The Question Of Race, Including The Pit Stops

It turns out that if a question is poorly asked, it is poorly answered.

Take the business of black and white. Black people and white people… There are some humans who are really very close to black and some very close to white, but they are a very small percentage of those who are described with these two words. Most of us are either pink, tan, or brown, or a combination of the three. Doesn’t quite have the graphic impact of black and white, but is demonstrably true using a Macbeth colour chart…or our own two eyes in the sunlight.

Or the business of conflating two sets of information to describe someone…and making a horrible set of generalisations while doing it: ” Korean – American ”  to describe someone whose parents were born in Korea or ” African – Australian ” to do the same for someone with parents from Africa. The latter is marginally better than the former on  a pure land mass vs country basis, but not by much. It becomes even weirder when we look at ” Euro- Australian ” or ” Asian – American “. If the last-named has any semantic legs at all it should cover the native American tribes as well as all the peoples who eventually pushed on down to South America. After all, we’re not limiting our classifications to last week, are we? Ice Age is ice age…

And can we footle with the words when the air fares are advantageous? There used to be a classification of ” Eurasian ” that was used to be mean to people in both Europe and Asia by making them feel like they were strangers in their own lands. Now that the luggage and the parrots in cages are going the other way, are there ” Asiopeans “? ” Asiamericans “.

How about ” Afropeans “? ” Asiafricans ”

If the Inuit ever take a fancy to move to Madagascar via the West Indies is it all going to go to hell in a linguistic handbasket?

I vote we all do like Morgan Freeman says and just drop the multi-state-continent-race thing and just refer to people by where they live. I’m an Australian. Not a  Caucasian Germano-Hebraic-Americo-Canadian-Australian.

Just plain Australian…I pays my taxes and obeys the law. Nothing much before my emigration really affects me except for my prairie figures of speech and a deadly hatred for Edmonton. And that seems to be common on all continents.

If nothing else, reducing my classification to just one thing will save a bundle on Dymo tapes for the name tag.

 

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Which Is The Organ Of Truth?

And anyone who says ” Wurlitzer ” can leave the room.

No, which of our various parts can be said to be the best suited to determine truth or falsehood.? It’s a good question in an age riddled with fake news, click bait, and product-placement advertising. Here, hold my can of Valley Dew ™ sparkling pea-flavoured, famous throughout the world, beverage and I’ll type out the answer…

Is it the eyes? No, they are transparent structures – designed only to pass information in bulk as it is encountered. They make no judgements, being equally prepared to look at men, women, or Justin Trudeau. You can slip anything past the eyes.

Is it the ears? No again. The ears pick up anything within range – though there is the saving grace that they wear out faster than the eyes. The frequencies of sound that pass through them may stay the same but as people age, they are unable to hear the higher ones. If the makers of pop music and rap could be persuaded to raise their voices three octaves, we oldies would find the world a better place. We are prepared to help them to do this with a pair of bolt cutters.

Is it the sense of touch? Possibly – we can tell a rough surface from a smooth one for the most part, though again as you get older things become much the same. And as you become older, your opportunities to touch soft things diminish. A lot of us have to make do with cardboard cutouts of famous aviators and bagpipe salespeople.

Is it the sense of taste? Taste? That thing with the tongue? Have you ever tried some of the concoctions that a modern cocktail bar serves out? Raspberry Cointreau Rutabaga Surprise? I have no idea whether there was more surprise on the part of myself or the rutabaga. And who would willingly taste a modern politician? Apart, of course, from a White House intern…Ptui…

No, children, the organ of truth is the nose. When something you read, see, hear, or touch has an odour about it…whether it be an odour of fish, horse manure, or sanctity…it is false. Your nose does not lie – it can pick one molecule of rancid oil out of a million clean ones and the same with thoughts. If it stinks, it’s rotten.

Can you smell something? Is it my can of Valley Dew™?

Oh, Candida

In honour of the Dominion Day a’coming, I have written a little song that can be played and sung at school assemblies. It is perfectly suitable for Edmonton and Ottawa.

Oh, Candida

 

Oh, Candida, the home of native scams.

True, reasonably patriotic love, if that’s not too strong a word, in all our non-gender specific citizens command. Well, not command as such, but suggest, eh?

