Post # 366     DOGS DON’T SMILE

We, “screwed our courage to the sticking point,” rolled up our sleeves, bit our lip, and courageously undertook the mission, to comment on the eternally vexing question: Do dogs smile?

Before proceeding with this most troublesome, existential question, we would make certain candid reservations; we anticipate the accrual of some rather daunting criticism and potentially meritorious challenges, for the reason that we do not have a background in neuroscience nor in veterinary science; in fact, we do not, own a dog (only cats).  In spite of our profound absence of (scientific) provenance, we will, in mea culpa fashion, candidly, confess to having an irresistible attraction to issues, which possess the simultaneous attributes, of eternally being hotly contested, and, as well, being of little or no cognitive consequence.

Stated with scientific precision, the query du jour, is whether a visibly happy canine’s open mouth, is indicative of the emotional act of smiling, analogous to homo sapiens?

It seems procedurally appropriate to initially, offer some rudimentary observations on the physical act and the interactive impact of man’s smile. Man’s smile can be visibly observed by the turning up of both corners of his mouth, often accompanied by the wrinkling of the skin around the eyes. We are instructed that it is enabled through the “limbic system” of the brain, the latter, being functionally responsible for a variety of significant functions, including emotion and behavior.

In humans, the smile appears to be involuntary (always sincere), and voluntary (often insincere). In other situations, the involuntary smile can be seen, at times, in unhappy occasions, unexpected notices of decease, painful remembrance, mea culpa situations or, perhaps as an ironic exclamation. The human smile can be rather ubiquitous and complex.

One is obliged to assume that could it be shown that a dog can, indeed, smile that such a smile would be limited to the expression of happiness,

Happy smiles on people, have been shown, medically and scientifically, to have many salubrious results. In addition to retarding naturally occurring bodily chemistry that is responsible for anxiety and low moods, it has been shown to promote good health; and has been claimed by some authorities on the subject, to actually, increase longevity. There appear to be several studies, which conclude that smiling induces more pleasure than ingesting large portions of chocolate; and that, even a forced smile can be a mood booster. There is an old Buddhist saying that: “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but at other times the smile the source of your joy.

It has been shown that many, non-human, animals are capable of experiencing and exhibiting emotion (in their respective fashion), also, logically, governed by the brain. Our question is do they actually smile? We know that they wag their tails in rapid fashion, make eye-contact, and are very active when excited and happy.

Based upon our observations and especially, upon our feelings of exasperation, at the popular tendency of pet owners to anthropomorphize their beloved pets, we answer in the negative. There are a goodly number of people who sincerely believe that happy dogs smile; we do not. Dogs have mouths that open wide and might be perceived, as happy, in happy circumstances. But it is not smiling. When dogs are hungry or angry, they bark, utilizing the identical configuration of open mouth. It would appear that the pleasure of seeing the happiness of a loved pooch, is an invitation to perceive that the shape of his canine mouth is a smile [Why don’t my cats smile, they are loved, well cared for, and happy?]

Animals should be loved, valued and respected, for what they essentially are, and not as cute surrogates of projected human emotions.


Post # 365      THE LEISURE ETHIC

The 19th Century witnessed old Mother Russia, still mired in its historic serfdom, while, in bold contemporary, contrast, England was metamorphosing into the sociological, political and economic epoch, which we refer to as “The Industrial Revolution.” The essentially sleepy and bucolic nation of England, was effectively transmogrified, into an unprecedented, frenetic new context and atmosphere.

The introduction of industrial machinery, capable of producing, seemingly, unprecedented, quantities of commercial products, led to profound sociological changes in English society, and, sadly, a new perspective of the common man. Russia slept deeply through its agricultural economy, based upon its atavistic and cruel mistreatment of its serfs (“souls”) and commoners. England, however, exceeded all existential nightmares, by establishing the virtual deification of profits, and sacrificed the common man, a dedicated slave, to that deity. The previous extant, minimal recognition of modest humanity and persona in the common man, was now totally degraded, to his potential capacity to perform labor. Husbands and fathers, mothers and their young children, desperately wishing to avoid starvation and extreme penury, were virtually conscripted, to perform, hard, backbreaking, and life shortening, physical labor, by capitol’s pathological mania for profit. A reference to any of the great novels by Charles Dickens, will reveal the abject misery of the common man, ensnared in the inextricable web, of unlimited and unhealthy working conditions, polluted air and filthy environment of this historically celebrated, industrial advance.

An apt illustration of the completely dehumanizing and heartless practices of the times, was the deploring institution of the feared treadmill. Being punitively sentenced to the treadmill, for any length of time, meant bodily deterioration and agonizing death. What today is a pleasant, elective, exercise appliance, was in the era of Queen Victoria, a painful, punitive and deadly, instrument of torture, whose steady operation, incidentally, provided additional power for manufacture.

Over the centuries, slow developing reform and empathic enlightenment, gradually proceeded to the amelioration of many such harsh conditions. Humane parliamentary legislation and the ultimate rise of recognized labor unions, did much to alleviate the dark, industrial purgatory, that personified Victorian Britain.

It may be said that an analogous manufacturing drama was thereafter played out, but, arguably, less dramatically, in new world America; however, the evils of slavery, in our country’s agricultural sector, more than made up for any possible difference, in the degree of comparative inhumanity with England.

