Modern Intellectualism

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“Man, I hate it when you’re wearing earbuds and you have water in your ears,” complained Mark has he wiped them on his shirt.

“You shouldn’t do that. It’ll cause an electrical short that’ll go right to your brain. Kill you instantly,” replied Brenda.

“That’s not true,” scoffed Mark.

“How do you know? Prove me wrong,” challenged Brenda.

“Why should I have to prove you wrong? You’re the one who made that ridiculous statement in the first place.”

“But you’re the one who disagreed, so the burden of proof falls on you.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” complained Mark. “It’s stupid. Irrational, even.”

Brenda smiled. “Don’t get mad a me. It’s modern intellectualism.”

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Sexy Science

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After a long day at work, Markus felt like a champ when he discovered an entire bus seat for himself. It was a short lived victory. A guy dressed in a lumberjack shirt and jeans sat beside him.

“Did you ever hear about the scientific study that proves people are healthier when they spend time petting a dog?” asked the stranger.

“That’s the rationale behind therapy dogs, isn’t it?” mumbled Markus. He was silently beating himself up for replying.

“Exactly,” said the excited stranger. “So here’s the weird part. Somewhere, some scientist got paid to do that research.”

“So?” asked Markus.

“Someone came up with an experiment to actually prove it. Crazy, eh?”

“Huh. That’s actually a good point,” mused Markus.

“It begs another question,” said the stranger.

Markus wasn’t going to reply, but the stranger kept looking at him expectantly.

“What’s that?” asked Markus.

“Some fields of scientific study are sexier than others.”

“I’ve never thought of science as sexy,” said Markus.

“Oh, it’s true. There’s a hierarchy, you know? Follow the money. That’s what I’m saying.”

Markus rolled his eyes. “Are you saying there’s a conspiracy behind research and development?”

“Hey, man. I’m just saying there’s no such thing as science for science’s sake.”

“Why not?”

“Who’d pay for something without expecting something in return?” asked the stranger. He stood up to leave. “Think about it.”

Markus shook his head as he watched the stranger slip into the busy street. At that moment the only science Markus was interested in was the technology of noise canceling earphones.

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Control Freak

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It was time for Tom’s daily trek to The Caffeine Pharmacy Coffee House. Waiting in line for his favourite brew, he couldn’t help overhear the conversation beside him.

“This day’s been crazy, but everything’s happened on schedule,” said the first person.

“You schedule crazy?” asked the second.

“Better to plan for it than have it take over your life,” said the first.

“It depends on how you understand it,” said the second.

“What?” asked the first.

“The kind of crazy you’re talking about,” said the second.

“Wouldn’t you rather manage crazy?” asked the first.

“I don’t think it’s possible,” answered the second.

“Why wouldn’t it be?” asked the first.

“Crazy is like chaos. By their very definitions they’re beyond control, aren’t they?” replied the second.

“Not if you do it right,” said the first.

At that moment, a middle aged man wearing pink bunny ears walked up and kissed the second person on the forehead.

Tom watched as the first person smiled and said, “Right on schedule.”

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Snow Quixote

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The snow was a foot deep when Aiden screwed up the determination to shovel. It was the third time in a week he had to clear the sidewalk.

From inside the world looked pristine. The unblemished crystalline blanket shimmered in the bright morning sun. The sight made him sick to his stomach.

Aiden trudged outside, kicking snow as he walked. He wielded his shovel like a broadsword, hacking and slashing as he moved. Clear it aside he should but vanquish it he must.

Up and down the street, others joined him, battling their frigid demons.

“It’s March! This shouldn’t be happening!” someone shouted.

The complaint fell on deaf ears. The row of Winter warriors continued their toil with resigned tenacity.

Aiden cleared a path down to the street. The heat of the sun warmed the snow gathered in a nearby tree. A pile broke loose and smacked him in the head, a stream of ice and water flowing down his spine. He dropped to his knees.

Shaking off the snow on his hat, Aiden shivered. He swore that one day he would live where snow had never fallen. Some day.

The dream remained elusive. Picking himself back up, he continued his quiet work. The rows of Winter warriors buoying his flickering spirit.

Spring would come soon. It had to. It was his only hope.

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Theoretical Backgammon

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On the Thursday after the blizzard, Carlos went to the office and met Bruno, buried in his third coffee of the morning.

“Rough days, eh?” asked Carlos.

Bruno grunted.

“What’s with you?”

“You have no idea,” grumbled Bruno.

