Cardboard cutout

I’ve heard a lot of stupid things in my time. Hell, I’ve probably said more stupid things than a really large number of people who’ve said stupid things, combined with an equally large, or possibly larger, number of people who’ve said stupid things. Don’t believe me? Okay, how’s this:

Grade 10. The Long-Suffering Sarah and I are part of an “accelerated” program which was at the time called Students of High Potential (SHP). A couple of things to note here: 1) We called it the Severely Hurting People program. Because we were nothing if not self-deprecating; 2) Focus on the word POTENTIAL. Just because something has potential doesn’t mean it’s going to achieve great things. Let’s think back to our high school physics courses, shall we? What are the different forms of energy?

Well, there’s kinetic (energy of motion) and potential energy (energy that’s stored in an object which is converted to kinetic energy once the object is in motion); thermal (a fancy kind of kinetic energy at the atomic level); chemical (a fancy kind of potential energy at the microscopic level); and electrical, electrochemical, electromagnetic, sound, and nuclear energy, which are all made up of both kinetic and potential energy. The point here is that *potential* energy is basically all the exciting stuff that *might happen*, stored up in a thing. Whether that thing is an electron or a building, if it’s not in motion (exhibiting kinetic energy), it exhibits potential energy. That thing could have all the potential energy in the known universe. It could be the GOD of potential energy, but if all it does is sit on the couch and flip channels, it’s really not converting a whole lot of that potential into anything.

Likewise with any other kind of potential – it may or may not ever develop into anything in the future. I believe the *goal* of the SHP program was to foster that potential and give students a kick in the rump, to motivate us to do more, to think more, and to achieve greater things. But it was high school, and really, if you can a) hit the laundry basket with your laundry; and b) remember to shower, you’re really achieving the most you can with teenagers.

At any rate, the SHP students were all treated to a seminar on food irradiation and why it’s a good thing. I know you’ve heard this story before. We sat through the hour-long lecture about NUCLEAR RADIATION and BANANA FALLOUT and MASS DEATH (of bacteria) and I may be summarizing here but basically it was terrifying. All about how if you subject food to essentially microscopic Fat Man and Little Boy*, it’s safer for consumers because no e coli in beef and nobody gets salmonella from their chicken. At the end of the seminar, the presenter asked if there were any questions.

Here’s where the SHP program demonstrated its failure. Literally nobody had any questions. Except me. The Long-Suffering Sarah and I proceeded to get into a fight because she was convinced I was going to Say Something Stupid. To be fair, I was. But that did not deter me from doing so.

Anyway. That’s a different story and I don’t want to get too distracted. The point is that I’ve said some pretty stupid things but none of them, I think, is stupider than what radio dudes said this morning about our prime minister. They were talking about how Premier Wall is going in to the First Ministers’ meeting today all revved up and raring to tell the Prime Minister what he can do with his carbon tax plan and just how far up there it should go, and what a crappy leader Prime Minister Trudeau is based on the following:

Radio guy says: “I’ve talked to two people who’ve met with the Prime Minister and they say the experience is like talking to a cardboard cutout”.

I just. I mean. Okay, first, two people, hey? 100% of two people surveyed indicated that brief one-on-one meetings with the Prime Minister of Canada prove he’s a social dud. Probably someone should give you a degree in figuring shit out for that super sciencey assperiment.

Second, how the hell does the Prime Minister’s social skills (or lack thereof) prove or disprove his ability to lead? Stephen Harper was about as charismatic as a rock shaped like a dead fish, but he still got the job done. You may not have liked the job he did, but I have it on good authority that shit happened during Mr. Harper’s reign, regardless of the fact that I’m not sure you’d be able to tell when he was in the room if there weren’t Mounties with him.

Third, okay maybe it’s not THE stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, because the other day on talk radio, a blowhard said “you can’t find a single person in Alberta who admits they voted for the NDP”, and that was probably the stupidest thing I’ve heard. But it doesn’t have to be a race to the bottom. There are enough stupid things to say to go around so we don’t all have to crowd in trying to out-stupid each other.

