Saturday, August 05, 2006

How does a smart guy like Michael Medved get so screwed up in his thinking?

I had a horrendous drive from the Beaumont area of Texas to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport to make a flight on Friday - about a 350 mile trip taking me right through Houston in the middle of a work day. It wasn't the road or traffic conditions but the length of the drive with a specific timetable that made it so onerous.

From Houston to Dallas I didn't really have to concentrate on the route (straight up I-45) so I had the radio on to help fill the time and Michael Medved was doing his talk show. Now, you don't have to listen for long to realize that Michael Medved is no dummy. I've heard him before and often wondered how such an obviously intelligent man reaches so many dumb conclusions. (A problem I don't have with someone like, say, Rush Limbaugh - whose adequate intelligence is so obviously overpowered by his xenophobia. But I digress.)

Michael Medved was expressing astonishment over the full-page ad that appeared in the August 3rd New York Times calling for a popular movement to "...Drive out the Bush Regime". The ad is endorsed by a number of well known names including the predictable (like Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon) but also names that caused Mr. Medved some consternation. The sense that I got was that Mr. Medved couldn't reconcile that people for whom he apparently had some respect (my memory is that he specifically mentioned writer Kurt Vonnegut, Nobel-winning playwright Harold Pinter, film-maker Paul Haggis and actor Mark Ruffalo) held views in disagreement with his own.

Medved's conundrum seemed to be: "How can these respectable people be so wrong?" Never - not once in what I heard, and I think I heard the entire segment - did he even come close to considering the obvious thought: "Maybe I ought to re-examine my own assumptions here." The mere thought never even began to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing his mind. (HGTG reference but, again, I digress.)

Is that normal?

I mean, sure - when a xenophobe with merely adequate intelligence like Limbaugh fails to even consider an obvious question you take it in stride - it's the nature of the beast. But when someone with obviously high intelligence and little or no indication of xenophobia does the same thing you have to wonder about their psychological make-up. (Or - at least - I have to wonder about it. And, keeping in mind the New Age admonition ...if you spot it you got it, I have to wonder about my own psychological make-up.)

Confidence is generally a good thing. That is, I think it's better to have confidence in one's own thoughts and ideas than to lack confidence in them. But when such confidence causes us not to consider obvious questions then it is working to our detriment and not to our advantage.

Just another of one of the thousands of things that I need to consider.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Back From Louisiana

We have this fountain at church.

(This isn't a non sequitur - wait for it.)

One of the ideas around this fountain is that congregants are encouraged to bring water back with them from their travels to add to the water already there; sort of a symbol of universality since, once added, the water can no longer be separated out.

My business in Louisiana took me to Grand Isle - about 50 miles South of New Orleans (as the crow flies) sitting on the Northern edge of the Gulf of Mexico - and I decided to fetch some 'Gulf of Mexico' water to add to the fountain. I parked my rental car close to the beach, took an empty water bottle with me, and walked to the waterline but the water was too shallow within arm's reach. I was just contemplating the logistics of removing my dress shoes and socks, rolling up my pant legs and wading out without benefit of a towel when a man with a Texas accent who was enjoying the beach with his family saw my predicament and offered to fetch some water for me. Nice man.

I explained why I wanted the water but either he couldn't understand my Canadian accent or didn't get the concept because he handed the bottle of water to me with an admonition: "Don't drink this now or it'll kill ya."

I love Americans. That's not sarcasm - I really do.

Sure, you could read a certain arrogance behind the assumption that I needed to be told not to drink salt water; but that's not what I focus on. The fact is that he volunteered to help me and, having done so, felt a responsibility toward my welfare.

At the risk of thinking in stereotypes, I do think that is typical of Americans and I think it often gets misunderstood. In their position of power (and hey, they are the most powerful nation on Earth) they have helped virtually every other country and it causes them to feel a sense of responsibility that may be mistaken for arrogance or even condescension. Really it isn't; it's genuine caring.

But when it is mistaken for arrogance or condescension, I suspect that many Americans feel unappreciated for the truly massive amounts of money, effort and time they expend for the sake of other nations. And they really do expend a great deal for others; I don't have hard numbers to quote but it is obvious that America expends more money, time and effort for other countries than any five other countries combined - no matter how you want to measure it.

We in the rest of the world often accuse America of failing to look at things from our point of view and there may be some truth behind that accusation. But if the rest of the world could just occasionally try to look at things from the American point of view maybe we would begin to realize that America is neither arrogant nor condescending but deeply caring.

