“Howl, howl, howl, howl!”

14 March 2011: Fred Phelps in Japan!

The Associated Press reports that Shintaro Ishihara, the governor of Tokyo, believes that the devastating earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown in Japan are “a punishment from heaven” because the Japanese have become greedy. Who knew that Fred Phelps has followers in Japan?  He’s probably there right now with his placards and picket signs:  “Wasabi=Death!”  “God Hates Sushi!”  “Man Does Not Live on Ramen Alone!”

10 March 2011: The Sheen on Kadhafi and Scott Walker

In some ways, what Col. Moamer Kadhafi is doing to his own people in Libya seems kinder and more honest than what Gov. Scott Walker is doing to his own constituents in Wisconsin. While the Libyan dictator simply shoots and kills those who are against him, the Republican strongman tortures his opponents by cleverly stripping them of their rights as Union members, leaving them to die a slow death as Wisconsin weeps. Meanwhile,  the rest of America watches it all on television before turning its attention to more important matters, like what’s going to happen to Charlie Sheen now that he’s not even the half of Two and a Half Men.

6 March 2011: No Frank, But There’s More Maureen!

I’ve just read The Sunday New York Times.  There’s good news and bad news.  The bad news is, that Frank Rich is gone; he’s now writing for New York magazine. The good news is, Maureen Dowd has inherited his usual place in the paper, with more column inches. I guess that’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for womankind.

10 February 2011: Jobs, Jobs, Babies!

The Republican mantra during the midterm elections last November was “JOBS, JOBS, JOBS” by way of fixing the economy; and yet, as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow keeps pointing out night after night on her show, all the Republicans seem to be fixating on the past couple of weeks are stricter anti-abortion laws.  I do think there’s some method to this GOP madness.

If we get more BABIES, BABIES, BABIES, then there will be more JOBS, JOBS, JOBS for baby-sitters, to say nothing of all the industries related to the care and feeding of babies.  So let’s not pooh-pooh the ability of baby wipes to power up small business even as the bottom falls out of our economy. It’ll be a new day for the Grand Old Poop.

1 February 2011: Pony Express Outfoxed by Camels!

Today, for the first time ever in my memory, because we had six or seven inches of snow, the United States Postal Service did not deliver the mail in my neighborhood in Lawrence, KS.  I called them up to ask about their official creed: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” And they said that the United States Postal Service has no such official creed or motto.

So I did some checking, and they’re right.  Apparently, the quotation in question is merely an inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City; and this, in turn, is attributed to Herodotus, the Greek historian who, in his Histories, was referring admiringly to the courier service of the ancient Persian Empire.

Oh, that our pony express should be outfoxed by camels!

23 January 2011: Backyard Water Gun Fights in Tucson, AZ

For two weeks now, ever since the shootings in Tucson, Arizona, I’ve wondered what life must be like these days for Suzi Hileman, the 59-year-old woman whose idea it was to bring nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green to that “Congress on Your Corner” which ended so tragically for the child.  An article in The New York Times today tells us about the awful nightmares Suzi Hileman has been having; and  I was happy to learn that some of the parents in her neighborhood “have already volunteered to take their children to visit Ms. Hileman, lest she get bored or worry that she is no longer trusted,” that “the Hilemans have already reconnected with Christina’s parents, Jon and Roxanna Green,”  and that “when Mr. Green drove by with his son the other day, Ms. Hileman vowed that there would be more backyard water gun fights.”

Backyard water gun fights? Really?  Is that an ooops, or is that an ooops?

22 January 2011: We Are Our Pronouns!

Ricky Martin’s new memoir is called ME, and Oprah Winfrey’s new network is called OWN.  I cannot think of two better words to describe a society mostly obsessed with oneself and, in Oprah’s case, also with ownership. It’s now all me and mine. Gone are the days of you and yours, their and theirs, our and ours.

14 January 2011: Cash Cows in Kansas!

Republican Governor Sam Brownback’s new budget plan for Kansas has moolah to help grow economic sectors such as “animal health,” whatever that may be, but will cut grants to community mental health centers by $10 million.  His budget recommendations also include shutting down the state hospital (i.e., the Kansas Neurological Institute in Topeka) for developmentally disabled Kansans by 2014.  I hope to God the next crazy gunman who shoots his or her way into our lives does not come from Kansas.

How now, brown cow?

13 January 2011: All the President’s Children

Not once during his lengthy and moving eulogy in Tucson, Arizona, at the memorial service for those whose lives were cut short by gunman Jared Loughner, not once in his many references to Christina-Taylor Green, the nine-year-old girl who tragically died alongside five others, did President Barack Obama mention his own daughters, Sasha (also 9) and Malia (12).  But we all knew what he was thinking. That’s restraint. That’s class. Last night, he embraced us all, and we were all his children.

10 January 2011: Grammar and Punctuation Kills!!!???

Everyone is trying to figure out the 22-year-old gunman who killed and maimed all those people this weekend in Tucson, Arizona. Of special interest to me is how Jared Loughner’s fixation with grammar and punctuation has now been traced to the bizarre theories of David Wynn Miller, who prefers to be known as : David-Wynn: Miller because, according to him, by adding specific punctuation like colons and hyphens to one’s name, one can be transformed from a human into a “preposition phrase” that cannot be taxed by the government.

The 62-year-old former tool-and-die maker from Milwaukee writes in his website: “I use prepositional phrases, through punctuation, which is classified as hieroglyphics, which makes me a life, l-i-f-e. Now, when you don’t punctuate your name … David is an adjective, Wynn is an adjective, Miller is a pronoun. Two adjectives are a condition of modification, opinion, presumption, which modifies the pronoun, pro means no on noun. So therefore, I’m not a fact. I’m a fiction.”

Although I’ve been teaching the use of good grammar and proper punctuation to college students for nearly 40 years, I don’t pretend to understand any of : David-Wynn: Miller’s theories. He claims he does not advocate violence anywhere in his writings, but someone like Jared Loughner, who has been reading him (as well as Mein KampfThe Communist ManifestoAnimal Farm and Brave New World), seems to spell government relief not with TUMS but with GUNS!!!???

All I can think of now is this poem by e.e. cummings:

pity this busy monster,manunkind,

not.  Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victum(death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
-electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange;lenses extend

unwish through curving wherewhen until unwish
returns on its unself.
A world of made
is not a world of born-pity poor flesh

and trees,poor stars and stones,but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence.  We doctors know

a hopeless case if-listen:there’s a hell
of a good universe next door;let’s go