Saturday, August 31, 2013

Figures never lie, but liars often figure

Continuing with our semi-non-indepth look at the U.S. House of Representatives, we now know (or we would if we read the preceding post) that the U.S. contains 435 congressional districts. According to the census taken in 2010, the official population of the United States was 308,745,538. But wait! (as they say in television infomercials) -- that figure includes the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.), which is represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by a 436th member who does not have voting privileges. When the 2010 population of the District of Columbia (601,723) is subtracted from the national total, a new total for our purposes emerges: 308,143,815.

So then an “average” congressional district in the U.S. according to the 2010 census -- obtained simply by dividing 308,143,815 by 435 -- would contain 708,376 people.

However, there is no such thing as an “average” congressional district because the population of the United States is not distributed evenly across the 50 states (that is -- pay attention, you there in the back -- some states have more people than others). Also, the districts do not cross state lines. The most populous congressional district, the entire state of Montana, has 989,415 people. The least populous congressional district, the entire state of Wyoming, has 563,626 people.

Seven states in all have a single congressional district comprising the entire state. They are Wyoming (563,626), Vermont (625,741), North Dakota (672,591), Alaska (710,231), South Dakota (814,180), Delaware (897,934), and Montana (989,415).

Five more small states have only two congressional districts. They are Rhode Island (1,052,567), New Hampshire (1,316,470), Maine (1,328,361), Hawaii (1,360,301), and Idaho (1,567,582). So a current Rhode Island representative represents, on average, 526,283 people; a New Hampshire representative represents, on average, 658,235 people, and so forth.

At the other end of the chart are the most populous states, California (37,253,956 people, 53 congressional districts), Texas (25,145,561 people, 36 congressional districts, New York (19,378,102 people, 27 congressional districts), and Florida (18,801,310 people, 27 congressional districts).

Do the math. The average California congressional district contains 702,904 people; the average Texas congressional district contains 698,487 people; the average New York congressional district contains 717,707 people; and the average Florida congressional district contains 696,344 people.

In between the five single-district states and the four most populous states (which have 143 seats between them in the House of Representatives) are 41 other states with their own calculated “average” congressional district. For example, Georgia, where I live, had 9,687,663 people in 2010 and its number of congressional districts was increased to 14, giving us an “average” Georgia congressional district of 691,975 people.

Isn’t this fascinating?

What do you mean, you don’t think so?

Of course it is.

Because I said so, that’s why.

And I said all of that to say this:

What George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm is true:

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Friday, August 30, 2013

Aloha Oy! or Whatever happened to separation of church and state?

I just know that each and every one of you has been on pins and needles until you know the religious affiliation of each and every one of the 435 members of the U.S. Congress. I can feel it in my bones. Well, you need not wonder any longer, bloggers, thanks to the people at BuzzFeed! They have produced a fascinating array of information consisting of 15 maps and a list that will provide you with what you’ve been longing for.

Okay, so it isn’t exactly Four Weddings and a Funeral, but it’s something.

The maps answer the burning question, “What Religion Does Your Member of Congress Identify With?”

I have never in my life asked myself the question, “What Religion Does My Member of Congress Identify With?” Have you?

The first map contains 14 colors that represent 14 “religions”:

1. Anglican/Episcopalian
2. Baptist
3. Buddhist
4. Catholic
5. Hindu
6. Jewish
7. Lutheran
8. Methodist
9. Mormon
10. Muslim
11. Other Christian (more on this category below)
12. Presbyterian
13. Unitarian
14. Unspecified/None

Following the kaleidoscopic map are 14 other maps showing each of the 14 categories separately against a grey background.

Oh, joy! Oh, delight! Not.

More like “Yawn.”

If you can’t get enough of semi-interesting trivia, though, after the fifteenth map is a list showing the names of all members of the current (113th) U.S. House of Representatives by religious affiliation religious preference religious political expediency religious delusion religion. The broad category “Other Christian” from the maps is further broken down in the list into:

1. Assemblies of God
2. Christian
3. Christian Reformed
4. Christian Scientist
5. Congregationalist
6. Churches of Christ
7. Church of God
8. Disciples of Christ
9. Eastern Orthodox
10. Evangelical Free Church
11. Fellowship of Evangelical Churches 12. Nazarene
13. Non-denominational Christian
14. Pentecostal
15. Protestant
16. Quaker
17. Seventh-day Adventist
18. United Brethren
19. Unspecified Christian

According to BuzzFeed, “There are 31 religions represented in the House, including 26 different sects of Christianity. Catholics make up the largest group with 136 members, followed by Baptists with 66 members, Methodists with 45 members, Anglicans/Episcopalians with 35 members, Presbyterians with 28 members, and Jews with 22 members. There is only one atheist.”

/sarcasm ON/

It’s good to know that BuzzFeed is looking after our interests, isn’t it?

/sarcasm OFF/

Here are the maps and the list.

You may peruse or ignore the link as you choose. If you are curious about the information, it’s there. If you couldn’t care less, you can pass it by. If you like to look at various colors in odd patterns, be my guest. Are you wondering, though, as I am, why BuzzFeed didn’t bother with the U.S. Senate?

My own feeling is that since there are only 100 Senators in all (two from each state) and only a third of the Senate seats are up for grabs every two years, BuzzFeed couldn’t be bothered. But all 435 representatives are elected every two years, and the people behind BuzzFeed want to inform stir up as much of the populace as possible so that they will vote to throw their particular rascal out based on a reason that should not matter.

The BuzzFeed people should read Article VI, paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution immediately.

This just in, complete with individual photographs: Religious affiliation in the United States Senate.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The reason for this posting will become evident

It is 1917. You are a 22-year-old man named Dhimitri Kuçi. You were born in Vlonë, Albania, on February 15, 1895. When you were twelve you were sent to Italy to attend school. Now you are on your way to America to try to find your older brother. Someone took this photograph and put it on your passport.

Although you search, you will not be able to find your brother. Eventually you will settle down in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Seven years from now you will become a naturalized citizen of the United States and your name will change. Two years later, when you are 31 years old, a friend who runs a butcher shop will persuade you to return to Albania to marry his 19-year-old niece, Ksanthipi Rista, and bring her to the United States. Her widowed grandmother will come along on your honeymoon.

When you are 36, Ksanthipi will bear a son, who will be named after her uncle. When you are 40, she will also give you a daughter, whose godmother decides should have the same name as the wife of the President of the United States.