It may be a startling revelation, at this point in our writing, to declare that its theme, is not the fundamental horrors of the labor practices in the Victorian Era, in England; nor the inhumanity practiced, in its earlier years, by our own Nation. Its intended purpose is to account, historically, for the common context of work, and its correct, appropriate and proportionate place in our lives.

We will hazard the expression of our radical, personal contention, that the known history of the inhuman misuse of labor, is responsible for a PTSD-like malady, which we would like to describe as our society’s neurotic, over emphasized, “work ethic.” The commonly understood neurosis is that our time has value, only to the extent, that we and it, are productive. It is truly ironic, that the mind-set of the avaricious, self- centered and mono- focused industrialist of the 19th Century, to the effect that man’s value depends on his productivity, has, eerily been subscribed to, by the ordinary citizen in our modern age, as an epilogue to the perception of labor, in past history, by some bizarre process of societally, transmitted, PTSD.

Our ingested “work ethic”, we submit, is, in reality, a perversion of the natural goal and purpose of the remarkably evolved, unique entity, called homo sapiens. The belief that man is worthless, or, wasting precious time, unless he is actively engaged in productive activity, is atavistic, unhealthy and erroneous.

We have, in past writings, acknowledged that, evolution’s, greatest and most generous gift to homo sapiens, was an advanced brain, capable of reason, advancement and ultimately, wisdom. We do acknowledge, and energetically confirm the necessity for work as part of the nation’s production of goods and services, and as well, the satisfaction of the individual’s temporal needs. We do, however, additionally, place a high value on man’s uninterrupted leisure. The latter affords the rare and invaluable opportunity to think and commune with oneself. This vital necessity, we would denominate as the priceless and mandatory, “leisure ethic.” Reading, engaging in a sport or other elective pastime, or, importantly, when the opportunity presents itself, to leisurely sit and think, is one’s own personal time; the rare and valuable opportunity to be, uninterruptedly, and singularly, himself.

Expressions such as “time off,” “break-time,” or, “coffee break” carry the clear suggestion (“off” from what?) that life and work are synonymous, and that personal time, vacation or holidays, are only ancillary to life’s natural purpose. While gainful employment, certainly, is a required activity, we are morally obliged, by our given franchise to be human, to value rare, leisure time, not as a “break,” but as an engagement in (our own) prime time.

We suggest the formal recognition and national institution of an officially recognized, American leisure ethic.



In previous writings, we have commented upon our admirable, and, somewhat idealistically naïve, Founding Fathers, in their historic declaration that, “All men are created equal” (which, in that period of American history, unfortunately, did not include women or black people). With that declaration, they admirably and effectively sounded a death knell for the traditional European system of privileged birth and its resultant, social classes. The salutary declaration was certainly well intended, but could not foresee nor avert a perverse, and unavoidable institution of societal classes, based upon criteria other than, the contemplated, privileged birth.

In contemporary America, we are confronted by social problems created by economic maladjustments, and continued concentration of the nation’s wealth and control of the national economy, in the hands of a small percentage of the population. Contemporary studies show, an upper wealthy class, (1%), a nouveau riche class, a middle class, working class, a working poor and a poverty class; which sociological construct, would appear to be an enduring, economic phenomenon. This fact pattern appears to be responsible for many far reaching consequences. Stratification, based upon wealth, income, education, occupation and social access, have been demonstrated to have a significant societal impact on, health, family life, education, religious affairs, educational policy and most shamefully, even the administration of justice.

A classless society, in theory, would refer to a society, in which no one is born to a social class, and where there would exist the realistic possibility of equality of wealth, economics, education, health and social network, individually arrived at, solely by life experience and successful achievement.

The desire for such an ideal, a classless and universally equal society, is far older than that 18th century, optimistic attempt by our founding fathers. In 73 A.D., Spartacus led an army of slaves in a revolt, seeking human equality. In England, a group called the “Levelers,” a 19th Century, left wing party, revolted against the unequal English Class system of the time. The year, 1917, saw the Russian Revolution, inspired by the theory of a classless society, to be ruled and managed by the “Proletariat”, inspired by the writings of Karl Marx. Every one of these cited events were failures, and empirically demonstrate, that societal equality cannot be achieved by force. The Russian revolution, in fact, resulted in eventuating the development of more “managerial classes,” than all of the social classes which were previously sought to be eliminated. In any event, Russia, today, is visibly, an autocratic state, run by a tyrant and his loyal group of sycophantic, conspiratorial oligarchs.

George Orwell’s satirical, symbolic treatment of the Russian Revolution, in his novel, “Animal Farm,” contained the instructive statement, “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

History has undeniably proven to all who have chosen to pay attention, that all social animals compete for status, and are, regrettably, by some natural inclination, hierarchical. We would humbly respond to history’s lesson, that despite its accuracy, moral recognition of the universal equality of human rights, is in all cases, irrevocable and, mandatory.



The Latin phrase, “mens sana in corpore sana” (a healthy mind in a healthy body), attributed to the 7thCentury scholar, Thales, or to the playwright satirist, Juvenal, is inarguably, the universally accepted gold standard for full, successful human development.

