The self-destructive and societally endangering, elevation of “Trumpism,” above the existential importance of constructive reason, is notably highlighted by the acrimonious refusal of its loyal adherents to abide by governmental recommendations of vaccination and mask-wearing. The programs announced by the Federal Government are strictly based upon empirical science and have been proven to be prophylactically efficient, in avoiding infection and possible death from the Covid virus, inclusive of its mutational varieties. Notwithstanding a virtual plethora of empirical evidence demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of the recently developed vaccines and the practical wisdom of wearing a mask, the MAGA cult vociferously, and ignorantly, claims that such government initiatives infringe upon personal liberty. We will return to this bizarre claim, following some observations on background.   

The 18th Century philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau, employed the words, “Social Contract,” to describe the dynamics of human society. Finding it empirically preferable to the hazards of living alone in Nature, man chose to live in society with others. Pursuant to Rousseau’s “Social Compact” or “Social Contract,” mankind willingly forfeits some of its liberty and rights, in exchange for the numerous benefits of living in society. Society, in turn, renders to its members the shared advantages of living together, including safety and defense, food and water and interactive socialization. The benefits of living in society, pursuant to that contract, carried with it the personal sense of member responsibility.

Rancorous and stridently enunciated cries of outrage have been heard from Trump cult members, regarding the governmentally expressed advice, to wear a mask and be vaccinated; to the effect that they will resist such an “unreasonable limitation” on their rights. They selfishly brush aside, the reality that their falling ill will impose serious challenges and costs to the community, and far worse, implement the danger of communication of the virus to others. The advice inarguably is societally reasonable, indeed mandatory. The so-called interference with the protesters’ rights is in this instance, but a minor and mandated forfeit to society under their social contract.

One should think that equally “limiting their rights” are such matters as required stopping at red lights, observing the speed limit when driving, paying taxes, complying with health and safety regulations, mandatory childhood education, licensure for driving, motorcycling, food handling, barbershops, liquor sales and distribution, fishing, brokerage and the practice of the professions, food marketing, marriage, fairs, and public events. There is a limitation regarding expected behavior in the public square, and at theaters, opera houses, museums, movies, and schools. Every right that we enjoy, constitutional or otherwise has its own, relevant, limitation, usually for purposes of health and welfare.

It seems unfair, if not bizarre, that these anti-vax, anti-mask people are perfectly content to receive the many benefits of living in society, i.e., clean water, food and air regulations, fire, and police protection, traffic lights, schools and hospitals, ambulance services, libraries, theaters, heat, electricity and power, snow cleaning, garbage collection, postal services, street and highway repair and maintenance, public conveyances, parks, gardens and schoolyards, markets, and considerably more. Those who, laughably, claim that their personal freedom is abridged by the salubrious suggestion that they protect themselves and the community by getting vaccinated and wearing a disease-preventing mask, especially, for this more highly transmissible and more impactful “Delta Variant,” to energetically search out a relatively mild word, are delusionary.

It has been authoritatively reported that the currently circulating, “Delta Variant” of Covid-19, in fact, is more dangerous, and freely transmissible than the dreaded African disease, Ebola.

Analogous to Donald J. Trump’s prescriptive advice to drink bathroom cleanser to eliminate Covid-19, his sycophants’ adamant refusal to be vaccinated and wear a mask, is characteristically and individually ignorant and, from a  societal perspective, morally irresponsible.



Recently, while enjoying some moments of relaxed contemplation, we were unexpectedly confronted with the uncomfortable realization that, at certain times in the past, we had thoughtlessly failed to properly acknowledge services rendered to us, the absence of which, would be most problematic.

 As we have often declared, the existential epoxy joining together members of society is the existence of a mutually communicative language. Without functional and meaningful interaction, mankind would be solitary, vulnerable, unduly taxed with personal survival; and further, would anthropologically, lack cultural identity and opportunity for personal advancement. Thus, although normally, the stereotypic “unsung hero,” furnishing the valued service is a human being, we have respectfully chosen, for the suitable reasons, set forth below, [please bear with us] to nominate for that honored and exalted role, the ubiquitous noun, “but.”