During the Great Depression, you will move your family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. To support them, you will make and sell snow cones from a pushcart. During World War II, Ksanthipi will also become a naturalized citizen of the United States and her name will also change. You both will work in a defense plant for a while until you decide to open a restaurant outside a Marine base in Philadelphia. After the war ends you will move your family to North Carolina. Your son will graduate from college there and marry a North Carolina girl. Your daughter will graduate from nursing school.

When you are 66 years old, you and Ksanthipi will move to Orlando, Florida. Your daughter will marry a Texas fellow who joined the Air Force and was sent to McCoy Air Force Base. He will take your daughter to exotic places like Bellevue, Nebraska, and Poughkeepsie, New York, and Boca Raton, Florida, and Marietta, Georgia.

You will tend to the citrus trees in your backyard and every day you will walk around the block with Ksanthipi. Eventually your children will give you five grandchildren.

You will live to be 88, a ripe old age, and when you die you will be buried in what was once an orange grove. Three years later Ksanthipi will join you there. Eventually there will be six great-grandchildren.

But today you know nothing of this. It is 1917 and you are 22 years old and you are on your way to America.

Today -- the real today -- is the 115th anniversary of the day you were born.

Happy birthday, Pop!

All of the foregoing was originally posted on February 15, 2010. Today -- the real today, three and a half years after I wrote it the first time -- is the 30th anniversary of my father-in-law’s death on August 28, 1983. Today, while this nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of a 1963 civil rights march in Washington, D.C., and Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, I celebrate this man. I celebrate him.

We still miss you, Pop.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Gap, schmap, I need a rest

Carol in Cairns reports that her son, who is finishing what we call high school this year, is thinking of “taking a gap year” before starting university.

I’d like to take a “gap year” too, or a gap month or even a gap week.

Mama used to say, “There’s no rest for the wicked.” Or was it “There’s no rest for the weary”? Oh, well, I know she said something I was supposed to remember.

A gap year is meant to be temporary, a respite, a time to reflect on what one has accomplished and a chance to catch one’s breath before continuing with the next step of a previously established plan. Sometimes, though, plans can change. Gap years can become permanent. Gap years can even become dead ends.

Someone once said that a grave is a rut with the ends knocked out.

I don’t know how that relates to the concept of a “gap year” but it came to mind just now.

It took my son five years to finish university because his major required more courses and hours than he could fit into four.
But he did it, and went on to get his masters degree as well.

It took my daughter seven years to get her undergraduate degree, but she did finish finally, and married her college sweetheart, with whom she is raising two sons.

There were times during those seven years when she was in the midst of earning her baccalaureate degree that Mrs. RWP and I wondered if she would finish. At one point she moved out of the dorm and into a house along with a couple of her friends, sharing the rent. Later, she decided not to take any courses one semester (a “gap” semester, maybe?) and talked of moving back home. Mrs. RWP and I talked it over, and decided it might be better if she stayed there. “If she comes back home,” I said, “she may never return to college.” So I called her and said we would pay her living expenses to stay in that college town in that house with her friends.

It turned out well, and the following semester she re-enrolled.

Last fall, at the beginning of her 17th year of teaching, she began working on her masters degree, attending classes one night a week. Currently she is about halfway through the required courses.

There are eight million “gap stories” in the naked city. This has been one of them.

I think what I’ve been trying to say in this post is simply this:

Some gaps turn out to be longer than others.

[Editor’s note: This post has generated more comments than I usually receive. They are (a) longer than average and (b) quite interesting. I must have struck a nerve. Please don’t go away without checking them out. --RWP]

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

So many worlds, so little time

Today’s subject is not literature or art.

Today’s subject is social studies.

Using all the mental powers I have in my arsenal, I have figured out that in that little map over there in the sidebar -------------->
Feedjit places a red dot in each country where someone has read my blog recently, except in the U.S. and Canada and possibly Australia, where it places a red dot in each state or province where someone has read my blog recently. [Note. Feedjit’s definition of “recently” is known only to Feedjit. --RWP]
So even though several, or many, or even thousands, of people in the country of Russia, say, may be reading my blog, Feedjit gives me exactly one red dot for that huge expanse of terra firma.

/sarcasm on/

Thank you, Feedjit.

/sarcasm off/

Another thing I have noticed -- maybe it is different on your map -- is that although I occasionally see a red dot or two in South America, I hardly ever see a red dot in Africa, only the occasional reader in Ghana or South Africa or Egypt. I know there are lots of people on that continent. Why don’t more of them read my blog?

In a post or a comment the other day I said there are currently 7.3 billion human beings living on planet Earth. I was wrong.
I’ll say it louder for the people in the back:


The current estimate is that 7,123,500,000 human beings live on planet Earth in 2013. [Editor’s note. I know that in the British scheme of things you call this number 7 thousand million, not
7 billion, and that what you call 7 billion we call 7 trillion, but what are a few zeroes among friends? As nothing, that’s what. --RWP]

We 7.1 billion people are distributed as shown below (the most recent year for which reliable statistics are available is shown in parentheses):

World (2012) 7,058,000,000

Asia (2011) 4,216,000 0002011

Northern Asia (Russia) 143,000,000
Western Asia 238,000,000
South Central Asia 1,800,000,000
South East Asia 602,000,000
East Asia 1,588,000,000

Africa (2012) 1,072,000,000

Northern Africa 213,000,000
Western Africa 324,000,000
Middle Africa (Central Africa) 134,000,000
Eastern Africa 342,000,000
Southern Africa 59,000,000

The Americas and the Caribbean (2011) 942,000,000

North America 346,000,000
Central America (includes Mexico) 158,000,000
Caribbean 42,000,000
South America 196,000,000

Europe (2011) 740,000,000

Northern Europe 100,000,000
Western Europe 189,000,000
Eastern Europe 295,000,000
Southern Europe 155,000,000

Oceania (2011) 37,000,000

Any way you slice it, that’s a lot of zeroes.

I said all that to say this:

You’d think I would have a few more red dots over there in that Feedjit map.

The sentiment expressed in the preceding sentence is called “a First World problem.”

As Bette Davis once said, “Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

The nations of the earth are commonly divided into the First World, the Second World, and the Third World. Someone has even identified a Fourth World.

According to my source (good old Wikipedia), the term “First World” was coined during the Cold War and was often used because of its political, social, and economic relevance. It was first introduced in the late 1940s by the United Nations. Today, the term “First World” is slightly outdated and has no official definition; however, it is generally thought of as the capitalist, industrial, wealthy, developed countries that aligned with the United States after World War II. This definition included most of the countries of North America, Western Europe, Australia and Japan. In contemporary society, the First World is viewed as countries that have the most advanced economies, the greatest influence, the highest standards of living, and the greatest technology.

