The Canadian Burning of the White House (A totally true history…seriously)

Most Americans foolishly believe–as our lying teachers and textbooks have told us for 200 years–that it was the English that sailed from Chesapeake Bay and laid waste to Washington DC, burning the White House. Of course, this is a lie made by lying liars for their own agendas. The truth is far more sinister and involves our “polite” neighbors to the North: Canada.

In the Spring of 1814, after the glaciers receded from the Canadian wilderness, the Sovereign State of Canada launched a dastardly attack, cutting a swath of destruction from New York to all points south, ending with a deplorable burning of the sacred American Capitol. Here is the absolutely true story of the Candian assault on our land.

The Armored Moose Cavalry

Beginning in Montreal, the Canadian forces crossed the St. Lawrence River and marched south. At the head of the attack was Lt. Colonel Tim Horton, who led the feared Canadian Armored Moose Calvary. The moose were layered in steel, with spikes adorning their antlers. Their riders carried curved axes called “hockey sticks.” They trampled through the Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York. Wherever they stopped, they built a coffee shop named after their leader. Some stand even to this day, though under the name “Stewarts.”

TimHorton_03

Lt Col Horton in his dress uniform

Following the cavalry shock troops were massive cannons mounted on Zambonis fueled by something later called “Crown Royal.” Carried in special pouches, this mighty fuel allowed the Zambonis to travel great distances, gliding across the terrain as if they were on ice. Behind them were the Canadian riflemen, bedecked in their plaid, flannel uniforms, though the officers wore denim trousers and open denim jackets with a wolf shirt beneath.

Supporting their assault was perhaps the Canadians’ most vicious and barbaric weapon, the Canadian Geese Air Corps. These fierce creatures rained fetid death from above, from which there was no escape. When opposing troops saw their flying V pattern overhead, they ran, for no man can match the ferocity of a Canadian Goose.

The Canadians sacked Albany, then plowed south, skirting New York City and instead attacking the port of Newark. Oh, how the streets of Newark ran sticky with syrup that day. The barbarous Canadians celebrated their victory with a feast of sliced and fried potatoes smothered in gravy and cheese curds. They called this food  “cheese fries with gravy (note: translated from Olde Canadian).” It is still on the menu of most New Jersey diners, though I dare say that they don’t know its sinister origins (or do they?).

The Canadian March South

They continued south, and the American militias were helpless against them. They fled at the sight of the armored moose and geese assaults, and Horton’s hockey hackers cut them down. After bringing polite destruction down on Philadephia, Horton split his forces. One-third of Horton’s troops headed west, laying waste to Appalachia in Virginia and Kentucky. The most famous battle of their western campaign was the Bowling Green Massacre #neverforget.

The rest of Horton’s troops moved south toward the Capitol. The American troops stood ready, but with a fierce battle cry of “yeh hoser!” the armored moose cavalry charged. There was no stopping the massive beasts, and the moose were just as fearsome. The Zamboni artillery fired double-doubles upon the left flank of the American troops, scalding them and driving them to flight. President Madison and his wife Dolly fled the White House, Dolly taking the portrait of George Washington with her before the Canadians could desecrate it with slabs of Canadian Bacon.

And there, on the 24th of August, 1814, Lt. Col. Horton sacked Washington DC and burned the White House. They then celebrated with some Molsons and danced to Nickelback all night long.

Nickelback

Nickelback: the greatest of outrages

Aftermath

Eventually, there came peace, and Horton’s Hackers returned to the Great White North. But they left a legacy across America. You see, no Maple Tree ever grew in America before the Canadian assault, but one intrepid rifleman named Johnny Mapleseed planted acorns along the Canadian army’s path. Without this young man, there would be no American maple syrup.

The discarded bags for the Crown Royal were later discovered to be excellent dice pouches for 19th-century games such as “Cellars and Cholera.”

Canada later said that they were sorry for the burning, and especially for Nickelback.

doge in space card redux

“America First,” Slogans, and Subtext

You may have noticed that the president is using the slogan “America First” just as much as “Make America Great Again.” You probably haven’t thought twice about this. I mean, what American doesn’t want to put America first? We have to take care of our own before others, right?

If words were just words, that’d be fine. but we all know (especially if you’re a writer or reader) that there’s more to words than face value. It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it (like sarcasm), and what images, symbols, or memories it evokes. There is text, context, and subtext.

Marketers agonize over the right slogans and symbols. You only have to watch a few commercials to see this in action. Remember Puppymonkeybaby? Why did they choose that chimeric combination? Why did they have it dancing around? What were they trying to say about their drink?

