Monday, January 30, 2012

Ellmer Fudd: Darwin's Assistant?

These sandhill cranes were crossing the street in front of the post office, strolling along looking good. Their slightly larger cousins,  the whooping cranes, were almost extinct until a heroic effort was made to re-establish them in the wild. This has involved volunteers dressing in bird suits to hand feed the babies and guiding them in light craft from Wisconsin to Florida every year so they can learn to migrate. After a dozen years, many of them are making the trip on their own.

Some sandhills also migrate, while some just stay in Florida. The migrating ones had better learn to detour around Kentucky. That state has recently legalized these birds as fair game for hunting. I never knew the people of Kentucky were that hungry. I hope our human tourists will also shun Kentucky and avoid spending a dime there.

I know some otherwise normal people who defend hunting as "good sport," even though the game is unarmed. They also justify hunting as helping nature, by getting rid of the weaker of the species. I have a mental image of Elmer Fudd and his friends squatting in the woods, waiting for the weak prey to come in range. "No, Bugs! That magnificent buck looks too strong. If we wait a few hours, we can get a sickly one." Oh, please.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Did You Misspeak, or Was That a Factoid?

People, let’s say what we mean. These political commercials reek of lies of omission, quotes taken out of context, as well as big ole fibs. I wish I could talk back to those spooky-voiced announcers hinting at wrongdoing by all sorts of candidates. I would say “Where did you get that story?” and “Yeah, so’s your Mama.” Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary lists 34 synonyms for falsehood, but only two antonyms (truth, verity.) Are we so polite that we will say that someone practices sophistry or is delusional rather that calling him a liar? Mendacity is one of my favorites, implying repeat offenses of using factoids (my personal favorite synonym for lie.)
Other terms have taken over the political rhetoric and have morphed from our original common understanding. Not exactly lies, but overtones of evil. “Social mobility” used to mean the ability to better oneself, now it implies affirmative action and handouts. “Social inequality” is viewed as the opposite of socialism. “Socialism” has moved from a description of Europe’s economic system to a purely evil accusation. “Transfer of wealth” is used to criticize the graduated income tax, making it sound like a modern Robin Hood scheme. “Restore America” has become a buzzword for defeating liberals, moderates, even conservatives who aren’t quite conservative enough. Restore it to what? “Limited government” means nothing without an explanation. Limit schools, aircraft carriers, food inspectors, pothole fixers? 
I would like to limit government to being run by those who value verity. (When you learn a new word, use it in a sentence.) Shun mendacity, reject the delusional and deceitful, cast aspersions on those who feed us factoids.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Goofy for President

Well, we're in the midst of the Republican primary race, and it's not pretty. Usually it's the Democrats who beat each other up, leaving the Republicans to stand proudly above the fray. There being no Democratic primary this year, the right wing has the mudslinging all to itself.

Besides the usual fibs and innuendos, this season feels different. They are not only casting aspersions on each other, the candidates are competing for goofiness. Gingrich wants to do away with the judiciary, an entire branch of government. Well, it would save on bills for robes and gavels. Santorum wants to do away with homosexuals and abortion. How do you do that? No one wants to be seen as the darling of the Tea Party, not even Perry. Yet they all want to be the darling of the far right. Mitt Romney is seen as weak on immigration and health care, so the true believers don't trust him. Ron Paul is seen as goofy enough, but not electable enough.

As one of the old-time comedians said of the food in the Catskills hotel where he played, "The food stinks, and the portions are skimpy, too.'' It's predictable that Romney will carry the day, and then we can move on to the real race in November. Think Obama needs to add a touch of goofiness?

Monday, January 9, 2012

1940's memories

I was an only child when I was a kid. We moved a lot. Daddy was a Georgia highway engineer so we moved to be near the road job. The three of us and all our stuff fit into our two-door 1939 Chevy. We lived in boarding houses or small furnished apartments.  We never had books or many toys, or a washing machine. Mama never learned to do laundry, anyway, or cook. She would have loved TV dinners. She would find us a cook and wash lady first thing in each new town.
When World War II came, we went to live with my grandmother in Sparta. She subscribed to "The Confederate Veteran." My other grandmother lived in Dublin  so we could visit. she had turkeys and chickens in the yard. Most of my cousins moved in nearby with their relatives when all our daddies went to war. It was a fun time, shooting down enemies and watching for foreign planes. We would catch a ride to town on the ox cart the vegetable man drove.
After the war we moved to Jacksonville Beach,Florida, and lived in nicer furnished apartments. The beach was our back yard. My sister Susan was born with serious birth defects. They patched her up and she thrived. We still moved a lot, but still in the neighborhood, so I got to stay in one school, Fletcher, from grades 7 through 12. I had already been in 5 or 6 schools.
Daddy died of a heart attack when I was twelve. He taught me to drive before he died. That was a good thing, because Mama was kind of a mess, and I could run errands. The Chief of Police, Jimmy Jarboe, knew I was too young to drive, but he would just tell me to be careful. He was actually the only police, and he was loved. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Maya Calendar

I just read in Time magazine that there is no Mayan calendar, Maya is the correct modifier. The writer, Joel Stein, interviewed a Stetson professor who interviewed lots of Mayas and they never heard this story about the world coming to an end on December 21, 2012. 
What if they really knew but were going to keep it a secret? What if they knew that really the Maya are going to take over the world and that’s why they want to keep it a secret? We still don’t know why almost their whole civilization disappeared a few centuries ago and the dregs turned up wandering around Mexico? Maybe they have a big secret hidey hole that they don’t want to share?
Okay, so everyone who has predicted the end of the world so far has been wrong. Of course, that’s everyone that we know about. Maybe those who were right just scooted out of Dodge on a big time-warp and are pulling our strings from the next galaxy, giggling. 
Seriously, assume you had good insider information about this December 21st thing. What do you do? Clean out the garage? No point. Short some stocks? Silly. Eat more bacon. What’s the harm? Actually, that’s a pretty good New Year’s resolution. There was an old song that went “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think!” If the wildest thing I can think of is bacon, I’ve got a bigger problem.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sleep Through 2012

I slept in this morning. Not because of a New Year's Eve spent carousing. We watched the PBS broadcast of the New York Philharmonic tribute to George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein, and what a great combination and performance. Better than live, because you can watch the fingers flying and the lips pursing up close.

It was such a nice break from the snarky comments the politicians and "newsmen" and pundits (what's a pundit, anyway?) are making nonstop. Listen, if every voter or caucuser in Iowa and NewHampshire came to the Gator Bowl, there would be seats left over.  If you taped all the speeches together, page by page, they would reach from the Gator Bowl to the Rose Bowl. Taping them all together instead of making the speeches would be a good idea. We already know what they say, and we know none of it matters.

What matters to us will be finding a candidate who promises to be thoughtful, smart, compassionate, and somewhat rational. We want one who will not pledge allegiance to Grover Norquist or some other god or demon of the moment, but to the flag and the nation for which it stands. That's really not much to ask.

Sleeping late may be the best way to spend the year. I'll roll over and sleep 'til 7:00 any time I want. I'll sleep through every speech and every analysis of every speech. I will put my fingers in my ears when I'm awake. If something different happens this year, please wake me up and tell me.