Short Shrifts 5 New (in magenta)
or, The Autocrat of the Algonquin Table
• We signed up for the government's No Call list years ago ("if you don't like those calls you won't get those calls. period"), the instant it became available (mercifully, the rollout was not delayed). It was a godsend, best thing the government has ever done for victimized citizens! Cut down those insufferable commercial calls almost totally. But recently... they're back! Tons every day. The DOJ or EPA or ACA or Facebook must have granted waivers to the whole list. Snowden absconded with it.
• Now for a writer’s confession: I am, alas and woe is me, beset by especially bad writer’s block cum perfectionism, the worst sort of combination for an essayist. Some days absolutely nothing materializes on my screen. Nothing. And when a sentence does, I fuss over it and revise it and tease and tweak it word by word, idiom by idiom, from here to eternity. A one-page piece may take months. But when I am essaying cultural foibles and occupations of parks and social justice and postmodernism and free gender changes and free contraceptives through our new Affordable Care Act that compassionately has displaced our old subpar health plans, the sarcasm gushes like a sabotaged oil pipe, satires burst like government regulations and waivers, spoofs flow like cholera, it cannot be stanched. I must force myself to shut the hell up. Nowadays, in my golden years of wisdom and inflexibility, empowered by FIOS, instant word processing and 12 gb of RAM, and Google, cooling it is the hardest thing I do all day. "Be gentle with me -- you promised!" she murmurs. ...and so I did, didn't I?
• Our generation is so much more fortunate than our great grandfather's generation. The things we have he didn't -- antibiotics, instant media, TV, downloaded movies on demand, smart phones, smart cars, microwave ovens, makeovers, botox, free contraceptives, facebook friends. Our great grandfather only had ... family, 12 siblings and 20 aunts and uncles, fruit trees, chickens in the yard, overalls, and real friends.
• John 9 tells of the man born blind, congenitally blind, blind from birth. The theological question was whether he or his parents had sinned, and how terribly, that the man should have been born blind. Christ explained that neither the man nor his parents had sinned, no sin was involved, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. Then Christ spat and made mud.
• John 13:1-3. Knowing that the coming of the feast of the Passover meant his own hour had come, when Judas would betray him unto death, and that he was come from God, and would return to God, and would depart from this world unto the Father who had given all things into his hands, Jesus rose and took a towel.
• God was able to shut down construction of the Tower of Babel by confusing the speech of the workers. That was the hard way. Now he could work through the EPA, NSA, labor unions, mortgage regulations, government debt, food stamps, sex and race discrimination and minimum wage laws. And cause sunspots to take out all the iPhones.
• People try to read my turgidly syntaxed, multisyllabled, complexly claused essay sentences riddled with dashes and parentheses and appositives and ellipses and littered with tropes and synecdoches, and give up half way through. I can read political or hermeneutical or postmodern analyses of art, God, or social issues, all the way through, easily enough. Beautiful, professional writing. But what'd he say?
• Our Chief Chom now informs us, from experience, that pot is no worse than alcohol. Of course he's right, in the same way arsenic is no worse than strychnine, a 48 shell to your heart is no worse than a dagger, tuberculosis no worse than cancer, homosexuality no worse than adultery. Hey, this is fun!
• I heard a Fox News round table discuss the Chief Chom's proclamation equating the harm of pot with alcohol. Krauthammer, who knows, being a physician and psychiatrist, pointed out that alcohol (and its damage, like cirrhosis and Wernicke–Korsakoff's encephalopathy) has been with us since history began, and is unquestioned, and civilization has nevertheless espoused it irreversibly, while (did he really say this?) drugs are new, and we need to get real data on it. Anyway data already shows Prohibition doesn't work. Oh? But Prohibition of hate crime and income inequality does? Do we need more data on hate crime and income like we need more data on pot? With or without data he's for moderation.
• The "change we can believe in" has won, believe it. I'm so old I remember when Republicans wouldn't tolerate even the thought of socialized medicine or socialized anything. From it's demands for repeal of Obamcare, It sounds like that's still how the GOP thinks. Wrong. Now O-care is in place, fixed into our warp and woof, there's no argument about that part, it's a done deed. Move on! Romney informs us that generic universal care is the "core of conservatism." That settled, now all the Republicans want to do is tweak it and make it work better. Like?
