Government?

Look across the civilized world and you’re invariably going to find an election.  This is a quaint institution where every once in a while ordinary people decide who’s going to kick them around for the next couple of years.  Once it’s over half the people are pleased and the other half are pissed off.  But that’s the nature of democracy: somebody’s gotta lose, and losers are generally vocal about it.  In fact (and it’s a little known fact) the word “democracy’ comes from two words: “demos” (a corruption of “demons”) and “cracy” (a corruption of “crazy.”)  These were the pejorative terms opponents shouted at each other in the Athenian Agora where democracy was born.  However, despite the sophisticated name calling, Greek democracy was very primitive.  For example, not everybody got to vote — or even speak — including slaves, women, Pericles’ mistress Aspasia, convicted felons, tax evaders and anybody named Xerxes.  Nor was democracy universally accepted.  The great philosopher Socrates wasn’t a fan and advocated that only men who wore socks should vote.  When the youth of Athens began wearing socks and sandals, he was put to death.  (Rightly so!)  Some years later, Alexander the Great came along and put Athenian democracy to death — where it lay dormant for about 2000 years.  The democracy we know is a weird evolution of English barons, Boston lawyers, Virginia farm boys, French revolutionaries and John Stuart Mill.  It serves us well, but it’s by no means the only form of government available.  Here are a few other systems of note.

Monarchy – Named for the Monarch butterfly, this is government by glamour with plenty of crowns and gowns to go around.  Monarchy is characterized by over-the-top weddings, footmen, tiaras and glass slippers.  And even though one out of two princes are charming, monarchy has some serious enemies — such as spinning wheels, poison apples and wicked stepmothers.  However, when done properly, Monarchy can result in happily ever after.  (I’m lookin’ at you, Kate.) 

Authoritarianism – Sometimes called “tyranny,” “despotism” or “one-man rule” — whatever it’s called, though, it invariably works the same.   There’s always a short man who didn’t get laid in high school.  He somehow seizes power and spends the next few years acting like a paranoid dick to everybody.  (Hence the name – dictator.)  Dictators are characterized by funny hats, funny haircuts and no sense of humour.  And they don’t like to be called Winnie the Pooh.

Theocracy – No idea what this is, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t some silly-ass notion that religious leaders should run the government!  I mean really!  Nobody’s that stupid!

Tribalism – See Facebook.

Fascism – You get to march a lot, but you have to do as you’re told.

Patriarchy – This is where women do all the work and men sit around talking politics.

Matriarchy – Oddly enough, this is also where women do all the work and men sit around talking politics.

Parliamentarianism – This is a combination of two French words, “parle” which means “to talk” and “merde” which means – uh – google it.  The theory behind government by parliament is if enough elected officials talk enough shit long enough, eventually the problem will simply go away.  The best example of parliamentarianism is Canada where they’ve been talking about poverty, homelessness and unemployment for 50 years.

Republic – Parliamentarianism on the Potomac.

Anarchy – This looks great on paper but normally ends up with a big, ugly biker drinking beer out of the skull of the college sophomore who thought it was a cool idea.  It’s basically Mad Max meets academia. 

Communism – Sometimes called Soviet Democracy, there’s only one party, and it isn’t very much fun.

Socialism – Favoured by actors, rock stars and other rich people, the single premise of socialism is somebody else (normally called “they”) isn’t paying their fair share.  Socialists are political tourists who drink champagne, ride around in limousines, attend the occasional rally and then retreat to the leafy green suburbs to contemplate their awareness.

Polygamy – Oops!  Wrong blog!

Ochlocracy – This is a fancy word for Mob Rule.  It was made popular during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, and if you still think you’d like a taste of it, open a Twitter account.

Oligarchy – Not to be confused with Russian gangsters, this is where several groups of powerful people get together, hijack the government and do whatever the hell they like because they’re so badass/ruthless, ordinary people are too scared to …. Hey!  Wait a minute!

Meritocracy – A Cloud-cuckoo-land form of government popular with children and those college sophomores again.

Magocracy – A society ruled by magicians.  It’s hard to explain, but essentially it’s Harry, Hermione and Ron Weasley running the show.

Plutocracy – This is rule by rich people who – I suppose — take their instructions from Pluto.  This form of government has probably fallen into disfavour since a gang of treacherous scientists defrocked the tiny planet.

And finally, two forms of government that are very popular these days:

Kakistocracy – This is where the voting public continually elect the stupidest people possible and then wonder why nothing ever gets done.

Kleptocracy – This is where people vote for the candidate who certainly seems sincere — only to be taken in by these con artists who, once elected, turn out to be nothing more than common thieves.

Some (old) Ideas

One of the cool things about calling yourself a writer is you get to do all kinds of things that everybody else calls bone-ass lazy.  Stuff like spending hours drinking coffee, taking long strolls through the Internet and staring off into space.  Wordy Wordsworth called it, “… powerful feelings: … recollected in tranquility” or something like that.  This “work” is essential for writers to hone their craft.  The serious upside is you get to discover all kinds of interesting facts, and you have time to come up with even more interesting conclusions.  Here are just a few things I’ve been pondering for a while.

