Wednesday, February 28, 2007



Thine eye is blue,
thy stein, loaded.


Tho thou pens
for Associated Pukes,
Thine eye, tis blue,
Thy Stein, LOADED!


Thine pen doth drip in ink so blue,
thy stein, tis loaded with loathsome news.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Euthanasia Proponents Have New Armor

Dr. Fabian Greaves of the University of Cincinnati is raising eyebrows with a controversial new approach to Euthanasia, but he is already seeing a groundswell of support from civil libertarians and human rights advocates.

"Basically, the proposals I've made are not new:" Greaves asserts. "I've just taken good, solid jurisprudence and applied it to the Euthanasia debate"

At the heart of Dr. Greave's dynamic new proposal is the equivalence he draws between in-vivo termination and the right-to-die.

"Look at it this way: no-one knows when life begins, right? A lot of handwaving occurs, but most people say it's somewhere after the first trimester. OK, so we don't know when life begins. So how do we know when it ends? Just cause someone's not breathing? Give me a break!"

Dr. Greaves asserts that the moment of death, like the moment of life, cannot be determined scientifically. Failing a clear 'inflection point', society must leave leeway or risk infringing on civil liberties.

"He's got it just right," affirms Ms. Tellewanda Kroup of Greater Cincinnati Planned Parenthood. "First they go telling you when people are alive and then they go telling you when they're dead."

Critics argue that Greaves' theory could mean fundamental changes in the rights of the elderly, but Dr. Greaves remains convinced of the validity of his approach.

"It's no surprise to me that the usual suspects are all up in arms about this. I mean, everybody with a PhD after their name knows that the Catholics and Fundamentalists are going to be gunning for them every time they put pen to paper. But it doesn't change the hard science. And the hard science says this: For at least three months before someone is really dead, I mean, dead in the sense of not breathing, having no brain function, and whatnot, they can be considered to be legally dead."

True to Dr. Greave's predictions, Philip Dbrovickiswicz of Cincinnati LifeForce, an anti-choice organization, said "This guy's an idiot. He's wanting to kill people three months before they die? And how does he know they're going to die on a specific date? Is anybody listening? Hello?"

But Kroup has a quick answer for such zealotry: "To people like Dbrovickiswicz, I say: Keep Your Compline off my Suicide Machine!"

Legal experts say that Dr. Greaves' approach bears initial scrutiny. "He's got a good case," responded Jack Corvelle of Corvelle, Plebe,and Dawkins, a Cincinnati legal team specializing in suing Roman Catholics.

"All these anti-choice fanatics can't stand in the way of progress, and progress means killing people three months before they were going to die anyway," Greaves asserts. "They can get their Archbishops down on their knees praying all they want, but damn it! We're going to make life a lot easier for a lot of suffering elderly."

Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati is surprised by his characterization as an opponent. "I think they've got me confused with that guy from LifeForce because we've both got a lot of consonants in our names. Frankly, I think Greaves' idea is intriguing, and we ought not judge too quickly. The Church is here for the whole person. As Catholics, we have done a terrible job in explaining the position of the Church. Certain things like the Vatican's prohibition against euthanasia are really a sort of invitation to dialog, rather than some sort of wholesale rejection. After all, the quasicanonical Gospel of Herod clearly states 'and ye shall slay them on whatever day ye find them," and that, I think, is not so easily dismissed, even by our radical traditionalists."

But reassurances from the Archdiocese are not likely to mollify the grassroots supporters of Dr. Greaves, who find themselves energized and enthusiastic about the possibility of progress. "This is a new era," gushes Melanie Hart, a pro-choice case worker, "this is not about responding to problems, like in children-by-choice. Now this is about getting ahead of the problems. I mean, now we're even taking death out of the hands of that white-bearded old God. It's like we're saying: We're here! We decide. Get used to it."

The Lenten Castle

Build thy Lenten castle
With walls of three yards thick
With penance and with discipline
For mortar and for brick

Raise up high the battlements
Stow all thy sins of past
For bitterness and wasted years
Should break thy Lenten fast

Block the windows, seal the doors
And strip the chambers bare
Retreat lest dies cinerum
Should catch thee unaware

Then deep within, now hide thyself!
And patiently, now wait!
The muffled blows upon the door!
The devil’s at the gate!

Unfriendly eyes are watching thee
Cold fingers on thy soul
So pray thy Lenten stronghold
Though cold and grim, is whole

In forty days, as breath is drawn
As Pasch arrives again
Raise, once more, the portcullis
And face the world of men

Ode to Tomography

All we know of gallantry
Is shining mail and greave
We forget the altar vigil
Lonely on the knighting’s eve

Every shape we think we see
We only see it stop
Like the ocean; despite great depths
We only see the top

I sing the Tomolog’s graces
For I sing of what’s inside
That solid core of chivalry
Where the devil cannot hide

So keep your thin topology
Your world of hollow shells
Your brief façade of beauty
Over multilayered hells

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

An Observation of Breath

On my drive tonight, I thought of how life enters us (life in this world).

They say that God moves on the Wind, and I believe, for it is written in the account of Moses on the Rock.

Life in this world enters our breast with that first breath, like icey steel that stings untested, fleshy lung - pink, and as new to this world as our young eyes.

Clarity of sight enters, and life with each new breath...a breath of the wind that is a part of God Himself (for it is on it that He moves).

Does the wind belong to any man?

No more than the breath...captured but for an instant and can only be held so long before it must be returned to rigthful owner before seaking another, anew.

Can we say that it is our last, or our first, something that is never, really ours at all?

It is the breath of this life, a life in a temple that we borrow, for a time and in time returns.

And while life on this side of the womb relies on that intial breath from God (and thus sustained), there is a life before where no wind would move within watery orb, yet the life it was of another realm.

And before, another realm still.

The life perpetuates through constant winds, and water and wave.