It takes but a moment to empirically observe that the word, “but,”  itself, faithfully and without limit, focuses one’s interactive communication, precisely, on the intended nature, and more to the point, on the desired extent of our declarations or observations, and, as well, to qualifications [he is quiet, but very friendly, singularizing or generalizing, [it is the coldest region in Michigan] moderating [ he was angry but not violent] or emphasizing, [it was John Dillinger who robbed the most banks], contrasting, [Obama was one of our best Presidents, but Trump was the worst], excluding, [ all but Selwin agreed], negating, [he gave us directions, but they were wrong], specifying, [I like vegetables, but I hate radishes] , conceptualizing,[what  we tried, was everything but heat],  explaining, [ he couldn’t come for health reasons] distinguishing, { I would prefer all but the dark tie], reconciling, [but you have to be in her shoes to understand], enhancing, [ but the spotlight made her even more beautiful], degrading, [ but he is really a charlatan] , expressing, [ I stand for progress, but your suggestion is  untimely], suggesting, [you can try it, but it is very spicy], implying good or bad quality, [the cheese looked rotten, but it tasted fine] and is functionally ubiquitous in all communication, speech or writing.

Unfortunately, the contemporary scene is replete with extreme divisiveness and rancor, evincing extremist declarations of diverse dogma and divergent views. The latter extremes may, to a degree, be capable of moderation or clarification, if desired, by the filtered use of words of distinction or limitation, following the simple employment of the ombudsman-like word “but,” in order to signify exceptions or intended degree. Illustrations of such use may be noted in: “She is in generally in favor of Federal assistance, but certainly not a believer in Socialism”, “She came home after midnight but was with her aunt”, “He is very fat, but has a very handsome face”, “Bob prefers steak but ordered fish”, “He is, generally a stingy man, but good to his family” “We can deliver the lumber, but not before Wednesday.” “It tasted sweet, but not too cloying.” “ How can you forget, it happened but one week ago.”

In the brief sample, cited above, the essential and ultimate observations or factual statements will be remembered, as intentionally and meaningfully modified, or filtered by our ubiquitous verbal hero, “but,” so  that the desired degree of undertaking, conclusion, or expectation is qualified, by means of the subject noun giving them the intended degree of effectuation, viz., “but.”

It would be a salutary development, if the prevalent, and harmful National divisiveness could, somehow, be qualified, or delimited by a functionally moderating word or analogous concept such as the celebrated noun, “but.” But, judging the tenor of the times, it could not. But, if it only could!


Post # 655 WHAT’S IN A WORD *

In our view, of all the myriad definitions of the noun, ”word” ultimately, the most foundational and useful, is: “A grouping of letters that has meaning when it is spoken or written.” Languages, as known, made up of collections [lexicons or vocabularies] of words, empirically enable members of society, to desirably and meaningfully, construe sentences and thereby, express to others their thoughts, feelings, and observations.  In this writing, we have elected to comment on three categories of word use:  [1] the careful and intentional selection of words, by capable authors as perceived by unsophisticated reader comments concerning, “big” versus, “easy” words, [2] the careless reliance on synonyms, and finally, [3] the tactical use of words as misleading propaganda.

[1] “Big” and “simple” words:

We have encountered such comments all too often, most especially, among people who choose not to spend their leisure time, reading. Often, the critical observation often is “He uses so many big words, that I cannot understand him.” In such instances, the infrequent reader, having trouble comprehending the meaning of the written work, defensively, and unjustly, shifts the blame, for his disturbing incomprehension, to the author. We have, indeed, at times, heard this complaint, albeit, regarding the greatest and most communicative of authors, as well as respecting the modest essays offered at plinyblog. It is very disconcerting but, simply, revelatory of the inexperience of the reader.

We will emphatically, declare without exception, that there is no legitimate, aesthetic category as “big words” or, “simple” words. It is true that some words do have more letters or syllables in them, or perhaps, may not be everyday, conversational words, but considerations of the size, and perceived complexity of words, are absolutely and entirely irrelevant. Any capable author, possessing the adequate level of skill and sensitivity for precise description, is unconcerned with the number of syllables in his carefully and contextually, chosen words. Words are selectively employed which, in the judgment of the writer, best express or describe the feeling or perception, intended to be conveyed to the reader. The following category, “[2]” may be read in conjunction with “[1].”