With glowing bongs we see thee rise, Trudeau’s North stoned and twee.

From far and wide, we stand aside, we stand aside for thee. Sorry.

God keep us all, even Quebec…

God keep us all from being Yanks, By Heck.

God keep us all from being Yanks, By Heck.

 

Sorry.

 

Poutine – Cultural Cuisine Or Misspelling?

We are just about to encounter Canada Day. It’s the 1960’s revision of the first of July –  Dominion Day – that allows Canadians to make slightly sad cultural asses of themselves throughout the world…or throughout the world that actually notices. This would be about 0.08% of humanity…

Shorn of its fun features – picnics on the shores of freezing lakes, fireworks, and a couple of months off school – Dominion …Oops…Canada day is a time of wild celebration for Canadians overseas. All through Kenya ice hockey and curling is breaking out. The mountains of Holland echo to the sound of gunshots as Canadians open fire on moose. The Indians dedicate another temple to Justin Trudeau and then flush it…

Just kidding. We go out a buy a carton of Molsons or a bottle of rye and some ginger ale and  scuff round the kitchen to see if that recipe for butter tarts has turned up. And we contemplate poutine.

I say contemplate, because I do not know any Canadian overseas who has eaten the stuff. Indeed, I passed a childhood and youth in the Dominion of Canada without ever seeing it, and I lived in Montreal and Chicoutimi for years. I did see strawberry pie in Quebec, but my parents were wise not to let any of it get on me.

Poitine would seem to be French fries with cheese and gravy. I should like to hear the Canadian Heart Association’s take on the dish, as it seems to be comprised of equal quantities of cholesterol, oxidants, and toxins. I am surprised it is not linked to Donald Trump. In an age that views anything other than salad as sin, how has poutine become a star dish? Is it because it is French Canadian, and is therefore excused from any goodness? Is it the culinary version of the Cirque du Soleil?

Well, for me, I shall celebrate Dominion Day with the aforementioned rye highball and something else Canadian enough to do the trick. I am going to get a pound of small fish, split them and roll them in cornmeal, and fry them in Crisco like Fraser River Smelt. Add some PEI potatoes and creamed corn and it will be as close to the True North Strong And Free as you can get in Western Australia. Unless I can gun down an elk on St Georges Terrace.

I may even put up a picture of the current Prime Minister, if I can find the dartboard, eh?

The Perils Of The Opening Act

I should not like to be an opening act for anyone – whether they were famous or obscure, whatever occurred after my turn on stage would be inevitably detract from my own performance.

The same with the first car to be seen in a hot rod show. It’s going to be rushed by no matter what. I saw this today and took deliberate care that I gave the first act full attention.

It was a depiction of the yellow ’32 Ford coupe that featured in the film ” American Graffiti ” so many years ago. I was taken with the film, puzzled by the title, and receptive to this coupe in the entry hall of the 2018 West Australian Hot Rod Show. Note, I know it has an official show name but it is just the WAHRS to me.

Yellow is always a good choice for a rod, as it attracts the eye. Also probably safer on the road for just that reason, though it also would attract the official eye in blue so you’d better have the official papers right to run it. The problem with the hall that the WAHRS is run in is the lighting – it can have a colour temperature that ranges from water pump to Alsatian dog without ever getting to any of the conventional measurements. In the past I have tried to predict it with finely tuned custom WB. These days I just accept my fate and leave the camera on Auto WB. Take it from me that it was yellow.

It was also well-built, with a fair adherence to the spirit, if not the letter of the original. I must re-view the movie to see how close they got. Suffice it to say that it was a very satisfying reminder of the times. I was particularly taken with the shake tray…having seen a fully loaded one rip the top chrome moulding off the front window of a Pontiac in a Canadian drive-in in 1962 myself, I appreciate the feature.

Also appreciated was the period approach to the interior and the engine fittings. I admire some alternative rod styles but always default to the classics.

And finally – two good pieces of showmanship: the display stand that let people know what the intent of the rodder was, and the free stack of printed posters that let them take home a souvenir. That’s what gets the punters’ eye.

 

 

Exercising My Uncivil Rights

I am going to make an assumption here than may prove to be incorrect. I don’t mean it to be, but I am somewhat unversed in the law and so must feel my way.