And in that time before eyespot and tiny brain stem, there was life then too.

Now the soul, tis true, is ours to hold, but the wise return gift-for-gift to the palm of old, the rider of wind, the Father, foretold.

In the end it returns to that from which it was so well recieved, and the life itself protected eternal from both wind and wave by the gentle hand of the Three that are One.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Barrett Greenfield Chapter 3: Calvin

Barrett tossed in his sleep that evening, troubled by strange, fragmented dreams through which Lydia drifted, taunting and unreachable. Beside him in the dark, his brother Archer snored raspingly, periodically bringing Barrett into semi-consciousness. During these interludes, the events of the preceding evening came rushing in upon him, and he struggled to find solace in the deep disruption of his life.

His dreams clung to him each time he awoke, and he tasted them briefly before they faded. They were feverish - bearing confused scenarios of rapprochement or hostility, twisted and disjointed arguments with their principal players merging into one another in unlikely amalgams. Under all of the dreams was a taut sexual impulse, that spurred on incessant images of Lydia's breasts straining at her tunic. But even through the desire, Barrett always felt the claustrophobia. He was being cornered, and he knew that he would behave as any animal would. Tossing, sweating, he rode through half-aware arousal to see Lydia's face merge into the maddening stare of Calvin Applewood, to see Calvin's sneer become the drooling maw of a mad dog, and that mad dog sprout the long white locks of Dana Wolfwood.

At last, the sky outside began to lighten perceptibly, and with it he shook off the last of the dreams and came fully awake. Barrett's mouth was dry and tired, and he longed to make his way downstairs for a drink. But instead he lay still, soaking in the relief of the dawn. The thin light brought the shapes of the room into focus, the smooth white walls contrasting with the dark wooden beds, and the chests at their feet. As the oldest male child of the Greenfield family, Barrett's bed was arranged closest to the door - Barrett was to serve as both night-watchman on his brothers and as disciplinarian, preserving order at all costs. There was no need now, for his three brothers slept on, oblivious to Barrett's glances in their direction.

Barrett considered, and summarily rejected the hypothesis that dreams were a subconscious analytic process. Rather than bringing resolution, the dreams of the night had only brought a faint nausea and a persistent anxiety. But with the automatic functions of the introspective and self-defensive, Barrett launched immediately into unrelated action in order to clear his head.

Barrett rose and stripped off his nightgown. Hanging it on the hook beside his bed, he padded to the chest at its foot and opened it. The wooden-pin hinges creaked loudly in the dim room, and Archer stirred in his sleep. Barrett made no specific effort to be quiet as he selected a pair of light brown leather trousers and pulled them on. He followed these with a green tunic, lacing the neck with one hand as he rummaged under his bed for his boots.

Clothed and shod, he stood up and surveyed the room. The sun had risen over the mountains, washing the sky in a gentle pink glow. Archer eyed him from across the room, then closed his eyes quickly to feign sleep.

"I see that you are awake," Barrett said evenly.

"Let us sleep, Barrett. We had to do all the work last night."

Dell and Dale stirred, Dell pulling the covers up over his head and making a muffled groan.

"You didn't do have the work of the girls," Barrett replied, "let them sleep in. It's time we were up and readying the kitchen.

Silence followed as Archer obstinately closed his eyes. Barrett sighed, walked to the foot of Archer's bed, and pulled the covers away. Enduring his brother's glares, he kicked the foot of Dell's bed and then did the same to Dale's.

"Enough. It is Saturday morning and you know well enough that we have chores. I am hungry, and the sooner we prepare the kitchen, the sooner we eat. Now, up!"

Archer, Dell, and Dale swung out of their beds, Archer continuing to eye Barrett all the while.

"You barely slept last night, Barrett" Archer prodded. "Is something troubling you? Could it be that you have a touch of nerves where Lydia is concerned?" Archer's insight was not unexpected. Barrett knew well that he could not avoid the observations of his family, but was prepared to deal with the matter as he always had.

"It is none of your concern, Archer. Note that while I slept fitfully, I am the first to wake, first to dress, and am discharging my obligation to move you louts into action. As to Lydia, it is a matter out of my hands. The decision will be made by Father and Havoc Wolfwood."

Archer chuckled. Dell and Dale were beginning to pay attention to the discussion.

"I know you better than that, Barrett. When you find yourself assigned a task by Father you accept it and don't spend half the night turning about. Something about this is touching you wrong. Are you afraid of Lydia? Or is it that you know Calvin has eyes for her, and she for him."

"If Calvin has eyes for Lydia, he had better set them on another," Barrett said calmly, but he instantly knew he was betraying too much. Beside the complex anticipation of Lydia, Barrett knew that his next great weakness was the self-satisfied pleasure of seeing Calvin thwarted. Never mind that in all likelihood, Barrett would be exposed, and Calvin and Lydia would be united after all - at least for this moment Barrett had what Calvin wanted. But Archer's grin was apparent in the pink light, and Barrett braced himself.

"I can see why you're upset, Barrett - knowing that you'll be joined to a woman who wants another man. And heaven knows what Calvin will do. He'll drag the Greenfield name through the Court of Nature like a Tunnel Digger on display."

"That is enough, Archer. You clearly know little of the nature of men and women. Lydia is not like her mother. She is firmly in control of her mind and desires. Since Havoc and Father have designed a union, she will recognize its many advantages. Once the marriage is announced, any thoughts of Calvin will be gone. Lydia is eminently practical."

"More practical than you, for example." Archer's eyes narrowed.

"Yes - more practical than me. But not more rational, Archer, for I am a man, and she is a woman, and she will accede to my superiority in sensibility."