[2] Undue reliance on synonyms:

A thesaurus or other recognized listing of “synonyms” or “antonyms” provide similar words; and it is certainly acceptable to consult these sources for synonyms, but with the essential proviso, than mere similarity in meaning does not usually equate to replication of desired context or desired expression. Where there is choice, the closest word to the closest to the intended transmittal of feeling or description, with no other qualifications, should be utilized, by the author.

Illustrative examples of legitimate “synonyms” which, as usual, mutually differ in contextual meaning and desired impression.

[a] “quick”, “fast”, “swift”: [comment] To do something in a quick manner, is merely to distinguish it from “slow.” The adjective “fast” would be applicable to a flowing stream [ as would “swift.”] A winning horse would best be described as “swift,” certainly not “quick.”

[b] “look”, “see,” “glare, “stare”:[comment] To” look” is merely to direct one’s attention and not necessarily to see. To “see,” is simply, to visually experience. To “stare” is to fixedly look at an object. To “glare” is to angrily stare.

[c]  “present,” ”gift, award”:  [comment] A “present” connotes an item brought by a dinner guest or delivered on an occasion like a birthday or anniversary. The word, “gift” also has legal or official suggestion or, alternatively, the recognition of a revealed talent. “Award” necessarily implies a recognized contest, or problem and a successful win or accomplishment.

[d] “hot,” “spicy,” “torrid,” “sweltering”:[comment] “hot’ can refer to the ambient temperature, or the spicy taste of chilies, ”torrid” or “sultry” can imply sexy. “Sweltering means uncomfortably hot.

We could cite virtually every word in our language with its characteristic availability of numerous synonyms or antonyms, and yet, rarely see an identity in contextual mood or intended color. An experienced and capable author employs words that are selectively chosen, to convey an intended mood or personal message to the receptive reader.

[3] The tactically false use of words as propaganda:

The existence and intrinsic use of words, viz., the communication to others of information and ideas, is, unfortunately, vulnerable to use in tactical perversion and misrepresentation, for sub-rosa motives. The following are four examples of the pernicious [mis]use of words for concealed purposes;

[1] “Right to Life.” The most detestable and fraudulent example of misrepresentation by words is the cynical and tactical use of this benevolent-sounding name. The right-wing opponents to abortion have pirated three inarguably, positive words to shield their malign purposes, whether they be based on religious, faux moral, or, simply, the unvarnished desire for political and financial influence. Holding themselves out to be moral protectors of life, by their organizational name and deceitful public pretentions, and in their strict opposition to a woman’s choice, when needed, to terminate her own early pregnancy. Their purported representation of the group to be the protectors of the life of the fetus [“life”], is empirically belied by their adamant opposition to governmental assistance to the needy child, following the event of birth. The falsity of their dedication to” “life” is also irrefutably demonstrated by their commission of premeditated murder of physicians and others assisting in abortions, their support of the purported right to own guns, and their support of capital punishment, the latter items, inarguably, agents of death and inarguably, the anthesis of life.

[2] “Socialism”:

 America’s menagerie of pro-Trump, underbelly denizens, are content to label every empathic and necessary governmental expression of compassionate Capitalism, as their [misunderstood] newly created epithet, “Socialist”. They are, nonetheless, happy to pocket the many citizen benefits and governmental assistance about which they ignorantly complain. With a minuscule of education, they would learn that the word, “Socialism,” is but a term in the lexicon of political science, which equates to the governmental ownership and management of all commerce and industry; a form of political economy, never favored by any leading candidate for high public office. The system of Socialism is not an American possibility, nor is it an epithet. In fact, it is America’s programs of compassionate capitalism [as compared to the cruelty of the Natural Law of Adam Smith] that keep foreign or exotic forms of government, far from our shores.

[3] Teaching America’s accurate and non-deleted history:

It required the objective study and understanding of the virus, responsible for the recent pandemic, to enable the chemical fabrication of a vaccine capable of its future prevention. By utilitarian analogy, the unacceptable persistence of “Jim Crow”, cannot be eliminated without recognition and understanding of our history of slavery. No course of study, representing itself as bearing the name, “American History,” can responsibly omit its history of institutional enslavement of Black Africans for agricultural labor; nor can our Nation’s ongoing struggle for universal rights and equality, be taught and understood without this historical context. For the identical reasons the Nation’s historical mistreatment of the Native Americans, must not immorally and foolishly be ignored.

