31 January 2019

Dysfunction


 31 January 2019 is the final day of this strange month, a month that has brought monumental dysfunction to America in the form of a needless shutdown of governmental functions to gratify the ego of a witless incompetent thrown into the presidency through chance and mindless bigotry.
To hell with it. I can’t focus right now; I’m in pain and having trouble sleeping. It’s not even major pain; it’s just a bunch of trivial mindless things that keep me from functioning. Maybe February will be better—but I’m not holding my breath.

30 January 2019

Forget Yesterday


 30 January 2019 is the anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948; it is also the anniversary of the Beatles’ rooftop concert—their final live performance if you like—in 1969. It’s also (probably) the anniversary of the day that the entrenched Modocs sent out a peace emissary from their stronghold in the California lava beds after their surprise victory a week earlier over Federal troops in 1873.
In local news I see that self-described journalist Nancy Rommelmann sent out a series of deranged tweets attacking a critic of her attacks on rape victims from an account belonging to Ristretto Roasters, a company owned by her husband. Her explanation: “I was het up last night and stupidly (obviously) asked for the RR Twitter password. Believe me, our media guy is not happy.” More “toxic femininity” I suppose? Anyway the tweets have been deleted and we’re all supposed to pretend that they never happened. Move along, people, there’s nothing to see here and all that.
Am I bored? Damn right I am. Maybe things will improve as the days get longer, but my hopes are not high.

29 January 2019

Another Token Entry


 29 January 2019 is Kansas Day in (you guessed it) Kansas, and it commemorates the admission of Bleeding Kansas to the Union in 1861. I see in the news that the President and the Speaker of the House have agreed on a date for the President to deliver his State of the Union Address—a meaningless ceremonial event that for some reason Americans attach great importance to. There are probably a wide variety of interesting things going on throughout the world—I noticed that insect populations are crashing around the world for one—but I’m not up to taking note of them, even in a cursory way. My back is killing me, and my feet hurt, and I’m having trouble staying awake, no matter how much sleep I get. I’m hoping tomorrow will be better.

28 January 2019

Pretty Much Nothing


 28 January 2019 is Data Privacy Day apparently, though I’m not sure what that is or who sponsors it. I don’t see anything else listed on my calendar, so I guess I’m going to go with that. The news is pretty much nothing, too. The government is reopened—temporarily—while the Dopey Don and his pal Gutless Mitch try to figure out what they can offer the Democrats to make them shell out public money for a wall the public opposes. I would imagine it would have to be something pretty damn big, which makes three weeks seem an unrealistic amount of time to hammer things out.