"Now who is it that knows little of the nature of men and women," came a voice from the door. Barrett's heart skipped as he spun around, to see his sister Clara behind him at the door to the boys' room. It had been two years since Clara had married and left the Greenfield home for her husband's, and Barrett had forgotten how quietly she moved. She was already dressed for the day, wearing a simple brown long-sleeved dress, girded at the waist with a wide green belt. The marble-stained hickory buckle was utilitarian, but somehow elegant - with an almost un-noticeable arch in the buckle's cage that lent Clara's figure a lithe air.

"Barrett, why don't you use some of your superior sensibility to get these ruffians downstairs to ready the kitchen. Unless you would like to prepare breakfast yourself. I'm overdue, and Glen will be tired of caring for little Leda if I am not home soon."

Dell and Dale laughed. Barrett turned back to Archer.

"Let this be a lesson, Archer. The mind of man may be subtle indeed, but nothing moves with purpose like a woman's feet."

Clara pulled the back of Barrett's hair in response, which set his three brothers to loud laughter. Barrett silenced them with one hand, pointing downstairs. Truculently, the three filed past him and slipped downstairs passed their parents' room. Clara stayed behind with Barrett, watching them descend the stairs. Then she walked to his bed and sat on the corner.

"I overheard much, Barrett," she began, softly, "and frankly I have the same concerns as Archer, though for different reasons. Despite what he said, he doesn't know you as well as I do. But I think he's right. I think you are.... frightened? Of Lydia."

"Think what you will, Clara. As you well know, my power to persuade this family of my own thoughts and intentions has never been sufficient."

"Nonsense, Barrett. Have you forgotten me this much? Your power to persuade is greater than that of any man I have ever met. You are successful in this because we are all such fools in relying upon only one means of observation, and casting aside all others, as if our eyes were so sufficient that we ignored what our ears told us in contradiction."

"Clara... take care in what you say!"

"I am, Barrett. But do you sufficiently understand me? That I understand you?"

"Clara, you do not understand me if you thus commit fallacious extrapolation."

"Alright, Barrett," Clara replied, visibly irritated. "You force me to come out with it. Lydia knows you as I do. Am I correct? She has made you aware of this, and this hangs like a pall over any union?"

"Interesting," Barrett replied.

"And you desire her more than you can bear. Am I correct? There is much that you can control, Barrett, but your body often gives you away. Were you aware that you were clutching the arms of your chair as if each was a bucking horse's pommel? Were you aware that your face was flushed, and your eyes strayed too often away from Lydia face, and bore too much on her father's?"

Barrett was stunned.

"Clara! Do you think they...."

"Barrett," Clara replied, her voice soft once more, "Did I not preface this discussion by indicating that the ability to use powers of observation other than bald-faced reason is beyond everyone but you, me, and Lydia?"

"And Calvin," Barrett replied. His heart was in his boots. The inevitable doom of the wedding was months away. But now he realized that his artifices were for naught. Clara might believe that only the few possessed the ability to read others, but Barrett knew that it was not an inability, but a refusal to admit that they had discernment beyond the immediately rational.

"Pah!" Clara spat. "Calvin Applewood is bent solely on Calvin Applewood. If he dislikes you, it is because you are a rival in the esteem of Grainger. Once he sees that you are to be married to Lydia, and thus will not seek a seat on the Court of Nature, he will dismiss you as a mere farmer, and you will pass from his thoughts."

"Clara, since you have these great powers of observation, I would like you to apply them carefully to Calvin. I believe that what you will see will give you great concern. As to Lydia, and her knowledge of me, she as much as said..."

"Barrett!" came a voice from the hallway. Barrett stopped short, as his and Clara's heads turned toward the hall.

"Yes Father." Barrett replied.

Bartle Greenfield eased his massive frame into the doorway, prepared to impose. But he relaxed somewhat when he saw Clara.

"Barrett - you do well to wake your brothers early. They must learn your discipline. But you do poorly when you awaken your mother and I in the process. In the future, I expect that you will show more decorum."

"Yes Father."

"Now. Clara, since you are here, you may assist your Mother in preparing breakfast."

"Yes Father."

Clara arose, and, with her back to her Father, softened her blue-gray eyes to Barrett. Despite his misgivings about Clara's naivete, Barrett felt his anxiety ease, and he suddenly felt the enclosing walls slide a little further away.

As Clara left the room, Bartle turned and went with her, leaving Barrett alone. Striding to the window, Barrett sought to regain his typical demeanor.

Why are you walking to the window?
To observe the clouds and anticipate the weather.
Why are you leaning against the window pane?
It is to keep my balance. I slept poorly and am dizzy.
Why are you fidgeting? Is it the marriage?
Again, I slept poorly.
Why did you sleep poorly? Are you nervous?
No. I was hungry at dinner and ate too quickly. My stomach was thus poorly prepared for digestion. I find that there is a cyclic behavior to digestion that can be coupled with rhythms of meal patterns to prevent acidic reaction. However, I failed to exercise restraint due to my hunger, and thus am learning the lesson again.
Do you love Lydia?
No. Love is criminal.
Do you desire Lydia?
The visceral reactions of the male psyche are to be expected, and my reactions are concordant with Lydia's bearing.
Do you love her?
No. Love is criminal.
Do you fear her?
No. Fear is irrational.
Do you fear Calvin?
No. Fear is irrational.
Is there anything that you fear?
Yes. Unreason.
Why are you still standing at this window?
The clouds are unusual. It is taking some time for me to anticipate the weather.
Are you sure you are not daydreaming?
Yes. I am sure.

Thus armored against the day, Barrett descended to the dining room to await breakfast.


Barrett's thoughts returned to Clara as he made his way with his Father, Mother, and three brothers to the Rotunda at the center of Grainger. The cobbled streets were still slightly damp with dew, ever present in this northern clime, even in the midst of summer. The family's footsteps melded into the riot of steps of Grainger's best families as they made their way toward today's instructions.

