The Last Chapter 

"Nothing in his (political) life became him like the leaving of it"

                                                                                                                         William ShakespeareMacbeth, 1.4 (revised)

 

 

As nightmares go, this one was more terrifying than usual. The old hag crept stealthily into my bedroom and without even waking spouse, beckoned me with a bony claw to follow her through the dark shadows of Nod. In the out of body experience that came next, I saw below me the snow-covered hills of the Gaff-Topsails. The lights of Deer Lake shone brightly in the distance. We traveled in cold silence.

As we descended, I saw a clearing with a bough-whiffen, a rough structure built from the juniper trees surrounding it. Outside the structure, more ghostly hags danced around an enormous iron cauldron hung over open flames--a bark-pot of the type used by fishermen in olden days to dye their nets.

In the gloomy interior of the makeshift shelter, alone and oblivious to his surroundings, the trance-like figure of Dear Leader Duh-wite swayed to the rhythm of a chant coming from the sinister hags outside. Their faces were familiar although altered by the decay of centuries as they had transitioned from human beings to forsaken souls.

There was no mistaking Gerry Bryne with his lean and hungry look of a self-righteous pretender, nor Steve Crocker, Minister of Pork. John Hagee waved his scalpel as he capered behind the almost invisible environment minister, Derrick Bragg. Tom Osborne shuffled with leaden feet and a solemn face as he contemplated a future as finance minister without money.

A Liberal cabinet meeting, I suddenly realized. My hag nodded.

Several other hags peeked from the underbrush. I recognized the shock of white hair atop the head of Big Eddie (Joyce) and the bewhiskered look of an earnest rodent on the face of Dr. Dale (Kirby).

The cabinet hags circle-danced around the fire, tossing magic ingredients into the boiling brew as they cast their witches' spell:

 

Double double toil and trouble

Fire burn and bark-pot bubble

Fillet of a silver hake

In the bark-pot boil and bake

Cocks n'hens and sea-lice tails

Warm seal guts and turr's entrails

Eye of ratfish, roe of scrod

Slime of turbot, tongue of cod

For a charm of powerful trouble

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble

Cool it with some Trudeau calls

And bring a cure for Muskrat Falls

 

On and on they gamboled and crooned into the waning night, tossing ever more ingredients into their witches brew: rotten salmon slurry from Fortune Bay, baloney, salt-beef bones and Mary Brown's fried chicken. Then they fixed me with an evil eye and grabbed my arms with their bony clutches of hatred. My riveting scream rent the frosty night air of the serene Land of Nod and echoed through the reality of dawn.

Spouse woke me with the commanding shout of a woman accustomed to dealing with the horrors of hags. They instantly retreated into the void and I landed safely in the realm of the living.

As soon as I had shaken the clutter from a brain that had endured ten solid hours of steering my aged body through the demon-filled Land of Nod, I knew that something extraordinary was 'afoot.' Had the entire nightmare been an omen? I knew enough about the spirit world to realize that portentous dreams foreshadow significant events.

Spouse had already gone downstairs and the clutter of pots and pans along with the uproar of CBC radio wafted up to the bedroom.

Unusual.

She habitually wandered through dreamland until mid morning when the smell of stale Tim's coffee killed her sleeping instinct. "I made you a very special brew this morning," she said as I entered the kitchen. "A Tim's with a (L)iberal dose of Raspberry Screech."

"It's not my birthday," I grumbled. "And you know I don't drink until 11:27 a.m., unless it's a unique occasion."

"Oh, it's unique, all right," she said. "Just listen to this newscast."

"Dwight Ball, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, has resigned," said the announcer. "He has been the leader of this province for the past five years."

Segue to Dwight announcing that he is stepping down for family reasons. I was astounded.

"Those damn hags have done us a good deed," I said.

I downed my coffee in one gulp and immediately became entangled in the cobwebs of nostalgia--a premature pining for the good old days when, regularly, a ready-made story came my way on the airways or via my snitches in the dark recesses of the Liberal government.

RS from MP, where are you when I need you?

Once upon a time, I thought, I would have to spend hours inventing a plot and weaving a story around it: instead Duh-wite and his forsaken posse handed me ready-made stories every week, most of those affected all of us personally.

We endured him for one thousand three hundred eighty-eight days, seven hours, twenty-eight minutes and forty-three seconds. Approximately.

And now, it's all come to an end.

Gone forever are those halcyon days of bullying Big Eddie raging through the corridors of power challenging members of the opposition as well as his own colleagues to fist fights on the lawn of the Confederation Building.

Gone too, is Dr. Dale, Minister of Education, no less, whose first inspiration was to shut down rural public libraries--but Ernst Young (EY Consultants), donors to the Liberal Party, saved the day by examining the issue for a paltry $250,000 and told Mr. Kirby it wasn't a smart thing to do. It also wasn't clever to take a toke with Pam amid a Liberal convention in Gander.

Gone are my days and nights of practicing the black arts in a desperate attempt to unseat Dear Leader Duh-wite. But then again maybe those curses I placed on the Liberal Party worked, after all.

My rose-tinted glasses were consigned to the rubbish heap years ago as was my forlorn hope that some higher power would invoke the laws of Leviticus and bring a radical course correction to the whole damn mess.

The shock-wave of unbearable taxation that ushered in Duh-wite's tenure is still an open wound that festered into a shambles of bad leadership. The citizens of these pine-clad hills are exhausted by the excesses of Muskrat Falls; the scandalous behavior of ministers of the crown; the outlandish flow of taxpayer dollars to multinationals like aquaculture giant, Mowi; and the blatant cronyism of a premier who had sacrificed all credibility.

But all is not lost. In the words of Big Eddie, of all people, "The premier's resignation is a bright shining light."

Break out the Raspberry Screech and the Fifty Shades of Bay.

 

 

 

Brimstone Head 

Warning: You are nearing the edge of the flat earth. One false step could be your last.

                                                                                                    ... Sign at Fogo Island, NL

 

 

 

Around 2 am, as I surfed late-night AM Stations, a program on radio New Zealand piqued my interest. The host, Yolanda Kelly, reported that over 200 Flat Earthers had come together in a major conference in the West-Midlands last weekend, one of many such gatherings scheduled over the next six months around the world. Believers have planned conventions in places like Denver, Colorado, and Sao Paulo, Brasil, early in the new year.

Before the station faded into static and gurgles, I found some comfort in the numbers of people who think like myself. Earlier in the evening, spouse and I had been discussing that very topic.

