheer, far from being friendly to liberal democracy, seem implacably and permanently hostile to it." Mr. Jonas sees President Obama’s Endorsement of Uprising as naive and likely to facilitate the Spread of militant Islam.

We note the pessimistic Comment of George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1633-1695):

When the People contend for their Liberty, they seldom gain anything by their Victory but new masters.

That of course, is one of the Troubles with Life: the Choices are often not between Good and Evil, but between two Evils of indeterminate Strength.

Barbara Kay comments on the Rôle of animals: "...the idea that humans are just another species amongst all the other animals, with different traits but no superior niche in the great chain of being–is hogwash only a campus intellectual could cook up."

We do contend that human Beings are just another Species of Animal but accept the Fact that our Species is superior in Intellect and Ability to control the Environment. We are still troubled by the Fact that some Animals-- such as His Majesty–the resident Lumpenbangen Feline-- are treated as inhabiting a higher Plane of Existence–while others–such as Chickens-- are raised in conditions most inhumane, for the sole Purpose of providing Food.

 

But when we apply the primary Test to our morning Reading–the Test of Emotional Response–we find that a Letter to the Editor registers most highly on the Scale.

Responding to an Editorial about Dr. Kevorkian, a letter writer says:

The editorial said nothing about accepting suffering as part of life, and that should be borne with compassion and prayer.

I have just witnessed such a good, painful death of my brother from terminal cancer. He suffered bravely until he died, and was treated with dignity and respect.

We can only see this Letter as a Reflection of Religious Masochism. Or perhaps, it is Religious Sadism. One gets the sense that, had her Brother died suddenly of a Thrombosis after a good Meal, and several Glasses of Champagne, the Writer would feel cheated. Her Brother would not have suffered enough for a "good, painful death," and all her Days would reflect that unhappy Circumstance.

What utter Nonsense!

 

June 7, 2011

We note with Dismay that Dynacor Gold has fallen from its Level around $1.90 to 1.17 today.

There has been Disappointment that no News of their Tumipampa Drilling has been made public:

In Mining, no News is bad News.

Beyond that, the recent Election in Peru has made Ollanta Humala the President, and there is much Trepidation that he will exert greater State Control over the Natural Resources of that Country.

Indeed, the Lima Stock Market has fallen on the News.

We suffer, as always, from Optimism.

J. P. Morgan Chase & Co. Sees this sell-off as an Opportunity for buying. Their Argument is that Humala’s tendencies to Socialism will be moderated by the Desire to avoid a Collapse of the Peruvian Mining Industry.

We are not entirely sure that we share this particular Optimism. Socialists are fond of killing Geese that lay Golden Eggs. Even Alberta’s former Premier Stelmach, who lays no claim to be a Socialist, gave way to the Temptation of a Goose Dinner, rather than collect oily Eggs. It is true that his Digestion suffered, and he is no longer in Position to repeat the Error; but Learning from the Mistakes of Others is not a natural human Capacity.

 

Humala himself has indicated that his Socialism is less dire than the Chavez Variety; we will have to wait and see.

Our Optimism is based more on the Specifics of the Company, and an expected Rise in the Price of Gold.

Even should Tumipampa be uneconomic, the Company plans to increase its Processing Capacity from 180 Tons per Day to over 300. We also anticipate a further Rise in the Price of Gold as Confidence in Paper Currencies declines.

Thus, we are maintaining our Position. (Besides, an attempt to sell all our shares quickly would disrupt the Market.) Indeed, Yesterday, we sold 4200 NCG at $1.94 to buy 9200 DNG at $1.15.

We may reverse these positions if DNG moves higher on release of First Quarter Results on June 15. We are overfond of backing our Opinion with Cash. We are not sure whether this be Courage, or Stupidity.

In another Matter--we have explained our jaundiced view of the Heart and Stroke Foundation expressed Yesterday in our Drivel Section

 

June 6, 2011

On the Side of the Angels

...moral disapproval is a muscle we are always anxious to flex... (Robert Fulford, National Post, August 24, 2010.)

We note with seething Animosity the "successful" Completion of the Becel Heart and Stroke Ride for Heart Event of last Saturday. It is reported that 3.9 million Dollars were raised, which may possibly be a good Thing.

Doubtless some Good is accomplished by research Foundations, but we suspect that they tend to become part of a somewhat sclerotic Establishment which feeds on the Fumes of its own Self-Promotion. The Heart and Stroke Foundation is an Organization of much Promise: it has a becoming Modesty with respect to its Accomplishments. A Googling of Heart and Stroke Foundation Accomplishments does nothing to assuage our Suspicions. Alexander Pope’s comment on Hope does not seem out of place:

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest.

Promises. Promises. But let us leave such Matters aside; doubtless our Fulminations have a peevish Root in our major Objection. The Heart and Stroke Foundation has the Temerity to shut down two Essential Traffic Arteries in the City of Toronto.

Did they ever take a Moment to think of the Frustration, the Anxiety, the elevated Blood Pressure and increased risk of Heart Attack and Stroke which they inflict upon ordinary Citizens? Of course not. They are too absorbed in their own Agenda, too fixated upon their own perceived moral Superiority, too Smug, too Holier-than-thou. They are, too much, on the Side of the Angels.

 

Angels, you see, ride Bicycles. They also eschew meat and butter. They dine on Lettuce and Dandelion Greens. They plant Swiss Chard on their roofs, next to the unsustainably subsidized solar Panels.

It is hardly necessary to point out that all Socialists are Angels, for Socialists reject Merit in favour of the Shangri-la of Equality, and promote Victimhood and the Victimhood Advocacy Commissions as a Means to achieve their mis-conceived Utopia.

Angels are, of course politically correct, and favour free Speech as long as it does not contradict their own Views; Truth must always bow to a more agreeable Illusion.

Angels have now renounced both white and gold in favour of the new Suzuki Green. They live in Caves, burning their Furniture in the Conviction that the Melt of Glaciers will, by such acts and the Force of moral Suasion, be magically suspended.

The minor Inconvenience to being an Angel, is that it leads to an unbearably smug Disregard for the unconverted, the unwashed–the certifiably devilish.

We suspect that it is that Sense of moral Superiority which leads to some odd Behaviours. Human Rights Commissions are surely rich in Example. Is it that Sense of being on the Side of the Angels that led Mr. Layton and Ms Chow to live in subsidized Housing with an income of $120,000? Or does it Account for Mr. Layton’s Sense that Mr. Harper, who now has a Majority Government, must take Direction from the Minority Opposition?

We know not. But we are sure that it is the Smugness of Angels that leads to the symbolic Finger of Bicyclists arrogantly raised in the Arteries of Traffic, in the Displacing of the Motorist from his natural and Fundamental Home.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation is the very last Organization to which we would ever contribute.

 

June 4, 2011.

Anchors Away

We take note of the Announcement that CTV news Anchor Lloyd Robertson will be leaving his Position this September. We recently had occasion to praise Mr. Roberston for his use of a singular verb after the word None. Praise does not come easily to us, and we felt irritable and out-of-sorts for a good Week thereafter. But since almost Everyone–including Rex Murphy-- thinks None is plural, and takes a plural Verb, we thought our personal Discomfort should be borne in the Interest of the Recognition of Correctness in the Face of persistent grammatical Depravity.

Having praised Mr. Robertson on this Account, and sentimentally anticipating his Retirement, full of Accolades and grammatical Honour, we cannot–regretfully-- overlook a most egregious Lapse which occurred last Friday. Mr. Robertson referred to the late Dr. Kevorkian as having flaunted the Law. Dr. Kevorkian, of course, did no such thing: he may, perhaps have flaunted his flouting of the law, but it would hardly occur to him to flaunt a Law with which he disagreed.

As a Result of this extraordinary Lapse, we have, with our typically immoderate Glee, been moved to list Mr. Robertson in our Hall of Shame, a place of dire Wretchedness which he shares with Tom Hayes, who, nearly a year ago, spoke of a Boat which, within a few Minutes "would have went under."

 

 

We have long speculated that CTV Scripts are written by the virtually illiterate Children of recent Australovenian Immigrants-- as a cost-saving Measure. Their hourly Rate is a mere $2.50. Thus, it is not surprising that we encounter a Number of Errors in the Newscasts.

We reserve our Hall of Shame for those Errors which are so Egregious that the Newscaster himself should have corrected the Error before reading it.

We recognize that our Posting of this Error represents a considerable Blot on Mr. Robertson’s long Career. Doubtless he will spend several sleepless Nights, regretting his Error, and vowing Repentance.

While we may have some tiny Regret over this Matter, it pales in Comparison to our overwhelming Sense of Duty and Devotion to the Fight against the linguistic moral Vacuum which threatens to sweep all in its seductive Path– into the Dustbin of Infelicity, Error, and Despair--into the Garbage Dump of communicative Failure and Confusion of tiny Minds.

June 3, 2011

We are intrigued, and vaguely troubled to see a Report in the May 31 Edition of the National Post, that Vince Li is "making ‘rapid progress’ with his mental illness." Mr. Li was found not criminally responsible for the Beheading and Dismemberment of Tim McLean while both were Passengers on a Greyhound bus.

According to Dr. Steven Kremer, Li "deserves expanded privileges at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, including a reduced level of supervision while on escorted passes within the facility."

While we may express our conventional Wishes for a speedy Recovery for Mr. Li, we also wonder why we are being informed of his Progress.

We have the uneasy Feeling that Mr. Li is being regarded by the medical Profession as a somewhat challenging Problem of Engine Repair, which sees the Correction of faulty Brain Circuitry akin to the Replacement of an erring Microchip.

We fear that it is only natural that one charged with such a Project look forward to some halcyon Day which will produce the following News Item:

Vince Li now Cured.

Dr. Ima Success, of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, announced today that Mr. Vince Li is now cured. "As long as he’s on his meds, Mr. Li is fine," said Dr. Success. "We look forward to the successful Completion of his upcoming Cross-Country Tour, courtesy of Greyhound Bus Lines."

Our Fears may well be unfounded, but we are not sure that Hubris has been yet expelled from the human Psyche.

 

We heard recently an Interview on the CBC Program White Coat, Black Art, in which the Host, Brian Goldman interviewed a Man with ALS–commonly called Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The Patient has decided to commit Suicide at some point in the Future, when the Disease has rendered his Life unacceptable.

What struck us was Dr. Goldman’s Bias. He admitted later, in referring to the Interview, that he wanted to cry out "Don’t do that!" We felt that the man was realistic, and courageous-- to be admired rather than admonished.

But even more interesting was a Statement to the effect: "Of course, if he were in a hospital setting, we could simply refer the matter to the "Qualified Ethics Professional" (or some such name). The World View expressed was one of neat Categories. There are no difficult, intractable Problems for which there are no satisfactory Solutions-- it is simply a Matter of referring them to the Appropriate Qualified Professional.

We wonder whether something of this World View played into the Conviction of Robert Latimer, who killed his disabled Daughter Tracy, so that she would not be forced to experience further Operations, and unremitting Pain. If Memory serves us, a similar case occurred in the 1940's, in which the Perpetrator was quickly acquitted. The Difference today, it seems to us, is that we are less likely to remain silent in the Face of uncompromising Reality, or be struck dumb by Riddles with no Answer. We have Qualified Professionals for every Situation. Suicide can be prevented by the Suicide Counsellor, and Mercy Killing by the Euthanasia Expert.

Perhaps we will see Mr. Li on his Cross-Country Bus Trip, after all.

 

June 2, 2011

We were amused to see a wonderful Example of the Battle between the religious and the secular reported in the May 31 Edition of the National Post. Last Monday, Sharooz Kharaghani was sentenced to three months in Jail on the grounds of Possession of Marijuana for the Purpose of Trafficking.

Mr. Karaghani is a Minister in the Church of the Universe, which holds that the Cannabis Plant is the "tree of life," and important in aiding Communication with God.

An Appeal is contemplated on the Grounds that the law against Cannabis was wrongfully allowed to trump the Charter Right of free Expression of Religion.

This doth surely illustrate the Difficulty of determining a legitimate Sphere for Absurdity, which, by Definition, knows no Bounds.

We would point to two other Examples of the Clash between religious Claims and secular Tradition.

The wearing of a Turban is a legitimate Choice for those who wish to proclaim their Religion, but the Wearing of Turbans by Officers in the RCMP constitutes an egregious Error, since it suggests that an Arm of the Government has a specific religious Affiliation.

The wearing of the Niqab contravenes a Custom and beneficial Tradition of Identifiability, and is particularly inappropriate in Matters of Court Testimony, the Obtaining of Driving Licenses, and Voting.

Lest we be entirely misunderstood–we do see some Advantage to Religion; indeed, we have been much comforted by the Creation of our own, the Focus of which is the Great God Murphy. (See Drivel, March 20, 2011.)

We have been much comforted by Murphy, who seems to agree with Us on every Issue. Further, when we have consulted Him about the Uncertainties of the Future, he has assured us that we will live in excellent Health past the age of Ninety, succumbing only in a brief Apoplectic Fit upon learning that the Family Radio Group has once again declared the End of the World. After this momentary unpleasantness, we will be ushered into a World with a Maintenance-free Wind-in-the-Pines, and significantly better Weather.

Mindful of Mark Twain’s perceptive comment--Faith is believing what you know ain't so–we are pleased to announce that we have decided to call our new Religion: Abracadabra.

We plan to give some Thought to instituting a Holy Sacrament which holds that Worshippers in Abracadabra are exempt from paying Income Tax. It might, however, be prudent to wait to see the Outcome of Mr. Kharaghani’s Appeal.

Post Script: We feel we should make a clarifying Note with respect to some previous Comments on these Matters. On May 31, we suggested that Mr. Akaash Maharaj’s Position that the State should not interfere with religious Expression implied a Belief in the Validity of Religion. Mr Maharaj has assured us, in an e-mail Correspondence:

My support of separation of church and states relies less on any assumption that there must be some validity to religious belief, and more on my conviction that the state must go as far as is practicable and defensible in respecting the sincerely-held fundamental views of its citizens, whether those are religious views or non-religious philosophical views. Of course, what constitutes the practicable and the defensible are highly subjective and subject to change with the prevailing social views of the time.

 

June 1, 2011

In many ways, man is a fool–
For when it’s hot, he wants it cool;
And when it’s cool, he wants it hot–
Always wanting what is not.

We do not know the original Source of this Quotation–even Google provides no convincing Evidence. We discovered it, as a Child, on a small wall Plaque on a rented Cottage near Grand Bend. We would hazard a Guess that the Author was a Native of Ontario.

A Native of Ontario is like to have our own Disgruntlement. All Month we have complained of wet and cold Weather, and now, of a sudden, have been compelled to install the Window Air Conditioner.

This year, the Event is remarkable for its Immediacy. We usually start the Season with a careful inspection of the Window Air Conditioner–ensconced, squat and content in its Winter location–the Closet. We attempt to estimate the Difficulty in setting aside the Carpets so that the resistant bulk may be dragged–on a cloth–over the floor. We then conjure, idly, with the Notion of the Strength required to lift it into Place, and manoeuvre it through the Opening, which allows for nothing but Perfection of Angle, and Placement.

We then decide that the simple Fan, placed near the open Window, will more than suffice.

It is only after repeated Nights of demonstrated Insufficiency, that we install the implacable, the unmoveable, air conditioner.

This year, there has been no Dithering; there has been no Interregnum of the Fan; the Conditioner is in place, cooling, and soothing.

 

We are pleased to note an Item of News from the May 31 Edition of the National Post: Woman Driver in Saudi Arabia gets Bail.

Apparently Manal al-Sharif, 32, was detained for ten Days for Driving her Car. This is contrary to the Custom in her Country, where Women must hire a Chauffeur, or rely on the Kindness of Male Relatives in order to travel by Automobile.

We pleased that Manal al Sharif has been released, but somewhat more because of the Reminder of the Validity of our unpopular Stance: some Cultures are superior to Others. This obvious Truth is much maligned, because it contradicts our much ballyhooed Policy of Multiculturalism–which can only be maintained upon the Fiction of the Equality of Cultures. We suspect that those who express Enthusiasm for Multiculturalism might find an enforced Two-Year Sojourn in certain less desirable Countries a tempering Experience.

 

May 31, 2011.

It is a continuing Source of Satisfaction that we discover our own Opinion to be invariably correct. And we are indeed grateful that Others continue to state and display their own misguided Beliefs; this enables us–in Matters that we might otherwise overlook–to pronounce our own unerring Judgements.

We are grateful, for instance, to Harold Camping for his Prognostication of the End of the World–or at least of the World as we know it–last May 21. Our Opinion was that Nothing of that sort would Happen–and indeed–it did not.

Another Matter that has come to our Attention is the strange Case of the genderless Baby Storm. Its doting Parents, Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, have decided not to pronounce on its Gender so that its Freedom of Choice in this Matter not be unduly influenced.

Earth to the Witterick/Stocker Lunacy Module: Gender Behaviour is inherent, not determined by Settings of the Lunacy Module. End of Message.

We can only imagine that these Parents represent the growing Faction who will not rest until Nursing and Astrophysics represent an Equality of Genders.

Finally, we happened to hear the articulate Akaash Maharaj on the Agenda last Evening, who argued that the State should not attempt to prohibit symbols of religious Expression--such as Christian Crosses, Yarmulkes and Kirpans in the Schools-- and the Niqab or Burka in public. He sees this as an unseemly Coercion by the State, a mixture of Politics and Religion which degrades both.

 

We have two Arguments to the Contrary.

The First is that, in an Ideal World, we would promote all forms of public religious Expression, just as we would permit all forms of Public Dress, including Nudity.

In a less than Ideal World, we see a Need, not for Prohibition, but a Limiting of place and Occasion for both Religious Expression and Nudity. Neither Divisiveness nor Distraction is conducive to Peace, Order, and Good Government.

Secondly, Mr Maharaj’s Position would seem to rest on an implied Assumption: that there is some real Basis or Validity to Religion beyond vain Hope and comforting Mantras. Because Religion rests on Nothing, and can be construed from thin Air, there is no Limit on the Absurdity which may be claimed on its behalf. If my new Religion, that based on the great God Murphy, requires that I carry a loaded Machine Gun at all Times, then what Argument may be used against me?

In the real World, it seems best to limit the Sphere of Irrationality. In the Privacy of the Home, or a Gathering of the foolishly Like-minded, there should be no Prohibition of religious Symbols, or religious Expression. But the secular State, which at must at least lay claim to Common Sense, must be allowed its own use of Symbol: not the Prohibition, but the Limiting and Discouragement of the Irrational.

 

May 30, 2011.

We have this day returned from Wind-in-the Pines, which might also be termed: Cottage-of-many-Decks, or Testament-to-the-Folly-of-Impractical-Design.

The main Building has Seven Decks. No Doubt our original Notion was that Seven Maids with Seven Mops and Seven Paintbrushes would be conjured from the Air to maintain them. Alas! Either our Skills at Conjuring, or the Generosity of the Air have been subject to grievous Miscalculation.

In Addition, there is an Eighth Deck belonging to the original Cottage–the "Old Cabin."

The uncertain Weather did not allow us to begin our Conjuring Efforts for Maintenance for this Season; but the Prospect doth weigh heavily upon us.

But even without this Conjuring, we must note that each of the eight Decks is Home to a Cornucopia of Planters and Window-Boxes, which seemed, at the Moment of Conception, to be a wonderful Idea–the Creation of a colourful out-of-doors Environment. And, truly, the Flower-enhanced Decks are a pleasant Advantage. But each Season requires the attempt to extirpate from the Containers the Weeds and Moss from the previous Year, and the Planting of Six or Seven flats of Annuals. It was this Project-- together with cutting the Grass, and repairing two washed-out Steps-- that was the chief Accomplishment of our Sojourn.

 

Our first Act upon returning was to consult the unread Newspapers awaiting our Attention.

We were pleased to see Robert Fulford’s clever Idea for the battered Liberal Party. Writing in last Saturday’s National Post, Mr Fulford notes that the Liberals, in being relieved of immediate Relevance, are now free to generate Ideas without Timidity. Lack of Importance means they can "think and say almost anything."

Mr. Fulford’s brilliant Suggestion is that they start to consider "a rational health plan that will openly and honestly (rather than covertly) mix private and public medicine, in the European tradition.."

We think this is an Idea of much Merit. But we think that the Adjustment required would be too great. Politicians are programmed for Safety, too worshipful of the old Clay-footed Gods, too addicted to Promises as empty as they are agreeable. The Liberals, too long caged in their Perceptions of public Opinion, will regard the newly opened Door of Irrelevance as a Trap. The Earth is still flat; the moon is made of green Cheese; Socialism in Liberal Dress is the natural Preference of Canadians.

Liberals are not likely to engage with Reality.

Pity.

 

May 24, 2011

A Photograph in today’s National Post doth depict a Banner in Manila announcing Judgement Day for May 21. We are especially taken with the rounded Icon, the serrate-edged "Seal of Approval" which declares "The Bible Guarantees It."

Lo, the Melding of Evangelical Religion and Consumer Advertising!

The Article below the Photograph–which displays another Photograph--of Harold Camping-- is headed: Doomsday prophet alive, ‘flabbergasted.’

One of Mr. Camping’s Followers is quoted as saying that, after two failed Predictions, "Even so, that doesn’t mean the message is wrong. I just know he’s biblically sound... I don’t think I am going to stop listening to him. I don’t know, I gotta listen to him on Monday, see what he says on the radio."

We must conclude from this that Illusions are akin to powerfully addictive Substances. Despite all Evidence, the Addict must persist in his Habit. Possibly the established Religions are like the socially and governmentally approved "Safe Injection Sites." The Opiate of the Masses is potentially dangerous, and is best distributed through recognized and customary Channels.

 

In China, Falun Gong is officially repressed, precisely because it offers a competitive Illusion--it might weaken that which holds the ruling Party to be the only political Option.

We mean to sound only somewhat, not excessively superior. Each morning, we do drink a green, peppermint-flavoured Liquid called Vital Greens. It purports to contain such beneficial Delights as "Nova Scotia Dulse," "chorella," "ginger root and bilberry leaf." It makes no Claims for Efficacy, nor is there any Evidence to suggest that it is–or is not-- just Coca-Cola with Peppermint Flavouring.

But the Purchaser is doubtless swayed by the suggestive Name: Vital Greens, and is further lured by the Thought that the Exotic Contents have been chosen for some beneficial, although unspecified Purpose. The Appeal is primarily magical; the Process is that of ritual. There may indeed be Benefit–but we have no Evidence. In Essence, it is a Matter of Faith, and continued Use, in the absence of any evidence-- shows the Powerful Hold of Illusion.

 

 

May 23, 2011

Of Happiness

The Saturday Edition of the Hamilton Spectator did publish a New York Times Article entitled: What’s so great about happiness? Martin Seligman, author of Authentic Happiness (2002), began to question the Advantages of "Happiness." He noticed that Players of competitive Bridge, were often "joyless"–yet continued to play. He observed: "They wanted to win for its own sake, even though it brought no positive emotion"–and concluded that a Sense of Accomplishment was important in a Sense of Well-being.

Mr. Seligman was also responsible for early Experiments which showed that arbitrary--that is, unearned Rewards and Punishments create Learned Helplessness–wherein people stop trying to do anything constructive. "We found that even when good things occurred that weren’t earned, like nickels coming out of slot machines, it did not increase people’s well-being. It produced helplessness."

We are most grateful for this Research, for indeed, it explains two Elements of our Own Circumstance.

We have long noted our own lackadaisical and indolent Inclinations; it is now clear that Investing in the Stock market is the most likely Cause. The market gives Rewards and Punishments which are completely arbitrary; some Stocks of great Promise go unaccountably down, while others of indifferent Quality soar to great Heights. We usually own the former, but not the Latter. This undoubtedly accounts for long gloomy Periods of Time spent regarding rain-filled Streets from our Living Room Window. It is obviously a case of Learned Helplessness.

 

The second Matter explained is the paradoxical Coexistence of Gloominess and a Sense of Well-Being.

We have long held that Happiness is a bubbly, empty, and frivolous quality–largely chimerical, and hence not worthy of Pursuit. Instead, we have sought the quieter, deeper Joys of Gloom and Unhappiness, with a considerable Degree of Success. It is to this Success in achieving a well-recognized curmudgeonly Miserableness that we attribute our Sense of Well-Being.

One of the most perceptive Comments on Happiness was made many Years ago by Stephen Leacock, who noted that Happiness comes "at backrounds so to speak." To aim for Happiness is to court certain Failure, since Happiness comes indirectly as a Result of pursuing other, more worthy Ends. Indeed, had Mr Seligman read Mr. Leacock, he might have reached his Conclusions about Accomplishment more readily.

We must not fail to notice the Relevance of this to Self-Esteem. As with Happiness, the Focus on Self-Esteem as if it were a Bauble to be achieved by mere Assertion, or Wishing-to-be-so, is doomed to the negative Consequence of empty Arrogance. Well-Being–or Self-esteem–are the happy Concomitants of Achievement.

We have added a further Limerick to Limerick Lane. Few Topicks inspire us to five Limericks; our Gratitude to Harold Camping is unseemly and excessive.

 

 

May 22, 2011.

With much Relief, we note that the World did not end Yesterday. Perhaps it is now safe to plant the Annuals. We have some Trepidation that a new mathematical Calculation will be produced by Mr. Camping, and we will find that the Date has merely been changed to next Wednesday.

 

Life is made extremely difficult by such Predictions, and the Fear of them is an unwelcome Addition to our Sea of Troubles already at high Tide.

This Day we have sought some Amusement in portraying Mr. Camping on Limerick Lane.

 

 

May 21, 2011

Up betimes, and this being almost the first reasonable Day for Planting, we did proceed, throwing Caution to the Winds, to Wal-Mart. We did buy there a goodly Supply at the Price of six Plants for $1.97.

It is our Custom to spend our Pennies carefully, while dealing with large Amounts with a careless, almost wanton Disdain. Our Money in the Stock Market we regard as "Play Money," "Monopoly Money" or "Canadian Tire Money." If we did think of it as real Money, we would succumb to Terror; our Thoughts would be frozen; Dread would hover, like a Bird of Prey, over every Decision.

In small Matters, we are more careful. It is a matter of Principle to determine the best Price available; we do not reckon the cost of Fuel in the Process; this is not a matter of Practicality, but of Principle. The Principle of Lowest Price conquers all.

Thus, we were shocked to see, having made our Purchase, signs near the Bulk Barn reading: Impatiens 79 Cents (we assume for four Plants) and Flats: $9.99.

 

 

We know Wal-Mart often does offer lower Prices. But to make Assumptions of Universality is foolish. Every Retailer entices with a low Price on some Items, in order to ensnare the Unwary with others, more damaging to the Pocketbook.

Next Year we will follow our Principles of prudent Research.

Post Script: It is now past Seven O’clock, and it appears that Some among Us will be greatly disappointed: the World has not ended. We would be curious to see the Response of those so deeply disappointed, especially those who sold their Possessions, and uprooted their Lives for the great Event. Will they take Refuge in a Mathematical Error, or technical Glitch? Will the great Date be now be re-calculated? Or will they admit to "terminal" Stupidity?

What a sorry Creature is Man! So gifted with Intelligence, but so Reluctant to use it! Everywhere, unable to face the real World, he turns to the Nonsense and Folly of Religion, which promises agreeable Impossibilities, and the fanciful Teasings of Illusion.