It is a cultural characteristic of Americans that they care. And because they care, they help. And when they help, they feel responsible.

Maybe it's time we in the rest of the world tried to be a little bit sensitive to America's culture since we are always demanding that they be sensitive to ours.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Global Warming

In the 6,000 year long History of the Universe we apparently have seen climate change occur before that could not be ascribed to human activity so it is possible that global warming is merely another natural cycle. Such naturally occurring climate change has never resulted in the extinction of the human race although it may have contributed to the extinction of some other species - like the dinosaurs - which is probably a good thing since it must have been difficult building a civilization with those giant monsters running around.

We need to determine if Global Warming is being caused by human activity so what we should do is burn down all the forests. This will put such a massive quantity of CO2 into the atmosphere that we will be able to quickly determine what influence that has on the climate. Purely as a bonus, it will also eliminate all that pollution generated by trees.

Subsequently, if we are able to conclude that we are causing global waming, we can construct giant wind farms where the forests used to be in order to generate the power we need and we can stop burning fossil fuels or, alternatively, we can burn all the fossil fuels at once to get it over with - one big giant bonfire. Then we would never be tempted to rely on fossil fuels again because they'll be gone.

If we're going to err, I think we should err on the side of caution. After all, we could always find another planet but once an Industry is gone it's gone for good. If it turns out that we are not causing global warming, at least we'll have had one heck of a good weekend.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Canadian Regulators Object To Aussie Ad

The recently launched and now controversial (Tourism Australia) advertisement which concludes with the tagline "Where the bloody hell are you?" has now run foul of the Canadian regulator.

But it's not the tagline that's the trouble this time as much as the opener: "I've bought you a beer".

(Aussie) Tourism Minister Fran Bailey said she had been told by Canadian authorities they could not accept that line.

"We now have the Canadian authorities not wanting us to use the opening segment of `I've bought you a beer'," Ms Bailey said in Melbourne.

"The Canadian regulator says that this implies consumption of unbranded alcohol."

Source -

The Aussies have misunderstood Canada’s objection. It isn’t the ‘consumption of unbranded alcohol’ that we find offensive but the misrepresentation that that stuff they drink in Australia is actually Beer.

You know like, Fosters – Australian for piss

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Where The Truth Lies

One of the few instances where the 'critics' are completely correct. This is a BAD movie.

The acting is brilliant.

The directing superb.

But the concept is so horribly flawed and so patently absurd that the result is a terrible movie.

God, I wanted to like it - since 'The Sweet Hereafter' I have been a big Atom Egoyan fan. But please, the reliance upon coincidence and the dependence on audience homophobia and the patently absurd denouement (the butler did it; give me a break) make for a joke of a film.

As I read the discussion of censorship as the reason for this film's failure I actually became encouraged - 'Who are these puritans who would stifle an important movie because of their intolerance?' I sensed a cause celebre. But it ain't so.

This film counts upon homophobia to make its point. It assumes homophobia among its audience for the film to make any kind of sense. This film assumes the worst from its audience and plays upon that. This is a BAD film.

Whom do I complain to to get back the 108 minutes of my life that this piece of self-indulgent crap used up? Atom -- PLEASE chose your material more carefully. I have not read the novel but if you were at all 'true' to it then you need to chose your sources more carefully. You are a better director than this piece of crap demonstrates - and it has nothing to do with the sexual content - it has to do with the basic premise: BE A BETTER DIRECTOR.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

What Were They Thinking?

Items extracted from the minds of famous people just before they did something momentous.

George Washington
These dollar coins are heavy but they're really flat...I wonder how far it would skip...

Abraham Lincoln
Eighty-seven...eighty-seven...It just sounds so gay. Is there a better way to say this...

St. Patrick
First snakes and then the Jews or first Jews and then the snakes? Decisions, decisions...

Martin Luther King, Jr.
I have an 'idea'... no, no. I have a 'suggestion'... nah, that's not it. I have a 'thought'... Damn, there's a lot of people out there...why did I agree to do this? I must've been dreamin'...

Albert Einstein
E=Eminem? No. E=Vanilla Ice? Certainly not. E=MC Hammer? Hmmm...

Martha Stewart
It sure is a lot of money it a 'Good Thing'[tm]?

