|Da-da hid a manly UNICORN in the new template. Isn't the future exciting?!|
|Gumby Da-da has an idea.|
Da-da is the Education Da-da. He believes in education. Then MORE education. You got time to lean, YOU GOT TIME FOR EDUCATION. So, since the days of nonstop "enemies" requiring huge money be spent on bombs and rockets and borders and shiny Blackworld project drones and UFOs are over -- read it again, they are over; no one needs expensive ways to kill and corral and control humans, anymore -- what we need is education... and maybe a nice monte christo sandwich and a cup of coffee to stop this run-on sentence... all of which will cost several orders of magnitude less (read A HUNDRED THOUSANDTH LESS) than all those defense contractor SNAFUs we've been slogging through for the past 100 years. Yes, 100 years. And how many smiles and monte christo sandwiches and nice cups of coffee has that industry of death yielded? Not many.
|Here's one Da-da made earlier.|
Now, imagine the next 100 years. Imagine, if you will, that all the countries of the earth stopped spending money on weapons and suddenly had a large chunk of cash, and wondered what it could do. Besides giving a third of it back to the people, and a third over to monte christo sandwich technology research, enlightened and civilized government X could use that final third to create a new national -- or international -- university system. Suddenly, in every state of said country, and perhaps in every participating satellite country, fresh new universities could be built, all linked with the latest big-pipe internet technology, all campuses connected together in ways universities around the world aren't, all new universities boasting state-of-the-art libraries -- some with real books -- and of course, tons of jobs for new and used college professors.
|New teachers mean new teaching techniques.|
These new, omni-linked supercampuses would allow unprecedented advancements in... well, in everything: science, medicine, the arts, humanities, etc., with every linked campus representing a single connected node in a planetary neural net bristling with sensors, communicating in ways this little planet has never seen before. Best of all, they would not only make high-quality, low-cost education accessible to all across the board, such a system would work to abolish pesky, "Us vs. Them" thinking, because... They are Us. We are Them. With such a system, we're all on the same team, wearing the same sweatshirts, the same helmets with the same spinning propellers. We always were, but you never noticed.
Now, nomenclature: what do we call it? You could call this new global school system, "University Terra," or "Terra University," if you wanted. Da-da's inner geek is whispering, "STARFLEET ACADEMY," but this probably wouldn't work, as it smacks of the military hangover we're trying to overcome, and well... it hits the GEEK BUTTON perhaps a little too hard for some. Whatever you call it, just try thinking about it.
|Put the phone down Sister Wendy.|
Yes. YOU. SISTER WENDY. Put your phone down. YOU. Monk-guy...
|Stop texting Sister Wendy and pay attention.|
...unplug and pay attention. Step out of your virtual monk cube and THINK ABOUT THIS. Purge that silly apocalyptic doom-and-gloom mindset and THINK about the future as something to look forward to. A future free of dangling participles. Seriously, try it. No one thinks anymore. It's fun. Your head gets warm. Ideas pop in there. Your life gets better. You're suddenly $EXY. Wow.
Best of all: THOUGHT TAKES FORM IN ACTION, which means that, if we all think it, it stands a pretty good chance of coming true... which brings up all kinds of questions about reality, but Da-da will save the answers for another post. To use existential/car commercial parlance: DREAM. Dream in the dream, perchance to THINK. About ninjas? Ok, think about ninjas.
|100 news ways to grade outside the box.|
Note that U. Terra (Terra U.?) is probably not gonna be a popular idea with other universities (or ninjas) around the world, which should tell you that you're on the right track. They think a whole new university system represents moolah competition. It doesn't. You'd think that this single, simple act would cause university and college fees to drop dramatically, but they'd probably go up, short-term, as said existing universities would poo poo the new system and say it was Education Cheeseburgers for the Masses, but those fees would gradually slip. What you'd invariably see is more opportunity for all those fresh undergrads and overgrads -- from both old and new institutions -- opportunity for teaching positions, research positions, cross-polination, Mr. Literary Potato Head Parties... you name it. All told, the above is a win-win for everyone involved in education.
