If anyone is keeping track of the sleazy, underhanded, self-serving, manipulative, crass and cowardly actions of the Dunderdale administration, add to your list that the government chose the Friday night of the last weekend before Christmas, i.e., Dec. 21, to announce it will allow Ocean Choice International to ship 75 per cent of its yellowtail flounder catch out of the province for processing.
When there is supposedly good news to be delivered, the government and its cheerleaders choose 6 p.m. to go before the cameras and microphones, to make the evening news and let the peasants know how well the fiefdom is being run.
But if a new policy will inevitably lead to further servitude, giveaways or sendaways, the governors attempt to sneak it past when many people’s minds are on last-minute shopping or decorating, rather than on the duplicitous doings of their current overlords.
We’re closing in on New Year’s. The calendar will soon read 2013.
Technically, this is the 21st
century. Newfoundlanders (and Labradorians) are still ruled as if it’s the 19th.
Let’s make a collective New Year’s resolution.
Let’s raise our expectations, and demand to be treated like freethinking adults and responsible citizens. And then let’s party like it’s 1899.
• • •
Things were looking pretty
good Christmas morning when I unwrapped a reciprocating saw and a gift card for a load of lumber. Thank goodness for birthdays, Father’s Day and Christmas. I now have enough power tools to help build Muskrat Falls.
But first I have to renovate the basement and put new siding on the shed.
Things got even better when I unwrapped “Kurt Vonnegut: Letters,” a volume of the famous author’s correspondence over the years.
Strangely enough, most of my favourite writers got their start in journalism and had a healthy, lifelong contempt for pissants in power (Vonnegut, Charles Dickens, George Orwell, Tom Robbins and so on).
Vonnegut, you’ll recall, became famous in 1969 upon publication of “Slaughterhouse-Five,” a wild, weird and unclassifiable tale that arose out of his experience of being a 22-year-old prisoner of war in Dresden when it was firebombed by the Allies.
He survived because he and other prisoners were kept in a former slaughterhouse, which shielded them from the heat and flames.
I still have a few hundred pages to go, happily, but it is apparent Vonnegut’s talent for humour and description were evident long before his books became mandatory reading among university students in the 1970s.
Here’s a quote from his first letter to his father and family back home in Indianapolis upon his release from the prison camp, in May 1945: “On about February 14th the Americans came over, followed by the R.A.F. Their combined labors killed 250,000 people in twenty-four hours and destroyed all of Dresden — possibly the world’s most beautiful city. But not me.”
No wonder millions of people adored the guy.
Vonnegut’s talent was not just black humour, or bleak humour, but the ability to combine it with skilful observation of the world. Here’s the next paragraph in his letter home: “After that we were put to work carrying corpses from Air-Raid shelters; women, children, old men; dead from concussion, fire or suffocation. Civilians cursed us and threw rocks as we carried bodies to huge funeral pyres in the city.”
No wonder Vonnegut later conceived of a character who becomes “unstuck in time.”
What might he think of our government’s propensity for propaganda?
In a letter to an old Cornell University friend in April 1952, Vonnegut, who had worked in public relations for General Electric, wrote, “This country is being managed to death, being public related to death. … It is terribly alarming and depressing.”
Brian Jones is a desk editor at
The Telegram. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.