I am an old fogey. And I ramble a lot.  3

And've forgotten a lot.  4

But also remember a lot. More or less. Sort of.

      A cow is of the bovine ilk
      One end moo, the other milk.

That was by Ogden Nash. It may have come to me from "The Golden Trashery of Ogden Nashery." I loved Nash's Trashery even though I hardly spoke any English. It was a pocket book I bought for 25 cents in the corner drugstore in Baie Comeau. In 1953. The store had a counter where you could have a coffee—a dime, I believe. A hot dog was 20 or 25 cents.  6

      Some primal termite knocked on wood
      And tasted it, and found it good!
      And that is why your Cousin May
      Fell through the parlor floor today.

Truth and consequences.  8

Rambling again.  9

I had gotten a job as chemical control engineer with a pulp and paper company where I began to pick up English. My new boss suggested I'd learn about the chemical trim. I had no idea about what that meant, but the guy I was replacing put me straight. "That is bullshit," he explained.  10

I began using "bullshit" a lot for it seemed to cover much ground. Until I learned that it is a bad word. The pitfalls of learning a new language.  11

Eventually, I gathered that chemical trim stood for the chemicals that were added to the slush of wood fibres from the grindstones on their way to the huge newsprint machines. Alum and limestone, mostly, to combat the build-up of sticky wood resins on the machinery. Just in case you want to know.  12

Nobody ever told me what my new job really demanded of me other than what I shouldn't do or shouldn't have done. Aside from that, no thought was ever given that a chemist can't perform well without an adequate library, adequate materials, and colleagues to consult. The pitfalls of learning a new job.  13

It was the same thing all over again after a move to the company's a pulp and paper mill in Ontario, where I became sulphite control engineer—same salary. I came cheap.  14

I stayed there until someone leaked that the mill manager had told my boss that he could extract any amount of overtime from an immigrant. Immigrants have nowhere to go. And so the time had come to look for another job. Which took me back to Quebec.  15

But I am rambling too much. Where was I? Words we use. Abuse.  16

I like doing a job well. Even dishwashing. Done a lot of dishwashing at home. Ever since I got engaged.  17

Some years ago, after reading about financial scandals by members of our Senate, I began to wonder how those who govern us do their job. What I've learned since is not assuring. Like what a highly regarded political scientist wrote years ago, that our House of Commons is one of the most amateur assemblies among Western nations. On average, a Canadian MP stays only a little more than four years, compared with more than eight years in Britain, and much longer in the American House of Representatives.  18

Going by the news these days, even those experienced British and American politicians are making a hell of a mess of things. Brexit. Trump. Spurred on by unwitting majorities of voters. Lives and livelihoods at the mercy of voters' ignorance and of politicians' ambitions—probably, hopefully some with an earnest desire to serve well—and a need to fit in while standing out.  19

Democracy is on he skids. Has been for a long time. Never mind Churchill's famous quip that democracy beats alternatives. I really wonder about that. Hitler was democratically elected, remember? With extreme outcomes. And still we have people waving swastikas. How is that possible?  20

A former Nova Scotia minister of finance, Graham Steele, wrote "What I learned in politics" and some of what he learned were rules for politicians to live by, like: "Perception is reality," "Keep it simple," "Put yourself in the spotlight," "Always be attacking," "Fight hard to take credit, fight harder to avoid the blame." That was before Trump became president. Holy cow!  21

Interviewed for the CBC, he said:  22

      "The voters have generally not any idea of what you're doing .... Keep it simple. Policy debates are for losers. Focus on what is most likely to sink in with the distracted electorate which is slogans, scandals, personalities, pictures, and images."

      "Policy is not done in places where it is supposed to be done. Policy does get done. It gets done around the edges. It gets done within the civil service."  

I'll stop here. Must keep it simple. Besides, I need to pee.  24

As for climate change, a spotlight is currently on how Canadian politics got entangled with the illegal doings of an enterprise—SNC-Lavalin—that holds tens of thousands of innocent livelihoods as bargaining chips. A feast for Her Majesty's loyal opposition, and for the media's columnists at their hindsight best.  25

Have to go. It's urgent.  26

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