Saturday, November 3, 2012

By popular demand...

Halloween is done. Now there are no more consumer relevant holidays until Christmas. Fortunately we can exercise our free market rights between now and then by shopping until our credit limits have been bloodied and beaten. Of course nothing has come to symbolize those rights more than the jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus. But Santa Claus is so old school. Not edgy. Not dangerous. Not patentable.

One of the true blessings that has come from combining democracy with free markets, besides the complete negation of our own humanity, is the ability, nay the requirement, to adapt all things to the service of the gods of marketing.

Take the lowly penguin for example. You cannot use it for food, unless you are shipwrecked on Elephant Island, just ask Shackleton. You cannot be used for clothing, they do not go with anything you own. We have been totally unsuccessful training them to flip hamburgers, so they are of no use to the service industry.

But wait. We can use them for marketing. They certainly have no bearing on Easter, or Queen Victoria's birthday but how about Christmas. Perfect! Penguins are cute and entirely meaningless in that context so lets use them to market Christmas.

But wait. We are in Alberta. And we are Albertans. We have our own mythology. We believe in the ethics of hard work, determination, the individual, god and sparkly vampires. We are not like those communists in B.C. and Saskatchewan, we are Conservatives. All of us. Every one of us.

Artists Rendition
We need something that will symbolize our core beliefs. Something that says we don't need high school diplomas, an educated populace, or imagination. Something that shows how very very very very important this holiday is to our souls and spiritual well being. We need something that truly represents all of that and so much more. Something that is Christmas in Alberta in the year 2012.

Well, now we have it. Now we have the Christmas Capybara!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Spare the rod and spoil the logic

I recently saw a blog post about using corporal punishment with children. All the studies I have seen reference in blogs seem to show a negative correlation between spanking and general well being.

In the comments section that followed the post a lot of people disputed those findings. Every one of those commentators turned out fine because they had been spanked as children. They weren't spanked excesively, just enough to teach them a lesson. I am sure the studies showing all the benefits of spanking are being supressed by the liberal bleeding heart inteligencia.

The other thing that became apparent is how recent a development personal and societal problems really are. Before, when spanking was widespread, everyone grew up respecting everyone around them. There seemed to have been no problems with violence, crime or mental illness. Of course now that some parents don't spank their children problems with violence, crime and mental illness are rampant. The guilt I feel for having caused these problems runs very deep although I am not sure how not spanking my son, TroubleMaker, relates to spousal abuse, theft, murder, war, and depression on a global scale.

I was impressed the powers of logic and reason the people who had been spanked were able to bring to the entire discussion. Besides the idea that they all turned out just fine, there is also the concept that a little bit of violence makes an effective and efficient teaching tool. To be honest I had never really considered that possibility. When I think of the minutes I wasted showing the babysitter how to use the television remote when I could have just slapped her around a bit, I am astounded. Why did I have to go to the trouble of showing my wife how to use an orbital sander when I could have just slapped her around a bit? Did I need to waste my time showing my 79 year old mom how to use her cell phone when I could could have just slapped her around a bit? I have to admit I am rethinking the idea of asking my wife any questions about cooking.

The fact that everyone who has ever been spanked has turned out okay really shows how wrong it is not to use violence when training children. And the ability to realize that once corporal punishment is no longer used all forms of discipline become meaningless really showed how well versed the pro-spanking group is on the subject of human development.

I had never previously understood the relationship between fear and respect. It seems that without fear there can be no respect. Communication, love and even respect itself are simply tools used by bleeding heart social liberals to undermine the fabric of our orderly and sound way of life. It is only through the broad appilcation of fear that we can keep those who know best in positions of power, which is exactly where they should be because they know best. We know they know best because they have told us. They know how to use fear.

One other point that seemed to be constantly made is that any new knowledge is bad. Everything was always better back then. Especially when people were spanked!

The only thing I don't understand is if hitting your child occasionally is good, then how come hitting anyone you please isn't better? It has to be better. So in considering all the arguements that were presented I have detemined a useful set of guidelines anyone can use before hitting someone else:
  • Only use enough force to make your point.
  • Only use enough force to cause just enough pain.
  • Only use violence against those weaker than you.
  • Only use violence when it is too much work to do something positive.
  • Only use violence when you want to teach someone a lesson.
  • Always make sure you backstop your reasoning for uising violence with ignorance and supersition.
  • Only use violence when it is for someone's own good.

All things were better back then, and it is obviously spanking that acheived that for us so I think adopting any regressive thinking will in fact benefit all of us in the long term! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June 17, this year

My fifth Father's Day and not a single belt sander or skill saw (you don't know how thankful I am), but neither was there a motorcycle or new motorhome.