We will apologetically, confess, that due to our own special interest in literature and the humanities, as the felt route to human advancement and growth, we have not sufficiently written on the subject of physical fitness, a subject, admittedly essential to the existential continuance of our species, and, as well, its full enjoyment of life. For the young, in addition to the salubrious effect of exercise, participation in team sports, from the high school to the University level, teaches important lessons in interactive dependency and self-control, encourages camaraderie, initiative and social skills; as additional dividends to its function as health-promoting exercise.

Professional sports, unlike college level sports, however, is a commercial enterprise, involving corporate ownership, high salaries, and is an enormous advertising and media phenomenon. Amazingly, in the past fifteen years, or so, the emergence of professional sports as a multiple billion -dollar corporate enterprise, can only be matched by the obsessive (perhaps, unhealthy) interest on the part of the public. It may be conjectured, that the temporal diversion of spectator sports can provide a necessary escape and diversion, from daily cares and responsibilities. We have learned, to our amazement, that, the basketball tournament, (only college level) known as “March Madness,” regularly grosses billions of dollars, and that the National Basketball Association (professional level) expends sums in excess of fifty-seven million dollars per team. These sort of figures, in a general discussion of sports as physical fitness is confusing and, boggles our mind. It also quite, unexplainably, induces personal, nostalgic memories of the contrasting experience in our participation in competitive sports, back in the ‘40’s.

In contrast to the widely- celebrated, mega business of basketball and football, which consume much of the leisure time of our contemporary citizens, we, at an early age, were aficionados and avid participants in the competitive sport of marbles. We have so many relevant anecdotal memories on the subject, recalled from our modest childhood in a East New York, Brooklyn neighborhood, [ a venue where insecure immigrant love, competed with indigence, for prime time] that we are obliged to be selective. In any case, this note is intended to primarily concern the neighborhood-wide grand sport of marbles

For those who need a primer on Brooklyn marbles, we would offer the following fundamental, details. To play, we would recommend at least two other participants, and importantly, an unpaved patch of dirt, relatively free from weeds and small stones. Such a marble-playing arena which we will now shall exalt by referring to it as “the pitch,” had to be sufficient in area to accommodate, three or four sets of small (soiled) knees and a few, additional feet for the marble hole if you were playing a particular game, otherwise, a pitch, merely big enough for a small circle (usually delineated with a twig), as another choice from a copious variety of tournament recommendations. It might be useful at this point, to delineate the variety and appearance of the primary objects, the marbles themselves, and, an additional word on their respective value, in accordance with the then prevailing neighborhood policy

The essential facts are that all marbles are made of glass, are round, approximately 3/4ths of an inch in circumference, and appear in various colors and designs. There is a larger size marble, which local Brooklyn kids called, (erroneously or not), a “karbola.” The latter item was only useful in one particular game, was clumsy in its use as a shooter, and so was generally, perceived to have little value. The ordinary, run of the mill marble, was multi-colored, most with a similar design. These multicolored ones were, when necessary, the most expendable, as will be explained. The next, highest marble, in the official hierarchy of value, was the single colored, glass marble, which, in turn was subservient to the single color clear marble (called, “purees”). The highest currency was awarded to a puree with a visible, internal bubble. Marbles were used both as, “shooters,” as well as the gaming stakes, and accordingly, their respective valuation had to be strategized. The lowest valued, of course, was the first, strategically surrendered, in the event of loss.

Every player had a favorite, “shooter,” which, when if owned, was a bubbled puree, which carried with it a karma, akin to religious sacrament. It was seen as the rarest and most beautiful of marbles. and hence, the most valuable, and was believed to bring good luck. There was a most compassionate rule to the effect that, regardless of the magnitude of a shortage, on the part of any losing party, in “paying up,” the loser was protected from the disgraceful surrender of his “puree-shooter.”

As many people may be aware, the game is played, essentially, by shooting marbles at a desired target, other marbles, or a small hole, depending upon the occasion’s tournament selection. The marble (the “shooter”) is placed above the tip of the curled index finger, and “shot,” by a flick action of the thumb, with the knuckles of the shooting hand, mandatorily, touching flat to the ground. In one type of game, marbles are provided, equally by the contestants, and placed in a drawn circle. Each player takes his turn, attempting to shoot marbles out of the circle, which then become his property; each player keeps shooting until he misses. Because shooting requires a quick flick of the thumb, which is precarious, there was another compassionate rule in case a shooting party was clumsy and failed to discharge his marble properly. This rule generously permitted the shooter a do-over, provided he shouted the word, “slipsies” before the opponent had the opportunity to initially declare “no slipsies.” The tactically quick timing of the respective calls, was eternally in dispute, calling for truly legally, profound, and heated debate.

To today’s sport fans, these games would comparatively, appear to small time, little boy contests; and we are obliged to agree. But, within the childhood context, as evaluated by the actual contestants, they were defining acts of reputational (neighborhood) skill, carrying with them, the perceived excitement and significance of major sporting contests. In the case of marbles, the element of a player being sidelined for injury, fortunately, was not present. The imminent concern, and danger, however, was the dreaded call to lunch. This, was, eternally a felt, untimely, interruption, perpetrated by a player’s mother (in this setting, loudly and publicly) from a window, in the “apartment residence,” as the owner, would designate the edifice, or, the tenement, as the occupants would, describe it. Compliance with the shrill, Eastern-European accented, command, such as, “Melvin, Lunch,” in those days was unquestioned, and such interruptions of the concentrated play, felt close to unbearable. When the game was thus interrupted and, in any case, temporarily adjourned, pending a player’s lunch, on occasion, one of the players would accompany him; to be often rewarded with a chocolate chip cookie.