David Letterman
If I was willing to switch networks that would show 'em I'm serious...they'd have to give me the Tonight Show.

Bill Clinton
You know, they say eatin' ain't cheatin'...

James Frey
Who's gonna know? Nobody checks these things...

Palestinian Voters
What's the worst that could happen...

René Descartes
I think therefore I rock...Nah. I think therefore I rule...Nope.
I gotta get to bed, it's so late. What time is it? God, it's

Sunday, January 29, 2006

I could be your hero...

We had our joint birthday bash last night and I think a good time was had by all. I got to see a side of one of Trish's friends that I'd never seen before. First off, I had no idea that she had a tattoo until seeing her in a bathing suit in the hot tub. Second, she got a little drunk - didn't do anything outrageous - but you could see hints that this conservative, soft-spoken lady has a 'wild side' that she usually keeps under wraps.

It always interesting to find out there's more to people than you know.

An acquaintence of mine couldn't resist petting/interacting with the cats whenever one of them wandered into the room - I never would have guessed that he was a cat person. You never can tell.

As almost always happens at one of our gatherings, eventually the guitars came out and Rick took over the piano and we took turns entertaining each other. Goddamn I wish I could play guitar as well as Rick plays piano - the guy is just incredible. I was telling the 'surprise' cat-lover and his wife about Rick having donated one of kidneys to his best friend and, you know, what are the chances of being a match and everything and they were just astounded. But Rick is so casual about it - it's just something he did, not a big deal. I swear if it had been me I would try to get the story made into a TV movie or something. Rick doesn't seem to think he did anything so spectacular but I think he is a genuine Goddamn hero.

Not the kind of hero that we used to talk about in my police career - being a hero by being willing to take the risks, but a real hero who actually DID something. Hmmm - I think I sense a storyline coming together...

Saturday, January 28, 2006


The other day my wife told me that something was “…as plain as the day on my face.” And she wonders why I don’t take anything seriously.

My computer monitor stopped working so now I’m virtually blind.

I complained to the check-out girl that my groceries appeared to be moving by themselves. She said that happens a lot. Then I told her that my religion didn’t allowing scanning and asked her to key in all the codes manually; she said they had a special check-out line for that but it was in another store across town.

The waiter asked me if I was ready to order. I told him I didn’t know but I’d check with my parents.

I tried to use the drive-through at Tim Horton’s but they said I needed a car. I don’t think that’s fair.

We have government inspectors for meat but the stores can sell any kind of vegetables that they want to. I think this puts vegetarians at a distinct disadvantage.

A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a ladder for?

Friday, January 27, 2006


We moved into this house in September and, God knows, there are LOTS of jobs that need to be done to make it acceptable. I've been working away - new sub-floor and laminate in the Family Room, fixing the hot-tub (apparently the previous owners didn't understand basic chemistry) etc.

Anyway, we decided that the portable dish-washer that we brought from the previous house needed to be built-in. (The previous house was a rental with a small kitchen.) So I did a little research, bought the parts that I needed and decided on the placement for the built-in dishwasher. One problem: the hot-water pipe was directly behind where the dishwasher needed to be placed so we had to move it about 4 inches to make the dishwasher fit.

Not a problem - our friend Richard is a Wiz at plumbing, so we asked him to move the hot water pipe.

Now, I've gotta tell you - I'd rather do electrical work than plumbing because electrical either works or it doesn't whereas plumbing can 'sort of work' and I've never been a big fan of soldering copper. I think that compression fittings and flex-tube are the greatest inventions of the modern age.

But Richard is a die hard believer in copper and he is very good at it.

So Richard comes over to the house and decides to re-route the copper pipe. No problem - I think we would do just as well to replace it with flex-tube but hey, HE's the plumbing expert. So he goes about it.

Have I mentioned that I am a cheap bastard? Well, I am. And just like Richard believes that copper is superior to plastic when it comes to plumbing, I believe that aluminum is superior to plastic when it comes to venting. So when we moved in, I replaced the plastic exhaust from the dryer with an aluminum tube. But, being a cheap bastard, I used an eight foot length of tube rather than paying for a ten foot tube. My eight foot tube 'just' fit.

Anyway, Richard decided that he needed to move the dryer in order to do the re-routing. And, of course, my 'just fit' eight foot tube tore in the process. He tried to re-affix it but anyone who has worked with aluminum tubing can tell you that won't work. I told him not to worry about it and I would take care of it.