The term “Second World” refers to the former socialist, industrial states (formally known as the Eastern Bloc), the territory and the influence of the Soviet Union. Following World War II, there were 19 communist states; after the fall of the Soviet Union, only five remained: China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam. The concept of "Second World" was a construct of the Cold War and the term has largely fallen out of use since the revolutions of 1989, though it is still used to describe countries that are in between poverty and prosperity, many of which are socialist and former socialist states today. Subsequently, the actual meaning of the terms “First World” and “Third World” changed from being based on political ideology to an economic definition (the terms developed country and developing country are sometimes used). This might also cause semantic variation of the term between ascribing a region's political entities and its people. So says Wikipedia.

The term “Third World” arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either NATO (with the United States, Western European nations and their allies representing the First World), or the Communist Bloc (with the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba and their allies representing the Second World). This terminology provided a way of broadly categorizing the nations of the Earth into three groups based on social, political, and economic divisions. The Third World was normally seen to include many countries with colonial pasts in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. It was also sometimes taken as synonymous with countries in the Non-Aligned Movement.

Due to the complex history of evolving meanings and contexts, there is no clear or agreed upon definition of the Third World. Some countries in the Communist Bloc, such as Cuba, were often regarded as “Third World.” Because many Third World countries were extremely poor, and non-industrialized, it became a stereotype to refer to poor countries as "third world countries", yet the term “Third World” term is also often taken to include newly industrialized countries like India, Brazil or China. Historically, some European countries were part of the non-aligned movement and a few were and are very prosperous, including Switzerland and Austria. Over the last few decades, the term “Third World” has been used interchangeably with “Global South” and “Developing Countries” to describe poorer countries that have struggled to attain steady economic development, a term that often includes former "Second World" countries like Russia. This usage, however, has become less preferred in recent years.

Are you still with me?

According to one source, the world’s population is growing by 200,000 people a day. That’s 73,000,000 more people every year, 730,000,000 more people every decade. It is a bit sobering to realize that a hundred years ago, in the beginning of the 20th century, the entire world population was less than two billion people.

The term “Fourth World” was coined to refer to:
(1) Sub-populations socially excluded from global society;
(2) Hunter-gatherer, nomadic, pastoral, and some subsistence farming peoples living beyond the modern industrial norm; and (3) Sub-populations existing in a First World country, but with the living standards of those of a Third World, or developing country.

The term “Fourth World” originated with a remark by Mbuto Milando, first secretary of the Tanzanian High Commission, in conversation with George Manuel, Chief of the National Indian Brotherhood of Canada. Milando stated that “When Native peoples come into their own, on the basis of their own cultures and traditions, that will be the Fourth World.” Since publication of Manuel’s The Fourth World: An Indian Reality (1974), the term Fourth World is synonymous with stateless, poor, and marginal nations.

Manuel Castells uses the term “Fourth World” to represent the people in regions that are bypassed by most forms of technology. According to Wikipedia, “These people reside both in urban and rural areas, and are viewed as structurally irrelevant in our society as they neither produce nor consume what is considered important in a globalized and technologically connected world.”

It is very sad to think that some people, millions of people, view other people, millions of people, as “structurally irrelevant in our society as they neither produce nor consume what is considered important in a globalized and technologically connected world.”

You know what?

Maybe how many people read my blog or where they live isn’t that important.

This has been a brief, introductory foray into the world of social studies.

Your assignment is simply this: After reviewing some more First World Problems, tell me in the comments section of this post what you think the First World’s chief problem really is.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A blast from the past! Here’s “We interrupt this blog to bring you an important announcement from rhymeswithplague headquarters” (From the archives: May 6, 2009)

tap tap this thing on???

*clearing of throat, followed by ear-splitting feedback from microphone*

Good morning.

I am not a camera.

Do not come here hoping to find professional-looking close-ups of exotic insects or the vegetables in my garden or the maple tree in my front yard or the azalea blossoms under my bay window. Do not expect to see the gorgeous sunsets we enjoy daily here in my neck of the woods; they probably look very much like the ones in your neck of the woods. You won’t find snapshots of assorted small children smiling prettily into the camera lens accompanied by captions documenting the rapturous opinions of an adoring older relative. You will look in vain as well for any pictures of my own handsome self, except for the small one in the sidebar to the right, taken when I was two.

It ain’t gonna happen.

Neither will you find photos of me and the missus on horseback rounding up our multitudinous cattle in midwinter or our herd of wild mustangs in summer, the ones the U.S. government reimburses us for feeding. [Editor’s note. That was a snarky reference to Ree Drummond out in Oklahoma who writes a blog called Confesstions of a Pioneer Woman. In addition to her blog, Ree now has published a couple of cookbooks and can be seen on her weekly television program on The Food Network on Saturday mornings. At some point since May 6, 2009, I actually did add to the sidebar a picture of me and the missus, albeit not on horseback -- hey, thank God for small favors and try to realize that you can’t have everything. --RWP] You needn’t search any time soon for my completely illustrated procedure of how to make my great-grandma’s gooseberry pie, beginning with the killing and cleaning of the goose (take one cup of sugar, insert photo, one stick of butter, insert photo, use a serrated knife, insert photo). What we do in and around the privacy of our own home, dear reader, ain’t nobody’s bidnis but our own. I know this may come as a shock to some of you, flying as it does in the face of our show all, tell all, bragging, boasting, overblogged, overtwittered, over-blackberried, over-iPhoned society, but it simply can’t be helped. As Walter Cronkite used to say, that’s the way it is.

Instead, I hope you will find, as newcomer Robert Brault -- my goodness, we share three-fourths of a name -- recently did, a “charmingly eclectic” little blog, which he also said he prefers to a “disarmingly dyslexic” one.

If you want your life to be an open book, fine. More power to you. But mine is not. I’m not planning to give you a peek at members of my family. I may write about them from time to time, but show them to you? Never! (In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that in the past I have included old photographs of a few relatives who have long since departed this world. That was then. This is now.) As a famous coffee cup once said, “Just because I’m paranoid doesn't mean they’re not out to get me.”

So when a photograph appears on my blog, it will be because I searched online and found one that fits well with something I have decided to write about.

It will be because I am more a man of words than images.

It will be because I am an admirer of the alphabet, a lover of language, a veritable wizard with words.

Or it might just be because there are no digital cameras or scanners on the premises, and if there were, I wouldn’t know how to operate them, and everything I just said in this announcement is nothing but sour grapes.

Have a blessed day.