• Prayer: Deliver us from our deliverers.
• Agnostic Christian: someone who isn't so sure God exists but has consummate resounding cosmic unshakable faith that Satan does NOT! Here I stand, I can do no other! Burn me at the stake but I shall not recant! SATAN DOES NOT EXIST!
Evil exists, but Satan as a person or Platonic entity does not exist. So God Himself must be evil. But God doesn't exist. Evil just....happens.
• If Obamacare has more regulations than people have diseases, and it takes 15,000 pages of regulations to codify, waive, modify it, product labels now also must be cluttered with warnings of toxicity, so many warnings that the printing is smaller than "small print" on a contract.
• Libs ad lib all the time.
• Soon California will require Coke-Cola to carry a label warning that sugar can make you fat. One of the first such required labels was on cigarettes -- "the surgeon general has determined that tobacco is bad for your health." But now tobacco has been rendered defacto illegal, while pot is now legal. I haven't checked: Is there a label on reefers saying "the surgeon general has determined...."?
• "God loveth a cheerful giver," but the church will take it any way it comes.
• "...and the greatest of these is charity.org," deductible, so far. Even this shall pass away.
• God never threatened people with eternal hellfire. But the Church does, especially loudly during fund raising or cathedral-building time.
• America voted for total change, and got it, and more's on the way. But it isn't exactly identity theft, is it?, though arguably as damaging. America still goes by the same name, even the same flag. Character, persona theft, maybe.
• It's confusing, now that America is altogether different. What is treason to this new state would have been patriotism to the old one, or am I wrong?
• Now that postmodernism has set in, decisions can't be made on "principle" any longer. "The Right Thing" will have to do.
• Under postmodernism, the only thing that's firm and solid is what a hate crime is. For now. The next administration will change it.
• I'm so old I remember when such-and-such was as free as the air we breathe. Now, cough cough, as regulated.
• I'm so old I remember when the plea of the homosexual was that he was born that way and can’t help it, and is therefore automatically absolved. But were not all of us, every last one of us, made that way, with a propensity to sin but not automatically absolved but subject to due censure, and, upon our recognition of our condition, salvation from it?
• That he was born that way and can’t help it sounds like the cries of a victim of fate, as worthy of sympathy as the victim of congenital cytomegalic viral disease. But currently, nowadays, suddenly, are we not all victims to everything, all of us? Is victim inequality fair?
• The currently popular boast of gays is that, having indeed been born that way, they have been singled out by Karma or Fate or simply the cosmos for a transcendent birthright of privilege, sovereignty, and preference of an almost mystical nature heretofore accorded only nobility and achieved only by monks. We are not all born equal.
• So which is it, victimization or apotheosis by genes? I get confused by things like that, a victim of confusion. So it's so reassuring, the motto, Yes we can...have it both ways." Have it any way you want it.
• A woman "taken in adultery" was brought before Christ for His adjudication. He said, "neither do I condemn thee." Nice, she's spared the customary stoning, but wouldn't you know it, there's always a catch. He also said, "Go and sin no more" (John 8:11). (Whereupon she apparently did not say, "If that's the alternative, I'd prefer the stoning.") That was then. Now she would be awarded, at worst stoned with tomatoes at the Oscars or rejected in favor of a gay.
• Folk art has been granted a waiver from kitsch. None dare call Grandma Moses kitsch. None dare NOT call Kinkade kitsch.
• If kitsch is that which is overstylized and trite, kitsch itself is its own worst case.
• Mini essay. 2014. About the campaign to extirpate even the mention of God from everything, starting with "In God we trust" on coins and "so help me God" in courts, I'm of two minds, moving towards one mind.
Putting God on coins and courts started out valid enough, but nowadays is hypocrisy. In God we hardly trust or truly believe or put obedience even under oath. It's just a motto, or our "culture," whatever that is. Anyway, our old culture is embarrassing and must be changed, and to stroke it while killing it becomes...hypocritical.