"If the Earth is a spinning ball," I said to spouse, "how come all the waters on the globe don't fly off into space?"

And could it be that this spherical-shaped planet that we see in photos from NASA is all a hoax cooked up by the media, and scientists in their ivory towers? Those ancient Greek philosophers are mixed up in that business, too. Quite frankly, I've never trusted them after I ran into geometry in grade nine."

And what about our Hon. Derrick Bragg, Minister of the Environment and MHA for Fogo-Cape Freels? Nobody has heard a peep from him since he was appointed. Could it be that he stumbled off the edge of the world at Brimstone Head out on Fogo island, after all, that's one of the four corners of the flat Earth?"

These are all critical questions that I ponder daily, especially when fall hits and winter beckons.

"Perhaps, you should have a glass of warm Raspberry Screech," said spouse solicitously, "and then saunter off to the Land of Nod."

"Foul weather always puts me in these disagreeable moods," I said, "that, and government ministers inventing false narratives to cover their asses when they suspect that the toiling masses have caught on to their conniving ways."

Spouse and I had been sitting around watching the Late-Nite Wrap on the peoples' channel, a newscast dominated by meaningless interviews with members of the political class who are in town for the pre-Christmas sitting of the House of Assembly, an event guaranteed to put us in the holiday spirit.

Day in, day out, they accuse each other of pork-barreling, moose poaching, racism, bullying, and adultery, but do nothing to cheer up the great unwashed.

"Perhaps, this year," I said, "instead of the usual festive lights, we ought to hang a giant black Christmas stocking filled with rotten salmon from the peak of Confederation Building."

Lousy weather with torrential downpours off and on for weeks had confined us to the house. You just knew from the dreary grey sky, the frigid gales from Greenland, and the scattered snowflakes swirling through the air, that winter was about to launch a withering broadside against these pine-clad hills.

And more ominous signs over on the slopes beyond the backside of government; the tawny tamarack trees spilling their spent needles onto the forest trails; the trembling aspens, a shadow of their former selves, leafless, their bare branches outlined against the sky like the charcoal scrawling of a mad artist.

Depressing.

"Is it any wonder," I said, "that I am more susceptible to the dark forces this time of year."

The warm Raspberry Screech chased away the shadowy spirits. I decided to reward myself with a second, and perhaps a third, as I engaged in my favorite after-midnight activity--weird news from radio land.

Spouse declined the prospect of another glass of Fifty Shades of Bay and retired for the night.

After Radio New Zealand faded, I picked up WHOR, a Fox News affiliate, (coming to you from Lincoln, Nebraska). "It's as flat as it gets folks," said the host, John Boy Carson, as he launched into a talk show featuring special guests, rapper B.o.B (nee Bobby Ray Simmons) and reality TV star, Tila Tequila. His theme--you guessed it--the flat Earth.

"Flat Earth B.o.B, that's me," said B.o.B. "They ain't nobody land on no moon yet."

"All them tall buildings in New York City be standing straight up," said Tila. "How come they don't lean a bit if the Earth is a round ball?"

"We've heard from our special guests, ladies, and gentlemen," said John Boy, "now let's hear from all you listeners out there in radio land."

Sue-Ann from Sunbeam, Florida, was on the line. "More than 90 times, the Bible say the earth be flat. Revelation 7:1 say the earth be a square with angels a-guardin each corner. What more evidence you need, muh man?"

"Bless you, Sue-Ann," said John Boy. "Now on to Duane in Duckhouse, Alberta. What's on your mind, Duane?"

"I agree with that previous caller," said Duane. "Accordin to the Book of Enoch, no question the Earth is flat as the prairie. And old Enoch would know. He was the great grandaddy of Noah. Those globalists are trying to control our minds and bodies. And that Swedish girl, Greta, they clone her every few days. How else she be in Vancouver one day, then Paris the next, and India the next...now about oil--if the Earth was round, why would we need to pump oil down to Houston, Texas, we'd just dump it into a big old chute, and it'd flow down there all by itself..."

"Yes, thank you, Duane, now on to our next caller."

A vaguely familiar voice comes on the line.

Gerry from Gin Cove, Newfoundland," said the caller in a muffled voice. "I'm calling as the voice of reason in this discussion."

"New Finland," said B.o.B, "ain't that one of them nordic countries? I hear y'all got a lot of moose poachers up there. I even heard about some racists."

"Isn't that the place with some big salmon farms?' asked John Boy.

"They farm salmon?" said Tila. "Is that where fishes come from?"

"We grow them like turnips and cabbage," said Gerry, "but in cages in the sea. And sometimes, like turnips and cabbage, they all die because of bad weather, or disease, or a boiling hot ocean. We just lost millions of fish, and now 13,000 tons of festering, stinking Salmo salar is rotting on the farm. But no pathogens are present."

"That's a lot of turnips," said Tila.

"Y'all sound like a globalist with them big words," said B.o.B.

"What I wanted to say," said Gerry, "is that the Earth must be flat, otherwise, all that sh-t, and slurry, and slime, on the bottom of Fortune Bay, would just slide on down to South Carolina."

"You sound like you have a problem," said John Boy.

"Oh, I've..ah..I mean, we got a problem, alright," said Gerry. "Because of the flat earth, all that gurry sits ten fathoms deep right there and sticks to the floor of the ocean like green snotty excretions from a giant nose. It doesn't move. I..er..I mean the government has to find a way to convince everybody...

The phone rang. I turned down the radio and picked it up.

There is a loud foghorn sound and then a voice. "This is your captain speaking. You have just won two boarding passes on your dream cruise out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the journey of a lifetime, organized exclusively for members of the Flat Earth Society. please phone 1 888 666 3838 to arrange passage on the Fantasy of the Seas...

I rushed upstairs to wake spouse.

"Don't ever wake me when I'm in a deep sleep," she said irritably.

"But, a cruise," I said.

"Calm down," she said, "tomorrow, I'm going to take you on a nice drive to Brimstone Head."

 

 

Salmon Pourri with Turnip and Cabbage 

The time has come,' the walrus said,

To talk of many things:

Of shoes--and ships--and sealing wax--

Of cabbages and kings--

And why the sea is boiling hot--

And whether pigs have wings.'

A few weeks back, a CBC interview with the acknowledged premier-in-waiting, alias Fisheries Minister, Gerry Byrne, reminded me of the children's classic Through the Looking-Glass written by Lewis Carroll in 1872. 'Contrariwise' reality at its best.