27 January 2019

Incident at a Binghamton Middle School


O
n 15 January something happened at East Middle School in the Binghamton (N.Y) City School District. What it was is a subject of disagreement. Four twelve-year-old girls were involved. According to their parents
The girls were individually taken to a private space in the Health Office and held for over an hour. They were subjected to sobriety tests and observations, and told to remove their clothing to be searched for drugs and other illegal substances. Three of our girls complied to the tests and observations, as well as the searches, and were then allowed to return to class. One of our girls complied to the tests, but refused to remove her clothing for the search, and was sent to In-School Suspension.
According to a statement by a local community organization the reason for the search was that they appeared “giddy and hyper” during lunchtime.
The school district says:
School officials did not conduct a strip search. … When conducting medical evaluation, it may require the removal of bulky outside clothing to expose an arm so that vitals like blood pressure and pulse can be assessed. This is not the same as a strip search. … We want to reiterate that no students were strip searched, nor were they punished as a result of the incident in question and they were allowed to return to class after being evaluated.
Just to make things absolutely clear, the school officials accused the girls (or their parents) of lying. The exact phrase they use is “a lot of misinformation being spread through social media from third parties”; the “third parties” in question, however, are the girls’ parents, and the misinformation was provided (allegedly) by the girls.
Well, okay, girls do lie. So do school officials. I’ve had officials lie to my face about events in which I was present and they were not. But that was in another country, and besides the wench is dead, as the old saying has it, and these officials are not those officials. But not knowing these girls, or their parents, or these school officials, I have nothing but my prejudices to fall back on, and they do not favor school officialdom.
So, as always, caveat emptor. What then do we know about the events of that long-ago day? Well, first—the four girls appeared “giddy and hyper” at lunch. The school authorities indirectly support this in a mealy-mouthed sort of way, observing that “The administrators who work in the middle school every day are trained to monitor and evaluate students and recognize behavior that is out of character” and this may lead to “physical and medical evaluation.” So I’m tentatively inclined to accept this as plausible.
Second, this led the authorities to suspect drug use. None of the statements I have seen are explicit on this point—I’d sure as hell like to know what drug they thought was involved or in what way twelve-year-old girls being “giddy and hyper” (assuming that the phrase did indeed represent the observations) suggested drug use. But the statements do seem to agree that the girls were under suspicion for drug use.
Now according to the parents “The girls were individually taken to a private space in the Health Office and held for over an hour. They were subjected to sobriety tests and observations”. The school authorities indirectly agree: “When students exhibit behavior that warrants further evaluation the district has an obligation to ensure their health and wellbeing, which may include physical and medical evaluation. … School officials acted in accordance with the board policy.”
The parents say the girls were “told to remove their clothing to be searched for drugs and other illegal substances”. A district statement says that “A student may, under current law and policy, be searched in a school building by an administrator when the administrator reasonably suspects that a student’s health is in danger or is in possession of a substance that may harm themselves or others.” I will take that tentatively as confirmation.
According to the girls all three of those who complied were required to take off their shirts; two of them in addition had to take off their pants, and one had to take off her leggings as well. The district statement says “These searches involve an administrator requesting a student to empty their pockets, remove their shoes and/or remove their jackets.” The school authorities’ statement says “When conducting medical evaluation, it may require the removal of bulky outside clothing to expose an arm so that vitals like blood pressure and pulse can be assessed” and reasserts that there was no strip search. The school authorities’ claim might apply to having the girls take their shirts off; they offer no justification for the rest. The only possible conclusion is that the school authorities are accusing the girls of lying.
This applies also to the fourth girl—who refused to undress and was given in-house suspension. The authorities claim that no student was “punished as a result of the incident in question.” (I assume that in-house suspension is a punishment.) As I review the situation here I have to admit that I am increasingly having trouble taking anything the authorities have said seriously. But anyway, it appears that they are calling her a liar as well.
The school authorities now appear to be claiming that they notified the parents of the children. “As part of the typical procedure, parents are contacted to inform them of the precautions and procedures that were taken. … School officials acted in accordance with the board policy.” The parents however say “We, as parents, did not consent to these searches. We, as parents, were not notified by the school before or after these searches occurred. Instead, our children informed us, and we had to follow up with the school the next day.” Obviously, I have no way of determining who is telling the truth and who is lying on this point, but I have a great deal of trouble believing that parents who had been properly notified would have to resort to attending a school board meeting with members of their community in order to get any action taken.
As far as the aftermath is concerned, the parents say:
All four girls missed several days of instruction after this experience, as they no longer feel safe at East Middle. During this time, school officials failed to communicate with us in any meaningful way, and often failed to return our calls. It wasn't until the community attended the school board meeting that the administration began to express an interest in helping us transition the girls back into school.
And the school district?
Unfortunately, our students shared that these actions have had the unintended consequences of making the students feel traumatized. We sincerely apologize for the impact this has had and are working with these families to support their children’s success.
As I said, my personal experience is not favorable to believing school authorities about anything without some external verification. I do however have a few observations. The claim that administrators are able to “recognize behavior that is out of character” for particular students is laughable. Given the apparent size of the school I doubt that they knew anything about these particular students until somebody decided that high spirits meant high students or whatever it really was. And I personally find it implausible that the school kept the parents properly informed of what was going on; subsequent events would have gone very differently had they done so.
On the central issue, however, it is difficult to decide. There seems to be general agreement on the main outline of events: school officials suspected the girls were doing drugs, gave them physical and medical examinations, and searched them for contraband. But the school authorities appear to be insisting that the search involved at most emptying pockets, taking off shoes, or removing a jacket. The medical exam involved no more than baring an arm for checking pulse and blood pressure. The girls on the other hand describe being required to strip down to their underwear as part of the effort to search them for drugs. There’s really no way to reconcile these statements, and I see no reason why the girls would be as traumatized as their parents describe if all that had happened is what the school district (indirectly) maintained.
The thing is, I don’t know these particular girls—how reliable they are, under what circumstances they told their stories, how prone they are to fantasy and embroidery. The same goes for these particular school officials—though as a breed I have found them to be unreliable and treacherous. I can make up a story about four hypothetical girls who freaked out on being unjustly suspected of drug use and who embroidered their story of oppression by relating a strip search that never happened. By the same token I can make up a story about hypothetical overzealous school officials who—certain that four students were on drugs—went way too far in pursuing their suspicions and then engaged in a hasty cover-up.
But as it stands, I don’t have much basis to decide on. On the one hand I really don’t see any good reason why the girls would make up such a story, whereas I do see excellent reasons for the authorities to deny it. On the other hand the school authorities are adamant that “no students were strip searched” and they would be extremely foolish to make such as statement without rock solid ground to stand on. Again, the girls’ evident trauma seems to require more of an explanation than the school has been able to suggest.
As I say, I personally am inclined to believe the girls. Middle school sucks enough without being unjustly accused of doing drugs—or of anything else for that matter. I hope they can find a way to get back into a school environment where they feel safe again—an environment where learning can happen. And I very much hope that the school officials can figure out exactly what went wrong in this incident and take appropriate steps to fix it—because something clearly did go wrong here.