Would that we could temper foolish Beliefs with the careful Reserve of Horatio, who upon hearing of the Myth of the Bird of Dawning, and other fanciful Tales did respond: "So I have heard and do in part believe.."

 

 

 

May 20, 2011

We are amused by an Article in this Day’s National Post by Peter Foster who notes not merely one, but two Insanities of the Toronto School Board.

The First of these is the Decision to allow Cellphones in the Classroom, apparently in an Attempt to keep Pace with Twenty-First Century Reality. We wish them well in this Endeavour, and await, with a certain mischievous and evil Glee the eventual Outcome. We do admit to some slight Sympathy for Teachers who will be the Victims in this Affair; otherwise, observing the Darwinian Process at work–from a safe Distance–should provide an amusing Spectacle.

 

The second Insanity is the Decision to install, at no cost to the Taxpayer, Solar Panels upon School Roofs. Mr. Foster notes that the commercial Arrangement with AMP Solar, is predicated on the Power being priced at 71.3 cents per Kilowatt Hour. There should be much Rejoicing on the Part of Consumers of Hydro at this wonderful new supply of Designer Power.

Designer Power, is of course, simply McGuinty Power–Colour co-ordinated (Green), much at the Height of Fashion, and available only at an outrageously elevated Cost.

 

May 19, 2011

Of the Nature of God           (See Diary, May 17)

or

A Personal View of Atheism.

After the Article in the National Post which described Stephen Hawking’s View that Heaven is just a "fairy story," it doth not surprise us that a Letter has been published in Refutation. The Writer notes that when Hawking says that "tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe sowed the seeds of human life," this is an admission that even atheists must refer to "some source of origin that is unobservable, untestable, unprovable and magical."

In other Words–the Atheist is no different from the Believer–all must finally rely on something "magical." The Writer, we assume, sees this as an Argument in Favour of "God."

Let us examine these Matters "from the Beginning," so to speak.

First, it has been observed that human Beings are much given to causal Explanations. We have been told, although we have not observed, that if a Man be hypnotized, and given the Suggestion that after his Trance, he will respond to the word Pig with the words Garden Hose, not only will he make such Response, but, he will, if pressed, come up with a logical Explanation for his unaccountable Reply. It is in the Nature of Man, to seek always – and find-- a Causal Relationship.

When we go back to the Beginning, Believer and Atheist are alike: the human Mind cannot deal with First Cause. That Something should always have existed, makes no Sense; we still wish to pose the Question: "but where did that Something come from?"

The only other Possibility we can conceive is that first, there was Nothing, and then Something arose from it. But this too, confounds our need for a causal World: Nothing cannot cause Something.

Thus, it is true, both Believer and Atheist must admit to something "magical" at the Beginning. The letter writer, in this, is quite correct.

The Difference between Atheist and Believer happens after that.

The religious Man throws up his Hands in Despair and says: I will name the unexplainable–or the Cause of it: God. This does not really solve the Problem at all. It is merely the signal of Despair–of giving up. The question still remains: "But where did God come from?"

Once the Believer has comforted himself  – God is the signal of despair turned Comforter–he sets upon his Path.

Regarding the Wonders around him–the happy Circumstance of Sunrise, and Sunset, of Water to Drink, of Crops to harvest, and Animals to eat, he sees the benign, causal a Hand of the Creator at every turn. Does he pray for a shiny red Bicycle for his Birthday? Lo and Behold, the Bicycle doth appear. And if it does not, then it was not God, but his Parents who could not afford it. Did the Snarl of Traffic cause him to miss the doomed Flight, whereby all Passengers went to their watery Graves? God has saved him for a higher Purpose. Or was he, in fact, one of the doomed Passengers? Then God has called him to his Reward. Did he survive the diphtheria epidemic, the car crash, and the Sinking of the Mariposa Belle to outlive his birth Peers and attain the Age of Ninety? Then surely he is one of the blessed of God. Does he see the Face of Jesus in a piece of toast? Why, the Saints be praised! What further Proof of his Belief could be needed?

 

The Atheist is leery of the word God. It is a Word that already has so many Implications, from Attributions made by Believers. He would prefer the word Mystery.

And when he regards the Wonders of the World, he sees them as wonderful but not necessarily benign. Life is indeed miraculous, and extraordinary in its apparent Striving for Complexity. But its Progress seems more random than controlled by a beneficent Deity. Life on Earth has been wiped out, only to start again, the next time with different Body Forms. A chancy Matter, apparently. And Life exists by consuming Life. The price of Life is Death, often cruel Death. If it be that God cares for the Fall of a Sparrow, then Mystery, unconcerned, allows whole Species to appear and disappear with a Shift in Temperature, or the improvident Landing of an Asteroid.

In the Words of Revd. John H. Holmes: "The universe is not hostile, nor yet is it friendly. It is simply indifferent." 

The comforting religious Notion that Man is somehow set apart from Nature – the Nature coloured by the blood of "tooth and claw"– and is a Creature between Beast and Angel – is overturned by the Discovery of the genetic Similarity of all Creatures. An Afterlife for human Beings implies an Afterlife for the Cat, the Cockroach, or the Virus.

Thus the Atheist, like the Believer, can admit to an unfathomable Beginning, but not to a benign current Meddling. The happy Circumstance of the Airline Passenger who misses his doomed Flight is exactly that – a happy Circumstance. The Man who lives through Epidemic, Crash and Shipwreck to be Ninety, is a Reflection of a Statistical Pattern, not one specially chosen.

Perhaps we may ask: do Believers, like Blondes, have more fun? It is entirely possible. The comforting, believing Impulse may be genetically selected. Atheists may not be as comfortable in a World which lacks irrational Reassurances. Nor, for them are available such Pleasures as the armed Struggle of Crusades, the blowing up of Unbelievers, or the torturing of those professing other Faiths to achieve Conversion.

Are Atheists subject to Longings for a World or a Circumstance different from what Reality appears to afford? Of Course. But they attempt to distinguish among longing, harmless Fantasy, and the dangerous, militant Certainty of the irrational Believer.

We would note our Observation # 108: The universe is just God, struggling to create himself.

To which we would add: Divinity is not in the stars, but in ourselves, the dust of stars which encodes and reflects the creativity and the imagination of the universe.  (Observation # 130.)

And finally, The Tempest: We are such stuff/ As dreams are made on, and our little life/ Is rounded with a sleep.
 

 

May 18, 2011

Up betimes to consider our Stock Market Accounts, and survey the Damages of the Market Decline.

San Gold, a company with which we inadvisedly fell in love, is suffering still from the Effects of Over-Promising and Under-Delivering. This is one of the most egregious Errors that a Company can commit, and ensures that new Suitors are wary, and formerly committed Relationships are rife with Discord, Dismay, and dramatic Divestiture.

Having once reached $5.00, SGR languishes in the $2.60 Area. We now own but a sixth of our former Position. We should probably have sold all, but for the Sense of its tantalizing Geology, which may, one Day, propel it dramatically higher. Logically, at present Levels, it might be worth buying, but we have suffered too much Disappointment to do so. Logic has no place where Passion has been thwarted, and our Commitment betrayed.

Dynacor, our great Hope for Riches, has also disappointed, falling from the $1.90 Range to $1.25. Two Drill results from Zone Two at the Tumipampa Property seem to be long overdue, raising the Suspicion that they are unsatisfactory and are being withheld in Hopes of better Results in Zone Four. Even a Hint of Deception may lead to Shareholder Depression and diligent Dumping. We think the Decline is Overdone, since Dynacor is poised to increase Production even without Success at Tumipampa.

 

Keegan Resources has fallen from $9.00 to the $7.50 Range. This Security has targets at about $14, and is considered a Candidate for Takeover, but sees fit to conduct its Operations with the utmost Secrecy. They have been drilling at their Asamura Property for a Year, but have published no Results, apparently feeling that Shareholders are a regrettable but easily ignorable Necessity.

Our Switch from San Gold and Exeter Resources to Argonaut Gold seems to have been–for the Moment–the correct Move. It fell from the $5. 40 Range to $4.60–but in the last few days has recovered, with high Volume, to $5.15. We suspect Good News may be pending.

These Declines of course, are Part of a more General Slump in a Market suffering from the usual Maladies–the Vapours, the Conniption Fit, or the "Sell in May and Go Away" Syndrome. As foolish Optimist, we continue to hold as long as the Buying Power in our margin Account remains as a positive Figure.

In the Drivel section, we note an apparent welcome Advance in NDP Philosophy.

 

May 17, 2011

We are pleased to see the View of Stephen Hawking published in this Day’s Edition of the National Post:

I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

The Existence of even the tiniest bit of Matter is extraordinary, and the Fact of Life itself, were it not vividly evident in our own Perception, would be otherwise difficult to imagine.

Given the two Realities–the Existence of Matter and of Life-- combined with Man’s Capacity to imagine Things not in Existence, it is no Surprise that we imagine there to be a Life beyond Death. There is no Evidence for such a Thing, and all common Sense suggests that the End of a Life of any sort is exactly that.

 

 

Humankind would doubtless be better off in the Acceptance of this Reality–so that Efforts could be focussed on the Real World rather than an imaginary one constantly being meddled with by an imagined Creator.

Being alive is seductive, and convinces us of our own Immortality; how can a living Being conceive of non-Being? It is not easy. In Addition, the real World is not consonant with our Ideals, and we are attracted to the Notion of a compensating, egalitarian Afterlife.

Stephen Hawking is correct, of course; but the Seed of irrational Longing is embedded in our Being. Our Need and Desire to explain the Fact of Existence, and find within it some Meaning beyond the "petty pace" of Days and Tomorrows cannot be dismissed.

The Battle between unsatisfactory Reality and imagined Ideal is intrinsic and inherent–it appears not merely in Society, but it is an Essential of the human Circumstance.

May 16, 2011

The arrival of an unwanted Birth Date Anniversary yesterday threw us into a profound Depression, and we thought it best not to add to our Diary. The miserable Weather, the declining Stock Market, and the Difficulty we perceive in accomplishing even the most elementary Tasks, were not insignificant Additions to our Mood of Gloom.

Indeed, we were fearful that, were we to express our true Thoughts, a rash of Suicides among our Readers would be the most likely Result, and the consequent Decline in Readership would only add to our Distress.

 

We have this Day made two Limericks on the awful Socialist Sate of Canada, which may be encountered on Limerick Lane.

In a similar Vein, we have made Notes on three recent Articles on our awful Socialist Health care system in the Drivel Section.

We may recover–if the Sun ever shines again–but we are not confident of either Outcome.

 

 

May 14, 2011

A new Book has been published entitled Annoying: The Science of what Bugs Us. (National Post, May 10).  Joe Palca, one of the Authors says:

We’ve had to subjugate what might be a more primal response to something we don’t like. You’re allowed to get annoyed with things; you’re not allowed to get enraged by them.

The Qualities of an Annoyance are listed as thus--an Annoyance is:

unexpected and uncontrollable, like a tap dripping in the middle of the night; it’s unpleasant but not dire, like a fly buzzing around your head rather than a bee hovering around someone with an allergy; and an annoyance has an unpredictable end point...

Mr. Palca notes–most accurately, we believe–that anyone who hears of the Topick of the Book doth launch into a List of personal Pet Peeves. Indeed, we feel compelled to list here One of our own.

We find it annoying that CTV News makes so many grammatical Errors. With all their fancy Technology, they seem unable to obtain a Volume of elementary Grammar, or to hire Someone with a basic Knowledge of the English Language. We can understand those Errors made by a Correspondent, reporting hip deep in Alligators in a Florida Swamp; but we find it extraordinary that prepared Scripts, which give ample Time for Review, are so frequently plagued. Examples may be found in our Error Watch Section.

 

We consider it our significant Duty in Life to apprise those in Error, and direct them, with Sarcasm if necessary, to a more felicitous Expression, a more correct Understanding, a more admirable Way of Being in the World. In this Manner we hope to improve, however marginally, the Lot of Mankind.

Thus we do often e-mail CTV News.

To this Date, we have never received even a Reply, much less the humble Gratitude that our Efforts to improve the level of Public Expression most certainly deserve.

We think this Situation qualifies as an uncontrollable and unpleasant Annoyance. We suspect, however, that the End Point is indeed predictable; one Day we will throw Something at the Television Set.

Naturally, we have several more Peeves: the annoying musical theme for the program Headline, on BNN; many commercials; the bizarre Preoccupation with making Automobiles look unstable and self-destructive, pointing their Snouts directly into the Ground ahead of them.

But enough. We would direct any interested Readers to our Limerick on Pakistan, written in Consideration of the Discovery of Osama bin Laden.

 

May 13, 2011

We are pleased to report that the Geezermobile Eight passed its Test of Emissions with Flying Colours. We had not expected such Reserves of Cleanliness in the dirty old Geezer. Indeed, upon checking with the previous Test, we discovered our memory of the Verge of Rejection to be in Error. Possibly it was Four Years ago that it came perilously close, possibly a Result of Lack of Use during Winter.

As a Reward, and before the End of the World predicted for May 21, we think it only fitting that the Geezermobile be washed of its Winter Grime, and receive a special Polishing of its Chrome.

 

We have been intrigued to note that googling the words: Maria Duval biomagnetic bracelet leads, on the very first Page, to the Two Drivel Pieces which mention our favourite Scamologist. Click here for our letter to Maria.

This Day, we have completed an Article on those other Scammers, the NDP, and have on this very Occasion begun a competing Political Party, the New Equality Party. See the Drivel Section.

 

 

May 12, 2011

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. ( John,8:32)

What is truth said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer. (Francis Bacon, 1561-1626)

One might imagine that Truth–and the search for Truth–would be most desirable of all Seeking, and the most prized of all Attainment. On the contrary, of course, the Truth can be perceived as most dangerous, since it often contradicts our Desires and Ideals.

We consider the Case of Geert Wilders, the Dutch Politician, who makes Statements such as: "Our Western culture is far superior to Islamic culture." which is like to give Fits of Conniption to average Canadians who have been ceaselessly brainwashed to believe in Multiculturalism, which, at its Foundation, is built upon the Notion of Equality of Cultures.

Indeed, when it comes to some superficial Notions–the manner of Dress, the Food, the Quaintness of Custom–it is hard to argue for Superiority of one Culture over another.

But it should be clear that Cultures which maintain the Supremacy of Religion over all Aspects of Life, have not provided the Degree of Freedom, Comfort, and Capacity for Individuals to realize the Potential of their Talents, as those Cultures which have had more Concern for practical conduct of Governance, and have focussed on scientific Enquiry.

In an article on Mr. Wilders in the National Post (May 9), Jonathan Kay notes that a frequent Avoidance of harsh Judgement is made by assuming there are two Kinds of Islam: Islamism, the bad kind, and moderate Islam – the good kind. Mr. Wilders maintains that this distinction is false. While admitting that there are moderate and non-moderate Muslim People, he sees that "Terrorism, tyranny, the subjugation of women – these are not perversions of Islam...but rather its very essence." (National Post, May 9)

 

For Mr. Wilders, the Koran has no Room for Moderation–it represents a totalitarian Ideology, which vilifies non-believers, and pronounces death for Enemies and Apostates. Indeed, Muslims are Victims of very Bad Ideas.

As Mr. Kay notes, in our politically correct Society, hatred towards Religion is considered at the same Level as hatred of Race or Ethnicity. But Mr. Wilders sees Islam as primarily an Ideology, with the Trappings of Religion.

Mr. Kay points out that, if that Distinction is valid, Islam should be considered no more worthy of Protection from Excoriation than the totalitarian Cult of a modern Dictator. Or, we would add, any other Cult which claims divine Revelation as the Basis for the malign Control of its adherents.

We think Mr. Wilders View contains much Truth. But such is our national Dedication to pleasant Fiction, we suspect that Conniption Fits will not lose their Currency, Popularity, or general Approval.

 

 

May 11, 2011.

We have returned from Wind-in-the-Pines where we are engaging in an Exercise of Removal of Clutter, having been assured that great Benefit will thereby accrue to our Soul.

Not believing in the Soul, we still see that an essential Struggle of Mankind is to assert Order in Refutation of Chaos–sometimes this may be through Art, as suggested by our Observation:

Art is man’s challenge to Time, his rebuke to Chaos; the protest will survive neither the triumph of fire, nor the finality of ice -- but it is better than the silence of consent.

Sometimes this Struggle is shown in more humble Fashion, through getting rid of those Superfluities which offend the aesthetic Sense. For example, Wind-in-the-Pines still suffers from the Displacement Effects of the Installation of the 1912 Gerhard Heintzman Piano in the Living Room--several years ago.

Accordingly we have re-positioned some Furnishings and loaded the Serviceable Six with a Dresser, a Washstand, and a Danish Teak Cabinet, for which we hope to find suitable homes.

 

We have returned to realize that the Anniversary Date of our Birth is fast approaching; this is a Cause for considerable Anxiety.

Before that anniversary Date we have but a few Days to have an Emissions Test for the Geezermobile Eight, and recall, with some Trepidation that on the last Date of its Testing, it hovered at the very Verge of Rejection. The Geezermobile is now Twenty-three Years of Age, and we are leery of its Reserves of Cleanliness.

One would think, that at so advanced an Age, it might be spared the Indignity and Humiliation of such Trials. Perhaps such lack of Consideration is no more than to be expected in an Era obsessed with Justin Bieber, and with the leap-frogging advances in electronic gadgetry.

 

 

May 7, 2011.

Upon regarding the human Condition, and the present fractious State of it, we have earnestly looked for some Amelioration and Remedy.

We have published our considered Conclusion in the Drivel Section under the Title: What the World needs Now. (A bullshit detector.)

Last evening to the Pelham Art Festival, where we unable to escape without Purchase. We need no further items of Art or Decoration, being possessed of overmuch already. However–if we may quote Shakespeare: "O reason not the need!"

 

Accordingly, we bought a small wooden bowl of burled walnut, cunningly contrived with yew Inlay. The Inlay represents Labour in extraordinary Excess; either that or it is a cunningly applied Decal.

We prefer our Illusions in this Matter.

We plan to spend a few Days at Wind-in-the-Pines.

 

 

May 6, 2011

We are intrigued to see that the World is set to end on May 21. We have long suspected that the World would end, but have been in a great Distress and troubling Uncertainty as the exact Date. Now that we have been assured it is May 21, we look forward to an untroubled Rest, and a Period of soothing Calm-- for the next two Weeks.

In that Period, we plan to wash the Geezermobile Eight, it showing the signs of an accumulation of winter Grime, and to plant the Garden Annuals.

We are most grateful for the reassuring News to Michael Garcia, leader of a Group called Family Radio, who declares:

The doors to salvation are open. They are open today and they will be shut on May 21.

The Article in this Day’s National Post-- which relays this important News–gives much insight into the Idea of the Apocalypse. A Belief in the Apocalypse is a strong Statement of Belief in the Afterlife–which, throughout the Ages has been a welcome Notion to the 100% of the human Population which finds the present Life profoundly, somewhat, or even vaguely unsatisfactory.

 

Richard Ascough, who teaches about apocalyptic Belief at Queen’s University, notes that a Belief in Doomsday sets apart Believers from the Mainstream of Thought–but has the significant Advantage of creating a sense of Superiority and Solidarity characteristic of the beleaguered.

As with many Beliefs, contrary Evidence matters not at all. Indeed, it is an intriguing Aspect of human Nature that Reason is often used to justify--but seldom to contradict--a powerful Emotion, or a previously declared Position.*

If such were not the Case, there would be no – or much modified -- Religion – and David Suzuki would be no more than an Expert in fruit fly Genetics.

We should never underestimate the perverse Appeal of Armageddon, Apocalypse, and Doom of our Days. Indeed, we look forward to May 21 with a certain frisson of macabre Anticipation.


*We have added this to our Observations as #129.

 

 

May 5, 2011

Much intrigued to see a Discussion of Placebos in today’s National Post. It is apparently well-accepted that taking a Placebo can have positive Effect, showing the Importance of the Mind in Conditions of the Body–just as Illusion and Belief are important in human Affairs.

The difficulty arises for the Profession of Medicine in that the Doctor who prescribes a Placebo, unless this be disclosed, is lying to the Patient. It also doth subvert, in some Measure, the Assumption of a purely scientific Rationale for the Practice of Medicine. Even if a Placebo is shown to have an observable Effect, that Effect is not certain or predictable, and hence the Doctor is shown to be more allied to the Shaman or Witch Doctor than he would prefer.

 

We can testify to a personal experience with the Effect of a Placebo. In the Stock Market Tsunami of 2008, we did finally apply to our Doctor for a Pill against Anxiety.

Upon receiving the Prescription, and having it filled at the local Pharmacy, we had in our Possession small Cylinder of white Tablets, the Promise of Relief from our Fears--our Fears of Existence reduced to a Room with a Hotplate. Indeed, at that dark Time we feared that our Funds would not extend to the Obtaining of a Double-Burner Hotplate, and we must be condemned to a Life of eternal Juggling–of serial Heating on a Single-Burner Device.

In Fact, the small Cylinder had the Function of a Magic Talisman. The Potential for Relief within our Grasp, we never found it necessary to take a single Tablet.

 

 

May 4, 2011

Readers of these Musings will be well aware of our great Concern for Global Warming. We have been among the first in our Neighbourhood to purchase a suitable Spread of Arctic Lands, that we might have some comfortable Place to which we may repair when Warming unleashes its full and oppressive Force. While our Neighbours suffer the awful Terrors of wearing Shorts and T Shirts in January, we will be safely ensconced in an Igloo, conveniently heated by an electric Heater using Power provided at the affordably modest Cost we have come to expect from Ontario Hydro.

We bemoan the lack of Foresight on the Part of our fellow Citizens; on the other Hand, this is a Darwinian World, and those who act with Alacrity and Prescience in such Matters must surely be given their Reward.

We do admit, that we have some few Tremors in our Confidence of late.

Firstly, we are slightly troubled by the Weather in April; nor has the Month of May thus far been encouraging. The Weather has been gloomy, damp, and cold; we concede the Construction of our Igloo retreat may be reasonably postponed for a week or two.

More troubling still, we have read in the National Post (April 23) the Reprint of a Wall Street Journal Editorial which notes:

 

In 2005, the United nations Environment Program published a colour-coded map under the headline "Fifty million climate refugees by 2010."

Indeed, it was upon such Information provided by such scientifically advanced and reputable Bodies that we made our purchase of Arctic Lands. We had assumed that the Refugee Tsunami was proceeding according to the Forecast, and that the United Nations, in the quiet and efficient Manner for which it has become justly renowned, was methodically providing appropriate alternative Accommodations.

We were initially troubled at this new Information from the Editorial:

Six years later, this flood of refugees is nowhere to be found, global average temperatures are about where they were when the prediction was made–and the UN has done a vanishing act of its own, wiping the inconvenient map from its servers.

On sober Reflection, we feel we must assume that the Editorial is in Error–indeed--it may possibly be an April Fools Prank conceived by an Editor with a very poor Sense of Humour.

 

 

May 3, 2011

Much intrigued to see the result of the Elections. We are surprised that Mr. Harper got his Majority, and that the Liberals suffered such extraordinary Loss, but take some Comfort from the Stability that these Circumstance do promise.

We admit that Mr. Ignatieff never seemed to articulate a compelling Alternative to the Conservatives; he seemed always to be posturing rather than genuine. It is also true that he made the Decision to Cause the Election, without any Evidence that Citizens regarded his Party with Favour.

 

We are pleased that the Bloc was significantly compressed, and the Bloc Head has been severed from the remaining tiny Trunk.

Our reflections on the NDP Success may be found in the Drivel Section, under the Title: NDP-101.

 

 

May 2, 2011

The Death of Osama bin Laden is an important Symbol; it shows that Criminals, whatever the Justification in their own Minds, are merely that, and cannot escape the Consequence of their Crime.

Yet we think President Obama spoke too long on the Matter, suggesting more Angst, Insecurity, and Vulnerability than is seemly. A more abrupt and dismissive Tone would, we think, suggest more Resilience, Toughness, and Resolve. The style should suggest peremptory Hand-washing, not prolonged Hand-wringing.

We suspect that, were Israel in similar Position, the official Comment would be more brief.

In another Matter--Today is the Day of Voting; our only Hope is that a Number of Citizens wear Masks to underline the Foolishness of Accommodation to the unjustifiable Eccentricities of Religion.

 

Finally, we cannot let pass without Comment another execrable Sermon in the Guise of Editorial in the April 23 Edition of the National Post. These Pieces of religious Drivel appear regularly to mark significant Christian Occasions. We have earlier speculated that they are unlikely to have been written by Father Raymond de Souza, since he has some Claim to an Intelligence Level above that of the average July Temperature in Toronto. This Conclusion is confirmed by the Fact that the Piece of Drivel refers to Father de Souza in its Meanderings.

We have not so much an Objection to marking significant Days on the Christian Calendar–which are important culturally in our Society; but we do find the smug, smarmy, holier-than-thou Tone adopted by the Writer of these egregiously awful Blatherings to be offensive, and the Level of Thought to be consistent with that of an intellectually impoverished, third-rate, backwoods Sermonizer.

(On some future Occasion, we may become emboldened to let our True, unvarnished Opinion on this Matter be known.)

 

 

May 1, 2011

We do recall the Story of the Man who purchased a Violin, and sat for many Hours playing but a single Note. When his wife sarcastically observed that other Players had a wider Range, and played a greater Variety of Sound, the Man replied that they were looking for correct Note, but he had found it.

We must, perhaps, use the same Defence when we return to a familiar Theme: the Topicks we choose, while often reflecting Repetition, are those most worthy of Attention.

An article by Shaun Francis in the April 29th Edition of the National Post focuses on the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota. Mr. Francis notes that:

"You hear a statistic like a million patients per year, and you envision an operation that treats its customers like cows at a cattle ranch. The truth is the exact opposite...The hallways are carpeted. Waiting areas feature comfortable seating and soft music. There are restaurants at convenient intervals...It all feels more like high end retail than medical."

The use of the word "Customers" in itself, speaks Volumes. In Canada, we are not "Customers" but "Supplicants."

We hesitate to telephone our Doctor; we know he is too busy, and our Concerns doubtless frivolous and intrusive to the System. At the Eye Doctor, after a Wait of Ninety Minutes, our Gratitude is excessive; to kiss the Hem of his White Coat–that alone would be Privilege too presumptuous. Certainly, we dare not engage in Discussion at length, since others, more needy than ourselves are impatient for his Attention.

 

When there are few Gods, and many Supplicants, a significant Imbalance of Power occurs, and it is only human Nature that the horde of Supplicants is subjected to careless little Indignities. We recall bringing over our Visual Field Charts to the Office of the new Eye Doctor , only to be waved away, and told to return on the Day of our Appointment. Similarly, we remember an insulting Application Form which outlined the Penalty for a missed Appointment, requiring us to sign our Acceptance of the Terms, and then Claiming the right to alter the Penalty at the sole Option of the Doctor–in short–the Writing of a Blank Cheque in his Favour.

Kafka’s The Castle comes to mind.

Oh, how we long to be "Customer." A Customer may be dissatisfied, and take his Business elsewhere. A Customer pays a fair Price, but expects fair Treatment and Value in return. Our Health Care System is run as a Charity for the ignorant and indigent Masses. We prefer the Dignity and Possibility of a Fair Dealing in the Marketplace, and the Freedom to purchase private Insurance.