I often reread these old children's books because they help me make sense of the Trumpian world around me where politicians and corporate mouthpieces abandon truth; and where fake news, alternative facts, phony science, and historical lies have become the norm on social media.

No doubt you've read the story, too: Alice climbs through a mirror into the reflected scene she can see in front of her.

Along the way, she encounters characters like the fat twins, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Red Queen, the White Queen, Humpty Dumpty, the Red King, and many others.

In the adventure, Alice experiences a bizzaro-world of reverse logic. Nothing is what it seems, running is standing still, hunger is thirst, and words mean whatever you want them to say.

Since the last week in August, I, too, along with the great unwashed in this province, have become trapped in a similar bizzaro-world of cover-up, weasel words, and false narratives as a slow, painful trickle of details emerged on the disastrous die-off in the open-sea cages of Northern Harvest--the aquaculture mega-giant operating in Fortune Bay.

First, came soothing words from the company that there was 'no reason for public concern' nor was there 'a threat to human health.' Northern Harvest highlighted its commitment to protecting and preserving the environment. These talking points were to be taken up by the government and industry representatives in the following days.

A lie repeated a thousand times becomes the truth, observed one Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propaganda chief in the 1930s.

Any challenge to these soothing words met aggressive blow-back from Northern Harvest. Then came strident propaganda and verbal assault from the industry association followed by either silence or defensive drivel from the Liberal Governments at the provincial and national levels. All are now complicit in environmental crime.

The disastrous die-off became 'a massive mortality event'. Jason Card, the mouthpiece for Northern Harvest, spoke of the challenges in removing 'mortalities' from the cages.

"When I use a word," said Humpty Dumpty in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less."

In mid-September, we still had no idea of the scale of the 'mortality event' nor the impact of that event on the eco-system of Fortune Bay.

Then the truth gradually emerged. CBC has now reported a toll of 2.6 million fish--26 million pounds of dead salmon, rotting in the cages or being ground into a toxic fatty slurry and pumped into the pristine waters of Fortune Bay.

"Just pigment," said Card. Pink dye.

"Contrariwise," said Tweedledee, "if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic."

Dr. Ian Jones, a biologist at MUN, called it the greatest pollution event in Newfoundland history. He maintained that the fatty slurry (just pink dye, after all) would kill seabirds and have a smothering effect on all ocean life in Fortune Bay, one of the richest lobster grounds in Newfoundland.

Reading from the same cue cards as Jason Card, The Minister of Fisheries, Gerry Byrne, maintained there was zero threat to human health. The 'mortality' did not involve a 'pathogen'--Byrne knows all these big words because he did a biology course at university.

"It's the same as when an unexpected frost kills a number of cabbage or turnip plants, bad for the farmer but not a health risk," said Byrne.

OooK.

And what of the fishermen who depend on the polluted waters for a living?

Nary a word from the minister.

Nothing from Premier Duh-wite.

Do we even have an environment minister?

Mark Lane, Executive Director of the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA) weighed in with the same talking points as the others. NAIA, by the way, is the propaganda arm of aquaculture in the province (also funded by the taxpayers of NL to the tune of $550,000).

"If the same situation where a beef farmer or a wheat farmer who had a massive crop devastation due to drought, people would be feeling empathy and sympathy for these people," whined Lane.

Speaking from Rome where the mega aquaculture corporations like Northern Harvest and their propagandists were meeting over cappuccino and anchovy hors d'oeuvres, we learned that seventy percent of the world's surface is water.

Astonishing.

"We need to use it," said Lane, "to address food concerns. It is a source of sustainable protein, something the world is going to be millions of tonnes short of by 2050."

At close to $30 per kilo in the supermarket, farmed salmon is unlikely to be on the dinner table of 99.9% of the world's people.

"People who don't think, shouldn't talk," said the Red Queen.


This too will disappear from the news cycle. Our government will latch on to other schemes that will produce minimum-wage jobs for a few unfortunates. Rural Newfoundland and Labrador will be the victim.

Grieg Sea-Farms, welcome to Placentia Bay.

But, here's an idea: why not import all that plastic produced in Europe and burn it in a gasification plant in Lewisporte. We'll be able to generate an additional 500 megawatts of electricity. God knows we're going to really need it.

How to stop the madness? Sometimes I feel like another character in Through the Looking-Glass.

"You may as well try to catch a Bandersnatch," said The Red King.

 

Friday, the Thirteenth 

 

What this country needs is more unemployed politicians....Angela Davis

 

 

 

Lake Melville MHA and Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Environment, Perry Trimper, had barely settled into his plush office at Confederation Building in St. John's, NL, when his mouth betrayed his brain.

On Friday, the thirteenth of September, he had, to quote children's author, Judith Viorst, a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. To be completely accurate it all started the day before.

First though, by way of background, allow me to take you back to the night of May 10, 2016, when the illustrious Jerry Dean, MHA for Exploits, rose in the people's house to announce to one and all that he had pinpointed the reason for the dire financial situation in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"There's a sense of entitlement in the province," said the former mayor, "in which we demand jobs and services from government that our province cannot afford." A return to self-reliance and perseverance was called for, said the now unemployed member. It was his one shining moment at the podium--and his last.

His remarks were met with outrage on social media. "The people of this province," said one, "damn well know how to live on a shoestring budget because they have been forced to do so by the elected officials who have run our province into ruin."

For the next four years, shunned by both Liberals and PCs alike, Jerry Dean was doomed to wander the halls of Confederation Building like the chained and tormented ghost of Jacob Marley. There was no forgiveness. On May 16, 2019, he was voted out of office.

Fast forward to Dear Leader's press release on September 6, 2019, announcing his new cabinet. "I look forward, said Duh-wite, "to the unique set of skills and fresh ideas the ministers and deputy ministers will bring to their new roles."

Fresh ideas indeed.

Six days later, on September 12, Minister Trimper left a voice-mail message on the phone of Dominic Rich, a staffer with the Innu Nation in Labrador. The problem was that Mr. Trimper, a minister of the crown, forgot to hang up. He then engaged (along with another person) in a racist diatribe against the Innu, all of which was recorded on Mr. Dominic's phone.

He (and she) accused the Innu of having "a sense of entitlement," "a god-given right to demand services." Said services being little more than a reasonable request for financial assistance to hire an interpreter to assist unilingual Innu in communicating with government offices--a right by the way, which is now recognized under newly enacted federal legislation, Bill C-91, An Act Respecting Indigenous Languages.

