150 Years of Canada

An important holiday is coming up, worthy of celebration throughout North America.  It’s a good day for fireworks, cold Molson, and generally sucking up to the youngest large nation of this continent if only because we we might need to flee that way soon.

July 1st is Canada Day, the celebration of Canadian independence on July 1st, 1867.  More or less, that is, because Canada became a nation slowly over the next 150 years.  It was a peaceful and orderly transition that fit with a people that are generally … peaceful and orderly.  We should celebrate by all rising for their national song:

Dum da-Dum da-Dum!
Dum da-Dum da-Dum!
Dum da-Dum da-Dum!
Dum da-Dum da-Dum! …

Whoops!  That’s their second national song.  But they get tired of people from the USofA singing “O Canada”, and only that part of the lyrics, as just about the only thing from this great nation.  It’s time we give them their due as a people that are more than just the very nice people who live next door.  No, once they lace on their skates and pick up their sticks, they aren’t very nice at all.

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Objectivity is Dead. Journalism Must Live.

Megyn Kelly probably thought she had a blockbuster for her new Sunday night interview show on NBC. By sitting down with Alex Jones she clearly planned to use her considerable skill as a no-nonsense interviewer to show the world just who this guy is. It probably never occurred to her that by giving him a platform she was promoting his horrifically unreal nonsense and bringing it to a wider world.

It’s the kind of hubris that Shakespeare made a career out of portraying.

The backlash is massive and there is little doubt it was a mistake. But shouldn’t we shine light on these princes of darkness, the purveyors of a land a few hours past the Twilight Zone? Yes, perhaps, but it takes a certain standard of journalism to do so. The sad thing is that journalism, personified by objectivity, is quite dead. Kelly can’t revive it, either. For better or worse, this is the time for the new daughter of objectivity to take charge of the family treasure, truth, for a new age.

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Progress?

When former FBI Director James Comey testified in the Senate, it was as if the grown-ups had finally arrived. It wasn’t just the air of authority that this straight talking man projects, either. It was the respectful lack of grandstanding demonstrated by actual US Senators which truly enshrined the moment. Whatever comes of this it’s not going to be childish and stupid.

As I write this, there is another sign that the world may be returning to normal. The results of the UK election are still coming in and they are telling. It’s not that the Conservatives have lost their majority which counts here. It’s the fact that polling in these elections is actually predictive once again. It was absolutely reliable before the last election and the Brexit vote, perfectly predicting the results. Polling is back this time and it appears that the world is actually returning to something like normal.

Not that there isn’t chaos in the hung parliament. But it’s bounded, orderly chaos. Small victory.

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The Crazy Peaks

Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does.

Trump is clearly the most dangerous when he is hunkered down and connected to reality only by the thin thread of twitter. The last week has apparently felt even more besieged than usual, either out of exhaustion from his trip or in anticipation of James Comey’s testimony to Congress. Either way, the net result has been a disaster – and the worst may well be yet to come.

If it’s not yet clear to everyone that this man is not fit to lead anything it will be soon.

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Fun with Funny

Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies.
 – E B White.

What makes something funny?  It turns out that there are many different Humor Theories and none of them are funny.  That may seem like a problem right there, but the irony that you expect it to be funny and it isn’t could be funny if you … Hey!  Wait!

OK, so this duck walks into a bar and asks the bartender, “Why is it so often a duck?” and the bartender says, “Look, if you want to analyze stereotypes you could ask why it’s always a bar.”  The duck shrugs his wings, sits down, and gets so hammered he doesn’t even remember pecking to death the priest, the rabbi, and the lawyer.

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Reason

“Conventional Wisdom” isn’t.

Everyday life is the process of understanding and using key facts about the world around us. The sky is blue, red means stop, the 94 bus leaves at 7:53, and coffee will wake you up. Most of the important things in life are obvious enough, based on immediate observation or past experiences strung together.

However, the presence of technology and a growing interconnectedness impinges critical “facts” onto our lives which reach far beyond our senses and sensibilities. Cell phones work because they just work, this thing called “money” in our bank account is extremely important, people who live in distant lands are motivated by something akin to demonic possession, et cetera.

This is where it all breaks down. Or, more importantly, where things breaking down accelerates as reason itself fails.

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“That’s Our Hitler!”

The moment comes about halfway through Mel Brooks’ brilliant 1968 movie “The Producers”. Max Bialystock is deep into his plot to stage the worst musical ever for the purpose of having it close after one performance. All he has to do is raise far more money than the flop could possibly take to stage and no one will ask for their share of the 25,000% of the profits which has been sold to investors. The worst musical ever, “Springtime for Hitler,” has been chosen. It’s now time to cast it.

Hippie Lorenzo Saint DuBois wanders into the casting call and gives his performance. As soon as he says, “If everyone in the world had a flower instead of a gun the world would be one big smell-in!” Bialystock rises triumphantly and declares, “That’s our Hitler!”

It’s the moment when simple comedy runs boldly over the line into farce and never looks back.

So it is with the Trump “budget”. For all we have said about the aspiring dictatorship we can now proclaim that we have our Hitler – but not in the sense anyone expected.

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