The Zany Blog Explained Z-Blog 1

Today I am launching the Zany Blog, zany because I wish to explore what many might consider to be zany ideas. First, some might even be beyond the fringe but not so far at as to argue the earth is flat or climate does not change or vaccines are a big pharma conspiracy. Second, in half of my arguments I am only half serious, or rather, I am completely serious in half of them and might be pulling your leg in the other half. In short, l am hedging my bets. If you agree with me on a particular topic, I am being totally sincere. If you do not agree, I am not the slightest bit serious. I will never divulge which, unless there is a mass movement to implement one of my ideas. If such an unlikely case were to arise, I might be persuaded to deny the varsity of my belief or jump right in and follow from in front. One further point. I will always endeavour to make the strongest case with the best data I can find to support the argument nor will, as a rule, be too absurdly frivolous. I will not try to persuade you one can teach a pig tp fly.

I must give credit to two deceased friends for the inspiration for this series. First to my former colleague, Leo Ferrari, philosophy professor at St Thomas University. I swam at the UNB pool with Leo almost every day for the three years I taught sociology and statistics. I appreciated his sense of humour but not everyone did. He participated in two zany ‘organizations’. He was president of the Flat earth Society. I am not even sure there were other members. Some though he was serious, including the panelists on the CBC’s (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s) Front Page Challenge where he appeared once. I did not believe for a second that he was serious, but he would always keep a straight face and never confess to being anything but serious. In addition to this activity, he annually got together with James Stewart of New Brunswick and his good friend and award winning poet, Alden Nowlan to celebrate James’ claim to be the rightful heir to the British throne. James Stewart named Leo the Archbishop of Canterbury and Alden the First Lord of the Admiralty. He said he participated in these activities so that he wouldn’t go stark raving sane. You can’t get more zany than that.

Second, to my good friend Mike Nelson. We were graduate students together in the PhD program at Carleton University and remained friends until his untimely death at age 50. In one of his flight-of-fancy moments he created the famous sociologist ‘Polski Odorki’, and presented some of his famous aphorisms and ‘published’ works such as The American Peasant in Poland (a parody of the the book, The Polish Peasant in American) at the Canadian Learned Society meetings one year. I believe he fooled all of the audience some of the time and some of the audience all of the time. One could of course argue naming a person, fictional or not, after a small Polish cucumber was quite zany if politically incorrect. Mike outlined many of Polski’s unusual methodological techniques. For example, rather than standing on the shoulders of giants, Polski looked between their legs where one would get a less lofty but more earthy, granular view. You migh wonder if I am adopting this methodology at times.

Mike was a skilled debater and would, without hesitation, take the contrary point of view, no hint that he might be kidding. Perhaps he wasn’t. We will never know. In our zanier moments, we “invented” a floating swimming pool and founded a computer based advertising company for selling second-hand goods. It pre-dated the internet and eBay and like many ideas, was too-little, too-soon. Being first you often end up last.

You may look forward to, or not, to the following topics, among others:

- Standardization screw driver heads and screws.

- Abolishing the stock market as we know it.

- Paying sports players for performance as in golf and tennis.

- Harvesting ice bergs or water cascading from glaciers for delivery to parch lands.

- Reforming the Canadian electoral system.

- How should pay increases be determined?

Some might protest immediately that not all of these topics seem zany. Well, as only half seriousply represent my personal view, perhaps only half are zany. Just which half I will not divulge.

Finally, I will end all of my blogs with my mantra:

If you like it I’m serious; If you don’t, I’m not.



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