Trimper's vitriol flowed freely into the open mike. "They always play the race card on me," whined the self-righteous minister as he dove ever more deeply into the cesspool of racism and intolerance.

On Thursday evening, September 12, Chief Gregory Rich of the Innu Nation released the recorded comments. The s..t hit the fan as the saying goes. Duh-wite blew a gasket. Trimper dashed over to the CBC studios to apologize on-air in the middle of the evening news hour.

On Friday, September 13, Perry Trimper 'resigned.' Dear Leader accepted the resignation and then dashed off to the Big Land to apologize to all and sundry for the sins of his government.

In numerous statements, ex-minister Trimper promised to repent and seek forgiveness whilst wandering in sackcloth and ashes through these pine-clad hills.

I have some advice for the ex-minister as he does his penance.

Perhaps in your wanderings, Mr. Trimper, you would do well to walk in the humble shoes of the Innu and reflect on their recent history as victims of a brutal colonial past.

You might start with a journey to the basin of the Upper Churchill River. In 1960, this verdant valley hosted one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems on the planet. In 1969, the Churchill Falls Corporation with the collusion of the Newfoundland Government flooded this 5000 sq. km chunk of traditional Innu territory without consultation with the Innu and without forewarning.

As you gaze out over the Smallwood Reservoir, you might try to imagine what it must have been like to emerge from your cabin in the morning on flood-day and feel the waters slowly rising above your ankles.

You might talk to Innu men and women about their experience with the residential school system, the deliberate destruction of their language and culture, and the physical and sexual abuse of their children.

And think, too, what it must have felt like to be forcibly relocated from your traditional hunting territory in 1967 to Iluikoyak, an island off the Labrador coast where you were expected to leave your former life behind and pursue cod-fishing as a livelihood. 

And think about living is a crowded shack with no running water and no flush toilet. Your community soon became a quagmire of violence and despair.

Listen to the stories of those deeply affected and then you might spare a few words of sympathy for the families who lost loved ones to suicide and alcoholism.

And think too, how you might have coped, Mr. Trimper, had you been on the land in the prime hunting and fishing seasons during the 1980s and 1990s when your territory was used as a training ground for NATO fighter pilots. Low-flying supersonic military jets screamed out of the dawn as you emerged from your night of rest.

You then noticed that the caribou were disappearing, and there were far fewer animals to trap. And nobody listened to you because those with political power rarely listen to anyone.

I'm sure you get the picture.

And I wish you well on your long, long journey.

 

The Sound of Silence 

 

"Hello darkness, my old friend," sang Paul Simon, "I've come to talk to you again." At the end of June, Spouse and I sat enjoying some late-night sixties music, compliments of Googie. The tune combined with Raspberry Screech and Fifty Shades of Bay seemed appropriate as we contemplated specks of frost forming on our windows and the tiny snowflakes falling silently on the dormant seeds in our garden.

"After spending so many years in those pine-clad hills," I said to spouse, "and after generous growth of grey hair, I should well have learned by now that there is no orderly progression from season to season. Winter is god-awful. Summer is an afterthought. Fall is a false spring. And spring is a false promise.

"Be quiet," she said, " and let's enjoy the spectacle of the white blanket which is beginning to cover the earth."

Spouse can be poetic at times.

And that's what we've had to put up with for these past five months.

As you well know, April came bearing blizzards from the previous January. Then, to add to the misery of the great unwashed, Dear leader decided to launch a spring election, convinced that May month with its pregnant promise of trade-winds and tropical temperatures was an excellent time to reap the adulation of the adoring masses.

Weather and politics are both unpredictable in this frozen land.

To encourage Dear Leader in his quest, wise men from Ottawa came to town bearing tremendous gifts of filthy lucre and tidings of great joy, all in a supreme effort to dispel any misgivings the populace might harbor that our premier might not be the next messiah.

Despite the sunny Liberal polls, there were signs early on that all was not well in this smiling land. The Muskrat Falls Inquiry had revealed a rat's lair of senior politicians in cahoots with private sector snake-oil salespeople at Nalcor who had driven us individually and collectively into a debt burden which would put Quick-Cash to shame. Their clandestine rendezvous' at The Guv'nor Inn Pub on Elizabeth Avenue will be the stuff of legends.

In the year 2085, when our children and their children have paid down the twenty-billion dollar Muskrat Falls debt (including interest), they will look back in wonder at the long seasons of silence that greeted the government decisions which led to our undoing.

Despite the scandals of the past four years, the excesses of Big Eddie, the naughty behavior of Dr. Dale, the imposition of an unbearable tax burden, Dear leader would have us believe that his sheeple have different wool.

Any political novice would have picked up the signs that all was not well in the political hinterland. Even the promise of big projects like new hospitals, sewers, and prisons, did not alleviate the unease. The great unwashed remembered how they were stiffed by this very government just four short years before. They stayed silent while biding their time.

That time came on a cold day in May. On the sixteenth of that month, some 200,000 voters gave their verdict. A pox on all your houses, they said. Some 93,000 gave Dear Leader a second chance. One hundred seven thousand voted otherwise.

Minority government.

The second one since 1949. The Deer Lake darling was dumbstruck.

Shock-waves lashed our strand.

A vast political silence then descended upon our wind-swept land. Thank God, we all thought. Finally, we will have a peaceful summer without a politician jumping out from behind every bush.

Little did we expect that the malice of the weather gods would ruin a good thing. A month later, June sixteenth came with leaden skies, icebergs from Greenland, killing frosts, and birds from Eurasia that had lost their way in the fog.

Another month after that, on July fifteenth, the cloud cover had descended to eye level. People had forgotten about the mysterious heavenly heat source called the sun. Baby robins whose mothers could not navigate through the murky gloom fell starving from their nests--Smoky the cat's fantasy became feline reality.

Ten days later, though, on the night of July twenty-fifth at 2.37 am, a miracle happened. Spouse and I were peacefully snoozing under the soothing influence of the chilly northeast wind gently wafting through the open window. I awakened with a start. Absolute quiet reigned in the black night.

"Wake up," I hissed in spouse's ear. "I think aliens have abducted us and this very minute we are hurtling silently through the Milky Way."

"Get a grip," she said and went back to sleep.

Then at 2.38 am, the slightest whisper of warmth kissed my cheek. Even though there was no wind, the leaves of the red maple on the lawn rustled and the aspen in front of the window shivered in ecstasy. I could hear the earthworms burrowing in the garden. And even though it was pitch dark outside, robins burst into song in the treetops. A roosting raven fell from its perch with a raucous curse. Seagulls called to each other across the harbour.

