July 4, 2019: The President Addresses the Nation

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Hello, America, Hello!  The First Lady and I wish each and every one of you a Happy Independence Day on this truly historic Fourth of July!  Today, we come together as one nation with this very special Salute to … (what is that noise? where’s it coming fr …? the tanks? some asshole’s started up

0fa37cfe9bd6dcd030be45fec1477e37the Abrams tanks?)

Well, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted … What?  What?  You can’t hear me?  I’ll talk louder.  So, as I was saying, we come together as one nation with this very special Salute to America.  We celebrate our history, our people, and the heroes who proudly defend our flab … our flag … the men and women of the United States Military.

We are pleased to have with us Vice President Mike Pence and his wonderful wife … (what the hell are they doing now? another tank? what? all right, all right, so it’s

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a Bradley fighting vehicle, what’s the effing difference? nobody can hear me with all that racket; tell those idiots to stop it; they’re just for show, goddammit)

… Karen, or something like that, and all our other distinguished jests … guests.  

Together, we are part of one of the greatest stories ever told: the story of America.  It is the epic tale of a great nation whose people have risked everything for what they row is knight … know is right … and … (Jesus H. Christ, what is THAT noise? 

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a B-2 Stealth Bomber? what the hell do they mean Stealth? I never heard anything so fucking loud and, anyway, who the hell told it to come now? fucking idiots! now I can’t even hear myself!)

BEAR WITH ME.  I’LL SHY TO TROUT … TRY TO SHOUT.  AS I WAS SAYING, IT’S A GREAT, GREAT STORY, A CHRONICLE OF BRAVE CITIZENS WHO NEVER GIVE UP ON THE DREAM OF A BETTER FUTURE.  AND IT IS THE SAGA OF, I THINK IT WAS ABOUT TWELVE OR THIRTEEN SEPARATE COLONIES THAT … (Holy Fucking Mother of God!  What the bloody hell is THAT? Oh, yeah, I see it, it’s

imagesAir Force One! Christ on a crutch; I told them the end of the speech, the end of the speech, not the Goddam beginning!)

I’LL SHOUT LOUDER.  ANYWAY, ON THIS DAY, A SHITLOAD OF TIME AGO, OUR FOUNDING FATHERS PLEDGED THEIR LIVES, THEIR FORTUNES, THEIR SCARED …THEIR SACRED … HONOR TO DECLARE … OH FUCK, FUCK, DOUBLE FUCK, I’LL BE DIPPED IN SHIT, IT’S THE

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GOD-DAMNED BLUE-FUCKING ANGELS … (WHAT? WHAT? LANGUAGE? OH, DON’T SHIT A BRICK; NO ONE CAN HEAR OVER ALL THIS NOISE; I’VE HAD IT; LET ‘EM READ THE REST OF IT IN THE PAPERS, IF THEY CAN READ, THE IDIOTS; I NEED A DRINK AND I NEED IT PRONTO!)

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The Year of Magical Thinking

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A banquet usually comes after the hard work is done — the wedding, finally, after three years of shilly-shallying; the bar mitzvah, after hours of study and no stickball; the treaty, after twenty-four walkouts and twenty-five resets.

And the dessert always comes after the banquet’s main course.

With its 50 billion dollar economic development plan for the Palestinians, but silence on a political plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, America insults the Palestinians with the world’s biggest, most calorie-bloated, hot-fudge sundae.

The Palestinians, who know a thing or two about healthy Mediterranean eating, are not biting.

What good would all that money do for us, they ask, without the political status to assure its lasting benefit?  If you’re filled with ice cream, you may be good for 25 yards, but you’re dead for the marathon.

The Palestinians are not stupid.  They know when they’re being condescended to by a U.S. government that has no stomach for, and apparently no understanding of, the hard work necessary to reach a genuine, mutually-agreed, internationally-supported, durable peace.

Trump tossed away American credibility as a neutral arbiter with his blatant intervention in the Israeli election campaign on Netanyahu’s behalf, first with the move of our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, signaling that Palestinian claims to a share of the Holy City mean nothing, and then with official recognition of Israeli sovereignty over what is still juridically Syrian territory in the Golan Heights, as if American interventionism made international law.