So I decided to splurge and buy a ten foot length of tubing. I also deciced to buy a 90 degree angle piece to make it easier to install (because installing the first one had been a bitch). So I figured I was ahead of the game - I had more tubing than I actually required and a piece to fit it to that I didn't have the first time.

Away I go - remove the old tube, replace it, fit the new piece, attach it - phone rings.

'Jennessa - Can you answer the phone?'

'Okay Dad.'

Keep working - this shouldn't take long.

'Dad... They want to talk to you...'

'Who is it?'

'I dunno...they said it was important.'

So I stop working on the dryer and pick up the phone...

'Mr. Clarke... What are you paying for long distance?'

'Are you serious? You told my daughter this was important?'

'Well it IS important, Mr. Clarke. We can save you 30% on your long distance calls...'

I hang up on them.

'Jennessa...' I call out. 'Please don't interrupt me unless the caller tells you who they are. Okay?'

'Okay, Dad.'

Back to work on the dryer. And those clamps can be a real bitch, you know?

'Dad... telephone!'

'Who is it?'

'It's the bank.'

Oh shit...maybe I better take this call... 'Hello?'

'Hello Mr. Clarke...I am authorized to offer you...'

I hang up on them.

'Jennessa...' I call out. 'Please don't interrupt me unless the call is a matter of life and death. Okay?'

'Okay, Dad.'

Back to work on the dryer. And I've almost got the aluminum tube hooked up to the vent outlet when...'

'Dad... telephone!'

'What is it?'

'They said it's a matter of life and death...'


'Hello Mr. Clarke... I am an associate with Manulife. Do you know what will happen to your family if...'

...And I hang up.

...Is it possible to sue Alexander Graham Bell even though he's dead?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Limited Engagement

I'm itching to get started on the next novel in the Bonfire Series (Working Title: 'Kindling') but I really think I should wait until I know what's going to happen to the first one (Splinters).

Getting published is a bitch.

After having exhausted everything I could think of to acquire an agent in the States to represent 'Splinters' (Long story short - I felt it had mass market appeal and that meant an American Publisher and that meant an agent) I decided to start trying the smaller Canadian Publishing Houses. But God, it all takes so long! You wait three or four months to find out that they don't think it suits their catalogue. (Well, Duh! It's a new approach to novel-writing. Of course you don't already have anything like it.)

At what point do you decide that your vision is wrong and the status quo is correct? I dunno - haven't reached it yet, I guess.

My friend Randy keeps pushing me to self-publish. 'That way,' he argues, 'you keep 60% of the margin instead of 8%.' And he's right but it seems to me that 8% of something is better than 60% of nothing.

I mean, it would be different if the book was non-fiction. If you've written a book about something like Economics or History or How To Skin A Cat you can go on a Speaking Tour and sell your book that way and self-publishing makes sense. But you really can't take a work of fiction on a Speaking Tour if you are an unknown author - who would show up to hear you? Imagine the posters - 'Tonight Ladies and Gentlemen - someone you've never heard of speaking about something you've also never heard of.'

Oh yeah - that's gonna pack 'em in.

It's different if it's a Celebrity Author. 'Tonight - Ladies and Gentlemen - Stephen King reading excerpts from his latest shopping list.' And they'd be turning 'em away at the door.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Chosen People

Before you hit the 'Flag' button - Read the ENTIRE article.
If you do you will realize that the only group being treated
in a deragatory fashion are antisemites.

Who are the Chosen People?

If you said 'the Jews': congratulations - you are right. But ask yourself this: Is being 'Chosen' a good thing? It really depends on the context, doesn't it? The Jews were 'chosen' in ancient Egypt - chosen to be slaves. The Jews were 'chosen' in Nazi Germany - chosen for extinction; not a good thing. In fact, George Bernard Shaw quipped that, if the Nazis realized just how 'Jewish' their notion of Aryan Superiority was, they would immediately abandon it.

Actually, I can instantly prove to you that being one of the 'Chosen People' isn't a good thing. Anyone can be a Jew. In fact, if you are a man who is already circumcised or a woman it is as easy as joining any other 'Religion'. (If you are a man who ISN'T circumcised then, I grant you, it's a pretty big deal.) But when is the last time - other than for matrimonial reasons - you ever heard of someone becoming a Jew? C'mon, you know... Sammy Davis, Jr., right? Can you name anyone else? I bet you can't.

