Joe was really cheerful when I met him at the group mailbox yesterday morning. Said he had been up half the night, and was quite pleased with himself, as he had managed to distill all the wisdom in the last 6 books he read into a single paragraph.  Joe read big, university-type books, not the Tom Clancy or Clive Cussler I go for, so that sounds like quite an achievement.

“Trouble is, I am not sure what to do with it”, says Joe.

“Let me see”, says I, taking the paper he is waving around. “Wow, can I borrow this, I am going to copy it into my diary”.   Joe looked doubtful, but I already had the paper, so he pretty much had to say Ok.

Here is what he had written.

“Our enemy is an army of idealist anarchist eggheads, and they are destroying our way of life. The politicians and political parties do not matter, they are all alike, tweedledee, tweedledum, and tweedledopey, all using different words while they pander to the mainstream media, which is totally dominated by the idealist, anarchist eggheads, whose agenda is to take our freedom away and return us all to serfdom to a new nobility, the ‘new world order’.  All their causes along the way, from manmade Armageddon such as nuclear war to ddt to pcb to dioxin to global warming; rights trump freedoms; family does not matter; transgender rights trump family; infanticide;, church does not matter, are all just signposts as we progress down that road to serfdom.  They have brainwashed the mindless city-bred masses into accepting serfdom is better than freedom, after all a dog leads a much more comfortable life than a wolf.

They of course assume that they will be the New Nobility who will lead that mass of serfs.

One of their central beliefs is that they are so smart and modern that the wisdom of the ages doesn’t matter, history doesn’t matter. So they do not notice that in every experiment through history, from Alexander to Genghis Khan to Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot to Mao; the New Nobility is mean, tough clever thugs, the meanest and cleverest gets to be dictator, and the eggheads mostly get sent to prison or die.”

  Wow again.  Obviously Joe reads way too much, I am getting worried about him.  After thinking a bit, I asked “Isn’t ‘idealist anarchist egghead’ a bit over the top”?  “Maybe”, he said, “some folks call their mindset Utopian, and Mark Steyn used to call them ‘Trudeaupians’, this gets a whole new lease on life now”.  “OK”, says I “how about ‘mindless city-bred masses’, wow, that seems a bit arrogant”.  Joe looked embarrassed, “Well, maybe so, Doug Casey calls them ‘the booboisie’ in his books and columns.  Maybe I didn’t really expect anybody to read that paper, maybe I was half asleep”.

I finished “Too late to back down now”.

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I am so excited; I am going to be rich.  I will use the multi-million-dollar prize I am going to win to build the new seniors residence our city so badly needs. I can hardly wait.  Let me explain.


A headline “Teams Compete to make good use of Carbon” caught my eye, so I read the article.  It seems a Canadian and an American company have teamed up and put up $20 million in prizes to research groups that comes up with viable ways to use atmospheric carbon dioxide.  27 teams have entered the contest, working on all kinds of exotic chemical processes which will make the carbon dioxide into plastic or concrete or just rock, all at a cost which will make the new carbon tax look tiny.


I have the solution, all I have to do is get on the list of finalists, which will be a piece of cake as my solution will actually make money, not cost money, and improve our planet, not just make expensive new kinds of rock or plastic.


The first paragraph of the article got me going; it was “What if carbon dioxide emissions could be transformed from a liability into an asset?”  Well, guess what, that is just what I will do, at no cost, just by proposing some changes in some of the regulations meant to make the rich richer, and the rest of us poor.  Not to worry, there will still be plenty of regulations left to enslave us upstart peasants. 


I am always preaching about the glories of compost, and how much it improves soil, and how enough compost can make any soil into a garden.  I didn’t make this up, of course, there are lots of people who discovered this going back thousands of years, I just proved it to myself over and over again over a lifetime on the land.


 Compost is made from plants which grow by drawing carbon dioxide out of the air.  Composting converts them into organic matter, a stable form which includes the carbon.  When it is incorporated into soil it is measured as ‘carbon content’.   So if there is too much CO2 in the atmosphere, all we have to do is change the way we farm so we are adding to the carbon content in our soil.  Sustainable, natural agriculture, instead of modern chemical agriculture which depletes the soil and reduces its carbon content.   Modern chemical agriculture, which our governments force us into with regulations and taxes and subsidies.


