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The Place of the Pun

A pun is a play on words, a statement that turns spelling or phrases around in a humorous manner. I can paddle, canoe? (I can paddle, can you?) When avoiding chores around then house, mother is the necessity of invention (necessity is the mother of invention).

I had a teacher who hated puns and said they were the lowest form of writing. The TV show Get Smart, a comedy where Don Adams played an inept secret agent when spy movies were popular, was running at the time. Created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, each episode contained an onslaught of puns in a style Brooks used in his parody films such as Blazing Saddles and Space Balls.

My teacher despised the show and used it as an example of what should never be done. Her idea of good writing was Shakespeare.

I loved Get Smart and all the puns. I can still watch it today and laugh Thinking back, I don't believe that teacher actually understood Shakespeare's works because they're loaded with puns. However, the language and culture has changed so much over 500 years. Many people today don't recognize the humor.

This might sound like a meaningless exchange that's anything but funny. Yet, to audiences in the 16th century it brought uproarious laughter. They understood the joke. At that time, to face a man had two meanings, either to stand up to him or for a tailor to add decorations to a garment. Braved also had two meanings— to challenge someone to a dual or for a tailor to measure someone for garments.

This might sound like a meaningless exchange that's anything but funny. Yet, to audience in the 16th century it brought uproarious laughter. They understood the joke. At that time, to face a man had two meanings, either to stand up to him or for a tailor to add decorations to a garment. Braved also had two meanings— to challenge someone to a dual or for a tailor to measure someone for garments.

For puns to work, they must contain know cultural references. That modern audiences don't always get the puns in Shakespeare's plays doesn't mean people today are dumb. They just don't have the same connection to the older culture and language. Even for subcultures within any modern societies, the puns will differ and may not me understood by people in other groups.

It takes a lot of wit and intelligence to write puns. They make us pause, shake our heads, and if their really good, groan when people get them.

Mutual Respect in Business Pays Off

Many companies, large and small, still live with the 19th century notion that managers have to stand over employees to make certain they’re working. Yet, evidence shows when managers set clear goals and allow employees, who know the details of the work, the leeway to function in their most efficient ways, productivity and profits increase. In too many respects, western business culture still holds feudal attitudes of lords and peasants rather than as partners who are all required to achieve goals and all deserve equal respect.

Star Flurry AstorThis plant is a Snow Flurry Astor, a perennial considered by some to be a weed because the leaves have serrated edges and it grows wild. Yet, it is beautiful and natural. In North America, we have inherited an attitude prominent in the Victorian era in which everything must be classified, ordered and controlled. Victorian men were convinced they could turn nature to their desires and tame it for their benefits. Victorian gardens are planned and layout out systematically. Everything goes in its place. What does not fit in the scheme is torn out.

Order was not restricted to gardens. From the Victorian attitude, people are also classified, ordered and controlled for the benefit of those in power. Herein is a root of racism, misogyny and the destruction of the environment we all depend on for survival. People who fall outside the norm are treated as weeds. They are stripped of their human rights and respect to benefit those who have ordered our society for their short-term gain. Diversity in the garden is condemned. Diversity in society is persecuted.

It is time to stop planting lawns and promote meadows, both for flora and people.

David A. Wimsett's Historical Women’s Novel Wins First Place at The BookFest Awards

First place winner at The BookFest Awards
Beyond the Shallow Bank, my women’s historical novel with elements of Celtic mythology, won first place in the Magic, Legend and Lore category and third place for Historical Fiction at The BookFest Awards for Spring 2022. The awards ceremony took place on 2 April 2022 in Los Angeles as part of the semi-annual conference. The ceremonies and panel discussions were held online this year.

Beyond the Shallow Bank is told through the perspective of an artist named Margaret Talbot who fights her way into the male dominated world of publishing in the late 19th century to become a magazine illustrator. In 1901, she suffers a life changing crisis and comes to a small Nova Scotia fishing village where she meets another woman rumored to be a selkie, a magical being from Celtic mythology who walks on the land as a human and swims in the sea as a seal. With the influence of the villagers, and Margaret’s own self-determination, she strives to discover who she is and what she truly wants.

Publishers Weekly Booklife Prize said, “Wimsett's novel is quickly paced without the events of the story feeling rushed… Engaging characters and the right amount of fantasy help elevate the novel above standard genre trappings while retaining enough of the conventional elements of historical fiction. Margaret is an engaging protagonist…”

Nova Scotia writer Susan Haley, author of a number of Canadian titles including A Nest of Singing Birds and Petitot said, “The wonderful romantic plot of the book with its magical twist and turns gives substance and resonance to Margaret’s multiple dilemmas. Beyond the Shallow Bank presents a delightful picture of a Nova Scotia fishing village with all its characters: the madman inventor and the man who carries the ashes of his dead wife around with him. Beyond the Shallow Bank contains descriptive passages of the sea which are wonderfully poetic. The writing in this book has both depth and psychological complexity, as well as humor, in the interactions of its large cast of village characters. Perhaps best of all, for the lifelong reader, it is a book to sink into, put down reluctantly, and wonder about long afterwards.”

The Worldwide Web is 30 Years Old

It has been some thirty years since people began using the Internet through the Worldwide Web, www.

I first saw the Internet at a research center in the 1980s. At that time, It was used to exchange scientific documents in text form between universities, government contractors and research facilities. There was no general public access.

When the worldwide web was introduced, one intention was for people of divergent believes and backgrounds to have a place to exchange ideas in an electronic town hall meeting so that everyone could better understand how other people felt to foster respect and find solutions to problems built from these exchanges. It still offers that ability, as well as the opportunity to keep up with family and friends, and to learn new things.

Yet, much of the chatter has fallen into commercial advertising with people trying to sell some product and service. In Facebook groups about writing, I have seen thoughtful answers to questions posed by members. Many of these answers have helped me. I have also seen replies in which someone is just trying to sell a service without any helpful suggestions at all.

The Internet has also spawned groups and communities whose members are closed to any opinion that they do not agree with. These people are not willing to listen to facts or opinions that contradict their stickily held beliefs. Some of these people demand quick, simple answers to complex questions and the answer they want to hear is, “It will all be taken care of if you follow these easy steps.”

The truth is, we face many complex issues and different people have pieces of the answers. Unfortunate, there are those who only listen to one politician, one religious leader or one celebrity who they believe to have all the answers, even when they don’t.

This does not have to be the case. All of us, every human being, has the capacity to think critically and understand things, even complex ideas. Some people have expert knowledge in particular areas and others have the temperament to see things in a specific way. Still, given time and effort, we can all use our brains to comprehend intricate concepts.

Like a knife that can be used to cut fruit for a salad or to injure someone, the Internet is neither angel nor demon. It is our actions that determine if it is a tool to help ourselves and others or a wall to cut us off possibilities we want to avoid.