Eric Colbourne

THE FLAT EARTH SOCIETY

I much prefer Raspberry Screech as an aid to restful slumber and as a tonic for late night hallucinations but it is a rare beverage these days as a result of the iceberg-ice tax crisis imposed on the toiling masses by Dear Leader and the gang last spring. Spouse and I now relax during the midnight hours over several glasses of Fifty Shades of Bay.

"Although the bouquet leaves something to be desired," said spouse, "It does have a certain je ne sais quoi."

I suspect that with the latest Liberal scheme to sell us on marijuana, there will be an alternative next year when we stagger around the Festivus Pole.

After struggling to finish her glass of the invigorating spirits, spouse departed for the Land of Nod leaving me to explore the bizarre kingdom of late night radio. Where better to start, I ask myself, than the latest local political news. I turn to CBC St. John's.

Big Eddie, new Minister of Environmental Destruction, announces that he will appeal the ruling of the Newfoundland Supreme Court that an environmental assessment should take place on the massive salmon farming operation planned for Placentia Bay.

"Trust-ah-me," he said in his best Godfather voice. "Is-ah-not necesSARY, I take care of it, okay. All-ah-dose-ah pesticides and antibiotics and ah-sea-louse and infectious disease and thousands of tons of salmon sh.., is-ah-all good for you. Jobs, jobs, jobs. Somebody mess wid me, Ima gonna mess wid dem."

As usual, I am skeptical. I give up on local politics and turn the dial.

After some static, I pick up WHAM Buffalo. The host was in the middle of an interview with basketball star, Shaquille O'Neil.

"It's true, the Earth is flat," said Shaq. "The Earth is flat. Yeah, it is. Yes, it is. Listen. There are three ways to manipulate the mind--what you read, what you see and what you hear. In school. First thing they teach us is, 'Oh, Columbus discovered America,' but when he got there, there were fair-skinned people with the long hair smoking on the peace pipes. So, what does that tell you? Columbus didn't discover America."

Shaq went on to state that he regularly drives from Florida to California and it looks all flat. It doesn't go up and down at a 360-degree angle.

Next up was another believer in a flat Earth, Bobby Ray Simmons Jr., better known as rapper B.o.B who tells us that he is going up against some of the greatest liars in history who've been deceiving us on this very question. He obviously was not acquainted with any Newfoundland politicians.

Be that as it may, B.o.B announced a gofundme campaign to raise a million dollars to gather evidence of a flat Earth. I immediately went online at gofundme.com and made a one dollar donation. I like to cover all the bases.

As I quaffed the rest of the bottle, I slipped into nostalgia for the golden era of sunlit days and starry nights when politicians like Joey Smallwood imposed a democratic dictatorship and his friends, Alfred Valdmanis, John Shaheen, and John C. Doyle ran away with the piggy bank.

In those halcyon days, I first encountered the theory of a flat Earth, an astounding piece of knowledge which has stayed with me all those years. Grade four was a milestone.

Our regular teacher had been canned after it was revealed to the local school board that he had been operating a medieval torture chamber in the classroom. A young emergency supply teacher replaced him. Back in the day, good teachers were hard to come by even before Dear Leader started closing down outport schools. But that's another issue.

Anyway, this earnest young replacement teacher breezed into our classroom a few weeks later. Expectant children with minds as malleable as modeling clay watched with consternation as he took a hammer to the globe on his desk. I remember all of us clapping enthusiastically and flying paper airplanes all over the place in celebration because we thought it was the end of geography which we hated anyway.

He then announced in no uncertain terms that we had been fed an untruth, a filthy falsehood, a dirty downright lie. The Earth, he said, is flat and furthermore, one of its four corners is located in our windswept land. Have you ever wondered why you don't fall off the Earth if its a ball, he asked. Good question, we all thought.

For the rest of that year many scholars studied the velocity and trajectory of spitballs launched from the end of a ruler. For myself, I experimented with Newton's Third Law of physics which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. During my research, I pinched the girl ahead of me and she delivered a painful counterpunch to my eye. We reveled in our new-found intellectual freedom and in the chaos of our new universe but we learned to question. 'Why' became our motto.

It was good while it lasted. Next year we returned to the old regime with another graduate of the Stalag who frowned on questions of any kind. Later on, he became a clergyman.

My attention returned to WHAM Buffalo. I was intrigued that after 2000 years of scientific thought and all the images from space there are millions of Earth-dwellers who believe that the planet is a flat disk like a hockey puck.

But then Kathy, a caller from Kalamazoo, threw a wrench in the works. "In fact, the Earth is not a disk," she said, "but a flat square."

"This fact is based on The Book of Revelation," she said, "chapter 7, verse 1: After this, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the Earth..." Oh, never mind, I thought, this is going too far.

I turned the dial to the BBC World Service. Commander Shaun Dakin of the West Midlands Fire Service was reporting that a young 22-year-old stuck his head in a microwave. A group of his friends then mixed seven bags of polyfilla and poured it around his head which was protected by a plastic bag inside the appliance.

The polyfilla quickly set and his head was cemented in the microwave. Unable to free their friend after two hours, they called the rescue squad which spent another hour cutting him loose. All this happened in Wolverhampton, not in the Liberal cabinet room but what's the difference.

At that point I suspected the Fifty Shades of Bay was affecting my brain in a rather peculiar fashion. I turned off the radio and headed for bed. Spouse had run into a demon in the Land of Nod, a Duh-wite Ball look-a-like, who was trying to push her over Muskrat Falls. I rescued her from the nightmare and began to tell her about Big Eddie, the flat Earth, and the microwave man.

"Late night radio is very strange," I said.

"Don't tell me you've eaten all my marijuana plants," she said.

 

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