Institute Of Higher Learning

My home-town of Southampton, Ontario, rises up from the shore of Lake Huron.  Even 50 feet above the lake, at the top of the hill, where my 1850 birth-home still sits, the water table is not far beneath the ground.  It, and many other residences and commercial buildings are landscaped upwards, and still have shallow basements.  Ours would have fit Frodo Baggins.

What is now a wing of the Bruce County Historical Museum, was once my six-room, brick, elementary school.  It perches on the bank of a pond behind it, twenty feet above the water, but its feet are still wet.  To enter the front door required a climb up ten concrete steps to a small landing, then another step up, into a tiny atrium, and yet another step up, onto the main floor.

This upward architecture was not chosen to allow sunlight in through basement windows.  There were none.  Boys played on one side, girls on the other.  There were three steps up to get in either side door, and you still entered on the landing of the basement stairway.

Stairs, stairs, stairs – and more stairs.  😯  The ceilings were 12 feet high.  There were no elevators or escalators.  There was no accommodation for handicapped students.  You had to be physically fit to attend school.  When the student body at this school got high…. It wasn’t at 4:20, because weed was what you pulled out of your mother’s gardens.   😉

I’m Philosophical About It

Bias And Presupposition

Like the student who was asked by his English teacher if he would begin stacking firewood in the middle of a pile, many people, (especially Christian Apologists) who believe that they are deep thinkers, unwittingly start in the middle of an argument.

A young writer who considered himself to be a (at least developing) philosopher, posed the following questions.  While innocent-enough looking, they are fraught with assumptions and beliefs.
What is the nature of the universe?

What is man’s place in the universe?
What is good and what is evil?
What is the nature of God?
What is fate and what is free will?
What is soul and what is immorality?
What is the order of man and state?
What is education?
What is mind and matter?
What is ideas and what is thinking?

What Is The Nature Of The Universe?

The Universe has no “Nature!”  It is a brute fact which each of us must endure in our own ways.  It is supremely indifferent and insensible to the wants and needs of any person, in the same way that we are unaware and uncaring of a red blood cell in our veins – more so, because we at least can become aware of a drop of blood, while the Universe sails serenely on, completely unaffected and unaltered, despite our actions.  There is no intrinsic purpose or meaning to the Universe.  Any ‘meaning’ is only one which each of us imbues it with.

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players!

What is Man’s Place in the Universe?

Here is the first place where the presuppositions become obvious.  There is no Cosmic airline hostess to escort us to our preordained seat, from which we may not move.  People who ask questions like this often assume that our place will be in First Class, when in fact, we are lucky to get a spot in coach, and not be stuck in the Baggage compartment.

‘My place’ in the Universe is in front of my computer, trying to understand people’s thoughts and actions.  Your ‘place’ will probably be somewhere else.  Each (wo)man’s place, and each group of (wo)men’s place, is wherever we strive and succeed in making it.

What is good, and what is evil?

Good and evil are imaginary concepts, dreamed up by people who want to feel good about themselves, their lifestyle and their choices.  What they do is good – what you do is evil.  I have even had self-righteous folks who admit that “you” did good things, but you did them for the wrong reasons.

Good is what is beneficial to me, and evil is anything which causes me loss or pain.  This definition applies to everyone, so there are countless definitions of “Good” and “Evil.”  The only commonality is when evolution-caused empathy makes it apply to larger and larger groups of people.

Hitler did not think that he was doing evil when he invaded Poland, or executed Jews and Gypsies.  He was trying to improve the standard of living for him, and his German people.  The victors write the History.  Aside from becoming psychopathic about it, his main problem was that his field of empathy was not wide enough.

What is the nature of God?

This is another assumption, like the one above, of the nature of the Universe.  At least the Universe can be observed.  First, prove that God is real, then we’ll discuss/argue His nature.  Either He does not exist, or He is the winner of the longest game of Hide And Seek ever.  The Old Testament portrays Him as a vicious, vengeful, spiteful, capricious, contradictory, ill-focused, incoherent, destructive old man, while the New Testament shows Him as a petulant child.

What is Fate, and what is free will?