It was all well and good for Clara to flirt with disaster by displaying her irrational nature. She was a woman, and some weakness was expected in them, if not condoned. And Clara was unrestrained. Her marriage had been a great scandal, and her recovery to her parents' good graces was tenuous at best. So for Clara to advise Barrett in any course of action was begging trouble, especially since Barrett was unprotected by his sex.

Still, after her visit, he missed her more. Those of his family that he walked with were cold, hard, and unyielding. The brief flash of softness in his sister's eyes was like a feast. How much he needed that! How much he longed for understanding... for... tenderness?

Weakness! He must not be seduced into the belief that his dangerous flaw was anything but a mental defect. The hunger that he felt was a lust for poison - for self destruction. To give in - to yearn for succor was to pray for exile and death. To survive! And in surviving, to banish this poisonous lust, he would gain Lydia. And there would never be that touch of tenderness, that softness in the eyes, that gentle embrace...

That a child seeks when he has injured his toe! That the unreasoning dog seeks when it muzzles your hand or lays its chin on your knee. To be a man is to recognize the primacy of the intellect - the raw fact that reality demands that we bend to its rules - and that those rules are clearly spelled out. Clearly defined. Structure! Law!

Structure! Law! There beside him, exemplified in his Father & Mother. Bartle Greenfield's shoulders bespoke sanity and reason, as unbending as logic itself. Leda Miller Greenfield strode beside her husband, not quite so stern nor so straight, but her chin thrust up, defying anyone to find a woman closer in strength to a man.

Someday, he would walk these streets, his hair graying like his Father's. And Lydia would walk beside him, proud and strong. Their children would follow; another generation of Greenfields who broke the land and pulled forth its harvests - feeding Grainger and its citizens, and sending their sons to serve in the Ministries and Courts of The Capitol.

Barrett would take his pride in his rock-hard will. Lydia would be his - as would the future.


The Grainger Square was not quite full, but a large number of the 4800 residents of Grainger proper were in attendance. The muted earth tone hues of their dress blended in the rough circle that surrounded the gleaming white Rotunda, making the Square into a human vision of a forest pool, complete with marble fountain at its center.

The air was losing its pleasant chill, and picking up the humidity that had oppressed the village for a number of weeks. Already citizens were fanning themselves, especially those, like Barrett and his family, who were close to the reflected heat of the Rotunda. While it was not unknown for some townspeople to bring collapsing chairs to these events, for the most part the citizens showed their stoicism by standing throughout, even though the speeches and debates could last into the evening.

The Student's Address was a time-honored means of advance for Capitol-bound young men. The King had long ago decreed that the means of seeking entrance into the Courts was to be in the hands of those cities, towns, and villages who would send their best to serve. The means of selection would be for the citizens to select those to send for trial after the supplicants had proven their reason in a public address.

Any supplicant could call for an address - in theory. In practice, the Schoolmasters would select those they thought had a reasonable chance of success, assign them a topic, and allow them to hold forth in oratory. General acclaim in the form of a written ballot was provided by those in attendance, and if a two-thirds majority was in favor, the supplicant was sent to the Capitol for trial.

If a young man desired trial, but was never referred by the Schoolmasters, there was still one avenue open. He could challenge. The challenge was somewhat unfair for the fortunate student selected by the Schoolmasters, as he would have to debate the challenging student, rather than provide an uncontested display of wits, argument, and reason. But most often, the Schoolmasters did their jobs well, and those who challenged were routinely defeated.

Barrett stood beside his brother Archer, several rows back of the Rotunda. Two Schoolmasters sat on the wooden benches, beneath the white arching ceiling.

Directly in front of the Greenfields was the Wolfwood family, Havoc, Dana, Karen, Lydia, and the younger children, Havoc, Jerek, and Genna. After a few moments, Havoc turned around and addressed Bartle.

"No challenge today, I expect. This one will sail through."

"Applewood is quite an orator," Bartle replied. "Lydia, do you know his topic?"

Lydia looked over her shoulder at Bartle, and turned slightly. Barrett looked straight into her eyes, but she in turn looked only at his father. She was wearing a straight cream-colored dress that hung from her shoulders loosely. It's descent to her ankles was punctuated by the curve of her hips, an effect that was likely unplanned by the seamstress who created the humble garment.

"Calvin is addressing the subject of the proper ordering of the King's Lands." Her voice was steady and clear - no sign of rebukes or taunts. Just a hint of anticipation when she said his name.

"An interesting subject," Bartle replied. "Did you study it extensively in World School?"

"Yes. Though none so much as Calvin and Barrett."

"Barrett?" Bartle replied, surprised.

"Yes," Lydia answered, turning to look at him. Barrett kept his eyes straight, looking evenly from Lydia, to her father, and then to his own father.

"Yes, I studied the divisions," Barrett answered. "Nowhere is the King's will manifested so clearly as in his ordering of the land. And, indeed, the complexity of naturally occurring systems do not lend themselves to order. So it is an interesting problem."

"Well said," Havoc replied, turning back to face the Rotunda. Lydia turned back a moment later. Barrett was sure that she sensed the change in him. But she had little idea what awaited her. Let today be the day she decides.

Beside him, Barrett's father smiled. He suspected.

Perhaps ten minutes later, the Schoolmasters stood. One descended into the throng, while the second - a gray haired, thin faced curmudgeon - stepped into the center of the Rotunda.

"Citizens of Grainger! Today, by the King's Will and the Best Order of our Society, we will observe and judge the Address of one of our Young Men: Calvin Applewood."

He gestured into the front row, and Calvin strode up to the center of the Rotunda to stand beside the Schoolmaster. At two inches under six feet, Calvin stood an inch taller than the diminished Schoolmaster. His shock of reddish-blonde hair was unruly, as usual, and his brown eyes glinted fiercely, belying his rakish smirk. As he took his position, he nodded in each direction to the assembled throng.

