I’m An Optimist (2020)

One of the problems (the biggest one, actually) about being an optimist is people think you’re thick.  They might listen to you carefully, even agree on occasion, but there’s something in their eyes that says, “Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.”  It’s an occupational hazard of living in the 21st century where ‘abandon hope” is the soupe du jour.  It’s not that people are particularly convinced we’re all screwed; it’s just that a lot of folks have the misconception that pessimism comes with an extra portion of smart.  After all, nobody wants to look like a simpleton who still believes in Santa Claus and happily ever after.  We’re all adults here, and happy endings belong in children’s fairy tales.  Think about it!  Once you get past Snow White and the girls, one of the greatest love stories of all time, Romeo and Juliet, ends with a double suicide.  Ouch!

The problem is we’re taught from the year dot that life doesn’t always go our way.  It’s a good lesson, but because we’re children, we make the assumption that that’s the way the world works.  We call it being realistic.  But it’s not.  In fact it’s the exact opposite.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying the world is all rainbows and roses – it isn’t — but the truth is that, throughout history, the good guys always win.  Believe it or don’t: they do!

Here’s a simple test.  You’re sitting here reading this because?

A — You have to work 16 back-breaking hours every day on the business end of a whip.
B – You can’t read or write.
C — Some power-mad asshole and his minions are controlling everything you see and hear.
D — You have cholera, tuberculosis, polio or any of a hundred other diseases.
E — You don’t have enough money to feed yourself; forget about buying a computer!
F – You died in childbirth.
OR
G — None of the above — because over the years, a continuous line of good people did away with all that bullshit.

I don’t care how pessimistic you think you are; there’s no denying we live in the most benevolent society ever.  We’re richer, better educated, healthier and more socially aware that at any other time in history.  But here’s the deal.  This wasn’t always the case; we’ve had to work at it.  We’ve had to overcome wars, famine, bat-shit crazy dictators, natural and unnatural disasters and a boatload of debilitating diseases — just to get this far.  But we’ve always prevailed – ALWAYS.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here. 

Here’s a perfect example of what I mean.  A couple of thousand years ago, a guy we call Otzi Man froze to death in the Alps.  (He had an arrow in his shoulder and a ton of bad luck.)  That was the way it was back then.  But try that these days and you’ll have rescue teams from two different countries fighting over who’s going to save your ass, a medical helicopter, paramedics, a stretcher, trauma nurses, a hospital, doctors, antibiotics, sheets, bandages and a line of people willing to donate blood.  That’s progressive, folks!  So I’m no rocket scientist, but of course, I’m an optimist!

Just A Bit Of News …

Here’s just a bit of news from around the planet.

Just when you thought this year couldn’t get any worse – Snow White died!  Not the real one, obviously, but the one that Disney turned into a feature length anim … “Oh, for Godsake!  It was a cartoon!”  Anyway, Marge Champion has passed away.  She was 101.  Back in the 1930s, she was the teenage dancer Disney hired as a live model for his megahit Snow White.  She worked on and off for two years and was paid $10.00 a day (Actually decent money, back then.)  But Ms. Champion was only the body.  Adriana Caselotti was the voice, and she passed away in 1997.  Thus, Disney’s Snow White is no more.  But that’s okay: we all know that — like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and all the rest — Snow White is actually immortal.

In other news, the town of Asbestos, Canada (Pop. 7,096) has decided to change its name.  From now on, it wants to be known as Val-des-Sources.  Kinda cool, given that asbestos is one of the bogeymen these days.  However, there are a significant number of townspeople who aren’t happy about it.  They speak French, and they see this as another example of the Anglo-Canadian majority pushing them around.  You see, the French word for “asbestos” is amiante, so strictly speaking, to most of the people who live there “asbestos” is just a made-up English word, and changing the name is bowing to Anglo pressure.  Perhaps!  Personally, however, I think calling your town Asbestos is not the best way to attract tourists.  “Tired of the Covid Lockdown?  Why not spend two weeks in the breathtaking town of Asbestos?”

