I Just Say No!

The world is large and it’s full of wonder, but it’s also an obstacle course of nasty.  This is the stuff that we know is unfair, stuff we know is a scam, stuff that insults our intelligence and our integrity.  In general, we just have to put up with this crap – or spend our entire lives cultivating an apoplectic ulcer.  However, there is one way to survive without being totally pissed off all the time: that’s to stop, take three deep breaths and refuse to participate.  Here are just a few things I refuse to do.  (Some of them are more serious than others.)

I refuse to use Gillette products – A while ago, the multinational boys at Gillette made a video that called me (and every other man) a bad friend, a bad father/brother/uncle, a bad role model, a bad mentor, generally a bad person, certainly a sexist and quite possibly a … anyway … you get the idea.  Their only purpose, as far as I can see, was to cash in on trending “toxic masculinity.”  So be it.  Well, I’ve been called a lot of names over the years, but I’ve never paid anybody for the privilege – and I’m certainly not going to start now.

I refuse to wear short pants – I know it’s uber-fashionable, but in ten years, we’re all going to laugh ourselves stupid at the photographs.  Here’s the deal.  Unless you’re a swimmer, a diver, a runner, a pole vaulter or an ice hockey player (think about it!) there is no logical reason for a grown man in the northern hemisphere to wear shorts to work.  Just sayin’!

I refuse to Tweet – My only mission in life is to communicate, and Twitter is the poster child of communication in the 21st century.  So what’s the problem?  Quite simply, Twitter is the meanest, nastiest, most judgemental, disrespectful, petty form of communication since Grog the Caveman grunted obscenities at the Neanderthals down the road.  History is going to look at our time and conclude most of our problems came from the horrible way we talked to each other – and I’m not willing to be part of that.

I refuse to eat liver – I have no philosophical quarrel with liver, but I ain’t going to eat it.  (This is my mother’s fault.)

I refuse to give money to charity — Sounds hard-hearted and it is, but in my defence, I’ve donated tons of clothing, furniture and food over the years.  I’ve recorded radio programs for the blind, cooked pancake breakfasts, swept floors, washed dishes, picked up garbage, sold raffle tickets and taught public speaking in a federal prison – all gratis.  When I get to the Gates of Valhalla, I’m not going to have anything to be ashamed of in the good works department.  My problem with giving cold hard cash to charity is there’s always a middleman somewhere, and no one is ever willing to tell me how much he’s taking off the top.

And finally

I refuse to be lectured by students – I’ve always worked on the premise that the ideas of young people are fresh.  They look at the world with an untrained eye, which gives them a lot of latitude — and that’s a good thing.  However, I’m not interested in being berated for my many failures by someone whose biggest accomplishment so far in life is mastering puberty.  The notion that kids bring just as much to the table as the experts who’ve studied the problem for years is ludicrous.  Here’s how it works: if your kitchen is flooded, who are you going to call to fix the water pipes – some child fresh out of Cultural Studies 101 or a professional plumber?  The choice is yours, but I’m going with the plumber.

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.

Just Some Thoughts

One of the huge fringe benefits of being a writer is you get to sit around, do nothing and call it work.  Your mind can wander wherever it likes, and as long as it comes back, you’ve had a productive day.  Some stuff you use, some stuff you lose, but most stuff you just don’t remember.  Here are a few things that I do remember.

A friend will offer to help you move.  A good friend will offer to help you move the body.

You can buy a birthday cake and eat it all yourself.  Nobody checks!

How come ghosts wear clothes?  Did their shirt and pants die with them?  What about underwear?

Up and down are opposites, but whether your house burns down or your house burns up, the result is the same – you’re homeless.

Opening the refrigerator and staring in does not produce something “really nice” to eat.  It’s true.  I’ve tried it.

When a vegan comes to your house for dinner, to be polite, you serve vegan food.  But when you go to a vegan’s house, they never return the favour and cook you a steak.

Sometimes, I wonder if Vladimir Putin ever wonders, “Am I actually the bad guy?”

Daylight Savings Time is like cutting 10 centimetres (4 inches) off one end of a blanket, sewing it onto the other end and saying the blanket is longer.

The only game in the world that’s just as hard to lose as it is to win is Rock, Paper, Scissors.

When rich people play Monopoly, does it seem like work to them?

I’m absolutely certain that, in prison, murderers tease attempted murderers for not getting it right.

You have a favourite burner on your stove.  Admit it!  You know it’s true.

Adam Sandler isn’t actually funny, but he’s a nice guy and was on Saturday Night Live — so everybody gives him the benefit of the doubt.

When you throw a ball and your dog brings it back, it’s probably because they think you’re having fun throwing it.

And finally:

In the Old Norse religion, Odin (the leader of the Gods) promised to rid the world of Ice-Giants.  I’ve never seen an Ice-Giant, so that’s something to think about.