In one such, rather memorable occasion, we accompanied Melvin to his apartment for lunch. A dispute ensued when Melvin was handed his traditional tuna fish sandwich (mayonnaise and tomato on rye) by his mother. Melvin, wanting desperately to get back to the game, repeatedly insisted that he was not hungry, but to no avail. His mother, leaving the room, rendered the judicial decree, providing, that until he ate the whole sandwich, he could not go outdoors. Melvin, who in later life, distinguished himself as an engineer in the Apollo Space Program, went to the family toolbox, carefully selected a small screwdriver, removed the four corner screws on the back cover of a nearby small table radio, inserted the tuna with mayonnaise and tomato on rye, inside, screwed the cover back on the radio, and quickly departed, returning to the adjourned game. One can only imagine the amazement and shock, of the radio repairman, at some time thereafter, at his discovery of the ultimate remains of the tuna, tomato and mayonnaise sandwich, recalling that, in those days, radios operated on large glass tubes, which heated upon use.

Engagement in sports and physical fitness, in general, requires true initiative and sincere dedication.



In past writings, we have discouraged, indeed, excoriated, the use of aphorism, as an aid in the resolution of issues, or the making of difficult choices.  We have cautioned against their arrogant, pre-packaged, formulaic wisdom and false assumption of eternal rectitude. They are typically useless, irrelevant to the specific issues, and at times, misleading. We have consistently maintained that problems and difficult choices are best dealt with by the application of reasoned experience, relevant to the nuance and context of the respective situation, and never by the facile acquisition of useless, ephemeral assurance, from purported, folk wisdom.

Seeking the best personal solution to presenting problems is, undoubtedly, hard work. A consultation with a friend or neighbor is understandable, but such request for assistance can result in erroneous, or inapplicable advice. The unsatisfactory result may be caused by the subjective and inexact manner in which the problem is communicated to the friend or neighbor, the neighbor’s own subjective perception of the issue, or his own analogous experience in a different context.

In the interest of fairness and objectivity, we undertook an examination of the aphoristic statements available to us, in a search for a possible valid exception. We did discover, to our great surprise, one sage, aphoristic statement, which had reasonable value; but unfortunately, even that (somewhat useful) aphorism, had a fatal flaw, as will be observed at a later part of this note. That aphoristic statement, in any event, did provide us with an entree to an important  theme for this note.

The identified, partial exception to the rule, is a statement, attributed to the 19th Century author, George Santayana. The famous declaration, which we maintain is flawed,  is also, coincidentally,  a segue to our topic du jour, the eternal  and unavoidable rondo of human history; but first,  George Santayana’s aphorism. The statement was, “Those who fail to learn history, are doomed to repeat it.”  This frequently used statement, we note, is aphoristic, in that it lends advice, universally, and without qualification. This statement, incessantly recited, it seems, by everyone, in felt applicable situations, is somewhat useful, but as indicated, is materially flawed.

The study of history is, unquestionably, a valuable undertaking, and, among other benefits, often leads to useful conclusions, notably concerning the flawed persona and impulsive actions of mankind, over time, and the related consequences. This awareness and knowledge is, unlike other aphoristic statements, useful; but only up to a point. We feel that the necessarily implicit assumption of the statement by George Santayana, is that such foreknowledge can be utilized to prevent mistakes (or, their repetition). We do not agree with the great man. We would hazard the view that man, eternally, repeats the classic mistakes, because, empirically, man’s persona, over the ages never basically alters. This, practical, view of history we would, humbly suggest, is the flaw in the otherwise, useful exception to the use of the aphoristic advice. In essence, we feel that Santayana was optimistically, reductionist.

It may well be that the basic causes of World War 1, were known, yet within a few decades, we endured World War 2.  The historical cause of the ongoing bloody war, between the Sunni and the Shia Muslims, is ancient, but known. The war is understood to be a bizarre continuation of the 7th Century dispute, as to whether the Prophet Mohammed is to be succeeded by blood relatives (in this case, his son, Ali) or by popular vote. The cause for this atrocious and eternal conflict, can probably be found in the psyche of the combatants, and arguably not the ancient, 7th Century political issue. The historically studied cause, is known and has been studied for more than 14 Centuries; yet there is, and has continued to be, all out tragic and excessively bloody and cruel warfare. The cause of the Thirty Years War, in central Europe was always known, the conflict between the religious practices of the Catholic and Protestant Christians. The causes of the French and Russian Revolutions was always known; the privation of the respective populations. It seems to us that the prime causes of war are, and have always been, xenophobia, inequality, and, most especially religion. We always knew them and yet always have suffered; possibly because the species of homo sapiens, is not as charitable, nor as principled, as the brilliant, George Santayana. Studying the imperfect nature of man, we believe, may be more enlightening, than knowledge of his temporal mistakes in history.

We once read an original and thought-provoking piece by a Yale literature professor, espousing the theory that all literary plots are essentially, versions of the same three stories; Jack in the Beanstalk (ex.:” Raiders of the Lost Ark”), Cinderella (ex.: “A Star is Born”), Romeo and Juliet (ex.:” My Fair Lady”). [examples, furnished by us]. Man has eternally been observed to undergo the same, or, analogous, life experiences, and continues to do so, despite changes in context, environment and, to the point, knowledgeable experience. This is why the declaration of Mr. Santayana is wise and idealistic, but empirically disproven by man’s empirically unalterable character.