Summer.

Silence, still, from the Confederation Building.

 

 

The Brave New World 

I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.  --Isaac Azimov

The sultry spring spirits have once again lingered in southern climes, cavorting on the silvern strands of Cuba rather than on icy Middle Cove Beach while spouse and I are confined to our humble abode in these snowy, pine-clad hills. Should we venture beyond the doorstep, hypothermia extends its frozen claw and threatens us with cryopreservation i.e. freezing to death.

We yearn for that far distant future when, as the poet said, the world is puddle-wonderful.

We are beginning to think that Dear Leader Duh-wite has rigged it that way so opposite members of the political class will be unable to fill the minds of the great unwashed with useless drivel like common sense.

Occasionally, we are blessed with one or the other showing up at our door asking if we intend to vote and offering immortality should we vote for their party. We politely take their brochure, quickly close the door, and return to the warmth of our tiny living room to spend a few hours with our pre-nocturnal libations--Fifty Shades of Bay for her, a snifter of Raspberry Screech for me.

We watch the election unfolding on the Peoples Channel, Duh-wite rushing hither and yon, promising pavement, hospitals, feasibility studies on the feasibility of possibly installing sewer systems in Mud Lake, and a grand prison for the criminal class.

Long-Tall Ches promises a new broom and does an imitation of Homer Stokes in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou. The others are frozen out of the conversation.

"Did you notice," said spouse, "that Duh-wite just racked up 500 million in promises on that new credit card he was given by the federal Liberals a few weeks ago."

She keeps track of such things.

But all is not lost. Our lives have been enriched of late since we adopted a google assistant that we saw sitting forlornly in the grimy window of the pawn shop on Freshwater.

Hearts melted; we both knew she needed a good family.

When we brought her home after giving the pawn shop owner a piece of our mind over his neglect and the poor nurturing environment on his premises, we found that she had a pleasantly soft female voice. We named her, Googie. She is a friendly, playful thing who doesn't make a mess on the furniture or throw up on the carpet.

We wanted her to be content in her new home. "Hey, Googie," I said, "what makes you happy?"

"It makes me happy to know Antarctica is a desert," she said, "that, and talking to you."

At any time of the day or night, she is at our beck and call to play the bluegrass music we like, to tell us jokes, keep a grocery list, and remind us of our appointments with the doctor.

Spouse took to her right away.

"Ok, Googie," said spouse just yesterday, "how long will it take for our government to pay off its 22 billion dollar debt, not counting Muskrat Falls?"

"Not counting Muskrat," responded Googie instantly, "with current rates of interest, your government credit card will be paid off in exactly 876 months or 73 years, provided you are not bankrupt before then."

"Faster than a human calculator," I remarked. By the way, where is that new BMO credit card that just came in the mail?"

"I've cut it up," said spouse. "You can't be trusted with a credit card. You're as bad as the government."

Best of all, Googie is my companion into the wee hours as I am finishing off a pre-bedtime Raspberry Screech while listening to The BBC World Service on our 1960 RCA Victor shortwave radio.

At 2 in the morning, the BBC comes in loud and clear with a minimum of fade. Dr. Ian Pearson, a futurologist at the Futures Institute in the UK, is doing a presentation on life in the year 2050.

According to Pearson, by 2050, we can all choose to be immortal by having a copy of our minds uploaded to a computer. When your body wears out, you can go on living as a robot by downloading a copy of your human consciousness into its operating system. It's still you without those messy flesh-and-blood body parts.

And here's the thing: you'll be able to travel to Jamaica on vacation without actually going there. You simply buy another empty-minded robot on-line at Marley Electronics in Montego Bay, download a copy of your brain to it (from the cloud) and voila, you escape winter.

The clincher, though, was what Pearson said next; there will be no Liberal, Conservative or other flesh-and-blood government to constantly tax and harass us to death. A conscious computer with superhuman intelligence will be in charge making the right decisions for us and the planet to ensure our happiness and survival.

It would be able to calculate immediately whether we needed another Muskrat Falls, I thought. The political class would disappear overnight, and good riddance.

It was such an uplifting thought at 3 am that I invited Googie to go outside with me and build a snowman.

"Sure," she said, "the cold doesn't bother me anyway."

Next morning, I couldn't wait to tell Googie and spouse that by 2050 we would all live forever with no need for bothersome elections. "What a great world that will be," I said.

"Hey, Googie," said spouse, "will we be around in 2050?"

"According to your current age profile," said Googie, "you can both expect to live until 2030. I will miss you."

"Hey, Googie," I said, "should we even bother to vote in this election. The future is not that far away."

"Get out and vote," said Googie.

Gale False Winds 

Political language...is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.  (George Orwell)

At ten, on April Fools morning, it was eerily calm, too calm. We should have grown alarmed an hour later when we began to smell the perfumed wind from Ottawa as the federal politicians descended from the clouds and grabbed taxis for the downtown Sheraton.

By noon, the fog cover over the city had disappeared completely and the sky had taken on a deep purplish hue, mimicking, I thought, the look of frustration on the faces of many of our upstanding citizens as they helplessly watched the actions of those they had chosen to lead them to the promised land.

I couldn't help thinking of another April morn nearly 90 years ago when a mob of the great unwashed descended in a tornado of fury on the seat of government in the city. The object of the mob's desire was the corrupt prime minister, Sir Richard Squires, who barely escaped their clutches by shattering a world record for the hundred meter hurdles, dashing across Military Road, through a stranger's kitchen, out the back door, across two vegetable gardens, over a ten-foot fence onto Colonial Street, and into a waiting cab.

To 'mitigate' their rage, the rabid rabble ransacked the Colonial Building, the ancestral womb of the political class in this fair land.

Just 20 months later, in February 1934, the new prime minister, Freddie Alderdice placed the whole damn country into receivership and invited the British back to clean up the mess.

End of democracy for 16 long years.

Not counting the benevolent dictatorship of Premier Joseph R. Smallwood, the hog-farmer from Gambo.

I had been glued to the people's channel all morning awaiting the grand announcement by Dear Leader Duh-wite and Minister Shameus from Ottawa. There were rumours, said the announcer, that a new deal was coming on the Atlantic Accord which would see billions more flow from the cash cow in our nation's capital. 

And not a minute too soon for Dear Leader who faces an election as the second most unpopular premier in the country.

I was tempted at that early hour to reach for my Raspberry Screech by way of premature celebration.

