Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Head-In-Sand Syndrome

The Head-In-Sand Syndrome


I was watching the American political debate the other night (for lack of something else to do). Quite surprisingly, I learned something new again. Go figure. You know how I’ve described the various political arenas as sandboxes. Usually it’s in the context of its occupants kicking sand in each other’s faces. That’s pretty well the norm in any political arena. But now I see an entirely different use for the ‘sandbox’.

Apparently, if you stick your head in it far enough, you see a whole different view of the world in terms of how you perceive it and it perceives you. The picture down there is an absolutely amazing snapshot. Apparently America is the most powerful country on earth (as it looks from down there in the American sandbox). Not only that, but it also represents peace and prosperity and ‘the American dream’. Well, let’s see how that measures up.

It must be one helluva view down there. “America” according to them is the United States of America. The fact that the second largest (geographical) country in the world which is also located in ‘America’, sits right on top of them escapes their view. And they don’t even remember that they are sitting on top of Mexico, also part of “America”. You’d think they’d remember. They went to war with us way back in1812. We (mainly with the help of Tecumseh) kicked the snot out of them – even burned down their White House. Mind you, I hear rumors that they think they won that war, so maybe they think that Canada belongs to the United States, or maybe it’s just another state. And Mexico, right below them; well Jeez, they fought a few wars with them guys. Remember the Alamo? When it comes right down to it, these ‘American’ folks are nothing more than the ham and cheese in the sandwich known as North America (and I use that analogy advisedly). Oh, and then there’s South America, which is a whole other continent. Ah well, they’re all backwards in South America anyway and they speak them foreign languages over there so they obviously don’t count.

Well, peaceful: The second amendment pretty well takes care of that. By the eighteen sixties, there didn’t seem to be anybody else to boss around, so they went to war with themselves: killed half a million people. That didn’t turn out too good, so they waited for other opportunities and finally went to war with the country of ‘Europe’ during WWI and II. Then they did a police action in Korea, then Vietnam, ad infinitum. Now they’re in a war with a country called ‘The Middle East’. And that other country: ‘Africa’, well they don’t really count for much except them Somalians who keep stealing ships for costly ransom. So much for peace and peaceful.

Prosperity: I think what they’re talking about there is the top one percent of the population – you know – the ones with the big kickbacks and top salaries. The other ninety-nine percent are the ones you make promises to at election time, but that’s only for a short period of time. That’s just one of those nuisances that will go away after the election.

Oh, and the ‘American dream’: Well we can all dream can’t we?

It’s hard to say what kind of sand castles these politicians are building down at the bottom of the sandbox but as self-anointed rulers of the world, they must be pretty fancy. With all that borrowed Chinese money they can afford to be lavish.

But did you ever see what happens to a sand castle if someone steps on it? It’s not a pretty sight. Well, they’ll find out. Or at least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.


Just sayin’.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Bullying Culture

The Bullying Culture

I wasn’t going to talk about bullying, but with all the kafuffle about it going on, I guess I’d better weigh in. Just because it’s now happening in cyberspace doesn’t mean it’s a new phenomenon for heaven’s sake. I was just reading a poem of Robert Service that was written about a hundred years ago addressing the remedy for this very thing. In fact, if you think about it, it’s been going on forever if you look at examples of Hannibal, Genghis Kahn, Alexander the Great and so on. It’s a natural phenomenon. That’s how you get what you want without getting into a physical confrontation.

What we have to get through our heads is the fact that it exists – period. The question is why do these children feel so alone and battered? Don’t they have a family? Don’t they have parents who will teach them and encourage them and comfort them? The answer to that is a pretty well self-evident NO.

Ya, ya, I know. The old guy is bellyachin’ about families again. You darn right I am! Dad is staying with his girlfriend, mom is shacked up with her boyfriend, and the kids are in day care under the supervision of some twenty-year-old worker who hasn’t got a clue about life skills. What sort of stupid family is that? Whatever family values mom and dad might have had at one time have been thrown out the window in exchange with self-gratification. I hear it all the time; ‘Oh the children will adapt.’ Yeah, right. So the children, fragile and unprepared for the pain that is coming their way decide life ain’t worth it and so they off themselves. Who’s to say they’re not better off?

In the meantime parents cry for their dead child who hasn’t had a chance at life yet, they say while the community wrings its hands at such a tragedy, and the do-gooders form all sorts of support groups to deal with the calamity. Well. Where the hell were they when the kid was born. Where the hell were they when the child was growing?

You know, families are not a new phenomenon either. They’ve been around for a long time. It’s just recently that we’ve decided to mess with them – to restructure them and to slough off the responsibilities associated with them. We want all the perks that come with raising a family; i.e. bragging rights, the possibility of grand children, child welfare allowance. But the responsibility of teaching and instilling confidence in the child – well we leave that to someone else; whoever has the expertise in that. That kind of gives us time for our own pursuits.

The child in the meantime comes into this world and looks around at what he or she is in store for. Seeing nothing but nastiness, it says “Who needs this? I’m outa here!” and leaves this miserable world behind. Oh sure, short-term pain, but what is that compared to the long-term pain of parents who are incompetent, or on drugs, or drunk, or just too bloody busy. Think about it. If you’re a little kid all alone seemingly in a world of seven billion nasty people continually putting you down, that’s a pretty scary thought.

