The Stubborn Swedish Cow

The following story was written for my “Write-Now” class which is conducted by Dr. Carolyn Wedin a retired professor emeritus from the University of Wisconsin.  Dr. Wedin gave us a short email message she had received from a friend in Sweden about a cow that would not give milk.  The assignment for the class was to use any element or perspective from the email to write a story.  My story loosely embraces some of the key elements from the email but is of course embellished by my own writing fancies and imagination.  Since I generally write social and political commentary, this story might seem a bit odd. However, if you reflect on it a while after you read it, I think you will find that there is a message or at least a few morals from this tale that you can take away.

swedish cowOnce upon a time there was an old farmer and his wife who had a cow that suddenly decided to stop giving milk.  It was a Swedish cow and you know how stubborn those Swedes can be.  The old farmer was going to go out to talk to the cow but quite unexpectedly he choked to death on a bone in a piece of lutefisk.  His wife now inherited the farm, the chickens, the pigs and the stubborn Swedish cow who would not give any milk.

The farmer’s wife went out to talk to the stubborn Swedish cow and tried to explain that without any milk, she would not be able to keep the farm and would have to sell everything.  The chickens would go to Kentucky Fried Chicken and become original crispy chicken legs.  The pigs would go to Famous Dave’s Barbecue and become hot and spicy pork ribs.  Last but not least, she explained the stubborn Swedish cow would go to Mc Donald’s where she would probably become a Big Mac with Double Cheeseburger Sandwich.

But the stubborn Swedish cow would not budge.  “I am tired of giving milk she thought to her-self” and being a stubborn Swedish cow she was not moved by the farmer’s wife arguments.

The chickens and pigs heard all of the arguments though and were quite perturbed.  The chickens nominated one of their own to go and talk to the cow.  “How selfish of you and inconsiderate” the delegated chicken argued.  “You don’t care that we will become fried chicken; all you can think about is yourself.”  This line of attack did not persuade the stubborn Swedish cow.

Next, the pigs decided to have a talk with the cow.  In mass they went though, as pigs like to do everything together.  In one voice, they pleaded with the stubborn Swedish cow:  “Please don’t let us become barbecue ribs at Famous Dave’s we don’t want to die. We know you have your reasons, but we hope you will change your mind and save us all.  You may be a stubborn Swedish cow but deep down inside you are really a good bovine.”  This line of reasoning also failed to persuade the stubborn Swedish cow.

mouseUnbeknownst to all, there was a small little field mouse that lived with his family in the great barn.  The field mouse had overheard the plight of the farmer’s wife and the arguments of the farm animals and was quite moved by their problem.  The field mouse was an avid reader and many of his kind would have called him an intellectual.  He was a follower of the famous Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg and also more recently the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom well known for his work on existential risk, the anthropic principle, human enhancement ethics, superintelligence, the reversal test, and consequentialism.  The little field mouse decided to try explaining the theory of the Anthropic Principle to the cow in the hope that logic would prevail where pure emotion had failed.

“Listen please” said the little field mouse to the stubborn Swedish cow “The Anthropic Principle is the philosophical consideration that observations of the universe must be compatible with the conscious and sapient life that observes it.  It is well known that cows give milk and to be a conscious cow, you have the obligation to perform this duty for the universe.”  Now the cow had recently been reading from the writings of Dr. Niklas Boström and was quite impressed with this line of thought.  “Yes”, reflected the cow, “even though I am a stubborn Swede, I am also a creature of the universe with an infinite obligation to take my proper place in the grand scheme of things.”

“You have convinced me” said the once stubborn Swedish cow to the little field mouse.  “Hence forth, I will take my rightful place in the universe and give milk every day as long as I am able, thus fulfilling my role in the grand scheme of things”

And the farmer’s wife, the chickens, the pigs, the once stubborn Swedish cow and the little field mouse and his family all lived happily ever after.

Time for Questions:

What strategy did the Farmer’s wife use on the cow?  The Pig and the Chicken?  How effective were these?  Could they have been more effective?  What strategy did the mouse use?  Why was it effective?  In real life, which strategies do you think work best?  Why?  Which strategy would you have used?

Life is just beginning.

“Here and there and not just in books we catch glimpses of a world of once upon a time and they lived happily ever after, of a world where there is a wizard to give courage and a heart, an angel with a white stone that has written on it our true and secret name, and it is so easy to dismiss it all that it is hardly worth bothering to do. … But if the world of the fairy tale and our glimpses of it here and there are only a dream, they are one of the most haunting and powerful dreams that the world has ever dreamed…”
― Frederick BuechnerTelling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale

Bumper Sticker Philosophy?

bumper stickersRecently, I was thinking of starting a bumper sticker business.  Bumper stickers can do quite well in terms of bringing in revenue.  They are cheap and inexpensive and everyone has something they want to show off to the world.  If you go to any trade show or convention or some special events like Roller Girls, Star Trek conventions, Comic Cons, you will find lots of different bumper stickers at the various booths.  Someone once told me that bumper stickers (selling for 1 or 2 dollars) were a bread and butter item for them.  “Big expensive items hardly sold, but everyone had a dollar or two for a bumper sticker.”