And, by the way, if something seemed a bit off-kilter in this story as I presented it, I can’t help wondering—if I told you that the four girls in this narrative were black, would that change your perspective any?
I thought it might.

Silence



 27 January 2019 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. A moment of silence, please.


26 January 2019

Frozen Alligators


 26 January 2019 is doubtless some holiday or other, but I don’t have anything for it. The saints of the day are Timothy and Titus, associates of Paul of Tarsus, who worked with him during his first century project of founding a new religion. Timothy and Titus are probably most famous for being the supposed recipients of letters somebody (I’m partial to Polycarp) wrote in the second century in Paul’s name.
In the news I see that Greece has approved Macedonia’s name change to the Republic of North Macedonia, that a dam near Belo Horizonte in Brazil has collapsed (two hundred people missing), and that alligators in North Carolina are frozen with their noses above water (they are expected to come back to life when things warm up). And Roger Stone has been arrested. And the U. S. government has temporarily reopened for business.
I can’t help but feel that those frozen alligators are some kind of metaphor for the state of the union at the present, but maybe that’s just because I’m tired and in pain.

25 January 2019

The Fast of the Humiliation of Donald Trump


 25 January 2019 is Burns Night in Scotland—a celebration of the poetry of Robert Burns and that elaborate practical joke played on tourists known as haggis. In Egypt it is simultaneously National Police Day (remembering the refusal of police to surrender to the British army in 1952) and Revolution Day 2011 (remembering the protests against police corruption that led to the downfall of Hosni Mubarak). It is National Voters’ Day in India and National Nutrition Day in Indonesia. On the calendar of the western church it is Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, recalling the moment when Saul of Tarsus was struck blind on the road to Damascus, and so altered the course of history.
And the partial government shutdown in Washington D.C. continues with the failure of at least two bills to end it. Is this the end for America? Inquiring minds want to know. At least that old Benghazi Spirit is still alive and kicking—it’s reported that Lindsey Graham wants to order another investigation into the FBI handling of the issue of Hilary Clinton’s private email server when she was Secretary of State. Keep on flogging that dead horse, guys—it’s sure to start walking any day now. And while Lindsey and his friends are clowning around in the Senate the alleged President’s team is throwing out useless suggestions to Federal workers who are being forced to do their jobs without pay—they should take out an emergency loan and ask their grocers for free food. Clueless, all of them.