(Netanyahu won’t show it in public, of course, but rumor suggests he still has the image of Trump’s lips on his ass, in hot-fudge.)

It’s fair to ask why one should be upset about this.  After all, America is being consistent with our fundamental moral obligation to support the protection and well-being of a people — the Jews — who have suffered the worst tragedies imaginable.

And, we should not relax our support for Israel simply because, at least for the time being, it now shares a bed with former Sunni Arab enemies, all facing a common foe in Shiite Iran.

But the Palestinian story is not without its tragedies.  And, if our commitment is to justice, they too deserve our support.

Besides being morally defensible, a balanced policy toward Israel and the Palestinians is a matter of practical importance.  The Middle East will be turbulent for decades to come.  If the Israeli-Palestinian issue (which, after all, has been a primary cause of war and discord for more than half a century) can be resolved with justice, at least we will have one fewer conflict to worry about.

At this point, since the Trump administration’s Israel-Palestine policy is still-born (and driven more by its perceived U.S. electoral advantage than its purported benefits to the adversaries themselves), probably the best we can hope for is regime change — here, at home, with ballots, not bullets.

Do the hard work now.  Let the banquet — with a hot-fudge sundae after — be the reward.

A League of Their Own

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UnknownIn a recent four-game baseball series, the Colorado Rockies and the San Diego Padres jointly produced a record 92 runs, with 17 home runs.  

The fans were delirious.  Of course!  Who doesn’t love a carnival, with endless cotton candy and a ferris wheel and a roller coaster whirling you up and down and around and around, and hopefully only a little vertigo and nausea.   

And who doesn’t love inflation, the carnival’s political cousin, with the same wild ride and slightly wobbly ending.

If Major League Baseball were a country, it would be Venezuela, and the officials and owners would be President Maduro — myopic, clueless, stubborn.

There are things in baseball that need fixing (the time-wasting shuffle of relief pitchers; the waiting for hqs to review footage of the play at first base), but the major villain is The Home Run.

Baseball has been, and can be, a beautiful sport, but the Home Run Era starves it of its most strategically challenging and exciting moments — the bunt, the steal, the suicide squeeze, the hit-and-run and, most important, the base hit that invites the players to demonstrate these other skills.

But, realistically, why would any sensible manager rely on these stratagems when the bludgeon of a home run is available? 

Even if we wanted to cure the home run plague, there are substantial obstacles, beyond fan sentiment.  Expanding the outfield would require impossibly massive stadium renovation.  And there are the players who hit home runs because they are bigger and stronger and more skilled than ever.  They shouldn’t be arbitrarily penalized for doing what the fans love.

The only practical pressure-point is economic — provide fans with entertainment that’s better than what they’re getting, an alternative whose skill requirements, including batting skill, are as rigorous as in the major leagues, but whose physical differences limit out-and-out power, specifically the power to hit 17 (boring) home runs in 4 games.

We should support women’s professional baseball.  It can’t start at the major league equivalent, but we’re already well along, with skilled, competitive women hardball and softball players (the latter could make the transition to hardball easily, as did the players in the 1940’s All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, memorialized in the movie, A League of Their Own).

If we need examples, they’re right in front of us:

As the Home Run Derby was taking place, the American women’s World Cup soccer team was starting its run.  The first match was no test, but the second, against Chile, was better-balanced and demonstrated that, when teams are close in skill and style, the fact that the women may not run quite as fast as the men, nor kick quite as hard, is irrelevant.  Given a high-enough level of mastery, it’s the comparative skill level of the two teams that makes the game exciting.

Women’s hockey is another example.  The best men and women hockey players are exceptionally skilled.  But the flow of the men’s game is regularly impeded by physical intimidation that ties players up on the boards, slows them or knocks them down, sometimes injures them, and, not coincidentally, prompts fights that are the game’s greatest stain.

Women hockey players are not exactly pansies, but the difference in size and brute strength produces a game that flows better, is less encumbered by skirmishes, and actually ends up being speedier, more graceful, and more interesting than the men’s game.     

Yeah but, you might object, where are these women going to play?  Nobody’s going to build new stadiums for them.