For the past few days we have been gearing up for Father's Day. TroubleMaker loves to give gifts and he is good at it. From my Oilers cap to my weird orange Halloween cat, he has always worked very hard to pick out gifts he feels are appropriate and he always does it with the enthusiasm and logic only a child can bring to the activity. They weren't things I would have chosen for myself but I treasure them. So today he got me a spotters guide to World War II aircraft and a kit for making paper airplanes.
This got me to thinking and as often as that gets me into trouble I felt today it might be a worthwhile exercise. As much as I like to be praised and honoured regardless of whether it is deserved, I think Father's Day also imposes some requirements on us, the fathers. It is a time when each of us can take a moment and consider what being a father means. What are we trying to teach our children? What kind of people would we like them to be? What can we do to be better fathers to our children? It is time Father's Day meant something more than a card.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Old as dirt and twice as charming

There are a lot of things a preschooler doesn’t understand. They don’t seem to understand the value of money, time or vegetables. They don’t understand that things wear out.

TroubleMaker and I were in the car doing some errands the other day and he wanted his window rolled down. The car is 10 years old and the window by his car seat doesn’t work anymore. I explained the mechanism had broken. The window had worn out.

PhotobucketWhy did it wear out?

Everything wears out eventually.

He paused for a moment and thought about that. Then he asked me if I was going to wear out. Perceptive.

Right now I am 51 years old. I am quickly approaching my 52nd birthday. Rumour has it that after that is my 53rd birthday. Aging doesn't stop.

After a half century of good and bad decisions I am starting to wear out. Most of the hair has fallen out of my head; I don’t even want to talk about where it is growing instead. My teeth require more work than I thought possible. My right arm and shoulder are giving me problems. My cholesterol is climbing. I have chest pains. My hips are bothersome. My knees start to smart just thinking about climbing the stairs. My heels throb. At night my legs twitch. Even my bladder is becoming a nuisance.

Sleep has changed for me.  If I sleep in the wrong position I end up with a stiff neck. Sleep is not supposed to be a risky activity. Do I have to get in shape to sleep?

I have never been much of an athlete although I used to swim, cycle, cross country ski and play squash and racquetball. I wasn’t in great shape but I wasn’t completely pear shaped either.

Time and chocolate have a way of sneaking up on a person. They also have a way of wreaking havoc on your joints, ligaments and muscles.  So I did what any self respecting man would do, I ignored the symptoms.

Of course I couldn’t ignore them when I tried to stand or walk. Not completely. Not to the point of being able to hide them.  So my lovely wife noticed.

At this point I would like to stop for a moment and explore one of the differences between men and women. Men are about doing and women are about communicating. Science based television programming aimed at smart people always seems to get around to this topic. Anything about our own strengths and weaknesses is always popular.

My wife communicated to me what I should do and it had nothing to do perdition or traveling, so I did it. It has ended up being several trips to the doctor as well as a couple of trips to labs for testing.

In the end there was nothing terrible wrong. A couple of sports injuries, a lax attitude, a fondness for chocolate covered long johns and a love of scotch have taken their toll.  So far no one has indicated beer is a problem. I didn’t think I would ever have sports related injuries. Too bad they were football so I could at least brag about the glory days.

But all is not lost. Medications can help with some things. Pain cream and applying ice to the affected joints can help others. Proper fitting shoes can help. And exercise.

With a busy 3 year old son who just gets busier and busier I am left with one alternative. I have to get into shape. So we are hunting for a tread mill and I am visiting the fruit crisper in the refrigerator more often. I wonder though, if I end up with more energy, what will be the next thing on my list?

I would like to pass on a message to any young people reading this: Quite reading about the aches and pains of middle aged people and go get a life.

As an insightful nurse told me during all of this, aging is not for sissies.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers Day and the Zombie Vampire Invasion

Halfway through the year and here we are sitting in the middle of Father’s Day. It is a good for day for children, wives and families to shower the fathers in their lives with presents and barbeques. There are no vampires. I just noticed when I mention vampires a lot more people read my blog.

TroubleMaker gave me some books for Father’s Day. He got me a cook book we will be able to use together and a couple of story books we can read together. Then with the help of his mother, he made me a breakfast of waffles and bacon.

 This all got me thinking.

On Father’s Day and all the other days like it, we celebrate the named group. On this particular day we fathers can pat ourselves on the back when our families don’t do it enough and relax with whatever family friendly pursuits appeal to us. And that is what we always do. We celebrate ourselves.

After we have finished the celebration we are no wiser or happier than we were before the celebration. So as TroubleMaker and my lovely wife prepared my breakfast I started to consider what being a father meant.

If my hair line hadn't deserted me years ago it would certainly have been frightened off by TroubleMaker.  There are days when I wonder if TroubleMaker is my reward or my punishment. And almost every chore would be easier if I didn’t have the input of a preschooler.