Or with campaign slogans, what does “Make America Great Again” make you feel? What about Obama’s “Yes We Can”? Or Reagan’s “Morning in America?” They’re all saying similar things, but they have different subtext. It’s the subtext that appeals to and empowers different people, and that’s why I’m bringing up “America First.

america first kkk

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Trying Desperately to Stay Quiet

The reason that I haven’t blogged much lately is that I promised to post less about politics. I’ve been consumed by politics, both the presidential and local elections.

I am also putting together a proposal for electoral reform, centered around:

–Increasing the number of states (hopefully all) legalizing Electoral Fusion, which was once widespread but was squeezed out by the larger parties in the late 19th century. Only eight states have it right now.

–Expanding the use of absentee ballots (for all elections down to the local level) to include people that can’t get off work to vote and parents of children too young to leave their child alone. I know far too many people that can’t vote because they work 10-12 hours shifts or have to take care of their kids.

–Anti-Gerrymandering laws to remove the lock down that certain parties have on districts.

These are only first steps toward true electoral reform, but it’s a start toward encouraging more voters on both sides of the political spectrum, especially in local elections.

Actually, I’d love to hear what you have to say about my electoral reform ideas. My proposal isn’t complete, and you might find your ideas in there.

Have a great day.

The Watchmage Is Coming

The Knowledge Paradox

I am and always will be a strong proponent of education. I think that knowledge is power, if not physical power, than personal. It’s one of the keys to wisdom and understanding, something that we all lack.

Wisdom = Knowledge + Experience + Empathy (not a verified equation, just a theory. Work with me here.)

Knowledge and Experience are relatively easy to come by. You study. You live. That’s all there is to it.  Empathy? That’s harder to come by. There’s a danger of elitism that comes with knowledge and experience, a “Dark Side” you might say, (especially if you’re a geek like me) and the enemy of Wisdom.  It’s something that all people should be aware of.

As people grow in knowledge and experience (what I call “leveling up”), the path can diverge several ways:

  1. They develop critical thinking skills to match their new knowledge, and are able to discern truth from misinformation.
  2. They get full of themselves, drunk on their own knowledge. They see their point of view as the only valid one, and anyone that disagrees is either stupid or crazy.
  3. They find the wisdom to allow other points of view into their mind, process them, and find empathy for those other people.

One of these things is not like the other. One of these things is far too common. Can you guess which one?

i'm smart enough to realize i'm dumb

 

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago how my browser and social media sites were sending me articles based on my interests and views. The new information (usually from dubious sources, so many that I’ve added Snopes to my bookmarks bar) I received reinforced what I wanted to believe, rather than what was true. I could’ve fallen into that trap, of having food for thought regurgitated and redigested until it became “truth.” I didn’t. I was lucky to realize what was happening. Unfortunately, I think that most people–no matter how intelligent–don’t. The number of bogus articles and memes posted daily on Facebook reinforces this.

I’m not saying that I’m smarter or somehow better than other people, because I’m not. I’m not a special snowflake, just a regular one. None of us are special snowflakes, we’re all equal. I’m an ordinary guy with virtues and flaws and occasional humor. I had a moment of clarity. But I did learn something:

Knowledge does not make you better than other people. Experience does not make you better than other people. Nothing makes you better than other people. You don’t know others’ lives, their experiences, or their fears. You don’t know what made them think or act a certain way. The moment that you think that you are “better” than someone, you have fallen into the “knowledge paradox.” Your knowledge made you ignorant and dangerous.

A wise person realizes that the more you know, the more you realize how little you know.

 

you know nothing jon snow

So let’s cut the crap and stop the snark. Be kind to people and listen to what they have to say. Even if you don’t agree. Especially if you don’t agree.

Oh, and buy one of my books 😛 (here for The Watchmage of Old New York, here for Song of Simon) Because true wisdom comes from giving me money (kidding…but still, buy a book).

cosmic-cat tripping balls redux

A Clarification on Free Speech

I’m trying to avoid being political here, but I keep seeing people raging on social media and then getting butthurt when they get banned from a community or unfriended, etc. I think this cartoon explains it best:

1st amendment consequences

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If you say shitty things, expect shitty things back at you. Instead, try expressing your views in a polite, thoughtful manner. The adage “never discuss politics or religion in polite company” is great advice. Just remember: The Internet is polite company. Be careful what you say, it might blow up like this…

gif dog running explosion

Boom

guinea pig card

Scifi/Fantasy and the Bigots that Love It

Watchmage ad2

Click the link above for The Watchmage of Old New York. Just 99 cents until October 27th, and then rising to $2.99.

My brilliant friend Michael wrote something on Facebook this morning. It was so insightful that I asked if I could share it here. This is not mine, but I wish that I said it. Here you go:

I will never understand how bigots of… well, any kind really, can be sci-fi-/fantasy fans.

Of course, we’ve got out Orson Scott Cards and Ayn Rands and all that, and of course their messages and styles will appeal to certain people, but I’m talking about people who glut on multiple major entries in the sci-fi/fantasy canon.

