Friday, January 15, 1999

Count Thy Days

Lately I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions. Questions that go to the heart of what will have to happen before we humans and quasi-humans can really claim success in this grand experiment we call “life in the big city.”

Where does hypocrisy come from? Is intelligence an actual measurable quality, or is it, as the Jesuits might say, merely the absence of stupidity? And if you lack stupidity, can you be said to suffer a deficiency? Were Einstein, Feynman, and Mr. Wizard stupidity-impaired?

But above all, where does this authoritarian business come from? I don’t just mean politicians. I mean control freaks in general.

Even poetry isn’t free from these incredible control freaks! Only two days ago I was shocked to receive the following unsolicited “poem” by “email”:

Q. Oh what saith the Lord(ess)? What might a poem be?

Might it be prose yet sweeter, with rhyme and strict meter?

Might it be words upon paper, shaped like a tree?

Might it alliterate like maybe pickles 'n peter?

Might it assonate like bats and classy cravats?

Might she personify and curts-eye and bow and say "Hi?"

Oh Lord(ess)! Please hear our pleas for clarity!

We can't stand all of this mystery!

A. Oh, stop it. And your rhythm's off anyway, you twit.

This message has been brought to you by the Evangelical Church of Non-Rhyming Poets of America, Reformed.

Can you see what’s happening here? And it doesn’t end with rhyme!

It doesn’t end anywhere!

Being a scientific sort, when faced with a puzzle such as this I immediately think of experiment. In this case, dealing with a serious psychosocial problem, serious psychosocial methodology is called for. But you can’t get those kind of drugs anymore, so my next idea was that I should voluntarily become an authoritarian. Then I will be able to report to an amazed and astonished world my findings as to where my head has gotten to.

So. I have become a rabid proponent of the Julian Day Calendar. You may not have ever heard of the Julian Day Calendar, but I’m sure you’ve heard of the Julian Year Calendar -- the one that preceded the Gregorian Year Calendar which we’ve been using lately.

Well, the Julian Day Calendar is a Day Calendar, not a Year Calendar. You count days. Doesn’t that make more sense? Don’t answer that, I don’t care what you think, because I am being an authoritarian, and I have just decided for you that counting days makes more sense.

Want to know how you’ll figure out when years start and end? Why should you care? What, are you raising pigs? Don’t you know pig-farming is a waste of time, you should be in the slaughtering business, that’s where all the money is now? What, do I have to explain everything to you?! Look, how do you know now when it’s high tide? You look it up in a chart, that’s how. YOU LOOK IT UP. You don’t make the rest of the world calculate time based on the number of tides that have elapsed since the Red Sea parted, just so you don’t have to keep a tide chart handy!

So let’s see, what have we learned by being authoritarians? Well we have learned that we are over 18,000 days old (18K in the metric system). We have learned that when we rant on and on about Julian Days, nobody cares. In fact we have learned that we are not legislators or executives or police so therefore we can’t make anyone care. We have learned that authoritarians use the editorial “we” way too much.

But most importantly, we have learned that authoritarians think that they are right. Therefore they do not know they are being authoritarians. They think they are pointing out truths. So it doesn’t do any good to tell a control freak to stop it.

Next issue: We nag Paul Schell anyway! Just because we can!

Friday, January 1, 1999

Smells Like Your Uncle

OK, it's winter, I expected to be cold and miserable. But La Niña? What!? As I swear on an oath to the Almighty Butterfly Effect, they must now be making this nonsense up as they go along. Next year -- LOOK OUT! It's El Tío! Escape the planet at any cost! (The weather's not too hot or too cold, it just smells like your Uncle Joe smells after two six-packs on top of Mama's "Last Days" Burrito and Nuclear Beef Enchilada Plate, with extra guacamole.)

But that was just the start of it. Now look at us. The tabloids can't even keep up. The impeachment resolution having just been passed as I write this, what do I see in the Enquirer but "Hillary Goes On Rampage in the White House." So they've completely given up telling us unbelievable stuff, you can get that in the mainstream papers. Now the tabloids are trying to shock us with "Fight Breaks Out on Jerry Springer Set", "Madonna Reportedly Had Sex Last Night", "Scientists Don't Believe in Sasquatch", "Seattle, Boston Joined by Highway" and "Monkeys No Longer Thought to Fly."

Meanwhile, the mainstream papers have gone off the edge. Last month we only had to pick up one of Seattle's highly respected dailies (I won't say which one, who cares, they're both full of it) -- NOT an irresponsible tabloid, to read that a "homeless" man shot and killed a Metro bus driver. A "homeless" man that, it turned out, has LIVED IN THE SAME APARTMENT FOR THIRTEEN YEARS.

Next, thanks to that little senseless bout of SCAPEGOATING, there came a call for the downtown Free Ride Zone to be discontinued, so that what hadn't happened the day after last Thanksgiving on the Aurora Bridge might never not not happen ever again. Are you following me?

OK keep hangin' on: most homeless people in this city who avail themselves of the Free Ride Zone would be inconvenienced by having to hike around that one and a half mile long area all the time, but that's nothing that most of them aren't prepared to do if they must.

Therefore they could all bring themselves to say to Seattle and especially to downtown's retail businesses, go ahead. Go ahead and kill the program that has done more than any other to turn around the consumer exodus to the suburban malls. Do it just to spite us, even though we are just as peaceful as the rest of you are, and had nothing to do with the tragedy of the 359 Express. We'll live.

Meanwhile, the gutsy Democrat that I didn't actually favor in the 1992 primary (I voted for the poet) is now at risk of being replaced by an android from the moons of Uranus?? An android who only got elected at all because he was a running mate, because ever since that Jefferson/Hamilton screw-up that's just the way we do things? Or was it Adams/Jefferson? Don't any history teachers email! Just let me tell you what I'm talking about here.

OK let's say I'm getting a little cous-cous (a grain) on the side. But my wife is known to have the meanest right in the Free World, you can read about it in the tabloids. And say some pip-squeak of a latter-day Torquemada asks me if I ever had that particular grain, and I say yeah but it wasn't any big deal, and I don't tell him anything more.

And let's not forget to mention that by this time it is all too evident that Nuevo Torko will bend every rule in the modern inquisitorial handbook.

So now I'm supposed to resign, so that an android from outer space should replace me? Whose wife is even weirder than mine??

Well, enough of my bad mood. Allow me to greet the New Year with a song.

A Bratty Annoying Song For This New Year

[To maximize annoyance, repeat each line just

until threatened with a massive air strike!]

by © Dr. Wes, me

Let's all sing a bratty song, song song song

How could such a thing be wrong? wrong wrong wrong

See the ugly Ne-eww Year, Year Year Year

We'll kick it in it's silly rear, rear rear rear

Poke it in its stupid side, side side side

Then we'll all go run and hide, hide hide hide

While were hid we shouldn't squeak, squeak squeak squeak

The better that we all can peek! Peek! Peek! Peek!

Peek at a politi-ician, shun shun shun!

Engaged in fornication! Fun fun fun!

Make the scoundrel RE-zign, 'zign 'zign 'zign

Never let 'em 'cross that bratty line!

-- Line line line! --