Meanwhile, NASA has taken the gloves off.  They’re going back to the Moon, and they’re taking one of the toughest companies on this planet with them — Nokia.  NASA has selected this bad boy to build the first cellular telephone network on the Moon as a prequel to a long-term human presence on our nearest celestial neighbour.  Kickass choice!  Nokia means NASA is serious.  Any network they build will be heavy-duty and probably permanent.  Remember, it was the good folks at Nokia who made the Nokia 3310, back in the 2000s.  That baby was the Chuck Norris of cellphones, and the stories about it are legendary.  People bounced the Nokia 3310 off concrete sidewalks, dropped it out of apartment buildings, threw it at speeding cars, ran over it, set fire to it, tried to drown it and there’s even a documented case where it stopped a bullet!  In your face, Huawei!

And finally:

Another Prime Minister (Katrin Jakobsdottir of Iceland) laughs off yet another earthquake!

Stuff I’m Cheering For …

For the last ten years or so, I’ve been surrendering slowly.  Like a dwarf peeing on a forest fire, I’ve been raging against the forces of evil who want to turn everybody on this planet into a grim-faced, Politically Correct automaton — just as miserable as they are.  These are the folks who destroyed satire, abolished irony, replaced love with the “relationship” and sucked the fun out of every holiday from Valentine’s Day to Christmas.  And I’m not even going to go into what they did to sex and junk food!  Anyway, with Covid-19 and American politics fueling the fire, for a while there, I thought all was lost.  Man, do I need to replace my rose-coloured glasses!  There are tons of cool things happening all over the world, and every one of them is a bucket of hope to pour on the flames.  So here are just a few things I’m cheering for these days. 

Hallowe’en parents – It’s a tough year to have little trick-or-treaters, so I’m cheering for anybody who’s trying to keep the holiday alive – especially the one who aren’t boycotting Mulan.

Women who wear skinny jeans – I have no idea how they get into them, and I’m sure they can’t be comfortable, but anybody who strikes a blow against yoga pants gets a cheer from me.

Movie makers – Actually, I’m giving 3 cheers to the people who’ve decided only villains wear those hideous Man Buns.  Good going, folks!

My niece and her husband – They’ve been together forever and have never once mentioned the word “relationship.”  (I think they’re in love.)  And now they’re having a baby.  The audacity of optimism!  Total congrats!

Je suis Samuel It goes without saying that I’m cheering for anybody who stands up to those idiot terrorist bastards

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – Since she was elected leader in a very weak minority government, she’s handled a terrorist attack, a couple of natural disasters and kicked the crap out of Covid-19 – and, oh yeah — in her spare time, she had a baby.  Living proof that not all politicians are dolts.  BTW, last week, she was re-elected with the largest majority in 50 years!

That Guy in Canada – A Canadian onion seller tried to put an advertisement on Facebook, but it was rejected because it was “overtly sexual.”  (The ad was just a picture of onions.)  Laughing all the way to the bank, Jackson McLean posted the same picture and Facebook’s rejection on his own website.  The onions sold out in 3 days!  Take that, you mindless techno-tyrant!

And finally:

The Danes – Every one of them.  The Danes have a word, samfundssind that basically means “community spirit,” but it’s more about people taking responsibility for the community — kinda like “Hey, we’re all in this together, so don’t be a dick!”  This flies in the face of the WHAT-ABOUT-ME culture most of the rest of us have.  But it also means Denmark is a cool place to live.  People there are nice to each other; they wait their turn; they don’t throw trash in the streets; they say please and thank you and clean up after their dogs.  But mostly, they trust each other to be just as reasonable.  FYI, Danish parents routinely leave their baby buggies on the sidewalk when the go into shops and cafes.  That’s some serious trust!  We should all take a page out of that book.