But then nowadays nothing isn't hypocrisy, especially such ventures as are labeled "reform," "tolerance," "social justice," "affordable," "quality medicine," and "marriage," and we're hypocritically exalting the terms while killing the concepts, as Christ said the of the Jews who had killed the prophets and then turned around and honored them. For that matter, even the term "hypocrisy" doesn't mean anything any more.
Thus I'd eliminate all those terms from names of laws (and who worries about hypocrisy?), while we're at it. The motto "CHANGE we can believe in" worked magic in a recent political campaign, while "REFORM" is sure death, but is more magical than ever for laws. Tax REFORM? Why not "Changed Tax Act"? "Transmogrified"?
As disconcerting as this hypocrisy is (the term still means something to me), I feel the most offense in behalf of God, and do feel increasingly uncomfortable seeing His name taken in vain, and therefore would agree, even rather eagerly, to taking His name off coin and out of court where He has been essentially eliminated anyway. (I'm thinking of that poignant movie, "Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More.") Forcing His name, and commandments, back into where He has been ejected is the hollowest form of hypocrisy. He does not force Himself where He isn't wanted. That we have done just that, in His behalf, doesn't mitigate our own hypocrisy.
That I thus become a strange bedfellow of the atheist has a certain comedic irony, but somehow isn't exactly hypocrisy, is it? In any case, it's only, to be un-hypocritical about it, a one-night stand.
• "Liberty" and "liberation" are turning out to mean quite different things. Would Patrick Henry be crying out, "Give me liberation and free contraceptives or give me death"?
• Me, I crave liberation from all this new liberation.
• Turn with me, brothers and sisters, to Romans 1:32 (ESV), where we read, "God's righteous decree that those who practice such things [notably and specifically homosexuality] deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them." Alas, St. Paul (who wrote Romans) is way out of date. Not merely approval but awards. Galas. Film festivals. Sermons. Utubes. Situation comedies. Laws.
• If it was beastly to make homosexuality illegal, what is it to make laws ensuring it?
• Feb 5, 2014. Heard on the PoxNews RoundTable: 1st panelist: "This administration has again blessed America with yet another new kind of right, freedom and liberation never known before. Always before America offered the right and freedom to work. Now, thanks to Obamacare and all it entails, our new right is not to work and to be liberated from it." 2nd panelist: "And grateful we should be! But subsidized healthcare alone isn't enough to live on." 1st: "Goodness, are you saying our president lied there too?"
• Means the same. Cutting off part of something to make it fit onto the canvas or film is called "cropping" in painting and photography. In audio, "clipping." In the Scriptures homosexuality is called "sin"; in our society, a "right," "social justice."
• After the break the PoxNews RoundTable is back. 1st panelist: "The right NOT to work... sure sounds like the genteel aristocratic elitism, at the expense of the serfs, of the 18th century that America revolted against." 2nd panelist: "There you go again, turning back the clock."
• February 2014. All those old ads and commercials that claimed such-and-such (say, toilet paper) "works as hard as you do," they're way out of date. Now libs proclaim that the ideal is not to work so hard, to be freed from having to. If you like your old ads you can keep them. Anyway robots are taking over. Now that introduces a novel mental picture....
• When an attractive woman undertakes a no-holds barred no secret maneuvers too unspeakable, bare-knuckles bare-everything seduction upon a man, he of course crumbles, and after suffering pangs of guilt, is basically and at bottom flattered. His very special and exciting qualities have at last been discovered and appreciated, he thinks. Meanwhile God is out to save everybody, especially the most unworthy, most humble, least flatterable.
• Snipers, trapshooters, and drone controllers put the target precisely in their telescopic cross-hairs or cursor and aim squarely at it. Whamo! he's out. No collateral damage. Bloggers and libs just point somewhere near a straw man -- and the sky rains dead ducks. Mass destruction.
• First there were factories from sea to shining sea. Then Distribution Centers. Coming soon: Wealth Redistribution Centers (formerly known as the IRS.)
• It's my understanding that truth-in-advertising regulations forbid transgenderthals from bearing "all natural ingredients" labels.
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