Sammy Davis, Jr. was a short, ugly, one-eyed black man, married to a beautiful white woman, living in the Southern United States in the 1950s. I mean - Hell, if he was already circumcised, he probably figured: ‘What've I got to lose...I might as well become a Jew. At least the food's good.'
If being one of the 'Chosen People' was a good thing, don't you think people would be lining up to join?

It's like the whole 'Gay' thing. The single most compelling argument for homosexuality NOT being a matter of choice is this: Who would chose it?

Okay, ask yourself this: What is the most powerful and compelling force of political/cultural change in the last two thousand years? It's gotta be anti-semiticism, right? I mean, c'mon - aside from the Nazis, you've got the Spanish Inquisition. And when you realize that people of Arab descent are also a Semitic people you have to throw in the Crusades as well. In two thousand years, name me one other thing as powerful as anti-semiticism... you can't. Do you still think that being 'Chosen' is a good thing?

But they persist. Jews continue to be Jews despite everything. They lose their homeland - there are still Jews. They regain their homeland but are restricted from going there - there are still Jews. The restrictions on them are lifted but chunks of their land are cut away - there are still Jews. Their sacred sites are given away - there are still Jews. They get blamed for every bad thing that ever happened on this planet yet there are still Jews.

Is there a direct relationship between anti-semiticism and some kind of learning disability?

What is the source of this hatred of a people who persist in spite of the best efforts of some to eliminate them?

It's because they killed Christ, isn't it?

The politically correct among us will point out that it wasn't the Jews who actually killed Christ, but the Romans. But secretly the Jews still get blamed, don't they?

You know my response to those who blame the Jews for killing Christ? - So what. If they did, they killed one of their own. Indians killed Gandhi - we don't blame every Indian for it. Blacks killed Malcolm X, a white American killed JFK.

And when you get right down to it, if Jesus came to Earth to be sacrificed for our sins then someone had to do the sacrificing. Whoever killed Christ - Romans or Jews - weren't they fulfilling the will of God? For God to give 'his only begotten son' someone has to take Him, don't they?

It's like God said: 'Okay Jews, I'm sending down my son to be sacrificed so you kill 'im, okay?'

And the Jews said: 'What? Us again? Why don't you have the Romans do it? They're gonna be gone in a few hundred years anyway.'

And God said: 'Tell you what, YOU finger 'im and I'll get the Romans to do the actual wet work.'

And the Jews said: 'Okay. But you know they're gonna blame us anyway.'

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


The potato was first brought to the Netherlands in 1534; it was not readily accepted. In those days people believed that things growing underground must be poisonous – so, despite food shortages and near starvation the Dutch, like so many others, were slow to adopt this new food as a staple.

The Dutch King was a wise man and he knew that acceptance of the potato could make the difference between life and death for thousands of his subjects. So he ordered that potatoes be planted in the Royal Gardens. Then, as harvest time drew near, he had a fence erected around the potato plot and posted armed guards to protect it.

But only during the day; the potatoes were left completely unguarded after night fall.

You can guess what happened. The potato quickly became a regular staple in Dutch households. And, despite a nasty habit that the Dutch have of dipping French Fries in mayonnaise, it has remained so to this day.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Smell This

Something I could never understand: Why do we call it 'gas' when it’s a liquid?

Does that make any sense? I mean, that’s at least one instance where I think the Brits are smarter than us. They call it 'petrol', which sounds a little weird but at least doesn’t mean something else.

If we call the liquid that we put in our cars 'gas' then shouldn’t we call the gas that we heat our homes with 'solid' or something like that? Natural Gas IS a gas, but gas is a liquid – it’s like we have a fundamental misunderstanding about basic Physics.

And another thing – Natural Gas doesn’t have any smell. They add that rotten egg smell to it so you can tell if it’s leaking. Who decided on rotten eggs? Why rotten eggs? I mean, I know you don’t want it to be something that people like to smell – like roast turkey or something. ‘Cause then you couldn’t tell if Grandma was trying to commit suicide or getting an early start on Thanksgiving. But why rotten eggs? It’s unpleasant, but it isn’t disgusting like dirty feet or something.

If you want to make it something people really don’t like to smell - make it smell like spoiled milk. Nobody can stand the smell of spoiled milk. My parents would stand in front of the refrigerator and argue about whether the milk was spoiled because neither one of them wanted to smell it.

'It’s past the expiration date.'

'Well, I had some yesterday and it was fine.'

