Send in the Martians

 Nov 30, 2018 10:00 AM
by Marcel Strigberger

     So the Insight spacecraft has landed on Mars. Is this huge? I’m not sure. This is the 8th spacecraft to land on the red planet but I am actually totally disappointed as there is something drastically still missing. I ask, where are the Martians?

     For nearly a half century I grew up with the impression that indeed there were Martians on Mars. This was not a totally unreasonable expectation. And we all knew exactly what these Martians looked like. We saw cartoons of these folks. They were always little men (never women). They were usually green and they had a couple of hoses coming out of their heads at the end of which were a couple of eyes. They spoke English quite well. We know this as the first thing they said to the earthlings was, "Take us to your leader."

     They even had a common mode of transportation: the flying saucer.

     Unfortunately just like with Curiosity Rover, Insight has still not detected a trace of life on this planet. There was nobody to greet Insight, the contraption that looks like a giant winged insect, as it completed its gentle float down to the ground at a pace of about 12,300 miles per hour. It sent back some messages. But I doubt one of them was, “This does not look like Kansas, Toto.”

     I recall back in grade 4 whenever I used to daydream, my teacher, Mr. Mackenzie, would say to me sarcastically, "Who are your thinking about, the man on Mars?" If he were to say it now I would be able to answer him eloquently and say, "Yeah right".

     The rug has been pulled out from under our feet. It would not have been so if at least some practical discoveries were made on Mars. I would have liked to see some of the following revelations:

     What if Mars was the place to where all our missing items went? It would have made my day had Insight crept along on its adventures and suddenly I could say, "Hey, there's my television remote."

     Or perhaps if it were not physical, then metaphysical revelations would have been well worth the billions spent. I would be ecstatic if the big bug would come across a sign reading, "Welcome. You have just found the meaning of life. Keep going 2 kilometres."

     Worth every penny.

     The game would also have been worth the candle had the giant fly come across long sought secrets or mysteries. I would have been sold if I saw a notice reading, "Beware, Bermuda Triangle up ahead. Proceed with caution or you'll end up in Fort Lauderdale."

     So far Insight, instead of finding our missing remotes or discovering the meaning of life or unravelling the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, it will basically just sit there and listen. Once again as with other Mars missions, I doubt it will hear any Martian chatter. Maybe they are out there indeed. If so, chances are local authorities would not believe any comments made by one of its citizens who might be reporting the sighting of a UFO. “Yeah, a giant dragon fly. Right! Are you feeling OK Org?”

    I guess these discoveries now have scientists in a perpetual state of orgasm. But to me this is all too clinically cold. would rather go back to my lifelong dreams and fantasies and imagine space creatures the way I have known them for decades and go on thinking that perhaps on another planet our fantasies will materialize. And if they do, do hope that some of these extra terrestrials will be women.


A Title by any other Name is not a Rose

 Nov 8, 2018 10:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

     What’s in a name? Or rather what’s in a title to a name?

      A 10 year old boy in North Carolina recently got punished by his teacher for calling her “ma’am”. She made him write out the word, “ma’am” 4 times per line on a long sheet of paper. This story went viral. Seems some people are sensitive about how they get addressed.

     A lawyer colleague and I chatted the other day about addressing people and she told me she was dealing with an ATM machine and it referred to her by her first name. She did not like it. She said she would have preferred to be referred to as “Mrs. X”. (her real name actually, of course).

     I thought about it and it occurred to me that I have no problem with a kind and generous machine saying to me, “Hey, here’s $500.00 Marcel.”

     I actually was uneasy for decades, with anyone calling me Mr. Strigberger. To me Mr. Strigberger was my dad. After all he always wore a fedora, That was what fathers did and therefore you called them “Mr. “

    We went on to chat at length about names and references and she also said she did not like it when other lawyers referred to her at a legal proceeding using the traditional British reference barristers call one another, namely, “my friend”. She was sure her clients would raise an eyebrow and think to themselves, “Why is my lawyer so chummy with the enemy? Maybe I had better not drink that coffee she just brought me.”

    I told her I could live with “my friend” but I would never stretch that one to that alternate phrase being, “my learned friend.” After 40+ years of practice, I was certain some of the lawyers I came across received their legal learning at the University of Attila the Hun.

    I told her my pet peeve was calling judges “Your Honour”. They don’t always deserve such a distinguished salutation. I especially found it unnatural to lose an argument in court and have the judge order my client to pay legal costs, and then conclude my brilliant presentation by uttering the words, “Thank you Your Honour.” It’s almost like getting mugged on the street and then as you get up and you brush yourself off you say, “Thank you Mr. Mugger. “(unless I suppose you know his first name).

   Actually in court I was often tempted to follow the lead of that famous literary creation barrister, Rumpole of the Old Baily, who would often mumble some derogatory remark under his breath at the judge, such as, “You are a total ass,” which the judge sort of heard but could not confirm. The judge would ask, “What was that you said Mr. Rumpole?” Rumpole would respond something like, “My Lord, I said it will pass.”

  We all know His Lordship heard it right but could not do anything about it.

  The British certainly appear to have a hold on pomposity. My daughter once communicated with a university in England and the university’s first letter asked how she was to be addressed, listing a string of titles including Miss, Mrs. , Ms and Lady. She of course responded, “Lady”. And that is in fact how they responded to her.

  My colleague and I concluded that we all had our likes and dislikes on how we wished to be called. After discussing this issue in depth and parting our separate ways, it occurred to me that I never got to ask her how she would react if she were called, “ma’am.”

  As for myself, I’m easy going and not pretentious. I can live with whatever the person who deals with me wishes to call me.

  That’s just who I am; Sir Marcel Strigberger



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