Fate is the delusional excuse that ‘believers’ of all stripes give to the evidence that the Universe is supremely indifferent to them.  It is almost always applied negatively.  If they win a lottery, it’s egotistic entitlement.  If they lose – “I guess it’s just Fate.”  Call it fate, luck, karma, God, Satan – they all operate at the exact frequency as blind, random chance.

If God exists, free will is another delusion that does not, and cannot exist.  God knows the future, and there is no deviation from His perfect plan.  If God does not exist, free will looks a lot like this.

What is the soul, and what is immorality?

The soul is another imaginary assumption.  There have been a number of, both scientific and non-scientific, studies searching for it, and the results have been universally negative.  If it is anything different from ‘consciousness’ (which is another big, not-completely-understood phenomenon), no-one has been able to demonstrate it.

Like ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ above, morality/immorality are subjective, man-made concepts, invented by power-hungry religious leaders, anxious to have and hold control over their obedient followers.  What is moral now, was not moral then.  What is moral here, is not moral there.

What is the order of man and state?

What is the meaning of this question?  These deep, ‘philosophical’ concepts are deteriorating into chaos and confusion.

Man came first, and when groups of men became numerous enough, they invented the concept of ‘state.’  Is he asking if the individual man should be more important than the state?  Clear, concise communication should be the first order of business.

What is education?

Why does he ask?  Did he not receive enough to know?  Does this person, who wishes to discuss philosophy, not have a good enough grasp of language to do so?

The act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.  Modern usage generally assumes the transmission (or guidance of transmission) of knowledge from one person to another, but there are those who ‘educate’ themselves – known as autodidactics.

What is mind and matter?

If you don’t mind, then it doesn’t matter.

The mind is a delusion of self.  It is the mostly non-physical, bio-electrical, neurological process of the physical brain.

Matter is also an illusion, and a delusion.  While it looks and feels solid and strong, it is really 99.999% empty space.  Infinitesimal particles group together to form, what used to be called, The Basic Building Blocks – protons, electrons and neutrons.  Different numbers of protons dance around each other to form atomic nuclei.  Different numbers of electrons orbit around these nuclei at relative distances that make the Sun and Pluto look like close friends.

Despite the apparent distance, the electrons whirl around the center so fast that, no matter what side other atoms approach from, the electrons are ‘always there,’ shunting them away.  Various atoms get together to form molecules, but even there, they are none too cosy, leaving a lot more empty space.

Different numbers and arrangements of particles and atoms give different pieces of matter different feels, looks, and properties – but they are all made up of the same basic little bits.  What are these basic bits made up of, you ask?  Tune in to the TED Talk next week, when the smartest scientist in the world says, “Beats the Hell outta me!  We’re still trying to figure that out.”

What are ideas, and what is thinking?

I have no idea, and I was thinking that someone should have checked with a dictionary, which says that IDEAS are:

any conception existing in the mind as a result of mental understanding, awareness, or activity.
a thought, conception, or notion
an impression
an opinion, view, or belief

Thinking is:

Having a conscious mind, to some extent of reasoning, remembering experiences, making rational decisions, etc.
Employing one’s mind rationally and objectively in evaluating or dealing with a given situation

Ideas are formed in the mind by the process of thinking, which is the action of electrons running around in the brain’s neurons, and leaping the synapses between them.  Serious, professional scientists are still studying the brain and the mind, but despite considerable investigation, are still not entirely sure how it all works.

If our amateur philosopher wanted to credit a God for this, or any part of the above, no indication, much less proof, has ever been found.  If he wanted deeper or broader information, his communication skills appear lacking.  He seems to have ended up right where he started – in the middle, and in a muddle.

Back From The Dead

Donald Trump

A young man from New York State decides to take a gap year between high school and college to tour America. He ends up in California, visiting a friend who went west to find fame and fortune.

When the time comes to leave, he says to his buddy, I’d better get down to the Interstate, to start hitchhiking home. His pal says, I have my job at the airport. Rather than hitching rides with semis, maybe I can find you a spot with someone flying east.