"Calvin Applewood has been given the topic of the Divisions of the Kingdom. He may Address the Citizens of Grainger for whatever duration he requires. His Address will be in the form of Oratory, unless there is a Challenger, in which case there shall be a Debate. Is there a Challenge?"

"I Challenge!" Barrett yelled in answer. There was a collective gasp in the throng. Of all its young men, Grainger had never expected Calvin Applewood to be challenged. His accession to trial in the Capitol had never been in doubt.

"Who Challenges?" The Schoolmaster asked, completely composed despite the tumult in the throng.

"I, Barrett Greenfield, Challenge by virtue of Superior Age, Education, and Proclivity."

"Are you familiar with the subject of the Address?"

"I am."

Turning to Calvin, who glared daggers at Barrett, the Schoolmaster asked:

"As the Chosen Addresser, you have your choice of Position. The Subject is the Division of the Kingdom. What is your Position?"

Calvin lifted his head, and stated in a ringing voice:

"The King's Divisions show the Ultimate Ordering of Chaotic Systems."

There were smiles and nods in the assembled citizens. The Schoolmaster then turned back to Barrett.

"Come forward."

Barrett strode forward, ignoring his Father's glance, nodding his head once to Havoc Wolfwood and again to Lydia. Her expression was unreadable, but Havoc looked intrigued. Then, he was past them and standing before the Rotunda.

"Barrett Greenfield. As Challenger, you must take a position contrary to that of the Addresser, but not necessarily contradictory. Are you prepared to do so?"


"What is your counter-position?"

"The Division of the Kingdom displays a Simulacrum of Imposed Order, but is, in reality, a Semi-Ordered System Proportionately Governed by Chance Rather Than Reason."

The gasp that escaped the assembled citizens was greater than that of the challenge. Barrett had essentially proclaimed that he was challenging not only Calvin Applewood, but the very logic of the King and Courts. While a contrary position was sometimes unsettling, a position could always be found that reflected a minor variation on the presented theme. For a small town youth to proclaim that he intended to debate the merits of a system ordained by the pinnacles of logic and reason was the height of impertinence.

Calvin smiled.


Standing beside his nemesis, Barrett felt fully at ease. Part of this came from his physical advantage over the smaller, more wiry young man. But most of his confidence came from his sudden recognition earlier in the day.

First: Clara was right. Barrett could argue, and argue well. He was persuasive, not despite his flaw, but because of it.

Second: This was the one path to Lydia. He saw it as clearly as he saw Calvin before him. If he defeated Calvin, Lydia was his. His challenge was not to Calvin, nor to the King or Grainger. It was a challenge to Lydia. And she had accepted.

Calvin was still smiling. But let him. Barrett turned and half-bowed to Calvin as a show of respect. Calvin repaid the gesture, but, as he leaned closer to Barrett, he whispered something to him.

"You're going to lose, Greenfield. Because I can win no matter what position I take. I learned it from watching you."

Barrett smiled back.

The Schoolmaster pointed to Calvin.


Calvin's oratory technique was brilliant. He held the citizens of Grainger spellbound with his lilting, near-patronizing voice. He strode about the Rotunda, ensuring that he met the eyes on the semi-circle in front of the platform. Beyond this, there were his words and his argument.

"Let us first consider the ways in which a land might be ordered. They are several. First, a land might be ordered by historical chance. We are told that this was the case, prior to the King's Division. Second, a land might be divided according to a grid imposed on a map. Third, a land might be ordered by population density. Fourth, a land might be ordered according to terrain. For example, the natural divisions marked by rivers, mountains, and oceans may be accepted into the structure of the scheme. Fifth, a land might be ordered according to its bounty. Sixth, a land might be ordered according to its climate.

"We have considered these types of ordering, and all are clear to us, as they were to the King. Now let us consider their advantages."

Calvin's technique was familiar to Barrett. In fact, Barrett immediately saw why Calvin had said 'I learned it from watching you,' for the inclusive speech was designed to draw in the listener - to play to the ego and inculcate the sense that all were taking part in the argument. This technique was very effective, for it made the listener less likely to disagree if he thought the argument was his. Barrett saw that he had adopted this technique on numerous occasions, without fully realizing the implications.

"The First, Historical Ordering is of no value, since it happens by chance, but is unavoidable since History cannot be ignored - and thus will be present in any system. The Second has advantages, for it allows for precise coordinates to be established, which do not rely on rote memorization of names and location. The Third is tempting, but poorly suited, since it would result either in small, overcrowded regions and large, sparse regions, or in the opposite, neither of which aids in logistics or order. The Fourth is likewise tempting, since geographical features often impose limitations on travel and commerce, and thus internal constraints to a region isolated by these features should allow for relative independence and self-sufficiency. The Fifth bears similarity to the Third, in that, while tempting, it would result in a disparity between bounteous regions and poorer regions. Finally, order according to Climate is patently foolish.

"Let us proceed to the system the King has established. We are all familiar with the system, but it bears refreshing. As I often say, Repeated Often is Kept In Mind."

There were nods from some in the throng at this platitude.

"The King has divided the land into Sectorates and Protectorates. Sectorates each contain a minor city. Protectorates are composed of Sectorates, and contain a major city as the Protectorates' Capitol. The Protectorates form the Kingdom, with the King's City as The Capitol of the Kingdom. The Sectorates and Protectorates are numbered and named. The Name is Historical in many cases. Only in New Cities is there no Name, but rather the nomenclature, Capitol of the nth Protectorate, or in Sectorates, jth City of the kth Sectorate of the nth Protectorate. The Protectorates are ordered from Northwest to Southeast in a linear manner. The linearity is modified by geography. The Sectorates are ordered from Southwest to Northeast, also modified by geography.

"So, we see, when compared with our analysis of the types of divisions possible, that the system the King has imposed is a hybrid of the First, Second, and Fourth system types.