'Yesterday wasn’t past the expiration date.'

'Well, smell it then.'

'I’m not gonna smell it. You smell it.'

This would go on until finally one of them would get a bright idea – 'Billy!'

So I’d come into the kitchen. 'Yeah Mom'

'Smell this.'


'Never mind why – just smell it.'

And that would work, too. Because there’s no way you can smell spoiled milk and pretend it’s okay. When you smell spoiled milk you just gotta make that 'spoiled milk' face.


'Okay, it’s gone bad – throw it out.'

I sometimes think my parents only had kids because they didn’t want to smell spoiled stuff in the refrigerator. My mom used to get me to smell stuff all the time. She claimed she couldn’t smell very well. 'Okay mom I’ll tell you what – you smell it. And if you still can’t tell if it’s bad then I’ll smell it.' That never worked.

My dad was worse. He’d get me smell something that he knew was bad. 'Here Billy – smell this.'

'Ugh. Oh god, that’s awful!'

'Yeah, well what’ja expect - it expired last August.'

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Yellow Rabbit

With apologies to Grace Slick, here is my 'updated' version of the classic 'drug' song - White Rabbit. I just feel that art needs to more accurately reflect current society. Who knows? - Maybe Gracie could stage a comeback.

On those few occasions that I have committed a travesty of Karaoke, I always request White Rabbit, ignore the actual lyrics and substitute mine. It goes over surprisingly well. So try these alternate lyrics at your next Karaoke party!

Yellow Rabbit
Only one pill makes you larger
Tadalafil, when you’re small
‘Cause the ones that you get from Phizer
Don’t do anything at all
Take Cialis – You’ll feel ten feet tall

And if you go like a rabbit
Jumping around from hole to hole
You’ll be hooked up for thirty-six hours
Instead of Viagra’s small window
Take Cialis and then you’ll know

When men get depressed or
A little older blood moves slow
But you can regain that concrete mushroom
If you get your blood to flow
Take Cialis and watch it grow

Defying logic by your proportion
Thanks to your yellow friend
It’s like the clock has been moving backwards
And you’re now nineteen years old again

Remember – the yellow pill instead
Raise the dead Raise the dead

Saturday, January 21, 2006

My New Gameshow Idea

My Dad Can Beat Your Dad

Three ten-year-olds (boys or girls) each pick one 'event' for their fathers to compete in against each other. Events can be anything measurable: hit a golf ball the furthest, lift the most weight, run the fastest, eat the most hot-dogs, whatever. We present five choices to the kids and they each choose one different event; (in alphabetical order - based on the Dad's last name.) Kids choose from among:
1- My Dad is the 'Strongest'
2- My Dad is the 'Fastest'
3- My Dad is the 'Smartest'
4- My Dad is the 'Bravest'
5- My Dad is the 'Grossest'

Once the three events are decided all three Dads compete in all three events. Dads win points based on each event: 3 for first, 2 for second, 1 for third, 0 for incomplete. BUT if a Dad fails to win the event his child picked, he gets a zero (he will keep competing because total points determines the winner.) This puts extra pressure on each one in turn. In the (unlikely) event of a tie, prize is split between the winners.

We play events in the order chosen. For the first event, Dads compete in randomly selected order. Whichever Dad wins the first event chooses the order for the next event. Whichever Dad wins the second event chooses the order for the third. Events are played on three consecutive days and are explained up front to all Dads.

Possible events.

'Strongest' - Restack a pile of construction bricks in the shortest time. Most 'chin-ups' in one minute. Rock-climbing the quickest. Marine-style obstacle course. (To mix it up, have them do an event with their kid on their back.)

'Fastest' - Steeplechase without a horse. Run a mile. Three-legged race with their kid as partner. Eat hotdogs/spaghetti/tofu/whatever in the quickest time.

'Smartest' - Kid goes in a maze Dad has a map of the maze and has to lead the kid out by giving instructions via walkie-talkie. Dad takes over a chess game against computer that is within three to five moves of checkmate, can he win? Spelling Bee.

'Bravest' - Walk a tightrope. Ride a bike across a 2X4 suspended between two buildings. Catch the most snakes in a pen. Pretty much any type of events where there is an element of perceived danger.

'Grossest' - Likely to be the most fun: eat disgusting things. Find a key in a vat of something disgusting to to unlock a chain holding their child before the vat dumps out on their child. Endless possibilities.

