Epigraph: “A child is both a child and a person learning parenthood. A parent is both a parent and a person reliving childhood.” --after Ben “Jammin’” Spock, pediatrician and author (1903-1998)
“To be happy in this life, you need something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” --after Joseph Addison
“If God made the world, then all creatures have reason to treat each other as brothers and sisters. This is hard to square with the fact that ten percent of all species on earth are parasitic insects.” --Roy Marshrigger
“I don’t need time. What I need is a deadline.” --Duke Ellington, jazz pianist, composer, conductor (1899-1974)
“There is a rumor going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.” --Terry Pratchett, novelist (b. 1948)
“Trollope said that the best-dressed gentleman is the one whose dress no one notices. That is nonsense. The point of being well-dressed is to make others die inside, however slightly.” --Robin Sutherland, e-mailer
We have long held that you can run your life out of any one of the major Microsoft programs (Word, Excel, or Outlook) if you become fluent enough in workarounds. Now American Express and Walmart have teamed up to make it possible to run all your financial affairs out of a debit card on steroids: Bluebird (checking, direct deposit, online bill pay, etc.). Consumer Reports rates Bluebird numero uno of 36 investigated, largely because of nearly no fees. Not for us, though. After the big EMP that knocks out the Internet, how would we pay for our John Courage?
Can you guess the word for which the following are synonyms? All-out, absolute, blank, blooming [chiefly British], bodacious [Southern & Midland], categorical (also categoric), clean, complete, consummate, cotton-picking, crashing, damn, damned, dead, deadly, definite, downright, dreadful, fair, flat, flat-out, out-and-out, outright, perfect, plumb, profound, pure, rank, regular, sheer, simple, stark, stone, straight-out, thorough, thoroughgoing, total, unadulterated, unalloyed, unconditional,unmitigated, unqualified, utter, very. Answer in issue #96 if we remember to include it.
What the munchkins want to know from the tree-huggers is whether the latter think it’s a good thing or a bad thing that the dinosaurs died out. Saving the earth is nonsense; the earth will be fine, as George Carlin reminded us. What wants saving is our environment, the one that’s safe for us and our children and the world we know and consider pretty and pleasant. “The” environment is an ongoing gale of creation and destruction that includes disappearing ice caps, growing oceanic salinity, desertification of croplands (remember “the Fertile Crescent”?), polio, lyme disease, ebola, swine flu, bird flu, deer ticks, cabin fever, and clock ticks. But that’s not important now. What’s important is the following doggerel that illustrates some of the vagaries of English orthography: “Let us flee,” said the fly. “Let us fly,” said the flea. And together they flew through the flue.
“Action is eloquence,” the Bard tells us concisely. The law regards inaction as a form of action, a usage validated by the common perception that doing nothing is just as much a choice as doing something. Creative inaction is illustrated by letting crops grow, letting laundry and paint dry, sleeping, and maybe by Napoleon’s advice, “Never interfere when your enemy is making a mistake.”
Making the world better for boomers: the gurus of code writing should develop a plug-in that makes all word processing programs bold and increase the size of periods, commas, semi-colons, and colons, or replace them with ultra-visible icons☢ (That’s our nomination for “full stop☢” (“Radiation warning is the new period☢”) Suggestions for the other marks welcome☢
“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” --Anatole France, novelist, essayist, Nobel laureate (1844-1924). This familiar quotation, in its English translation, gets its thermonuclear rhetorical power from its final two monosyllables. Monosyllables rock!
“As a well spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.” --Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). True that, but it is also true that a good death can redeem a life. As Memorial Day approaches, one remembers the encomium, “They gave all their tomorrows for our today” and reflects that they have no lobby and seek no pork. “Long black wall, sleeping in the sun ... nothing left undone.” R.I.P.