You can say what you like, but size really does matter.
Take, for example, the photo which appeared on the front page of last week’s issue of The Weekend Telegram, showing a bizarre, insect-like creature which a St Philip’s man had discovered crawling out of his woodpile.
My first thought was that if this was any indication of what to expect, I certainly wouldn’t be visiting any more woodpiles in future. My second thought was that, henceforth, if my spouse was finding it a bit chilly down in the basement, she’d be the one rooting around outside for another log to put on the fire.
Luckily for life on Earth as we know it, it turned out that this particular creepy-crawly wasn’t some nightmarish alien with an attitude, hell-bent on conquering the planet, as I had first suspected, but rather a member of the spider family called a pseudo-scorpion, which resembles its namesake, but without the stinger tail — hence the “pseudo.”
What I found most interesting, however, was that the reporter who wrote the story was a bit vague as to the exact dimensions of the bug in question, which brings me back to my original premise — that size matters. As do the facts, to which I will return a little later on.
There was reference in the article to the pseudo-scorpion being small, but size not only matters, it’s also relative.
It’s one thing having to deal with a wee, timorous beastie hiding inconspicuously amongst the leaf litter, but a different matter altogether when you’re suddenly faced with a two- or three-foot long freak of nature lurking under your back deck. That may be small in relation to, say, a blue whale, but formidable nevertheless.
Now I realize that pseudo-scorpions don’t get that big — two to eight millimetres at best (or worst) — but the fact remains that if they did, we would all be in big trouble.
I mean the Glorious 24th is usually bad enough, what with the weather, ravenous hordes of blackflies and, more recently, packs of opportunistic coyotes lying in wait for whatever goodies they can sink their fangs into.
But if we have to add super-sized bugs and insects to the mix it might be safer staying home rather than risk being sucked dry by some overgrown arachnid.
So, yes, size does matter, and not just specifically to those matters of anatomical concern for which the phrase was originally coined.
The other thing that struck me about the pseudo-scorpion piece was how difficult, if not impossible it is for journalists to be truly impartial in their coverage of the news. No matter how objective they may strive to be, the facts they choose to highlight, and the manner in which they present them, will influence to varying degrees the overall tenor and tone of their story.
Unfortunately, there’s just no getting around it, and reporters who don’t recognize this aspect of their profession and proceed on the assumption that they are the ultimate arbiters of the truth are deluding themselves and doing their readers a grave disservice.
As for the public at large, they too, of course, shouldn’t take everything they see or hear in the media at face value. In a democratic society it behooves them as informed and responsible citizens to cultivate a healthy sense of skepticism, both in terms of what the people who report the news are telling them, and what they’re being told by the people who make the news. And we can’t forget, either, that sometimes the two are one and the same.
All of which brings me in a roundabout kind of way to the premier-designate of Newfoundland and Labrador, Frank Coleman.
Who is this guy and is he the genuine article? Or is he some sort of pseudo-premier, an ersatz pretender with illusions of grandeur who’ll soon fall into the top job in the province because no one else in the PC party had the guts or the gumption to go after it themselves?
For the life of me, I can’t figure out what the PCs have managed to do to themselves in such a relatively short period of time. If shooting themselves in the foot was their intent, it appears that they’ve missed their target completely.
There may indeed be a firm hand on the tiller at the moment, in the person of Premier Tom Marshall, but the rest of the crew seems to have abandoned ship, even though, presumably, they’re still picking up their paycheques every two weeks.
As for Frank Coleman, the man may have the best of intentions, but for most of us he remains very much an unknown quantity, thanks in large part to the media’s overriding obsession with the alleged skeletons hanging in his closet.
And as for what exactly all this has to do with pseudo-scorpions, I’m not exactly sure, but it strikes me that there most be some parallels between the two. Depending on your point of view.
Tony Collins lives and writes in Gander.
He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
His column returns June 7.