Spin-off Possibilities:
My Mom Can Beat Your Mom
My Mom Can Beat Your Dad
My Celebrity Dad Can Beat Your Celebity Dad
(or My Dad Can Beat Your Dad: Celebrity Version)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Credit Where It's Due

In 1974 (when I was seventeen) I wrote and published a Science Fiction story entitled: "Axioms of a Mad Poet". It was a completely amateurish story and I no longer have a copy of it. (If, by chance, anyone out there HAS a copy I would love to get it from you. It was published in a small 'summer project' newspaper in Toronto's East End and back then I used the name "W.B. Clarke" because I thought it sounded more 'authoritative'. Hey, I was seventeen.)

Despite its pedestrian nature, there was ONE line in that story that I really liked: 'Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.' It may be the most meaningful line I ever wrote and was completely original. I'd like to think it would be remembered as 'Clarke's Law' or 'Clarke's Razor' or something equally ominous.

The problem is, the line HAS been remembered and quoted extensively (try a GOOGLE search) but is never attributed to ME! It is sometimes referred to as 'Hanlon's Razor' - (a mis-spelling of Heinlein) because the line: "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity" is in "Logic of Empire" by Robert A. Heinlein. Nothing against him, but my phrasing is better and, frankly, more succinct.

I clearly remember writing this line because originally I had it as 'Never ascribe to malice that which is explained by stupidity' but decided to change 'ascribe' to 'attribute' and modify 'explained' by adding 'adequately' - I vividly remember making those changes and I was proud of the result even back in 1974.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


I received an interesting email solicitation. SPERMAXX, an all-natural herbal supplement, promised that I would see at leasta 30% increase in Semen Volume, Sperm Count, Sperm Morphology or Sperm Motility (Note it says 'or' and not 'and' in that claim) if I used their product for ninety days. They backed up this claim with a $1 Million guarantee.

So I went to their website (which is designed to get you to order their product rather than provide you with actual information, but I digress). Finally, I located the terms of their guarantee where, among other things, I found these definitions:

Semen Volume - a measure of how much semen is present in one ejaculation.
Sperm Count - a count of the number of sperm present per milliliter (mL) of semen in one ejaculation.
Sperm Morphology - a measure of the percentage of sperm that have a normal shape.
Sperm Motility - a measure of the percentage of sperm that can move forward normally.

I did a little research - apparently, the one they are counting on is the first definition since the Semen Volume can vary considerably and a 30% variance is not that great. Sperm Count, Sperm Morphology and Sperm Motility are far greater measures of fertility and 'Semen Volume' is merely a base-line number. Anyway, I figured I could beat their guarantee and cash in on the $1 Million.

I ordered a 120 day supply of SPERMAXX (at $59 per 30 day bottle- 2 pills per day) and waited. When the order arrived (with a load of other offers but again, I digress) I called my lawyer and then "cleared the pipes" (a 'Something About Mary' reference) and waited three days - based on my research. After the three days, I obtained a sperm sample and took it to a local Medical Lab and instructed them to measure the Semen Volume, Sperm Count, Sperm Morphology and Sperm Motility ($150 for those keeping score). The next day I began my course of taking SPERMAXX - exactly according to their instructions.

After 88 days, I again "cleared the pipes" and on the 91st day I again obtained a sperm sample and took it to the same Medical Lab and instructed them to again measure the Semen Volume, Sperm Count, Sperm Morphology and Sperm Motility (another $150 for those keeping score) and notified my lawyer.

When I received both reports from the Medical Lab, I copied my lawyer and contacted SPERMAXX by email to inform them that they owed me $1 Million. Because...

My Semen Volume - actually went down .05%.
My Sperm Count - remained unchanged at 0.
My Sperm Morphology - remained unchanged at 0.
My Sperm Motility - remained unchanged at 0.

The last three results were, of course, due to the fact that I had undergone a vasectomy seven years before. But since the conditions of their guarantee made absolutely no mention of surgical variance, I (and my lawyer) felt that I had met the specific conditions of their offer and their product had failed to meet those conditions and they were, therefore, liable for the promised payment of $1 Million. Apparently they disagreed.

Long story short - The SPERMAXX site is now gone and I no longer receive their SPAM (If, in any way, I contributed to this state of events I am thankful.) However, I am still out $536 (for their product and my tests) and have yet to receive the promised $1 Million.

There ought'a be a law.