You know what he highlight of my day is? Is it being thankful that I didn’t pass away in my sleep? A fresh cup of coffee perking me up as the day starts ? A tranquil ride to work where no one has thrown themselves in front of the metro car yet again? Seeing the shining faces of my family and friends? Wrong.
It’s going to bathroom at work and knowing that I’m the first person to use the toilet. No one else has been near the seat since it was last cleaned. (I know you’re wondering “but how does he know?” Perhaps best if you don’t ask.) Absurd, isn’t it, that an unmolested toilet seat is the highlight of my day. No doubt about it.
But since the election of Emperor Trump, and the installment of Steve “Goebbels” Bannon, absurdity is the New Normal. That someone made a fish tribute to President Trump is just the start of the immense weirdness about to befall the globe.
[Note to reader: This particular blog rant is not absurd in and of itself. It merely serves to point out that absurd is now par for the course. Or this blog rant is proof, and is perhaps yet another reason to have me committed to an institution with darkened windows, staffed by thick-fingered, lightly moustachioed, hulking Eastern European nurses who chiefly rely on ECT as a method to “socially readjust undesirable behaviour”. But I digress.]
It will be four years of mind-bending, constitution-challenging, Dali-eque representations of alternative facts, all emanating from the uncontrolled, unmuzzled mouth of the POTUS, and the mind of the of his righthand man.
Almost makes you wish you Bush-Cheney was back in the Whitehouse, doesn’t it?
There was a report recently stating that if automobile makers want to reduce the weight of their vehicles, they will have to use more plastic parts because they are lighter. What is a key ingredient used to make plastic? Petroleum, the main ingredient in gasoline. So to reduce the amount of fuel vehicles use, they need to use parts made from the stuff needed to make gasoline. There is a price to pay for progress. Ironic. Or is that coincidental? I don’t know. English isn’t my mother tongue.
The same irony is valid when applied to democracy. To make it more useful, relevant and effective, you need more people to come out and vote. But participation rates in democracies have been going down for lots of reasons that I won’t speculate on here, largely, because I will employ far more profanity than usual, and after all, profanity should be reserved for use in the home, classrooms and inside your motor vehicle, where it’s best applied.
Furthermore, of those who come out to vote, most probably aren’t informed on all the issues and vote with their hearts and not their heads. Or they vote against someone or something rather than voting for someone or some idea. We can identify what and who we dislike more easily that what or who we like. Yet, if they knew the price of not voting, or voting with their hearts, maybe they’d reconsider. Or maybe not.
Solution: Price Democracy
Let’s apply some speculative and questionable pricing theory. Democracy needs to be priced properly for it to have relevance and value. You see, when you put a price on something suddenly you give it value you can calculate. Can you put a price on free speech or freedom? Well, it’s hard, but I’d say it’s worth at least $100, before taxes. Maybe a little more if I can print profanity-laced t-shirts and hand them out randomly. But I digress.
Conversely democracy could be priced in an inverse sense — meaning, if you don’t go out and vote, it’ll cost you some real cash. Like $20. OK, maybe that’s too low. Make it $30. But negative incentives tend not to work. Even if you got a tax break for voting in municipal, state or national elections, most people would skip it anyway because the outcome would suck anyway.
Bundling Democracy at the Right Price
What if democracy and voting came in a packaged bundle? Much like mobile phones and cable TV subscriptions, if you could sign up for the democracy bundle that meets your budget and needs, you maybe be encouraged to vote.
Sure, right now, I get the right to free speech, and other services like health care, fire and police protection and sanitation. But what if I could get a free movie every month along with my right to vote? Or if I pay more, I could get 5 or more votes for any given election.
I bet if voting was tied to having your Internet connection cut or maintained, people would come out in droves to vote. Vote or we’ll cut off your Internet. That would scare the piss out everyone. On the other hand, if you could get increased upload/download speeds on your Internet connection if you went out an voted, that might be a good incentive. Or free dope.
