What I Know Now – I Didn’t Know Then

ideas

I’ve been roaming this planet for a few years now, and I’m constantly amazed at how little I know.  In fact, my comprehension of ideas and events seems to be working backwards — like an intellectual Benjamin Button.  Stuff that I knew with all certainty to be true when I was a younger man has become – not so much.  Here are just a few examples of how dead wrong I was.

When I was a kid, I was certain that the best minds would always, eventually, rise to shed light on, and perhaps even vanquish, the dark forces of ignorance.  Welcome to 2020, boys and girls, when the leader of the Free World is going to be either Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders or – holy crap! – Joe Biden.

As a young person, I believed information and education were the keys to solving the world’s problems.   Not even close!  Here we are, the most educated population in history, with all the information in the universe available to us at the click of a mouse, and what are we doing?  Playing “Fortnite” and binge-watching The Walking Dead.  I rest my case.

I used to think that popular democracy was a good thing.  ‘Fraid not!  I have one word for you – Twitter.

At one time, I believed that intelligence was a sliding scale.  It was my assumption that all people were relatively smart, depending on how you looked at it.  Nope!  The world is full of evidence that stupid is real, it’s everywhere and, in some cases, it’s thick enough to cut with a knife.  Plus, it’s contagious.  Hang out with stupid people long enough and you’ll end up buying outrageous amounts of toilet paper because – uh – a bunch of other people are buying it?  (Too soon?)

And finally:

At one time, I thought the truth was an absolute.  Actually, the truth is a moveable feast, and thank God for that, because there are certain times when I want to be lied to.  For example, I don’t want to know how many nuclear weapons have been lost since 1945.  Just tell me none and I’ll be fine with that.  Nor do I want to know how close we are to economic disaster, why climate change can’t be reversed or what kind of bums and noses are in my hotdog.  The fact is, in some cases, the truth will not set you free — it’ll just totally stress you out.

What Writers Think About

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 the last couple of months.

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.

Let’s Fix The World — Part 2

As I said on Tuesday, the world is a mess (“Let’s Fix The World”) but here are three more things that would fix the problem — if only we’d start thinking outside the box.

fix the world

Bring Back Bullies! — When we eliminated bullies from the classroom and the playground, we unintentionally created a bigger problem.  We produced an entire generation who a) don’t understand the world is full of nasty, evil bastards and b) don’t know how to handle them when they show up.  I’m lookin’ at you, Vladimir — or Donald ( whatever your pleasure.)  So, every time some pipsqueak Kim Jong-Un dick-tator starts waving his nuclear weapons around, the entire world has to come to a screaming halt while we try to figure out what to do with the guy.  This is a waste of time.  It would be far better to have the bullies show up in the first grade (like they used to) and we could learn how to deal with them long before it gets to nuclear-warfare-scary.  That way, we’re not playing around with these nutbars for years when we should be concentrating on serious things.

Build Some Useless Stuff — This isn’t my idea, but it’s brilliant.  What we do is take all the students coming out of university with worthless degrees (art history, media studies, leadership, philosophy etc., etc., etc.) and put them to work building a bunch of massive, useless monuments.  Things like Stonehenge or the Great Pyramid or the Great Wall of … uh — well — maybe a wall isn’t such a good idea — but, anyway, stuff like that.  This would keep these half-educated cretins so busy they wouldn’t have time to sit around bitchin’ about their lot in life, blaming the 1% and causing trouble on Facebook and Twitter.  And they’ll be too tired to be constantly yipping about “safe zones” and “cultural appropriation” and why we have to change the he/she pronoun to some made up “ze” bullshit.  The result would be the rest of us could quit wasting a ton of time, trying to placate these malcontents — and we can get on with trying to solve the world’s real problems.  Plus, we’d get a pile of new roadside attractions for selfies and such.

Buy Things — It’s pretty obvious that our world is crap at solving problems.  Just take a look!  When we tried to feed Africa, we ended up with Sir Bob Geldof, stumbling around like a tramp looking for a hot meal.  When we tried to halt Global Warming, we ended up with Al Gore whose personal carbon footprint is the size of Milwaukee.  And now that we’re trying to solve the refugee crisis, who do we find on the front line? George Clooney and Susan Sarandon!  (Why don’t we just ask Sean Penn to run the UN and get it over with?)  However, there is one thing our consumer society does extremely well: we know how to buy stuff.  We need to use this ability to our advantage.  For example, if we’re serious about saving the African White Rhinoceros, why don’t we just buy them all?  (There can’t be that many left.)  We buy them all, stamp them with “Property of …” and hire a bunch of Los Angeles policemen to look after them.  Poachers might be mean and ruthless, but there’s nothing on this planet meaner than the LAPD!  And, honestly, how much would it cost?  The EU spends 100 billion Euros every year on foreign aid: a few rhinos would be a drop in the bucket.  Another example.  Want to end poverty in Mali?  Buy it!  Then send a couple of boatloads of  liberal arts graduates (from item #2) over there to build pyramids, and you’d probably get your initial investment back in a couple of years from tourism alone.  This could work for everything from saving the rain forest to stopping the cocaine trade.  Plus, if we just use the money Western politicians waste every year, nobody’s going to feel the financial pinch.  So this year we buy all the whales and tell the Japanese and Norwegians to go hang; two years from now, we buy all the heroin in the world and burn it in the Libyan desert — because we bought that the year before.

Actually, the sky’s the limit.  All we have to do is quit wasting our time and think about it.