Those who have immorally and unconstitutionally, opposed the right of universal equality, have given the candid teaching of American History, the challenging and accusatory label, “Critical Race Theory.” Such tactically construed title, lends implicit, unattractive suggestions of accusation, acrimony and “finger-pointing,” as contrasted with the facile continuance of the continuation of “sweeping everything under the carpet.” Extending the same idiom, the rug will lie flatter, better, and more comfortably, for the benefit of all concerned, only after its appropriate and complete cleansing. Perhaps a better title for the subject to be taught would simply be  “American History,” since right-thinking Americans do not seek to add chapters to the course, but simply, to fill in the wrongfully or foolishly deleted blanks.   


    [* Our apologies to Mr. Wm. Shakespeare for the use of a name taken from his “Romeo and Juliet.”]

Post # 654 NOMADIC NATURE [poesie]**

I went outdoors with book in hand
To read and muse on a warm day
Sun-filled and bright, above the oaks
The white puffs slid; I read my book
And then looked up, the page did dance
To find the author of the kiss
That felt implanted on my cheek
I smiled the wise man’s knowing smile
To find the author was the breeze
Some questions then in me arose
About the moving clouds and breeze
What is their source, where do they go?
I realized then, man’s dearth of ken
On matters right before their eyes.

Mankind seems alone to heed,
The mundane objects of his need.

Leonard N, Shapiro N.Y. 7/19/21

** in the style of the Shakespearean Sonnet: iambic pentameter, 14 lines and a two line rhyming couplet.


Waiting with us on Fifth Avenue, and 42nd Street, Manhattan Street corner, was a well-dressed, elderly woman and a teenage girl, the girl, dressed in jeans and tee-shirt, presumedly, her granddaughter. We couldn’t avoid overhearing the following portion of their conversation, “…so why don’t you write your boyfriend a letter of explanation? usefully suggested the grandmother.” The young girl emphatically replied, “What? grandma! Nobody writes letters, anymore!” What motivated this writing is a recollection of this verbal exchange and the renewed sense that a similar response would be predictable from the mainstream American citizen.

We may have written in excess, about the tragic loss of the universally needed contact with a recognizable voice, and its familiar nuance of expression, as compared with the unnatural limitations to expression, lost by the [universal] use of electronic transmissions of digital symbols onto a small, lighted screen.  Yet, thinking retrospectively, we seem to have given relatively short shrift to the most aesthetic, expressive, and personalized, albeit the least facile, mode of societal communication, namely, letter correspondence; most especially, those that are handwritten. The salutary, aesthetic, and intimate practice of the latter mode of communication, is far more valuable, despite, or perhaps, because it is less facile, and time consumingly written, in a familiar, nuanced, and identifiable hand.

We mourn the apparent passing of the uniquely personal practice of handwritten letters, [as well as those, somewhat less nuanced, produced by typewriter] which generally, to our discernment,  affirmatively signals a major loss to man’s interactive need for mutually affirmed and recognizable identity. Its substitution by impersonal data-like electronic symbols, unmistakably reveals the insensitive hardening of contemporary society, in its costly and short-sighted, universal preference for ease and efficiency, over human individualized, expression.

There is almost a palpable pleasure and a feeling of anticipation in unexpectedly finding in the mailbox, a handwritten letter from a familiar sender. Before unsealing the envelope, there is the empirical acknowledgment, that the writer had personally taken the time to transcribe chosen words, on a selected paper, sign, and enclose them in a stamped envelope, personally addressed to you. The recalled, familiar handwriting, by its conversational style and, possibly, familiar stationery, recall the image, style of speech and the singular persona of the writer.  Perhaps the most rewarding feeling is the recognition that the writer valued the relationship sufficiently, to have undertaken the effort of writing the letter to you. Memorable letters, including, in some instances, written by subsequently deceased and revered persons, can be kept, and later, re-read, with the sense of a present mutual conversation.

Our modern, profit-oriented, industrialized, society, in the responsible and existential interest of the preservation of societal and mindful humanity, should wisely and rationally, elect to exempt handwritten letters from its recent ubiquitous, and apparently insatiable, appetite for efficiency.