Or better yet, you get a discount on your cable/TV/internet/mobile phone bill for each vote you make AND you get to kick someone at the cable/TV/internet/mobile company where you’re subscribed right in the privates for the crappy customer service and time wasted on hold when you need help with your erroneous and unjustly exorbitant bill.
What about loyalty voting points if you vote for one party every election? You’d get a loyalty card that could trade for privileges like a plane ticket to a warm vacation resort, or your street gets paved before the others in your neighbourhood. That happens now anyway in a lot of places, but you have to be intimately linked to organized crime, and that means having to fill in my calendar with even more appointments at brothels and cheap motels than usual, and I’m too busy for that.
And if all else fails, we move to a democracy pricing model based on the single model that has shown itself to be more reliable and accurate than any other since academics and computational models became all the rage: We guesstimate the price like on the The Price Is Right.
Jean-Baptiste Colbert Druker of NDG
Date: December, snowy, and bathed in the glow of a computer monitor. Still trying to find a replacement for democracy that doesn't involve fascists. Or social media.
Democracy: It’s Easier Than Flossing
For some time there was a theory that flossing regularly could somehow help deter heart attacks. That theory has been disproven and rightfully so. Anything having to do with flossing is inherently evil, largely because no one I know, except dentists, the children of dentists, oral hygienists and psycho-killers, has ever been for a dental checkup and heard from said oral care specialist “your flossing habits are excellent!” We always get the drill of guilt for not having flossed either sufficiently or at all. And then a weather front of shame rolls in.
How does flossing in any, way, shape or form relate to my valiant search for something to replace democracy yet does not involve secret police, fascism, communism, or a form thereof? It’s a stretch, I admit, but I had a lot of coffee and sugar this morning so I think I can make this work.
Practice Makes Imperfect
Like so many things in life, the more you do something, usually the easier it gets. For example, kissing, thieving, knitting a wool hat, or hammering a nail. Same goes for flossing.
Your first attempt usually involves a valiant and often violent struggle with the roll of dental floss, or if you use one of those new fangled flossing implements, repeatedly stabbing your inner cheek walls or upper palette to the point where the pain-induced tear that runs down your eye winds up in your mouth, mere seconds after you’ve rattled off a series of profanities best suited for a confession box. (See National Lampoon’s That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick)
But after a while, you get it, you know how to do it, and it becomes almost second nature if you practice a bit. Sure, you might not be perfect, but you know what to do come floss-time. Same goes — or should go — for democracy.
Show Up, Choose, Leave
The democratic process is pretty simple, and depending on where you live and under what conditions, you usually have to practice the skill (and art) of choosing a candidate (or defacing the ballot) maybe every couple of years. So you do get some practice.
Not unlike the flossing described above, you do have to suffer a bit before you get to vote. There are course the interminable election campaigns, which are not unlike the fear one experiences prior to going to the dentist’s, or better yet, these campaigns may be more akin to actually being in the dentist’s chair just before the gum-wrecking, tooth-extracting, needle-inserting, pain-enhancing physician and assistant enter the room to tell you several thousand dollars of expensive and painful fixes are required, and to take out a loan to cover the costs.
Election campaigns are horrendous, wasteful, vainglorious affairs but, like flossing, they are part of the procedure and you can become numb to them with enough exposure. That could be bad if you experience blood loss living through either the flossing or the election campaign. But at the same time, its not all that hard to do your democratic duty. It takes 3 simple steps: Show up, choose, and then leave.
But Am I Qualified?
This begs the question — if, in a democracy, anyone eligible can vote, are they really qualified to vote? Many have suggested the same holds true for making and rearing a child. Too many are eligible and too few are qualified, yet we let that happen all the time (until that kind Mr. Trump spikes our drinking water with birth control pills). But I digress.
We test people who want to drive a car to see if they are competent — and again, too many are eligible and too few are qualified, even if they didn’t sleep with and/or bribe the driving instructor. Yet, 22-chromosed morons and idiots show up to take their driver’s test, choose some answers, spin around a parking lot and leave with a permit for motorized mayhem in their sweaty, greasy, unwashed, little hands.