The next day he is placed on-board a luxurious 4-passenger private jet, which, he is assured, will get him to NYC. Soon he is joined by an impressive, older gentleman who introduces himself as Howard, and says, I own some banks back east.

In a few minutes, a Rolls-Royce glides up to the plane, and Donald Trump climbs aboard. He is travelling incognito, with just one Secret Service officer. Soon they are in the air. As they are passing over the Rockies, suddenly the pilot comes out of the cockpit wearing a parachute, and carrying three more, which he dumps on the floor.

He says, The computer crashed, and neither I nor ground control can get it working. She’s on auto-pilot, but sooner or later she’s gonna fall out of the sky. I didn’t know that we’d have a guest, so I only loaded four parachutes. I’ve got mine. Good luck…. And he opens the hatch and bails out.

Donald Trump stands up, puffs out his chest and says, I am the smartest man in the country. The citizens need me to lead them. He straps one over his shoulders, and jumps. The Secret Service agent says, Where he goes, I go, grabs another parachute and bails out.

The banker looks at the student and says, I have a wife and children. Thousands of employees and millions of customers depend on me….and it is my parachute. I’m sorry. As he heads for the open hatch, the young man says, It’s okay. I’ll be right behind you. The smartest man in the country just jumped out with my backpack. 😳 🙄

Flash Fiction #202

Erudite

PHOTO PROMPT © CEAyr

RISE UP

Bobby’s mother said, ”You want to be what?”

“Sesquipedalian and erudite.”

Well, the long word meant, ‘using long words’, and the short one meant, ‘learned or scholarly.’ “Why?”

“I want to impress people.”

She replied, “Your grandmother used to say, ‘Don’t get above your raisin.’ ” She almost smiled at his puzzlement. She hadn’t understood it when she was 16, either. “The word is actually raising. It means, ‘Don’t put on phony airs’. People will like you if you are honest and real. You have to study to get big words. You can’t just find them with a magnifying glass.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

Flash Fiction #181

School

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Skool Daze

The two grade 11 lads were fascinated to see a tiny bit of pure sodium violently react with water in a lab sink, the heat generating hydrogen, and skittering it across the surface.

One day they were given the lab as a study room. The two monkeys students dropped a much larger piece into the water. Its weight sent it to the bottom, where it produced a large bubble of hydrogen, and the heat to set it off.

The resulting small explosion doused them and the lab, wiped out overhead fluorescent fixtures, and blew a pencil case through a window.

***

Rochelle’s reminiscences about teachers, reminded me of this fact-based bit of high school hi-jinks. Go to her Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

Hot Dog

Hot dog

A man was eating a hotdog….. A woman with a small dog walked up to sit in another bench across from the man. Immediately the little dog began to bark at the man while he ate.  The man asked “Would you mind if I throw him a bit?”  ”Not at all.” the woman replied.  The man picked up the dog and tossed him over a wall.

***

I bumped into an old school friend today.  He started showing off, talking about his well paid job and expensive sports car.  Then he pulled out a photo of his wife and said, “She’s beautiful, isn’t she?”  I said, “If you think she’s gorgeous, you should see my girlfriend.”  He said, “Why? Is she a stunner?”  I said, “No, she’s a fucking optician.”

***

A black student goes to his Mom and says, “I have the biggest dick in the third grade.  Is that because I’m black?”  She says, “No, that’s because you’re 19.”

***

My wife and I were woken up at 3AM by loud banging on our door. I got up, opened the door and there was a drunken stranger standing in the pouring rain, asking for a push. “Are you insane man?!!? It’s 3 in the morning!!” I screamed, slamming the door and stormed back to bed…

“Who was that?” asked my wife.”  Just some drunk asking for a push.” I grumbled. “Did you help him?” she asked. “No, I did NOT! It’s 3AM and it’s pouring rain! ”Well, you’ve a short memory.” she said. “Don’t you remember three months ago when we broke down and those two guys helped us? You should be ashamed of yourself! Now get out there and help him! “She had a point, and angrily, I got dressed and went out into the darkness, calling out, “Hello, are you still there?”  ”Yes.”  “Do you still need a push?” ”Yes please.” ”Where are you?”  ”Over here…on the swing.”