During the season, every professional baseball stadium, major and minor, is vacant as often as it is filled (every home game for one team is an away game for the other).  That’s a lot of real estateUnknown-1 standing idle, begging its owner to be used profitably.

So, let the wild rumpus begin.  May the better (not necessarily bigger or stronger) side win.

A Civil War Diary

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In the early 1980’s, my father tracked down the Civil War diary of Edward F. Hopkins, his maternal grandfather.  The diary had left the family, time and circumstance unknown, and was owned by a Civil War buff.  The owner kindly produced a written transcript, which Dad typed up, photocopied, bound in multiple copies, and distributed to family members and a local historical society.

(Department of Irrelevant Digressions:  The binding my father used was his own, patented, invention.  Since it was developed on company time, he got no direct financial benefit, which, when you also account for his just missing a patent on what came to be called microfiche, explains why I am sitting in a well-worn chair, in the back-bedroom of my modest house in Colorado, typing this, rather than reclining on a chaise longue, by the pool of my immodest villa in Cannes, dictating it to my secretary.)

The diary begins on August 6, 1862 with Edward finishing a carpentry job in Pompey, NY, and noting the U.S. Government’s plans to draft 300,000 men.  It ends on December 31, 1864 with him, recently invalided out of the army, back in Pompey, listing fellow 149th New York Volunteers killed or wounded in that year.

The diary is methodical and, with a few exceptions, unemotionally factual.  We learn that, in his nearly-twenty-five-months of service, he …

Helped recruit scores of friends and acquaintances for the 149th NY Vols …

Entered as a Second Lieutenant and left as a First Lieutenant …

Traveled many hundreds of miles by rail — from Central New York to DC; from DC to Tennessee to northern Alabama; and from Tennessee back home …

Marched uncounted hundreds of miles from encampment to encampment to battle to encampment to battle …

Wrote scores of letters home and received nearly as many in return …

Reported regularly on the weather, which, unsurprisingly, was mild and pleasant at times, rainy and utterly foul at times, and bitterly cold and snowy at times …

Took part in major battles at Chancellorsville (Va) and Lookout Mountain (Tenn), matter-of-factly recording their brutality, but little of their emotional impact on him … 

Had his picture taken regularly (ambrotype) when things were quiet and he could get to a nearby town …

Built, or helped build, or supervised the building of, scores of huts, storage rooms, shelters, bunkers (he was, after all, a master carpenter) …

Kept careful accounts of money borrowed, lent, and earned, and kept track, by letter, of properties owned back home …  

Seldom complained (in his diary at least) about the food, periodically had to buy his own food, and kept careful accounts of those expenditures …

Was frequently ill (diarrhea), but incapacitated only three times — (1) when he was granted leave to go home (he reports he was to face a disciplinary hearing for overstaying his leave, but we never hear about this again); (2) when he was hospitalized (dysentery) outside Gettysburg and consequently missed the war’s most famous battle; (3) near Chattanooga when, sleeping outside, he was injured by a tree-limb felled by compatriots who were collecting logs to build a shelter.

This injury hospitalized him for six weeks.  After his first request for leave was denied (prompting an unusual outburst — I think it is an outrage, am entitled to one if anyone is), leave was granted, he headed home by train, itemizing the cost of the last leg (Cleveland-Syracuse — $8.10), and was officially invalided out.

A Few Final Thoughts: Participants in wars often describe the experience as long days of routine (trying not to die of boredom) punctuated by hours of sheer terror (trying not to die, period).  The diary conveys something of this, but within a limited emotional range.

It is possible that, if not for diarrhea, dysentery, and an errant tree-limb abbreviating my great-grandfather’s participation in active combat, my father might not have been around to put the diary project together, nor my beloved cousin who added genealogical data to its publication, nor even, come to think of it, I.

Now that’s something to ponder!

The Joy of Words

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Some decades ago, when I was teaching, I rode the twenty-miles-or-so to college with Ted, a fellow-teacher and dear friend and one of the wittiest people I’ve ever known.  Ted was a scientist, but his real passion was words.  He especially loved teaching science fiction and his students especially loved his teaching.