There’s a town in Canada called Smithers — which means the people who live there are Smithereens.

On average, the Dutch are the tallest people in the world — even though a lot of them are standing below sea level.

Apparently, a huge bunch of people born between 1977 and 1983 are sick and tired of being lumped in with those terminally malcontent millennials.  They have decided to perform a generational Brexit (Genexit?) and want to be referred to as Xennials.  I can’t say I blame them.

In the future, people will look at their electronic devices and think “What a stupid icon for a telephone.”

Despite everybody and her friend claiming they broke the Internet – you can’t.  The truth is the Internet is no longer vulnerable to human attack: there are just too many servers scattered across the planet.  However, before you go all SkyNet/Terminator, 99.99% of all electronic devices are just dumb machines used for storage.

Humans first walked on the moon 50 years ago in 1969.  That was 2 years before women got to vote nationally in Switzerland and 8 years before France quit using the guillotine for executions.  Weird, huh?

One of the earliest and most persistent symptoms of lead poisoning is irritability, so it’s interesting that statistics show violent crime (aside from armed robbery) has been steadily decreasing since lead was banned from automobile fuel in the late 1980s.  Coincidence?  Maybe. . .

For several years, universities have been adding puppies to their “safe spaces” to combat student stress and exam anxiety.  Whatever!  The weird thing is nobody is willing to talk about what happens to the puppies when they’re no longer puppies.  Creepy!

Over 100 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute.  Wow!  And, according to the last time they kept records (several years ago) it would take you approximately 93,000 years to watch everything YouTube has to offer.  That is a lot of avoidance behaviour!

In the last 10 years, restaurant revenues, movie theatre revenues and department stores revenues have all declined — whereas the revenues of home delivery companies like Uber Eats, GrubHub, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have all dramatically increased.  If this trend continues, eventually millennials will never have a reason to leave their apartments.  And this is a bad thing?

Andy Warhol was wrong.  In the future, everybody will have 15 minutes of privacy.

And finally:

I think it’s absolutely hilarious that a generation raised on South Park and Family Guy spend so much time being eagerly offended by everything.  Irony is not dead.

Job Titles That Really Aren’t!

Like it or don’t, folks, titles are important.  What you’re called dictates how others treat you.  For example, when I worked in radio (yeah, I’m that old) there was always at least one person who occupied a desk, did the typing, answered the phone, took notes, ran errands, etc., etc., etc.  She (and in those days it was usually a she) was called the executive producer.  She wasn’t a secretary because secretaries were paid by the hour and got overtime, whereas executive producers were on salary and could work all the hours that God made — at no extra charge.  It was a tricky/dicky thing to do, but the harsh reality was (and still is) personally and professionally, executive producer packs a lot bigger punch than secretary does.  So, many young women took the pay cut and added the prestige to their social life and the title to their resume.

These days, we live in a world of degrees, diplomas and certificates, so it’s a little more difficult to call yourself something without a piece of paper to back up your claim.  However, it’s not impossible.  Here are just a few examples of job titles that look as though they carry some credibility but really don’t mean anything.

Nutritionist – Apparently, this is not a professional designation like dietician.  Anybody can call themselves a nutritionist — even if they advocate eating cheeseburgers and fries four times a day.  The truth is some nutritionists have some training, but the majority have either just read or just written a trendy food book and haven’t any real scientific knowledge about what the human body needs to keep rolling.

Life Coach – The difference between an ordinary person and a life coach is – uh – nothing.  The qualifications a life coach needs are – uh – none.  And the only ability essential to being a life coach is – uh — convincing you that they are smarter than you are.

English Teacher – There are many schools around the world that will hire you just because English is your native language.  In most cases, these aren’t “real” schools, and the money is ridiculous low — but they will pay you.  Or you can just show up in a medium-sized village somewhere in the back of beyond and start charging people for English lessons.

Preacher/Evangelist – This is one of those weird ones that only works if you’re not associated with a recognized religion.  As long as you don’t claim to represent anybody but yourself, you can preach hellfire and brimstone — or eternal salvation — to anyone who cares to listen.  You can even charge them for the privilege!  However, once you start presiding over weddings and miracles, you’re going to draw some serious attention from local law enforcement.

Tour Guide – Unlike travel agents, tour guides don’t need any qualifications.  All you need to do is point at things, pronounce the names properly and pause long enough for pictures.  If you know a little history – bonus!  If not, call it “Hidden History,” and make it up.  After all, Marie Antoinette might very well have been a lesbian.

But my absolute favourite (and I’m thinking about doing this myself) is:

NBA Free Agent – The National Basketball Association has virtually no rules about who can play in the league.  You have to be male and over 18 years old.  That’s it!  So, in order to become an NBA free agent, all you have to do is inform the league — in writing — that you consider yourself eligible for the draft.  Bingo!  You’re an NBA free agent.  (Now, that would look really good on my business cards!)