Actually even a simple retired engineer like me can cipher out that the reduction in carbon content of the world’s agricultural soils due to government-forced modern agriculture has put a lot more carbon into the air than all the coal and oil ever dug up, so there is lots of room for this improvement.


Of course the powers that be know all this better than I. So then, why do I deserve the prize?  For connecting the dots and coming up with the formula: Remove the barriers to natural, soil-building agriculture, and the CO2 problem disappears.


Oh, I am so happy, I am busy applying for patents and making up my application for the prizes.


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The following is a pretty succinct version of a clever OBITUARY which has been circulating for some years, and gets more appropriate as time goes by.

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

– Knowing when to come in out of the rain;

– Why the early bird gets the worm;

– Life isn’t always fair;

– And maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student, but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses, and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death:

– by his parents, Truth and Trust,

– by his wife, Discretion,

– by his daughter, Responsibility,

– and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 5 stepbrothers:

– I Know My Rights

– I Want It Now

– Someone Else Is To Blame

– I’m A Victim

– Pay me for Doing Nothing

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.


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“Rats. They fought the dogs, and killed the cats, and bit the babies in their cradles; ate the cheeses out of the vats, and licked the soup from the cooks own ladles – “.

The above is from an epic poem, “the Pied Piper of Hamelin”, written by Robert Browning. It is about an event alleged to have happened some 500 years ago in the city of Hamelin in what is now Germany.  The story is that Hamelin became so over-run with rats that the city fathers put out a call for someone to clear them all out.  A strangely dressed fellow with a pipe turned up.  He was dubbed “the Pied Piper of Hamlin” (no, Willy, he was not drunk, “pied’ refers to his clothing being a mix of bright colours, same idea as a ‘piebald’ horse).  He offered to remove all the rats for a large fixed sum.

The city fathers agreed, thinking he could never actually do that. The piper paraded up and down all the streets piping a tune which was irresistible to rats, and soon amassed a great swarm of rats following him as he danced along, right into the river where they all drowned.  But the city fathers reneged on the deal, saying it was much too easy and he had not earned all that gold.  So he began marching up and down the streets playing a tune irresistible to kids, and soon amassed a great crowd of kids.  I will not tell you how it ends, it is a great poem and I do not want to spoil it for you.

My point is that there are many species which flourish in our cities. Mice, shrews, cockroaches, bedbugs, pigeons, squirrels, for example.  Racoons are very successful urbanites, and urban foxes and coyotes have become common.  In addition, many domestic critters flourish on their own, feral cats, dogs, rabbits; can become a nuisance (‘feral’ means descended from domestic animals which have gone wild).  But the hands-down champions of urban life are rats.  It has been said that when we humans manage to exterminate ourselves, rats will take over the cities entirely.  They are a huge problem almost everywhere, not just in Hamelin.

They hitchhike on ships and trains, and one of life’s mysteries is why we do not have them in Dryden.  It is not the climate; the flour mill at Keewatin was so infested with rats that some thought its burning down was a blessing.  And there are no rats in Alberta; they exterminated all their rats many years ago, and the ‘rat wall’ on their boundaries would make Donald Trump proud.  Rats are nocturnal, very secretive; the rule Alberta uses is that if you see a rat, there are at least a hundred nearby.

What brings this to mind is the recent appeal for support to ‘rescue’ some six hundred rats which escaped their owner. Clearly not pets (nobody has 600 pets), probably gone feral, and every bit as much a varmint as their wild cousins.  On top of the recent appeal to ‘rescue’ feral rabbits in another city, this begs the question, have we as a society gone mad?

To be clear, I get and support the ‘pet rescue’ idea.  Over the years our farm on Kellar Road was the recipient of many cats, dogs, and assorted critters (including a pair of half-grown tame rats!), all pets dropped off to live in the country by city folk who no longer wanted them.  They didn’t generally last long, just helped feed the pack of wolves hanging around hoping to poach a sheep from our flock. Providing an ‘adoption service’ for these unfortunate unwanted pets is a sign we are civilized. But extending this ethic to ‘rescuing’ wild critters gone urban, or domestic critters gone feral, is just plain silly.