***

Dad and Son are in the living room when dad’s feet get cold. “Get my slippers from upstairs” he says. While upstairs Son sees two of his sister’s friends, so he goes up to both of them, “My Dad told me to come up here and fuck both of you”.
”You’re lying” they retort.
“Okay, I’ll prove it then, Dad, did you say both of them?”
”What’s the point of fucking one?”

***

THE $100 TATTOO

Eric gets home late one night and Sarah, his wife, asks “Where the hell have you been” Eric replies “I’ve been out getting a tattoo”
“A tattoo?” She frowned. “What kind of tattoo did you get?”
“I got a hundred dollar bill on my privates” he said proudly.
“What the hell were you thinking?” she asked, shaking her head in disgust. “Why on earth would an Accountant get a hundred dollar bill tattooed on his privates?”
“Well one, I like to watch my money grow. Two, once in a while I like to play with my money. Three, I like how my money feels in my hand. And lastly, instead of you going out shopping, you can stay right here at home and blow a 100 bucks any time you want”

***

Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar.  They sit.  They drink.  They leave.

***

Government Philosophy: If it ain’t broke, fix it ’till it is.  😦  😯

 

The Aftermath

Pot Smoker

Come for the education. Stay for the drunken orgy.
Saint Patrick’s Day celebration at a local University – by the numbers.

10:30 AM – First reveller taken to hospital

11:00 AM – First keg party – with 300 students – busted.

10 busloads of out-of-town Uni students – 4 from prestigious Brock University, then parked abandoned in the University-area Starbucks parking lot.  I’ll bet they were thrilled

42 Peel Regional Police sent up to assist a small army of Waterloo Regional Police – because Brock Uni, and one other, are in Peel Region.

47 ambulance calls by 6:00 PM

25 trips to the hospital by paramedics with partygoers,
5 of them in serious/critical condition – all alcohol-caused.

52 students treated at Grand River Hospital, closest to the bash. Both of Kitchener’s hospitals had extra staff on Saturday to prepare for a possible influx of drunken students, and injuries due to falls.

100 extra security officers on duty at Wilfrid Laurier U. buildings

40 sober students to volunteer for the Sunday morning cleanup

2 large dump trucks, to block off each end of a two block stretch of student housing, for safety, because the partiers owned the street.

400 beer cans/bottles collected as of 2:00 PM, by an under-employed man with a shopping cart full of garbage bags, for their 10cents/ea refund. He was hoping to get $99, to take his girlfriend to Niagara Falls for an overnight stay.  He regularly cruises the student housing, and takes discarded beer cans and bottles out of blue recycling bins.  St. Patrick’s is like Christmas to him.  Two non-partying students gave him some hot food, and an alpaca sweater.

27 students on one house front porch, when the railing snapped. One girl received bruises, but was not included in the ambulance-run statistics.

250 cases of water and 5000 Timbits (donut balls) were handed out by Red Frogs, an international student support group. Slate Church also brought in water and Timbits.

20,000 – The estimated crowd within the two-block stretch. Police say that it easily eclipses last year’s 15,000.

248 police calls in a 12-hour period
619 charges laid
435 were alcohol-related
18 were Criminal Code, including one guy waving a knife
22,400 final ‘official’ Police estimate of the crowd – but you know the police, anything over a dozen doughnuts, and they lose track.  They counted all the legs, and divided by two.

Ezra Party

Teens coming from universities in Toronto, London and Guelph were stopped on area roads, and charged with speeding, drug possession, drunk driving, and other liquor offenses. Students hung off balconies, climbed trees, and onto roofs.  Several arrests were made for public intoxication, assault and sexual assault.

One female Laurier student interviewed, said, “It’s not that much fun unless you’re drunk. I had a bad day until I got drunk.”  She said that some young men were playing a game to see how many young women they could kiss.  She was asked for a kiss, but declined, and fortunately, wasn’t sexually assaulted.

Several ‘civilians’ stopped by, to walk the gauntlet and view the happening.  One couple said that they saw several young females drunk and passed out on front lawns.  Young men have raging hormones, and a generally poor opinion of females who put themselves in this situation. Drunken young men have trouble controlling their raging hormones, and passing up a free chance at winning the intercourse lottery.  It is fortunate that there weren’t more sex assaults.