In this yule season, let’s all remember the spirit of openness and giving. It would do us all good, actually, to be mindful of the fact that we ALL can say stupid things. Each and every one.

*I may be demonstrating here just a small portion of what it was like to have grown up at the tail end of the cold war, when the threat of nuclear annihilation was still a very clear and present danger.


5 responses to “Cardboard cutout”

  1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Avatar

    I didn’t like that Trudeau was quoted as praising Castro (though, since I didn’t read his words, I don’t know what he said, and I’m not going to condemn him based on someone else’s opinion), all I though was that this nice man (lots of people say) had a flaw. One not likely to affect the people of Canada, his avowed job, so not relevant.

    But the bit of campaign stuff I saw seemed to show a charismatic man who played well with small children, etc., and I’m willing to let Canadians do whatever they want, since it’s their country, and they elected him.

    Having just been through the seemingly-largest disaster in American politics, I envy you, and shudder about the next four years. Nothing done or said since has helped in any way.

    Cardboard cutout – based on a biased survey of two – is ridiculous.

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      Well. See. The thing is. He didn’t so much praise Castro as he said Castro was a remarkable head of state. Which is true. Admittedly, I’m torn about Castro (which I’m sure will be another post). Things like jailing and executing political dissidents is pretty awful, but on the other hand, every single resident of Cuba gets milk and bread, every day. Sure, you might be a taxi driver but have a PhD in dentistry, but on the other hand, your education was paid. And forgive me for saying it, but the fact that Castro has been flipping the bird at every US administration since JFK actually makes me really really gleeful. Yes, there are parts of Cuba entrenched in abject poverty, but I challenge anyone who criticises that to head on out to a Reserve or the projects in Chicago and see what’s so different.

      Keep in mind, I am a socialist, and I have very little problem with the ideals of communism. So when my Prime Minister said things about Castro, I kind of agreed with him.

      Anyway, that’s beside the point. I also have a great deal of fear about the upcoming T.Rump administration. Sigh.

  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Avatar

    I’m fine with some central control, mainly because the income disparity in the world is getting ridiculous. But making EVERYONE poor and fearful is not the best way to accomplish that.

    I think we should do more of what the Scandinavian countries do (though maybe not quite so much): tax the rich to pay for the best schools for the poor. Then the next generation gets a more level playing field – and native talent and merit will get a chance to be rewarded. Not straight income redistribution, but certainly a tax on the excess amounts – how many yachts can one person own?

    Not perfect, but right now our poorest kids get lousy schools, too. Regardless of how shiftless or not their parents are, our SOCIETY has to offer them at least the chance to get a good education.

    But doing what Castro did, and what the Soviet Union did (except for the elites – makes me sick), AND attempting mind control along with it, is just wrong. Any society (China, listening? probably not) which depends on people telling on each other is wrong. Rich Party elites in China – and billionaires – again, against their stated principles – making them huge liars. We’re back to the Gulag.

    The inside of your head should be a free place.

    Societies where a state-imposed religion governs your life are in the same doghouse in my book. It is never voluntary is there have to be enforcement police.

  3. derkaptin Avatar

    When you’re talking about Oilberta, it generally IS a race to the bottom…
    And, Castro may have done some bad shit, but find me a leader who hasn’t. He did a LOT LESS bad shit than the American-supported doofus he overthrew, and he would have done a LOT LESS bad shit if the US wouldn’t have gone out of its way to prevent Cuba from flourishing, and wouldn’t have actually tried to kill him something like 618 times. Gor bless America. Or is it gore…
    Castro was a pretty terrific leader under the circumstances, and I’m glad JT had the guts to say something positive about him, speaking into the hurricane of nonsense coming from down south.

    1. Cenobyte Avatar

      That’s how I feel too, mostly.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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