Monday, March 1, 2010

our weird world

Imagine a convoluted sport where the bronze medal is valued higher than the silver. Olympic hockey is such a sport.

Think about it. The hockey bronze medalists have just won the second-most important game of the tournament, and are very, very happy they didn't end up with nothing. I'm sure Finland consumed gallons of champagne on Bronze Medal Victory Night. On the other hand, the silver medalists have just lost the most important game of the tournament, and are very, very sad. They likely consume an inordinate quantity of alcohol after the game too. But it's a different kind, and for different reasons. The pain of losing gold eclipses the elation of winning silver in Olympic hockey.

Being the wussy, milksop softy that I am, it hurt to watch the silver medalists after the game on Sunday. It might be partly because I was born American, but I don't think so. I just can't bear sad people. If Canada had lost, it wouldn't have been a big deal . . . unless you think that four years of national mourning, and an Olympic team tarred and feathered and exiled to Siberia is a big deal.

Okay, if we had lost we would have borne it with True North Strong and Free Canadian dignity, but Canada really does value their hockey gold.

For my American friends that care about hockey (and there must be a few out there somewhere), I totally understand that knowing it was a very close, very well matched game that could have gone either way is no consolation. But hey, you'll whip us in basketball during the summer Olympics.

Speaking of convoluted things, it seems a little out of place to celebrate Olympic gold records while Chile is still reeling from an 8.8 earthquake, but such is the weirdness of our existence. If obliterating Olympic celebrations could fix the devastation of Haiti and Chile and the rest of this violent world we live in, I'm sure no one would complain much about giving them up. Life goes on, and it is no use to live in caves and beat ourselves with chains just because another nation is in distress . . . but if you have the means to help, then do it. Here is a site that can help you help if you are so inclined.

While we're on the topic of crazy, complex, convolution, a British firefighter has been charged with manslaughter for his actions in the line of duty. That in itself isn't totally unheard of, but the circumstances are about as convoluted as Alice's nonsensical Wonderland. The siren from his responding apparatus allegedly caused a herd of cattle to stampede and trample a farmer to death.

When the Mad Hatter leaps off the storybook page and intrudes into real life (disguised as a lawyer), my reaction is to want to strangle someone. Fortunately, reason prevails and I opt for a milder outlet to vent my rage. I write furiously. This is the third time in a month that I've read about lawyers targeting the fire service. I feel an article coming on, but you'll have to wait until June.

To curb your keen disappointment in not being able to instantly satisfy your insatiable urge to read a hot-off-the-press piece of my brilliant word smithery, I am happy to inform you that bureaucrats have the same affect on me as Mad Hatter Lawyers. If you haven't read my treatise on the Bureaucrat, click here.

To be fair, the bureaucrats themselves are usually nice people, and sometimes even good people. It's the bureaucracy that drives me Alice-in-Wonderland stark raving mad. I react by ranting and raving and foaming at the mouth and name calling and laying on the floor pitching a hissy fit and asserting that every bureaucrat is the enemy of humankind or at least the fire service . . . then I wake up with a jolt and realize I was only dreaming of doing those noble things.

Even in my semi-suicidal state, I know that bureaucracy is the blue whale of human institutions, enormous, immovable, and unperturbed. And me? I'm a microscopic plankton who has embarked on a whale of a mission to put this gargantuan creature in its place. It makes Alice's lunatic adventure look like Einstein's logic. So why do I bother? When I find a rational answer to that question, I'll let you know.

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