On the long drive to and from school, we often played word games, a lot of them made up on the spot.  One day, as we once again passed the old bucket factory, Ted said it had closed.  I asked what happened.  Bottom fell out.

We mined that particular vein for a while (Consolidated Brassiere — Went bust; Allied Tape — Couldn’t make it stick) and eventually moved on to poster blurbs for movies, some real (The Great Escape — “Avant-Garde!”), some not (High Steel — “Riveting!”).

As far as I can remember, we didn’t get into books, but I can imagine the one-word evaluations we might have come up with.  So, in memory of Ted and in honor of words and their infinite delights (all the books, by the way, are real) …

Confessions of a Funeral Director: Cryptic

shoppingLives of the Great Composers: Noteworthy

In the Sewers of Lvov: Distinctive

A Walk in the Woods: Pedestrian

The Zipper Club — A Memoir: Fascinating

The Hand: Gripping

Strong Man: The Story of Charles Atlas: Uplifting

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Boisterous

On The Road: Movingshopping-1

And Then You Die of Dysentery: Gut-Wrenching 

Paradise Lost: Careless

Understanding Asthma: Breathtaking

Keep Calm and Crossword On: Puzzling

To the Lighthouse: Salty

 and so on.

There are also vast possibilities beyond the limitations of just one word …

Of Mice and Men: … gnawed at me ceaselessly

UnknownThe Wind in the Willows: … blew me away

The Tin Drum: … snared me at once

The Jungle: … difficult to get through

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant: … hard to swallow

… in case you assumed that great books inspire only lofty ideas.

New Horizons in Travel

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I recently had a surprisingly pleasant travel experience that I simply must share with you.

On departure day, I made my way to the point of embarkation, not by way of a long, Unknown-2expensive, traffic-jam-bedeviled taxi or shuttle or ride-share, but via a ten-block walk along a crowded, but enjoyably animated, city street that included a rather large, energetic, contingent of blazer-and-tie-bedecked young men heading in the opposite direction, lending color and enthusiasm to the experience.

I entered a pleasant but unassuming structure that might have passed for a library, and proceeded, by way of an escalator, to a subterranean level where, with a short walk and an even shorter wait, I was able to engage a polite, businesslike, gentleman for the purchase of a ticket to my destination.

I then proceeded to a point where other travelers had gathered, waiting to be apprised of the precise point of departure for their particular itinerary.  There was, among the travelers, an element of anticipation as they waited for the announcement, upon which those to whom it pertained headed, with appropriate dispatch, to the designated point.

I waited patiently — but no more so than my fellow travelers — for the announcement which should apply to my intended destination.  When the moment arrived, we proceeded at a brisk pace to our transport.

As we approached the first point of entry thereto, I was tempted to join those streaming in, but was, fortunately, able to avail myself of the counsel of my two fellow-travelers who called upon their extensive experience in precisely this situation.  (I apologize for my tardy introduction, but feel that their intervention here, at this crucial point — as if dei-ex-machina — heightens the air of adventure).

They counseled that a more distant point of entry to our conveyance should provide us equally acceptable, less crowded, accommodation.

They were correct.  We were able to find comfortable seating in nearly-empty quarters, as we awaited what turned out to be an impressively on-time departure.

At this point, I briefly disengaged myself from my friends to review, not what had happened (for that was pleasantly unadventurous), but what had not happened:

Not needing a boarding pass, I had not fretted over the likelihood that it would not showUnknown-3 up on my cellphone upon demand, with fifteen fellow-travelers waiting impatiently behind me;

Not needing to prove that I was who I claimed to be, I had not dropped or inadvertently left behind my driver’s license;

Not having to segregate my gels and liquids from all other objects, I had blithely allowed them to consort with my other toiletries in an old plastic bag whose non-transparency was, thankfully, of no importance.  In addition, I had not needed to worry whether my dried-up plug of toothpaste might or might not be classified as a gel, or whether the knitting needle fragment with which I extract it from the tube might or might not be construed as a weapon;

Not having to take off my shoes, I had not worn loafers or sandals, which, without arch-supports, would have left me in considerable pain;

Not having to empty my water bottle, I did not forget to refill it and thus did not risk dehydration.