 

 

April 30, 2011

We are intrigued at the Possibility of a Layton Government, but think it more likely that the Conservatives will have a Minority, and the Liberals, perhaps in third place, will support them.

This is the Suggestion of David Frum, in this Day’s National Post: the third-place Liberals will not likely form a Coalition with the NDP–since their Position would be a junior one, and might lead to the eventual Disappearance of the Liberal Brand–especially if the Leader of the Liberal Faction were to be Bob Rae, a former NDP Premier.

The Rise in NDP Fortunes has more to do with irrational Sentiment than clear Thinking. Terence Corcoran (National Post, April 30) notes the NDP "hidden agenda" and quotes from the NDP Official Constitution:

That the production and distribution of goods and services shall be directed to meeting the social and individual needs of people within a sustainable environment and economy and not the making of profit.

 

The Document from which this is taken is, with good Cause, not available to the general Public, lest it might be scrutinized by prospective Voters!

Socialism is driven by admirable Motivation, and has much concern with the equal Distribution of Wealth, but sees that Wealth as created by Magick–some mysterious Process which doth not bear close Inquiry. For this Reason, Socialists are like the moronic Farmer, possessed of a Goose laying Golden Eggs, who thinks to enrich himself by killing the Goose.

It is the old, old Story–the one to which we constantly return in these Musings–the Difficulty of reconciling ideal Desires with the Realities of a Darwinian Existence.

 

 

April 29, 2011

To our Accounts this Morning. Last Week we had a sudden Disappearance of our Buying Power, and sold 6,000 San Gold at $3.01, to cover a Cheque we had written on the Account. When the Buying Power was miraculously restored the next Day, we thought not to re-purchase the San Gold, but buy 5,000 Argonaut Gold instead, at $5.01.

This seems to have been approved by the Market Gods. At this very Moment, Argonaut Gold is up today seventeen cents to $5.43, while San Gold languishes at $2.91. We only wish that the market Gods could have prompted us to sell more of the San Gold, and buy more of the Argonaut.

We will, however, make no complaint. It is our view that the market Gods are fickle, thin-skinned, and dangerous. We will continue to offer our heartfelt Praises, and make the occasional propitiatory Sacrifice.

 

We now have equal numbers of Shares in San Gold and Argonaut Gold.

Yesterday, we did telephone BMO Investorline in order to determine the Cause of our sudden Loss of Buying Power; we would like to know if it was Error, or deliberate Policy and sudden Reversal. It probably matters little. Either Circumstance brings little Confidence. However, we do not wish to appear weak, acquiescent, and easily manipulated. We do enough of that already as a Victim of the completely unsatisfactory Canadian Health Care System.

As of Noon this Day, we have not heard back from the Broker’s Representative.

 

 

April 28, 2011

"...one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;..."         (Hamlet)

We are intrigued to see the Rise in Popularity of Jack Layton in our current Election, who is now seen to be, according to recent Poll, potentially the best Prime Minister.

Smile and the World smiles with you; cry and you cry alone. Who, then does not prefer sunny Impossibilities to dour Realities? We suspect that the Electorate, fed up with the Weather, and the Effects of Recession, are willingly charmed by the Siren Songs of Socialism: a Chicken in every Pot, a Yaris and Smart Car in every Driveway. Ah, to hear the Promise of Green unending Hills, and the Nanny-state Shangri-la nestled therein.

 

 

Politics, as Jean Chretien well understood, has little to do with Logic or Reality, but Hopes, Dreams and Desires. Doth the Electorate despise the GST? Let us promise to revoke it. Memories are short, and Voters are not really surprised when they rediscover the Truth they always knew, secretly, to be there. People vote for what they want to hear; Reality, as we have pointed out in our Observation Number 5: "...is always the dowdy sister to fancy."

The best Suggestion is from a Letter by Frank Casey in the National Post (April 28) which suggests that Canadians, having been "flirting with socialism ever since the days of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau," should now vote NDP: "It’s high time we got a taste of the real thing." Mr. Casey predicts, accurately, we believe, that in a year or two "we would be forever cured of this nonsense."

We have found an old Verse concerning Mr. Layton, and have published it in the Drivel Section.

April 27, 2011

The ruling passion, be what it will,
The ruling passion conquers reason still.        (Alexander Pope, 1688-1744)


In this our foolish, idealistic Age, the Ruling Passion is for Things as they never have been, are not now, and never will or can be.

For Proof of this Proposition we need look no further than the Response to a Remark made by Simon Murray, the new Chairman of Glencore International AG. We quote the Remark here from a Column of Peter Foster in today’s National Post:

"Women in the boardroom?" he responded. "Terrific. Why not Always welcome. But why make a special; case out of it? Why tell everyone you’ve got to have X number of women in the boardroom? [Women are] not so ambitious in business as men because they’ve better things to do. Quite often they like bringing up their children and all sorts of other things...Pregnant ladies have nine months off."

 

These Remarks were termed "unforgivable," "primitive," and "unacceptable."

As Mr. Foster points out, "Mr. Murray’s real offence was to suggest that biology might make a difference." This suggestion, of course, runs counter to the ruling Passion: men and women are equal, and hence should be equally represented in all Fields of Endeavour.

Such a Notion ignores the simple Fact, for which Evidence is increasingly found, that the Brains of Men and Women differ, which would seem ample Reason for the Paucity of Female Plumbers (or Chess Grandmasters) and Male Nurses (or Kindergarten Teachers). Matters have scarcely changed from the Time of Alexander Pope -- over three Hundred Years ago: The Ruling Passion conquers Reason still.

 

 

April 26, 2011

We have been intrigued by the News of the Escape of many Taliban Prisoners in Afghanistan, especially the Fact that the Operation took Four and one-half Hours, but was unnoticed.

One Escapee said of the Guards "They were just sleeping...they are always intoxicated, smoking heroin, smoking hashish or sleeping." (National Post, April 26)

We see no Circumstance here that could not be remedied by the Introduction of more Film Houses in the Capital, and a concerted Effort to show Old Movies on late Night Television. An intensive Film Course for Guards should be introduced to supplant Intoxication and the Smoking of addictive Substances.

 

Had these measures been in Place, it is likely that a whole new World might have opened for Prison Personnel, and the obscure and recondite notion of Prisoners Tunnelling to effect an Escape might have been brought to Light.

Knowledge is Power, and may even offer Protection from Humiliation.

We refer, of course, to the 1963 Film: The Great Escape.

 

 

April 25, 2011

We do marvel at those who can believe in Religion, which, to us, seems to crumble at the most elementary Level of Doubt.

If there be so many Religions, each claiming Truth, but each a different Truth, are not all Claims suspect?

And if, indeed, one of those be true, what sort of God would allow all the Rest to continue in their Error, through no fault of their own, but simply because they followed the Custom of their own Country, and were ignorant of the "True" alternative.

Would you consider such a God wise, just, or worthy of your respect?

 

 

An article in the National Post of April 23 deals with a Reverend Bob Bell, who began to think–something which was not evidently part of his Custom–when someone said that "Ghandi is in hell." Because of the harshness of this suggestion, Mr. Bell was led to speculate on the very Matter which we raise above: "How is it that so few will be saved and billions will burn?" And further–Reverend Bell supposes a missionary suffers a flat Tyre and is unable to bring the Saving Word to a remote Village. Is it fair that "all in the Village should go to hell?"

Mr. Bell’s convenient Route from this elementary Absurdity in his Religion is to conclude that "all things will be restored"– meaning "every person will be brought to glory by God." (National Post, April 23.)

What better to show the Persistence of Folly? Instead of the Absurdity leading to Doubt and Dismissal, it leads to Contortion more pleasing to preserve and defend the Indefensible.

We will not deal further here with the elementary Absurdities of the Christian Religion. They are dealt with in our very first Drivel piece: A Child’s Arguments against Religion.

 

 

April 24, 2011

The weather has gone, overnight, from too cold to too hot. Doubtless the Weather Gods do wish to keep us nervous and uncertain. The Gods of all Types seem determined to erase Confidence, Certainty, and Assurance whenever possible. Do they see us as threat? Do they merely wish us to mirror their own miserable Insecurities?

 

We know not. Nor do we think it profitable to speculate on Matters arcane, recondite, and inscrutable.

We have this day added an imaginary news Account in our Discussion of the Canadian Banks in our Drivel Section.

 

 

April 23, 2011

Good Friday was not, in fact good at all. It was cold and unpleasant. Our view of the Canadian Climate is reaching an all-time Low.

We discovered, by chance, an old Poem written in 1999.

It reminds us of a Story told of Robert Browning, who was asked about the Meaning of a Line of his Poetry. He replied: "Only God and I knew what it meant when I wrote it; now God only knows."

 

 

We suspect the Poem has significant Elements of pretentious Garbage--and deliberate but meaningless Obscurities. On the other hand, if Paul Simon can do it, why cannot we?

We would also say that we could teach the Poem quite successfully in a High School English class, deriving all Manner of interesting Interpretation.

We have published it, along with our reflections on the Bank of Nova Scotia in the Drivel Section.

 

April 22, 2011

After much Turmoil yesterday, in Contemplation of changing Brokers, and some Investigation of the Alternatives, we were pleased to see our Buying Power at the BMO Investorline Account restored this Morning. We know not the initiating Cause of our Distress, nor the Reason for its Remedy. A Poster on the San Gold Bullboard did note that the Bank of Montreal had raised its Rating on San Gold, at the very Time that they had decided–in our Account–to reduce the Amount it would lend.

This Error–if it be that–has cost us Money as well as Distress. We sold 6,000 San Gold unnecessarily in order to cover a Cheque which we had written on the Account. The Repurchase will cost us further Commission, and a slightly higher Price.

 

We are doubtful of a successful Claim against the Bank of Montreal in this Matter.

Our Accounts with this Broker, in Total, suggest a Concentration of Eggs in one Basket; it might be prudent, although somewhat inconvenient, to find a second Basket. A Threat of immediate transfer from Basket ‘A’ to Basket ‘B’–or vice-versa–might strengthen our Position in dealing with the evil Banks

We deal with our adventures with the Toronto Dominion Bank in our Drivel Section.

 

April 21, 2011

We have suffered a significant financial Setback. We referred to our Margin Account this Morning, expecting to see purchasing Power at a Comfortable Level. Our Sale of Mag Industries and much smaller Purchase of Aberdeen Warrants, had added to our already reasonable Buying Power, and should have left us with an Amount likely to generate Feelings of warm Comfiness and cozy Security.

On the Contrary, we were slightly undermargined!

BMO Investorline in its infinite Wisdom had decided to alter the Margin Requirements for San Gold and Keegan Resources, while leaving Argonaut Gold Requirements unchanged. A Representative of the Brokerage Firm will be unable to confirm exactly what has happened until next Week.

To add to our Dismay, we had just written a Cheque on the Account. We have this day sold a further 6,000 San Gold in order to provide funds for the Cheque– but We are now uncertain whether it will clear.

 

BMO Inverstorline may, of course, run its Business as it sees fit. But, as a Customer, we resent being the Victim of sudden Decisions which have such negative Impact.

On Reflection, we conclude that we have had unhappy Experience with all the major Canadian Banks. Indeed, we have quite run out of Banks with which we can be comfortable.

We have begun to detail our Experiences in the Drivel Section –beginning with the Royal Bank.

 

 

April 20, 2011

We have returned from an extended Weekend at Wind-in-the-Pines. The Weather was not good, but we were reminded of one of the chief Advantages of the Canadian Winter: Conditions are immeasurably improved when it stops.

We are pleased that the Light now extends to Eight O’clock, keeping the Wretchedness of early Dark at Bay, and giving Promise of–no Matter that it is brief–Summer.

We were able to ensconce a new Couch in the Lower Living Room. This is an Incident hardly worthy of Remark, except that the Piece had given every Appearance of being too large for the Opening allowed by the Sliding Glass Doors, and raised Prospect of requiring to be taken in by the Front Entrance, and down two Flights of Stairs, with a major Clearance of Furniture, artwork and bric-a-brac in its path. Fortunately, by the cunning Artifice of removing four stubby Feet from the Couch, and removing the plastic Bumper for the Sliding Door, so that it might be more fully opened, the Installation was effected.

The old Couch, so useful for afternoon Naps on lazy Summer Days, was taken to the place of its own final Rest–the Municipal Recycling Facility. But such a Journey must be made worthwhile: two Television sets, and much of the Debris from the Basement Corridor begged for Inclusion, and were also removed. The new Couch demanded that its Surroundings be de-cluttered, and a certain Modicum of Tarting-up be undertaken.

Thus doth one Change entail many Others, of greater Magnitude than one might suspect. The Lumbering Couch is yet the wing beat of a Butterfly, causing a Tsunami of Tidiness.

 

                                  *******

We recently sold One -half our Position in San Gold at about $2.60, and bought Argonaut Gold at $4.78. Not unexpectedly, the Market Gods have expressed their Displeasure: San Gold is now $3.07, a gain of forty-seven cents. Fortunately, the other Market Gods have caused Argonaut to rise fifty-six cents to $5.34 – but, of course–the percentage Increase is less.

Mag Industries, which appears to have been spectacularly mismanaged, has undertaken to sell its Shares for 25 cents. Our cost was 41 cents. We have this day unloaded our Shares at 23 Cents, accepting the Fact that our Decisions cannot always be correct. We plan to switch some of the Funds to Aberdeen International Warrants at about 20 cents; the remainder is to be transferred to our Bank Account, so that our Diet may be upgraded to a thicker Gruel, and a more nourishing Bread.

 

 

April 13 2011

The Magic Bakery and Cakes which survive Ingestion

Yesterday we did approve of the French move to ban Face Coverings on what we consider to be Grounds of Practicality. We did not consider the Symbolism of the Wearing of the Niqab, or Burka, since we feel that Symbols are a Variation of Speech, which we think should be free.

There are at least Two Symbolic Meanings of the Wearing of Muslim Masks. Firstly, these Masks represent an Oppression of Women in a Culture which often sees Women as appropriately separated, unequal, and to be controlled by Males. This does not mean that those wearing Masks are compelled to do so, but they may be, and many have been, and thus the Mask itself symbolizes Repression.

Secondly, even if the Mask is willingly chosen, it symbolizes a Desire for Separation, and is a Rejection of the prevailing Culture.

We would make Comparison with One who might appear in Public wearing a Chain around her Neck, inscribed "The Place of Women is barefoot and pregnant in the Kitchen," or one wearing a Shirt printed with the Words: "Screw the Decadent West."

We think these Symbols to be in bad Taste, but should be countenanced on Grounds of Freedom of Expression. We think Masks should be banned, but not for reasons of Symbol.

We would note that such symbolic Expression is given great Weight by many Muslims. Consider the Response of Violence and Murder to the Danish Cartoons, and the recent Burning of a Koran.

The Provocation is merely in Symbol–and Expression of Opinion–which could understandably be seen as bad Taste–but not worthy of murderous Outrage.

Thus those who decide that Muslim Women should wear Masks in our Culture–whether it be they themselves, or oppressing Males--are exercising a use of Symbol–a Freedom of Speech which they Themselves would not countenance.

 

                                              ****************

We must add that today’s National Post has a Column by George Jonas dealing with this same Issue. He sees the Wearing of Masks as a Matter of Freedom–that Freedom which allows people to curtail their own Freedom. He sees the limit to this Freedom when it comes in Conflict with our cultural Norms–for example–in testifying in a Court of Law–we need to see the Faces of Witnesses. In the related matter of Turbans, he sees it legitimate to restrict Headgear for Police Officers, while allowing Turbans in private Life–a Position exactly the same as our own.

We think, however, that the Wearing of Masks in Public is akin to wearing Nothing at all: it is too disruptive of normal Social Interaction as it has been developed in our Culture. Additionally, it is associated with anti-social Subterfuge, and prevents the Identification of those who would use such Disguise to commit Crimes. We think that those who defend the Wearing of Masks have not considered the logical Consequence of extending their Tolerance to all Women, or to all Citizens. We see this Matter as an Example of the Broken Window Theory.

 

 

April 12, 2011

We were pleased to see that the Country of France has seen fit to ban the Burka and Niqab.

A Protester, Kenza Drider says her Opposition to the Ban has little to do with Religious Observance, but with constraint on Freedom. (National Post, April 12.)

We are glad that Ms. Drider makes no Claim on the basis of Religion. the Trouble with such Claims is that they are based on Nothing but unsupported Supposition–that is, Superstition; Anyone can construct a Religion out of Whole Cloth, and claim the Right to walk the streets with a loaded Machine Gun.

If Religion is given Primacy above all else, there is no End to the Absurdities which must be countenanced, approved, and borne.

The Argument as to Freedom must be given Consideration. Every Society allows some Freedoms, and Denies Others. In our Culture, it is not considered appropriate to walk naked in public, nor to carry a loaded Machine Gun.

We consider the hiding of Faces to be inappropriate for the following Reasons:

1. In Human social Interaction, much Information is gleaned and given from Facial Expression. In particular, we believe Empathy is largely achieved by means of Reading the Faces of Others. The Automobile is somewhat like a Burka; consider the Rudeness and Lack of Empathy shown by those driving in Automobiles, as opposed to Those operating Supermarket Carts. Anything which prevents the Expression of Feelings through Facial Expression–developed over the Millennia–should be discouraged.

 

2. The masking of Faces allows for Avoidance of Identification, and hence, indirectly, promotes Subterfuge and the Commission of Anti-Social Acts.

"And how would you describe the Bicycle Thief/ Bank Robber/ Arsonist/Suspect fleeing the Murder Scene?"

"No Problem–she–or he–was wearing a black Burka."

 

3. Some Cultural Norms are worth enforcing in order to aid in Cultural Integration. The modern, western, democratic Cultures which have created the most Freedoms and highest Standards of Living, have not achieved their Success by the habitual Masking of Citizens. Nor, of course, has it been the Custom of such Citizens to wear wooden Shoes. But we think there is a Difference: Social Interaction is significantly impeded by Masks, but much less by the wearing of wooden Shoes. There is the Test of Universality: if all Citizens were to go masked, would the Society be able to function as heretofore? We think not. We think the Practice of Appearing in Public wearing Masks should be banned. This measure might also serve to inhibit destructive Protestors. 

 

We have this Day learned of Michael Coren's new Book, the modestly and discreetly entitled: Why Catholics are Right. Our Response is in the Drivel Section.

 

Jesus Saves!

 

 

April 11, 2011

 

His Majesty, the resident Lumpenbangen Feline is a Creature of strong Opinion, Iron Will, and significant Cunning.

It is his Opinion, expressed over a Period of many Years, that Resident Felines should not be required to sojourn in the Serviceable Six either from the Lumpenbangen Facilities to Wind-in-the-Pines, or the same Journey in reverse. Once in either Location, He is contented enough; Lounging, Napping, Sleeping, the Requiring of Doors to be opened for Ingress or Egress, or the plaintive Demands for Food–these seem all of a Piece.

For His Majesty, it is the vehicular Journey, with its confining Boredom, its Uncertainties of Motion, and its occasional Forays from the well-remembered Path that constitute an Affront to his Feline Sensibilities, and require constant vocal Complaint.

For Twelve Years of such Journeys, he has shown no Sign of Acceptance, no Bowing to the Inevitable, no Philosophy of Stoicism. Utilizing his extraordinary Capacity for the Reading of human Minds, he knows well in Advance of any Intended Dislocation, and repairs to any one of several Places of Concealment. We find it interesting that these Retreats are merely Symbols of Disapproval; when discovered, His Majesty shows merely passive, not active Resistance. He expresses not absolute Refusal–but makes a firm Statement of Opinion.

 

We disclose the foregoing only in Attempt to explain our own Emotions upon discovering, this Day, a Binful of Pet Beds at XS Cargo. The cost, $7.88, seemed within the Lumpenbangen Budget. If our daily Portion of Gruel were watered down but slightly, and the remaindered Bread apportioned with extra Care, this little Gift might well constitute a Birthday Present for His Majesty. Hmmm. Two Beds would be necessary–one for the Lumpenbangen Studio; one for Wind-in-the-Pines. A little more watering. A little more breadly Care.

But what if His Majesty–so long bedless–so long in sleep-where-thou-mayst Mode–what if he should sniff the new Purchase, and walk disdainfully off?

With Apprehension, we placed the new Bed in a known, already designated Area of feline Repose. We knew better than to entice, encourage, or propose. Such are the Perverse Workings of the Mind of His Majesty, that he would immediately be suspicious, on guard, and resolutely unbending, never deign to use the Bed for its intended Purpose.

We are pleased to report that our Tactic of Low Pressure and studied Unconcern has been successful; after a few short Hours, His Majesty was observed-- comfortably ensconced in his new Bed.

 

April 10, 2011

Some Portion of Yesterday spent in loading up the Serviceable Six with Junk from the Garage.

This was a dispiriting Exercise. Having a large double Garage which is yet not long enough to accommodate the enormous Length of either the Serviceable Six or Geezermobile Eight leads to a false Impression of limitless Storage.

Decisions are not made: they are postponed. What shall be done with the leftover Landscape Cloth, the old Doors, the roll of Roofing, the high-flush Toilet, the extra Furniture? The human Tendency is to the Line of least Resistance; the Garage is the Rorschach Ink Blot Test which reveals the insufficient and disordered Mind.

 

Amid the worthless Clutter, are poignant Symbols: the Artifacts of a Past desired but unattainable except through tantalizing but insufficient Memory; and those of Plans made but unfulfilled and unlikely to be achieved.

Eventually, the Reward may be a more pleasing Order, and greater Space.

All man’s Efforts are against Chaos, the unpleasant Reminder, the persistent Weed in the Garden; thus we plant Primrose, edge the beds, and try not to think of Sisyphus.

 

April 9, 2011

We have this Day completed a Commentary on Climate Change, taking a few Choice Pot Shots at our favourite Expert in Fruit-Fly Genetics, David Suzuki.

We have published the Matter in our Drivel Section.

With Gold rising to new Highs, we are given to ponder our current Gold Stock Holdings. The Stocks have not reflected the Rise in the Price of Gold. In Disgust, we recently sold One-half our Position in San Gold to purchase Argonaut Gold, feeling that Argonaut has better immediate Prospects.

We sometimes find that Irritability and Feelings of Dissatisfaction do tend to spread, like a Grass Fire of the Mind. We turned our Attention to our small Position in Exeter Resources, purchased at a little over Seven Dollars. Our Purchase was the Signal for a persistent and insulting Decline. The Stock had sat, thumbing its unattractive Nose at us for too long. In a Rage, we sold it and purchased more Argonaut Gold. We took a loss of about Ten Thousand Dollars.

How the Market Gods do wield their Power at our Expense! While Argonaut Gold has risen a little, both San Gold and Exeter have done far better. We will wait. The adipose Lady has not yet sung on this Matter.

 

 

Our current Marginable Holdings are now Keegan–our largest Position, nicely recovered to over $9.00– and about equal, smaller Positions in San Gold and Argonaut.

Our most profitable (on Paper) Gold Holding by far is Dynacor, currently around $1.90. Our Cost is 48 Cents. This is our Lottery Ticket Holding. We anticipate further Drilling Results, and dream of Ten Dollars.

In the recent Downturn, we sold some Securities to Protect our Borrowing Position. We were able to repurchase 10,000 Aberdeen International sold at 95 Cents, for about 85 Cents; we have also been able to repurchase 10,000 Royal Coal at approximately our Sale Price of 28 Cents. We recently bought more CMC Metals, at about 26 Cents to bring our Holdings into the "Stupid Excess" Category. It is now trading at about 36 Cents.

It is only fair to list our significant Losers: Strikepoint, Mag Industries, Sea Dragon Energy, New Guinea Gold. It is not possible to make Money on every High-Risk Enterprise. We only hope that the Winners will outweigh the Losers. We continue, stubbornly, to hold these Positions.

 

 

April 8, 2011

This Day’s Paper has many Items worthy of Comment. The Chief of these is the Finding that political Ideology may be related to the Structure of the Brain. Those who are Liberal are found to have "larger anterior cingulate cortexes"–a region of the Brain that "monitors uncertainty and conflict." Conservatives have "larger amygdalas"– which process "fear among other related emotions."
(National Post, April 8.)

The Theory is that Liberals are more-- and Conservatives less-- comfortable with Uncertainty and Fear.

We find this News to be most disturbing, not to say upsetting, distressing, and alarming. We do earnestly Hope that a Remedy may be found to shrink these terrible "larger anterior cingulate cortexes" so that the afflicted may be returned to a sensible Perception of Reality. As an adjunctive Therapy, Silicone might be injected into the deficiently sized Liberal amygdalas.

 

It is now made clear why Psychiatrists are, in modern Parlance, termed "Shrinks." With this new Apprehension of mental Disturbance it is clear that their shrinking Efforts should be redoubled and directed specifically at larger anterior cingulate cortexes. We would suggest that surgical Intervention and the Application of appropriate freezing Technology be considered. Or possibly these offending Cortexes could be temporarily removed and subjected to a full Hot Water Wash and Intense Drying Cycle.

We are concerned lest there be a Delay in seeking Remedy; we are most anxious to see a Resolution, that this terrible Scourge of Liberal Misperceptions be extirpated, and a Return to Sanity be achieved.

 

April 7, 2011

Of Idealism in Health Care

The Ideal is that which cannot be improved--in a Word-- Perfection. Idealism is defined–by Dictionary–as "the cherishing or pursuit of high or noble principles, purposes, or goals."

We confess to feeling a warm Glow, little Waves of ineffable Satisfaction as we conjure with the Words: ideal; idealism; idealist. We are laved, as in a warm Pool, by Notions of Nobility, Pamperings of Perfection, and Eddies of Excellence. Indeed, it is difficult--roaming, care-free, heedless in the in the ideal Flower-strewn Meadows of the Imagination--to think negative Thoughts. Surely the Pursuit of the Ideal is noble, and will lead us to the World of Sweetness and Light.

We feel almost churlish to recall our Observation Number 25:

There is a constant battle, in society, between realism and idealism. Idealism often wins out, since realism is much less flattering to our self-image; but the outcome is seldom to our advantage.

The Difficulty that we see is that Pursuit of the Ideal, while often noble in Intent, is wont to ignore, in its Intensity, lesser, imperfect, but real Goods.

Recently (March 28) we did predict that no Mention would be made, in the current Election Campaign, of two Outrageous Circumstance in our Society: the Matter of Human Rights Commissions, and the Fiasco of Health Care.

Thus far, it is true that Mention has been made of Health Care–but only with platitudinous Promises of Improvement to the Existing, failed System.

 

In this Day’s National Post, under the Heading: The Crisis no leader is talking about, Terence Corcoran comments on Chronic Healthcare Spending Disease–a report by David Dodge, former Governor of the Bank of Canada. Mr. Dodge notes that under the current Regime, Health Care Spending could rise to account for nearly 19% of total Spending, compared with 12% at present.

In Discussion after a recent Speech, Mr. Dodge correctly noted the Cost of the "Equity" in our present System: "We have met the equity test by denying people the right to superior services."

This must always be the Case; our Observation Number 7 is:

Socialism places much store in the notion of equality, but all it can provide is equality of poverty.

Our Experiment with a Socialist Health Care System has proved it to be an unsustainable Disaster. The single-minded Pursuit of the Ideal, has, once again, been the enemy of the Real, and the Possible. And so much is our Prejudice in Favour of the Ideal, no Politician will risk stating the Obvious.