We shouldn’t be crying for the child at all. We should instead be mourning the loss of our family values, at our own inadequacy and incompetence. Having done that, we should then get busy and fix it before it is all forgotten and we don’t know how to do it anymore. At least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.


Just sayin’.


p.s. As I was finishing this piece I heard some woman on the T.V. saying that we shouldn’t be too quick to criminalize this sort of behavior because children after all don’t realize what sort of hurt they’re causing. They perhaps do this in a joking way and you don’t want to give them a criminal record for that. Oh no? Oh yes! There have to be consequences and severe ones – instantly! I have no patience for these do-gooders who insist on diluting consequences for malicious acts. Perpetrators are perpetrators – not victims. Get your head on straight woman!

Saturday, October 13, 2012



A number of years ago I was exploring the streets of Pearl City on the island of Oahu in Hawaii when I came across something I hadn’t seen before. Of course, in Hawaii you see many things that wouldn’t be imagined in wintry Manitoba. A couple of chickens were tethered in the front yard of a residence, strutting and scratching like chickens do. Naive as I was, I thought they were just pet birds. It never occurred to me that they might be fighting cocks. Thinking back on the flaming colors of their plumage, I imagine that’s exactly what they were.

Well that’s not unusual you know. Back when I was a kid, there was all kinds of chickens around within the city limits. Well what with wartime rationing, eggs was a good source of protein. Not only that, but the odd roast chicken on the table wasn’t at all a bad investment. You’d be surprised how much company one of them attracted.

That’s why I was so surprised at the item in the news yesterday that a woman was fighting for the right to keep a couple of chickens in her city yard. What? You now need to go to court to keep a couple of chickens? Can you imagine going into the law courts building with a handful of chicken defending lawyers looking for the chicken room?

“Which way to the chicken prosecutor?”

“Two doors down from homicide, on the left.”

I can’t even imagine a crown prosecutor who would like to be known as someone who might go after chickens for gawd sakes. What I’d like to know is who is the nincompoop who crafted this idiot bylaw. It must have been a slow day at City Hall. Jeez, if they want to go after dangerous birds, let them take on the majestic Canada Geese for leaving their many deposits all over the city as a show of disdain for the bylaws.

What I’d like to see is a complete reversal of the chicken bylaw to require people to keep chickens within city limits if they have the yard space, right along with vegetable gardens. In fact it should be a special requirement of food banks to do this. Chickens are after all the most benevolent friends of mankind. They give their eggs freely for us to enjoy. And when we hang them up by their feet to slit their throats, they just hang there quietly and let us do it. Did you ever see a cow do that, or a pig? Not on your life! And while we’re at it, we can get away from that miserable processing plant in Brooks Alberta that includes a dose of E. coli in its processing.

What’ll they think of next – banning children? No, I think city councilors should focus on fixing streets and cleaning sidewalks in winter rather than sticking their urban noses in things they know nothing about. At least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.


Just sayin’.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Back to the Future News

Back to the Future News

Journalistic junk! It used to be that journalists reported the news as it happened. That’s why we called it news. We don’t get that anymore. What we get now is anticipated news, in other words, news that hasn’t happened yet but is expected to. For example; last week reporters were all over Justin Trudeau who said he’d announce next Tuesday whether or not he might run for the leadership of the liberal party. In typical Trudeau fashion he told them to just wait. That’s all the reporters wanted was the rumors. It would have been a little disappointing had he succumbed to their pressure. Then there’d be nothing to speculate about. This way though, the news was abuzz with speculation about Trudeau, his potential rivals, even the future of the liberal party. Newsrooms were busy, pundits were busy, even pollsters were busy. Holy Toledo! That’s a big spike in employment on news that hasn’t even happened yet. I guess you might call that making something out of nothing.

Well, and that’s not the only thing there are rumors about. Anywhere from that Omar Kadr kid’s future in Millhaven to his family’s Al Qaeda leanings to the NHL dealings; you name it and they’re speculating about it. It’s apparently not what makes the world go ‘round, but what (may or may not) make the world go ‘round at sometime in the future.

I don’t really think there’s a reporter who can actually report the news when it happens. When somebody sets fire to something or unloads his firearm into somebody’s body, it’s usual for it to be reported by a cub reporter. That’s kid stuff. Leave the what- ifs and the might-bes to the senior staff.

You know come to think of it, that’s probably how we got to where we are. Well just think of it. Remember Dick Tracy’s wrist radio, or Flash Gordon’s super equipment, or even the Batmobile? There you have it. We are what we imagine we are. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day soon we don’t go running around in little coveralls with a club knocking each other down like the Mario Brothers. At least that way, we’ll be getting our exercise.

It’s a sad state of affairs when our evolution over the last century has progressed according to the dictates of comic books. And the journalists, well let’s face it there aren’t any anymore. It’s just as well. Nobody can spell properly anyway. And that snotnose Trudeau was just leading the speculators by the nose. He did indeed announce his candidacy exactly when he said he would. By starting a rumor about a rumor, he drew a big crowd to the hall where he made his announcement and got good press coverage. So I guess there is a use for these speculators after all. It’s almost comic book-like. At least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.


Just sayin’.