*turns and walks out of camera range, if there were a camera*

This has been a special announcement from rhymeswithplague headquarters.

We now return you to the blog in progress.

Monday, August 19, 2013

It’s like Susan Boyle all over again, sort of

For those of you who don’t live in the U.S., we have a television program here called America’s Got Talent. A program in the U.K. called Britain’s Got Talent came first, but many other countries have their own version now, so I’m fairly sure you have some idea of what I’m talking about no matter where you live. For example, here’s Armenia’s Got Talent (3:44) and here’s Georgia’s Got Talent (3:33) -- that’s the former Soviet Georgia, not the one with all the peaches -- and I just want to state for the record that (a) it doesn’t take much to entertain some nations and (b) Armenia’s program doesn’t even seem to have a buzzer. But I digress.

This summer a certain segment of our country (the segment watching America’s Got Talent) is going bonkers over three young operatic tenors who named their singing group Forte (pronounced FOR-tay). (Editor’s note. In Italian, Forte means LOUD, and the full name of the musical instrument you probably call a piano is actually the pianoforte, which in Italian means SOFTLOUD. That is neither here nor there, but I thought I’d throw it in for good measure even though you may think I’m digressing again. Actually, it’s all right to digress inside a note, especially if you’re the editor.--RWP)

It’s a pretty safe bet that the segment of the country that is going bonkers over Forte is not the same segment of the country that is going bonkers over Duck Dynasty. The former formerly went bonkers over Downton Abbey and the latter formerly went bonkers over Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo and The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Some days I fear for my country.
I think I’m digressing again.

Originally, Forte consisted of a Puerto Rican, a South Korean, and a New Yorker. Here’s their audition round song, “Pie Jesu” from John Rutter’s “Requiem” (6:12).

Forte was praised to high heaven and passed the audition round.

Acts that pass the audition round go to “Vegas Week” which is held (click here) in Las Vegas.

According to the Puerto Rican third of Forte, the Korean third of Forte unexpectedly “dropped out” shortly before “Vegas Week.” I read later that the Korean third had a problem with renewing his visa. My theory is that his student visa had expired and a team of ICE agents came swooping down on him after he was brash enough to appear sans visa on a nationally televised talent search. (ICE are the U.S.’s Immigration & Customs Enforcement people.) I could be wrong, of course. The Puerto Rican third of Forte doesn’t need a visa because Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. The jury is still out concerning New York.

The Puerto Rican third and the New York third of Forte were able to find a suitable replacement for the missing third of their act and proceeded to Las Vegas for “Vegas Week.” The judges on America’s Got Talent had absolutely no problem with this turn of events.

During “Vegas Week” the new version of Forte performed Andrea Bocelli’s “The Prayer” (1:50) and wowed the audience again, enough to make it to the “Quarter Finals” at New York City’s famed Radio City Music Hall

At the “Quarter Finals” at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, Forte sang “Somewhere” from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story (5:12), wowing everyone but the British judge.

Only time will tell how far Forte will progress this season on America’s Got Talent.

Stay tuned.

Things could be worse. You could be watching an Armenian woman twirl hula hoops without a buzzer handy.

Update: I seem to have confused [Country Name]’s Got Talent with The X-Factor. A thousand pardons! The buzzers are on the latter only. [Country Name]’s Got Talent doesn’t have buzzers. I’ll try to pay closer attention in the future.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Navel gazing, or what’s it all about, Alfie?

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky, --
No higher than the soul is high.

................--Edna St. Vincent Millay, from “Renascense” (1917)

On July 20th I put up a post called “The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, or How Green Was My Valley?” in which I showed you this map:

and these statistics from Blogger showing the 10 highest countries in terms of readership of this blog:

United States..........1044
United Kingdom.........92

Well, here it is almost a month later (August 15, 2013) and today’s map from Blogger looks a bit different:

which, being interpreted, means:

United States.............920
United Kingdom........170

Specifically, Canada and Russia have become a little darker green and France has become a little lighter green, and Ukraine and Turkey in last month’s list have been replaced by Latvia and Canada in this month’s list.

What does all this mean, exactly?

I’ll tell you what it means, exactly.

People come, and people go, but the world keeps spinning on its axis.

Mrs. RWP went to see her chiropractor last week, and I always accompany her on her visits. I don’t want some 43-year-old dude touching her without monitoring the process. No, I don’t.

I’m kidding.

But only sort of.

Dr. K is a bright fellow and we always have the most scintillating conversations. He was saying something scintillating that included the word minutia and I interrupted him and said, “Didn’t she used to sing backup for Beyoncé?”

“Who?” he said.

“Minutia,” I replied.

Dr. K, sharp as a whip, shot back, “Yes, and she dated Bonjovi.”

Not Jon Bon Jovi, mind you. Bon Jovi. The whole band. As they say, click to enlarge.

(Photo by Rosana Prada (November 2007), used under the provisions of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)

That Dr. K is such a card. We all had a good laugh and the conversation continued.

That’s not important.

What’s important is the world keeps spinning (on its axis) and statistics change constantly (because with approximately 7.3 billion of us on this planet at the moment, how could they do otherwise?) but you and I, like Old Man River (7:35), we just keep rolling along.

If you don’t know who Samuel Ramey is, you really should look at that clip.

When I watched it, it struck me when Mr. Ramey reached the line, “He must know somethin’, but don’t say nothin’...” that many of you probably think that line applies to me. A little honest self-assessment is always good, so I reflected on my own feeble efforts to inform and entertain with this li’l ol’ blog o’ mine.

It’s true that some days I can’t think of much to say, but that has never kept me from saying it. Like today, for instance.


The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky, --
No higher than the soul is high.

................--Edna St. Vincent Millay, from “Renascense” (1917)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

It’s all in how you look at it, plus I'll be a monkey's uncle

Here is one of the most famous places in the world, the Rock of Gibraltar at the southwestern tip of Europe, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean:

...and here is a graph that Blogger kindly provided of my blog’s pageviews for the week of August 6-13, 2013:

The second figure could almost be an abstract, reverse image of the first. I have thought and thought and the only thing I can figure is that one view was taken looking eastward from the west and the other view was taken looking westward from the east.

Another major difference between the Rock of Gibraltar and my blog is that the Rock of Gibraltar is home to about 250 barbary macaques...

...and my blog has only 123 followers.

Please do not misunderestimate misunderstand me. I am not, repeat, not intimating in the slightest that any followers of my blog are anything at all like barbary macaques. Nor, in case you are wondering, am I disparaging barbary macaques. In fact, if a barbary macaque wants to become a follower of this blog, he or she would be most welcome here at rhymeswithplague.