The human cost of pervasive and ignorant misinformation is incalculable, perhaps far grimmer in effect than the traditionally dreaded phenomenon of evil. As eternally shown by history and contemporary events, the reluctance of mankind to adequately employ evolution’s generous gift of an advanced brain, has proven only, to yield harmful, even tragic results.

The disastrous election to the Office of The American Presidency, of an incapable, ignorant and egotistic miscreant, Donald J. Trump, empirically served as an effective catalyst for a public revival of atavistic ignorance, and the emergence of  America’s populist “underbelly” of ignorant, shamelessly bigoted, and mindlessly illiterate malcontents. His embarrassing, four-year term, has seen the creation, or at the very least, the exacerbation, of the many tragic sequelae listed below. Discernably, the entire sum of his  growth and personal advancement, after four years of the  American Presidency, has  been limited to the pernicious transmogrification of his inartful word, “Bigly,” to his perverse practice of “The Big Lie.”

Examples of the Nation’s wages of ignorance are presented by category, with some  brief commentary:

[1] Derogation of scientific advancement:

[Global warming]. It may not be possible, as a practical matter,, to address the complete myriad of tragic consequences of the Trump administration’s inability to employ basic reason and empirical experience. The problems inherent in man-made global warming were adamantly denied by the ignorant Trump, who also emphatically opposed green energy, all, to the brisk applause of the sociopathic, polluting industrialists who value profits above human health and a verdant planet. As a result of such resolute mindlessness, the goal has, by sheer necessity, been degraded from that of attempts to prevent global warming, to the contemporary exigency to adjust to it and survive its effects; these are inclusive of abnormal seasonal variance, unnatural and frequent, huge storms, flooding, rising tides from glacial melting,  significant erasure of shorelines, tragic property damage, tsunamis,  hurricanes, abnormally large and uncontrollable forest fires, landslides, power grid failures, prolonged periods of drought, unprecedented heat and frigid temperatures and animal extinction.

[Public health]: The medical malpractice of Trump, in immediately disbanding the Obama created, specialized agency, purposed to detect global epidemics, his ignorant and casual downplaying of the serious advent of the epidemic of Covid, including the discouragement of wearing masks, and the bizarre, recommendation to ingest bathroom cleanser as a suitable prescription medicine, added to his general macho stupidity, portrayed for the entertainment of his underbelly sycophants, proximately, resulted in hundreds of thousands of preventable infections and a great many tragic events of mortality.

Fortunately, dedicated medical and pharmaceutical research were seasonably successful in the development of a vaccine, capable of the prevention of the Covid virus, and its lethal potential. It will be, an enduring and indelible tribute to Donald J. Trump and his ignorant cult, that they  persist in publicly opposing vaccination and medical recommendations of masking and, by such lemming-like, knee-jerk loyalty, to the profoundly, ignorant Trump, effectively, continue to promote the virulent infection and potential mortality of the Covid-19 virus, and its recently mutating progeny.

[2] Abysmal ignorance of National and World history :

The complete vacuousness Trump’s “mind,” on the vital Presidential subject of international politics and relationships, was only matched by a similar failing in his inexperienced cabinet selectees. There was little or no thought given to historical treaties, as with NATO, The U.S – Mexico-Canada  Agreement, The Paris Accords,  The U.S.-Iran, the Strategic Forces Agreement, The Korean American Treaty, and a plentitude of others. Trump’s unsophisticated, teenage style of careless telephone “diplomacy” included a foolish, perhaps, treasonous, style of adolescent comradeship with America’s mortal enemy, Putin of Russia. As President, his clumsy, egoistic, and crude style incurred the intense curiosity, if not the actual disgust, of many World leaders, and our Nation to lose its historically prestigious place in the international World.

The mutually shared intentions of the participants in the establishment of The European Union were: the promotion of peace by the establishment of a uniform economic and monetary system, the promotion of inclusion, the breaking down of trade barriers between countries, the establishment of a unified currency and the beneficial sharing of scientific advances. These beneficial goals were an expression of a shared goal of a preventative solution to the many past centuries of bloody, and costly European warfare.