This got me to thinking.  If I had some good ideas for a bumper sticker and if I sold each one for $1.50 with .50 shipping and handling and if everyone in the world bought just one of my bumper stickers, that would be 3 billion people X $1.50 which = $4.5 billion dollars.  If it kept 1/3 of that as net profit, I would earn $1.5 billion dollars.  I would still not be as rich as Donald Trump but if I could sell just one per year to everyone in the world, it would only take me 6 or so years and I would be wealthier than Donald Trump.  At that point, I could then finally claim “I am great!”  If I lived another 25 years, I might eventually surpass Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in net worth.

my_kid_beat_up_your_honor_student_bumper_sticker-e1425666062414Of course, a great bumper sticker business must start with great ideas that have universal appeal.  You must cater to the masses.  You must have themes that resonate with the common person.  You can’t have bumper stickers that say confusing things like E=MC2 or Circumference= Two x Pi x r.  You must have ideas that are simple to understand and that everyone can relate to.  For example, one classic one that I have seen on many cars is “My Kid Kicked Your Honor Roll Kids Ass.”  This of course expresses the clear concept that it is better to be a bully than be intelligent.  This seems to be an idea that among Trump supporters, Tea Party advocates and many right wing extremists resonates very well.

trump hateOne other example of a great bumper sticker has been around for many years.  It is quite popular and goes:  “God, Guns and Guts Made America Great.”   This bumper sticker shows quite clearly that God loves guns and guts and thus favors Americans who have more guns and guts than any other people in the world.  Statistics prove this fact as it is well known that there are enough guns in the USA for everyone to have at least three guns each for every man, woman and child in the US.   Even as I write, gun manufacturers are working to improve this statistic.   Ruger has a goal of selling two million guns this year and will donate a dollar for every gun sold to the NRA to help promote their goal of selling more guns.  In no time at all, we will have 4 guns for every person in the country, thus helping our nation become even greater than it is.

I would say something about guts, but we all know that Americans don’t run or that the colors on our flag don’t bleed.  It is an American truth that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  What is lesser well known though is that there are now so many obese or “adipose challenged” (see my bumper sticker below) men in America that we are now having more difficulty getting it up, never mind running or getting going anywhere.  Statistics show the following:

  • More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. [Read abstract Journal of American Medicine (JAMA)
  • Obesity is higher among middle age adults, 40-59 years old (39.5%) than among younger adults, age 20-39 (30.3%) or adults over 60 or above (35.4%) adults.

funniest_crazy_cool_pictures_of_funny_bumper_sticker_2_20090814_1080511172But what the heck, you can still be fat and send drones and guided missiles to bomb the hell out of other people.  Guts are overrated!  If we can maim and slaughter our enemies, we will still win and that is what counts.  Winning is a common bumper sticker theme and one that I have tried to utilize in the following concepts.  I present these ideas as possibilities for my bumper sticker company.  I am open to other ideas.  Please feel free to share any great ideas you have for bumper stickers.  When my bumper sticker company becomes rich and famous, I will share some of my profits with you so that you can also be “Great” someday.  Thus, without further ado, here are my top ideas for “Great” bumper stickers.

  • My grandkids are smarter than your grandkids
  • Next to my girlfriend, my wife is the prettiest woman in the world
  • Harley Davidson – Made in Japan
  • Growing old sucks!
  • If you’re so rich, why aren’t’ you smart?
  • Free money
  • Sex, sex, sex, that’s all you ever think about!
  • Why do I have to swallow?
  • Trump is a big fat rich ass-hole, but I love him anyway!
  • Egotists rule
  • Not fat, adipose challenged
  • Intellectuals are stupid
  • Salads are for sissies
  • My mother can beat your mother up
  • Where is God hiding?
  • Send a missile, don’t send me!
  • Immigrants don’t belong here
  • Kill a terrorist for Christ
  • Who is John Persico?

funny-bumper-stickers.jpg-620453-Google-Chrome_2014-03-03_12-11-08-OptimizedI am working on other ideas but I thought this would be a good start.   One caveat that must be admitted is that bumper stickers can offend some people; but as they say “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.”  Furthermore, the people that buy bumper stickers usually have an innate desire to express themselves in ways that they can’t manage as well verbally.  A truly challenging bumper sticker lets people say things that they could not express as succinctly or eruditely if left to their own linguistic devices.  For instance, the NRA says that “When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.”  Can you imagine the average person making such an eloquent defense of guns and assault rifles with such a short but biting comment?  With one very unique phrase, millions of people have come to believe that they must buy a gun or be at the mercy of the millions of outlaws just lurking out there to rape and pillage their farms and homesteads, steal their cattle and ride off into the sunset with their women.

trump_supporters_bumper_bumper_bumper_stickerA great bumper sticker is an algorithm for self-expression.  Those commie pinko intellectuals who can confuse you with their big words and high sounding concepts don’t stand a chance against a good bumper sticker.  Bumper stickers let the average or even below average person duke it out on a level playing field with a Harvard college professor.  One of my favorite bumper stickers says:  “Just cause you’re so smart and went to school don’t mean you know anything.”  Wow, is that profound or what!  Take that you college Ph.D.’s that think you are so smart.  “My son will kick your graduate son’s ass.”

Time for Questions:

Do you have any favorite bumper stickers?  What do you think makes a good bumper sticker?  Do you ever put bumper stickers on your car?  Why or why not?

Life is just beginning.

“The world’s bumper sticker reads: Life sucks, and then you die. Perhaps Christian bumper stickers should read: Life sucks, but then you find hope and you can’t wait to die.”   ― Ted Dekker




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