I once wrote a song parody, back in the days before organ transplants were common. The medical community was (were?) still experimenting when it was announced on the telly that a baboon’s heart had been transplanted into a little girl’s body. The media referred to her only as Baby Fae to protect her family’s privacy (the little girl’s family I mean, not the baboon’s -- in fact, I will go out on a limb here and say the media probably didn’t give a fig for the baboon’s family). Well, my mind being what it is I immediately thought about an old song from 1926 called “Baby Face” -- it enjoyed another round of popularity in 1948 in a recording by the Art Mooney band, and it was included on the soundtrack of the 1967 movie Thoroughly Modern Millie starring Julie Andrews, Beatrice Lillie (Lady Peel), Carol Channing, and others -- and I dashed off a little song called “Baby Fae” in about thirty seconds. Sometimes inspiration works like that but most of the time it takes a lot of blood, toil, tears, and sweat, to coin a phrase.

If you don’t know “Baby Face” here is Art Mooney’s 1948 version (2:23).

And here’s my “Baby Fae” which should be sung to the same tune. It helps if you try to picture a line of chorus girls singing it; move your hands back and forth if you like, the way they do in show biz.

Baby Fae

Baby Fae,
You’ve got that certain somethin’,
Baby Fae,
Keep that new heart a-pumpin’,
One day real soon
You’ll be a baboon,
Gee, the doctors love ya,
They made a monkey of ya,
Baby Fae,
If you like strained bananas
Sue the A.M.A.,
With missing links they toyed
And now you’re anthropoid,
Our little ape-girl, Baby Fae!

and now for the reprise and the big finish:

Baby Fae,
If you like strained bananas
Sue the A.M.A.,
With missing links they toyed
(dunt dunt dunt DUNT dunt dunt)
And now you’re anthropoid,
(dunt dunt dunt DUNT dunt dunt)
Our little ape-girl baby,
Little ape-girl baby,
Little ape- (*kick*) girl (*kick*),
Bay- (*kick*) bee (*kick*) Faaaaaaaae!

and exit, stage left to wild applause.

I wish I had thought to send it in to Saturday Night Live or somewhere but I didn’t.

P.S. - The A.M.A. is the American Medical Association.

P.P.S. - No barbary macaques were harmed in the making of this post.

P.P.P.S. - In a comment, Carol in Cairns (FNQ) calls my song, or maybe my whole post, “light and witty.” Therefore, to inject some all-too-rare seriousness into our fun, here is more information about Baby Fae.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A worrisome thing that leads you to sing the blues in the night

Let us now praise famous men shift our attention from blue boys and blue periods to the American writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1896 and died in Hollywood, California, in 1940. He wrote five novels
(one of them is The Great Gatsby and the other four aren’t, and one of them wasn’t published until after his death) and several collections of short stories (one of them contains the story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and the others don’t, and one of them wasn't published until -- déjà vu -- after his death).

Fitzgerald’s American credentials were pretty impressive. His second cousin, three times removed, was Francis Scott Key, the chap who is remembered for having written “The Star-Spangled Banner” (although its original title was “Defence of Fort McHenry”) in 1814; and his first cousin, once removed, was Mary Surratt, a woman hanged in 1865 for conspiring to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

Before we look at one of his works, first you must read this entire article to get a flavor of his life and to understand better what you will be reading later. Then we will proceed.

Finished already?

Today we are going to look at “The Crack-Up”, a series of three non-fiction articles that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in 1936, late in his career.

Because I like them, that’s why, and this is my blog, after all.

If anyone could be called blue, it was F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1936. His wife Zelda had been admitted to a mental institution and he had not yet met his lover, gossip columnist Sheilah Graham. [Editor’s note. For extra credit, read this. --RWP]

“The Crack-Up” appeared in Esquire magazine in the February, March, and April 1936 issues as a series of three articles. Only the first article was entitled “The Crack-Up” originally. The second article was entitled “Pasting It Together” and the third article was entitled “Handle With Care”.

I know this is a lot of reading for one day, but you will be the better for it.

Here are all three parts of “The Crack-Up”.

One last thing:

This is not Zelda Fitzgerald, nor is it Sheilah Graham.

This is Mary Surratt.

Now maybe you’ll go read that Fitzgerald novel you’ve been meaning to get around to.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A huge oversight on my part

Once upon a time in the seventeenth century, in the country called England, there lived a painter. He looked like this:

He painted that portrait himself. It is, as it were, a self-portrait.
I really grow weary of having to explain everything to you.

What this particular painter longed to do was paint landscapes, but people kept asking him to paint their portraits. One time he painted a portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Andrews. They looked like this:

Another time he painted a portrait of Mr. and Mrs. William Hallett. They looked like this:

As I said earlier, what he really wanted to do was paint landscapes, and you may have noticed that he managed to work landscapes into some of his portraits. But people kept paying him to paint their portraits.

Here is Mrs. Thomas Hibbert:

...and here is Miss Read (later Mrs. William Vilebois):

...and here is Lady Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire:

...and here is John Needham, the tenth Viscount Kilmorey:

Are you bored yet?

Portraits can be so tiresome, but there is a reason I am devoting an entire post to this artist’s work, and that reason is that I committed a huge oversight. I omitted from a recent post of mine the painting for which this particular artist is most famous, and it deserved to be included.

The painter’s name was Thomas Gainsborough. He was fond of using blues when he painted, but in one portrait he completely outdid himself.

Here is Gainsborough’s best-known work, The Blue Boy:

The identity of the blue boy is unknown. It is thought to be a portrait of Jonathan Buttall (1752 – 1805), the son of a wealthy hardware merchant, although this has never been proven.

A thousand pardons, sir, for my negligence. You deserved better from me. I hope this post in some small way makes up for my having omitted your masterpiece.

Dear reader, if you do not care for Gainsborough, there’s always Picasso's Blue Period.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Black and white and read all over

(Nubian woman, circa 1900)

Black is the color of coal, ebony, and of outer space. It is the darkest color, the result of the absence of or complete absorption of light. It is the opposite of white and often represents darkness in contrast with light.

In the Roman Empire, black became the color of mourning, and over the centuries it was frequently associated with death, evil, witches and magic. In the fourteenth century, it began to be worn by royalty, the clergy, judges, and government officials in much of Europe. It became the color worn by English romantic poets, businessmen, and statesmen in the nineteenth century, and a high fashion color in the twentieth century. In the Western World today, it is the color most commonly associated with mourning, the end, secrets, magic, power, violence, evil, and elegance.