Without any minimum analysis or rational deliberation, Donald J. Trump, impulsively, joined the short-sighted, xenophobic, right-wing opponents of the European Union, in favoring its dissolution [“Brexit”]. The xenophobic breaking up of the EU has already led to many complex problems in, trade, currency, international banking, employment, and taxation, and would appear to be an atavistic and mortal error. As stated, Trump, sans reasonable basis, favored Brexit. One of its presently frustrating problems is, unspeakably, a renewed conflict between Northern Ireland and Dublin, after so many years following the extremely difficult ending of their war, over such subjects as taxes and trade duties.

[3] Damage to the foundational basis of our Republican Democracy:

The violent insurrection, which, shockingly, took place at the Washington Capitol Building, January 6, 2021, was outrageous, unprecedented, and no less than an existential affront to our Democratic Republic. The domestic terrorist revolution against the American government was carried out, bizarrely, at the express invitation of the miscreant head of that government,  Trump, himself. The ignition fuse, for the submissive Trump cult of underbelly discontents, was Trump’s neurotic, kneejerk claim, [or perhaps a Giuliani suggested and manufactured charge] that the election  was manipulated, and the Presidency, “stolen” from him by supporters of the winner, Joseph Biden.

It is frustrating and enraging to observe that the necessary preparation for this outrageous charge, was supplied by the pathological, orange-haired, snake oil demagogue himself, entirely consistent with his practice of serial mendacity, daily disparagement of “truth, and ”self-serving creation of the phenomenon of “alternate facts,” all of which was simultaneous with his daily disparagement of the responsible media. Trump sycophants, in their reductively ignorant discontent, had, by such nefarious practices, been prepared for this outrageous claim, by their cultish ingestion of four years of Trump prevarication.

The Nation and the World, on January 6, 2021, were traumatically shocked at their witness of the ugly mob violence, in which, employees and police assigned to the Capitol, were violently attacked, [five killed]  and many others incurred; injuries, some permanently disabling; together with the historically symbolic, building, being angrily damaged and defaced. What had unprecedently transpired, in lieu of the foundational democratic institution of the peaceful transfer of office, was a  malign, Trump-inspired, Banana Republic style [failed] revolution.

It was apparent that most of the rioters were members of the various, despicable, bigoted, Nazi-style, Christian White Christian Supremacy organizations, who, in sync with Adolph Hitler, ardently, seek to eliminate, communities of color, Jews, and homosexuals. These groups are the recent bumper crop of degenerate descendants and successors to, the depraved Ku Klux Klan who worshiped Hitler’s drive to eliminate all minorities, especially, blacks and Jews. The pre-meditated, tactical encouragement of these terrorists by an elected American President, however ignorant, would normally, be rationally inconceivable.  Nevertheless, the facts show that Trump had verbally supported these Nazi mobs and had brazenly [and unsuccessfully], demanded military assistance for them. Consistent with such a depraved mindset, Trump had energetically opposed all reasonable efforts to remedy America’s historical mistakes, and, attain, as stated in its National mantra, equality for all.

[4] Efforts to illegally manipulate the popular vote:

In their utilization of the bizarre-like reality of Lewis Carroll’s “The Mad Hatter,” by or the gothic erratic nature, of a surreal novel by Franz Kafka, Trump, and his cult-like minions have fully ingested his autocratic style, “Big Lie”; viz., that the presidential election was “manipulated” and was “stolen” from him. In addition to the above-discussed insurrection, they have dedicatedly entered upon an anti-democratic mission to limit votes [notably, black votes], by making changes in voting procedure, eliminating drop boxes, curtailing mail-in votes, and interfering with established voting practices, which are tactically intended, and focused upon making voting difficult or impossible, for the members of America’s communities of color; whose votes have been acknowledged to have greatly assisted in Biden’s victory.

It seems to us that the dullest of minds and, presumably, the most intelligence- challenged of individuals, might see the obvious ignorance and transparently mindless hypocrisy, between the Republicans’ factually disproven claim of a Democratic Party interference with the popular vote in the Biden election, and their present, visible Nation-wide, program of publicly acknowledged interference with the votes of black citizens. They are engaged, unwittingly, and ignorantly, in an affirmative,  public performance of an actual, self-acknowledged rendition, of the [false] scenario of Trump’s “Big Lie.”

