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Entries in Truth in Advertising (1)


Truth and Falsehoods

It must have happened while I was accidentally locked in the garage. I was in there for a good half hour, no phone, absolutely out of the loop and incommunicado. There were no books, no wi-fi, only the ceaseless, repetitive twiddling of my thumbs and the sound of my own whimpering which interested the neighbour's Doberman who could not free me, try as he might, by turning the locked doorknob with his teeth.

Locked in the garage - that would be the most plausible reason why I missed a significant world event. And the fact that I missed it was evident as I read the Cheerios box at breakfast. “All General Mills Cereals Are Made From 100 percent Whole Grain,” the box shouted, each word punctuated with a capital. And then: “7 of 10 Canadians Report Not Getting Enough Whole Grain.” Holy Shit to High God. That would be 22.7 million Canadians reporting they are not getting enough Whole Grain. Truthfully it's humbling to learn that so many Canadians a) know what Whole Grains are, b) feel, existentially in their heart that they aren't getting enough, and c) are reporting it.

More than 3 servings

When did they all report this? To whom? How? Because I completely missed this mass reporting event. Was it on the Long Form Census? Was it via those automated robocall surveys we've been hearing about? I simply must have been in the garage and missed the robocall because that is a load of people reporting one thing, all at once. I'm pretty sure, if I had been breathing and sober, that I would have heard about the widespread deficiency of Whole Grain and the mass reporting of it. But I didn't.

I took a gander at the fine print on the Cheerios package. Sure enough there is a little asterisk that points to miniscule text at the bottom of the box. We hauled out the magnifying glass to parse it: “69 percent reported that they ate less than three servings of whole grains on the previous day. (Source - Ipsos Reid Canada 2004).” So that was the qualifier. While I was in the garage 23 million others were confessing to the robo-caller that they'd had less than 3 servings of Whole Grain the day before. Of course this also meant that 10 million Canadians had more than three servings of Whole Grain the day before. Wow. I am still trying to digest all this.

With this data I scarfed down more than 3 servings of Whole Grain and, frankly, felt a bit uncomfortable as I then waddled to my studio/office and plonked in front of the computer. There was by now a swelling up of uneasiness with the statistical message that came with my Cheerios. It felt like everyone else had been taken up in something akin to The Rapture but I'd missed out. So I scanned the public domain for more on Whole Grain, on Ipsos Reid, on the Long Form Census and Robo-calls. Let me tell you that search was pretty tiring and my head was sore by the end of it.

I was reminded of anHarlequin 14x9 w/c essay by Princeton's Harry G Frankfurt, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy On Bullshit. “Why is there so much bullshit?” Frankfurt asks. “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.” He concludes the problem is epistemological. “The contemporary proliferation of bullshit also has deeper sources, in various forms of skepticism which deny that we can have reliable access to an objective reality, and which therefore reject the possibility of knowing how things truly are.”

Things were getting a bit depressing by now. And the day was still young. But then, opening my email I had an almost unbelievable stroke of good fortune that completely swung my bloated being into positive emotional territory. The email was from a Mr. Micahel Akunga, a public servant in Sierra Leone. He disclosed privately to me, and to me alone, that certain third parties in the United States and Canada owed him a lot of money. But that “they can not transfer the funds to any bank account outside America continent due to their new company policy [sic].”

Mr. Akunga wondered if I would kindly “assist in receiving the funds and forward to me.” He offered to pay me 12 percent of the not inconsiderable loot owed to him. I did the math and despite the time lag between us, we had a flurry of quite amicable emails to and fro and I was bursting with pride as I negotiated the fee to 15 percent and sent him all my personal banking information. I expect a very, very tidy sum, about $808,000.00 to be in my possession late next week. I know between now and then I'll have a hard time resisting the temptation to check my accounts. But once the transaction goes through it will be great to be able to count all those zeroes! I am feeling very good about this excellent mojo.

My labour belongs to me

So it has been one of those halcion days, historic in a way, where things are simply golden, and life, children, is grand, and rich and comely. Because I next stumbled on a website that explained how I need not pay income tax on the 800-large coming from Mr. Akunga. It seems (I did not know this) that income tax is voluntary and you don't have to pay it. This is because I am a natural person. I own myself. And by virtue of self-ownership, my labour belongs to me; therefore that which is the product of my labour belongs to me and me alone, and not the government. Indeed, if any other man owns my labour, then I am a slave. The logic here is shockingly simple. Income tax assumes that the government owns a part of my labour. But this is a violation of my natural personhood and therefore I need pay no tax.

Now, children, how cool is that?

We are gleaming by now though still a bit Whole Grained. And we'll sleep like a baby this night, after a day of such marvel. And then: the Crowning Glory! At the local health food outlet where I cycled this afternoon I discovered an amazing powder that I just mix with water before bed. It will purge the bloat and also melt away any accumulated stomach fat while I sleep! Apparently this miracle powder is also effective for the treatment of scurvy, Chagas Disease, hanta virus, Norovirus, Jabberwalk and post nasal drip.

I am so happy I could flap my arms and fly.

You think I'm bullshitting.

But what was that just sped past the twinkle in your eye with such alacrity?

(Top: The Heist 12 x 9 watercfolours)