Should we have means testing to determine who is qualified to vote? Who would decide this? (Answer: me, and me alone) How would this even be enforced? (Answer: lots of robots and a ton of domestic spying). If we tested for intelligence, would it be based on math? science? or a canonical knowledge of Star Wars and Bugs Bunny? (Answer: I’m leaning towards Bugs Bunny)
So much to contemplate, yet it’s so perilously close to dinner. And food wins every time over deep, rational thought.
Dateline: Early December. Wet weather lurks outside my door, while inside, it's getting mighty steamy. I left the shower running and the door open. I am trying to wash off the residue of democracy.
How To Replace Democracy
Does it sound like this post is anti-democratic? Do you think it will spiral into a rant about the failings of our democracy, where your fellow citizens, rich and poor, smart and dumb, well educated and not well educated (note to reader: being educated doesn’t mean you’re smart – look at that interracial-loving, open-minded, all-inclusive Bannon fellow), smelly and perfumed, hairy and non-hairy, are given the freedom and privilege to choose their leaders, no matter how well or poorly they are informed (I’m looking at you Facebook)?
It’s kind of ironic that some of the people who don’t like freedom of speech an despise the press, and are skilled at starting race wars, somehow got elected to powerful positions in the US of A. Especially that tanned, manicured and coiffed hairball, Mr. President Elect. He’d sue you nine ways from Sunday for calling him a short-fingered vulgarian (great blog). And his staff would have you water-boarded, electrocuted and deported just for saying he’s a nut bar. But that is the irony, or better yet, the sick coincidence of democracy.
So, What Are Our Options?
Having just reviewed Ancient Greek social and power structures and the democratic process they applied (I was helping my kid with her homework), it seemed like a pretty good idea at the time, but the Greeks kind of had segregated democracy.
If you were a natural citizen, male over the age of 18 and had done your military service, you could vote. Not the women, though. That would have been too progressive for a warrior-based society that was probably hairier and smellier than an Albanian metal worker’s armpit at the end of his shift. There were also other citizens who had to buy their way into voting. And of course there were the slaves and they had no right to vote ever.
Seems like a good idea, but not everyone is happy with it.
So what are the options for replacing democracy?
Pick From 5 Hardships
Dictatorship/Fascism – Not as good as the marketing department makes it sound. Sure, the rallies are fun, but there are silly uniforms, secret police and usually some form of ostracization by the world community, which makes it hard to get Tom Jones to come to your country to sing at your leader’s wedding.
Communism – Usually results in bad haircuts, crappy clothing options, terrible shopping hours, and you’re made fun of by the rest of the global community, including the Chinese, for drab clothing.
Anarchy – Seems appealing at first, especially where inflexible work hours are concerned, but it makes getting an Uber really difficult because the driver is probably going to robbed or crashed into by some post-apocalyptic vehicle driven by a person with (see a trend here) a bad haircut. And good luck try booking an appointment to get a driver’s licence.
Monarchy/Oligarchy – See “Dictatorship”, subtract the global ostracization and add high fashion, probably some inbreeding and a lot of castles and oodles of snobbery based solely on being part of the “lucky sperm club.” Usually good for some tourism if it’s a monarchy (see England), and great for commercial thuggery if it’s an oligarchy (see Eastern Europe).
Domination by aliens – If they don’t do anal probes, enslave us or eat us for breakfast, this may be the most acceptable alternative to democracy. Would certainly spare us having to deal with the humans who call at all hours from call centers asking us if we’d like to pay more for cable and phone service.
So as we can see, all of the above suck just as badly as democracy, except with the current form of democracy in practice in some parts of the globe, chances are you can buy your way into power more easily, and your vote might count if it’s limited to your house.
With that in mind, I will expound at length in my next post about how and why warm sheep’s cheese is superior to most elected and appointed officials, and way better than a kick in the private parts with a steel boot.
