Agent Orange, meet Agent Brown – Trump, Brexit and dog poop

I love the word verisimilitude. It’s a literary term that means the appearance of truth and is used by authors to give their storytelling a sense of veracity.

A fine example would be all the little things done by science fiction writers to make the unbelievable, believable. They add a whole host of commonplace events, conversations and behaviours to the story, “stuff” that is very familiar to our own lives and experiences, that allow us to suspend our disbelief and enter into the story.

All novelists do this, regardless of their genres. However, novelists aren’t the only people with stories to tell.

Narratives are also the stock-in-trade of politicians, advertising agencies and even that phone scammer who has bilked so many out of so much money. No, I’m not cynical enough to equate politicians and phone scammers, only to note that they are both feeding us little bits of life to lend their stories verisimilitude.

So, read a novel and see all the little things that the author does to make the story believable and then transfer that awareness to what you hear in real life stories.

Look for all the little things that make an otherwise implausible story believable: the half-truths, statistics with no context, quotes with no context, statements expressed as truth with no evidence to support them, and evidence that is misleading (you know, the 9 out of 10 dentists surveyed recommend our toothpaste thing) .

Well, how many did you guys survey? Oh, maybe 10. Who are they? Oops, says the toothpaste company, the ones that work for us. Sigh. No, don’t try and include Donald Trump – he doesn’t even attempt the appearance of truth.

Take China – now there’s a mess and Canada is stuck in a very uncomfortable seat. We have an extradition treaty with the U.S. – they called and invoked that treaty and Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Huawei Technologies, was duly arrested.

Now China is very miffed – not at the U.S. of A, but at us. The thing is, the only just player in this controversy is Canada. We have a treaty and we are bound to that treaty; it is a matter of law.

China does not, perhaps cannot, believe it is true that the law is separate from the political arm of government. They really don’t understand separation of powers because they don’t have any and I think they seem to believe it is something of a nudge-nudge, wink-wink thing.

Neither does Donald John Trump get it, he who infamously announced he might stick his nose into the fray if it helped his trade negotiations with China. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Agent Orange!

So, here we are, caught in a tug of war between two autocratic strongmen with absolutely no win in the scenario. The best outcome I can see is that in February the courts will reveal this for what it is and bounce Ms. Wanzhou back onto the streets without her ankle bracelet and advise the U.S. to keep their ridiculous little power plays to themselves.

While Canada is caught in the middle of a mess through no fault of our own, British Conservatives have put themselves in a Brexit mess without any outside involvement (not that Jeremy Corbin has led his Labour party to anti-Brexit unity).

After all the deception, prevarication and outright lies of the Brexit camp, you would think somebody might be astute enough to redo their referendum and move the bar a ways up from the 50 per cent + 1 stupidity of the first referendum.

Meanwhile, as I write, it seems likely Britain will bounce themselves out of a powerful trading union with nothing to show for the exercise but a political and economic mess. What makes this particularly tragic is that Brexit is about xenophobia, pure and simple.

It is a fine example of what ‘me mum’ called “cutting off your nose to spite your face”. Really, Britain spent centuries prancing into countries without so much as a by-your-leave, but when those same peoples come limping to Britain with a “please”, the reception is far from welcoming.

Finally dog poop. I love dogs and have two canine family members, but dog poop and what to do with it is a challenge highlighted by a very delightful article in the Guardian by Jemima Kiss. More about that later.

Mysteries about dog poop abound. For example, while I very much appreciate our snow clearing dudes and dudettes of the Public Works Department, I find it puzzling to wonder how piling five feet of snow in front of the poop bag dispenser and garbage bin is conducive to pickup. I mean dogs poop in the winter too.

And, how about those dog walkers who pick up the poop and then drop the bag beside the sidewalk? What is that about? Is it some kind of protest? About what?

Then there’s the guy I watched stand with his dog while it deposited a large blessing right at the foot of the poop bag dispenser. He left it there. Is it unmanly to pick up the stuff or what? Hmm?

The Guardian article pointed out (with humour) a number of issues with dog poop bags as well – nothing is easy. But Ms. Kiss did point out one very interesting solution. It seems that an inventor of sorts named Brian Harper has produced the K9 Bio System.

It’s a beautiful gas street lamp installed beside a path in England’s Malvern Hills. It has a special anaerobic digester attached to it and, using special paper dog poo bags, dog owners can deposit the waste into the digester and it uses that waste to produce methane to power the lamp.

It seems ten average-sized dog poops will provide about two hours of light and, hey, that’s what this column is about … light, I mean.

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