 

April 6, 2011

Of the sacred and the satiric: the Danish Cartoons

Two contrasting Articles were published in the National Post Edition of April 5, entitled: Without the Sacred, all hell breaks loose, and A dangerous world of make believe.

It will come as no Surprise to Anyone of even passing Acquaintance with these Musings, that we disregarded the first Article, and read the second. It is our Observation that an Opinion agreeable to One’s own is always given Safe Harbour and an easy Rest; A contrary View is left to founder on the jagged Rocks of its perceived Insufficiency.*

The Author of the second Article, Ronald de Sousa, defines sacred as "what is of certain and absolute value, beyond challenge or question." He also notes that "the sacred is grounded in faith, which is lauded precisely because it is impervious to reason and evidence." He refers to the famous Remark of Mark Twain: "Faith is believing what you know ain't so."

The Sacred, then, would appear to be a Matter of Emotion, not Reason. It is a sort of Emotional Rock to which Human Beings, in Limpet Mode, can cling. The Sacred has declined in human Society as Reason has become more ascendant. It is Reason that has provided more Control over our Surroundings, and reduced the Need for Limpetness. It is easy to see how the Difficulties of Life Four Hundred Years ago would have made Faith more appealing, and Faith is more important today in Societies which have been less successful in providing a high Standard of Living.

In an earlier Entry (March 30) we noted that Laughter is, in general, associated with an intellectual, rather than emotional View of the human Circumstance, and this is especially true of the Laughter evoked by Satire. It might be appropriate to quote here from Wikipedia:

 

Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement... Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon.

Thus, the sacred and the satiric are Mongoose and Cobra of our definitional Bestiary. The sacred is "beyond question or challenge," the expression of unthinking emotion; the satiric is the Dart of Wit, the cruel Lance of Ridicule which challenges all Pretension.

Surely this doth explain the Outrage over the Danish Cartoons. On one Hand, are the religious Fanatics, clinging to their unchallengeable Emotional Rock; on the other, the Satiric Perception: at the Head of Mohammed, is a lit Fuse, a deadly Bomb, an explosive Evil.

How ironic–an intellectual Notion the religious Fanatics cannot comprehend–that their Outrage is precisely the Explosive Evil suggested in the Cartoon, and an exact Justification of the satiric Perception.

                                          *******

*We do admit to sometimes shade the Truth for Effect: We did skim the other Article briefly. Here is a sample:

What, therefore, must be sacred, at minimum? The Mother, the Father, and the Individual. It is the duty of each society, and each individual, to respect these figures, in mind, thought and action.

Note that the Writer is thinking in terms of Symbol, of Generalities. The Devil, as they say, is in the Details: the crackhead Mother, the dissolute Father, and the murderous Individual. Enough of the Sacred. Let us regard all with Reason, and keep the satiric Barb sharp, the Rapier of  Ridicule unsheathed, and keen.

 

April 5, 2011

We returned yesterday from Wind-in-the-Pines. The Ice is still on the Lake, and some foolhardy Fishermen still wend their Way to the Middle of the Lake. We assume they have tested the Ice, but do not regard Them too closely, preferring that, if they should sink suddenly into the frigid Depths, we will be conveniently looking in some other Direction.

We discover that Pastor Jones has burned a Koran, and find Ourselves in some Conflict over the Matter. While we agree that his Gesture is less than friendly, our view of all Religion is such that we see this extreme Expression of Disbelief and Rejection to be within the Bounds of reasonable Action. We accept that Matters of Symbol are important, but–for Example--the Burning of the Flag of the United states is considered similar to verbal Expression, and is not illegal.

Thus the Call by Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President to bring the Burners of the Koran to Justice seems to rest on an entirely different Understanding of Freedom of Expression

 

As to the Mob, incited by the Mullahs to murder Those who are entirely innocent, merely to express their Outrage--they surely reveal, in startling Manner, the evil Potential of Islam and the Primitive Thinking of Afghanis. We have said before that to bring a fourteenth Century Culture into Accord with the 21st Century Culture as we understand it, would seem to require at least Fifty Years of indoctrinating Occupation.

There is no Question in our Mind that religious Fanatics must be brought to a State that they are too weary for Outrage. To avoid outraging them is to let their Values replace our own. It is the Problem of dealing with a wild and dangerous Animal: one does not wish to expose oneself, foolishly and carelessly, to a Death by Rampage; on the other Hand, there should be no Failure of Resolve to contain and cage the Beast. Otherwise our Way of Life is reduced to a fearful Huddling in the Dark.

A Phobia can be removed by a gradual Acclimatisation; perhaps some persistent and incremental Cartooning is called for. We must assume that high Levels of Outrage over Matters symbolic are unsustainable. But such is the Folly of Mankind, we cannot be entirely sure.

 

 

April 1, 2011

Ah to be in England, now that April’s there. In Canada, it’s raw and cold, and all is grey and bare.

Spring thus far has made us look forward to November, by which Time we are hopeful of some Amelioration in the Weather. We will journey this Day to Wind-in-the-Pines, where the promised warmer Temperatures will be undoubtedly be kept at Bay by frigid Breezes from the Ice-covered Lake.

Our comment on April Fools Day is to be found in the Drivel Section.

We know not whether it be the Weather, or our limited Supply of Patience, but we have sold one-half of our remaining Position in San Gold at about $2.57. Management has chosen to do infinite Exploration at great Expense, but without providing any Official Update in Reserves. Production has not been a Priority, and the Company has not shown that, with Gold at an exceptionally high Price, they are capable of making Money. We still think that there is much Resource, and will not be surprised if the Company Stock should sell at much higher Prices in the Future.

But we are too old to wait. There are other Companies, which, we think, will rise more quickly. Accordingly, we have put the meagre Proceeds of the Sale into Argonaut Gold at about $4.75. We have arranged for a special Set of earnest Prayer, delivered by Means of continuous loud Recording, to our new Deity, the great God Murphy.

 

On a brighter note, we have received our first Dividend from Aberdeen International. The Stock Price is down to about 85 cents from a dollar, and had we a goodly supply of Cash, we would buy more. Were the stock eligible for Margin, we might have bought it instead of Argonaut Gold.

Readers who wish to send us any Surplus Cash may be assured that it will be put to good and provident Use.

Dynacor is holding steady at about $1.90. A recent Post on Stockhouse by a Shareholder who visited their Facility in Peru, has been encouraging and confirming of our Optimism. We think there is a good chance of a Ten Dollar share Price, and the Prospect of a considerable Improvement in our current Diet of thin Gruel and remaindered Bread.

Despite our Pleas, the Traffic on this Site shows no Sign of abating. We anticipate little Respite until Garden Puttering is well underway, and the Lawn Bowls Season is in full Hobble.

 

March 31, 2011

Of Humour–cont’d.

Yesterday we did speak of Just for Laughs–Gags as the most amusing Television Program we have seen. We would note that the Laughter evoked may once again be seen as a Kind of Triumph–it is, of course, our Triumph over the Victims who are being fooled, and led into Situations of puzzling Error: we understand the Cause of their Misperception; they do not.

But there is an added Element in these humorous Sketches: there is no Sound. This Absence of Sound creates the Universality of Pantomime: what we see is a universalized Theatre of the Absurd. Possibly our Perception is unique, but we see the Show, in Part, as a Symbolic Revelation of the Absurdity of Life.

Indeed, we do maintain that if Life is viewed as if from a great Height, and a far Distance, our Sympathies tend to be suppressed–human Aspirations, Motivations, and Beliefs become like the Busyness of Ants, and a Puzzle of Absurdities is performed on a tiny Stage.

We have placed much Emphasis on the Distinction between Wit and Emotion; we feel that Horace Walpole (1717-1797) was correct when he observed:

This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.

But Stephen Leacock, whose Sense of humour was far more kindly than our own, saw the highest Expression of Humour as including Pathos:

 

The world's humour, in its best and greatest sense, is perhaps the
highest product of our civilisation. One thinks here not
of the mere spasmodic effects of the comic artist or the
blackface expert of the vaudeville show, but of the really
great humour which, once or twice in a generation at
best, illuminates and elevates our literature. It is no
longer dependent upon the mere trick and quibble of words,
or the odd and meaningless incongruities in things that
strike us as "funny." Its basis lies in the deeper
contrasts offered by life itself: the strange incongruity
between our aspiration and our achievement, the eager
and fretful anxieties of to-day that fade into nothingness
to-morrow, the burning pain and the sharp sorrow that
are softened in the gentle retrospect of time, till as
we look back upon the course that has been traversed we
pass in view the panorama of our lives, as people in old
age may recall, with mingled tears and smiles, the angry
quarrels of their childhood. And here, in its larger
aspect, humour is blended with pathos till the two are
one, and represent, as they have in every age, the mingled
heritage of tears and laughter that is our lot on earth.
*

Now–we advance this next Proposition with great Hesitation. We think we see in Just for Laughs–Gags–a Hint of what Mr. Leacock means. You see, at the End of each Segment, the Victim is made privy to the Deception which has led to his Consternation. We are  surprised how frequently the Victim is hugely delighted– it is his Moment of Triumph over the puzzling Circumstance; he reacts not as Victim–but as one who, rising above Emotion–sees himself as an Actor in a drama, a mirror, in little, of the Theatre of the Absurd that is our lot in Life.

We sometimes find this strangely moving. If you watch the Program and occasionally find a Hint of Tears in your Laughter, you will understand what we have been attempting to express.

*from Humour As I see It in Further Foolishness, 1916.

 

 

March 30, 2011

Of humour

Stephen Leacock thought the Origin of Laughter to be in the triumphal Cry of the Caveman as he bashed in the Head of a Rival with a Club. We have no doubt that there are learned Tomes by eminent Students of Psychology who have developed Theories more Complex, couched in the Language of Learned Obfuscation, but we find his Suggestion appealing.

For one thing, it is in Accord with our Notion that Laughter involves the Suspension of a certain Element of Sympathy; we doubt that the triumphant Caveman had any Thought for the five hungry Children of his unfortunate Victim. And it seems reasonable to state that, in the Perception of Verbal Humour, the Laughter arises from the Triumph of Understanding–of "getting the Joke."

The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.

As in this case, the Laughter arises from a triumphant Understanding of two Meanings of the word "recovered"–from which arises the absurd Mental Picture of a Man in Chintz.

Leacock felt that, with Civilisation, some of the Cruelty implicit in Humour had been banished, and he claimed that his Style of Humour was not malicious. While we think that Leacock ‘s Humour was essentially, kindly, we think Humour in General may still derive much of its Force from being mischievous, unkind, and subversive.

We have to think no farther than our own Limericks, which are meant to expose what we perceive to be the Folly of Ways of Thinking, of Institutions, but also of Individuals. We care not, when exposing Stupidity, that those who espouse it may be offended: it is our Purpose –indeed–our Calling and Duty--to offend Them. This Position is stated in our Observation Number 47:

While it may not be appropriate in every venue, and on every occasion, mockery is the guardian of reason, the enemy of pretension, and the mirror to folly. No belief, no passion, no commitment should be considered immune from the acerbic test of ridicule.

 

We have noted elsewhere what we consider to be the abject Failure of Saturday Night Live, especially in Comparison with much more successful Programs of Humour in Canada. Our Theory is that Americans–or at least those appearing on Saturday Night Live--are too overcome with Ambition to be successful at Humour. America is the Land of exceptional Success, the Country of Manifest Destiny, of Jingoistic Waving of Flags. Canada is sufficiently unsuccessful not to take itself too seriously. We attribute the Weakness of American Humour–and America’s extraordinary Religiosity-- to the Earnestness bred of Success. Earnestness–Emotion-- is the antithesis of Humour.

The most amusing Program of Humour we have seen is called Just for Laughs–Gags. The essential Premise of the Show is that Ordinary People are videotaped being fooled. The Victims are presented with Situations which seem bizarre and incomprehensible, and their Emotions of Surprise, Shock, or Puzzlement are recorded.

For example–a Microwave is provided in a Food Court Setting–so that Customers may reheat Food. When the Microwave indicates that the Meal is ready, the Customer finds that his Food has disappeared. It has been removed through a concealed door behind the Device. This Circumstance is a Challenge to all Experience; the Customer is puzzled, uncomprehending–and begins to doubt his own Sanity. A Noise in the Microwave leads the Victim to check, once again, the Contents. The Food is there, but it has been almost entirely eaten–a few crusts remaining--supposedly consumed by the duplicitous–and hungry–Machine.

We will conclude our Discussion Tomorrow.

 

 

March 29, 2011

Of Pedantry and Wit

We have always considered Wit to be our natural Propensity; we were delighted, at the Age of twelve, to be introduced to Stephen Leacock’s Literary Lapses, a Volume which seemed to embody an immediately attractive way of looking at the World.

As many have observed, the humorous Perspective is intellectual, rather than emotional; it views the human Circumstance as if from a great Height, and sometimes from an unaccustomed Angle. When we see an elegantly and expensively dressed Gentleman brought suddenly to the Ground through an unfortunate Encounter with the Peel of a Banana, we are inclined to laugh at the Contrast between his apparent Pretensions and a deflating Reality.

When we learn that his Attire is rented so that he may attend his Wife’s Funeral, that he has broken his Leg and will be unable to support his five small Children in his customary Employment as a Mover of Pianos, the intellectual Perspective, and the laughter, are tempered by Emotion.

A few wicked Souls are still laughing. No matter. They are not one of the small hungry Children.

Stephen Leacock, of course, was also a Professor, for many Years the Head of the Department of Economics and Political Science at Montreal's McGill University. He was apparently able to play Games of Chess without consulting the Board– a Matter which–in View of our own Difficulties with Chinese Checkers-- with the Board--has been of significant Wonder.

Perhaps it is this other Side of our esteemed Humourist, which leads us to a certain Uneasiness with pure Buffoonery–which makes us fear being borne away in the Breeze of Opinion--as disregarded as the Silk of Dandelions--that makes us long for Weightiness, Profundity, Gravitas–in a word–for Pedantry.

 

It is for this Reason, that those bold enough to venture into the Drivel Section are like to encounter long Weighty Dissertations, filled with Reference, and Evidence of superficial Learning, and earnest Attempts to sound Sensible and Judicious.

Secretly, we suspect that we do, in this Manner, but reinforce our Reputation of Buffoon, but we are unable to shake our Pedantic Leanings.

The Elephant is notorious for labouring to bring forth a Mouse. The other Day, donning our full elephant-coloured Burka, we struggled to compose our significant Reflection on these Matters, and immediately published it to the Drivel* Section. It is called The Pedant's Lament. The Buffoon was satisfied, but the Pedant within was troubled by one metrically challenged line, which required, for easy Repair, the contraction–the unpedantic can’t.

The Pedant, re-burkad for the Occasion, has made and published his more complete Repair; the Buffoon is still chuckling.

Readers are invited to vote on the two Versions presented.

 

*Drivel, March 27, 2011

 

March 28, 2011

The Sounds of Silence

An Election has been called, and, with every Confidence, we predict that no Candidate will mention Two Items most deserving of Attention: The Modification or Removal of Human Rights Commissions, which, in their unequal Treatment of Accuser and Accused are a Repudiation of Hundreds of Years of Effort to gain Equality before the Law; and Second, the Health Care System which, because of its compulsory Nature, is a Repudiation of the Principle of Free Markets.

We recently sent an E-Mail to Tim Hudak, our only Hope of Rescue from the McGuinty Mismanagement, asking if he had any Policy with Respect to Human Rights Commissions. We received no Reply. We must assume that he has no Policy, and, under his Administration, these Blights on Fair Treatment will be allowed to spread their cancerous Seed. We also take his Silence as typical of political Aspirants at every level.

 

The Matter of Health care presents Circumstance ever more Egregious, but Nothing is proposed, and Nothing is done. This is the most wonderful Example of the Triumph of Theory over Practice, and Ideals over Common Sense.

Canada, we see as a small Child dressed in adult Clothing. Protected militarily by its Big Brother Sam, and small enough not to be held to Account, it feels free to conduct its disastrous Experiments with Philosophies divorced from the real World. That legitimate Rights and Freedoms are compromised–of this we will hear no Mention from our Pusillanimous Politicians.

 

March 27, 2011

We have spent this Day in minor Revisions of our somewhat ambitious Drivel Piece on the Phenomenon of Israeli Apartheid Weeks. We find that sometimes such Pieces, which are intended to be written in an Hour or two at most, become more complex and extended than we would wish.

Besides the almost unending Scope for more felicitous and accurate Expression, such extended Pieces are notorious for minor Errors of Typography; what is readily evident on a printed Page has an unhappy Knack of hiding on a Computer Screen.

For the Moment, we think we are done. We are not certain of our Argument, but it seems reasonable enough. We have found this Exercise helpful in clarifying our View of Left and Right Wing Philosophies: The Left is concerned, primarily with an unattainable Equality, and is admirably merciful in its Desire to raise the Unfortunate and Disadvantaged. The Right cares little for Equality, but insists on the Claims of Merit, and the Justice which acknowledges the Legitimacy of both Success and Failure. The Left is idealistic and aspirational; the Right, realistic and Darwinian.

 

The appropriate Balance between these two Views is of sufficient Difficulty of Determination, that we are assured of permanent Conflict. We have added this day a further Observation, Number 117:

The left has an admirable but single-eyed concern for mercy–the raising of the unfortunate to a state of equality; what is missing in their vision is a concern for merit, that element of justice which dismisses equality, and acknowledges the legitimacy of both failure and success.

 

March 26, 2011

Yesterday we recorded our Pleasure that the Tenure of Nick Day, the student-elected Rector of Queen’s University was opposed in a Referendum. Mr. Day sees Israel as committing "genocide" against Palestinians in "perhaps the biggest human rights tragedy of my generation."

In Yesterday’s Paper, Professor Gil Troy notes the Virulence of some of those espousing Mr. Day’s Point or View. He quotes a McGill Student twittering of a Screening of a Film called Indoctrinate U –evidently a Film exposing the very Malady he himself illustrates: "I want to shoot everyone in this room." He also referred to the meeting as a "Zionist meeting" and a "Satanist Ritual."

 

We have been led to examine the extraordinary Reality of Israeli Apartheid Weeks–the bizarre demonizing of Israel while there are other, far more appropriate Targets.

We have concluded that these Phenomena are fed by the following Factors: the human Propensity for Hatred; the Tendency of the Young to prefer a World painted in Absolutes of Black and White; a rampant left-wing Idealism; and the Realism and Competence of Israel which, by its very Success refutes the beloved Myths of the idealistic Left.

Our full Discussion of these Matters is in the Drivel Section. The Summary may be found in our Observation Number 116.

 

March 25, 2011

Those Circumstance which are like to give Satisfaction in our troubled World are so few that we must hasten to celebrate them as they occur. This day we are most pleased to see that a Referendum of undergraduate Voters has expressed Opposition (72%) to Nick Day, the Student-elected "Rector" of Queen’s University. Mr. Day wrote an Article expressing the bizarre Idea that Jewish Treatment of Palestinians represents "perhaps the biggest human rights tragedy of my generation," and had the Temerity to sign the Article as Queen’s Rector.

As an aside, we do wonder whether it is in part, Human Nature–especially at a young Age– to seek out Victims of untempered Opprobrium. There is much Fuel added to their Fire by the current Climate in Canada which seems to hold that no Injustice is too severe, and no Stupidity too abysmal in the Pursuit of the politically incorrect.

Indeed, were it not that Mr. Day expresses, apparently, the Form of Hatred which is currently approved in the Circles of the Left, he himself would be charged by a Victimhood Advocacy Commission.

In another matter, we are also pleased to see that the Vatican has "launched a series of public dialogues with non-believers." (National Post, March 25.) These Debates will continue in 16 European and North American Cities over two Years.

 

 

At the End, we are hopeful that the Pope will be brought to see the Error of his Ways. Perhaps he will co-author a Book with Christopher Hitchens, containing a suitable Apology.

In a contrasting Note, we must record with some Regret that the Traffic on our Website has increased significantly. This Site was intended to be in Opposition to the Mania for Attention; we rather expected the Audience would dwindle to the Exclusivity of One, our dear Aunt Myalgia, currently a Guest of the Shady Hollow Psychiatric Facility in downtown Toronto. Indeed, we have chosen our peculiar Language and Spelling not to garner Attention–but in order to liberate our own Eighteenth Century Man, which has always lurked within. We were fully cognizant that our Musings-- especially in the Diary--would present considerable Difficulty to those in the modern Era of Twittering Mindlessness, and simplified Spelling.

We fear that our Aim for an Elite Audience is in grave Jeopardy; we would urge casual Readers to Exercise Restraint, and take up Gardening, Chess, or Crokinole, as worthy and edifying Alternatives.

March 24, 2011

The Weather Gods have, once again displayed their Power. As flies to wanton boys are we to the Weather Gods-- they kill our Expectations for their Sport. This Day past, after the Snow had stopped, we betook ourselves to the Friendly Food Basics Emporium. The Roads–at Eight o’clock–were nearly deserted, and the Basics parking Lot pitifully populated with about a Dozen Vehicles. The Rack displaying barbecued Chickens, normally $5.99, and ordinarily bereft at that late Hour, offered Six of the customarily tiny Birds, and those reduced–with TWO One Dollar Reduction Stickers-- to $3.99.

We have never been able to resist an apparent Bargain, whether it be a cheap Stock or a cheap Chicken, and looking surreptitiously down the Aisle to ensure we were not overlooked, slipped the bargain Chicken into our Cart. The Cashier did not, as we feared, accuse us of stealing the Second Sticker from another Chicken; indeed, she complimented us on our Perspicacity and good Fortune, and we left the Facility with a rare Glow of significant Accomplishment.

It appears an Election is imminent. We were called about the Matter of Posting a Conservative Sign on the front Lawn, but declined, citing the severe financial Blows inflicted by the evil Mr. Flaherty in his Destruction of the Income Trusts some four Years past. To this Day, we cannot abide the Sight of Mr. Flaherty when he appears on Television, and must change the Channel, or raid the Refrigerator. We are insufficiently childish to hurl Obscenities at the Screen, but the Impulse is strong.

According to a recent Interview with John Wright of the Ipsos Reid Polling Firm, the Polling Numbers are not in Mr. Ignatieff’s Favour. Indeed, he has struck as an Ivory Soapish 99 and 44/100ths% pure Posturing; we know not whether this be a personal Failing, or simply the Effects of Politics.

 

We can only suppose that the "Hidden Agenda" is to attempt a Coalition Government if another Conservative Minority is returned.

Finally–we confess we started this Musing with absolutely Nothing to say–but Absence of Material seems to be of minimal Deterrence to our Writing at length–we would like to note two Letters to the Editor of the National Post. The first is from March 23, by a Correspondent who claims that Islam does not "permit any sort of honour killings."

In today’s Paper another Correspondent objects, and quotes the following Translation--

Koran 4:15: "If any of your women commit a lewd act...confine them to their houses until death overtakes them or till God finds another way for them."

In contrast, he quotes Koran 4:16: "If two men commit a lewd act, punish them both; if they repent and mend their ways, leave them alone."

The Correspondent uses these two passages to contradict the claim that Islam does not permit honour killings, and to illustrate the Inequality of Genders at the Heart of Islam.

 

 

March 23, 2011

This Day doth the Wind Rage and the Snow thickly fall, and we are mightily sick of such Antick, for this is Spring, and we anticipated no more than a light Dusting to be gone on the Morrow.

Snow Shovellers have been at the Door to clear our Walk, but we did not answer. We refuse to accept what is clearly visible to our Eyes; we prefer to inhabit some other Land of our Imagination.

Dynacor Gold hath come out with the Result of their first drill Hole, but, while there are economic grades of Copper, there is no Bonanza; neither we nor the Markets are impressed. The Stock has retreated modestly. We are still optimistic, but that is the well-known Malady of the financially committed. San Gold has been sinking steadily as more Gold is found, but there is no Evidence that they can sell the Gold at a Profit. The Management obviously inhabits its own World of the Imagination in which Shareholders are expected to profess the unlimited Faith of Fanaticks.

 

Keegan Resources however, is flirting with Nine Dollars–approximately where it was before the Price was manipulated downwards so that a Bought Deal could be done at Seven Dollars and Fifty Cents. Why are we not surprised? The Targets for this Stock are in the range of Twelve to Fourteen Dollars. We wish it would hurry up.

We have added to our Position in CMC Metals, and now have significantly too much. We have usually found that an Excess of Enthusiasm for any Stock is a Recipe for Grief. Fortunately, our average purchase Price is about twenty-seven cents, so that, in absolute Dollar Terms our Grief will, at least, be manageable.

We have added two Limericks to the Lane on the subject of Self-Esteem.

 

March 22, 2011

Having grown up in an Era when the Self-esteem of Children was given no Consideration at all, or, indeed, was deliberately crushed when it became inappropriately evident, we have always considered Ourselves to be worthless and of no Account.

It is from this No-Account Perspective that we have observed with amazement the Great Wave, the Tsunami-like Flood which we now recognize as the Self Esteem Movement.

Although we were unaware of it at the Time, it is quite possible that our Dissatisfaction with the Profession of Teaching–about thirty Years ago--may be seen as a Consequence of what we might call an attitudinal Shift coincident with the Self-Esteem Movement. Of a sudden–or so it seemed–in the Hierarchy of the System of Education, the Student was clearly at the top, and the Instructor at a decidedly inferior Level.

 

We think the Self Esteem Movement is perfectly consistent with the Decline of the Christian Notion of Original Sin, and its Replacement with the optimistic Notion of Original Perfection. When one believes that People are born good, and are corrupted by an evil Society, certain Distortions of Perception and Practice must soon follow. We are not entirely convinced that the Result is one of unalloyed Benefit.

Lest we be misunderstood, we hold both Notions –those of inherent Sinfulness and intrinsic Perfection--to be flawed–and the true Circumstance of Human Nature to be–like many things–a Muddle of Potentials.

We consider, in the Drivel Section, an Article on this Matter by David Brooks, in the New York Times.

 

 

March 21, 2011

We have returned, this first Day of Spring, from Wind-in-the-Pines, where there is still sufficient Snow to prevent Access to our Parking Lot, this requiring our usual Winter Mode of Transporting our Possession in a small plastic Sled, which is cunningly designed to turn over, and spread its Contents at the least Bump or Provocation.

No matter. The weather has improved significantly, and the Geese, as is their Wont, have landed with much jubilant Squawking in those parts of the River where the Ice has melted. The Ice Fishermen, pretending that this has not happened, yet still tread the Ice from the Dock to the middle of the Lake, as if determined to test the Gods of uncertain Terrain, and persist in their frigid Trade until Month’s End, when the Season is at an official Cease.

 

During these days of Respite, we did decide to start our own Religion, for no particular Reason other than we were inspired to write a Prayer of Supplication to the most reliable of Gods, the Great God Murphy, who has an uncanny Felicity of Foresight in any Matter of human Enterprise.

We were also much struck with the similarity between the fate of Pluto, which has lost its planetary Status, and that of Justin Trudeau, who has similarly lost significant degree of Lustre. Thus we added another limerick to our Offerings on Limerick Lane.

Our Prayer to the Great God Murphy may be found in the Drivel Section.