Common connotations of black include power, death, elegance, evil, darkness, mystery, Nubians, Halloween, coal, petroleum, sin, outer space, anarchism, profit, night, bad luck, crime, and sophistication.

Here is an example of the black of outer space: A photograph taken by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, settled in for an evening of stargazing, of the two moons of Mars -- Deimos and Phobos -- as they travel across the night sky in front of the constellation Sagittarius. Phobos is the brighter object on the right; Deimos is on the left. Spirit acquired these enhanced-brightness images with the panoramic camera on the night of sol 585 (Aug. 26, 2005). Scientists will use images of the two moons to better map their orbital positions, learn more about their composition, and monitor the presence of nighttime clouds or haze. (For Adrian and other photography buffs, Spirit took the image using the camera’s broadband filter, which was designed specifically for acquiring images under low-light conditions.)

(Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Texas A&M)

According to jazz singer/pianist Nina Simone, black is the color of her true love’s hair (7:04).

White, on the other hand, is the color of fresh milk and snow. It is the color the human eye sees when it looks at light which contains all the wavelengths of the visible spectrum, at full brightness and without absorption. It does not have any hue.

As a symbol, white is the opposite of black, and often represents light in contrast with darkness. According to surveys in Europe and the United States, white is the color most often associated with innocence, perfection, the good, honesty, cleanliness, the beginning, the new, neutrality, lightness, and exactitude.

Common connotations of white include purity, nobility, softness, emptiness, ghosts, snow, ice, heaven, Caucasian, peace, clean, light, life, surrender, clouds, frost, milk, good, cotton, angels, winter, innocence, sterility, and coldness.

Here is a white horse, and (just to confuse you) a man dressed in black, and a woman dressed in red who is riding a black horse:

Here is a white house and a glass of milk:

The images are not to scale.

I thought you should know.

Since it has recently come to my attention that (a) someone has already written at length about many shades of grey and (b) a drink called “Black and Tan” purportedly contains alcohol, I have decided not to write about either grey or tan. I wouldn’t want to bore you or to lead you any further astray than you already are.

Introducing Mr. Roy G. Biv

This post is especially for Adrian and Jeannelle of Iowa (not to be confused with Eleanor of Aquitaine) and Elizabeth Stanforth-Sharpe and Neil Theasby and every one of you who ever took a marvelous photograph and posted it in your blog. It is also for LightExpectations (who is a synesthete) and Helsie in Brisbane and Carol in Cairns (that’s in Far North Queensland, you know) and anyone else who has the least bit of artistic sensibility.

Here are some shades of red:

According to Wikipedia, red is the color of blood, rubies, and strawberries. It is commonly associated with danger, sacrifice, passion, fire, beauty, blood, anger, socialism and communism, and in China and many other cultures, with happiness.

Common connotations of red include love, hate, courage, martyrdom, force, heat, energy, happiness, well-being, aggression, anger, seduction, sexuality, eroticism, immorality, autumn, socialism, communism, passion, beauty, fire, masculinity, danger, blood, Christmas, and war.

Here are some shades of orange:

In Europe and America, orange is commonly associated with amusement, the unconventional, extroverts, fire, activity, danger, taste and aroma, the autumn season, and Protestantism. In Asia, it is an important symbolic colour of Buddhism and Hinduism.

Common connotations of orange include warning, autumn, desire, fire, Halloween, Thanksgiving, prisoners, Orangism (Netherlands), Unionism (Ireland), Indian religions, engineering, determination, compassion, endurance, and optimism.

Here are some shades of yellow:

Yellow is the color of gold, butter, ripe lemons, and ripe bananas. It is commonly associated with gold, sunshine, reason, optimism and pleasure, but also with envy, jealousy and betrayal. It plays an important part in Asian culture, particularly in China.

Common connotations of yellow include sunshine, warmth, fun, happiness, warning, friendship, caution, slow, cowardice, Mardi Gras, summer, lemons, Easter, autumn, spring, electricity, liberalism/libertarianism, hope, optimism, and imagination.

Here are some shades of green:

Green is the color of emeralds, jade, and growing grass. It is the color most commonly associated with nature and the environmental movement, Ireland, Islam, spring, hope, and envy.

Common connotations of green include nature, growth, grass, hope, youth, inexperience, health, sickness, Irish nationalism, Islam, spring, Saint Patrick’s Day, money (US), greed, and envy.

Here are some shades of blue:

Blue is the color of the clear sky and the deep sea.

Common connotations of blue include ice, water, sky, sadness, winter, police, royalty, Hanukkah, boys, cold, calm, magic, trueness, conservatism (outside the US). and liberalism (US).

Now we come to a disputed area, indigo.

Indigo is a color that was traditionally regarded as a color on the visible spectrum and as one of the seven colors of the rainbow: the color between blue and violet. Although traditionally considered one of seven major spectral colors, its actual position in the electromagnetic spectrum is controversial. Indigo is a deep and bright color close to the color wheel blue (a primary color in the RGB color space), as well as to some variants of ultramarine. The color indigo was named after the Indigo dye derived from the plant Indigofera tinctoria and related species. The first recorded use of indigo as a color name in English was in 1289.

This is indigo:

It’s all Isaac Newton’s fault. Isaac Newton introduced indigo as one of the seven colors in his spectrum. In the mid-1660s, when Newton bought a pair of prisms at a fair near Cambridge, the East India Company had begun importing indigo dye into England, supplanting the homegrown woad as the source of blue dye. In a pivotal experiment in the history of optics, the young Newton shone a narrow beam of sunlight through a prism to produce a rainbow-like band of colors on the wall. In describing this optical spectrum, Newton acknowledged that the spectrum had a continuum of colors, but named seven colors: “The originall or primary colours are Red, yellow, Green, Blue, & a violet purple; together with Orange, Indico, & an indefinite varietie of intemediate gradations.”

Indigo is therefore counted as one of the traditional colors of the rainbow, the order of which (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet) is given by the mnemonic Roy G. Biv.

Later scientists have concluded that Newton named the colors differently from current usage. According to Gary Waldman, “A careful reading of Newton’s work indicates that the color he called indigo, we would normally call blue; his blue is then what we would name blue-green or cyan.” The human eye does not readily discriminate among hues in the wavelengths between blue and violet. If this is where Newton meant indigo to lie, most individuals would have difficulty distinguishing indigo from its neighbors. Isaac Asimov said, “It is customary to list indigo as a color lying between blue and violet, but it has never seemed to me that indigo is worth the dignity of being considered a separate color. To my eyes it seems merely deep blue.”