We have always maintained, that mature perception, and understanding of one’s self and his fellow man, are best advanced by the reading of good literature. In addition to the great pleasure of enjoying the books, themselves, and the spiritual company of the outstanding authors, we, in the process, simultaneously, advance our knowledge of ourselves and our fellow man. The plots and characters are so well conceived and portrayed, that we delight in empathically, and intellectually, sharing with the fictional characters, their creatively portrayed, and personally relatable experiences.  The reader identifies with the classically redundant and eternal issues that beset man, and thereby derives an objective and tolerant acceptance of analogous problems experienced in his life, as well as the life of others. Life is repetitive and therefore predictable, like the musical theme in a classical rondo, and not essentially changeable. It and the finite variety of personality types, it seems, will endure, through the years.

So, Mr. Santayana, if experience and knowledge, of the replicative nature of life is not enough, what shall man do? We would, if possible, respond, as follows: (1)  be certain that you have accurately identified the accurate nature of the presenting problem, and to quote a useful British admonition, (2) “muddle through.”


Post # 361     HARVESTED MOON (Sci-Fi)

Included in the sizeable professional and technical staff of plinyblog, there is a technical manager, who, in order to protect his privacy (and, in this case, secrecy) we will give the fanciful name of “Manny.”  Manny is a hard-working, 45 year- old, sociable, bald, male, 6 feet tall, rather unremarkable in appearance with the sole exception of his his eyes. He has occasionally, at the water cooler or in the company cafeteria, privately related to us, tales of the numerous instances in the past, especially in Middle School in Long Island, New York, when he was the unfortunate victim of teasing, and even bullying, because of his exotic eyes. Manny’s eye condition is indeed a unique one, turning, reliably and alternatively, dark and light, every 12 hours. Considering the distance between the technical office and our editorial office, and the particular hours of employment, we can honestly say that, we never noticed this bizarre phenomenon.

Recently, and interestingly, on one occasion, immediately following his singularly routine practice, of unfailingly, viewing every one of the media’s alarming climate change reports, he impulsively and anxiously, opted to relate a personal, previously withheld and furtive secret, to us. As we now recall, it was twelve noon, following a spate of rather alarming media reports on the topic of the Nation’s unnatural incidence of the many, uncontrollable forest fires, floods, tsunamis and abnormal temperature readings.

Manny related to me a bizarre, but assertively true narrative, after startling me with the reservation, that the unauthorized revelation of its mere existence, is a federal crime, and subject to a long term in prison. The revealed facts sounded so gothic and weirdly (science) fictional, that we wonder whether even, an Edgar Allen Poe, or a H.G. Wells, would find them, at all, credible.

The Federal Statute mandating secrecy, he explained, dates back to the days of the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln, who obtained the salient facts from his War Secretary John Stanton. Messrs. Lincoln and Stanton, were advised by a mysterious and, apparently foreign, bright- eyed emissary, that the surface of the Moon, had been, since the Paleolithic era, a rich, verdant, fertile planet, occupied by flora and fauna of all kinds, including a large, dominant species of humanoids, possessing an advanced brain and useful opposable thumbs. The reported humanoids were essentially identical in appearance to homo sapiens, (which apparently, appeared much later, on planet Earth with the sole exception of the variant evolution of the Luna humanoid’s eyes, which automatically change to light or dark, in tandem with the 12- hour light and dark, changes of the moon.

The Lunar humanoids, as related, evolved, successfully procreated, developed societies, made significant advances in science, technology and industry; the latter made the daily life of the average humanoid easier, and afforded him leisure time for study or recreation.

After centuries of successful and, notably, profitable, industry and commerce, a strange ominous, dark cloud began developing over the Planet, which evidently did not dissipate, but on the contrary, increasingly grew darker and more forbidding. Concurrently, there appeared to be the beginning of stark changes in the Moon’s formerly consistent climate and uncontrollable fires consuming the previously verdant forests, unusual flooding, frequent storms, hurricanes, and, on occasion, powerful windstorms. Increasingly, humanoids, reportedly, began complaining, in unusually high numbers, of eye irritations, later, headaches, fatigue and dizziness. The Ruling Humanoid Council, called upon its best scientists and medical experts to investigate the changes in the Planetary environment and, as well, the unusual and growing number of instances of humanoid discomfort, and its recent, sudden sensitivity to allergens.

After considerable study, experimentation and cross- professional deliberation, it was the uniform decision of the experts, that it was industrial waste and carbon emissions, released into the lunar atmosphere by industrialists and humanoid inhabitants, that was the cause of all of the planetary ills. A strong warning and serious recommendation, was then issued to have immediate and effective measures taken, most especially by industry, but also by the public, to control and delimit, the quantum of contaminants, notably, carbon, strewn into the Lunar air and surrounding atmosphere.

To make the long, agonizing and tragic narrative short, Manny related that, the combination of industry’s higher priority on profits, and the insufficient interest of the humanoid public, in the dire and existential warnings of the experts took its tragic toll. Previously lush, verdant and fertile, the Moon, soon thereafter, began a relentless deterioration into a colorless, lifeless and windy rock, whose sole ultimate utility is its reflective properties, (a lifeless, orbiting Satellite) in the heliocentric solar system.