24 January 2019

A Senseless Nation


 24 January 2019 is Unification Day in Romania (a relatively recent holiday, apparently, though the unification it commemorates happened in 1859—coincidentally the year the state I live in—Oregon—actually became a state). For the Roman Catholics it is the Feast of Our Lady of Peace. Until 1969 the saint of the day was Timothy—who worked with Paul of Tarsus in various early Christian mission efforts—but now he has been lumped in with Titus on the 26th of the month.
There is still no end in sight for the U.S. government partial shutdown, and our feckless leader seems to have given up on delivering his State of the Union address for the moment. Five people were killed in Sebring, Florida, when a former trainee prison guard opened fire for some reason in a bank; Police Chief Karl Hoglund described him as “a senseless criminal doing a senseless crime.” The White House turned down Puerto Rico’s request for additional food money to deal with post-disaster hunger as “excessive and unnecessary.” The United Kingdom still has no plan for how to disengage itself from the European Union. And Kim Jong Un is preparing for another round of Trump-baiting, seeing (I suppose) that the last round got several concessions from the United States in return for absolutely nothing. He must think that we’re a nation of idiots—and it’s looking more and more as if he’s right.

23 January 2019

“Jacob Wohl” Appears Dazed and Confused


S
nopes and Politifact both inform me that some idiot I’ve never heard of—a guy who calls himself Jacob Wohl—tweeted

Kamala Harris is NOT eligible to be President. Her father arrived from Jamaica in 1961—mother from India arrived in 1960. Neither parent was a legal resident for 5 years prior to Harris’s birth, a requirement for naturalization. Kamala was raised in Canada …
Just like the worst President in American History, Barack Hussein Obama, Kamala Harris was NOT raised in the United States. Is it too much to ask to have a President that was born and RAISED in America?
(In point of fact the worst president in American History was James Buchanan, though a good case could be made for Andrew Johnson and—unless Donald Trump can score some positive achievements in the next two to six years to offset the string of disasters he’s presided over so far—our current president could be in the running.)
“Jacob Wohl” seems to be making the common mistake of confusing his own preferences with the legal requirements—that is, there is no requirement that a person be “born and RAISED in America” to be eligible for the presidency, however desirable the writer thinks those elements to be.
The Constitution sets the standards here. It says that a person must (1) “[be] a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution”; (2) “have attained to the age of thirty five years”, and (3) “[have] been fourteen Years a resident within the United States”. It does not say anything about being “born and RAISED in America.” There is no requirement whatsoever about the citizenship of one’s parents, though one way of being a “natural born citizen” is having a parent who is a citizen. It’s not a requirement, however; anybody who is born on American soil is a citizen, with some clear exceptions (being a child of foreign diplomats is the main one).
To put it as simply as possible there are three ways one can be born an American citizen: (1) being born on American soil; (2) having a father who was an American citizen at the time of one’s birth; or (3) having a mother who was an American citizen at the time of one’s birth. In my case all three conditions are fulfilled—but that doesn’t make me three times the citizen somebody else is who fulfills only one of the conditions. Some idiots feel that a natural born citizen ought to be defined as one who fulfills all three conditions, and they are certainly entitled to feel that way. But their feelings don’t change the law in any way.
Since Kamala Harris was born in the United States and never renounced her citizenship, is over thirty-five, and has lived in the country for more than fourteen years, she is entitled to run for president. If she were to be elected there would be no constitutional bar to her serving. She would almost certainly be better than the low IQ individual currently occupying the position. That is a low bar, however.

Louis Jacobson, “Yes, Kamala Harris is eligible to run for president,” Politifact

Out of TItles


 23 January 2019 doesn’t seem to be much of anything, unless you count Pie Day (not to be confused with Pi Day) or Handwriting Day. Its saints include Ildefonsus of Toledo and Emerentiana—the sister of Agnes from a couple of days ago who was murdered while visiting her sister’s grave a couple of days later. Somebody seems to have had it in for that family.