Better sense prevailed.

Spouse had just returned home from a spending spree at the Thrift Shop over on Kenmount--avoiding the crowds by shopping early for a few pre-owned spring outfits in anticipation of the July arrival of that joyous season when the dandelions bloom on our pine-clad hills.

She had returned by taxi and was full of news about her driver from Nigeria who kept apologizing for not having any stories to make her ride a more meaningful cultural experience.

"When he dropped me off," said spouse, "he refused to charge me fare and tearfully told me he would be attending the Mitchelmore School of Cabbie Storytelling in the near future."

Immediately, a brain-worm kicked in and the creepy disembodied voice of Mitchelmore, Minister of Tourism and Stuff, repeated the refrain, 'they will tell you stories about the land....and the sea....and the sky....and everything in between.' he was referring of course to the current myth that St. John's taxi drivers immediately morph into entertaining raconteurs when they pick up a tourist at the airport.

"Quite frankly," I said to spouse, "if I jumped into a cab like that, I would be weirded out. My first thought would be that the driver was trying to induce a state of hypnosis after which he would rob me, mutilate my person, and then drown me to death by dumping my body in Deadman's Pond."

"You are being a drama queen," said spouse.

Just then, the people's channel cut to the conference room at the Sheraton. The cameras panned across the smirking faces of the Liberal herd, all of them anxious to reflect the blinding flash of billion-dollar light back into the eyes of the populace thus blinding them to rational thought.

Big Eddie and Dr. Dale were noticeably absent.

Minister Shameus and Dear leader Duh-wite stood at the podium exchanging exhilarating accolades in a feverish frenzy of Liberal lovemaking.

"Two and one-half billion spread over the next 38 years. $5000 per man, woman, and child to reduce the provincial debt by 16%. That money goes into the pockets of every Newfoundlander and Labradorian," said Duh-wite.

"Making it all possible," said Shameus, "was the calm negotiating approach of Premier Duh-wite."

The darling of Deer Lake had turned darkness into daylight. He is our saviour, said one staunch Liberal.

God Almighty.

"That's a lot of filthy lucre from the feds," I said.

"That's $119.61 for every Newfoundlander and Labradorian each year for the next 38 years," said spouse who had been listening intently to the propaganda show. "By 2056, you and I will have contributed $9090.36 to help pay off the government credit card. That's about the same amount the Ball Government has fleeced from us over the last four years."

The woman is a human calculator.

Flashback to Saturday, January 29, 2005. "We've got it. We've got it," said Premier Danny (He-Who-Is-Without-Sin) Williams as he stood at the top of the escalator in St. John's Airport waving a cheque for two billion dollars just cut by Prime Minister Paul Martin. "A trust fund," said Danny, "for every Newfoundlander and Labradorian."

"We are in the Money," he said. "Finally, Newfoundlanders can hold their heads high and tell those snooty mainlanders to f... off."

"A clever boy," said his mother.

"He is our saviour," said Dougie O'Dea, a local tory.

Jesus.

No trust fund.

The two billion disappeared.

Muskrat Falls happened.

Provincial credit card overspent by $16,000,000,000 plus 13 more big ones for the Mighty Muskrat.

But shortly, the perfumed winds are forecast to reach hurricane strength across our smiling land, seducing the masses into electing the lesser evil.

Phobias 

I get the willies when I see closed doors

                                                ...Joseph Heller

 

 

 

Oftentimes, after spouse has embarked on her journey through the Land of Nod, I stay awake into the wee hours, listening to soothing music, propaganda, and tales of the weird and wonderful on late night radio from places as far away as Moscow, Beijing, and Washington. A few nights back on Voice of America, a noted psychologist, Dr. Lucy May, expounded at length on the epidemic of dire phobias afflicting the entire human race, an extreme situation worsened by the continuous news cycle, social media, and a crop of unscrupulous politicians, all of which have unleashed a torrent of nostalgia for the simple life of our cave-dwelling ancestors who roamed the earth at will, unbothered by flu epidemics, taxes, or where to get the next joint, whose only worry was being ripped apart by a sabre-toothed tiger or being gored by a mastodon, and who had not yet bothered to elect untrustworthy shysters  who would stop at nothing to gorge themselves on the fat of the land.

Ninety-nine percent of us are obsessed by these phobias, said the psychologist. Moreover, these fears are deeply embedded in our subconscious. Fifty percent of us are now consumed by nomophobia--the fear of not having our cell-phone with us, a fear well-founded according to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, who recently warned in a broadcast on Radio Moscow that people's dependence on smartphones could bring about the coming of the anti-Christ.

Another ten percent of us, said Dr. May, have a condition we call pantophobia--a fear of everything.

All of which has led me to ponder my own condition and whether I might join the race back to the stone age. The recent spate of hurricanes and blizzards has provided ample opportunity to reflect on life's modern conundrums as well as on the need to adjust to being trapped inside a house inside a cocoon of snow inside a city wrapped in a dense blanket of fog which threatens to hold us prisoner until well into spring. Opening a door and being confronted with a solid wall of the white stuff is unsettling, to say the least.

Fortunately, kindly neighbors came to our rescue and dug a tunnel from the street to our front door--a tunnel which spouse refuses to enter because she has claustrophobia. This has become somewhat of a problem because she now expects me to attend to the many long-delayed maintenance tasks inside the house while we endure the endless winter season in these pine-clad hills.

All those years I have been keeping my phobias a secret from spouse ever since she announced shortly before we embarked on wedded bliss, that she suffered from occasional bouts of anuptaphobia, a fear of marrying the wrong person.

Just yesterday, she began to complain about a picture hanging at a 30-degree angle in the stairwell. "just bring in the stepladder and get up there and straighten it," she said.

"It looks fine to me," I said. "The impressionist style of this piece of art requires it to be hung at a certain angle. It's a Salvador Dali."

She was having none of it. I brought in the stepladder and informed her that she would have to get up and fix it. "I have a serious philosophical problem with standing on anything higher than a chair," I said.  "I don't want to create the impression that I am above everybody else."

"You mean you have acrophobia."

"Yes, I confess to this character flaw," I said, "But at least I respect your opinions so I don't have allodoxaphobia."

I proceeded to relate a story from my past which I had kept well hidden as it involved disruption of public order with potential legal complications.