Driving home this evening in my creaky, achy minivan, trying not to notice the criminally exorbitant price of gasoline in my fair city, I heard on the radio that the national bureau of statistics had calculated that the rate of violent crimes in the country had dropped to its lowest point since 1991. Well, I thought, that is a pretty good sign of a society that is not totally going into the porcelain crap collector.
Yet that was followed by a more sobering fact that non-violent crimes had indeed increased in number and frequency, and showed a mild yet consistent trend upward. What made the report truly interesting and surreal was something I hadn’t really considered as a crime statistic before.
A Little Extra Death
Let’s differentiate between non-violent crimes, such as fraud, property damage, identity theft, excessive fruit fondling, and the violent ones, like breaking-and-entering (which sounds vaguely sexual), robbery, Pope-pestering, rabbi-rousing, wearing a pink polo shirt with checkered slacks, manslaughter, murder and pet-kicking.
But we now we have a new category of crimes being counted: terrorism. Just think, blowing up people and places is considered a crime that’s counted among the stats now. When I was growing up writing your name in pee in the snow was considered a violent act. Especially if you misspelled your name or only used lower case letters. Now it’s the ideologically-driven, indiscriminate murder of civilians that police have to count. Like they don’t have enough paperwork to do and African-Americans to physically abuse, now they have to deal with terrorists when they file a report.
Etymology and Cheap Segues
Interestingly, the etymology of the word idiot is Greek: idiōtēs (“person lacking professional skill”, “a private citizen”, “individual” – if that last descriptor is true, then we’re all idiots. Seems about right).
More critical to this fractured, late-night rambling, I thank the literary gods for that etymological deus-ex-machina because I had no clue how I could segue in the next paragraph from crime to the Greek tragedy occurring in Europe, and the subject of this inane comic some of you read when questioning whether you want to continue living or not. (Coincidentally, in a recent Reuters poll it was revealed that the expressed desire to commit suicide and/or vomit after reading my blog/comic has stayed steady between 99-100% among my loyal readers.)
Actually, come to think of it, now that my sugar levels are spiking, if we are speaking of true crimes and true idiots, Greece’s inhabitants and especially its politicians, and most of Europe fall under those descriptors.
Corruption Matched Only By Idiocy
Marvelling at the complicated corruption and financial extortion and ineptitude that is Europe and a bankrupt Greece, one has to wonder who is the bigger idiot, Greece or Germany, the bankroller of the EU.
If we had to define Greek attitudes toward paying taxes, acceptance of bribery monies, nepotism and backroom deals, we could generalize and say they wilfully and knowingly committed fiscal self-fornication for many a decade. When they entered the Euro Zone, they now had a rich Onkel to bail them out.
So when the proverbial περιττώματα hit the fan, some German banking sucker would fork over some cash at exorbitant and usurious rates figuring Greece was good for the dough. Little did those fat, corrupt German bankers know that the Greek skill and penchant for pissing away the money of others was comparable to that of drunkard on heavy diuretics at an ouzo factory. (Btw – I love hurtful national stereotypes. They make writing this crap much easier.)
Simple, Idiotic Answers to Complex Questions
Now that we have all watched this criminal Greek tragedy while Iran was negotiating a sweet deal to continue funding terrorism and simultaneously build a nuclear bomb pretty much unfettered, a simple yet moronic solution presents itself in this episode of the comic once referred to by Pope Francis as “the devil’s dung.”
Bomb everything, pave it over and put up a Wal-Mart. Violent, arbitrary, Neanderthilic and a wholly unnecessary overreaction? Sure. But so are Fox News and shopping at Wal-Mart on a Saturday.
No, I say we follow the simple, direct, armed approach. It has specific, measurable and attainable goals, as was taught to me in management classes. Which I mostly faked my way through as I was playing with my phone.
If you haven’t yet given up on this comic, also known in academic circles as the “meandering minstrel of the moronic” and you are still tuning in from your prison cell or Electro-Convulsive Therapy chair, then I owe you an apology. It has been over a month since the last episode I posted, and I blame the fun I am having at work. (True story, I swear.)