As the history of events were recounted by Manny, ultimately, a small, desperate cohort of Martian humanoids, at the last days, and with the aid of a primitive methane gas projectile, desperately set out for the nearest planet, Earth, and unbelievably, made it. When word finally got back, this was followed by a great many other, frantic humanoids, reliably utilizing the identical escape procedure, but, as luck would have it, a reported total of only (approx.) six-hundred, actually made it; millions of others, surely, must have tragically perished. Today Manny related, descendants of the successful refugees, live, work and multiply, peacefully, privately and quite unnoticed, among us.

If, at the supermarket, or perchance at a karaoke club, you happen upon a lunar humanoid, please do not noticeably and impolitely, stare at his eyes.


Post # 360    ANOTHER AMERICAN BEAUTY PAGEANT (A pliny editorial)

At the time of this writing, there are in excess of 25 registered aspirants (and still counting) for selection by the Democratic Party, as its nominee for President in the 2020 election; all of whom, seem to be well recognized and celebrated personalities and, more importantly, avowed liberals. Stranger than this plethora of want-to -be candidates, is the fact that, as reported, the number is still growing.

There are, perhaps, some, who feel that such a large choice of potential candidates, is a healthy phenomenon, since it will, they feel, necessarily result in the airing, in the debates, of a great many views and novel suggestions for the solution of our problems, and improvements in governance. We, most emphatically, disagree.

The responsible chore of candidate selection, should never resemble the arbitrary and casual franchise of window shopping.

We, of course, are unaware of the respective personal motivation of each of the many aspirants, and remain confident, that all are in agreement with the classic Democratic party platform and principles; these traditionally, have included, health insurance for all Americans, protection of civil and women’s rights, enforcement of health and safety regulations, assistance to the needy, fair labor and agricultural practices, rational gun control, recognition and amelioration of climate problems and a sensible and compassionate immigration policy. The daily, continuous, media recital of the constant misdeeds of Mr. Trump, at this point, should strategically take a back seat, to the more important theme, of the public’s assurance of the restoration of the empathic and traditional aims of the Democratic Party. The goal to be emphasized, is the resurrection of wise governance, including the continued maintenance of the policy of responsible and moral compassionate capitalism.

We have serious reservations concerning the surfeit of candidates, seeking the party’s nomination. Appearances might suggest a possible context, akin to a beauty pageant, where, as perceived, the greatest ephemeral appeal of the contestant, in a swim suit or evening gown, is the criterion of success. There exist at present, a surfeit of beauty pageants, national and international; a mere sampling (of the domestic events, only) would include the following: Miss America, Mrs. America, Miss Teen Age America, Miss World, and so on, (and on) ad infinitem, ad nauseum. If permitted to make a diversionary  observation, we have always regarded (and have consistently written), that any determination of the actual beauty of the person, is essentially, not an external consideration, but an internal one, based upon mature perspective, intelligence, knowledge and capacity for empathy; in addition, as necessary, to the pageant show criterion of (unearned and accidental) outward appearance.

To return to our intended subject, we are troubled, as to the subject of the potential criteria for the selection of a favorite, from any large, pageant-like array of like- thinking contestants. Is it [externals] tonal quality and confidence in speaking? appearance? sense of humor? gender? good looks? personal history? domicile? feistiness?  We hope not. We are obliged to remember that it was the dangerous and attractive, populist, cult of personality, which was the proximate cause for the misleading of the nation, much like the fabled Pinocchio, into going down the wrong path, to its later regret. The voter must exercise his better judgment by voting for a candidate who, appears to demonstrate the essential characteristics of wisdom, maturity of perspective and a responsible knowledge of history, current events, and the needs of the nation. The unprecedentedly large array of similar, “right-thinking” applicants, however, supports the optics of a pageant-like competition; a trite and essentially, superficial array of “gong show” style applicants, hungrily vying for the noisy approval of a populist audience.

Participants, as Democrats, predictably, will speak to their common support of the traditional Democratic platform issues, enumerated above. Yet, if it they uniformly espouse identical platforms, how does the responsibly mature voter to be guided in his selection of nominee? It is this puzzling dilemma that underlies our considered disapproval of a large number of candidates in the nomination process. It would appear in such an instance, that the determinative choice of Presidential candidate, might, shamefully, be left to a decision based on superficial and irrelevantly populist criteria; rather than  the voter’s sincere affirmance of the basic, historic tenets, of the Democratic Party, which all candidates purport to share.

The selection of Presidential candidates is a consequential procedure and ought never resemble a beauty pageant, or a casual window shopping excursion.



There are tacit assumptions and mandatory expectations of every member of a society. As Rousseau famously stated, in his “Social Contract,” man gives up some liberty, contractually, in exchange for the benefits of living in society. This 18th Century legal observation is the keystone of all civilized and orderly communities of homo sapiens. To qualify as a participating member, there are tacitly acknowledged, “rules of the road,” including, importantly, behavioral expectations. In the event of exceptional violations of acceptable social behavior, there are written Statutes and Ordinances, to keep the peace and to provide for precedential justice. Essentially and fundamentally, it is the credible assumption of general compliance with expectations, that assures the interactive success of the human community.

