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!

Clickbait History!

clickbait

One of the latest trending convulsions of our troubled times is the girls and boys down at the “cancel culture” collective.  They’ve spent the last few months in an orgy of indignation, replacing place names and knocking down statues.  Their idea is – uh – I’m not really sure what their idea is, aside from the childish notion that if you don’t say it or see it, it will magically go away.  (Nobody’s ever going to accuse the 21st century of being sophisticated!)  However, in the short term, revisionist history is a pain in the ass, so responsible people need to find a way to safeguard the facts from these zealots.  Simple solution?  Clickbait!  If we turn history into clickbait (the heroin of social media) not only will people get exposed to history without them even knowing it, but it will also preserve the truth until this modern day “Reign of Terror” burns itself out.  Here are just a few examples to get the ball rolling.  (And thanks so much to AJ for being the inspiration behind this post.)

1 — Disabled man brutally shot in front of his friends and co-workers.

Admiral Horatio Nelson dies at the Battle of Trafalgar — 1805

2 — Privileged British healthcare worker shuns traditional healing and medicine.

Dr. Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin — 1928

3 — Over 250 illegal immigrants killed by angry local militia.

The Battle of the Little Big Horn — 1876

4 — After years of frustration, displaced migrants lash out, topple statues and burn public buildings.

Barbarians destroy Rome – 410 A.D.

5 — Tyrannical leader announces a controversial wall to keep out illegal immigrants.

Emperor Qin Shi Huang builds The Great Wall of China – 221 B.C.

6 — After years of struggle, ridicule and even imprisonment, a man with mental health issues is finally accepted by society.

Adolf Hitler elected Chancellor of Germany — 1933

7 – Teenage girl who gained fame and a huge following when her activist message changed government policy, convicted of terrible crimes.  Guilty or not?  You decide!

Joan of Arc burned at the stake — 1431

8 — 95 reasons your parents’ religion sucks.

Martin Luther nails his Ninety-five Theses on the door of Wittenberg church – 1517

9 – Jaw-dropping evidence that an unemployed Italian sailor scammed millions out of a Spanish royal.

Queen Isabella finances Christopher Columbus’ voyage to America – 1492

10 – Charismatic leader caught in sex romp with steamy Middle Eastern beauty.  Senate takes decisive action to remove him from office.  Read the startling details.

Julius Caesar assassinated – 44 B.C.

11 — Photographic evidence of a strange “craft” in the skies over North Carolina.  You won’t believe your eyes!

Wright brothers fly the first airplane at Kitty Hawk – 1903

12 – 56 wealthy landowners, businessmen and lawyers who used their influence to manipulate the government and get massive tax breaks.  You’ll never guess who’s on the list?

American delegates sign the Declaration of Independence — 1776

13 — US military man ruins pristine wilderness.  Experts say damage could last 1,000 years!

Neil Armstrong steps on the Moon – 1969

14 — Disturbing play glorifies teen suicide.  You won’t be able to hold back the tears.

Shakespeare writes Romeo and Juliet — 1595

15 — Sex worker dies in prison.  You won’t believe her shocking ordeal.

French execute Mata Hari for spying – 1917

16 — New technology destroys ancient storytelling industry.  Folklore threatened!  Thousands of jobs lost.

Johannes Gutenberg invents moveable type – 1450

17 — In a tirade of hate, an elderly man threatens violence against home invaders.

Churchill’s “We will fight on the beaches” speech – 1940

18 — Corrupt leader admits he used public funds to buy an extravagant gift for his wife.  Refuses to apologize!

Shah Jahan builds the Taj Mahal – 1643

19 — Radical religious cult denounces modern society, defying local authorities to open a well-armed wilderness “colony” on private property.

The Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock – 1620

But I think my favourite is:

20 – College students across the country take action to remove offensive material from their campuses.

Nazi youth groups burn thousands of books at several German universities – 1933

 

Time Is A Telescope

clock

Next Sunday in North America, we are switching to Daylight Saving Time, which means we move our clocks ahead one hour.  What a crock!  That’s like cutting the top end off a blanket, sewing it to the bottom and saying you’ve got a longer blanket!  Here’s the deal.  Time is a telescope.  It contracts and expands and, depending on how you look at it, throws everything out of proportion.  For example, an itch in the middle of your back can seem like an eternity; whereas a kiss, no matter how long it lingers, is always gone too soon.  When I was a kid, Saturdays were too short, summers were too long and February frequently had 35 days.  Now that I’m an — uh — older gentleman, days, weeks, months and even years are flashing by at warp speed.

The reality is, though, time is actually getting bigger.  The rotation of the Earth is slowing down ever so slightly, so a second is now an itty-bitty bit longer than it was when we first discovered them.  Luckily, the international time people (Coordinated Universal Time) have noticed this, and they add a leap second to the clock every once in a while so we don’t stray that far from solar time.  Cool fact, huh?  Here are a few more that might change your concept of time.

It takes most people more time to tie their shoes than it takes Usain Bolt to run 100 metres.

There are only 525,600 minutes in a year.

Cleopatra’s reign in Egypt is closer to our time than it is to the time when the Pyramids were built.

Oxford University is older than the Aztec civilization in Mexico.

Spain was a predominantly Moslem country for 200 years longer than it’s been predominantly Christian.

Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone the same year Crazy Horse and his buddies killed General Custer and all his troopers at the Little Big Horn.

The 10th President of the United States, John Tyler, who was born in 1790, has a grandson, Harrison Tyler, who is alive today — and living in the family home, Sherwood Forest Plantation, Virginia.

This year’s Oscar presenter Eva Marie Saint is older than the Empire State Building, Hoover Dam, Mount Rushmore and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Barbra Walters, Christopher Plummer and Anne Frank were all born in the same year.

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show toured Germany and Austria in 1906 — when Adolf Hitler was 17 years old.

William Shakespeare and Pocahontas were contemporaries.

But my absolute favourite is:

According to The Economist, the median age of all the humans on our planet is 28 years– which means that half the people on Earth were born after the first episode of The Simpsons!