And fun comes in so many different guises and faces, and the latest one actually involved a cull of sorts. That of my wardrobe, and specifically of my pants, shirts, t-shirts, underwear with holes, etc., that were just occupying space and cluttering creativity and orderliness.
Which is an odd but appropriate segue to the subject of this particular installment of the skillfully crafted, deftly drawn, partially poetic chronicle known in the Oxford Literary Companion to the Bearded and Sexually Deviant Academics Association simply as Stanko & Tibor: Fodder for Folly and Asinine Alliteration.
You see, I was reading a book called You Are What You Speak that happened to coincide with an event of supreme idiocy that has become known globally as “Pastagate.” If you’re not aware, check out any of the reports on NPR, SoundCloud, Huffington Post or Facebook. The short version: Xenophobic Quebec government language zealots runs amok with my tax dollars when they could be funding hospitals, schools, the poor or just shutting the hell up.
(Yeah, I know it happened a month ago, but we creative types like to brood and eat sugary cookies and fatty, grilled steaks all in an attempt to spike our creative juices, but sometimes that cookie thing becomes a minor addiction and distracts us from the task at hand.)
So, how do I get from the clothes culling to the language police? Well, Pastagate was yet another upsettingly ridiculous event where the language spoken and written by allegedly free people came under the scrutiny of some linguistic idiots. And the aforementioned book cites countless examples in dozens upon dozens of countries where some people have tried to do the same thing in the name of language purity (and xenophobia and, ahem, nation building). Governments, kingdoms and religious types the world over since 806 A.D. have been trying to regulate language and keep it “pure.” They try to cull excess “foreign” words, cut down what some academy or such deems inappropriate, and thus through edict, fiat or policy keep things orderly and safe for society at large.
We wouldn’t want to introduce dirty, foreign words that have a certain “je ne sais quoi” or even worse that have “chutzpah” that could create “angst”, now would we?
Besides it was a chance for me to gratuitously refer back to my last installment a month ago with the inflatable unicorn hat for cats. Shameless? Sure, but since when have I had shame? A conscience, maybe, but no shame.
So please keep reading, keep commenting, tweet, forward, like, whatever you want to spread the word of this injustice (about me not being recognized as a brilliant cartoonist/auteur) and maybe the universe will reward you with a nice toasted bagel with butter or cream cheese.
Well, it has been a long, long, long time since I last posted anything apart from two story updates that a) were written when adrenaline had kicked in after a severe lack of sleep and way too much caffeine needed to keep me semi- functional at work and b) displayed an uncanny literary and poetic quality that some of the most respected minds in the academic community have described in numerous journals and conferences as” a pile of steaming crap.” Yes, I took umbrage at those remarks but I was so busy blogging for the car ads, I couldn’t supply a witty rejoinder or a wry retort.
So after a long hiatus (I hear they have pills for that now), I am posting a comic that should have been posted well over a month ago when this whole Middle East thing went viral. Dictators were falling left, right, and center, and sure there was some bloodshed, but it made for gripping TV. Please recall the events of pre-Japan and then read this comic and laugh. O yell, Or take your hand gun and hold up a convenience store. Whatever and wherever the mood takes you. Just be sure I won’t accept responsibility.
I am about to repair to the bedroom for some intense TV-watching and then some eve more intense passing-out, followed closely by snoring and then maybe a mid-night jaunt to the bathroom hoping I don’t smash my toe on anything, and then probably a pee followed back crawling back to bed and snoring.
Just a short post to let you know there is a new comic out. It seems odd, and it is, as am I, but in a good way, not in the bad, “have the police monitor his chats” way.
It’s the start of a short political series given the elections going in America, and other parts of the world where democracy is a force for good. Or evil. Or stupidity. I get those confused all the time.
I wish you all well, be healthy, be skeptical, and eat and sleep plenty.
And for those of you in the North American part of the world, I hope you had a wonderful and restful Labor Day (and Labour Day for those of you n Canada).