As with individual people, the measure of a nationi is its productive output. No, it’s not its railroads of rights, its consensus on all matters of perceived import, nor equalitarianism, the measure of a nation is simply its ability to create and the freedom it provides to do so. That’s it.
In Canada’s short history – entirely because of her modest population size, gross expanse of habitable land, and strong schismaticii influence – she’s given berth (and birth) to a considerable number of creators and inventors.iii Everything from AM radioiv to IMAX,v from the Wonderbravi to the Walkie-Talkie,vii from Javaviii to canola,ix, and from the electron microscopex to the subject of our exploration today, hail from America’s Hat.xi
Some of these inventions are so embedded in the culture that even a well-seasoned travelerxii like myself glazes right over them. Somehow, someway, it wasn’t until last night, while out on a date, that I discovered that five-pin bowlingxiii was not only a Canadian invention, but, despite being over a century old, is still only played in Canada.
Needless to say, my reaction to the uniqueness of this childhood game I remembered so fondly was akin to finding out that I was the only duck in the flying formation who though we all flew in a “>” together, or that I was the only kid in town who raised pet dogs and, every year, ritualistically slaughtered them for Thanksgiving dinner only to get a new puppy the following Christmas, or that I was the only one who’d noticed the big white nighttime sky-globe, which I’d decided to call “noom.”
So if you’ve never seen a five-pin bowling alley before,xiv behold all that is the productive fruit of this fledgling nation!
This particular alley, containing six lanes, of which three are visible here, was built in the early 1970’s and has somehow remained charmingly original and free of “updates.” From the picture, if you’ve ever been to a ten-pin alley,xv you’ll note the lack of electronic scoring and flashing lights. In person, you’ll notice that the pins don’t reset until you press “RESET,”xvi that the balls themselves are small enough for a grown man to palm and lack finger holes, that the pins are 3/4 size, that the lanes are shorter, and that the whole affair feels more intimate. Given the harshness of the Canadian climate, the desire to bring people into closer proximity is understandable!
This particular alley was made by Brunswick, an American company and a name I’ve always associated with both bowling and billiards. On the scoring table floorplate seen above, isn’t the little silver bald man, underhandedly (but not sneakily) throwing his enemy’s head down the lane, nearby the cursive castle wall of “Brunswick,” complete with another trophy head staked atop the “i” pike for all the passer-bys to see, just the cutest thing you ever did see? I think it’s fantastic.
Come of think of it, that Brunswick is American and that there still isn’t a single five-pin lane in the United States of Egypt is nothing short of remarkable. Not that regionally specific products are unknown in the game of global business, just look at the auto industry, but for something with as few regulationsxvii as bowling, it’s still a bit surprising!
Though even in the early 1970’s, as we see with the “SAFE-T BALL RETURN” here, the gangrenous rot of “safety culture” was already well underway in Canada.
While in the history of humanity there has never, not even once, been a culture worth mentioning wherein the leaders championed the idea that “safety comes first.” Not that this has stopped
people socialists from trying infinity plus one angles for fitting square pegs into round holes. While such conscientious empty institutions start out all ideal and noble and rational and whatever, they ultimately take their platonic notions ad extremis, inevitably approaching the threshold of irrationalism before crossing right over it with the force of a thousand paper laws. Under such weight, the whole shebang very predictably ossifies to the point where life guards are removed from beaches because they might not save someone they “could’ve” saved and camp counsellors fill out six forms for every band-aid applied.
SAFE-T isn’t the measure of a nation, it’s all about the bowling pins.
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- That is, an intentional collection of individuals who operate as such, not just “a cohabitating group happening by some variety of improbable circumstances to have temporally and geographically crossed paths and who cater exclusively to the lowest common denominator.” That’s a different thing. That’s a nation state. And at this point it should be pretty clear that such monstrosities are one of the most cruel and corrupt creations yet to spring forth from the fertile mind of man.
- Mostly Protestant, Presbyterian, and Orthodox Churches in the case of Canada. Not so many of the Mediterranean Roman Catholics made it here. [↩]
- But what is an inventor anyways? Is it, as some would argue, a Nikola Tesla, known for his patents and products? Or is an inventor any intelligent and irreverent visionary, à la Steve Jobs? [↩]
- Reginald Aubrey Fessenden, 1906. [↩]
- Ferguson, Kroitor, Kerr, and Shaw, 1967. [↩]
- Louise Poirier, 1963. [↩]
- Hings and Gross, 1942. [↩]
- James Arthur Gosling, 1995. [↩]
- Stefansson and Downey, 1970s. [↩]
- Hillier and Prebus, 1939 [↩]
- Did you also notice that the legitimately productive inventions are to be found exclusively in the pre-1945 period? Hmm, I don’t suppose that the metastatic state’s borking of research and its malicious misconstruction of science might’ve had anything to do with that. No, couldn’t be. [↩]
- I’ve been around the world a few times, having visited 40-50 countries in less than 3 decades on this planet, but it’s not like bowling alleys were ever on my list of things to compare and contrast. Unlike, say, the cuisine, human mannerisms, or the architecture of a place. [↩]
- Thomas F. Ryan, 1909. [↩]
- And since you’re probably from Fuzhou or something there’s a good chance that this is the case. [↩]
- Yes, thank you, Canada also has ten-pin alleys! I always thought that there were two types of bowling alleys just like there were two sizes of billiards tables. Since these two amusements tend to be found under the same roof in this part of the world, and since they both share a distinct lack of timekeeping, I’d always maintained a strong mental association between the two. [↩]
- Newer bowling alleys have automated systems that will reset the pins after two balls are thrown. This is then tied in to the electronic scoring program to completely destroy “the scoring person”‘s job. See? The Internet isn’t the only technology that causes unemployment! [↩]
- Unlike, say, the automotive industry, wherein emissions, safety, and a million other regulations keep vehicles limited to one market or another. Though in the last decade, regulatory “harmonisation” has been spreading so that car makers can achieve economies of scale, that is, take the fight to worthless dollars the only way they know how. [↩]