 

March 17, 2011

We have never bought Shares in a Uranium Company. While we habitually exhibit a sunny Optimism about Murphy’s Law–pretending that we have a personal Exemption from its Reach and Impact, we have always felt that Radiation is too dangerous a Matter to fiddle with. The Problem of Containment of Waste has always seemed to us a Matter of enormous Difficulty.

When one considers the vast prior Upheavals of the Earth, the Volcanoes, the Drifting of Continents, the Grinding of tectonic Plates, we think that Stability in anything is an unlikely Outcome.

It is only human to explore Possibilities in the Creation of Energy. In our Lifetime, the Population of the Earth has more than tripled. More people require more Food, and more Energy.

Our Economies are built on the Notion of greater Demand, and greater Output each Year.

Like Robert Thomas Malthus (1766-34), we do not see how the Earth can support an ever-increasing Population. A limiting of Population–which tends to occur naturally with an increased Standard of Living, and the Application of human Ingenuity seem to be the only Answers.

 

Human Ingenuity may provide answers which are deceptive-- Nuclear Power may be one of them. The new renewable Energy Sources seem, at the Moment, uneconomic. We favour Incrementalism, rather than imaginative Leaps–making Fossil Fuels less polluting while exploring, on small Scale, other Technologies.

Unlike those who see the Hand of a beneficent Deity guiding the Fate of Man, we see Mankind as the Result of an unlikely Interaction of Events. Nothing is foreordained, nothing can be assumed.

Many species have thrived, and then, as a result of Change and Upheaval, been unable to adapt, and perished. Man is highly adaptable, but inherently expansionary. Since the Size of the Earth is limited, Limitation would seem to be inevitable. We can only hope that Limitation and Self-destruction are not synonymous.

 

 

 

March 16, 2011

We have further Evidence of the Movement by the Forces of Assumed Delicacy–that Offshoot of hypocritical Correctness–to create a Landmine of Language–a Terrain so littered with Offensive Words that any significant Progress in Discussion must be entirely stopp’d–each Speaker rendered tensely immobile, not knowing where next to place his endangered Foot.

First we had the Term "Indian-giver"–deemed "unambiguously offensive"–then it was "cotton-pickin’" labelled as "offensive."

Now we have Mr. Justin Trudeau, he of the famous Name but incommensurate Intellect responding in thoughtlessly reflexive Fashion to the Term "barbaric."

The Term was used in a Pamphlet of the Government designed for Immigrants, which warns against the "barbaric" Practices of honour Killings and female Circumcision. Mr. Trudeau, according to this Day’s brilliant Editorial in the National Post, felt "uncomfortable" with the Word, and deemed it "absolutely unacceptable." It might–horror of horrors!– make newcomers "defensive."

 

Well, we would never wish to make those given to Barbarism defensive! Far better to applaud them for their unique Insights and hope they might vote Liberal!

We have long noted that Multiculturalism rests on the Fallacy of the Equality of Cultures. Thus, the Multiculturalist cannot but accept any other Culture to be as valid as his own. In fact, Cultures are NOT equal–some have provided more Freedom, Opportunity, and Comfort than others.

We are very tired of the pusillanimous Popinjays who would lecture us on Tolerance, and have us alter our Culture in Favour of those not proven to have created Societies more satisfactory than our own.

Mr. Trudeau might try Testing his reflexive Pre-Conceptions against the Dictates of Common Sense, and let Barbarism be called by the Name it deserves.

 

Mr. Trudeau has been sighted, foot in mouth, on Limerick Lane.

 

 

March 14, 2011

We are disappointed to note that Kevin O’Leary "has apologized for using the term ‘Indian giver’ on his CBC show last fall..." (National Post March 11)

We can only speculate as to his Motive. It is possible that his Mind has turned, unexpectedly, to Mush-- or it may well be that he has simply bowed to Political Correctness as a Matter of Practicality. We ourselves confess that our Courage is likely to fall far short of our Conviction, and the Attractions of Martyrdom are often less than compelling. It is for this Reason, of course, that a popular Folly sweeps all in its Path.

We do hope that the CBC Ombudsman will next turn his Attention to the Vile Phrase: "Indian Summer." After all, what is Indian Summer but a brief Period of warm Weather in the Fall, after the Leaves have fallen, which gives hope that Winter may be avoided? Thus it is false, and deceptive, an instance of Deviousness and cunning Betrayal. At least one Author has linked it to the Time when Raids might be expected from Indian Bands.

To associate the word "Indian" with such Circumstance must be indeed unambiguously offensive, and we hope to hear a Pronouncement on this Matter shortly from the CBC Ombudsman, and possibly the Victimhood Advocacy Commission.

 

There are so many other Matters deserving of our Derision–on Occasion we feel we can never keep Pace in cataloguing rampant Stupidity. For Example, we note that recently Nick Day, Rector, or elected Student Representative at Queen’s University defended–claiming to speak for the Student Body–the University Custom of Israeli Apartheid Week. Mr. Day referred to the situation in Palestine as "...a human rights tragedy, perhaps the biggest human rights tragedy of my generation."

There are two possible applicable Suggestions: (a) Mr. Day should try reading–he might enjoy it and expand his Apprehension of the World, or, (b) He should get back on his Medication as soon as possible.

It is unlikely, but Mr. Day might wish to conjure with some Statistics noted by Hege Storhaug, director of Human Rights Service in Oslo, in an Article in this day’s Edition of the National Post:

"Among 15-year-old German Muslims, 40% consider Islam more important than democracy, while 37% want Europe’s Muslims to live under sharia law. In Britain, 28% of all Muslims want that country to be governed according to sharia.. Among Muslim university students in Britain...One in three...considers it legitimate to kill in the name of Islam."

 

 

March 13, 2011

Glory and hallelujah! On Occasion we do consider Ourselves the most fortunate of Men!

No sooner hath the CBC Ombudsman declared the term "Indian-giver" as "unambiguously offensive," we have an Ontario senator, Don Meredith, deem the phrase "cotton-pickin’" as "offensive" and "at the least, insensitive." *

We must applaud the esteemed Senator for his exquisite Sensitivity, and his quivering Antennae, searching the political Landscape for Hint of possible Offense, like a giant Telescope sweeping the Multitude of Stars for a remote Signal of alien Life.

He must be congratulated on his Discovery! "Cotton-pickin’" has, lo, these many Years, been atop of the List of Phrases at which we are like to take Offense. Indeed, we have set aside a special Set of Duelling Pistol for the very Occasion that some insensitive Clod should utter the vile Words within Earshot!

Perhaps the good Senator would like to peruse our own list of worthy Addition: The Musical Porgy and Bess, by the irredeemably offensive George Gershwin, should certainly be banned from any Stage, and its most popular Song, Summertime, be excluded from the CBC Playlist:

Summertime,
And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high

True, the Picking of Cotton is not specifically mentioned, but it is strongly implied, and this should resonate on the Senator’s exquisite Antennae, and more than qualify the Song as offensive, or at the very least, insensitive.

Next, an even more egregious Example is the Jerome Kern Musical Showboat, which describes Ol’ Man River thus:

He don' plant taters,
He don't plant cotton...

Yes, the River does NOT plant Cotton, but there is a strong Suggestion that planting it may have crossed his Mind. And, once planted, the Cotton would have to be picked! Surely Rivers with such potential for Offense have no place in our musical Repertoire. The fact they may be Old is no excuse!

 

We think the Matter of Commercial Labelling is something into which the perceptive Senator might well inquire. We, ourselves have long been offended by certain of our Stockings which claim to be "40% Cotton, " and we have been appalled to see Sheets designated as "100% Egyptian Cotton." In addition to the offensive Reference to Cotton, which must certainly have been picked, is the added term "Egyptian," which is hatefully exclusionary.

Indeed, we think the word "cotton" should be expunged entirely from polite Vocabulary. The word is so redolent with unseemly Connotation–the Notions of Cotton Picking, Slavery, Oppression and Injustice are irrevocably embedded in the Word.

We think there to be an untapped Field here. What of the "taters"–which also seem to have impinged on the Consciousness of Ol’ Man River...and were almost certainly planted and, more importantly, dug up or picked by America’s black Slaves? While we might accept French fries or Hash Browns, Baked Potato, or Scalloped Potato would seem unambiguously offensive.

And what of the Minds of our impressionable Children, who, on Occasion have been ruined as politically correct Citizens by exposure to the following:

One potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, four.

We are aghast at the endless List of offensive Elements the Senator has suggested.

As Mr. Pope would say: Alps on Alps arise.

Well, we have already written overmuch.

A few words of Conclusion: when we encounter such Matters, we like to make the Distinction between primary and secondary Self-Interest. Thus, when the CBC Ombudsman terms "Indian-giver" as unambiguously offensive, we see secondary Self-interest: for Reasons political, and self-congratulatory, he must seem to be on the side of the supposed Victim, on the Side of Sweetness and Light. We see this as Folly, no Matter that it seems demanded by the politically correct Establishment.

In the case of primary Self-Interest--Outrage by Members of the offended Group – such as Muslims who riot because of depictions of Mohammed, or black Senators who object to "Cotton-pickin,’" we are more inclined to see a calculated Ploy in the Darwinian Struggle.

*For a reference to the Origin of the Cotton-pickin’ Incident and some Limericks, please consult Limerick Lane.

 

 

March 12, 2011

The Serviceable Six having developed a Hint of Wobblishness at low Speed, we endeavoured to inflate the two front Tyres evenly, while making special and dedicated Prayer–together with Promise of significant Sacrifice-- to the Gods of Wobblishness, Tyres, and Front End Mechanisms.

Alas, neither the Inflation nor the Promissory Prayers had Effect, and we repaired to our Mechanick, who did determine the Cause to be a small Protrusion in one Tyre, for which we were pitifully grateful, since the cost of Front End Mechanisms is known to be inordinately high.

But how short is our Memory! How weak our Resolve! Despite an Encounter some Twelvemonth past (See the Diary Entry for February 19, 2010) with the Canadian Tire Corporation, which left us with a Determination never to be fleeced again, we found Ourselves at the Canadian Tire Establishment nearby–a mere Five Minute Drive from the Lumpenbangen Studio.

The Price of two new Winter Tyres seeming satisfactory–$214 installed–we enquired when the great event might be scheduled.

"Come back after 2 p.m." said the Representative.

Thus it was we appeared, eager with naive Anticipation, at the Canadian Tire Facility at 2. p.m.

 

We were there. The Serviceable Six was there. The Tyres were not.

They were being picked up.

In ten Minutes or so, we were informed that the Tyres had arrived. Not so bad, we thought.

There was further Progress: we know not exactly when–but let us say that the Serviceable Six was drawn into the Bowels of the Repair Shop about 2:30.

Now, in our Mind, the Installation of two Tyres, with modern Equipment, should be concluded within Thirty Minutes. In fact, we must report that we did not emerge, groggy and bleary-eyed, until almost Four o’clock.

Did we not promise, last Time, to switch our Allegiance to Wal-Mart? We wonder idly, whether we might purchase a handy Implant–a device with a warning, wailing Siren-- which delivers a protective Shock–and is triggered when we stray within Fifty Feet of a Canadian Tire Store.

 

 

 

March 11, 2011

Of Victims and Victimhood

We are aware that on Occasion, our Musings may seem incomprehensibly harsh to those accustomed to the Belief in ideal Impossibilities. Indeed, we would be the first to admit that Francis Bacon’s general Comment-- "the mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure"–is properly applicable to the Operation of Society. If People were always to say what they think, and were unwilling to turn a blind Eye to a great Deal of Nonsense, Society would be far less pleasant.

 One of our Observations (71) is:

Without the lubricant of agreeable lies, the machinery of civilization would grind to a halt.

However, we would note that an Excess of Lubricant runs the Risk of sending the Machinery off the Track and down the steep Embankment of irredeemable Folly.

As with so many Matters, finding the Golden Mean between Pleasantness and Stupidity is not a clear and obvious Path. Our latest Observation (110) is:

One of the great difficulties faced by society is the fitting of large, square pegs of truth into very small, round holes of idealized perfection--the fond fashionings of human aspiration.

And so it is with Victims and Victimhood.

 

It is obvious that there are real Victims in Society, and, depending on the Circumstance, Redress and Compensation may be made.

But the Attempt to compensate all those suffering from Misfortune, Insult, Hurt Feelings and the like, is creating a Class of Citizen who seek inappropriate Redress–usually through the Victimhood Advocacy Commissions. The perfect Example of this is Marise Myrand’s successful Appeal to obtain the Parking Spot occupied by her Neighbour, on the grounds of Obesity and Ill health. The example of Greg Hope, who seeks from the Court some Leniency in sentencing for the Rape of a six-year-old on the Grounds of the Hardships of his Upbringing as an Aboriginal, is another.

To this we would add the increasing Tendency of Groups who claim to be mortally offended by Terms and Circumstance of their own choosing. There is no End to this Path, as suggested by our Tale of the Valley of Hythlos in the Drivel * Section. We note that such Outrage is not expressed by Those whose Achievements dwarf all Insult.

We think our Language would benefit from the Introduction of a new Term: Whine-ictim.

 

* Drivel, March 9, 2011

 

 

March 10, 2011

We confess to feeling such Anger yesterday at the CBC response to Kevin O’Leary’s use of the term "Indian giver"–which, as we noted, has always seemed to us to be a Term entirely humorous and benign–that we mailed him a Copy of our Comments.

Idly, we wonder whether the Term "Trojan Horse" is similarly Toxic. Have the Trojans, now suddenly sensitive about the Gullibility of their Ancestors, placed a Fatwa on those so cruel and heartless as to use the Term?

We do marvel at the Burgeoning of the Victimhood Industry. We are desperately trying to think how to advance our own meagre Prospects on that Account. There seems to be no end of those–evidently suffering from twin Deficiencies-- in Brains and Backbone–who find a Victim in every nook, crook, and cranny, and determine that a Great and unforgivable Offense has been committed.

Victims are usually self-identified, of course. A letter writer in Today’s National Post notes that were Kevin O’Leary to use the term "welcher" instead of "Indian giver" he would be slandering the Welsh. The writer notes that he is "likely a descendant of the ancient Britons," and perhaps should feel offended when the term is used. But he does not. Some people have better Matters to attend than take Offense at remote Aspersions.

For others, of course, it matters not how remote in Time the Victimization--or how convoluted the logic: were their great Grandfather cheated out of a pennysworth of ale, they seek Assistance today to foreclose on the Brewery.

 

Serendipititiously, we came upon an Article in the January 29th Edition of the National Post which begins thus: "A career criminal who kidnapped a six-year-old girl from a Winnipeg playground and then raped her is hoping for leniency because of his aboriginal upbringing."

This matter... " is based on a Supreme Court case that said some First Nations offenders should receive more lenient sentences based on hardships they endured in life."

O wonders of Equality! Let us now institute an Official Hardship Index! Criminals--or those contemplating such Enterprise--could register the Details of their Lives–no doubt the Victimhood Advocacy Commissions would be admirably suited to the Task–and be issued a Hardship Number. A Number Ten Hardship Case would receive a Penalty close to that of an unindexed Citizen. A Number One could be granted Immunity up until his second Murder.

Those injured by the criminal Activity might feel unfairly classified–if your Aunt Myalgia were to be murdered by a Hardship One Offender, you might feel somewhat slighted if the official Government Response was a Note of Condolence, and a freeing of the Perpetrator.

Sometimes we do think the World teeters on the Edge of a Pit of Insanity.

 

March 9, 2011.

We despair of the Prospects for Mankind. The CBC has declared the Term "Indian giver" unambiguously offensive. We had thought it a rather humorous term, and are surprised to find that it has reached near "nigger" status.

One would think that faced with the more real and pressing Issues of the human Condition–Wars, Floods, Disease and the like, not quite so much Time would be spent in determining that certain Words should carry the Taboo Status we are more like to encounter in a primitive Society.

These new Taboos–because they are of recent Origin-- most certainly seem the Result of conscious Effort–People with nothing better to do have decided to be offended, and those aspiring to be considered Sensitive and Egalitarian have joined the Hue and Cry.

 

It would seem to be largely a Matter of Revenge for those who perceive Themselves as Unsuccessful– who see their Triumph to lie, not in Achievement, but in Complaint. We have elevated the Status of Victimhood above all others, conceived of a new Unholy Grail.

We see this as ultimately self-destructive. In the end, Reality does not reward Victims, and the Attempt to pretend that it does, is one of the more egregious Follies of the present Era.

We have written on this matter further in the Drivel Section.

 

 

March 8, 2011

How doth the Market confound our Expectations! With what Glee do the Market Gods dash our Hopes! Yesterday Morning amid the Sunshine Promise of Spring, the Market moved upwards. Good News abounded: the long awaited Dynacor Sample Results were published; Niblack announced a 60% Increase in indicated and a 46% Increase in inferred Resource.

In a rush of Enthusiasm, we bought 10,000 Niblack at Fifty Cents, thinking to sell something else later in the Day, at a higher Price, to compensate.

But the Gods were peevish, displeased. Quite possibly they had imbibed overmuch the Night before. The Market tumbled. Dynacor, instead of going over two Dollars as anticipated, sank Nine Cents to $1.79. Niblack closed at 44.5 Cents.

There is undoubtedly a Moral to this Story, but we cannot fathom it.

 

In another Matter, we were pleased to see, on Television News, the Doctors confounded by Evidence of heretofore unknown genetic Factors in Heart Disease. They now scramble to find out more, while gravely warning Us to pretend that Nothing has happened, and continue to believe in their Prescriptions.

We understand the enormous Pressure on Doctors to pretend that they know more than they do. A High Priest who claims Uncertainty will not encourage Many to present Themselves for the annual Ritual Sacrifice atop the Pyramid.

But we have always viewed their Pronouncements on Heart Disease with the utmost Suspicion, being convinced that the Cholesterol Theory is a Sham and Scam of the most Egregious Order. We see the Doctors often in Thrall to the Manufacturers of Drugs, whose Aim is primarily acquisitive, not curative.

 

March 7, 2011.

Much displeased with the recent Snow. We had thought it to be a light Dusting, and did not think the Shovel would be required.

Later in the Day, we realized the full Magnitude of the Event, but found that the Cold had made the Wielding of our plastic Shovel remarkably ineffective. Those who had shovelled early, had been abetted by the Sun, and boasted Pavements of pristine cement.

 

Only the Walk in front of the Lumpenbangen Studio bears Testament to Tardiness. It remains a lone patch of snow and ice amid the proud Diligence of the Neighbourhood.

We have this Day written a Piece on the Symbolism in My Beautiful Laundrette, which we hope will provide Edification and Food for Thought for those with Interests arcane and recondite. It appears, of course, in the Drivel section. We should warn that the Language employed is not suitable for all Readers.

 

March 6, 2011

On occasion, we are displeased to find that our Television Cupboard has become distinctly Mother Hubbardish. There are, after all, only so many Showings of Market Call, House Hunters, and Murder She Wrote to be found–and we tend to avoid the Crime Dramas which we are forced to watch at Wind-in-the-Pines–where our Rabbit Ears are attuned successfully to only two Channels. (We are fearful that the Brain-diluting Effects of such Fare may lead to early Dementia.)

Thus it was that we watched, last Evening, some Portion of My Beautiful Laundrette, the 1985 Film dealing with the "multicultural" Experience of a some Pakistani Immigrants to Margaret Thatcher’s Britain. We have written upon the Circumstance in our Drivel Section.

In some other matters-- we must applaud the United Nations for yet another breathtaking Insight, yet another Proof of a Wisdom that passeth all Understanding. The National Post notes, in the March 1 Edition: "The U.N. Human Rights Council is slated to adopt a major report hailing Libya’s human rights record–despite moving to suspend its council membership amid an international outcry over attacks on civilians."

It appears that, as in the Canadian Victimhood Advocacy Commissions, the Practice of Doublethink is thriving, successful, and well-nourished.

 

Speaking of these Commissions, we note a March 2 Piece by Kevin Libin in the National Post in which he records that Algebra and Aja Young were recently awarded $10,000 by a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal "to compensate them for injury to their dignity, feelings and self respect."

We must sympathize; we too, of late have suffered precisely these same Injuries. At the Eye Doctor’s we encountered a Problem engaging the Zipper on our new Jacket. The Zipper has been designed with such cunning Precision of German Engineering, that it requires a Precise German Engineer to get the Thing started. Before the entire Waiting Room of Witnesses, as we struggled vainly to operate the confounded Mechanism, we were made to appear undignified, incompetent, and quite possibly senile.

We need now only determine whether it is necessary to move to British Columbia to plead our Case, or whether Ontario will be just as financially supportive.

 

 

March 5, 2011

Much pleased to see Lawrence Solomon, executive director of Energy Probe, writing in this Day’s National Post on the Prospects for "Smart Grids." These Grids envision a World of Energy Inter-connectivity in which Households would both provide Energy from Solar Panels and receive it from the Grid.

Mr. Solomon notes some minor Defects: on some rare Occasion the force of the Sun has been known to be block'd by Clouds, or by Build-up of Snow. Similarly, with Wind Power, there are a Number of documented Occasions when Wind has died down, or gained Strength in an alarmingly unpredictable Manner. Such Variability runs the Risk of too little Power, or an Excess destructive of the Grid.

The Smart Grid, would, of course, allow for the Turning Off of our Appliance by the Government in Case of sudden Power Loss, much to the Delight and Amusement of Householders, marvelling at the Wonders of the Sophisticated Technology. Already, we are the grateful Beneficiaries of Variable Power Charges which allow us the Privilege of altering our Consumption of Power in a Manner which is convenient for the Government Agency which provides it.

The Root Causes and wonderful Conceptions behind these Advances and Initiatives are Two in Number: the Ideology of Global Warming, and the Brave new World of the Electric Vehicle–which all agree are Matters of Settled Science and Foregone Conclusion.

It is indeed wondrous to see the Force of Government-- unchecked by any outmoded Consideration of Economic Reality or Common Sense-- design the future Utopia. Are we not indeed fortunate to live in these Times of Ineffable Wisdom?

Well–in fact–we see these Matters as illustrating an Ineradicable Element in the Nature of Mankind–an Attraction to Bandwagons of the Ideal. Most great and worthwhile Changes in Society, we suspect, have been wrought incrementally, based on small Alterations which prove to be generally desirable and viable in the short Term.

 

 

There does remain the Possibility that Mankind, whose Population and Economic Systems seem inextricably intertwined with the notion of Growth, may reduce the inhabitability of the Planet. Robert Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) noted that the Pressure of Population on Food Supply would result in Famine, War, and Disease. 

He may well be correct, but thus far, his direst Predictions have been avoided. Even if it is correct that Mankind is inherently self-destructive, we must admit to a certain Malthusian Pessimism: we doubt that it is in the Power of Governments to enforce present Poverty to avoid future Calamity--or achieve future Prosperity.

In the matter of Smart Grids, Mr. Solomon concludes: "The world’s electricity systems will remain predominantly fossil fuelled, and because fossil fuels are both flexible and cheap, they won’t require a smart grid to manage them. The politician-driven smart grid will disappear, and with it the trillions of dollars in needless investment now on the drawing boards."

We will place our own small Wager that he is correct.

 

Post Script–a Quotation from Robert Thomas Malthus: "The number of mouths to be fed will have no limit; but the food that is to supply them cannot keep pace with the demand for it; we must come to a stop somewhere, even though each square yard, by extreme improvements in cultivation, could maintain its man. In this state of things there will be no remedy; the wholesome checks of vice and misery (which have hitherto kept this principle within bounds) will have been done away; the voice of reason will be unheard; the passions only will bear sway; famine, distress, havoc and dismay will spread around; hatred, violence, war and bloodshed will be the infallible consequence; and from the pinnacle of happiness, peace, refinement and social advantage we shall be hurled once more into a profounder abyss of misery, want, and barbarism that ever by the sole operation of the principle of population!"

 

March 4, 2011.

We are most gratified to see this Day the Announcing of Resignations of seven Board Members at the Toronto Community Housing Corporation.

As is the Custom in our Time, we wish to claim Responsibility for the Event for the Lumpenbangen Piano Institute. After the Board rebuffed Mr. Ford’s reasonable Request, we hastened to send the Mayor our Limerick concerning the Matter.

We have no Doubt that he passed the Limerick on to Board Members, and they resigned immediately. It is an undisputed Fact that Opinions expressed on this Site are correct Nineteen times out of Twenty, with a margin of Error of less than .3%. Faced with this overwhelming Evidence of Publick Sentiment, it was clear to the Board that their Positions were no longer tenable.

 

It is true that Ms. Keiko Nakamura is obdurate, and remains, but we can only conclude that she is unaware of the statistical Odds she is Facing. Doubtless her Aides will soon inform her of the Impossibility of Ignoring the Lumpenbangen Track Record. Just in Case, we have penned another Limerick, aimed directly at Ms. Nakamura. It appears on Limerick lane, together with a revised Version of our original Attack.

We have every Confidence that it will do the Trick.

 

 

March 3, 2011

We are always pleased to see small Glimmers of Light in the encircling Gloom, and thus we must note with Approval an unexpected Element of Enterprise in the Muddle of our Health Care System.

This past Monday, a Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop was appropriated by the adjacent Royal Columbian Hospital in British Columbia, because of Overcrowding in the Emergency Room. The Deputy Premier, Colin Hansen, suggested that the Coffee Facility had been designed for just such an Emergency Conversion.

 

 

We express Hope that this is merely the Beginning of a Beneficial Partnership of Public and Private Enterprise. Beyond Coffee Houses, it would seem prudent to encourage the Establishment of Butcher Shops next to Hospitals, with the Proviso that Butchers be enrolled in Courses of advanced Surgical Procedure. Nor should the Benefits of a Home Depot, with a fully-equipped Surgical Instrument and Medical Supply Division be discounted. A favourable Tax Rate could be exchanged for the ensuring that Home Depot personnel be trained as Orderlies and achieve a minimal Deadpan-with-the-Bedpan Competence.

The Possibilities seem intriguing indeed. We leave it to others more qualified than ourselves to explore more fully this promising new Direction in Health Care.

 

March 2, 2011

Of Plagiarism

We are pleased to see that Karl Theodor von und zu Guttenberg, the Minister of Defence for Germany has resigned as a Result of Claims that he had copied large Portions of his Doctoral Thesis in 2006. (National Post, March 2, 2011)

No Doubt that this Matter seems a trivial one in the Eyes of the general Publick; however, we have had, in the remote Past, the unhappy Experience of an extended Engagement in the Profession of Teaching. Even before the Age of the Computer, one of the Major Challenges of our Employment was the marking of competent Essays which one knew, immediately, were not the Result of the tiny Minds bold enough to claim Authorship.

In those pre-Computer Days, One was generally able to consult a relatively small Number of Works then available to Students, in order to show clear Evidence of Plagiarism. We remember, on one Occasion, being frustrated by the sure and certain Knowledge of two Circumstance: First, the Essay presented was not the Product of the Student claiming Authorship. Second, we had read the Essay–or portions of it-- on a previous Occasion. The Difficulty arose because we were unable to find the Source Material.

We expressed our Doubts to the Student thus: You are very clever. This Essay is also very clever. But You are not as clever as This.

 

The Student, who, like most of us, was only partially dishonest, admitted that the Essay had been written by a brilliant former Student of ours, one or two Years earlier.

