It’s been a bit of a busy time here the past few months in Toronto — renovating a room, friends visiting from overseas, birthdays, parties, UEFA football/soccer, festivals, parades and a general get out of the house it’s summer! Life stuff. Human stuff. And a broken toe. I dropped my Super Dictionary as I was gathering books for a neighbourhood yard sale. The edge landed hard on my left foot — the one with all the metal in it from an ankle injury of a few years ago. I said ouch rather loudly. By Super Dictionary I mean exactly that — a 1978 book called Super Dictionary, a book full of images of super heroes and words.
As a dictionary, it’s an epic fail. It doesn’t give definitions of words so much as explanations of them, and the explanations are astonishingly stupid, as you can see:
I have the book because of my appreciation for super heroes, words, comic book art and vintage stuff. Never for a moment did I think it was a dangerous book. At any rate, with the room renovation completed, (stories will be forthcoming) the yard sale done (stories there too) and my toe on the mend, I decided to get caught up with everything I’ve missed while I was busy with other things. In other words, I peeked into the mad, mad world around me, and a few things caught my attention:
Once upon a time in our culture, in conversational English we talked at a rate of about 145 words a minute. Today we’re talking at a rate of between 160 – 180 words per minute or more, which might seem like progress until you realize that our brains can’t keep up, at least not yet.
Seems that if we miss words, we compensate by filling in blanks with what we think ought to be have been said based on context, our knowledge of the person and our preconceived ideas. I dunno about you, but it seems to me a good recipe for fun and trouble.
Speaking of fast talk and progress: the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised its projections for economic growth noting that emerging economies might not grow as fast as originally projected. In fact, it states that “global recovery depends on progress in Europe and United States.”
Let’s take stock of that shall we? The IMF’s conclusion/opinion is based on business measures such as oh, productivity, the stock markets, manufacturing, trade deficits and surpluses, housing starts, employment levels, prices of resources, nation states’ debt ratios together with their fiscal and monetary policies.
Dear IMF: Introduce different measures that do not profile our addiction to growth. Factor in disruptive technologies, changing political realities, extreme weather and human nature. After all, doesn’t addiction to growth and output and production ignore some other, yet fundamental economic realities? For example, being on the constant lookout for cheaper means of production, depleting resources and reaching a saturation point. Didn’t some politician say we’d be harvesting the moon’s resources? Will we enslave aliens, give them bread and water and work them to death so that we can have things?
Dear IMF #2: Two words. Black Swan.
In the testing lab of the world and time does any lauded, academic, textbook economic theory or model or belief hold true? Here’s what I want to know after listening to, talking about and reading all the economic prognostications: how can Economics, or politics for that matter, ever be considered science? How can either be considered anything but belief systems each with different creeds, different orthodoxies, with zealous proselytizers, teachers and followers, some of them fundamentalists and some of them unquestioning and blind. I don’t get it.
Dear IMF #3: Are you relevant?
Maybe economics and forecast and financial markets are all part of a blip in time and another example of a modern twist on the tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes. And so, this enquiring mind wants truly to know: why is economics considered a science while the placebo effect, astrology and consulting Runes, Tarot, I-Ching, tossing a coin or pondering the meaning of tossed sticks’ landing positions are considered irrational and insane?
Speaking of insane, did you catch the news that Canada is socialist? A Canadian writer said we have a kind of “hardheaded socialism” that has somehow translated into Canadian households being, on average, wealthier than American households — on average, by about $40,000. American media picked up the story.
Hello, people. Comparing American and Canadian systems, infrastructure and households is like comparing Pinky and the Brain to Shari and Lambchop. Still, the headlines south of the border were catchy: “Socialist Canadians wealthier than Capitalist Americans? No one would have peeked at a story with the headline that read Writer suggests hard-headed socialism the reason for Canada’s soft landing in global economic crises.
So America; we are not a socialist nation. The truth is, in many ways, and certainly under the current Canadian regime, we’re becoming more and more like you every day.
Back to more and more alike, it seems cloning is big in the world of horses. Did you know that cloned horses are now allowed in equine competitions such as jumping? It’s a cost thing: why pay upwards of double-digit millions for a horse, when you can make a clone of a great one for a fraction of the cost?
For anyone who wants to talk about the ethics of this, meet me at the Rooster Coffee House, show me a superhero trading card so I’ll know it’s you and we’ll talk.
There is a contingent among us who believe that there are no limits and that anything and everything is possible including being delivered s from the evil of aging and illness and the resident evil of a living human becoming a permanently dead human.
It seems that warped wishes and needs can come true at any price. Once we paid witches and warlocks and priests and shamans, or prayed to a god or gods. Today we find other ways. We clone horses, we go to the mall, we go online. Some of us buy the real thing. And if we can’t afford it, it’s not as if we deny ourself. No way. We get a fake, a facsimile. Which in part fuels a multi-billion-dollar counterfeit and knock-off industry and the pay cheque stores, dollar stores and shopping malls littering our towns and cities. Mad I say, just fascinatingly, jaw-droppingly mad. However, it various forms and guises, it has ever been thus, has it not?
That’s all just an itsy-bitsy teeny bit of the macro world. The stuff that’s happening outside my sphere of influence, although these things have with the trickle-down effect seeps into everyday life.
Meanwhile, closer to home in the micro world, daytime follows night, the dog park is full of people, dogs and stories, there are dinners to be had, movies to go to, hands to hold, hugs to give and take, love to share, friends to see, stories to write, horns to honk, smiles to smile, workouts to dig into, ice cream to lick, art to experience, bills to be paid, food to be cooked, hopes to be had, work to be fretted over, worries to be skirted, fears to release, meditations to do, music to listen to, stuff to learn, tears to be shed, laughter to release, books to be read, disappointments to place into context, heartbeats to listen to, words to whisper, wonders to feel, thoughts to think, songs to sing, dreams to dream, paintings to paint, drawings to draw, shores to walked, and life to live. And all that, in its weird and wonderful way, is just as mysterious and just as mad, isn’t it?