The Dragon, the Shark and the Elephant

            ‘I want to recommend a book I’ve just read by Ben Rhodes, Obama’s former speech writer. After Trump’s election Ben travelled the world, visiting former politicians and friends he made in the eight years working at the centre of power. It’s very insightful and he is able to explain a lot of what is going on, how social media is able to shape peoples mind and what motivates politicians like Putin and Xi. I highly recommend it,’ Camp said, taking a sip from his pint.

            ‘When do you have time to read?’ Isn’t summer the busy season?’

            ‘There are always lulls between the onrush of crowds and I consider reading working, sampling the wares I sell.’

            ‘If you say so.’

‘Rhodes points out that while the XXth century was about ideology, the XXIst one is about identity,’ Camp said, ‘and this identity is constructed from inward looking nationalism, flag bearing and partisan patriotism and a revisionist history. More and more we’re pulled into a nationalistic and fascist maelstrom that is promoted by a slew of US- social media which is gobbling up all the advertising, away from print media and even TV. We know that and don’t seem to do anything about it. We always blame the Other for our societal failings. It’s the foreigner’s fault, the Jews, the brown and black migrants, or these days the liberals and socialists who is anybody not in the neo-con camp.  No matter if it’s inflation, skyrocketing Real estate prices or even climate change. It’s all the Other’s fault.’

‘I guess we’re part of these Other’s then. I’m a liberal social democrat, read established print media and do not subscribe to any social media platform.’

‘We’re now the minority,’ Camp said, ‘and it’s also generational. Millenials are all connected and that electronic connectivity is their religion. It tells them how to live, what to buy, read and believe.’

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Bad Choices

Grandma’s Pub was packed and noisy on this Thirsty Thursday but luckily Camp was able to get our usual table, which is under the TV on the glassed in porch, overlooking the harbour.

“Hi Camp, you’re looking glum today,” I said as loud as I could without yelling. “What happened ? Did Muriel refuse your intellectual advances?” Muriel Bisset, transplanted all the way from Montreal, is the councilwoman who abstained from the controversial vote about the yacht club expansion and the new break water that Camp champions.

“No, today, a politician who can shake a much bigger stick than Muriel or I, has announced a policy reversal that is seen as a complete abdication of global responsibility,” Camp yelled back.

“Oh yeah, the scuttling of the Paris Climate Agreement, which got cobbled together by the US and the Chinese a couple of years ago.”

“Yes, that one,” Camp nodded.

“I read today that only two countries, Syria and Nicaragua didn’t sign the accord and Nicaragua opposed it because it wasn’t tough enough.”

“You read it, it must be true. All I know is that this US president is now the official Grand Poobah of the flat earth society.”

“I don’t think Trump knows how many jobs are jeopardized by his uninformed, mean spirited decision, playing to a small, radical power base. Many thousands of jobs from alternative power production to electric cars to tree planting could be impacted. All those jobs which try to mitigate human impact on our environment,” Camp said, “but then again I don’t know how much Trump knows about anything. He seems like such an elephant in a porcelain shop.”

“More like a bully in a school yard who hates the teachers and anybody with better academic credits.”

“He likes the cheer leaders.”

“Yeah and he’s the first white billionaire to move into public housing vacated by a black family.”

“That’s pretty funny. A bumpersticker?”

The ambient noise settled down to a constant roar.

“I didn’t know you’re such a tree hugger, Camp,” I said, leaning over the table so he could hear me.

“I’m not,” he said, projecting his voice like an auctioneer, “and I’m the first to acknowledge that climate change is a constant with our planet but 8 billion humans surely have an adverse effect on the global environment. How can they not? If you invite twenty people to a party and fifty show up, there isn’t enough food and drink to go around and you have a much bigger mess to clean up, don’t you? It’s also obvious, that renewable resources have a better longevity than a finite resource. It’s simply common sense.”

“You’re preaching to the choir Camp. Don’t I wish I had a growler of beer in the fridge that always renews itself overnight. Mind you, that would put many a pub out of business and pubs are the nodes where humans intersect and which hold our whole social system together.”

“More important than houses of worship or city halls?” Camp shouted.

“As important as temples and circuses,” I countered.

“Well, I’ll drink to that,” he shouted, hoisting his glass.

“Jokes aside, the daily onslaught of depressing news, mixed in with fake reality shows made me cancel my TV but I still support a few newspapers since I’m in the print business myself,” Camp said, referring to his ‘non-profit’ book store, ‘Coast Books’.

“Well you can be sure, books will be written about this controversial decision today which will in turn benefit you,” I said, trying to find a silver lining.

“Did you know that if planet earth were an onion, the atmosphere would be the outer skin. That’s it.”

“And while we’re playing ‘Trivial Pursuit’ did you know Camp that a beer without hops is called grut or gruit?”

“No, but grut doesn’t sound like anything I would be attracted to.”

“The moral is, don’t fix it if it works and don’t change a good thing into a bad thing to get even.”

“That’s pretty cryptic. You mean, leave the hops in the beer and don’t mess up mother nature.”

“Yeah, something like that. Cheers.”