Just another Contrarian opinion.

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My old friend Willy from High School days gives me his diary to look at, and I like to report some of the stuff he puts in there. Some of you might recall a column a couple of weeks ago reporting his conversations with his buddy Joe about his bright idea Canada should amalgamate with Haiti.

Most of the feedback I get about my writings is positive; I even had some guys say “Haiti, Good idea”. However, I got clobbered at the coffee shop one morning when a couple of good old boys verbally stomped on me for reporting what they think is a misguided notion.

“Gee whiz, guys’, I protested, “It was just some stuff from a couple of old codgers out in Partridge township, it’s not like anybody is going to pay any attention, much less take their ideas seriously.”

“Yeah, well”, they snarled, “keep your smarty-pants ideas to yourself.”

After a bit we settled down to some serious conversation, and I think I understand where they were coming from.

They think our country is bankrupt now, or almost so, and adding a basket case with millions of uneducated poverty-stricken people would be disastrous. They point out that the only growth industry we have is service, and we can’t build prosperity flipping hamburgers for each other, somebody actually has to produce the meat.  And afford the hamburgers.  They pointed out that we have destroyed our manufacturing base with endless government interference and regulation; we once led the world in forestry and mining and water power equipment, now those industries have disappeared in favour of branch plants of American interests.   They added that we have tied up our resources in endless political correctness and ‘environmentalism’ so our resource-based industries are dying, witness Dryden’s mill being forced to reduce itself to producing only raw materials, no finished products.

They point out that our clever leadership thinks expanding our ‘knowledge industry’ will repair our economy and solve our unemployment problem, especially among ‘educated’ youth. Apparently our leadership haven’t noticed that the ‘knowledge industry’ is completely portable, can be done from anywhere in the world, and the government excesses which killed our manufacturing are still here. Microsoft, Google, etc. started with an individual working in their father’s garage.  They asked me, has anyone looked seriously at the barriers facing small business here?    Who will invest in ‘knowledge industries’ in our under-motivated and over-regulated province, after Nortel and Blackberry went down the tubes?  I don’t think they expected me to answer these questions.

The good old boys bottom line was, if we are bankrupt but just haven’t hit the wall yet, what good would it be for a tropical isle to join us?  No money to develop their country, and no jobs for their unskilled.  They cautioned me, if you have to report Willies Diary, leave out the stupid political stuff.

Wow. Didn’t know there were such deep thinkers actually reading The Contrarian.  I don’t know if I agree with them, I kind of like Willies Haiti idea, maybe it would change the direction they say we are going.  But I thought I had better report their position if I want to go to that coffee shop again.

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I am cleaning out old files, and I ran across a report I presented to Dryden Council back in April, 2012 (while I was still a City Councillor). It was about a workshop designed to be of help to our Tourist Industry, sponsored by our own Dryden Development Corporation.

There were some pretty high level speakers. One point they made was that it is as easy to get here from Kentucky now as it was from Chicago 30 years ago, and we need to expand the range of our marketing.  They thought there is still a great demand for our wonderful outdoor experience opportunities, we have a good foundation for destination tourist industries, and we should ignore the politically correct folks speaking disparagingly of our tourism industry as ‘hook and bullet’.  Most importantly, they emphasized the need for everyone to adopt a positive, optimistic outlook.

Here is my report to Dryden Council, from April, 2012, Quote,

“I went to the tourism workshop put on by our economic development people last week, and it seems worthwhile to report on that to Council.  I was there as a citizen, not a councillor, and it was a little disappointing we were not represented, except by the staff who were running things, which I might add they did a very good job, kudo’s to Dana Soucie and Catherine Goldsworthy.

Most of the people in attendance were forward-looking business people, and they and our staff got some ideas as to how we can do an even better job, and the program was well worth running.