(As an aside–we find Ourselves shocked–in the present Era-- that we can admit to categorizing the Intellects of Students in so callous a Manner. Perhaps this is the Root of our Derision of the current Aspirations to Equality. We suspect, in this Day of Equality Fascism, there is a significant Movement to the Practice of awarding all Students with a Grade of ‘B.’ In this Way can be avoided the Secret Police, and the Judgement of the Victimhood Advocacy Commissions.)

Thus, we hope we may be forgiven for classifying Plagiarism as the Eighth Deadly Sin; we imagine a Special Circle in the Place of the Damned where the devious Perpetrators are condemned to write Essays, in Perpetuity, based entirely on their own Resources.

We wish the German Minister of Defence well in his new Occupation–whether it be in the Sweeping of Streets, the Pumping of Petrol, or as a Greeter at Wal-mart.

 

Please note: All of the Expression above was conceived and executed by the Author.

 

Lloyd Roberston, of CTV has lately been observed using a singular Verb after the word "None." We have, on this Account, opened a new Box in the Grammar and Usage Section: The Hall of Praise.

 

 

March 1, 2011

We are gratified to see that our gloomy view of Human Nature needs no immediate Revision: that Nature remains predictably frail. In the News this Day we receive Proof of the Notion: where Public Funds are readily available, the Temptation to misspend and misappropriate is nearly overwhelming.

The latest evidence comes from the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, which has been exposed as a Hotbed of unjustified Spending and unseemly Self-Indulgence on the part of Board Members.

We note the Appearance of the Corporation on Limerick Lane.

More generally, we would refer to an article by Kevin Libin in the Financial Post of February 26, in which he refers to an article by Dan Henninger in the Wall Street Journal.

 

 

Mr. Henninger contrasts the economic Failure in Egypt, where Government employs 35% of the workforce, with the relative Prosperity of Turkey, where the Figure is 13%. His conclusion is that: "Past some tipping point of population employed by the state, an economy starts to choke."

Indeed we are drawn, once again, to the Analogy of complementary Concepts. Some Amount of Government is necessary in order to make the Trains run on Time, and provide a Framework for some Harmony in the Operation of Society.

But Government Workers, in their wonderful World of Job Security and Pensions, ensconced in their Cubicle Cells of Office Hives, often the frail Guardians of Public Money, can be only one Part of the Total. The World of orderly Ideal must be abetted by the Darwinian World of Struggle, of Competition, of Imagination, of higher Risk and higher Reward. Making the Trains run on Time is admirable; but making Trains in the First Place is not the Purview of Government. It is for this Reason that we have a jaundiced View of Grand Government Schemes, Initiatives, and Programs.

 

February 28, 2011

We are pleased that today’s Paper gives a Multiplicity of Topicks. Mr. Gaddafi (we note that his Title of Colonel is self-conferred* ) claims that there is no Unrest in Libya. We are most pleased at the News–for who is more likely to give us a first-hand unbiased Account?

There are also three Items concerning the Matter of Health Care. A Letter to the Editor from a retired Neurologist notes that "the shortage of doctors is a direct result of deliberate government policy."

We had always understood this to be the Case–a not unexpected Circumstance when the Government undertakes to provide "mandatory" Health Care without the Option of private Resource. Undoubtedly an inspired Genius noted that the Cost of Doctors was a significant Ingredient in the overall Expense, and concluded that fewer Doctors would provide a greater Economy.

In another item, a Doctor notes that Technology–especially electronic Health Records would lead to greater Efficiency. This we do not Doubt, but would point out that it is the Function of Competition–an Element notably lacking in a Government System-which usually drives such Efficiencies.

Finally, the Editorial in the National Post records the call of Shirley Douglas for more Funds to be provided for the Present System. The Editorial rightly notes that increased Funding is not the Solution to a System already proved to be unworkable. We would liken it to putting more Gasoline into the Tank of a Vehicle with flat Tyres, or one Drawn by Horses.

Our Response to the Pleas of Ms. Douglas, and further Fulminations about the flat-tyred Health Care System may be found on Limerick lane.

 

We note also an Addition to the Drivel Section: MCGuinty green, Ontario bankrupt.

 

*We would be more contemptuously critical but for our own discreet Appropriation of the Title D. Mus. from the Nigerian University of Musicology, in Mississippi.

 

 

February 27, 2011

(An Entry in which we are given to some Musings on Equality.)

We have written recently on the Subject of Equality, which all agree to be a most desirable and agreeable Circumstance. Indeed, we imagine a World of perfect Equality as a Paradise, much akin to the Afterlife supposed by Sects of Religion. The Deficiency of Paradise is that it appears best in a vague Description of Generalities, or a Landscape suggested with a few broad Strokes, or a Wash of pleasant Colour. As soon as we try to imagine the Detail -- an endless Praising of the Creator -- an ineffable Benevolence of Incident --an Absence of Hardship -- an ever-cloudless Sky -- the eternal Struggle replaced with eternal Rest --  an unvarying, unsullied Perfection -- we realize that, given the real Experience of Existence, we cannot conceive of Perfection as Anything but devoid of all Interest -- wearying, tiresome, and boring.

This does not mean that Human Beings will cease to Yearn after Paradise. It is the secretly cherished Ticket of unlikely Chance, which, one Day, will fulfill all Dreams.

So too is it, we suggest, with Equality. It is desirable, but fanciful and unattainable.

Does this mean that Human Beings will cease to yearn for it?

Of course not.

Should the Yearning be tempered with some Degree of Common Sense?

We claim it must.

How much Equality, then, is reasonably achievable?

First, we can aim for Equality of Opportunity. Even this is not readily achievable. The Child growing up on the Shores of Hudson’s Bay is less likely to achieve balletic Ambition than the Child growing up in Toronto. The Child from a poor Family, with no History of advanced Education, despite intellectual Fitness, is less likely to become a Professor of History than is the Son of a Teacher.

Beyond such Matters, we can have Equality in Voting, in Courts of Law, in the line-up at the Bank.

The Danger lies, as has been often noted, with the Attempt to achieve Equality of Result  -- or to provide Compensation of some Kind for Inequality or Hardship. We can agree that some Mitigation of Inequality is appropriate to a civilized Society. The unchecked forces of Reality, the Darwinian Laws of Survival, would have the Disabled, the Incompetent, and even the Unlucky, perish in the Streets.

But how much is enough, and how much is too much?

The Answering of such Questions is a Matter for Solomon. Two Examples of too much – in our View – come to Mind. The First is one for which we have forgotten the precise Details. It concerned a Child with some Disability who required an Element of Assistance to enable her to participate in a Competition. Her Request was denied by the Organization responsible. We remember, however, an Announcer–at the CBC – where else? –  lamenting this Decision. We see his Lament as not unusual in current Canadian Society, and completely misguided. The Point of athletic Competition is pointedly, determinedly, and unabashedly anti-egalitarian – or – if you will – Darwinian: it is to determine the fittest and most successful Competitor. To pursue the Logick of the Announcer’s Objections, all Sports would be engineered to achieve an Equality of Result. We Suspect that such unvarying Equality, once achieved, would soon deplete the Interest of both Participants and Spectators.

The second Example is the Marise Myrand Decision by a Quebec Human Rights Commission -- reported in February, 2010. Ms. Myrand, an obese Woman in poor Health, attempted to obtain from Jocelyne Nolet her Parking Spot near the Entrance of a Condominium Complex. Unsuccessful in her Requests to the Board and Ms. Nolet, she appealed to the Commission; she was awarded the Space and Ten Thousand Dollars from the Condominium Board as Penalty for refusing her Request.

Of importance is the Ruling, which stated: "the Quebec Charter of Rights gives everyone equal rights "without distinction, exclusion or preference."

This, of course, is Nonsense. What of Equality for Ms. Nolet, who also has Disabilities? What of Equality for the other Owners, forced to pay a Penalty for maintaining a contractual Obligation? What is referred to here is not "Equal Rights" but Compensation for Inequality. These two Concepts are radically Different.

The Equality Fascism of Canadian Society occurs precisely when extraordinary Efforts are made to Compensate for Inequality. The Absurdity of the Myrand Matter is apparent when the Logick of the Decision is followed: the Government will award Parking Spaces in private Complexes according to the Degree of Inequality claimed. No area of private Life, is, apparently, exempt from the Enforcement of "Equality."

This is the Test which must be applied to our Government Meddlers: Is this a Matter which involves Provision of Equality of Opportunity – or is it an absurd Attempt to achieve Equality of Result through Compensation for Inequality – in the Process creating further and irremediable Injustice – and – in fact – Inequality?

 

 

February 26, 2011

"But he hasn't got anything on." (Hans Christian Andersen, 1805-1875 The Emperor’s New Clothes)

In this day’s Edition of the National Post, the redoubtable Rex Murphy points out the Absurdity of the Fact that Libya is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, and notes, more generally:

One reason why tyrants have so long a lease in our brave new world is that temporizing, accommodating, trimming organizations like the UN give them, over the years, the bureaucratic sheen that allows them to present themselves as somewhat normal...over time it erases in the eyes of the world the great gulf that should separate evil or cruel states from the better, civilized ones.

He concludes that:

The UN does not help the world any longer. As the Libya case manifests, it is an impediment.

In larger Context, we see the UN as an Example of a general Failing among the "better civilized societies" – and that is a self-flattering, but unconsidered, and false Idealism. We are so anxious to show our Lack of Prejudice, our unblemished Devotion to Equality, that we fail to point out Deficiencies--though they be obvious to any who have not made Contract to display and approve a daily Hypocrisy. The Emperors prance, naked in the Streets, and we outdo one another in our Admiration of the Style, Fit and Colour of their New Clothes.

 

"But surely not in Canada," you say. On the contrary; what better Example is there but the Existence of the outrageously named, the doublethink-drenched Human Rights Commissions?

Long Years spent in developing the legal Protections for all Citizens are dismissed in a Wave of the Equality-blessed autocratic Hand. Hearsay Evidence is accepted. Truth is no defence. The Complainant is favoured with free legal Advice; the Defendant is penalized by having to pay for his own; There is no Penalty for frivolous Complaint, nor is a Defendant reimbursed if found innocent. Commissions make their Decisions on Grounds of Obesity, (in the Marise Myrand case) rather than Contract; decide what "Canadian Values" are, and assess Penalties for their Infringement. They award Penalties found unjustifiable by the Courts (as in the Telfer/ Saadi case).

But where is the Condemnation by every right-thinking Citizen? Who would see through the "bureaucratic sheen," and say, at last: Human Rights Commissions are a Travesty not to be countenanced in a Society laying Claim to be civilized; who would say the Commissions are an impediment to Rights; who would say the Emperor has no Clothes?

 

 

February 25, 2011

We were much interested to read two Articles on the Subject of Multiculturalism in the National Post of February 24. One was by Haroon Siddiqui of the Toronto Star, the other by J.L. Granatstein, described as a "historian of Canadian politics."

We should first provide two Disclaimers: (a) we are opposed to Multiculturalism, and (b) our Grandfather considered the Toronto Star to be a Rag so defiling, that he would not allow a Copy to be brought into his Residence–and we have encountered no Reason, in the Years since his Demise, to think that his Opinion was faulty in any Respect.

We have no Intention here of mounting a lengthy Attack on Multiculturalism. We would like to quote one Paragraph from Mr. Granatstein’s Column, and one from that of Mr. Siddiqui.

Now we have some Muslim parents in Winnipeg objecting to school music instruction and boys and girls taking physical education together. Someone ought to have said this is Canada, and if you come here you accept the curriculum of the province; shamefully, no one on the school board did.

This Remark does reflect our own View: No one should go to another Country and expect that Country to alter its Culture to conform with one’s own.

 

Mr. Siddiqui, we think, puts his Finger on the Problem:

It is argued that Canada is hanging on to multiculturalism when Europe and Australia are abandoning it. But they are abandoning what they never had – if by multiculturalism we mean the promotion of the equality and dignity of all groups and cultures.

Alas! We will not be bamboozled by the fine sounding Words: equality and dignity of all groups and cultures. We remain resolutely clear sighted. Some cultures have provided more Freedom, more Opportunity for Self-fulfilment, more Comfort, greater Longevity-- a better Standard of Living and Quality of Existence than others. Thus, we must state with no regret – although with some Trepidation lest we be accused of Hate Crimes by a Victimhood Advocacy Commission – that Cultures and Groups are NOT EQUAL – and to pretend that they are is an egregious Folly which can only lead to the Sort of pusillanimous, self-loathing, politically correct, intellectually dishonest, repressive and hence rather pitiful Society which Canada seems determined to become.

 

We note the appearance of some Dictators on Limerick Lane.

 

February 23, 2011

Last Evening to the Megalopolis to see the Opera: Nixon in China–based on Nixon’s 1972 Visit. We were puzzled to imagine how an Opera might be made of such a Circumstance, and indeed, the Synopsis of the Plot suggested that a Multiplicity of Incident and the Thrill of Car Chases would be conspicuously absent.

We were not disappointed. We had hoped for some clear Delineation of the American and Chinese Cultures and some Notion of what was actually accomplished–or not accomplished-- by the Meeting–but such Coherence was sacrificed for Poetry.

The Opera was Poetic, dreamy, and sometimes obscure. Possibly those who know more about the Events, the Nixons, Henry Kissinger, Mao-Tse tung, Chiang Ch’ing, and Chou-en-Lai would find more Satisfaction.

This is an Opera best appreciated if one can resist attempting to force it into the Mould of one’s Expectations. In the Exploration of the Pasts and Reflections of the Main Characters in the Third Act, one does get a Sense of their shared Participation in some general Difficulties of the Human Enterprise.

 

We confess to having some Ambivalence about Poetry. We are most comfortable when we can reduce it to the Linear, the Non-poetic–in a Word–Prose. The Prose is not the Equivalent of the Poetry, but is a handy Check–a useful BSD*.  When Poetry is not amenable to that Process, we find it difficult not to believe that we are being bamboozled.

The earlier Songs of Paul Simon–such as Sounds of Silence-- were easily explicable in a High School English Class. Some of the later Songs-- we have always felt-- displayed the Arrogance of an established Artist, whose Reputation allowed him to present melodic but meaningless Drivel to an uncritical Publick.

We have some of the same Suspicion about Nixon in China.

*Bullshit Detector

 

 

February 22, 2011

The Committing of other Peoples’ Money to vast Projects is undoubtedly a most agreeable Enterprise, and must be one of the Chief Delights of those with political Power. Who would not wish to banish Poverty, cure Disease, provide comfortable Accommodation, alter Climate, and provide renewable Power?

The Chief Difficulty of Great Projects is the Expense which is invariably attached, like a lead Belt to an aspiring Icarus. Government is in the happy Position of being able to contemplate only a Flight towards the Sun; the Matter of Lead Belts is something which can be readily referred to the hapless Taxpayer.

The Grand Vision is one difficult to resist: it promises the Victory of the Hare--a speedy Realization of Utopia, rather than the slow, experimental, and economic Pace of the Tortoise–by which means all great and significant Changes are brought about.

In this Context, we must note a temporary Halt to the Implementation of one Grand Vision, as recorded in the February 11 Edition of the Hamilton Spectator: "Ontario’s Liberal government is trying to head off growing opposition to the use of wind farms to create energy by putting a moratorium on all off-shore projects."

 

It has been our View that Government might best influence Change by requiring–if that is what is required–a Reduction in polluting Emissions, and then let the Change proceed according to the Dictates of Economic Advantage. Who is to say that Enterprise and Ingenuity might find that Coal-Burning Plants can be modified to attain the required End? But no. How much more attractive to be on the Leading Edge, in the avant-garde! Out with the old; in with the new! Fashion Sense, not common Sense!

We wonder, idly, whether Mr. McGuinty might be interested in one or two of our own pet Projects. Surely a Sufficiency of Fireflies, properly bred and well-nourished, might provide adequate household Lighting. Another of our proposal is the harnessing of Gerbil Power: A sufficiency of Gerbils in local Gerbil Farms, trained to operate Treadmills attached to the local Grid, might well prove superior to dangerous nuclear Installations. And we are not convinced that sufficient Investigation has been done into the Utilization of Wind and Heat generated by Parliamentary Session.

Given the Quantity of Mr. McGuinty’s Reserves of Common Sense, we think our formal Submissions on these Matters will be graciously and gratefully received.

 

February 20, 2011

This Wednesday last, we thought to use, as our Weekly Quotation, a Remark which we have tenaciously carried with us for many Years, snuggled in our limited Memory Bank-- because it has always struck us as illustrating a universal human Circumstance: "...when the facts are not good enough, I always exaggerate."

This Remark was made by Canada’s most famous Humourist, Stephen Leacock. Despite our Familiarity with it, we thought it only prudent, and consistent with the high Standards of Scholarship which we unfailingly strive to Maintain in these Musings, that we confirm the exact Wording with a Search in Google.

We were unable to find it.

Not to find Something–a Quotation which one knows exists–in Google-- is a Circumstance so extraordinary, so contrary to all Experience, so devastating to our Faith in the Internet, that we suffered a dire Convulsion of the Nervous System and fell immediately into a State of Apocalyptic Shock.

Indeed, had it not been for the Application of a liberal Dose of Frexeinet, we might still be glassy-eyed, mumbling incoherently, and twitching unattractively on the Floor.

For further Remedy, we were, indeed, forced to journey to Wind-in-the-Pines where our Collection of Stephen Leacock Books is kept. It is quite likely that many of our Readers are unaware of the Term "Book." We have much Sympathy, but we will not attempt to explain the Meaning. It is a complex, difficult Matter and of no real Use in the modern World. Suffice it to say that in the Days of Stephen Leacock, before the Internet, human Knowledge was available only orally or on Paper.

 

We were extremely fortunate–possibly guided by Mr. Leacock’s benign Spirit-- to find the original Quotation in College Days, (1923) in a Chapter entitled English as she is Taught at College. The full sentence reads: "I admit that when the facts are not good enough I always exaggerate them." The shortened Version in our Memory has more Punch–so we have now included both in the Weekly Quotation Entry.

Thinking to remedy the Extraordinary Deficiency in Google, and to improve the Knowledge and Circumstance of Mankind by making the Quotation readily available, we found a Quotation Site which would accept the Submission of "new" Quotations. There seemed only one minor Hurdle: The Site required that the Reference for the proposed Quotation be in the form of a Location, or Address on the Web. The term "Book" is doubtless unknown to Them.

Since the Quotation does not appear on the Web, and our Purpose was to transfer this Quotation from the original Book to the Web, it was clearly impossible to fulfill the Requirement.

We do not believe that Google was intended to be entirely self-referential. The Quotation is now on the Lumpenbangen Website. We have noted that if we search for the longer Version of the Quotation–which we have not yet published-- it is not found. The shortened Version–published a few Days ago–is.

Our Faith in Google is satisfyingly renewed.

Please note: All the facts referred to above are good enough; None has been exaggerated.

 

 

February 18, 2011

We know not whether it be the Effect of undue Repetition, a Decline in the Judgement of Advertisers, or merely the increasing Grumpitude of Age, but we find ourselves, of late, unwilling to let the MUTE Button stray far from our triggering Finger.

The latest Commercial to require immediate Silencing is that for Sun Life, in which an ecstatic Duo of Employees celebrate their unexpectedly imminent Retirements as a result of the benign Ministrations of a Sun Life Advisor. The lucky Retirees burst into Song, dance energetically as if they thought they could dance, Canada, with an approving Chorus of balletic Assistance. We find such unlikely Enthusiasm to be annoying for its Unlikeliness, and abrasive in its loud Energy.

The only recent Commercial of comparable Assault was for Wal-Mart, which showed a similarly choreographed Group of blue-hued Employees celebrating–we imagine–yet another Lowering of Price.

The Wal-Mart Advertisement was short-lived. We assume that a precipitous Drop in Sales was the Cause. We find it odd that Sun Life should adopt the same abrasive Format.

Well, perhaps it is just Us. In general, we loathe loud and fast Musick, and are not overfond of watching People giving Themselves over to it, proffering Evidence that they are actually enjoying Themselves, which we think to be a highly unlikely Circumstance.

 

While we are on the Topick, we should note that high on our Disapproval List are those Commercials which–for some unaccountable Cause-- see fit to incorporate a considerable Cringe Factor.

We recall a Commercial in recent Years which showed a rather tall Man consistently bumping his Head. We gave the piece a Cringe Rating of 100%.

The Workopolis Commercial, still being shown, incorporates the psychological Cringe Factor. A Prospective Employee, being interviewed for a Position in a "close-knit" workplace Environment misinterprets the Kootchy-Koo Remarks which the Interviewer, hidden behind a Screen, addresses to his similarly hidden Dog. We find the Interview showing the small Twerp telling the Prospective Employee she is not the right "Fit" for the Job because of a Cookie-Baking Deficiency also cringe-worthy, although in lesser Degree.

We still enjoy the Ally Advertisements, despite many Repetitions. We see the small Boy objecting to the "Egg Management Fee" with the Words: "What does that even mean?" to be a World in a Grain of Sand.

 

February 17, 2011

We are pleased to note that Aberdeen International has reached the Price of One Dollar, and has declared a Dividend of Two Cents per Share. Our Cost is about fifty-eight Cents. We began purchasing this Security last Year, enticed by the Fact that it was selling at about half the Net Value of its Assets. It is still selling at a considerable Discount. The Company purchases Shares in exactly the small, risky Enterprises with great Potential that have always been our chief Interest. The fact that Aberdeen represents a Collection of such Assets is a Factor which mitigates Risk.

We also purchased Warrants (exercisable in June, 2012, at the Price of $1.00), which, at 27 Cents have had a similar Increase since our Purchase, and which should record an admirable Appreciation from this Point, if the underlying Stock should go higher.

We are mindful of the human Tendency to publicize Gains while being modestly discreet on the Subject of Losses. Therefore, we would note that we have Paper Losses of at least Fifty Per Cent on Sea Dragon, Mag Industries, and Strikepoint. We wish that we had the Temperament to sell immediately a Stock begins a Retreat, but we are cursed with the Loyalty of the Romanticist.

Our Focus is not, in Fact, on making Money, but on proving the romantic Notion that a small Company can thrive and prosper against all Odds, and that we will be proved prescient and wealthy as a Result. With such a Hare-Brained and idiotic Approach, it is a Wonder that the Lumpenbangen Table provides even those meagre Repasts for which it is known.

 

We still have Hopes for Sea Dragon and Strikepoint; of Mag Industries we are less certain. We will likely sail these Vessels in the Winds of Caprice to the Time of felicitous Discovery and ample Return–or go down with the Ship.

                                ****************

In another Matter-- we note with Approval the Position of Chris Selley in today’s National Post: "if Sikhs can wear a kirpan in the House of Commons, then we should be able to wear it too."

Using the same Principle, we would urge all Citizens to appear at Voting Booths wearing the Niqab, Burka, or Halloween Mask. Similarly, we would recommend that those who feel insulted, unhappy, unfairly treated, or in need of a more convenient Parking Space, to apply for redress to the Victimhood Advocacy Commissions. Equality is a Principle worth fighting for.

 

February 16, 2011

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan,
The proper study of mankind is man. (Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

To this famous Admonition of Mr. Pope, we would add that God, being a Construct of the Human Imagination, is of lesser Interest than the vast Terrain of the Real in which we may ponder the Oddities of human Thought and Behaviour.

In this Morning’s Edition of the National Post is an Article on Bilal Philips, a former Guitarist who now attempts to convince Muslims that "a heart filled with music will not have Room for God’s words."

While the Prohibition is not complete, Mr Philips approves only adult male Singers and "folk songs with acceptable content sung by males or females under the age of puberty accompanied by a hand drum."

 

We are indeed grateful to Mr. Philips for his Pronouncements on these Matters, and his Defense of Child Marriages, Wife beating, Polygamy, the Killing of Apostates, and his View that Homosexuality is "evil and dangerous."

We see a considerable Cleverness in the World View thus espoused, which envisions Life as a Landscape full of Wretchedness, devoid even of the Solace of Musick. By this Means, it appears not only would Mr. Philips turn the Thoughts of Muslims to God--but, we suspect, to the Consideration of a speedy Exit from the Vale of Misery of which he seems to approve.

We suspect it is only a short Step of Logick to the Advocacy of Suicide, possibly by Means of a strategically placed Bomb, which would have the attendant Benefit of the Destruction of unfortunate Apostates and Unbelievers.

The Study of Mankind is an interesting, but not always cheerful Enterprise.

 

 

February 15, 2011

We are resting from the Labours of our recent Railings against the Deficiencies of Canadian Culture. As seen from afar, the Matter shows the Perversity of Good Intentions–or, if you will, the Ironic Circumstance of Paul Simon’s Slip-slidin’ away : "You know the nearer your destination/ The more you're slip slidin' away."

It is hard to decry the Yearning for Equality, and perhaps difficult to decide at what Point the Attempt to achieve it becomes absurd, and ensures only a more oppressive Version of that which it seeks to avoid.

From our Perspective, that Point has long since been passed.

 

We await the Improvement in our Portfolio which will allow of a more cheerful Disposition. Two of our two major gold Holdings, Keegan and San Gold, are resolutely depressed. Dynacor, the third, while more buoyant, has yet to release the Channel Sampling Results which, we hope, will push it over Two Dollars. We have advised ourselves not to expect Drilling Results until May, while secretly hoping that some early Indication may be available in March.

Dynacor is our patiently awaited Ship of extraordinary Return. We have a sufficient Quantity that we may sell a Little between Two and Three Dollars, which would allow us to improve our Diet from the dried Beans, stale Bread, and thin Gruel which is our present Sustenance, while retaining the Bulk of Shares in Hope of obscene Wealth.

We note the appearance of Bev Oda on Limerick Lane.

 

February 14, 2011   (The Parable of the Peacebilians)

 

We are much intrigued to hear that a Private Member’s Bill is being introduced to require Voters to allow their Faces to be seen as a Means of Identification at Voting Stations.

While we see this as simply common Sense, and a Reinforcement of our Custom by which Citizens are expected to present their Faces in Public, rather than go hidden and cloak’d as if with nefarious Purpose, we are not surprised to see the wounded Outrage of those who see the Matter as discriminatory and anti-Muslim.

We know not how the Screen on our Computer can be magickally transformed overnight, but we awoke this Valentine’s Day to the mysterious Appearance of the following:

 

Once upon a Tyme, long before the present Age of Sweetness and Light, in the ancient Land then called Canada, there was a bustling and prosperous Village, called Peaceable, pleasantly situated by the Shores of a Great Lake. The Citizens were, for those Tymes, content in their Custom, and had achieved an enviable Harmony in their daily Interactions.

But, one Day, from the far and distant Shore of Australovenia, did arrive a great Vessel with many Citizens of that Country, who were immediately welcomed by the Peacebilians, they being noted far and wide for their Hospitality.

That the Australovenians were habituated to dress in green Shirts and short red Pants, as opposed to the sober Greys and dark Blues of the Natives, was seen as a colourful Addition to the bustling Streets of Peaceable. Nor was it of Concern that the Australovenians worshiped the strange God, Nutcase, and were given to believe in many strange Rules and Rituals of Religion which had never been encountered by the Peacebilians, whose own Worship of the God Humdrum was rather more superficial, and less deeply felt.

