#46 – Beginning a better Babel babble.

The jury has been in for a while. Time has not changed the verdict. So you might as well know: people prefer Babel. It is what they read. Google blog statistics are quite thorough. They say that people read the stories about Babel. Politics comes second. I hate to admit that American politics gets better readership but that is only because there is more of them guys than us guys.

The comments have not been huge in numbers but they sure make the point. I have been flattered when referred to as the poor man’s Stephen Leacock or a poorer Canadian cousin to Garrison Keillor. I think Babel is a more serious place than Mariposa or Lake Wobegone but I am honoured by the comparison. Quite honestly, it never occurred to me that people would compare Babel to those mythical places. Babel is a city that has never been designed or planned. It is an unfortunate accident of middle Ontario. (Something like a troubling tummy ache where you know you just need to relieve the gas.) I find Babel interesting because it still has much to learn about itself.

Babel is funny whether you live here or not. It is people. The women of Babel are not as strong as the women of Lake Wobegon and the men are definitely not as handsome. Hell, the men in Babel are hardly fit to be taken out in public and rarely are. And there is definitely no comparison between Babel and the Mariposa Stephen Leacock immortalized a hundred years ago. Mariposa was a Sunshine Town from a gentler era. At the time, it was cultured and refined. People were kindly, if not understanding. Mariposa was definitely a different world. The differences, I expect, are quite similar to the differences between Barrie of today and summer-time Orillia of 1912.

Despite the preponderance of Babel enthusiasts, readers are not going to get me to stop writing about politics. That is a life-long love of mine. One reader left me flattered but cold when I asked him specifically what he thought of my piece for the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission. It took him a while to come back with an answer. (This is a person with some of the technical background needed to appreciate the complexity of the questions I was addressing.) “Well,” he said, “It is certainly erudite.” That is definitely the last time I ask for his opinion.

Someone I am doing some writing for called the other day after he had received a draft and told me that I was a wonderful writer. What can you say to a compliment such as that? I explained very patiently that, as kind as his comment might be, I did not send the copy to him for him just to admire. I needed his analysis of the direction in which it was headed and whether we agreed that it is on the right track.

I guess what bothers me about this direction by readers is that I have a just completed a 6000-word blog entry on the condominium where I live in Babel. It does not belong here. It is an orphan story and it will never appear in blog, web site or in print. It belongs in a court. Maybe it also belongs at Queen’s Park when they decide to rewrite the oppressive Condominium Act.

The good news is that, in the year ahead, there will be wonderful opportunities to write about the politics of Babel. I expect there will be a federal election and the voters of Babel will want to share their passion for upsetting the electoral applecart. The municipal election will be its own comedy of errors and even my readers in other countries will appreciate the silliness as our municipal Wise Men of Gotham try to figure out how to describe a voter when each is trying to parse a different anatomical component of the body politic.

So now you know what to expect. People seem to like the frequency of a couple entries a week. It certainly is no strain on me. I guess I would not do it, if it was.

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Send your complaints to peter@lowry.me

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