100 new schools built all over the world also means 100 new University towns. Da-da LOVES university towns. They are the best places to live. And what the earth desperately needs are new best places to live. And work. And grow. With zillions of bicycles everywhere. New transportation paradigms.
|Bike manufacturers would win big.|
And YES, you'd also have 100 opportunities for multiple sports teams, and of course scholarships. Jeez, Da-da can only imagine the massive round-robin ESPN sports cavalcade that would ensue seasonally, not to mention the Terra U. Olympics. But so what? Such a system could be had with money governments already have and should yield endless educational opps and... well, FUN opps, too. This could be the first step into turning the earth into THE FUN PLANET, bursting with educated people doing all kinds of fun things in all kinds of fun, future-y ways. Peaceful ways. Full of peace. So, start thinking it and make it happen.
|YE-ES, this also means 100 new monster truck school buses.[sigh]|
(And yes, Da-da kinda already wrote about this, but it needs to be thought about again. And again. And now Da-da needs a monte christo and a cup of coffee.)
|Those pesky elves.|
Da-da loves the Santa mythos, esp. these days as kids need a little magic in their lives. Or perhaps a stronger cage with better locks. One of those. Magic is cheaper. Anyway, Da-da likes THE SANTA DIVERSION so much that he exercised his arts & crafts skills this year to create a little pre-Xmas scavenger hunt -- allegedly created by Santa's elves -- with said event taking place the morning AFTER Thanksgiving to kick off the Yulage. Factually, this happened this morning and worked very well, so Da-da thought he'd clue other parents into the conspiracy.
|The assembled kit (with actual names and addresses burned out, obviously). That silver thing is actually|
a part of a WAH-WAH trumpet mute, with a notch cut into the aluminum to hold the envelope.
Elves are all about little niggly details.
About two months ago, Da-da secured old-looking envelopes with string ties, some red, vintage-looking pre-printed tickets to nowhere (that Da-da cut into sections for clues), along with fake Xmas stamps for said envelope -- and of course a fake "North Pole" rubber stamp canceler.
|The clues were written on the back of these sectioned vintage-y tickets and hidden around the house, inside toys, |
on stuffed animals, etc.The Golden Ticket was the last clue.
Da-da also worked up a fake Santa letter in Illustrator, that he printed and soaked in tea a few times till it looked and felt like parchment. Here's the pre-soaked version:
Huh. Santa does talk in rhyme. Anyway, the material-world prize is two modern decoder rings (Da-da's boys are very much into coding secret messages), hidden inside a hollow cat sculpture that Da-da doubts either boy has ever seen or acknowledged.
|The Prize. Decoder rings also available on Etsy.|
Da-da's goal was to create a fun, pre-Xmas event, help the boys be a bit more observant -- and finally, to expose them to a kind of riddling puzzle-think that will help them negotiate various educational instititions and government agencies via obscurely written clues (like referring to the TV set as, "the glowing box of a thousand faces," etc.). It also kicks off the holidays nicely.
|The stamp and postmark really make it. All are available via various crafts artists on Etsy.|
Check out the Elf Routing Number.
|One ring to DECODE THEM ALL!|
HOOK, LINE AND SINKER. Let the Silly Season begin!
(NOTE: Many people have asked for a link to the ring. Here's the actual ring and the link.)
|Theorem 2 (Special Relativity): Yikes. Ok, everyone... the Tall Grampa's here...|
|...somebody lock up the scotch, plug in grandma and hide all the clocks.|
|Theorem 1 (General Relativity): Aunt Gertrude's mass times the speed of light|
would represent an awesome number if we could ever get her in the door.
(Ok, it's Da-da with a wig. Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
|Get ready: here comes the robot CATS floor show.|
The holidays are headin' right for us like a busload of drunken Shriners, and so are the requisite spate of bad holiday parades. So, Da-da's gonna get right to the point: this holiday parade floor-show thing has to stop. The parade is about FLOW. It's flowing, it's happy, the horses are horseying, flag girls flagging, the band banding, moving in pavement peristalsis... and then it all suddenly STOPS so a bunch of overly made-up, way-too-cheery dancers can pretend to sing to canned music that blares and offends while BRAND NAMES are zoomed in on and talked about, "spontaneously," so sponsors can get their precious mindshare and everyone but Da-da (and, well, you) can make money. This single stupid idea has ruined parades -- except The Rose Parade, where they still preserve the flow, but how long can they hold back the mediocre tide?
