Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

Asterisks mark microbits of summer news



By G.D. Maxwell

During the heat of summer – you remember summer don’t you – the newscasters announced the number of new fires started each day by lightning and lunkheads in British Columbia. It reminded me uneasily of the rolling tally the National Highway Safety Council used to keep on highway traffic deaths each major holiday weekend in the United States. This in turn reminded me of a tasteless contest I ran one Memorial Day weekend when I was a Saturday night disc jockey at an obscure radio station in New Mexico the details of which you can probably guess but I prefer not to go into.

I believe the Campbell government is overlooking a potential revenue source by not updating the idea and running forest fire lotteries during the increasingly dry summers. If we don’t learn to cash in on global warming somehow, we’ll miss the opportunity entirely. It seems like such a Campbell-like thing to do.

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Being terminally verbose, I am grateful to the Barnetts for giving me an entire page to fill each week. This is no small sacrifice on their part. They not only wind up taking abuse meant for me for something or other I’ve said but they forego considerable potential revenue. I’ve often wondered if there are no ads on this page out of design or out of fear on the part of advertisers. Or maybe they’re waiting for me to sell the ads.

The only downfall to having a whole page to fill isn’t, as many of you may think, a complete and utter lack of ideas on my part. It just seems that way some weeks. No, the problem is the universe of interesting things to write about that just can’t be blown, and believe me I try, into 1,100 or so words no matter how tangential the lead-in or circuitous the parable I can devise to drape around them.

Never, until this week, have I fallen back on the tried and true columnist’s crutch of stringing together disparate bits of piffle with asterisks to mark the end of one thought and the beginning of another. I’ve always considered it a cheat and fraud, a dodge used by writers too unimaginative to craft transparently meaningless but seemingly sensible transitions between ideas.

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I give in.

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Try as I might, there’s just no viable alternative. You either let the wickedly bizarre microbits of news go past or you trot out the asterisks. There must be a better way.