 

The Difficulty arose, rather, from certain related domestic Custom of the Land of Australovenia, which the Australovenians quite naturally brought with them to the Village of Peaceable. For Example, it was the Custom in Australovenia never to enter a Bank, Voting Booth, or Government Office without a small odiferous Sachet of fresh Cow Dung, obtained from a sacred Cow. This Sacred Cow Crap had been decreed by the Prophet of the God Nutcase, and so was a Matter of religious Observance. Of equal concern, from the Perspective of the Peaceabilians, was that Australovenians would take great Offense at being regarded directly in their Eyes. They would insist, with many a dire Threat, that the Peaceabilians, in Conversation, avert their Gaze downwards as if in Subservience. This too was a religious Matter decreed, via the Prophet, from the great God Nutcase.

It was not long, as you may imagine, before Delegations of Citizens went to the Mayor of the Village, Everett Reasonable, with bitter Complaint. Mr. Reasonable as was his Wont, first consulted the large Leather-Bound Volume in the City Hall Library, the Peaceable Lawbook. Alas, he could find no Laws relating to Sacred Cow Crap; nor had the Volume any Direction on the Matter of Direct Gaze.

And thus it was that the Mayor and his Councillors, after much Debate and due Consideration, did pass a Law which provided that Sacred Cow Crap, while permissible in private Residence or in appropriate Religious Nutcase Buildings, could not be brought into Banks, Voting Booths, or Government Offices. Additionally, Penalties were set out for Circumstance of Threats and Prohibiting of Direct Gaze.

The Australovenians were mightily affronted by these Restrictions on their Custom, especially when it was so integrally linked to their Religion. They made immediate Appeal to Jennifer Lynchem, the Chief Commissar of the Victimhood Advocacy Commission. Ms. Lynchem, having had a Breakfast in which she deemed her Hard-Boiled Eggs to be somewhat soft, was in a particularly disagreeable Mood, and had the Mayor and his Council hanged on the very next Day.

And that, my dear Children is why to this Day-- in the Age of Sweetness and Light-- in the Country called Adanac, we always bring a Sachet of Sacred Cow Crap into any Bank, Voting Booth, or Government Office, and Direct Gaze is a punishable Offense.

 

February 12, 2011.

We have this day decided to declare our Rant comparing Canadian Society with that of Oceania in Orwell’s 1984 finished.

It is not finished, of course. Indeed, we find it overlong, rambling, repetitive and disorganized. Our Brain is so frazzled that we scarcely notice the Redundancy of the Terms "rambling" and "disorganized." Fortunately we are not under the Necessity of submitting the Piece to Ourselves for a Grade.

 

Overall, we do think the Comparison is apt; indeed, Ezra Levant, for one, has also noted some Similarities. We fear that Canadian Society is gripped by a kind of collective Insanity in which the Pursuit of Equality has resulted in its very Opposite, but it is considered indelicate and politically incorrect to say so. The notion of Doublethink is alive and well in Canada

Human Rights Commissions are the Markers of a Society which has clearly, through its unseemly embrace of the seductive Siren, the false Goddess Equality, lost Sight of the Principles of Justice, and Freedom of Speech, which it has, in the Past, made claim to espouse.

The Rant appears in the Drivel Section.

February 11, 2011.

Equality Fascism

 

In our Discussion of Fascism in Canada and the Novel 1984, we have been delighted to stumble on the Term equality fascism. Mindful of our previous Assumptions of Originality–we had thought we invented smugitude--that Certainty of moral Superiority evinced by the Politically Correct–only to discover that it had been used many Months earlier–we googled the Term. We are delighted that it seems not to have been used as a descriptive Phrase before. We define Equity Fascism as that Circumstance which obtains when the Common Sense notions of Justice and Freedom are sacrificed in the Pursuit of an Ideal Equality.

We think that the Phrase most aptly describes the present Canadian Culture, in which the most egregious Example is the Ascendancy of Human Rights Commissions. These Commissions are not required to follow legal Rules of Procedure, and favour complainants over defendants by funding legal advice for the Former, but not the Latter. No penalty is assessed for a plaintiff’s false Claims, nor is Recompense offered to the falsely accused. The truth of a "hurtful" statement made by an accused is not considered a Defense. It is no wonder that the terms Star Chamber and Kangaroo Court are often applied.

These Commissions do not concern themselves with Human Rights, but with ensuring the Triumph of those who claim the cherished Status of Victimhood. The stated Objective may be to pursue Equality, but the Process, and the Result, reflect the Opposite.

 

Nor should we overlook the very Existence of the Health Care System, whose apparent Aim is to provide equal Access to appropriate Medical Care, but which produces the Opposite: a restricted Access for the Majority, but superior Treatment for the Prominent, and the Saskatchewan Rough Riders.

Equality is, of course, as desirable as it is unattainable, and therein lies the Difficulty. The wholehearted Pursuit of a noble and desirable (but unattainable) Aim-- the promotion of Equality as the Greatest Good-- must necessarily neglect other Goods, more reasonable and more attainable.

The Result is not Equality. The result is Equality Fascism.

We hope to publish Part II of our more complete Discussion of these Matters in the Drivel Section shortly.

 

 

February 10, 2011

We have spent the entire Day writing Part II of The Impulse to Fascism: Canada and 1984.

We found it necessary to skim-read the Novel.

We can hardly claim to have finished the writing of Part II–but were intrigued by Mr. Orwell’s insights into the human Circumstance, and we have convinced Ourselves that the Novel is indeed very relevant to the "Equality Fascism" and Political Correctness we deplore in Canada– a Society which we find increasingly frightening. We doubt any will read our Account; we are surprised that we have persisted this far in what has become a rather arduous Task.

 

Possibly the Cause is the unfortunate Inheritance of a Sisyphean gene, if such a Thing exist.

Consult the Drivel Section if you think Canadian Society is charging amok, and veering significantly off the Rails of Common Sense. We have published Part I, and hope to provide Part II on the Morrow.

 

 

February 9, 2011

The Toy Gun Syndrome

We were intrigued to note the recent Report that Julie Lloyd, a Canadian tourist in Britain, was barred Entry to a plane with a toy Soldier, crafted in Plastic, armed with a four inch Rifle of the same Material. The Weapon was considered to be a Threat to the Safety of Passengers. A Spokesperson for Gatwick Airport said that " firearms, including items with the appearance of firearms, are prohibited on aircraft." (National Post, January 28.)

We can appreciate that the Framers of the Rule did not wish allow for Error: a Life-Like Facsimile of a Weapon might be used to Cause Consternation. But an Item so obviously harmless would seem to be patently exempt.

What then, is the Psychology of this Matter? Is this fear of being found negligent by a cruel Superior, who lies in wait for any Breach, no matter how remote or strained? Is this the similar perverse Desire on the part of Security Personnel to control and confound Passengers? Or is it simply a mindless Devotion to the Letter rather than the Spirit or Logic of the Rule–a sort of obsessional Worship of the Meaningless–as in the solemn childhood Pledge: I will walk all the Distance to School without stepping on a single Sidewalk Crack?

 

We think that the Importance goes far beyond the particular Issue. Consider the firing of Tom Burlington for uttering the word "nigger" in a news editorial Meeting. (See Diary, January 10, 2011.) Is this not the same sort of Focus upon the technical and superficial, the essentially harmless-- in order to manufacture a great and terrible Consequence?

Is it our twisted Desire to create a World in which a cruel Sport of "gotcha" reigns supreme? Do we still wish to make human Sacrifice to the Edicts of imaginary Gods? Have we nothing better to do with our Time but set up precise Prohibitions–thou shalt not use such a Word–thou shalt not depict this Image–thou shalt not make any Statement which falls into such and such a Division–and then claim dire Consequence of Transgression?

We would do well to watch for Toy Guns which have such destructive and explosive Consequence.

 

 February 8, 2011

We are both pleased and disappointed at the same Time. Last Evening, we prepared to engage the Serviceable Six in transporting us to the Longevity Racquet Club, and were dismayed to see the Battery Warning Light once more aglow in Red.

There was a light Snow, and the Geezermobile Eight is not equipped for Conditions of Winter, and so, Headlights ablaze, Battery Draining, we set out for the Club.

As it turned out, the Travel Gods–or the Battery Gods–looked upon us with Favour, and we were able to complete the Journey and return without Incident.

The Serviceable Six is, even now, having its Alternator replaced. We are pleased only in that our gloomy and cynical View of the Character of the Alternator–a misleading, duplicitous and cunning enemy–was confirmed.

 

We have been so infuriated by the latest Human Rights Outrage– the Telfer/Saadi Case, that we have embarked on a Tirade against the creeping Fascism in Canadian Society.

The sole Stumbling Block is that we are able to think of so many Instances of unjust Limitations on our Freedom of Speech and Action, that we fear we will never be able to finish.

And if we do finish, no one will have the Fortitude to face the full Reality of our Findings. Indeed, we see the Canada of 2011 as an Illustration of many of the Notions embodied in Orwell’s 1984.

 

Warning: today’s Diary Entry is of no Interest to anyone but the Author.  We strongly advise against reading it.

February 7, 2011

We awoke this very Morning with a Mind to discuss Tolerance, but like Mr. Leacock’s Mr. Juggins, whose Intent was continually thwarted by a Need for preliminary Investigation, we find we cannot do so without Consideration of complementary Concepts.

By complementary Concepts we mean those which seem like opposing Halves of a full Circle, or Concepts which lack Meaning in the Absence of another. We are thinking here of Justice and Mercy, Freedom and Discipline, and Tolerance and Intolerance.

You may recall, as through a distant Haze, Hamlet’s comment on Justice. When Polonius says, of the assembled Players, who are about to perform for the King and his Court, "My Lord, I will use them according to their desert," Hamlet replies:

"God’s bodykins, man, much better. Use every man after his desert, and who should ’scape whipping?"

With this Remark, Hamlet notes the Severity of untempered Justice. The complementary Concept, of course, is Mercy, much favoured by Socialists who, by and large, see no Need for an Individual to be accountable for his Actions, these all being the Result of Social Forces beyond his Control.

Robert Frost, in The Death of the Hired Man, dealt with this very Issue. Silas, a former Hired Man,  weary and desperate, appears at the Farmhouse of Mary and Warren, asking for employment, offering to ditch the Meadow. Warren represents Justice:

"But I'll not have the fellow back," he said.
"I told him so last haying, didn't I?
'If he left then,' I said, 'that ended it.' "

His famous Definition of Home is bound up with the Idea of Duty:

"Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in."

 

Mary, who represents Mercy, has a different Definition:

"I should have called it
Something you somehow haven't to deserve."

The Difficulty inherent in complementary Concepts is revealed in the Poem. How much Justice, how much Mercy is appropriate? Frost has Mary and Warren, in Symbol, holding hands at the End – the much desired melding of complementary Concepts. But Silas has died, and so we cannot see the Effect in terms of Action in the Real World.

In a recent Drivel Piece, (January 24) we noted the Difficulty in determining the appropriate interplay between Authority and Freedom. Each is necessary – but drawing the Line of Division is fraught with Peril.

Tolerance, especially in Canada, is often seen as a universal Good. It is not, of course. It is a complementary Concept, understood in contrast to Intolerance. Intolerance has a poor Reputation, but is just as necessary as its Counterpart. Laws, Police Forces, and Prisons are all symbols of Intolerance. All Societies agree some Actions should not be tolerated. Once again, the Line of Division is never certain.

Here then, is our Observation # 101: Tolerance is like alcohol: in moderate amounts, it softens hard edges, and lubricates the machinery of social interaction; in excess, it leads to foolishness, incoherence, the annihilation of principle--and invites the destruction of the essential self.

 

February 6, 2011

 It has been well observed that the only Constant is Change, and we are foolish to expect smooth Sailing and an unruffled Course.

It was still an Affront when the Serviceable Six decided to display a Battery Warning Light on the Dashboard. We expect neither Speed, nor Sophistication nor Elegance from the Six; we count on Capacity of Carrying, and unwavering Reliability.

We suppose we should be grateful that the Serviceable Six should attempt to communicate its Distress; we would prefer that it avoid Distress altogether. It did indeed, deliver us to our Driveway, and the next Day, we engaged in the Magick Ritual of Automobile Ignorami: we raised the Hood, enquired as to the Cause of the Distress, and topped up the Battery with Water.

The rest of the Day was spent driving to the Mechanick, where the charging Needle failed to register, and there was insufficient Power to activate the Headlights.

We returned to our Home, speculating on the Cost of a new Alternator, a new Battery, or Both.

 

A few Hours later, the Mechanick informed us that, after the Battery had been charged, it seemed to deliver the desired amount of Power, but that, further, the Alternator was also functioning according to its Mandate from the Auto Gods.

We are left with a Puzzlement. Was the Problem simply one of Battery Thirst? Did our ritual Magick, the timely Provision of Hamilton Tap Water, propitiate the Auto Gods?

Or is the Alternator plotting deviously to betray us in deepest Consequence? Having failed to engineer a Highway Breakdown, has it smiling, but still a Villain, retreated for the Nonce, to strike on more dangerous Occasion?

We prefer Complication to easy Clarity. We await, nervously, the Return of the Battery Warning Light.

In another Matter, we confess to Puzzlement about the Matter of Egypt. We have written of our Concerns in the Drivel Section.

 

February 5, 2011

We have long waited to hear the Sound of Mr. Trudeau rolling in his Grave, but we have been given some Warning that that agreeable Tumbling, and Rumbling, may one Day take Place.

Reported in this Day’s Edition of the National Post is that David Cameron, the British Prime Minister is about to declare that "The doctrine of multiculturalism has ‘failed’ and will be abandoned." We do admit that the Occasions on which Notes of Common Sense are sounded are so rare, that our First reaction is one of Disbelief.

And yet, did not Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor announce in October of 2010, that "multikulti" has utterly failed?

We have always believed Multiculturalism to be an Idea of astounding Stupidity. In any Culture, People have sufficient Difficulty living in Degrees of Harmony. Why would we seek to encourage cultural Differences? How could differing Views on Cultural Matters not lead to Dissension, Isolation, and Resentment?

 

In the same Edition of The Post, is the Story of a Dozen recently arrived Muslim Families who have asked Winnipeg School Officials that their Children be "excused from compulsory elementary school music and co-ed physical education programs for religious and cultural reasons."

We have no doubt that Winnipeg School Officials will scurry around to accommodate these Requests, proving that Stupidity is as well entrenched in Canada as twitch Grass and the Zebra Mussel.

We have no plans to keep our Ear to the Ground at this Time; Mr. Trudeau’s Rumble, like the Collapse of our Health Care System, is assured, but unlikely to be imminent. Though the Mirror be held exceedingly close, Folly hath neither the Eye nor the Sense to see its own true Image therein.

 

February 3, 2011.

We have been watching The Story of Science on TVO. The last Program dealt with the Origins of Man, and showed a Progression of Realization about our present Circumstance.

Before the Scientific Age, it was natural that Human Beings believed that Species of Creatures on Earth were fixed, and, it was presumed, had been created, of a sudden, by a man-centred intelligent Being, called God.

Only through an Examination of the Evidence presented by Fossils, by the Configurations of Rock, and by the Movement of Land Masses, did it become clear that Species have died out, and changed through a Time far greater than previously imagined. The History of the Earth has been one of violent change and Upheaval, which has influenced the Destruction and Development of Species.

 

The same Story is told in Richard B. Leakey’s The Sixth Extinction, from which we are led to conclude that Life, under certain Circumstance, is inevitable, something Implicit in the matter of the Universe. But the particular end Result of the Formation of Life is far from certain, and depends upon unpredictable, random Elements in the Upheavals of the Earth

Similarly, The Story of Science concludes that, were the experiment of Earth to be started anew, human Beings might never come into Existence, so tortuous is the Route, so serendipitous the Confluence of Events.

If this be Truth, then how petty do seem our Religions. If there be a creating Intelligence, it is Something far different from what we could deem comfortable, or knowable. Mankind is an unpredictable Outcome of vast Forces which know him not. His Time is but a Millisecond in the Year of the Universe. How arrogant that He assume He is the chosen One of a Mystery, whom he calls God, but which can be no more than a Construct of the conscribed and limited human Imagination.

 

February 2, 2011

Citizens now cowering in their Homes, while the much-heralded Snowstorm doth rage. There appears much Dereliction of Duty: the Garbage Police have not made their Wednesday Collection. Thus we are safe, thus far, from an Inspection of our permitted single Bag, and the potential Arrest (Pick-up) and Haulage before the Garbage Commission. We are also without our Daily Edition of the National Post, with this Day’s Accounts of the Follies of Mankind.

We do have a File of earlier Topicks, but it has seemed easiest to compose three Limericks on the Subject of Canadian Catholic bishops. We do apologize for picking so easy a Target. We are sometimes much troubled when our satiric Impulse is so readily served, and we can accomplish the onerous Task of Commentary with so little Effort. The Reader is advised to consult Limerick Lane for the Results.

 

To a minor matter–we see we have neglected to note that Dynacor Gold did indeed issue a Press Release on its Tumpipampa Exploration Campaign – but merely to announce that Drilling had been commenced, and that first Results will be forthcoming in early March. Channel Surface Sample Results from recent Months will be issued "shortly." The Stock is now trading at $1.83, gratifyingly above our Purchase Price of 48 cents.

 

 

February 1, 2011

We confess to having always expressed our Antipathy to Religion, as a fine Example of Man’s Need for the Nonsensical, but we admit that from the most unlikely Sources do often come a surprising Advance.

Thus, we must note with Approval the News of a Pastoral Letter released by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops which calls on married Couples to lead "chaste" Lives. This does not mean "celibate," but, rather, approaching sex with a "purity of mind as well as body." Thus, the Bishops note: "Though pleasure may be present, some acts are a misuse of sex, when they fall short of what God intended." (National Post, January 28, 2011)

We confess that puzzling out the Distinction between chaste and unchaste Sex has occupied a goodly Portion of our waking Hours in recent Years, and we are relieved that the good Bishops seem poised to come to our Rescue. We await now merely a comprehensive List of the approved and disapproved Acts, which we may affix to our Refrigerator for handy Reference.

 

We have some small Trepidation that such a List might not be sufficiently explanatory. In that Event, we would suggest the Church consider the Installation of Sexfessionals. These small but comfortable Bedding Booths, could be readily installed in Church Basements, and would allow Church Officials to render Authoritative Permissions and Approvals to married Couples, based on clear and unambiguous Evidence.

Possibly the Church Imprimatur could be conveyed with an unobtrusive tattoo– one that might be renewed, like a Driving License, on an annual Basis.

We are most grateful for this preliminary Letter, and eagerly anticipate further Clarification of God’s Intentions in such Matters of private Protocol, public Importance, and profound Relevance

 

 

 

January 30, 2011

They weave not; nor do they spin. The fabric of their lives is less than a gossamer in the wind.

Because of the Paucity of Television Channels at Wind-in-the-Pines, we frequently find ourselves watching Programs which would not be high on our preferred List.

One such example is the "Reality" Show Jersey Shore.

We were so puzzled to understand the Premise of the Show, that we felt Necessity to conduct a Search on Google. We learned that the Show is meant to depict Eight Italian-Americans sharing a House in the Summer on the Jersey Shore.

What is portrayed has none of the Challenge or Structure of such Shows as The Amazing Race or Big Brother, in which a Goal is made abundantly clear. It seems simply to portray a Collection of young People representing, perhaps, Existence at the level of the lowest common Denominator. The Characters are without significant Aims, Challenges, or Aspirations; their language, replete with repetitive Bleeps, betrays a Vacancy of Thought and a Paucity of Imagination; their Awareness of the World extends little beyond their own Noses.

 

We would characterize it as a Portrayal of the Courtship of Epsilons.

We understand that the Show is popular, and can only hazard a Guess as to the Cause. Is it that there is Enjoyment in viewing the Lives of those who are morally and intellectually our Inferiors?

Or is it that we envy those who appear to be able to live divorced from the Reality and Constraints that most People face, and concentrate entirely on Life at its most primitive Level?

The Popularity of such a Program should be a Warning to those who are wont to assume that Civilization is substantial and well-rooted in human Affairs. It is, we suspect, a Veneer of scant Depth, and fragile Composition.

 

January 27, 2011

Much intrigued to read of the case in Ohio, in which a Mother was sent to Jail for sending her Children to a School outside her own downtown Akron District, plagued with "drugs and crime."

She was caught by a Private Investigator hired by the School Board, who recorded her delivering her Children to a suburban School where her Father resides, and was subsequently asked to pay $30,000 for four Years of Schooling provided without Payment of Taxes.

We should be cognizant of the terrible Consequences of allowing Parents to choose Schools in Districts not their own. There would be a Tendency for better Schools to become more populated, and inferior Schools to wither. It is even possible–though we hesitate to whisper it–that Pressure would mount to improve poorer Schools.

These may seem like minor Matters, undeserving of our Attention. But be mindful of the "butterfly effect"–the wing beat of a single Creature may cause a Cascade, a Tsunami of Effects.

 

Soon, Citizens might be expressing a Preference for particular Retailers, or specific Makes of Automobile. In the Blink of an Eye, Citizens would wish to choose their own Lawyers, Dentists, Colleges, and Universities. In Canada, the Health System would collapse, as Patients insisted on seeing a Doctor of their Choice, rather than the One willing to accept Them. In other words, a complete Collapse of the Social Fabric would ensue.

Thus, while we have some Sympathy for the Mother, Ms. Williams-Bolar, who claimed that she was merely attempting to do the Best for her Children, we must applaud the Decision of the School Board in maintaining the Sanctity of the School District System. The Preservation of the Inequality of Schools should be our main Concern.

In another Matter, we see this Day an Opportunity to visit our long neglected Wind-in-the-Pines–since no Snow is predicted to Fall. We are hopeful that the Houseplants have Survived the Drought of our Absence, and the Building is intact. We shall return on Monday.

 

January 26, 2011.

The Price of Gold continues to swoon, and with it the Value of our Holdings. We still do not see any Alternative to a continued Rise in the long Term, as the United States continues to print Money.

Even so, how doth our Mood move with the Market! While yesterday had sunny Thoughts, and great Anticipation of the Future, the present Circumstance is one of unrelieved Gloom. The Buying Power in our Margin Account sinks to Zero; Possibilities shrink to Chimeras, on the brink of Black Holes of Nothingness; could it be that Selling–that Admission of Folly and Incompetence–will come to pass?

 

One ray of Hope amid the Devastation of San Gold--whose target Price has been reduced–and Keegan Resources–battered by a punishing Bought Deal-- is Dynacor.

Dynacor touched $1.88 on recent positive News of its Fourth Quarter Gold Production–although it has now retreated to $1.65. The Company has also promised News on the Tumipampa Exploration Program within Two Weeks. We clutch this Fragment in our fevered Palm–it has the feel of a Lottery Ticket–or–perhaps--an expired Bus Transfer. Time will tell.

 

 January 24 2011.

Up betimes for a visit to the Eye Doctor. The wait Time was--as is the Custom-- exceedingly long– up to 2 hours.

One Lady expressed Dissatisfaction with the running of the Office; we responded that the Cause was in large Part our unsustainable Health Care System. We had Opportunity to expound our Views within Earshot of the assembled Multitude (there was Standing Room only) and this Fact, together with our Possession of the Day’s Edition of the National Post, made the Time pass with no great Unpleasantness.

 

We confidently predict the Failure of our System, but we have little Confidence we will see it within our Lifetime. Such is the Devotion of Mankind to attractive, but unsustainable Ideas.

Our Visit with the Doctor was satisfactory, as is often the Case when He agrees with our own Diagnosis, and does not give us News which we do not wish to hear.

This has given us a limited Time for our daily Musings. We have published, in the Drivel Section, a long boring Dissertation on the matter of Authority.

 

 

 January 23, 2011

We have been intrigued to see, on Friday, Keegan Resources announce some positive Drill Results on their Esaase Property, a scant three Days after their Announcement of a "Bought Deal"-- by Mr. Money and Mr. Bags-- at the low Price of $7.50 a Share.

We are given to reflect on the Rôle of pure, blind, unadulterated Good Fortune in Human Affairs. The Fickle Finger of Fabulous Fate wavers, like an inebriated Butterfly, before landing unaccountably, upon the randomly Lucky.

Imagine the Situation of those lucky Purchasers–Mr. Money, and Mr. Bags–who just days earlier had purchased large Numbers of inexpensive Shares, in the Hope of re-selling them at a Profit! Unbeknownst to them, the New Favourable Results were on the Cusp of being released.

Imagine their Joy, their Rapture on learning of this lucky Stroke of Fate!

 

We note also that these new Results from Esaase managed to traverse the Assay Laboratory without Blockage, without Back-Up, and without unseemly Delay. After eight months' of Drilling,  the Results from Keegan’s other Project, at Asumura, remain, (as far as we know) "backed up at the Lab."

How mysterious the Ways of the World! How unfathomable the Art of Mining! How unaccountable the Science of the Laboratory! How strange the Workings of Finance!

In another Matter --we have been thinking much of late of Virgins. The Number 72 seems to colour all our Thoughts. We have published our Reflections on this important Topick in the Drivel Section.

 

January 21, 2011

After grappling with the chess Puzzle, our chief Delight in the Morning Newspaper is to marvel at the various Follies of Mankind described within its Pages.

This Day’s National Post is particularly delightful; we scarcely know where to begin.

But Choices must be made.

Let us start with a Column by Jonathan Kay, in which he describes a Panel Discussion at the University of Toronto–the Topick–the Epitome of Impartiality-- "Exposing Israeli Apartheid and the Violation of Palestinian Rights: a public forum on the second anniversary of the Gaza massacre."

What is notable about Mr. Kay’s Account of this Event is that, in taking Questions from the Audience, the Moderator engaged in a wonderful Practice–of which we have heretofore not heard: "Equity Chairing."

By this Term it is meant that "women, people of colour and queers will be given priority in the speaking list."

Thus a white Man, ready and poised to speak, was passed over in Favour of those in the more highly regarded Categories.

What a wonderful Progress in Society is being made! How near Mr. Orwell’s promised Vision of 1984! What Boon the Newspeak of the Left! By Equity is meant Discrimination! By Discussion is meant Propaganda! The Provocateurs towards Israel become the Oppressed! Surely seeing the World through this wonderful new Prism of Advanced Understanding will bring us the Utopia of our Dreams!

 

If we are to applaud this Progress, we must also be thankful for a Speech given by Sayeea Warsi, the first Muslim Woman to sit in the British Cabinet. In it she said: "It has seeped into our society in a way where it is acceptable around dinner to have these conversations where anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry is quite openly discussed." She also notes that acts of terrorism "must not be used as an opportunity to tar all Muslims."

We earnestly hope the Minister will soon be introducing Legislation making it illegal for Dinner Table Discussions to deal with the Subjects of Hatred and Bigotry, or for British Subjects to make a link between Terrorist Attacks and any particular Religion, even when the Terrorists claim their chief Motives are to further the Will of Allah, and enjoy 72 Virgins in the Afterlife.

Finally, we must note the Circumstance of Ian Thomson, who "woke up to the sound of three masked men firebombing his Port Colborne home." He grabbed his Revolver, went outside and fired to frighten the Intruders.

When he complained to the Police, and showed them Video Footage of the Intruders lobbing Molotov Cocktails at his House, he was "charged with careless use of a firearm."

We must come down firmly on the side of the Police in this Matter. Society is best served if Citizens remain passive and subservient, dying if necessary to avoid any Fuss. Further, greater Consideration should be given to the Rights of those who have shown that, through no Fault of their own, they are somewhat resistant to the civilizing Forces in Society, morally challenged, or both. They are best dealt with by the Police-- when they have Time to get around to it.

