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Showing posts from October, 2011

History: Same Stuff, Different Epoch

Plain Dealer outdoors writer D'arcy Egan recently wrote a series of articles on efforts to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. In one piece, he discussed the Asian carp's presence in the Illinois River. And what he said about the march of the Asian carp, it seemed to me, could have been said about the march of another species, and I took the liberty of rewriting a section of that piece.
Is Africa a preview of the world's future?With apologies to D'Arcy Egan, the Plain Dealer's outdoors writer.The Wooly Mammoth Press-Prevaricator, Oct. 22, 55,001 BCSOMEWHERE IN AFRICA- There have been experts who say human beings won't survive outside of this small enclave in Africa. The rest of the world is too cold, they suggest, and will not provide the level of comfort the funny looking bipeds need in order to thrive and reproduce. But nobody needs to tell the saber-tooth tigers and mastodons how amazingly adaptable and resilient humans are, and how they can easily overwh…

Gee, I Didn't See That

"The man who doesn't read," someone once said, "is no better off than the man who can't." 'Tis true. 'Tis true. And 'tis equally true of the man who does not read carefully. That truth smacked me across the face not once but twice within forty-eight hours. And I was trying to get to the library both times. Strange, isn't it.For some time now I've been telling myself I need a project. After several months of telling myself this, I got around to looking for one, and after a few more months of feigned thought and purposeful procrastination, I determined, one day last week, what the project should be. In the early 1990s, my byline appeared twice in Cobblestone, a history magazine for middle school kids. Why not see what I can do twenty years later, I thought. Being a thoroughly modern man, I went to the magazine's website and took a look at its theme list for the coming year. Saturday morning I found a couple topics I thought I could han…

It Did Not Compute

The computer has been uncooperative for several days. High Tech and High StrungThe computer is congested With all the stuff it’s ingested - The silly poems that I’ve devised And the inane things I’ve surmised. Yes indeedy it’s been force-fed All my foolish nonsense instead Of important things and the like. Now it’s told me to take a hike. All I asked it to do was print, It said, “Listen, bub, take a hint, I can’t answer when you call. I’m not responding. That is all.”
Bad ComputerMy computer needs dissected For not behaving as it ought. Since it hates to be corrected, My computer needs dissected And most thoroughly inspected Before it’s taken out and shot. My computer needs dissected For not behaving as it ought.

Stumped on the Stump

It's in the dictionary: disambiguate. It reminds me of Bush's misrememberate, a word that always makes me hyperventilate and sometimes even makes me discombobulate. They're words for those who want to circumambulate proven facts. Politicians overcompensate
with sesquipedalians to overcompensate for ideas they'd rather not disambiguate. They also tiptoe as they circumambulate, or say, "Oh, I guess I must misremeberate. That liberal press just makes me discombobulate and more than once it's made me hyperventilate."
It is not abnormal to hyperventilate when one's stumped and trying to overcompensate while working so hard not to discombobulate, worried that someone's going to disambiguate his harangue. Then he'll claim to misrememberate, or convolute the truth and circumambulate
it if he can. If he can't circumambulate embarrassing stuff, he might hyperventilate, which sometimes causes him to misrememberate the lies he's spewed. So then he'll overcompensat…

Give Me that Old Time Religion

I am sitting here waiting for God to speak to me. He hasn't yet, and I'm not sure why. I mean, I'm here every day, listening for his voice in my head, or on the phone, maybe. I even cast a hopeful glance at my e-mail now and then in case that's how God reaches people nowadays. How much trouble would it be for him to call and say, "Just wanted to let you know, Tom, that you're soooo, soooo special, and I have endowed you with special powers of understanding, prophecy and insight"? He's awfully busy, I know, assuring each of the Republican presidential candidates that only he or she can save the country from perdition. But, come on, he's God, isn't he? Surely there's an angel available to take over pumping up Rick Perry's ego for a few minutes while the big guy gets in touch with me. Besides, Rick's well-coifed head might explode if the pumping doesn't stop soon.
I know I won't be an easy case for the angels and archangels, …

A Weekend of Cuddles

The first weekend in October was much too much like the weekends yet to come between now and May. The clouds rolled in Friday and never left. They weren't the great thunderheads of summer that bring excitement along with inclemency. The sky this weekend was the dirty, dull dishwater gray of winter, unending blandness from horizon to horizon. And it rained - it rained a lot - but not as a display of Nature's wrath; this rain was the dripping of a million leaky faucets. If the thermometer topped fifty, it did just barely and not for long.The weekend wasn't without a bright spot, however, and that bright spot was Cuddles the Cat. During the summer, Cuddles was in her Vanna White mode. She was out of sight most of the time, and when she did make an appearance, it was only to slink suggestively across the room, lest her two-legged acquaintances forget that she is ravishing, indeed.Perhaps the unrelenting overcast made Cuddles' favorite spots too drab for her finicky feline …

Time Marches On Without Me

A lot of the cursing you hear these days is from people bemoaning the demise of cursive writing. Indiana no longer requires schools to teach cursive, and several other states are reducing the amount of time schools must spend teaching it. In this age of computers and electronic tablets, pen-and-paper skills are assumed to be passé. The 21st Century teenager seldom if ever writes in cursive, and apparently more than a few cannot read the notes Grandma includes with their birthday cards. Of course, for the last fifty-five years, people have been cursing my attempts at cursive and claiming they can't read them. But a quick survey of the fonts available in my standard issue Microsoft Word reveals five cursive options. So what's the big deal?The big deal is the decline of cursive writing is further evidence that I am antiquated. The world wasn't always this way. If a man from ancient Rome suddenly found himself in New York in 1800, life would have been much the same as the life…