Which brings us to violet.

Here are some shades of violet:

According to surveys in Europe and the United States, violet is the color most commonly associated with the extravagant, the individualist, ambiguity, the unconventional, and the artificial. While violet is the color of humility in the symbolism of the Catholic Church, it has exactly the opposite meaning in general society. A European poll in 2000 showed it was the color most commonly associated with vanity. As a color that rarely exists in nature, and a color which by its nature attracts attention, it is seen as a color of individualism and extravagance. In Chinese painting, the color violet represents the harmony of the universe because it is a combination of red and blue (Yin and yang respectively).

There is much to be found online concerning the difference between violet and purple. Here are some shades of purple (which is not violet):

Here’s my favorite painting with colors in the violet-purple area, April Love (1856), an oil on canvas by the pre-Raphaelite painter Arthur Hughes (1832 - 1915):

The Oxford English Dictionary describes purple as a deep, rich shade between crimson and violet. Wikipedia says the word 'purple' comes from the Old English word purpul which derives from the Latin purpura, in turn from the Greek πορφύρα (porphura), the name of the Tyrian purple dye manufactured in classical antiquity from a mucus secreted by the spiny dye-murex sea snail.

All righty, then.

Is your head swimming yet?

If your head isn’t swimming yet, it will be by the time you finish this article about lavender.

Well, class, that’s enough for one day. More than enough.

Tomorrow (or whenever my next post appears), maybe we’ll talk about black and white. And tan. And grey.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Separated at birth?

Joy Behar, American comedian, writer, actress, and former co-host with Barbara Walters on the ABC talk show The View.

Bette Midler, American singer-songwriter, actress, comedian, film producer, and entrepreneur.

One says she was born in Honolulu. One says she was born in Brooklyn.

One sings better than the other.

Other than those two teensy-weensy differences, they are practically identical.

For your information, this is my sixth foray into “Separated at birth?” territory, the others having been:

1. Barney Franks and Buddy Hackett (March 21, 2009)
2. Tanya Tucker and Paula White (July 15, 2009)
3. Larry “Bud” Melman and Truman Capote (May 21, 2010)
4. George Stephanopolous and Pat Monahan (June 9, 2010)
5. Woody Harrelson and Casey Cagle (November 10, 2010)

This could get to be habit-forming.

But can I help it if everyone seems to have a twin?

Sometimes it’s downright scary.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Le cordon bleu

My blogger friend Elizabeth Stanforth-Sharpe published a post the other day entitled “Oxford Blue” that consisted of a single photograph. I was inspired to find out more about (what else?) blue.

The Free Dictionary defines blue as “the hue of that portion of the visible spectrum lying between green and indigo, evoked in the human observer by radiant energy with wavelengths of approximately 420 to 490 nanometers” but the article in Wikipedia begins with “Blue is the colour of the clear sky and the deep sea.”

I was hooked. I kept reading the Wikipedia article.

I found this:

(Wheat- field Under Clouded Sky (July 1890), one of the last works of Vincent Van Gogh)

and this:

(In his Gare Saint-Lazare (1877), Claude Monet used several recently-invented colours including cobalt blue, invented in 1807; cerulean blue, invented in 1860; and French ultramarine, first made in 1828.)

and this:

(In Starry Night Over the Rhone (1888), Van Gogh created a mood or atmosphere with a cobalt blue sky, and cobalt or ultramarine water)

and this:

(Coronation of Louis VIII and Blanche of Castille at Reims in 1223; a miniature from the Grandes Chroniques de France, painted in the 1450s, is kept at the National Library of France.)

and this:

(Photo of seagull against an azure sky by Kiban (2009). Used by permission in accordance with GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)

and this:

(Figure of a servant from the tomb of King Seth I (1244–1279 BC). Used in accordance with Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)

and this:

(The Great Wave Off Kanagawa by 19th-century Japanese woodblock artist Hokusai used Prussian blue, a synthetic colour imported from Europe)

and this:

(Dendrobates azureus, the poison dart frog from Brazil)

and this:

(Two horses for Münster, neon sculpture by Stephan Huber (2002). Photograph by Wikipedia user de:Benutzer:AndreKR used by permission under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)

and even these:

{Photo of blueberries (2006) by Scott Schopieray. Used in accordance with Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license)

...which are used in the making of:

Oxford blue ice cream!

I found lots of other blue things as well.

Strangely, I was not inspired to find out more about Oxford.

I think it has something to do with these:

Monday, August 5, 2013

How are things in Oxymora? Is that little brook still leapin’ there?

Oxymora, in case you didn’t know, is not a village in Ireland.
It is the plural of oxymoron. Yes, it is. So is oxymorons.

Would I lie to you?

According to, an oxymoron is a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.”

Here are some more oxymora oxymorons of them:

open secret
larger half
clearly confused
act naturally
alone together
Hell's Angels
found missing
liquid gas
deafening silence
seriously funny
living dead
jumbo shrimp
Advanced BASIC
tragic comedy
unbiased opinion
virtual reality
definite maybe
original copies
pretty ugly
same difference
plastic glasses
almost exactly
constant variable
even odds
minor crisis
extinct life
genuine imitation
exact estimate
only choice
freezer burn
working holiday
rolling stop
free trade
peacekeeper missile
sweet tart
crash landing
now then
sweet sorrow
student teacher
silent scream
taped live
good grief
tight slacks
living dead
old news
hot chili
criminal justice
peace force

Can you think of more?

Microsoft Works is not an oxymoron. It may be mildly amusing, even aggravating, that Microsoft does not always work as you think it should, but Microsoft Works is not an oxymoron. Neither is Great Depression. Mountainous Depression, now that would be an oxymoron.

If you were confused by the title of this post, if you expected something else, if perhaps a tune you can’t quite place is running through your head, click here (2:31).

There, now, don’t you feel better?

Friday, August 2, 2013


Reader Hilltophomesteader left this comment on yesterday’s post: “Ok, I wasn’t absolutely certain after the ‘blue’ post, but now I’m positive that perhaps you should ask your doctor what affect [sic] the shingles virus has upon the mind.... You might get Mrs. RWP to drive you there and maybe hold your hand while the doc gives his diagnosis......(p.s. whilst you are at home recovering, you might want to check into Shakespearean insults) Be sure to mention to the doc that you’ve taken up Tuvan Throat Singing, as well.....”

Then Carol in Cairns (that’s in Far North Queensland, you know) opined as how the Julie Andrews Inspired Mark Shea Evilness Diagnostic Generator could be applied to many things, such as what would Chuck Norris do in a given situation, and she ended by saying some people have far too much free time on their hands.