"Since the First type is unavoidable, it was wise of the King to include it. The Second type cannot reasonably exist, due to the advantages of the Fourth type, and thus, we have a modified linear system of Sectorates and Protectorates with Historical names and semi-geographical boundaries.

"It is our assertion, as reasonable citizens of the Kingdom, that the King's system is Ideal. Land, by nature of its formation during natural creation, is chaotic. It is unsuited to ordering. A land mass is not shaped, unfortunately, like a square, but rather like an amorphous globule. Imposition of a grid onto such a surface results in disparity in area. Modification of the grid to yield equal areas results in distortion of the grid. Ignoring the Historical names and placement of cities is to be unrealistic. Ignoring geographical isolation and self-sufficiency is unrealistic and dangerous. The King has taken all of this into account. We still have the names of our cities, but no Sectorate has more than one minor city, and no Protectorate has more than one major city. This is testament to the cognitive manipulation the King has used. Any citizen can know geographically where another Sectorate or Protectorate is, simply by recognizing the number, and thus, we have the advantages of coordinates.

"Any system that sacrificed one of these elements would be inferior, since it would sacrifice the advantages of that element. Any system that included other elements would be inferior, since it would include the disadvantages of those elements.

"Thus, we see that the King's system is, indeed, ideal, and thus the Ultimate Division of Land."

Calvin stepped back. The citizens applauded. They knew there was more to come, and that had Calvin not been challenged, his oration would have been in greater depth, with many more examples and digression. But it had been a masterful performance, and they felt a part of it.

But Barrett smiled. Calvin had done a great job, and was certainly aware of the many points upon which Barrett could attack. But Calvin wasn't aware of Barrett's strategy at all. Calvin thought Barrett was vying for the victory. If this was the case, Barrett would approach the oration in the same way - inclusive speech, playing to the crowd. Barrett would praise the King, harp on minor discrepancies, and try to win on points.

But Barrett couldn't care less about the Courts. If anything, he was terrified of trial before the ultra-rationalists of The Capitol. No, Barrett had a different aim - to win Lydia. And he would not win Lydia by being Barrett. He would win Lydia by being her father - Havoc Wolfwood.

Thinking back to the dinner at the Greenfield house, Barrett saw how Havoc's aggressive logic dominated Lydia's attention. If this was her model, he would win the one thing he desired.

Barrett nodded to Calvin, and then to the Schoolmaster, and stepped forward.

"Calvin has presented several types of systems, but by no means all of them. In addition, he has provided many opportunities for me to refute his arguments. However, these are distractions from the real issue. Calvin's arguments are incidental and of no bearing on the truly interesting aspects of the Division of Lands."

Barrett felt great. He had never been this confrontational in a debate. But he would have to walk the line between outright attack and discredit.

"Before I continue, I would like to repeat the subject I have selected. It is: The Division of the Kingdom displays a Simulacrum of Imposed Order, but is, in reality, a Semi-Ordered System Proportionately Governed by Chance Rather Than Reason."

"Now, I noticed that many of you were taken aback by this topic. Perhaps you misunderstood the title, and believed that I sought to attack the basis of the King's system. Far from it! The King has masterfully ordered the land. Many of the reasons Calvin cited are artfully displayed. In fact, the King's ordering of the Land was so brilliantly done, that we are deceived, as Calvin has displayed, as to its true nature.

"Let us first consider these "types" of ordering. Calvin has given us Six Types. But we can immediately complicate this by adding not only sub-types, but also complementary types, analogous types, hybrid types, that is... we can divide the dividing of the land into strata, much as we do with flora and fauna. By way of example, let me add another type to Calvin's List. Calvin mentioned Bounty as a divisional type, and dismissed it. But here he refers to magnitude of Bounty, not type of Bounty. It is clear that different regions of the Land produce different types of Bounty. I need to look no further than the fishing trade that flourishes on our coast. So you see that I have already complicated Calvin's list by considering not only the immediate properties of each type, but its subsequent quality as well.

"Next, I will address the matter of the "hybrid system" that Calvin flaunts. He begins by discarding all the bits of types that he doesn't want. But, is this really what the King has done? No. Clearly, if you consider the actual divisions rather than the general scheme, I can show that population density has played a remarkably large role in the size of some Protectorates, while the Climatic ordering that Calvin so flippantly discarded has also played a secondary role, since the Bounty, (again, rejected by Calvin), is influenced heavily by Climate, and the King has ordered divisions heavily weighted toward not only geographical self sufficiency, but also concentration of skilled labor in those primary production tasks that historically have benefited specific regions.

"So, what I have shown thus far is that Calvin's argument is both incomplete and incorrect."

"Now let me leave this distasteful banter and proceed to the point of my counter-proposal, namely, that the King's system, while apparently a paean to order, is in fact a brilliantly devised system that incorporates the more efficient natural order and uses in a minor role the coordinative system so admired by my opponent.

"First, let me point out that there is no logical or reasonable basis for the ordering of Protectorates from Northwest to Southeast and Sectorates from Southwest to Northeast. Given that there is no logical or reasonable basis, we are left with a quandary. For I know the King to be the paramount logician of our age. Does it not seem absurd for a man so schooled in logic to devise a system so lacking in it?

"It seems so on the surface, but... and I stress this... only on the surface. For the King has recognized a fundamental aspect of logic and reason - namely, that logical systems can be mutually exclusive. For example - I propose the syllogism. It is clear that the syllogism is the ultimate achievement of man. For, as in mathematics - that excellent system for representing reality in numerical form - the syllogism provides to logic what algebraic reason provides to mathematics.

"And yet, I can say without shame that algebra is well and good, but calculus is better. How can I say this? Quite clearly, calculus uses the tools of algebra for higher order manipulation. In this sense, algebra is a subset of calculus.