Having marched in a zillion parades, Da-da knows 'em all too well. They're a tremendous amount of work. All that stuff you see has to be made and tried on and cleaned and rehearsed and sweated in and taken off and cleaned and put on again and pinned and glued and pinned and OW and cleaned and polished and bagged and put back on over and over again.
All the people and animals you see -- esp. the bands and the horses and horse people, jeez -- have to do so much in the way of logistics and preparation, not the least of which is getting up at O-Dark-30 just to be at Street X at 5:45 am for line-up in the freezing cold, and having to repeatedly endure being cajoled and tacked up and shined and buffed and polished and cinched and strangled and half-crushed... just so they can walk past you for 60 seconds in the rain and cold and horse poop and general Planet Earth nastiness, usually wrapped in bags like ambulatory hams in the rain.
|[Img courtesy Patrick Kane/The Petersburg Progress-Index... and of course, all those poor marching schmoes.]|
Sounds miserable, right? It is. It's the Ultimate in Un-Reality TV. No one ever shows you how miserable these things are to do (and Reality TV producers... please DON'T). Parades SUCK to be in, for the most part. But all this pain and suffering is made bearable by the smiling faces and the cheers and the applause, esp. when it comes from little kids, who are SO excited to see... well, see ANYTHING bright and shiny and enormous that makes noise. Yay! Their reaction makes it all worthwhile.
But those doing most of the work aren't getting that reaction, anymore. They're marking time for the goddamn floor show. Those overly cheerful back-up hoofers from Broadway's latest redo of "CATS" need their six minutes of feigned happy lip-synced fame, while everyone else marks time. THEY AREN'T EVEN REALLY SINGING, nor are they playing the instruments you're hearing. They're just flopping around, phoning in some bland smiley YAY-ness. Haven't we all seen enough of that?
Ah, but then it's mercifully over and the camera moves in on the horses and the Pottersville Marching Marauders... band music swells and we cut away for nine minutes of commercials. Caught in the snide are grandma and grampa and mom and dad and all those relatives and friends who did so much work to support this kind of parade activity, but fail to see its fruition. There's no closure, no satisfaction. There's only more BRANDING, more commercials. This is wrong, and everyone knows it.
Maybe if everyone in the parade were naked and the naughty bits covered -- just barely -- by BRAND NAMES, the camera might linger... kinda Cirque du Soleil T-day in Vegas. Well, naked in Chicago in November for three hours? Those errant broadcast crews will also document countless deaths due to exposure -- which makes it even more compelling for those schmoes who make money off these things. It's naked, it's reality, it's death. But alas, parades aren't about nakedness or reality or death -- or making money. They're about putting on a happy face for all those little happy faces. Sounds trite, but Welcome to Earth. Earth is filled with doves and bunnies and unicorns, too, you know.
|Da-da's ready for his close-up.|
So. BROADCASTERS. Take it from the unicorn and STOP ruining the lives of little children (who are all playing games on smart phones anyway 'cause your floor show sucks) and put the parades back the way they were. You know: miserable, but with a nice pay-off. Nowadays, they're just miserable, with BROADCASTERS getting the nice pay-off.
If this continues, perhaps we should all agree to stop participating in these big silly corporate productions and have our own little non-branding parades, without the cameras and committees and "eventized" corporate staging, and... you know... just have a nice little drunken hometown parade.
|"Looks like the Morvalia Morlocks have caught Chicanery State flat-footed, Jim."|
"Yeah, they're really pounding the boards, tonight."