22 January 2019

Another Shutdown Day


 22 January 2019 is Hot Sauce Day; also Grandfather’s Day in Poland. The saints of the day are St. Anastasius and St. Vincent. And it’s Robert E. Howard’s birthday; he would be 113 years old. The partial shutdown of the American government continues—I think it’s Day 31 now—and there is still no indication of when Trump is going to call it off. And in the meantime we read that Greenland’s ice sheets are melting at an “unprecedented” rate; this on top of the recent bad news from Antarctica.
22 January 1969 was the day the Beatles finally recorded some releasable takes for the Get Back project. Versions of “Don’t Let Me Down,” “Dig a Pony,” and “I’ve Got a Feeling” were mixed and cut to acetate for the band members to listen to, and these turned up on the first Beatles bootleg recording—Kum Back. While some takes from this day were mixed for the early attempts at a releasable LP (the various stages of Get Back), none were chosen for either Let It Be or Let It Be Naked. A different take of “Dig a Pony” would eventually surface in the third volume of the Anthology project. These may well be the first version of the tracks I listened to; at least my brother had a rather badly-recorded tape of what were supposed to be songs from the upcoming Beatles album taken from a radio broadcast, and I listened to it. When the album came out we recycled the tape—I think to record the amateur efforts of a local band a friend was in or something, but the details are now vague. I may well be confusing this with other events from other times.

21 January 2019

Too Cloudy Here


 21 January 2019 is the third Monday in January and so Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States unless you happen to live in Alabama or Mississippi (in which case it’s Robert E. Lee’s birthday), Arizona or New Hampshire (in which case it’s Civil Rights Day), or Idaho (in which case it’s Idaho Human Rights Day). It’s Flag Day in Quebec and Grandmother’s Day in Poland, and the saint of the day is Agnes—a thirteen-year-old girl who died for her faith early in the fourth century according to tradition.
And it’s the thirtieth day of Trump’s partial government shutdown, and he seems to think things are going pretty well to judge from his apparent inaction. We can only hope he knows something he’s not sharing with the rest of us, since the situation looks pretty abysmal for him from where I sit. Ann Coulter is throwing a Twitter-fit, which apparently influences the Dopey Don for some reason, even though he’s boasted that he could kill somebody and absolutely get away with it.
The eclipse last night was a bust as far as I was concerned; it was too cloudy here to see anything—at least on the occasions I tried. I’m not going to worry about it; I’ve seen eclipses before, and there’s a reasonable possibility I will see them again. And if not—well, that’s how it goes. Eventually I will see my last lunar eclipse, and I probably won’t know that it is my last. It may even have happened already.

20 January 2019

Aquarius Awareness


 20 January 2019 is the day the sun enters the sign of Aquarius (♒). It is also Penguin Awareness Day, The Feast of Saint Fabian (Pope and Martyr), The Feast of Saint Sebastian (Martyr), Martyrs’ Day (Azerbaijan), Heroes’ Day (Cape Verde), Army Day (Laos), and Armed Forces Day (Mali).
Tonight there will be a total lunar eclipse—the last one this year, and there are no further lunar eclipses scheduled until 2021, so it’s probably a good idea to make this one last. It is also the 29th day of the partial shutdown of the U.S. government, and there is no end in sight. And there’s really no predicting when the next shutdown will be, so I suppose we ought to enjoy the phenomenon while we’ve got it, but things are precarious enough for me right now without having to worry about when or if I will ever see something resembling money again.
Fifty years ago today the Beatles reassembled at Savile Row to start work at their advanced recording studio allegedly designed and built by Alexis Mardas (“Magic Alex”). (Mardas denies having anything to do with the project.) There was nothing usable there so they arranged to borrow equipment from EMI to continue with the ill-fated Get Back adventure.
Up to now nothing had actually been recorded; I mean, there were recordings, but they were just for the documentary that was being made—not proper recordings aimed at eventual release. Things were about to get started for real, however; maybe I’ll actually get some of this down before darkness overtakes us all.