"This is immediately analogous to the syllogism. While a syllogism provides an algebraic structure to logic, on application to complex systems, we find that we are approximating - we must divide our actions into discrete steps. Syllogisms are static - while they contain truth and reality, they do not adequately explain the application. This is exactly the problem that the King had when considering the ordering of the land.

"A Syllogism does not tell the King to order the land with Protectorates and Sectorates inversely directed according to polar magnetic alignment. What tells the King to order the land in this way is his use of the calculus of logic.

"Now, as you can clearly see, and as I mentioned before, there is no reasonable explanation for this ordering of Sectorates and Protectorates. And yet the King has done it, the King is a master logician. There is a discrepancy. And it is that we do not understand the logic the King is using. It is beyond us. Does this seem absurd? Yes. Nothing is beyond us, and logic is logic. They are one and the same. Let me make this clearer:

"The King's actions seem illogical only if the premise with which we approach the King's Divisions is that the King is designing a logical system. My assertion is that the King designed an illogical system, logically.

"Consider what Calvin pointed out earlier: that most cities retain their historical names. He went on to imply that a grand new scheme is causing the cities to be replaced by better cities with numeric / systematic names. In fact, this has occurred only twice. Both times in the 5th Protectorate.

"I will now provide a seemingly irrelevant fact. The majority of Tunnel Diggers have historically come from the 5th Protectorate. One may assume that for various environmental reasons - the inclusion of freestanding mountains being one, the stock of the 5th Protectorate produces a disproportionately large number of irrational, unstable criminals. However, this was on the decline 30 years ago. This decline was immediately followed by three events. First - the creation of the two new cities. Second, the King's Edict pertaining solely to the 5th Protectorate that the use of city names within the 5th Protectorate by citizens of the 5th Protectorate was to be terminated. The King Advised the Administrators, Mayors, and Barons that inability to follow this edict was an excellent indication of irrationality. The third event was the dramatic upswing in 5th Protectorate citizens condemned to The Tunnel.

"Is it not clear, then, the reason for the seemingly illogical ordering the Sectorates and Protectorates? It is, devised by the King, a brilliant, inherent mechanism for confounding the few remaining irrationals among us. Here, daily, we deal with this inverse order, never commenting on the seemingly illogical - learning the system, and applying it without fail. Never realizing that we are being tested by the King each time we tell a neighbor "Grainger is in the 3rd Sectorate of the 3rd Protectorate."

"Thus, I have indicated both the dilemma and the solution. The dilemma is the seeming illogic of the King - which we now see is logic beyond logic.

"This solution removes the last obstacle from the recognition that, rather than a strictly ordered division of land, the King has instead selected an amalgam of different primary constraint factors to define the boundaries of discrete regions - and that among these constraint factors are geography, population, bounty, self-sufficiency, exportable bounty, political tendencies of the population, climate, historical consistency, and other, more numerous minor or consolidated factors.

"With this recognition, we can resolutely say that The Division of the Kingdom displays a Simulacrum of Imposed Order, but is, in reality, a Semi-Ordered System Proportionately Governed by Chance Rather Than Reason."

Barrett stepped back, satisfied. Never before had he delivered such a twisted piece of logical malfeasance. It was a desperate measure, relying greatly on the ability of the assembled citizens to keep up with the pace of his reasoning. It included fallacy upon fallacy - but also did two critical things. First, it made it appear as if failure to recognize the illogic of the Sectorate/Protectorate ordering was borderline criminal. This stopped Calvin from attempting to explain why it was actually logical (which Barrett would have liked to see). Second, it allowed Barrett to remain aggressive toward Calvin, while simultaneously praising the King, despite the fact that it was Calvin praising the King's Ordering, and Barrett tearing it to bits.

Barrett felt good about his chances, but there were the counter points to follow, and Calvin would surely attack much of Barrett's argument.

In fact, Calvin was stepping forward to do just that, when the Schoolmaster who had descended into the throng suddenly took the stage of the Rotunda. With him was a sinister appearing man with coal black hair, weathered leathery skin, and sunken brown eyes perfectly equidistant from the crooked bridge of his broken nose. He was armored in black leather, with a quiver of ceramic-tipped arrows across his back. Barrett knew exactly who this man was: Gorin Grammis - the Tunnel Warder.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A poem to Nikki Giovanni

Inspired by the great poet Nikki Giovanni, I have composed this lyrical ballad

All I know of Global warming is as follows:

If its hot, its because of global warming
If its cold, its because of global warming
If it rains, its because of global warming
If its dry, its because of global warming
Glaciers melt, global warming
Snow, global warming
Hurricane, global warming
Tsunami, global warming
Earthquake, global warming
Housing market crash, global warming

Global warming does not make birds sing, flowers grow, or the water run any faster off a duck's back.
Global warming does not make grapes juicier, or skunks less smelly.
Global warming does not make beer taste better, encourage people to exercise, or lower winter heating bills.

Cause of global warming:
Global warming, Too much carbon Dioxide
Too much carbon dioxide, too many SUVs
Too many SUVs, neocon policies
Neocon policies, Kenneth Blackwell (SOB)
Kenneth Blackwell (SOB), George W. Bush
George W. Bush, Religious Fundamentalists
Religious Fundamentalists, Jesus
Jesus, God

Therefore God caused global warming


This is the second edition of this poem

O Grammar! Enigma is thy name!

In looking at the "Comments" section below each post, I was offended to see "1 Comments". This seemed an unfortunate dissonance, sort of like "sober Kennedy" or "peaceful muslim." And then I noticed another post, which had (like most posts on this backwater blog) the listing "0 Comments". This disturbs me even more. In the case of "1 Comments", the coder was lazy, and didn't bother to take care of the one case in which "comment" needed to be singular. But in the case of "0 Comments", the coder raised a fascinating issue. Why is zero plural?