I am an Australian citizen, in Australia. I am not in the military – and so not subject to military law – and I’m not a prisoner of a state or federal institution – so presumably have all the civil rights that the next person has. They have not been suspended.

I would like to think at this point that I share this happy state of affairs with Americans, Canadians, and Britons, as well as any number of people in Scandinavian and European countries…but I know at the outset that there can be widely differing rights. We can’t own a military rifle here in Australia except in some especial cases – in the USA they can. They have other restrictions from which we are free ( we can ask for black or white coffee and get it without a racial argument ). And so on though each nation. Different cities have different civilities

I wonder if this applies in converse – are there different uncivil rights for each country?

” What is an uncivil right? “, you may ask. Broadly speaking, it’s the freedom one may have in a particular place to be unpleasant, unhelpful, unwashed, and undesirable. Add to that unthinking, ungrateful, and unintelligent. Really…all the horrible fun stuff.

Of course your uncivil rights may impinge upon other’s civil rights. The oaf on the train roaring and reeking comes to mind…though not to the attention of the transport police often enough.

Unpleasant speech is proscribed at various levels – here in Australia we’re not allowed to incite racial, religious, or ethnic hatred under penalty of law. It may also apply to inciting sexual or political hatred as well, but there seems to be a lot of this passing back and forth anyway. I think you are still allowed to incite hatred for inanimate objects like publicly funded sculptures or for food like liver and lima beans.

You are allowed to speak in an unpleasant manner as long as the words that issue are legally defensible. No-one has yet been able to legislate an accent.

You can certainly be unhelpful and get away with it…though not in life-threatening situations or those where a citizen is expected to assist the police with their enquiries. Then you have to do wheat you think is the right thing and trust that  lawyers will later think of it in those terms. But you are allowed to watch as people are drenched by water at bus stops or become tangled with the dog and the groceries.

Lack of hygiene is so common that it nearly escapes censure. Unfortunately.

Unintelligent? Well, if you pass below a certain level you are entitled to sympathy and assistance and no-one should deny it you. If you are in the operational range but decide to remain stupid this is not as civil – but again you can restrict yourself if you wish. Unthinking is no crime…if it were, would most popular music of the last century exist? Indeed, sitting on a porch in the evening with a long drink and no responsibilities is a delightful form of unthinking until the cat drags in a half-dead rat.

Ingratitude rarely collects an earthly punishment. It’s one of the deadliest of ancient sins, and one of the keenest cuts that can be perceived. The mistake the ungrateful make is to think that they get away with it unnoticed. It is never unnoticed, and never forgotten. Perhaps we should put it in the category of a bad purchase – you’ll regret it when you finally pay for it.

 

 

I’m Politically Incorrect

Yes I am. I know I am. I’ve got Facebook and I match all the memes. Don’t you dare tell me I’m not incorrect.

I still use the words ‘ boy ‘ and ‘ girl ‘. But I use them only when I meet a human boy or girl. I never refer to steam engines used in mine pumping or to zucchini in gendered terms. I also never refer to the current prime Minister of Canada in gendered terms. I’m not that much of an expert.

I do refer to women who serve drinks and food on airplanes as stewardesses and women who try to tell me how to vote and behave as actresses because I still retain enough eyesight to see that they are, indeed, female. I can also see that their male counterparts are subtly different. Subtle, but enough to earn the titles of ‘ steward ‘ or ‘ actor ‘. As I have nothing to do with what their training is or how much they get paid for these services, I do not propose to enter into their verbal games regarding these designations.

As far as referring to other people’s racial or ethnic origins, I am prepared to be guided by what they would prefer – provided that their choice allows me to do it in less than 20 letters. Past that it becomes a pose and a wank and I refuse to play along. When they get to two hyphens, I cease to care.

When it comes to operating my vocabulary, I desire no help. I’ve been managing it for decades and will continue to do so upon the old lines. You may keep your scolding tongue to warm your nose in winter.

When it comes to being publicly virtuous, I’m certainly prepared to uphold the use of correct ideas. Some of the ideas I think correct are made by Boeing, and some of them are made by McDonnell – Douglas. Some of them are made by Ruger. The Electric Boat Company has always been correct by me.