Carlos rolled his eyes. “Like we all didn’t have to shovel a couple of tons of snow.”

Bruno glared over his mug at Carlos. “That was only the half of it. The whole family had the flu.”

The revelation made Carlos whistle. “Okay, that’s a lot worse. How’d you cope?”

“I did what any good husband and father would do. I hid in the basement until the worst was over.”

“Binge watch Netflix, eh?” laughed Carlos.

“Nah,” scoffed Bruno. “I actually did something constructive. I learned how to play backgammon.”

“By yourself?”

“In fifteen helpful Youtube videos.”

“So have you played an actual game?” asked Carlos.

“No, but now I know how to. The other day I watched a video on how to make those cool looking rings out of wood and resin,” explained Bruno.

“Do you have the tools to make one yourself?” asked Carlos.

Bruno cringed. “Of course not. That’s not the point. I’m learning. Keeping the mind sharp. My next project is learn how to make a watch from scratch.”

“But you won’t actually build one?” asked Carlos.

“Who has patience for that? Besides, it’s not about what you do, it’s what you know, You know what they say, ‘knowledge is power’,” explained Bruno.

Carlos rolled his eyes as he sat at his cubicle. “I think in this case ‘they’ might horribly mistaken.”

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Permission Granter

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A gentle knock at the door of her office distracted Meg from her work.

“Come in,” she said after a long sigh.

“Ms. Haushka, I can’t use the photocopier. There’s some sort of lock on it,” said Carter. He stood at the door, just outside her office.

“We’ve had to limit access to it. By permission only,” stated Meg.

“I don’t understand. Why?” asked Carter.

“Certain individuals were abusing it,” said Meg.

Carter said nothing, but his raised eyebrow was enough to elicit an explanation.

“Someone used it to photocopy their butt,” said Meg.

Someone or a few people?” asked Carter.

“What?”

“You said certain individuals, then said someone. Which is it?”

“It was one person. Why does it matter?” asked Meg.

“It’s just that, well, it seems you’ve made policy based on the actions of an individual,” said Carter.

“Your point being?”

“The rest of the staff had their liberties restricted by the stupidity of one.”

“That’s how it works,” declared Meg.

“Why? If we live to the standards of the lowest common denominator, then none of us will be able to do anything,” said Carter, stepping inside the office.

“That’s not true.”

“Sure it is. Someone will eventually abuse their office internet usage. What then? Take it away from everyone? Keep everyone from doing their job?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. We’d never let that happen,” said Meg.

“I can’t use the photocopier for my presentation this afternoon, so I can’t do my job,” said Carter.

“Fine. You have my permission to use the photocopier,” said Meg, rolling her eyes.

“So is that your job now? Granting permission for the company to use office equipment? It’s not like you’re swamped already. Maybe you can hire a Permission Granter to police the office. Add another layer of useless bureaucracy,” explains Carter.

“You’re being irrational.”

“I’m carrying this to it’s logical conclusion.”

Meg threw up her hands. “What do you suggest?

“Punish the individual, not the group.”

“Fine! I don’t have time for this. The one who abused the copier is banned and you can get back to work,” declared Meg.

Carter blushed. He shuffled his feet and fidgeted with a pen.

“What now?!?”

“Actually, I’m the one who photocopied my butt. Can I get special permission to use the photocopier?”

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Marital Compromise

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Rob walked into the office just like it was any other normal day at work. The gasp on Wendy’s lips suggested otherwise. The entire left side of his head was bald.

“What happened to you?” cried Wendy. Carter and Brody heard the commotion and came to investigate.

“I wondered if anyone would notice,” mused Rob.

“Your hair is braided on the right half of your head and there’s nothing anywhere else,” observed Brody.

“Did you lose a bet?” asked Carter.

“Or did you just lose your mind?” asked Wendy.

“No,” said Rob. “My wife wanted me to keep my hair long but I wanted to shave it. Compromise is essential in a good marriage, so I did.”

“That’s awesome!” exclaimed Brody.

“What does your wife think?” asked Wendy.

“It’s funny. She didn’t seem to notice at first. When she finally did she took a picture and posted it on Instagram.”

Wendy shook her head in disgust. “I can’t believe you did that.”

“How long have you been married?” asked Carter.

“Thirty-two years.”

“You’re my hero,” declared Brody.

“Do you offer marriage counselling?” asked Carter.

Wendy grumbled on the way back to her office. “Men are weird.”

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