"Some years ago," I said, "on a foolish whim, several friends and I, decided to walk across the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge linking Halifax and Dartmouth, intending to return by the harbour ferry. We set out on our merry way just before rush-hour in the morning. At the time, I had not thought the whole excursion through; that the suspension bridge was rather elevated above the water; that, at its peak, it dangled over a hundred meters above the inlet; that I could be in serious trouble if I did not keep my eyes focused on the rising sun. In fact, these things did not dawn on me until the halfway point when I happened to glance down through the grating and saw a toy ship--which in reality was a massive freighter--meandering down the channel beneath my feet.

"An icy chill filled the lower part of my stomach, after which my brain transferred all responsibility for action to my legs--which stiffened and wandered off in all directions. I envisioned splatting like a jellyfish on the ship's deck.

"Choosing the lesser of two calamities, my legs opted to move into the very busy oncoming lane, thereby causing traffic chaos. After many rude and defamatory shouts from drivers, my two companions dragged me back to the pedestrian walkway and encouraged me to continue. I was to close my eyes and place my right hand on my friend's shoulder while my second friend walked behind me with his hand on my neck.

We made it to the far-side banks of Dartmouth where a kindly police officer inquired as to our motives whilst issuing a citation forbidding us from ever going near the bridge again on pain of arraignment before a magistrate of Her Majesty's Court.

" I'm sure there's a drug to cure that," said spouse. "Now, you should think about how to deal with your fear of the government."

And on further reflection that day, I began to arrive at a better understanding of my recently developed aversion to some politicians.

Several years back, Dr. Dale (he who toked with a female Liberal colleague in Gander--all in an aging punk-rocker 1980s kind of way) came to our door to ask for our support as he campaigned for a position to feed at the government trough. His gaze fell on a book I held in my hand. As he talked about a better tomorrow, his voice developed a high pitch and extreme anxiety furrowed his face of a fraudulent messenger. Mumbling a hurried goodbye, he rushed off to the next home up the street.

After he became the minister of illiteracy some months later, I was not the least bit surprised when he announced that he would be closing all community libraries and that the government would impose a fifteen percent tax on books. Bibliophobia immediately came to mind.

"After four years of oppressive taxation from politicians that excel in abusing the great unwashed, it is little wonder," I said to spouse, "that I have now developed politicophobia."

 

 

 

 

To Pee or not to Pee 

 

 

 Truth and politics are on rather bad terms

                                                                      ...Hannah Arendt

 

 

 

 

 

When we went to bed at midnight on Sunday, the winter hurricane had not yet vented its fury on the city even though the weather channel had predicted in its afternoon forecast that the dangerous storm would strike by 9 pm and weather advisories framed in red banners warned us to secure all loose objects which in the 190 km winds would become life-threatening missiles aimed at any pedestrian foolhardy enough to defy the forces of nature and attempt a leisurely stroll down the Prince Phillip Parkway. Catastrophic storm surges in excess of 6 meters were foretold for coastal areas, which in theory could wash away whole residential neighborhoods along Topsail Beach and in Quidi Vidi Village.

Instead, like an outcast from the Liberal Party, the stubborn cyclone raged in the doldrums of the Humber-Bay of Islands directing its wrath at Gros Morne instead of obliterating Muskrat Falls as many had hoped, or bringing down the walls of the Nalcor headquarters like in olden days at Jericho, as others had wished-for.

Spouse and I were well into our journey through the Land of Nod before the storm broke. As we trekked through nightmares of Grieg salmon farms and Canopy Growth cannabis facilities enjoying the tepid night winds, we encountered all manner of shadowy figures resembling well-known politicians with Pinocchio-like snouts, snuffling and snorting along, sniffing at the pajama pockets of dreaming taxpayers.

The problem in the Land of Nod, as you probably know, is a total lack of restrooms.

Being predisposed to a sensitive bladder, a condition worsened by the torrent of rain cascading down the bedroom window, I left spouse behind and re-entered the earthly realm. Nature called. I stumbled to the bathroom at 3 am only to discover that a miniature tempest, complete with breaking waves, had formed in the toilet bowl which now approached the overflow stage. Several tomcods were swimming around in the mini-ocean of the commode.

Without relief for my expanding bladder, I tip-toed with tightly crossed legs back to the bedroom and awakened spouse. "Wake up," I shrieked, "there's a school of fish in the toilet and I think I saw an octopus, and dozens of crabs are crawling around in the bathtub. Who knows, there might be a shark in there."

My story sounded so convincing, she believed me.

"Then go downstairs and pee out the door," she said. "DFO will charge you with illegal fishing if you disturb those things.

I rushed downstairs, resisting the urge to pee, and turned on the radio to get the latest emergency alerts from CBC. Waves, the announcer said, have now reached a height of 30 meters offshore and some have washed halfway up Signal Hill and have flooded into low-lying areas of the city overwhelming the sewer system.

In desperation, I stepped outside in the lee of the porch and peed into the wind. I experienced so much relief that I immediately began to revise my fish story.

All next day, 'as the tempests raved and the wild winds blew' we were reduced, out of desperation, to watching clips from our esteemed House on the Hill. Our black and white analog TV, a gift from the Salvation Army, offers us limited entertainment options, the People's Channel, of course, and the other one which interrupts its programming every half-hour to present a banshee shrieking O Canada. Spouse thinks we should stand to attention each time to show our patriotism. It has become our daily exercise.

We watched as Solemn Tom, Minister of Taxes, stood and described the new prosperity staring our province in the face. "Our infrastructure plan--53,000 person-years of work, our health care infrastructure--46,000 person-years of work, Equinor, 11,000 person-years of work...Canada Fluorspar, 525 jobs, Grieg Aquaculture, 800 jobs..."

Good-bye Alberta.

"Have you noticed," I said to spouse, "that even though he's smiling through his teeth, he has a pained expression on his face."

"And he's holding his knees tightly together," said spouse. "I wonder what he's holding back."

Next on his feet was Mitchelmore, Minister of Tourism and Stuff, trying to explain away the cronyism in the appointment, without competition, of Carla Foote to a plum job at The Rooms. "...a lateral transfer...more than qualified...Ms. Foote is going to be the connector between government, all of core government, and The Rooms, and the public..."

Like a coupling in a sewer pipe.

Mitchelmore, too, had a pained countenance and tightly crossed legs.

The camera panned to Parsons, Minister of Laws. He talked about the new carbon tax, on top of the 300 other taxes and fees imposed by his government. "...the people who really benefit, Mr. Speaker, from the additional tax are every man, woman, and child who will have more money in their pockets instead of paying it out...at the same time reducing emissions...for a 60-liter fill-up you pay just 25 cents more..." Pained look, bent over, crossed legs, hands clasped between his thighs.