This once again drove home the point we have been learning these past 5 years or so, economic development is not about chasing smokestacks, although of course we need to make it easy for business to locate here. Economic development is first and foremost about making our town a place people want to live, and if we do, people move here and bring economic activity with them.  I think we have been doing a pretty good job, and would point out the report from the University of Toronto calling Dryden “Toronto of the north”, but we can and will do better.

One of the things the presenter drove home was the importance of a positive attitude among all the people visitors meet, visitors who have a good experience will come back or even move here, but if they encounter people who do not know what we have to offer or have a negative attitude, it hurts.

I was impressed with last week’s Observer. Mardi Plomp did an excellent job of going through the positive things that are happening in our downtown.  I was especially impressed with the interview with mayor Kennard of Ignace, which exudes optimism; he looks at the opportunities out there and embraces the future.  I discussed this article with some Ignace people at the Tourism Session, and the indication was that, yes, there are problems, still lots of vacant housing, and a small population base to start with, but generally there is optimism that things will get better in Ignace.

Certainly Dryden is better off than Ignace, we still have most of our forest industry, and we have the good news about more development at Domtar. We have a housing shortage, both to buy and to rent, and property prices have held up well, and our population is not shrinking.  Surely if Ignace can have such an optimistic cheerful outlook, we can do no less.  In spite of short-term difficulties, we do have a bright future and we need to tell the world.”  End quote.

That was 2012. Even more true today, for all our northern towns.  I am impressed with Mayor Wilson taking the initiative, and starting the ball rolling on some Forward Planning and Leadership.  We can hope that will dispel the negative pall that has hung over Dryden for the past few years, and allow our usual optimism to show through.


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A page out of Willy Brants diary – I just got up, and was stretching the old body this way and that while looking out the front window at all that snow, when I saw Joe’s ratty old tractor turn in the driveway.  Good thing, too much snow for my little old blower, and he has that big heavy blade, might smooth out some of the ice underneath while he takes away the snow.

So I put on the coffee perk, and dug out those nice fat cookies I bought downtown, of course they are loaded with MSG and whatever crap the factory puts in.  They were named ‘Miss Mollys’ cookies, or something like that, which is a joke, considering they came all the way from Tennessee; which means they were no doubt made in a giant automated factory, shipping all over the world, and not by ‘Molly’ working from her kitchen.  A big factory, probably owned by a Chinese company, they seem to be buying up the entire USA these days. Serves the US right, sending all their money to China for cheap crap for decades.  They ought to have figured out if they do that long enough China will have all the money and the US all the crap.  Anyway, the cookies look and taste so good, and they were so cheap I couldn’t hold myself back.  I wonder if Joe will believe I made them myself.

So when Joe gets himself settled at the kitchen table with some coffee and Tennessee cookies, I offer “So I see our premier is on the international stage talking about her great plan to save the environment with new taxes on Ontario business”.

“Hunh”, from Joe, obviously in a sour mood, I guess I won’t try to fool him about the cookies. “The lid is down on the coffin, and she is putting in the nails”.  I answer “I think they use screws, not nails, anyway what are you talking about?”

Another look so sour it would wilt a remembrance day poppy, and he says “Ontario businesses are already loaded down with the most anti-business regulation and tax situation in the world, and our utility cost is so high nobody can actually afford to run a factory, what with all those windmills waiting for some wind to blow. Now she is going over the top on the global baloney carbon tax stuff.  We are doomed.”

“Well”, I offered, “Probably won’t make much difference to us up here on the seventh concession. I suppose we all have to do our part.  After all the whole world is worried about carbon dioxide and so on, even though you call it baloney”.

Joe took another sip of coffee, and it seemed to be mellowing him out a bit, he even looked approvingly at his Tennessee cookie, maybe I will try to kid him they are home-made after all, then he said “How can so many apparently sensible people look at our leadership of corrupt and self-interested politicians, bureaucrats and big companies working together, and believe they are impoverishing us all because they are concerned about an iffy, hypothetical long-range potential problem? These guys never look past the next election, or quarterly financial report, and could care less about the long-range future of the planet!”

Then before I could kid him about the cookies, he clapped on his hat, pulled on his boots, and vanished out the door.

He reads too much.

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