I mean, seriously. Practically every genre work of note is about liberating the oppressed. Lord of the Rings (for all its unfortunate Eurocentric implications) actually pushes for intercultural tolerance and cooperation, and the right of peoples to live freely as they will. Star Wars is all about taking down a greedy, oppressive regime that exploits its people. Harry Potter is all about respecting the dignity and sovereignty of all walks of life, regardless of how your values may clash or how weird they may seem to you. Star Trek has always (and, at points, problematically) prioritized humanity’s evolution beyond bigotry and warmongering over dramatic necessity. X-Men, even when everything else about it is stripped away, is about Civil Rights and the evils of bigotry.

And all of these stories are chock full of women who are strong either in body, mind, heart, or any combination thereof. Well, Lord of the Rings is pretty much a sausage fest, but the appendices help with that. A little.

So, how we manage get fanboys who are sexist, racist, homophobic, or whatever is just frankly COMPLETELY BEYOND ME. How does this happen? How can someone be drawn to works that are all about freedom, tolerance, and respect, and then turn around and be bigots? Like, what do they even get out of these stories then? Honestly?

Is it just that light sabers are cool? Is that really all?

He makes such a great point. Sci fi and Fantasy stories are usually progressive in theme. Unity, Peace, The power of the common person. These are not the thoughts of the bigot. Of course there are exceptions, but you are what you read. Even Orson Scott Card wrote Ender’s Game, and if that’s not a powerful progressive statement, I don’t know what is.

mailing list twitter shape

Click the meme above to join my mailing list. The current FREE gift is a PDF of short stories. I also share book deals and contests from other writers. It’s a great way to snag free stuff, and everyone loves FREE.

The Sixth Estate

I’ve been watching the news, and I noticed a distinct change. Now every story has surveillance video that goes with it. It doesn’t matter if it’s an attack, a car accident, or police brutality, there’s always someone taping.

I don’t know if this is good or bad.

Let me clarify: Big Brother is watching us, but it is not some super-powered dictatorship. We are Big Brother.

The surveillance tapes I see on the news are almost always from stores or cell phones. We are recording (and policing) ourselves. The internet surveillance that we usually deal with comes from companies trying to better target product to audience, though we can be sure that the govt gets a hold of it too. We are casually revealing information about ourselves on social media without thinking of the ramifications. The govt doesn’t have to watch us, because we give them what they want.

I don’t know if this is good or bad.

Of course, the govt and law enforcement can always subpoena these tapes, but they rarely have to. What store owner isn’t going to let the cops look at them? If there’s a crime near their store, they want it taken care of or else it could hurt business. I’m more concerned with the govt looking at our info, but again, we choose to give it away. We let them into our lives, because we feel that the tradeoff is worth it.

I believe that human curiosity, the need to connect with other people, and the thirst for information is stronger than our desire for privacy. We want to know, NEED to know, and we’ll trade knowledge in exchange for knowledge.

The thing is: while they’re watching us, we’re watching them. Groups like Anonymous consistently reveal information on shady doings. Civilians record police acting outside of the law, and apps allow you to send it straight to the ACLU or (usually) Youtube. Fights get recorded. Hate-filled rants get shared and shamed. Powerful Tweets and memes get passed around and open eyes (or at least open a dialogue. Whether the dialogue becomes people comparing each other to Hitler is up to the debaters).

We’ve become a second layer of police. If the media is the Fourth Estate. and bloggers the Fifth Estate, than we are the Sixth Estate, keeping an eye on what the others miss. We might be the most powerful of all.

I don’t know if this is good or bad. I do know that we have the power if we want to use it.

knowledge_is_power

cosmic-cat tripping balls redux

Sociopathy and Power

I found this article today, titled If you don’t understand how people fall into poverty, you’re probably a sociopath. It’s very well written, and gets to the heart of Sociopathy.

I’ve run into a lot of sociopaths in my career in Special Ed. Since I am also in the mental health system, it sometimes feels like I’m surrounded by them. One of the keys aspects of sociopathy is the lack of empathy. Since they’re not bound by morals or believe that anyone matters beyond themselves, they have no problem stomping on people in order to reach the top.

That, of course, leads to “success.”

Politicians, captains of industry, rich people that use the law for their benefit, no matter who they hurt. They win because they don’t care. The worst part is that they never believe that there’s anything wrong with it. I doubt many sociopaths believe that they’re sociopaths.

Think about this: the people with the most power over your lives are the people that care the least about them.

They call it “filthy rich” for a reason.

Here’s an article called The Money-Empathy Gap about an experiment that shows it better than a simple platitude: The Monopoly Experiment.

Money is the root of all assholes…so is the colon, but that’s a different story.

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