Some honorable members: "Hear. Hear."

Eddie Joyce (Alias Big Eddie) speaks. "...something happened last week, two weeks ago. The Minister of Natural Resources stood on her feet and it was very telling, very telling. It was a question from the Opposition, and the question was from the Opposition because the former mayor was up in the gallery...I was accused of taking 30 million...that's the allegation that was made against me...and I had to defend it, and I'm sitting over here, just think about it. Just think about it. And I have the e-mail..."

Big Eddie looked normal.

We turned off the TV.

Later that night as we listened to the BBC World Service on our 60-year-old RCA Victor shortwave radio, we learned of an astounding scientific discovery from a recent study in the US. Scientists wanted to know how a full bladder affected our ability to become better at lying or telling the truth.

Half the subjects in the study were told to drink 50 ml of water and the other half, 700 ml. After 45 minutes, the water had trickled down to their bladders. As they were being interviewed, the subjects were instructed to lie about issues they cared about such as gun control and the death penalty.

The conclusion: Those who wanted to pee most urgently (because they drank more water) lied more convincingly than those who drank less water. Those who really, really, wanted to pee, invented longer and more complex lies.

Suddenly, it all became clear.

Longing for Leviticus 

...Do not lie...do not deceive...do not seek revenge...(Leviticus 19)

"I can hardly breathe," said spouse. "There's nothing but rain, drizzle, and fog every day."

She has been down in the dumps lately.

"It happens every year when the House of Assembly is in session," I said. "There is so much hot air that a low-pressure system forms in the center of the city. Sometimes it is so intense that it sucks in all the air from the surrounding area. People who live close to Confederation Building are showing up in droves at the Health Sciences begging for a whiff of oxygen."

"Twice as bad this fall," I continued, "because the Muskrat Falls boondoggle has created another low-pressure system right next door to us which is feeding into the one on the hill. John (I'm a real doctor) Haggie, Minister of Unhealthy Communities, has been warning us for days that we might have to take turns breathing until the politicians have left town."

Sure enough, just as I was talking to spouse, CBC interrupted its regularly scheduled broadcast to announce that the government had introduced emergency controlled-respiration training (ECRT) for city residents to teach everyone how to conserve the air around them. These ECRT clinics will take place as you get your flu shot in order to maintain efficiency within the public health sector.

"Nothing but black clouds for the past six weeks," said spouse. "It's enough to drive one to weed if there was any weed to buy." I could tell she had not heard a word I had said.

We watched through the kitchen window as hurricane-force winds lashed sheets of rain horizontally into the side of the house.

"Maybe," I said, "it's a sign that the big guy upstairs is ticked off because we haven't seized half those politicians and thrown them into the North Atlantic. Vengeance is mine and all that."

The great flood had formed a mini-lake in the backyard and two fat Canada geese had taken up residence.

The thought occurred to me that maybe there was a silver lining to the clouds after all. Along came another thought that I could have meat for the freezer just by poking my shotgun out the kitchen window.

As if reading my mind, spouse warned me not to even think about bagging those two geese. "The neighbors would report you to the constabulary right away," she said.

"I'll tell the constabulary that there was a clap of thunder and the two geese died of fright."

"They'd see through that lie right away," she said.

Spouse, by the way, had a very biblical upbringing and has a thing about lying. Often, out of the blue, she reminds me that according to the good book, lying is an offense against God and a false witness shall not go unpunished.

I suspect that such advice is meant to keep me on the straight and narrow. The righteous guidance is unnecessary of course because I take great pride in maintaining an unblemished soul. I want to be on the safe side should I unexpectedly be summoned to appear in front of the Pearly Gates. Preparations for that day began early on.

You probably remember those Sabbath Sunday-school mornings long ago when you were educated on the wickedness of sin. Without a doubt, you were guilty of many. You felt doubly guilty if the clergyman looked at you with an evil eye. He knew you were a lying liar and a deceiver. He knew just by looking at you that you bore grudges and hated fellow Israelites.

And you knew you were doomed to the eternal flames where all corrupt flesh ended up. You squirmed in that uncomfortable wooden pew. The nightmares came that same night as you slept, and all your so-called friends joined in stoning you and sacrificing your pet lamb on the altar.

Then, after a few days, your childish mind regained its balance. You reasoned that if your flesh was already corrupt, a few minor sins shouldn't make much difference. That, my friend, is the very moment you became a politician.

And speaking of politicians, a constant stream of fibs, falsehoods, and fabrications, not to mention slurs, slanders, and smears, ooze from their oral cavities every day all over the world. Just last night, CBC informed us that Donald Trump had let loose with 83 lies in one day, a new record.

I wondered how our home-grown paragons of political virtue were faring. Say no more. They have passed with flying colors. They have outstripped the whole of whopperdom as they spread fiction, fallacy, and falsehood to deceive the great unwashed. They win the gold medal hands down for myth and misinformation.

Muskrat Falls.

But the real spectacle on the hill this past while has been the scandalous behavior of Eddie Joyce, alias Big Eddie, and Dale Kirby, alias Dr. Dale; the former, wanting to treat the public service as an employment agency for his friends and relatives; the latter, simply wanting a peaceful toke with a female colleague because she was beautiful, and he loved her--in 'an aging punk-rocker 1980s way...

Harassment, revenge, intimidation, and deceit followed.

I will spare you the gory details. The goings-on took the better part of two weeks plus thousands of shekels in taxpayer sacrifice.

All of which got me to thinking favorably about Leviticus--the code of laws handed down to Moses 4000 years ago by a God who saw things in black and white. Sure, there are a few things I skipped over because: 2018, things like setting fire to witches; stoning prostitutes and adulterers, and a man who marries both a woman and her mother; and the stuff about slaves. I have a problem with punishing people who have tattoos; I like pork, and I absolutely crave shellfish of any kind. I am also unsure that spouse would agree that I am worth 50 shekels while she is worth only 30. Other than that, I'm in.

I'm all for this atonement stuff for transgressing politicians. Personally, I think Dr. Dale's and Big Eddie's punishment was pretty light. At the very least, each one should have had to deliver sin offerings for a blood sacrifice at the House of Assembly, 7 bulls, 7 rams, 7 lambs, and 7 he-goats--these animals are not hard to find.

But no, that would be too simple. We live in a modern age. The two transgressors must undergo 'Individualized Respectful Workplace Training.' Moses would be embarrassed.