There would be no practical way to recount the very many illustrative examples of compliance with societal expectations, such as, parents caring for their children, teachers teaching, postmen delivering mail, doctors and nurses providing health services, bus drivers driving buses. These sort of expectations, together with the expected, acceptable standard of interactive behavior, that furnishes the electrical current for the functioning of the appliance of society.

This Nation, in its past, has had the unfortunate experience of a few unsatisfactory heads of State, but did not find itself in the present unfathomable and thorny dilemma as to its resolution. The Constitution, indeed, provides two routes viable for the removal of a President, impeachment and Art.5 removal; the latter is, at present, virtually, a procedural impossibility, and, it appears that the former, in the present political climate, seems to demonstrate a unique and unprecedented conundrum.

We are  distressed and embarrassed at the President’s evident incapability, to perform the sworn duties of the most powerful and consequential office on the planet; his demonstrated ignorance, his acts of treasonous behavior, his intentional and immoral violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, his unrestrained and completely impulsive  acts and policies, nationally and internationally, his repulsive tolerance of white nationalists and other reprehensible bigots, his abuse of women and denigration of their human rights, his ominous denial of climate change, his disparagement of knowledge and learning, his daily obnoxious and uncivil behavior and tragically, so much more.

It might strain credulity, as being applicable to any President of a National community, but there exists an even more fundamental and insidious, characteristic of Trump’s unique persona, creating an unprecedented dilemma, applicable to this particular, bizarre and unique, head of State.

In 1853, Herman Melville, the brilliant author of the great classic novel,” Moby Dick”, wrote a novelette, “Bartelby the Scrivener,” which may be of some analogous utility to this writing. The protagonist, as the archaically worded title suggests, is a meek clerk, a copier, for an attorney. One day, when Bartelby was, routinely, instructed to copy some documents, as was his customary duty, he refused. In fact, the protagonist continued to refuse all further directions from his employer, including eventually, the command to get out, which was also refused. The employer, thereafter, after unsuccessfully failing to get the recalcitrant clerk to separate himself, actually thought that he solved the problem, by actually removing his practice to a new location; this, too, did not work.

What Melville was getting at, is that society’s existence (or weakness) is found in its necessary. practical dependency on the tacit, fundamental, and willing, compliance of its members, concerning expected and predictable action. Without such expectations and compliance, there can be no workable society.

Donald Trump has consistently demonstrated, that he has no intention of being bound by historical and legal, or ethical rules and expectations, regarding his behavior as President of the United States nor regarding his personal behavior; which behaviors, to him, presumably, and ignorantly, are indistinguishable. Debate is presently raging, as to those who believe that impeachment is necessary, in order to vindicate respect for law and propriety, and those who feel that the impeachment process would give Trump, more desired exposure to the limelight, which he neurotically craves, create more National divisiveness and consume valuable legislative time.

It is apparent that Mr. Trump will play no individual or professional part in the recognition of accepted societal or National expectations; nor even in a basic anthropological recognition of the universal social contract. He is unpredictable and, like Melville’s,” Bartelby the Scrivener,” sees himself as outside of the responsible context and the reach of society.

We may have to wait for 2020!



In earlier writings on the subject of our embarrassingly, incapable and dishonest President, (published despite our often declared, but as of yet, unrealized, aspiration, to refrain from writing on that subject), we posed the vitally concerning question: whether the election of Donald Trump, was a one-off, or statistically aberrant event or, whether it was a valid, sad indication of a prevalent National decline, in the numbers of sufficiently informed and literate voters.

We additionally observed, that Trump’s success, reportedly, was assisted by the financial and demagogic efforts, on the part of many self-interested corporations, which placed a higher priority on profit, than governmental regulations, which exist for the protection of the health of American citizens.

Despite dire concern, we, nevertheless, adhered to the optimistic belief, that the previous election and the re-election, of the estimable Obama administration, empirically militated against the second, horrific theory, of the National dumbing down, of the citizen- voter. The impetus for this writing, is a nightmarish fear (as will be described, hereafter) of an exacerbation of the horrific second theory.

As a general observation, we are not avid television viewers; we do, however, follow certain of our preferred evening news programs, view many educational and great performance specials, and on occasion, enjoy an interesting movie presentation. Otherwise, we continue prefer the pleasure, afforded by reading, in addition to the pleasure of engagement in the daunting challenge to create blog posts which are deserving of reader interest.

Recently, we sustained a minor leg injury, requiring us to remain essentially, sedentary, for a couple of weeks, in order to avoid pressure on our injured knee. Aside from our usual pursuits, we thought that we would give afternoon television another chance; perhaps we may have, in the past, been a trifle too dismissive of the experience. Please note, for the record, that our daytime nightmare unquestionably, experienced its etiology, in those inquisitive attempts.

One can safely assume, that sponsors of television programs, motivated by the goal of merchandising products and services, would, sensibly, finance programs, which, after demographic study and analysis,  appear to have the greatest number of viewers. It is inarguable, that sponsors of television programs, understandably, aspire to the commercial goal of exposure to the largest possible public audience, for the enhancement of desired sales. It logically follows, accordingly, that the popular afternoon programs, which we would consult, and possibly, enjoy, would all boast an exceptionally large viewership.