Forgetting that Saturday was St. Paddy’s Day, the wife and I drove through Waterloo’s main intersection at 1:00 PM. Luckily we were a mile south of the big party, but still…. 5 green-adorned, very intoxicated young men spilled out of a bar and staggered up the main drag, each clutching an open beer.  Very much a No-No in Ontario, they probably got away with it because every cop was at the melee.  They all leaned against each other like teepee support poles.  If one of them had tripped, they’d have all wound up in a pile.

And a good time was had by – some. For a lot of others, dealing with this debauched drunken Bacchanalia was a lot of work and expense.  Now we have the K-W Oktoberfest to look forward to in six months.  We get the same kind of numbers, but they’re spread out over 10 days.  Anybody wanna come to town, and PARTAY??   😯

That’s Not Funny

Comedy

Wait, wait, I gotta go back. I forgot to tell you that the kangaroo was left-handed….

I’m sure that, at least once, you’ve all encountered a joke-teller – really, a joke-killer – like the one above. THAT’S NOT FUNNY!

I suppose that one of the reasons I’m interested in jokes and comedy, is that they require crisp, clear, concise, complete communication. The Devil, and the humor, is often in the details.

I first started hearing and collecting jokes when I entered Grade 1. The worldly-wise Grade 2 boys had worldly-wise (for 6/7 year-olds) jokes.

Bobby’s mother sent him to the store to pick up some groceries. On the way home, he tripped, and he and the bag of groceries fell into a mud puddle.  “Jesus Christ Almighty,” he said angrily.  A passing Minister demanded, “What did you say?”  I just said, “The cheese and rice got all muddy.

That joke is not funny, but a six-year-old boy trying out public profanity for the first time, and desperately attempting to evade adult retribution is.

Some people just should not be allowed to (try to) tell jokes. They may be the same people who wander from lane to lane, make left turns from the right lane or drive at 50MPH in the fast lane on the Interstate.

I was at a business dinner one evening, when I heard the beginnings of a joke, so I jammed my ear in to catch it.

The Good-Old-Boy Southern Sheriff dragged Bubba up before the judge. The judge asked, “What’s the charge?”  The Sheriff answered, “Arson, Your Honor.”  The judge said, “There’s been too much of that going on recently.  That’ll be a $300 fine.”

There were a few polite chuckles, and suddenly, everybody had somewhere else to be. THAT’S NOT FUNNY.  Two years later, I was at another meeting, and heard the beginning of the same joke.

The Good-Old-Boy Southern Sheriff dragged Bubba up before the judge. The judge asked, “What’s the charge?”  The Sheriff answered, “Arson, Your Honor.”  The judge said, “There’s been too much of that going on recently.  Now I want you to marry the girl, and make an honest woman of her.”

Oh, arson/arsin’. How could someone not get that punch line, or think that a fine was funny?

In mining a joke site, I recently downloaded what I, at first, thought was a cute joke that I could include in a comedy post. The more I studied it, the more I realized that, THAT’S NOT FUNNY.

An atheist was seated next to a little girl on an airplane and he turned to her and said, “Do you want to talk? Flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.”

The little girl, who had just started to read her book, replied to the total stranger, “What would you want to talk about?” “Oh, I don’t know,” said the atheist. “How about why there is no God, or no Heaven or Hell, or no life after death?” as he smiled smugly.

“Okay,” she said. “Those could be interesting topics but let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff – grass, yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, but a horse produces clumps. Why do you suppose that is?”

The atheist, visibly surprised by the little girl’s intelligence, thinks about it and says, “Hmmm, I have no idea.”

To which the little girl replies, “Do you really feel qualified to discuss God, Heaven and Hell, or life after death, when you don’t know shit?” And then she went back to reading her book.

With a bit of study and thought, what at first seems innocent and amusing, soon becomes a desperate Christian attempt at an Atheist joke. For a joke to work, like a book or movie, there must be a voluntary suspension of disbelief.  This thing is chock-a-block with heavy-handed failure.