With these consolations, plus a delightful, relatively quiet chance to talk with my friends and enjoy the passing scenery — and, I should add, the opportunity to keep myself hydrated without the fear that bad weather, and its accompanying Fasten Seat Belt order, might restrict me to a spine-achingly narrow seat, with a growing urinary urgency that could have posed me the dilemma of public embarrassment or flagrant violation of the extant safety protocol — it was, altogether, a delightful, novel, civilized travel experience.

I would recommend it to anyone.

Oh yes, lest I forget, it is called a train.

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Criminal Negligence

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(Note: I am writing this the day before the 20th anniversary of the killings at Columbine High School, and two days after a credible threat of gun violence, likely prompted by that anniversary, forced all Denver-area schools to close and 400,000 students to stay home.  The perpetrator killed herself with the very gun it was feared she might use against others.  Approximately 2,000,000 instructional hours also died.

In that short span, the world’s glaciers lost some of their volume and the seas rose commensurately.  

One tragedy is sporadic, predictably unpredictable, and swift.  The other is persistent, predictably predictable, and slow.  Neither is inevitable.) 

The motto, If You See Something, Say Something, popularizes a principle — if you know of a criminal act, whether planned or perpetrated, failure to inform the authorities what you know is, itself, a criminal act.

Mere suspicion may not be as formally demanding, but the level of our responsibility to say something rises with the seriousness of the possible crime.

Genocide is the greatest crime that humans can commit.  Failure to say what we know, or even suspect, about it must be nearly as serious.

Complicity in global warming is global genocide.  In America, gun violence may not rise to that level of universal significance, but it is our own home-made mini-genocide.

The day is past when anyone, whatever their level of education or current-events awareness, can legitimately claim ignorance of our two genocides.

And the day is past when anyone can legitimately claim that there is not enough information to support the scientific assertions of global warming and its potentially lethal effects.

Genocide-by-guns is a bit different.  We know accurately how many lives guns take each year.  But we are less predictable than the Earth in our response to life-altering forces.  Still, it is reasonable to assume that, if gun deaths increase, more of us will look to guns for protection, the supply will rise, and deaths will increase all the more.

Thinking about these two trends, we might take the experience of World War II as a sobering lesson.  Perhaps the world outside Germany could not have been certain enough of the genocide of the Jews to justify early intervention.  

But the price of that hesitation — whether or not it was defensible — was the death of millions.

In the face of global warming and gun violence, there is no doubt about the need to act, and there can be no justification for hesitating.  If we fail to respond, will we be morally any different than Hitler and the Nazis?

Responsibility to take action is shared broadly, but it would be mealy-mouthed not to identify the guilty.  The Republican Party, or at least those it harbors who blindly support the most globally harmful activities and bow before the might of the NRA, and pushed even further into denial and obstruction by the Trump Administration, bear the greatest burden of guilt.

This does not exonerate the Democratic Party, which must act forcefully against the two genocides.  Politics requires compromise, but that must proceed from honest Seeing and Saying.

Inaction is criminal negligence, punishable — eventually but inevitably — by death.

Nursery Rhymes – The Stories Behind the Headlines, Part II

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Note:  My faithful reader may recall the published results of my research into the real-life dramas behind four of the stories we know and love, and the complex, sometimes troubled, souls involved (Nursery Rhymes: The Stories Behind the Headlines; Aug 14, 2017).  I am pleased, herewith, to offer the most recent results of my research, with special thanks to my assistant, Ms. Lucy Locket.     

Letter from the East Grinstead Fire Department to Mr. & Mrs. R. J. Benimble-imagesBequick:  

We wish to call to your attention an incident involving your son, Jack:

Yesterday afternoon, we were called to the scene of a minor conflagration in a barn near your home.

We found Jack lying on the floor, in some considerable pain.  His shorts and a portion of his undergarment were rather substantially singed.  There was a lingering smell of smoke in the air.

Once we had seen to his (fortunately minor) injuries, we asked his account of what had transpired.  He claimed that he had been playing with three female friends (who had already fled), that he had been regaling them with a story to which they did not give credence, shouting at him “Liar, liar, pants on fire,” which, he claims, caused his garments to combust.