19 January 2019

Grand Treason Day


 19 January 2019 is Robert E. Lee’s Birthday in Florida and Confederate Heroes’ Day in Texas. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way it adds up to Grand Treason Day in the United States—a day that honors those brave men who broke their oaths to their country and took up arms against it in defense of their god-given right to hold other people in servitude. The right to imprison other people and to compel them to work for nothing but the bare minimum needed to keep them alive. The right to beat them for trivial or imagined offenses, the right to mutilate them for whatever reason, the right to work them to death in the name of profit. There’s no nobility or honor in the business—just crass calculations of profit and loss.
Not a fan. I will note that I have (or should that be had?) relatives—long dead before I ever stepped onto the cosmic stage, needless to say—on both sides of that conflict. No direct ancestors as far as I can tell—but their brothers or cousins or the like. Hell, one of my direct ancestors apparently took part in the institution of slavery itself—the 1840 census (this is from memory) showed him as having an enslaved woman as part of his household. I suppose I could celebrate my “heritage” in some manner, but I prefer merely to record it—treat it as an object-lesson, I suppose, rather than a holy icon. It’s a matter of taste, maybe.
Ah, but it’s all about heroism and valor and willingness to die for your country, comes the rejoinder, not about the specific cause these heroes embraced. Horseshit. The German soldiers who fought for Adolf Hitler had all those things, and their valor in no way ennobled their sacrifice. They fought in a bad cause, they died for a bad principle, and they deserve to be smothered in obloquy, not held up to the admiration of posterity. And so did the Confederates. It’s the least we can do for their shame.

18 January 2019

Barrel Bottom Scrapings


T
oday was once the Feast of St. Peter’s Chair, but apparently it was a casualty of some sort of revisionism back in the days when I was young and frogs ruled the world. I don’t really know. And I really don’t feel inspired to rummage through old books—whether real or virtual—to find out. So I guess I’ll just let that one lie.
And our president seems determined to fulfill his boast of keeping the government closed for a long long time. I don’t really know why and frankly I don’t give a damn. It makes his administration seem weak and stupid, and by reflection it makes him seem weak and stupid, so the quicker he gets it over with the better. I mean, he dealt himself this losing hand, and now he’s reduced to hoping his opponent will lend him a couple of aces. It could happen. I don’t think it’s going to, but I’ve been wrong before. I kind of hope I’m wrong this time. But I’m not.

17 January 2019

I Can’t Get Back to Sleep


I
 should be sleeping, but my roommate woke me up accidentally (ironically by turning off my light for me so I could sleep better) and now as the sun comes up I’m lying awake in my basement room wishing I could get back to sleep but stuck with wakefulness.
I can’t help wondering how much of my life I’ve spent like this—desperately clutching at sleep that never seems to come. Leafing through my journal I see a lot of entries like that—tired but sleepless, bleak moments, writing to stave off the demons.
Looking around online I see that politics is dominating everybody’s waking lives, what with Trump’s government shutdown making life miserable for everybody. It’s definitely worrisome for me; those of us who live on other people’s scraps get fewer of them when times are tight. But I’m an old person now, and my friends are dead, and I have little left to look forward to, so having a raving loon for our president is just a detail, as it were. Mind you, I hope he dies before I do (not that I expect it); it would be nice to be able to take a crap on his grave, if only in spirit. But I’d care a lot more about the permanent damage this mental midget is doing to the country I live in if I expected to be living in it much longer.
Thoughts are nonproductive, wishes are vain, and words go nowhere. Damn I wish I could get back to sleep.

16 January 2019

Farewell to Religious Freedom Day


I
t’s National Religious Freedom Day again here in the United States—an ironic holiday, considering that our present administration has dedicated itself to stamping out individual religious freedom wherever it can, in favor of a sort of institutional religious freedom which allows landowners to impose their beliefs on their tenants, businesses to impose their beliefs on their employees and customers, and the rest of us to look back nostalgically on the days when we, too—as individual people, not employees or tenants—had religious freedom. The Virginia statute of religious freedom—honored in the breach on this memorial day—referred to “the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men have assumed dominion over the faith of others”; today we might add to that the impious presumption of fallible and uninspired arts-and-crafts store owners and cake bakers who have arrogantly assumed dominion over the faith of others. It’s a sorry comedown.