Airlines do not place ‘little girls’ next to random older men, whether Atheist or not. They put them next to their mother or father, or at least nearby.  A random pedophile might start a conversation with a little girl, but an Atheist would know that a parent would soon interfere, since Christians deem them more dangerous than pedophiles.  I just love the insertion of, “smiled smugly.”

Atheists don’t generally discuss, what is an adult theme, with children until they are old enough to think on their own. Cows, horses and deer don’t actually eat the same thing – grass, and there are physiological reasons for the differences in their scat, despite the Atheist’s inability to respond.

The Christian girl is shown to be more intelligent and knowledgeable than the adult Atheist, and the ‘don’t know shit’ line just pounds home Atheists’ apparent ignorance. While not capitalized in the joke, it is obvious that the girl returns to reading, not just ‘her book,’ but her Book, the Holy Bible, from which all knowledge of shit flows.

I’ll be back soon with some jokes that actually are funny.   😆

Swimming With Arrogant Entitlement

Swimming Pool

A couple in Toronto purchased a house with a swimming pool. Since the wife was a qualified swim instructor, she immediately took in young students, three per half-hour session, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, plus her own two young children.

Her neighbor was a young female psychotherapist who took a few clients at her house, as well as studying for her PhD, and soon requested that she only teach in the evenings, and on the weekends. She ignored this request.

The neighbor needed quiet to work and study, and wanted her legally-mandated Peaceful Enjoyment of Property. She was informed that she was violating the 24-hour noise bylaw.  She ignored this also.

Her local city councillor personally came out, to use his tact and diplomacy to negotiate a compromise settlement. She agreed to limit her hours to Noon till 5:00 PM.  The councillor was barely back in his office, when she ignored the compromise, and reverted to all-day, noisy swim times.

The neighbor called Bylaw Enforcement, who came out and told her that she was violating a commercial bylaw which forbid an all-day, outdoor business. She was ordered to immediately Cease and Desist.  She went to City Hall, paid $1000 for a variance, (I pronounce it ‘bribe’) and continued her noisy, all-day sessions.

When she learned that the neighbors had filed a grievance with the OMB – the Ontario Municipal Board – claiming that the variance should be declared invalid, she somehow managed to get the Toronto Sun to publish a half-page story c/w a photo of her and her skating rink swimming pool.

She vehemently asserted that it was the neighbor who continued to insist on getting ‘everything her way or the highway.’ There are none so blind as those who will not see – that they are the problem.  😳

Bottle Babies

Genie

Two guys in a life raft in the middle of
the ocean.

One sees an old bottle floating. He picks
it up and rubs it, and a genie comes out.

The genie says, “For letting me out, I will
grant you one wish.”

The guy says, (without thinking) “Turn this
ocean into beer”. And the ocean turns into
the best beer anybody has ever tasted.

The second guy says to the first, “You idiot,
now we’ll have to piss in the boat”.

***

Two old men sit on a bench in a park when one of
them asks the other:
“How many times can you have sex”?
“Not more than twice”, replies the other old man.
A few minutes of silence, then the first old man asks again:
“Which of the times is the best one then?”
“Hmmmm, I think the one in Spring.” says the other old man.

***

How do you find a blind man in a nudist colony?
It’s not hard.

***

Single women complain that all good men are
married, while all married women complain about
their lousy husbands.

This confirms that there is no such thing as a
good man.

***

A flashlight is a case for holding dead batteries

***

How many men does it take to change a roll of
toilet paper?

We don’t know, it has never happened.

***

A guy from up North (Canada) goes into a
classy bar in the South (States). This
bar has a dress code, and the maître d’
demands he wear a tie.

Discouraged, the guy goes to his car to
sulk when inspiration strikes: He’s got
jumper cables in the trunk! So he wraps
them around his neck, sort of like a
string tie (a bulky string tie to be
sure) and returns to the bar.

The maître d’ is reluctant, but says to
the guy, “Okay, you’re a pretty
resourceful fellow, you can come in…
but just don’t start anything”!

***

Your kid may be an honors student,
but you’re still an idiot!