We strongly suspect that this may not be an accurate rendering of events and that a partially-consumed candle, found nearby, may have been a contributory factor.

We would be pleased if you and your son would honour us with your presence so that we might ascertain, for our records, the particulars of the matter.  

Letter from the North Ealing Chamber of Commerce to the Hot Cross Bun andimages Doughnut Shop:

We have received complaints from customers of your establishment, alleging unfair pricing practices.

Specifically, it is claimed that, despite your posted price for a Hot Cross Bun, at (we quote) “one-a-penny,” some customers have been charged only a ha’penny per bun (“two-a-penny”).

Your right to charge what you wish for a Hot Cross Bun is not in dispute.  However, we are cognisant of allegations that Buns at “two-a-penny” have been reserved primarily for attractive young females and that others pay full price.

In order to assure that you understand the implications of discriminatory treatment, if such be the case, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss the issue with you at your earliest convenience.

Unknown-1Incident Report from County Dorset Police Constable Wicket to the Officer-in-Charge:

On my rounds, as I was walking to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives.  Checking their documents, I confirmed the fact of multiple marriage, placed the gentleman under arrest on suspicion of bigamy, and called for a police vehicle, which conveyed him to gaol.

With regard to the wives, each one had seven sacks, each sack had seven cats, and each cat had seven kits.  Faced with a possible case of cruelty to animals, I summoned Animal Control.  The wives took violent exception to my action and, dropping their sacks, began to attack me.

As bad as that was, the cats and kits, now freed from confinement, also began to attack me.

Fortunately, Animal Control arrived quickly, helped subdue the wives and undertook to round up the feline miscreants.  Unfortunately, only half the 343 cats and perhaps a third of the 2401 kits were recovered.  The wives, whom I had intended to detain for bodily assault, escaped once our attention had turned to securing the felines.

Besides the numerous bruises, and a possible broken finger, incurred in trying to control the wives, I received many painful lacerations from the cats and the kits and, herewith, request rest and recuperation leave.

Letter from the Manchester City Human Rights Council to Mr. & Mrs. ReginaldUnknown-2 Porgie:

It is alleged that, on numerous instances within the past three months, your son, Georgie, has kissed the girls and made them cry.

It is further alleged that your son persisted in his unwanted advances, and it was only when the boys came out to play that your son, Georgie, ran away.

We trust that you are aware of the statutes relating to sexual harassment and assault, which apply equally to legal minors.

We request that you, with your son, meet with us in our chambers, at 8:30 am this coming Thursday, to consider these incidents, with the hope that we can reach a mutually acceptable plan of action that will put an end to these unfortunate incidents.

Haikus for Uncertain Times

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THE SEASONS

Winter.  Blizzard time.
I go out and walk in it.
Don’t bother to ask. 

Spring and gentle rain
Bring forth new life, with pollen.
There’s always something!

My tiny garden
Never gets the Summer sun.
Even weeds die young.

And then there’s Autumn.
Really, what is it good for
But kicking dead leaves? 

AILMENTS

In the waiting room,
Only People magazine.
Quick, call the doctor!

A constant buzzing.
Help me, Doc!  What could it be?
Cellphone … On silent.

Waiting for flu-shot.
Will it hurt? I ask the nurse.
Yes, he says, a lot.

INTRUSIONS

His car is silent
But for its booming stereo.
Pass the dynamite.

5 A.M.  Dog barks.
Should I put poison in his
Owner’s Cheerios?

AMBIGUITIES

Quel grande aventure!
Two wheels, a pedal, a chain,
And no tire-patch kit!

Outside my window,
A hawk has caught a squirrel.
Beauty and the Beast.

Just in time, I caught
A film they’re all abuzz for.
What were they thinking?

A tasteless dinner,
Equally tasteless speeches.
But the rolls were good.

SMALL BLESSINGS

A distant anthem
Coming near.  Be still, my heart.
It’s THE ICE-CREAM MAN!

A guy … Somali? …
Knocks and hands a box to me.
What wall did he breach?

Quel grande aventure!
Two wheels, a pedal, a chain.
In the road, no nails!