15 January 2019

Two Intelligent Uncles Chatting to the Beat


A Short Story
by Zurys A Feplo, LQE

M
orwenna Khan looked at the ripped hawk in her hands and felt sad.
She walked over to the window and reflected on her wild surroundings. She had always loved noisy Liverpool with its nosy, nice nooks. It was a place that encouraged her tendency to feel sad.
Then she saw something in the distance, or rather someone. It was the figure of Sally England. Sally was an intelligent painter with ruddy lips and hairy eyelashes.
Morwenna gulped. She glanced at her own reflection. She was a stable, malicious, tea drinker with ruddy lips and grubby eyelashes. Her friends saw her as a villainous, vigilant vicar. Once, she had even jumped into a river and saved a mighty toddler.
But not even a stable person who had once jumped into a river and saved a mighty toddler, was prepared for what Sally had in store today.
The drizzle rained like thinking gerbils, making Morwenna puzzled.
As Morwenna stepped outside and Sally came closer, she could see the gentle glint in her eye.
Sally gazed with the affection of 8222 virtuous high horses. She said, in hushed tones, “I love you and I want equality.”
Morwenna looked back, even more puzzled and still fingering the ripped hawk. “Sally, you must think I was born yesterday,” she replied.
They looked at each other with shocked feelings, like two low, lonely lizards smiling at a very stupid wake, which had orchestral music playing in the background and two intelligent uncles chatting to the beat.
Morwenna studied Sally's ruddy lips and hairy eyelashes. Eventually, she took a deep breath. “I’m sorry,” began Morwenna in apologetic tones, “but I don’t feel the same way, and I never will. I just don’t love you Sally.”
Sally looked barmy, her emotions raw like a hungry, hurt hat.
Morwenna could actually hear Sally’s emotions shatter into 465 pieces. Then the intelligent painter hurried away into the distance.
Not even a cup of tea would calm Morwenna’s nerves tonight.
THE END

14 January 2019

The Feast of the Ass


“F
ormerly, the Feast of the Ass was celebrated on this day, in commemoration of the ‘Flight into Egypt’ says Chambers’ Book of Days, and I have no reason to disbelieve it, though I can’t remember ever noticing it before, and it does seem like the sort of religious festival I would have noticed. We are informed:
The escape of the Holy Family into Egypt was represented by a beautiful girl holding a child at her breast, and seated on an ass, splendidly decorated with trappings of gold-embroidered cloth. After having been led in solemn procession through the streets of the city in which the celebration was held, the ass, with its burden, was taken into the principal church, and placed near the high altar, while the various religious services were performed. In place, however, of the usual responses, the people on this occasion imitated the braying of an ass; and, at the conclusion of the service, the priest, instead of the usual benediction, brayed three times, and was answered by a general hee-hawing from the voices of the whole congregation.
Those were simpler times, I suppose—at least I hope they were. The book doesn’t actually say when this festival was celebrated, but I am assuming that it was one of those medieval frolics that used to engage the minds and bodies of our ancestors in the absence of more sophisticated mass media (think of the asinine antics of Ann Coulter or Benny Hill).
Our present Feast of the Ass is a triptych depicting President Trumpkoff begging the Democrats to save his sorry Ass, then sitting in an empty room waiting for help to come, and finally contemplating a feast of crow. I’m almost sorry that I voted for the guy—no, that’s right, I voted for the actual Republican in the race, Hillary Clinton. You’d have to have been dim as a burnt-out bulb to vote for a failed con-man agent of RasPutin like our Idiot in Chief.
Well, since America has shed its government along with its pretence of greatness, may as well adopt this ceremony as its own. Let the President conclude his address to Congress by braying three times, and let the Senators and Representatives respond in kind. It’s a fitting end to our misbegotten Republic, and a warning to those in the future who might attempt to follow in our failing footsteps.

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