Let's look at this from a grammatimathimatical standpoint. We have two grammatical numbers in English - singular and plural. And yet, as our good friends at Wikipedia explain (, other languages have more numbers, and although Latvian is cited as having a "nullar" grammatical form for "zero", the use of singular or plural, alternatively depending on language, seems to be most common.

Now I'm with the Latvian's on this. If you're going to have a numerical grammatical form for one, and you have another for more than one, then you damn well better have another form for zero.

But, interestingly enough, none of the languages were cited as having a grammatical form for an infinite number. This seems, to me, to be a serious drawback to human communication.

Having raised my interest, I went on to check on something that had been bothering me for a while - did the Arabs invent zero? If so, it would dovetail with my theory that the arabs, being far more acquainted with nothingness, would naturally strive to get zero into math. Alas, my theory was blown out of the water like a Somali pirate. It turns out (according, again, to Wikipedia), that the arabs merely transmitted the Hindu use of zero in a decimal system to the Europeans. Zero, as a concept, had been with us for a long, long time, and had been independently developed by the Babylonians and Mayans (the greatest most peace loving people ever to walk the earth until they were eradicated by Spanish Catholics under the command of Donald Rumsfeld).

Still clinging to the last vestiges of my theory, I went on to research infinity. Alas, there was no similar thread of controversy for infinity. It seems that the arabs aren't taking credit for inventing it.

Back to my original problem. As always, I'm all about solutions. So I suggest two alternative systems for the treatment of zero, one, more than one, and infinity in English grammar:

Treat zero, one, and infinity as singular

Introduce new English forms for zero (nullar) and infinity (plen-t-ar)

For zero, instead of adding an "s", drop the last letter. Thus "Comment" would become "Commen", "Bird" would become "Bir". there is a slight problem when dealing with words like "ho", as in "Nancy Pelosi's my ho". While you could easily say "I'm going to march in the pro-choice rally with a couple of my hos", it would be inconvenient to say "I'm sittin' here like a dang fool without a h"

For infinity, continue typing the last letter of the word until you get tired. Thus "Comment" would become "Commentttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt

What It Is Like To Be A Bat

My eye to others might seem stern
My visage might seem grim
Furrows be upon my brow
My speech a somber hymn

My words might speak of doom and woe
My edicts seem malign
But all such things, necessities
For I can read the signs

It’s not the shame of other men
(Or most) who fail to see
What nature cruelly gifted us
(I mean, my friends and me)

For ‘tween the overt subterfuge
And mere complexity
The blinded and the blind still walk
And hearken not to me

So protest, if you will, the force
With which I steer your head
I brandish it with kindest heart
(a heart that’s often bled)

And think not that my grim façade
Conceals an unkind core
I hurt myself much more than you
When I must hurt you more

I take the wise man’s burden
Never my cross eschew
This task that’s laid upon me as
A better man than you

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Cleve's Gone


What can you say about the old cuss?

All the fella's gathered on the back veranda. All put on "Texas Tuxedos" in his honor - basically, a nice, new pair of bib overalls with a bow tie, white gloves and tux shirt.

Up in the hills of East Tennessee, they didn't wear cowboy boots "back in the day", so in their stead they all wore button-hook logging boots, with the overalls tucked in.

A gamely lot they were.

Each had a pint Mason jar of "the corn liquor" in the bib.

To be a proper man of the hills, one had to proceed all things with the word "the".

"It was ashame 'bout Ol' Cleve, way he got the cancer and all," it was a common lamentation from all who gathered there on that foggy, snow-drenched day.

Assembled here in Leighton Barber's palatial farm house "garden room" was a who's who of local legendry.

Fed Mashburn, Whiley Simms, "Cussin" Eddie Marsh (Cuz, and kin to all), Nate Riseleau, Waif Simpson and Crook McKaey.

It was a gentleman's club of men tempered by the wild and boisterous mountain way.

They each held up their jar as if hailing an emperor.

Hail to Cleve, the best of the bunch.

"I don't know why it is that the good Lord above has to take a man of such outstanding caliber. Cleve Oliver could shoot better, run faster and climb higher than anyone from the Four Knobs.
Cleve was simply the best, and here's to him," and with that Fed raised that jar yet another time.

Each of the men in one gulp swallowed a full half of their pint jars. Not one looked for a chaser (but they'd all been known to follow up with "sprang" water)...but not on this day.

Cleve deserved the best...and just as he had lived, so would they put him down.

It was a long drive from Barber's Knob to the cemetery, way down there in the valley, and no one thought it appropriate.

They all felt Cleve deserved a high peak, somewhere up in them hills he loved so well.

"They'll be plainty of celebratin' this day amoungst the boar hogs, shore 'nuff", spouted Crook, there in the snow at the graveside.

Whiley spat his cannonball twist on the snowy ground and in usual stop-gap fashion uttered, "you know they is".

And the preacher came, and said them words they heard so often before when they'd buried a dearly departed.

His lodge brothers showed as well, and Wiley, Fed, Crook, Waif and Cuz all broke with the gang to go put on their aprons and join in the service.

It was a somber day, when they put Cleve in the cold, hard ground; and to his memory and the memories they'd all formed together somehow, everyone there assembled just knew - an angel sang the tails of their exploits in those cold, blue mountains they called their home.

Friday, February 02, 2007


Some idiot environmentalists are worried that we are biased in the benefits and subsidies we provide to cute and cuddly animals:

The fact that some turtleneck sweater-wearing fembot gets paid to worry about this crap is a clear sign that the human species is deserving of extinction - at least the liberal subset of that species. This reminds me of the need for various bumper stickers:

"Save the Polar Bears! Feed them Democrats."
"Impeach Pelosi (why wait for a reason)"
"If Liberals are open minded, why do they all think alike?"
"Retroactive Abortions for Kennedys"