"A light sears... and it's Monday again. See our hero commute in restrained luxury, arrive at work to kill eight hours with trips to the coffee machine and a thousand games of computer Solitaire. See him step down from his “busy” day and eat the Lunch of Transience at the House of Leisure, staring at small screens all the while. After lunch: more solitaire, mayhaps even a phone call. See him head home at the end of the day, where he eats the Salmon of Knowledge on the Couch of Despair. Later, see him schlep to Coffee House #972 – his “social” outlet – and marvel at pictures of Eva Peron sipping espresso, while keeping a safe distance from humanity. See him consume MORE coffee. Watch his blood pressure alert orbiting satellites, as NORAD pushes taut and sweaty missile crews to DefCon Whatever. Too late. He explodes. The planet is torn asunder. Sentient life is destroyed across millions of parsecs of prime galactic real estate. Our hero’s cooling atoms disperse, then stir, coalesce, and slowly awaken… ah, it was only a dream. A light sears… and it’s Monday again."
-Excerpted from Banker's Holiday, by Gary Clemenceau
Nagurski: Da-da, Tupolev's grampa was shot down.
Nagurski: In my class.
Da-da: Is his grampa ok?
Nagurski: Yeah. It was a long time ago.
Da-da: What kind of plane was it?
Nagurski: His jet was shot down during the Civil War.
Da-da: Oh. That kind of plane. Was he a Blue or Gray pilot?
Nagurski: [thinks] What does civil mean?
Da-da: It means, "polite," among other things.
Nagurski: So, it was a... polite war?
Da-da: Very. They interrupted battle to serve tea and little sandwiches every afternoon.
Nagurski: You're making this up.
Da-da: Am I?
Nagurski: Ye-es. [thinks] Hm. So, was Chewbacca on the Blue or the Gray side?
Da-da: That's a very good question.
Yes, it's sad that Da-da's Sandworm Party lost the U.S. Presidential election, but in losing, the sandworm -- and its brethren, all lined up and ready to eat the world anew -- know that there was now only one choice to make. What is that choice and why is Da-da of all people writing about it? Well, it's the choice that Da-da drills into the foil-hatted little heads of his dynamite charges, Bronko and Nagurski (now aged 5 and 7), every day. EVERY DAY.
Ok, so what's the choice already?
Choose to compromise. Da-da has four quite distinct individuals and two annoyingly individualistic cats and several recalcitrant ghosts living under his roof, and each has their own little screaming whiney demands. Luckily, Da-da has a loud voice and his hearing is shot. Once the whining stops, we can begin to COMPROMISE. Da-da's gonna write that word in CAPS because you've all forgotten it, it seems.
You can't always have things your way. Wait, let Da-da write that again...
YOU CAN'T ALWAYS HAVE THINGS YOUR WAY.
It ain't gonna happen. Why? Because that's what you signed up for when you foolishly agreed to be born on PLANET EARTH in the backwoods Omega Quadrant. So, COMPROMISE. It's what made every great country and empire and long-term business and... well, yes, even some novels... great. (It should be noted that there's a lot less COMPROMISE in movies, as COMPROMISE often kills movies, but then again, Hollywood is the last bastion of all things UNCOMPROMISING, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till CPA zombies do us part.)
Blah blah blah, right? Another Da-da sermon. Well, try it on this time. Stop yelling. Listen. Be fair. Like Da-da says every freaking day, 100 times or more:
GET ALONG WITH YOUR BROTHER.
DO THE RIGHT THING.
Jeez, were you born in a barn or something? Cut it out. If you really love your country, PROVE IT. Don't make Da-da get out the velcro suits again, 'cause you all look funny stuck up on the wall. We all need a fresh start. SO START FRESH. Get along. Get on with it. And keep it down to a dull roar, or there's no dessert or TV for a week.
Clearly, what every country needs is a good, strong sandworm... er, parent. Sorry. Da-da was looking forward to the SPICE FLOWING, but he'll take a step back and... COMPROMISE... until no Harkonnen breathes Arrakeen air.
Wow. Look at this multi sun-dogged and ice-halo-ed image of the afternoon sun bouncing through various layers of ice crystals in cirrus clouds, taken in Alabama on Oct. 30th as Post Tropical Cyclone Sandy trudged past its glancing blow. (Click image for high res version.) Image courtesy solar physicist David Hathaway, via SpaceWeather. Kinda gives one the impression that something is looking out for us -- as well as perhaps an indication of where some ancient symbolism might be sourced.