Well, I have absolutely no idea what Chuck Norris would do, as he is not exactly on my radar these days, but Carol’s suggestion reminded me of a post I wrote nearly five years ago (where does the time go?) that I hope you will read once again if you have been around that long. Around here, I mean. I do think that most of my readers are older than five, but one can never be sure.

If you’re five, I’m sure you’re probably much more interested on a day-to-day basis in what these guys would do:

I hope all of you, no matter how old you are or what you might be doing, have a very pleasant first weekend in August.

Why don’t you just move to Austria.

I’m sure nobody has noticed it here on the blog, but some people think I’m a little quirky. Not that anyone has ever come up to me and actually said, “You know what, I think you’re a little quirky,” but I can tell that’s what people are thinking. For example, when I make a perfectly innocent little joke that happens to demonstrate my breadth of experience and my depth of intelligence and my absolutely extraordinary grasp of the English language, some people might laugh, but other people dart little looks at one another that plainly say, “Hey, this guy is a little quirky.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

And then they politely excuse themselves and go elsewhere or they sit there and humor me, not taking me seriously any longer, or they join in the fun themselves.

Because it takes all kinds.

That being the case, I read all sorts of blogs (Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, None) and I can tell you for a fact that there are people in this world who are quirkier than I ever thought of being, a whole lot quirkier. Believe you me, I couldn’t hold a candle to their quirkiness, especially the ones who are convicted felons.

I’m just kidding. As far as I know, I do not read the blogs of any convicted felons. Please let me know if you are a convicted felon.

Let me get to the point of this post.

I found something called The Julie Andrews Inspired Mark Shea Evilness Diagnostic Generator with which you can generate insults. A guy named James Preece came up with it so that he could direct some insults at a guy named Mark Shea, and then he made it possible for all of us to generate them, five at a time. James Preece and Mark Shea could be cloistered Buddhists moonlighting as streetsweepers for all I know, but if I had to hazard a guess I would guess that they are Irish Catholics, especially since one of them has a blog called Catholic and Enjoying It.

Here are some of the things you can generate with The Julie Andrews Inspired Mark Shea Evilness Diagnostic Generator:

You are really a deer, a female deer.
You hate girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes.
You love when I’m feeling sad.
You hate America and want to destroy it.
Why don’t you just move to Austria.

You are really a name I call myself.
You hate doorbells and sleigh bells.
You love when the dog bites.
You hate America and want to destroy it.
Why don’t you just move to Austria.

You are really a deer, a female deer.
You hate whiskers on kittens.
You love when I’m feeling sad.
You hate America and want to destroy it.
Why don’t you just move to Austria.

You are really a long, long way to run.
You hate silver white winters that melt into springs.
You love when the dog bites.
You hate America and want to destroy it.
Why don’t you just move to Austria.

You are really a name I call myself.
You hate raindrops on roses.
You love when I’m feeling sad.
You hate America and want to destroy it.
Why don’t you just move to Austria.

You are really a long, long way to run.
You hate snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes.
You love when the bee stings.
You hate America and want to destroy it.
Why don’t you just move to Austria.

You are really a needle pulling thread.
You hate wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings.
You love when I’m feeling sad.
You hate America and want to destroy it.
Why don’t you just move to Austria.

You are really a note to follow sew.
You hate schnitzel with noodles.
You love when I’m feeling sad.
You hate America and want to destroy it.
Why don’t you just move to Austria.

You are really a drink with jam and bread.
You hate whiskers on kittens.
You love when the dog bites.
You hate America and want to destroy it.
Why don’t you just move to Austria.

You are really a drink with jam and bread.
You hate crisp apple streudels.
You love when the bee stings.
You hate America and want to destroy it.
Why don’t you just move to Austria.

You are really a long, long way to run.
You hate raindrops on roses.
You love when I’m feeling sad.
You hate America and want to destroy it.
Why don’t you just move to Austria.

You are really a long, long way to run.
You hate warm woolen mittens.
You love when the dog bites.
You hate America and want to destroy it.
Why don’t you just move to Austria.

You are really a long, long way to run.
You hate whiskers on kittens.
You love when I’m feeling sad.
You hate America and want to destroy it.
Why don’t you just move to Austria.

It turns out that The Julie Andrews Inspired Mark Shea Evilness Diagnostic Generator has been around since 2009, but if you’d like to try your hand at it and are easily entertained, here it is.

P.S. - My commitment to truth in blogging compels me to admit that parts of this post were written by Oscar Hammerstein II.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Whatever that is.

It is also another one of the dog days of summer of 2013 in the northern hemisphere, the diēs caniculārēs, which every person worth his or her salt knows have something or other to do with a bright star called Sirius in the constellation Canis Major.

You did know that, didn’t you?

Oh, wait. I forgot all about “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which I believe originated in another context altogether but which I will now generously apply to whether you know anything about the origin of the dog days. I will simply assume that each person reading this post is worth his or her salt, and no one will be the wiser, although some may have their suspicions.

Canis Major means Large Dog or, more accurately, Dog Large, since the speakers of Latin among us continue to put their nouns before their adjectives, which is roughly equivalent to putting their carts before their horses but nothing at all like putting I before E except after C or when sounded like A as in neighbor and weigh.

The Dog Days should not be confused with Dog Days (ドッグデイズ, Doggu Deizu), a 2011 Japanese fantasy anime television series about Cinque Izumi, a cheerful and athletic half-Japanese, half-English boy who is summoned to the alternate world of Flonyar (where people look no different from humans except that they have animal ears and tails) by the dog-like Princess Millhiore of the Biscotti Republic ((ビスコッティ共和国, Bisukotti Kyōwa-koku), to assist in the war against the forces of the feline-like Galette Lion Dominion (ガレット獅子団領, Garetto Shishi Danrei).

I am not even kidding.

If you are really worth your salt as a reader of this blog, you should know what I’m about to say about the war between the forces of the Biscotti Republic and the forces of the Galette Lion Dominion. Here it comes. Wait for it...wait for it...

They fight like cats and dogs.

Yes, they do.

Kind of like the Houses of Lancaster and York.

In conclusion, a very happy YORKSHIRE DAY to each and every one of you, even those of you from Lancashire, and may all your Doggu Deizu Dog Days be merry and bright.

I will be laboring (<i>British,</i> labouring) under a handicap for the next couple of weeks (<i>British,</i> fortnight)

More about that below. First, though, I want to add an addendum (what else would you do with an addendum?) to my previous post about phone...