We see this and the recent Case of David Chen–the Shopkeeper who was charged with the Crime of apprehending a Shoplifter– as significant Milestones towards a happier, more peaceful, and more equal Nation.

 

 

January 20, 2011

We had thought our that our Dark Views of Human Nature and our gloomy Perceptions of the World were sufficient to the Day. Even so, our Holdings in Keegan Resources and San Gold have intensified our Belief that Prices of Securities are habitually manipulated by Those with large vested Interests. Indeed, there are Many who argue, convincingly, that the Prices of Gold and Silver are less the Reflection of the free Interplay of Market Forces, than the Result of Manipulation by Those–including Governments-- with the Financial Power to do so, and for Ends inimical to those of Investors.

The individual Investor, therefore must understand that Nothing is as it seems. Money can be made when playing with Sharks, but One should never delude Oneself that all Cards are genuine, and the Game itself is not crooked.

We once had Dealings with a Broker with a prestigious Firm, who wore admirable Suits and red Suspenders, but who regularly and brazenly stole Funds from his Clients. We were never convinced that the Officers of the prestigious Firm could have been unaware of his Duplicity.

We, ourselves, wrote a Letter to the Firm, pointing out Discrepancies, which, if fully investigated, would have led to the Ending of his Career.

 

This did not happen. We suspect the Revenue the Broker generated for the Firm trumped All. He moved to another Firm and was described by a more elevated Title. He was eventually discovered, brought to Trial, and sentenced, but not before he had stolen more.

Our Conclusion has been that where there are very large Amounts of Money involved, the Temptation to steal it, or use it abusively for Gain, is overwhelming. Lord Acton, in 1887, noted the tendency of Power to corrupt. (Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.) Money, which is merely a form of Power, is equally corrosive.

Our observations are: If money is sufficient, principle will be deficient. No principle is invincible in the flow of big dough. Money is like water: in sufficient volume, it erodes the bedrock of principle, and cuts its own channel.

P.S. The Career of the Broker referred to above is described in Free Rider, by John Lawrence Reynolds.

 

January 19, 2011.

Much Anguish and gnashing of Teeth yesterday, at the Announcement that Keegan Resources is to raise $185 millions in a "Bought Deal" at a Price of $7.50. As is the Custom, the Price is considerably (60 Cents) below the recent Trading Price of the Stock, but we are upset that the Time chosen is one when both the Price of Gold, and the Stock, are in Retreat. Could not a more favourable Time have been chosen?

Our second Complaint is that, while Shareholders have been kept informed about the Drilling on their main Esaase project, we have not been kept informed about Drilling on their second Property, Asumura. The Company has been Drilling since May of 2010, and yet the only News is that the Results are "backed up in the Lab."

 

We find this Explanation to be absurd and contrary to our Expectation of reasonable Curiosity on the part of Management. This has led us to Dark Suspicions. Are the Results actually known–but are disappointing? Does this account for the low Price on the "Bought Deal?" Or are there positive Results known to the Purchasers of new Shares, thus providing them with an Extra Value unknown to present Shareholders?

We wish we could return to our Happy Days of unthinking Trust.

Our Satiric Imagination of how the Deal was made appears in the Drivel Section.

 

 

January 17, 2011.

We find ourselves much intrigued by the Debate over Financial Reward for Teachers based on Merit. The obvious Argument, presented by Peter Shawn Taylor, an editor-at-large with Maclean’s magazine, in this Day’s Edition of the National Post,  is that most of the World operates on the Principle: "Do a better job, get a bigger paycheque."

The opposing view is presented by Patrick Keeney, an adjunct professor of Education at Simon Fraser University, who notes, probably quite correctly, that pay by Merit would lead to a focus on measurable Results such as those provided by Standardized Tests, and hence Teachers would tend to rely on a set of "skills and drills."

We confess that we hesitate to pronounce on this Debate, because–through no Fault of our own–we have only experienced one Type of Education–that Variety in which Written Examinations were Paramount. Because of our competitive Nature, we became adept at the Techniques required for excelling at the Task presented. We learned to ascertain which Topicks were deemed to be significant, then memorized copious Amounts of Facts which would allow us to discuss them with an apparent Facility and Aplomb. Two Weeks later, we would have forgotten almost Everything we had learned. But the Ability to assess, marshal Facts, and discuss remained.

It is probably the direct Result of this Type of Education, that we have never written the Great Canadian Novel, discovered a Unified Force Theory, or become Justin Bieber.

Now that we have revealed the Bias, which, in the Minds of many, will disqualify Us from all Contribution to the Debate, we will proceed.

We would like to quote Dr. Keeney on the aims of Education: "For example, if the aim of education is to produce students who have a deeper understanding of the ‘reason why’ of things, who possess analytical ability, who are autonomous and who are ready to undertake the responsibilities of adulthood, then a teacher’s approach to pedagogy will be defined by these aims. The strategies teachers employ in the classroom will be those that get students to think for themselves; which get them to ask meaningful, informed, and critical questions; and which seek to impart such general knowledge as to give them an ability to function as responsible adults, ready to take their place in the world."

 

 

It is difficult to argue with such exalted Aims. But as one unschooled in the deeper Understanding of Things, and lacking any Training in the Asking of meaningful, informed and critical Questions, we hope we may be permitted a foolish Query: How is it to be determined that the successful Realization of these Aims has occurred?

Our Bias leads us to a stodgy and uncritical Preference for concentrating on practical and measurable Results. Let us aim for Competence in measurable Skills. We have elsewhere expressed a Preference for Surgeons who know the Location of the Organ which they plan to remove, and Lawyers who know how to make a successful Transfer of Title of Land. If they are happy, autonomous, possessed of admirable social skills linked to an Ability to ask meaningful informed, and critical Questions–possibly these are Qualities obtained from their Experience and Observation of Life.

We know not whether Merit pay is a Good Thing. If it should result in a Focus on "Skills and Drills," and measurable Levels of Competence, we do not think the Outcome would be Cause for Lamentation.

P.S.: We do feel we must confess how exceedingly difficult we have found it to think in the Absence of any Facts, Concepts, or Experience relevant to the Topick at Hand. Why, just a Fortnight past, we had settled comfortably in our Chair, and-- clad in appropriately warm but loose-fitting Attire-- removed all Distractions, silenced the Ringer on the Telephone Device, placed our Thinking Cap over our thinning Locks, and prepared to think. We were fully prepared to pose meaningful, informed and critical Questions with respect to our chosen Topick: Quantum Physicks.

Alas, we discovered, to our Chagrin, we knew nothing of Quanta, and even less of Physicks. Cudgel our Brains as we might, the Questions, meaningful or otherwise would not come. Concepts, Facts, and Notions proved elusive. After Fifteen Minutes of Concerted Effort–with not a Single relevant Thought presenting Itself, we removed the Cap, restored the Ringing Capacity of the Telephone, and turned on Murder, She Wrote. We fear that this is the unhappy Result of inadequate Training using the advanced pedagogical Techniques advocated by Dr. Keeney.

 

 

January 16, 2011

We have been much intrigued by the Story of Mark Landis, the expert Forger of Paintings, who donates his Representations to Museums in the United States, pretending them to be part of a family Collection, and bequeathed in Memory of a Relative.

Not all Paintings have been accepted, but many have, and have been displayed as authentick.

We are rather pleased with this Story, since it gives Emphasis to the Notion that Skill is but one Element in the Valuation of a work of Art. The other Element-- the major One-- is the Story.

The Original Work of an Artist is more valued than the Copy–though the Copy be as pleasing to the Eye-- and a dusty Painting discovered in an a Garage Sale, be it ever so pleasing and original, but painted by W.T. Woods, will not be valued as a Picasso. The Parker 51 Pen used by President Kennedy, to sign a specific Document, were it to be identified, would command a Premium in the Marketplace compared to other identical Pens.

This Commonplace of Perception, this Value of the Intangible, points to the Importance of Magical Thinking–which–if considered rightly–is no more than the Power of the Imagination in human Affairs.

 

If it is the Human Imagination which leads us to value Things by their Stories, it is also the Source of our Works of Art, Literature, and Musick. It allows us to conceive, and say-- what the Houyhnhnms of Jonathan Swift could not understand–"The thing which [is] not."

"The thing which [is] not" is not merely an Untruth–it is also a World conceived better than that which we experience. Would the World not be a better Place without Cold Weather, Inequality, Taxes, Death, or Justin Bieber? Let us, then, have warm Coats, Socialism, Rob Ford, Religion, and a Resurgence of Mozart. Thus is the World shaped–as much as it can be–towards an Ideal.

One of our Preoccupations–nay–Obsessions-- is with the constant Battle between the Real and the Ideal. Pushed too far, the Ideal becomes the Scourge of Mankind, with Human Rights Commissions and Religious Imperatives based on Complete Impossibilities. We must sympathize with the Desire for Perfection, yet at the same Time be able to determine when it becomes mere Folly and Nonsense–and must be guided by the Limitations of the Possible.

This is the unenviable Task of all Men; the Difference in Perceptions of the correct Balance ensures that we will all experience interesting Times.

 

 

January 15, 2011

We did receive this morning a Telephone Call from Ottawa.

We should hasten to clarify that Ottawa is not in the Habit of calling us; nor indeed, is it our Custom to respond to Calls made unless the Caller is clearly identified on our Screen.

Over the Years, we have become increasingly less enamoured of Discussions with those who offer us superior, or less expensive Telephone Service, an Opportunity to have our Furnace Ducts cleaned, or an easy Answer to our Debt Problems.

Indeed, the Sound of a ringing Telephone awakens in Us Waves of latent Hostility, and uncovers Depths of Calculated Antagonism which even we are sometimes surprised to discover.

On this Occasion, however–we know not why*-- we raised the Receiving Device to encounter a Representative of the Conservative Party of Canada, who expressed his Concern for our Well-Being, noted our previous Support of the Party, and seemed interested in our Current Stance, in View of the Possibility of a Spring Election.

We were as non-committal as possible, merely wishing to avoid any Discussion.

 

On Reflection, however, we find Ourselves in a completely irrational Position with respect to Politicks. We consider the Bloc to be treasonous, and the Liberals and the NDP merely Socialists in differing Degrees.

On the other Hand, we suffered so grievously from the Actions of the evil Minister Flaherty in the Destruction of Income Trusts, that we cannot bring Ourselves to vote for the Harper Conservatives. We understand all the intellectual Arguments against our Position; namely, that we can vote for no Party. But Human Beings are not rational Animals.

To put aside personal Grievance, and vote for a Party which has attempted to destroy our Financial Security requires a reasoned and philosophical Approach which we cannot, at this Time, bring to bear.

A Pox on all their Houses!

*Perhaps we thought it might be Chief Superintendent Iman Idjit, calling to congratulate us on our perceptive Diagnosis of Schizophrenia in the RCMP. (Drivel, January 9.)

 

 

January 14, 2011

Writing in the National Post, Lorne Gunter notes the Reasons why Haiti cannot recover from the Devastation of its Earthquake. These include:

1. No System of Courts to defend Rights of Property.

2. No Means of Registration of Land Title.

3. No Possibility of Lending on Real Estate.

4.Little Possibility of Insurance of Buildings.

5. Corruption–vehicles donated for Aid use remain unused until Import Duties are paid–Monies likely to be taken by Officials.

In Essence, Prosperity depends on Culture. Muslim Countries, for Example, are not at the Forefront of Innovation and Prosperity, because their Culture focuses on Religious Ideas which are not relevant in the Real World.

Socialist Ideals, which focus on Equality, are similarly unproductive, since Equality is a wonderful Concept which has little Relevance to how the World actually works.

 

 

We have earlier noted that a Primitive Culture, like that in Afghanistan, is not to be changed in a few Years, but might require Fifty.

These Matters are not generally acknowledged, since to do so would contravene our own, chosen Folly: to maintain, despite contrary Evidence, that all Cultures are equal. Everywhere, Mankind is beset by the Need for Illusion, a condition described by Joseph Conrad as its Heart of Darkness.

If the aim is Prosperity, one must conclude that the Culture of Haiti is deficient in Institutions and dysfunctionally corrupt.

We recall Reading of a Suggestion that a new Centre, based on Western Principles of Law and Economics be set up in the Country, so that a Beginning might be made to change the Culture. Residents would be welcomed at the Centre, provided they accepted the Ethos.

As Mr. Gunter points out, Money cannot repair a Culture in which Money has no means to function, one which is intrinsically inimical to Prosperity and the Accumulation of Wealth.

January 13, 2011.

We admit to being overcome with almost unseemly Admiration at the News: "Some schools in British Columbia and Alberta have cancelled year-end award ceremonies for students’ academic and athletic achievements, saying they give students the wrong kind of motivation and ignore other pupils’ talents and interests." (National Post, January 13, 2011)

In such Schools, the focus is on Collaboration, rather than Competition. According to George Couros, a Principal at Forest Green School in Stony Plain, Alberta*: "Students receive regular encouragement from their teachers without public ceremony."

We are joyous to see that the Evils of Competition are at last being recognized, and the undeniable Merits of Collaboration being embraced. Surely Utopia, so long distant and desired, is within Reach, and is like a ripe Plum, ready to drop from a low Branch.

In the Brave New World envisioned by these Forward-Thinking Educators, None will be allowed to rise above his Fellows. The University President or Hospital Administrator will be grateful for the same Stipend as that paid to the Receptionist and Floor Cleaner. Individual Athletes of exceptional Ability will slow their Pace, so that all may pass the Finish Line at the same Instant.

Team Sports will be carefully orchestrated by encouraging Coaches, so that Final Scores show an Equality of outcome, to the Murmurs of Contemplative Fans.

 

In the field of Musick, the more able Competitors will be relegated to inferior Venues, and encouraged to display their talents in Bora Bora, and Nunavut, while those of admirable Industry and Intent, but lesser Skill, will be encouraged to perform at the Metropolitan Opera or Carnegie Hall.

In the fields of Science and Mathematicks, Discoveries of greatest Significance attained by the Exercise of individual Brilliance will be allowed to Rest on Library Shelves, or in dusty Cabinets until the Results be duplicated by earnest and hard-working collaborative Groups, preferably from such Schools as Forest Green, Happy Valley, and Sweet Meadow Mountain.

Oh Joy! Oh Rapture! The World of Equality is soon to flower! The Fox will discourse with the Hen; the Lion will debate with the Gazelle; the Spider will take Tea with the Fly!

We would recommend that Mr. Courso, and his Fellow-Educators be given Medals by the Governor-General, and greater Remuneration by their Employers, were we not cognizant of the greater Effectiveness of the quiet, unobtrusive Encouragement which complete, but reverential Silence may provide.

 

*We must note the Symbolism most apt, and happy: out of the Stony Plain of Reality, grows the verdant, branching Forest of Folly.

 

 

January 12, 2011

Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825) was an English physician whose Father had provided Entertainment for his Family with Readings from the Plays of Shakespeare. Bowdler later became aware that his Father had altered the Plays as he read, omitting or changing Words or Phrases which he felt were unsuitable for his Audience. Bowdler thus conceived of the Notion of producing a Version of Shakespeare’s Plays –the Family Shakespeare–which would be suitable for Family Reading.

In this edited Version, Ophelia’s Death was accidental, rather than from Suicide; Lady Macbeth’s "damned" spot was made simply "crimson;" the exclamation "God!" replaced with "Heavens!"

Great Suffering Succotash! How deep run the euphemistic Needs of Mankind!

We would hasten to add that we do not think all Words to be suitable to all Occasion, but it is interesting how powerful is the Need to Censor. This Need seems to become ever greater, as increasing Numbers claim the Right never to be offended. Muslims kill over the Matter of Cartoons; Lesbians appeal to Human Rights Commissions over "homophobic and sexist" comments by Night Club Comedians; "degrading remarks" about a fat Lady using her Obesity to gain a Parking Spot warrant a Fine; a Broadcaster loses Employment for using the word "nigger" in a News Editorial Meeting.

 

It should come as no Surprise, therefore, that a Publisher in the United States is deciding to release a version of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn in which the word "nigger" is replaced by the word "slave." The word "injun" will also be removed. (National Post, January 5, 2011.)

Doubtless this will make the Book more palatable to a greater Audience, but we lament the Move away from seeing Things as they are...or were. This is an Attempt to rewrite History to conform with a Modern, and likely passing Prejudice. It is similar, of course, to the Objections made to the Teaching of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

How can we fully understand our present Thought, if we refuse to examine its Path and Development?

Perspective is All.

 

January 11, 2011.

The News that the Work of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who claimed to have shown that vaccinations are linked with autism, has been shown to be "an elaborate fraud," causes Dismay, but should not be a Shock to the seasoned Skeptick.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) proposed the Scientific Method of Reasoning by Induction precisely to combat the Human Tendency to proceed from an assumed General Theory downward to the Particulars. He proposed, instead, that a General Theory should be derived from a Consideration of Particulars. We quote his Statement at the end of this Piece.

Although we give much Credence to Science, and the Scientific Method–and rightly so-- we should remember that it is Contradictory to many Basic Elements in Human Nature. Those who cloak their Conclusions in the Mantle of Science, cannot always be believed.

We would note, in addition to the Fraud of Dr. Wakefield, the Frauds by those engaged in the study of Climate Change, Saturated Fat, and Cholesterol.

The Frauds with respect to Climate Change and Saturated Fat are becoming increasingly known. The Fraud with respect to Cholesterol still holds considerable Sway, with the Manufacturers of Margarine suggesting that High Cholesterol is a Matter for the Contemplation of Suicide, and every Doctor a Pusher of Drugs to fatten the Profits of Statin-Makers.

Those interested might well google "high cholesterol longevity" to discover an article by Ray Peat. Studies have shown that high cholesterol in the Elderly is associated with Longevity, not premature Mortality. There is, of course, a website devoted to Skepticism about Cholesterol: www.thincs.org.

As we have noted elsewhere, Truth is no match for Politics, or Ambition. Skepticism is a Currency which can never be debased. Vigilance is the Prerequisite for Survival.

Here is the Quotation from Francis Bacon:

There are and can be only two ways of searching into and discovering truth. The one flies from the senses and particulars to the most general axioms, and from these principles, the truth of which it takes for settled and immovable, proceeds to judgment and middle axioms. And this way is now in fashion. The other derives axioms from the senses and particulars, rising by a gradual and unbroken ascent, so that it arrives at the most general axioms last of all. This is the true way, but as yet untried.

(The New Organon, aphorism 19)

 

 

January 10, 2011.

We note with great interest that Tom Burlington, a former television news Broadcaster, is suing WTXF-Philadelphia, Fox 29, "claiming he was a victim of reverse discrimination when he was fired in 2007 for uttering the word ‘nigger’ during a newsroom editorial meeting." (National Post, January 6.)

It is alleged that Joyce Evans, his African-American co-anchor, told him "he could not use the word because he was white."

Part of Mr. Burlington’s defense is that "the station failed to take any action in a similar instance when journalists were discussing a ‘dumb criminal’ story and an African-American commented: ‘Man that’s one dumb nigger.’"

While we are not in favour of using Epithets for the Purpose of being hurtful–that being a Revelation of an inadequate Command of the Language--we think it extremely foolish to make certain Words unutterable in any Context. They are, after all, only Words. Words do, indeed, have Power, but to give them the Status of Taboo, is a great Danger.

 

On such Grounds do the religious Fanatics destroy Others, and betray their Religion. Particularly ludicrous is the Notion that one Race may say a Word with Impunity, yet another must face Sanction.

Those who ascribe the power of Taboo to certain Words simply make Themselves vulnerable to ridicule, and place on Themselves the Burden of an Angry Response, which might otherwise have been avoided.

We print in the Drivel Section an Article composed much earlier: Are Queers Smarter than Niggers?

 

January 8, 2011

On re-reading our Lament of Yesterday concerning the Decline in the Prices for many of our Stock Holdings, we are reminded of a notable Exception: Dynacor Gold (DNG). It had been bumping along through most of December at around $1.20–and indeed we expected nothing more until a News Release. The Company might inform us of the Production Numbers for the first two Months of the Fourth Quarter. They might publish Results of preliminary Sampling from their Tumipampa Property. Such News might cause a Movement in Price.

Unaccountably, the Price has risen this past Week–in spite of the Decline in the Price of Gold–and now stands at $1.68.

 

 

Each Day, we have looked for News, suspicious that the Rise in Price has revealed the Leaking of unannounced Positive Information–but each Day we have been disappointed. It is possible, of course, that some esteemed Analyst has recommended the Security, and the small Number of available Shares has responded accordingly.

The Stock now represents so large a Portion of our Portfolio, that any sane and sensible Investor would look to taking some Profit. We are thankful that we are definitely not in that Category. It is our Intention to hold on until at least $3.00. This is a Lottery Ticket with a real Chance to be valued at $10.00. We would rather have the Disappointment of Decline than the Ignominy of selling dramatically too soon.

January 7, 2011.

Readers of this Diary may have encountered the terms, Geezermobile Eight, and Servciceable Six. We would like to take a moment to record the Passing of a third Vehicle, a 1996 Geezermobile of Cartier Status, blessed with many fancy Options. We would have kept this cloth-topped Geezermobile–a very rare variety–but for its habit of requiring a new Heater Core every six Months.

We have sold it to our Mechanick, who plans to drive it only during the Summer. Ceremony and Celebration to be held this Day at 2 p.m. at the Lumpenmbangen Offices. A number of Heater Cores will be melted on the Barbecue.

We note a comment by the Pope that "God’s mind was behind complex scientific theories such as the Big Bang, and Christians should reject the idea that the universe came into being by accident." (National Post, January 7) "Contemplating [the universe] we are invited to read something profound into it; the wisdom of the creator, the inexhaustible creativity of God."

 

It may well be that the "mind of God" was behind the Universe. But one of the great difficulties is resolving the contradiction between Godly Benevolence and universal Malevolence. Those who like to focus on human Concepts such as "Mind" and "Intention" in discussing the Creation of the Universe tend to be somewhat selective.  They show preference for lightly skipping over the predatory, survival-at-any-cost Nature of Existence, the chaotic and random Elements which render life "unfair" in human Terms, and a great deal of Misery which Human Beings, over many Centuries, have struggled to alleviate. From our Perspective, Robert Frost, in his poem Design. was more perceptive than the Pope. After describing a rather macabre and unlikely Configuration (or Design) of White-- a Flower, a Spider, and its Prey--a Moth, he asks: "What but design of darkness to appall?--/ If design should govern in a thing so small.

We have no Objection to a Consideration of the Notion of Intent behind the Universe. But we think a careful Examination of Creation is not inclined to reassure Us with an unalloyed Confidence about the Character of the Intender. By their fruits, ye shall know them.

On a third Matter, we note that Gold is in a Swoon, and our related Stock Holdings looking pale, nauseous, and uneasy. Having re-purchased our Niblack at 44-51 cents, we are dismayed to see it trade as low as 42 cents. However, Nothing goes up with an unbroken Line, and one can never expect Certainty in predicting the Future. The Universe which we inhabit has been ever thus.

 

 

January 6, 2011

We express our Gratitude to be living in a Part of the World where the Stupidities of Mankind, while abundant, are not immediately threatening to our Person.

Such is not the case in Pakistan, where Salman Taseer, who objected to the insane Laws of Blasphemy in that Country was murdered by a Policeman, the very Agent and Symbol of Religious Fanaticism.

What is further of great Disturbance is that religious Leaders in that Country have applauded the Assassination.

The Laws against Blasphemy were originally intended to protect Places of Worship in the 19th Century, but have come to be a convenient Stick with which to oppress any personal Enemy: the laws provide for the Penalty of Death for anyone who speaks ill of Islam and the Prophet–but the Evidence required is easily fabricated.

Islam is a Religion which demands Respect. But this Respect is based on Fear, not Admiration for Benevolence and Good Works.

We are not the first to observe the Link between the Stockholm Syndrome–in which Hostages become grateful to their Captors for not abusing them to the Limit of their Power–and Religion.

 

Human Beings, aware of the Dangerous Circumstance of the World, are most anxious to please the imagined Captor-Creator, and willingly submit to imagined Demands. Hence the History of Sacrifice as a major Element in Religion.

In the modern World, nowhere is this more evident than with Islam, which is Rife with Terror and the Demands of Obedience. We recently (June 17, 2010–Dreimer’s Drivel) wrote a Piece entitled "Why Do People Believe in Nonsense?"-- in which we identified Fear as a significant Cause for Belief in Nonsense.

The Roots of the Stockholm Syndrome, and its Expression in Religion are doubtless deep in the Human Psyche. It may well be that Submission to a threatening Leader has led to a Darwinian Advantage in the Survival of human Groups. As we see it, the only Hope for a reasonable Existence is to suppress the irrational Demands of Religion, which can be justified only on Hypothesis and Imagination. We are not particularly hopeful.

 

January 5, 2010.

We are much used to hearing Those who advance the Notion that Climate Change is caused primarily by Man adduce the Evidence that a Preponderance of Scientists believes the Proposition to be true.

This is, of course, a foolish Argument to begin with, since the Popularity of an Opinion is no Measure of its Veracity.

In this particular Matter of Climate Change, there is yet another Reason to distrust the Argument. Lawrence Solomon, writing in the National Post on January 4, cites the claim -- quoted in the Washington Post, the Guardian, and CNN–that "97% of the world’s climate scientists" accept the Consensus View.

According to Mr. Solomon, this figure was obtained by two Researchers at the University of Illinois, who conducted a survey. They initially excluded those most likely to think the Cause of Climate Change to be a result of the Sun or Planetary Movement–"solar scientists, space scientists, cosmologists, physicists, astronomers, and meteorologists."

 

Of the remaining 10,257 Earth scientists, they chose a sub group of 77 Scientists, of whom 75 –or 97%–thought Human Beings contributed to Climate Change. This sub group consisted of those who identified themselves as "climate scientists."

This is reminiscent of the Famous Matter of Ancel Keyes, who,  in 1958, did a wonderful Study which showed the Correlation between saturated Fat and Heart Disease in Seven Countries: Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, Netherlands, Finland, U.S.A., Japan.

Had the estimable Mr. Keyes chosen: Finland, Israel, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France, and Spain, he would have reached the opposite conclusion.

The Moral of this Tale is simple: beware of Scientists with Political Motives and Private Agendas.

The Truth is never a match for Politics, or Ambition. (Observation #92)

 

 

January 4, 2011.

We have spent several days at Wind-in-the-Pines, where rain gave way to the picturesque: the white Lake and laden Pines.

In the Solitude of the place we reflected much on the Meaning of Existence, the Nature of Altruism, and the Powers and Limitations of the human Imagination. We composed the most wonderful subtle, and brilliant Expositions on these Matters, the only Defect being that we neglected to commit them to Paper, or to our Electronic Device.

We are fearful that our Insights may never return with the same Force and Clarity, but are grateful that we have made such significant Progress in our Thought.

 

Just as Xanadu is a mere Fragment of a Long Dream, interrupted by the "person from Porlock," just as the greatest Fish are those that are glimpsed, but not caught, so, alas, are our greatest Revelations.

If we do attempt to catch some feeble Echoes of our great Thoughts, and transcribe them to this Forum, the Reader will do well to remember that they are mere Shadows and insubstantial Shades of a Greater Illumination.

 

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