I think Father’s Day is really a day when we fathers should be taken a few moments to consider the circumstances that cause us to lose our hair and try our patience. To celebrate the fact I get to play dinosaurs and monster trucks. And how he has taught me so much.  He has taught me how important it is for me to be healthy for his sake. He has taught me there are more questions than there are seconds in a day. He has taught me I need a nap every day. He has taught me we all need to read, every day, together. And he has taught me (this is where it gets sappy) how much I can love someone.

So today I will accept the gifts and love of my family and I will try very hard to hang on to the lessons my son has worked so hard to teach me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

If you don't like it here...

Edmonton, Alberta. It is at 53° 33” 0’ N and 113° 30' 0" W, approximately. The average high for the month of March is 1° C. There is still the possibility of snow.

This is where I currently live. This morning it has been snowing. The wind was blowing a little bit. It is -5° C and with the wind it feels about 6 degrees colder. We have seen more snow this winter than we normally do, so we like to think, but that is not true. This part of the globe is cold and snowy in the winter time. Sometimes it is cold and snowy in the summer time. It gives us a break from the mosquitoes.

To go along with all of that cold and snow is the complaining. People love to hate winter. I used to enjoy winter, and still do sometimes but as I age my patience with the frosty season is growing shorter and shorter while the season seems to grow longer and longer. I am not alone in that feeling. People around me, in my family, my social circles, and neighborhood all seem to feel that winter is getting to be too much. I agree.

So why are there so many people in Edmonton? Why are there so many people in Alberta? We are here because of history. We are here because of stupidity. We are here because of jobs.

Our ancestors decided they needed to be somewhere other than where they were. So for some reason they selected this country. I understand the need for people to escape persecution, to look for freedom. So why did they settle here? A couple of seasons living in this country should have told them it is just not nice. And even now, we have to spend more to stay warm, eat and generally get around than the people who live in tropical climates. We are using more resources to get at resources we need in order to live in an environment where we need more resources to live.

There were the greedy. This land seems to have a surplus of resources and if we had kept our appetites holstered we might not have need all those resources. So now, here we live in the dark and the cold extracting those resources so a few of the smarter people can get rich and live in warmer climates.

When you look at the planet you quickly realize there is a band that runs around the centre where the weather is warm. Warm is not cold. How do I know this? There is some supposition but did you ever hear Bob Marley sing about block heaters, snow shovels or frost bite? As you move north and south from this band of warmth and livability the climate get colder and colder until all you have left is a frozen waste land.

Sure people talk of the beauty of the north, and it may exist, but in the end miles and miles of ice and snow are still just miles and miles of ice and snow. Beauty lies in trees, grass and tropical seas; things with colour. Snow is white. White is not a colour. It is an absence of all colours.

So people go south for their vacations. They feel they need to get away to somewhere warm to relax for a couple of weeks. Might it not make more sense to live in a warm climate where you can stay relaxed and then come up to a cold climate to play in the snow for a couple of weeks. It is not like if we all left the snow would just disappear.

What is the solution? Simple, move everyone to a climate that does not have snow. Now you are thinking there is simple problem with that plan, there are too many people on the globe. You are right. There wouldn’t be room. The first thing to do is find me a suitable place in the sun, with appropriate living accommodations. This means a steady income (don’t confuse this with a job), a nice home with furnishings, and all the other things I need to enjoy my life. Then we, as a species, need reduce our population.

There are a couple of plans for that. We could simply eliminate the stupid people but that would lead to too much arguing about who qualifies. I could draw up the specifications for such a qualification but not everyone sees from my point of view yet. As an alternative we slow down the breeding. Limit every couple to half a child. That is a statistically derived value and any one who thought otherwise would qualify for the ‘stupid’ category I am not allowed to specify.

People in Canada, the United States and other countries around the world worry about human rights. It is a valid concern but I have the solution. Get over it! We could use a means test to determine who can breed. We set the bar high enough that the majority of people cannot pass. Problem solved.

Dealing with people who float through multiple relationships would require stipulating that if they have bred once they will not be allowed to breed again. Problem solved.

There are many other problems that could come from this kind of solution but we are well enough equipped to deal with them. As you read this right now you may be voicing all sorts of objections. Shut up.

The best part of this is that within a couple of generations the population would be reduced to a size the lands around the equator would be able to support. As a side benefit it would also mean less pollution and a generally cleaner world.

We also might have to reevaluate our own attitudes towards commerce, industry, the environment and our fellow man (and woman), but that probably wouldn’t hurt. After all a system that keeps encouraging growth on a planet with dwindling resources doesn’t sound like a system we should be all that proud of.

Monday, March 7, 2011

It is still -20

It wasn’t the gutting of the Alberta Health Care. It wasn’t making quality education an option only for Alberta’s elite. Nor was it the idea of selling his fellow citizens to the lowest bidding oil company. Even the idea of being the prophet for a corrupt and obsolete philosophy didn’t seem to bother him. Once Ed Stelmach realized that, contrary to what Ralph Klein said, being premier of Alberta gave him no control over the weather, there was nothing left to do but resign.