Our experience in sampling the entire array of choices of afternoon programming, with very few “charitable” exceptions, were nothing short of embarrassingly abysmal. The game shows, adult panel discussions, the “lectures” (beauty, weight control, nutrition, finances), the sophomoric family and individual therapy, the soap operas, were all, not simply inane, trite and sophomoric, but to be accurate, utterly tasteless and stupid. Our views included hostesses with excessive make-up, bling and undeserved confidence, mouthing tasteless, self-assured, popular aphorismic wisdom, and other inanities, to a widely applauding, curiously, appreciative audience, was enough to summon nightmares. But this, yet, is not the particular daylight nightmare which is the subject of this note.

Are people’s lives, actually, so dull, so completely uneventful and unstimulating, that, trite and inane proclamations, unashamedly and smilingly made, by over- dressed, heavily made-up, human Barbie dolls, sporting outrageous bling, and outlandish studio hairdo’s, are seen as entertaining, and over-the-top marvelous, so as to merit standing audience applause, as well as the rapt admiration of the viewer? Are people so poorly informed that game shows need to feature valuable prizes for correct answers to questions that any middle school child could easily handle? Are people’s lives so uninteresting, that they have to live, derivatively, through trite and tawdry melodramatic soap opera vignettes? Are people so self-conscious, that they have to waste valuable leisure time, in rapt attention to beauty enhancement, diet and weight control programs, as diversion? Are viewers, generally, so insecure and gullible, that they would worship the arrogant input of faux, pseudo-intellectual, smooth-talking boob-tube savants?

It may, at last, be the contextually appropriate time, to reveal the nature of our frightening, daylight nightmare.

Our nightmare is the fear that there may yet be, an additional source of Trump supporters; a cohort, conceivably, separate from, and supplemental to, that identified, large, amorphous legion of misled, low-information, flat earth voters, who helped put him in the Oval Office. It involves the potential voting choices of of those millions of afternoon worshippers of sophomoric and inane afternoon television offerings; those who appear to prefer, easily accessible, low quality entertainment, over rational thought and clear-eyed reality. Our daylight nightmare, more specifically stated, is that so many, eternally bored, tasteless, afternoon television fans, neurotically craving easily accessible, cheap entertainment, may, as voter, at some point, take notice that our bizarre, orangutan-orange President, [aside from every other evaluation], easily fits the bill, as low quality, easily accessible, and tasteless, daily entertainment.



At first blush, it might seem counter-intuitive to observe that in forensic matters, the least probative, or least reliable accurate proof, is, acceptably, known to be personal identification; irrespective of how confidently it was asserted by an apparently truthful witness. Who did it, said it, drove the car, was present, stole the bicycle, are examples of questions addressed to the witness’ sworn recollection as to identity; the responses, validly and empirically, have been shown to be subject to, at least, some doubt. Long experience has shown that evidence, including “circumstantial” evidence, is forensically necessary, to afford the assured conclusion, that the identified personality, is, factually, the true party in interest.

The distinction between “perception” and reality, is a construct, which is understood to be somewhat familiar, in contemporary society. It is commonly known that perception and its re -created recollection, are both subjective phenomena, and may, unwittingly, differ from actual, objective accuracy. Witnesses, called to testify as to identity, necessarily bring along with them to the witness seat, recollections of previous, related and unrelated circumstances, and a mélange of concurrent thoughts, which may well interfere with, or edit, the extent of their recollected testimonial accuracy. Furthermore, witnessed events which, by their nature, are productive of emotional or excited reaction, by their nature, add additional challenge to attempts at reliable recollection, and associated testimony.

Such problematic reservations, applicable to the questionable accuracy of witness identification, are also relevant in the context of perceived familial resemblance; most particularly in instances of the newborn.  There is little doubt that as an experiential fact, representatives of both parental families, predictably, and with great confidence and assurance, are prone to independently assert that the newborn baby clearly resembles someone in his respective family. In the course of such controversy, one may hear such scholastic and erudite arguments as, “her eyes are just like her sister’s,” “she’s got her mother’s mouth” “she’s (god forbid) got her father’s nose,” or some brash, but expected comment from a reputed weird relative such as, “put a cigar in his mouth and you’ll see that he is a spitting image of Uncle Moe, the druggist.” The newborn nursery eternally provides the utilitarian convenience of a suitable forum for substantive debate, over the attribution of familial resemblance.

We might be able to reach some concord, with the reader, for our bold declaration, that the usual newborn infant can be seen to resemble almost anyone; and, further, that relatives visiting the hospital, celebrating the happy, new addition to the family, may differ in nuanced perception, albeit, each, respectively, asserting requisite expertise and the assurance of profound experience in family history.

As the child grows older, the debate may well continue, however sporadically, as to his attributive features; sometimes, as a good- natured, interactive tradition between the two families, or at times, on the factually perceived, purported merits of the controversy. It can be noted, though, that the issue emanating from the asserted pride in the child’s perceived familial resemblance, may be exacerbated, or, alternatively, wax and wane, depending upon the mature child’s later degree of successful attainments, or conversely, upon his, disappointing performance.

There often appears to be, yet, an additional self-serving, familial inclination, which apparently amounts to an association of the great success of a family member, to a claimed, celebrated, familial trait, or a gifted relative. Curiously, there seems to be no similar competitive inclination regarding individuals, who have turned out to be perceived as abysmal failures.

Just spoofing!