Genesis and Re-Genesis

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imagesOn a recent Sunday, God rested, just as he had when he created the universe.  He recalled his very first day of rest when the universe was new and Earth, his special project, was teeming with light and life and promise.  He smiled at the excitement, the optimism, he had felt then. 

But, as his reverie carried him across the intervening eons, his smile began to fade.

There had been worrisome times before, when war and hatred prevailed.  But the world seemed to progress, as diseases were conquered, growing populations fed, and other living things, and the land and waters they depended on, protected.

Now, however, the very conditions that had sustained life were threatening it.  Humans, to whom he had entrusted Earth’s future, were imperiled by their own greed and blindness.

God did not want his wonderful experiment to end, but he was uncertain what to do.

He thought of sending a messenger who could persuade humans to right these wrongs.  But, considering the mixed success of previous efforts — Christians hating Muslims hating Jews — he rejected the idea.

At the other extreme, he thought about abandoning his Earth experiment entirely and trying his luck elsewhere in the universe.  But he saw that, if he were to create new beings and endow a select group with rational thought, as he felt he must, that paradise, too, might turn to hell.

In a most un-God-like moment, he even thought of killing off the human race, and leaving the Earth to its inanimate resources and those life-forms that had not yet died off.  But a loving Father does not kill his children, at least not until he has exhaustedUnknown-4 all other options.

Instead, he saw that he must send humankind a warning or, if necessary, a series of warnings.  He would not destroy anyone or anything to make his point.  He would simply suspend humans’ perception of an element of his creation, one at a time, as if he had actually destroyed it.

To drive home the point, he would choose six items and, on the same day of the week he had created it, he would remove it from human perception.  Humans needed to understand that what was made in six days could be unmade in six days.

Thus, on the first day, he made the darkness of night seem to disappear.  But, since most humans lived in brightly-lit cities and suburbs, and seldom ventured out into the dangers of the night, they did not notice.

Then, on the second day, he made the distinction between the water and the sky seem to vanish.  But, since water and sky were mostly bluish, that change, too, was lost on them.

On the third day, he made the trees seem to disappear.  But, except for those few humans who lived where deforestation, wildfire, desertification, and/or Dutch elm disease had not wrought their havoc, no one perceived the difference.

On the fourth day, he made the stars seem no longer to shine.  But no one had seen a star since a couple days ago, when God made the darkness seem to disappear, so they perceived no change.  (God later acknowledged his timing error.)

On the fifth day, he made the birds seem to disappear.  But, with pollution obscuring people’s vision, almost no one had seen a bird in ages, and that move, too, fell flat.

Tired and discouraged, God faced the sixth-and-final day reluctantly.  Nonetheless, he summoned enough energy to bethink himself of that without which humankind would be utterly devastated and, he hoped, susceptible to his message of repentance and reform.

He recalled that, on the sixth day of creation, he had given life to the animals of the land.  The temptation was great, but he could not bring himself to remove all animals from human perception.  After all, the cow produced important sustenance (especially ice cream) and the horse and the ox were still vital to agriculture in many places.

To ease his strain, God took a short break.  He pictured a lovely park with verdant lawns and gently curving paths.  As, in his mind’s eye, he looked more closely, he noticed that every lawn and every path was filled with dogs — chasing tennis balls, playing with children, tugging at leashes.

At last, he had his answer and, on that sixth day, he made all dogs seem to disappear.  Where, once, there were Pugs sitting on laps, Yorkies yapping incessantly, Border Collies herding small children, there was now, as far as people could apprehend, nothing.

The outcry was instantaneous and universal.  God saw people weeping, he heard them wailing.  Listening carefully, he also heard the quiet gnashing of teeth. 

Nonetheless, he held off until he could see that mankind understood his message, that they regretted their misdeeds, and that they were committed to reversing the suicidal choices that spelled their own, and their beloved planet’s, doom.

God understood and he acted.  He returned to them the darkness of night, the distinction between water and sky.  He allowed them again to see the trees, the stars, the birds (at least insofar as any could be seen through the pollution), and, finally, he reunited them with their beloved dogs.

imagesCheering — and barking — resounded throughout the world.  

God was pleased and, once again, on the seventh day, he rested.