Since, reportedly, as much as, something less than fifty percent of the Nation, are devotees of the uncouth and profoundly ignorant, Donald J. Trump, we are beginning to ponder a new question, viz., as to whether the latter is their inspirational leader, or merely, an avatar?



As our personal token of sincere gratitude to our loyal followers and, perhaps more salubriously, as a rest break from our customarily sober and, [hopefully], thought-provoking posts, we have decided to furnish this brief, selected and [reliably] funny, sample of the unique ethnic genre of Ashkenazi-Jewish humor. For readers, unfamiliar with this comic category, the distinctive feature, in addition to its hilarity, is the eternal, and often subtle, message or wry observation on human failings. We have reserved the best, two full-length anecdotes for last after the following prerequisite sampling of the genre:

A sick, and dying old man in a hospital ward, emotionally requests of his deathbed visitor: “Before I go, I would love to have just a little last taste of Mama’s Brisket”.  The visitor rushes to the telephone to call home. He comes back to the dying patient with the response: “they said they are saving the brisket for the shiva. [ trans.- his memorial service].

A high school student rushes home and proudly announces to his mother that he was awarded the role of the husband, in the school play. The mother angrily responded, “Go back and tell them that you want a speaking part.”

A German, a Frenchman and a Jew walk into a bar. The German says: “I am tired and would like a cold glass of beer.”  The Frenchman says: “I am tired, I would like a glass of wine”. The Jew says I, too, am tired, I hope I don’t have diabetes.”

A woman goes into a local bakery and asks the proprietor:” How much are the bialys?” The baker replies:” They are fourteen dollars for a dozen”. The woman testily responds:  “But the bakery around the corner only charges ten dollars a dozen”. The baker then angrily, days: “Then why don’t you buy them at that bakery?  Woman’s response: “They are out of bialys.” Baker: “When I am out of bialys, my price is also ten dollars.”

And now my promised favorites. Please take note of their practical teachings:

A grandma brings her beloved little granddaughter, Annie, to the seashore, places the beach blanket close to the edge of the water, and hands  Annie, her little yellow pail and shovel. While Annie happily plays, Grandma leisurely settles down on her beach chair, in the bright sunshine and blue sky. to leisurely read her copy of the day’s Jewish Morning Journal. All of a sudden, the sky turns ominously dark, a strong wind begins to blow, and a great,  menacing wave suddenly appears and tragically, sweeps the grandchild [still holding her pail and shovel] out into the roiling surf. Grandma jumps up wildly screaming, and, agonizingly and immediately, and prays to God for help. Miraculously, within seconds, the terrible wind dies down, the sky again turns blue, and a small, frothy, nurturing wave gently wafts Annie back to her previous spot, onshore, incredibly, still in possession of her yellow pail and shovel. The Grandmother, still tearful and panting from her previous shock and  hysteria, sobbing with enormous relief, and emotionally cries out, denks [thank] God, denks to God, then looks down at the child and then up again, toward the heavens and bitterly complains, “She had a hat!”

[The obvious moral: know when you are ahead]

The second anecdotal offering has a self-evident message:

The somber scene is set at a funeral parlor. The deceased is a male Selwin Bloom, age, 99. Bloom had been known, for decades, to be possessed of low character, guile, and as, in general, a shameless person; traits pragmatically useful in New York’s Garment Center and no doubt responsible for his success in the business. The funeral parlor is crowded with a great assemblage of past associates from the garment center with which decedent had dealings during his more than forty years of business.

The recently ordained Rabbi, conducting the funeral service is young, somewhat inexperienced, but admirably idealistic. After reciting the traditional psalms relevant to funerial occasions,  he announced to the large assembly of mourners: I would like some of you who knew Mr. Bloom, to come up to the reader’s podium, and say a few kind things about Bloom’s past life; I, myself, was not acquainted with him and have never favored generically worded and impersonal eulogies.

Not one of the hat-wearing gray-haired attendees stirred. The disappointed young, idealistic Rabbi fervently repeated the identical request, two more times and still, not one person stirred. Finally, the young Rabbi emotionally and impatiently shouted: This is impossible, there are so many people here who were acquainted with Mr. Bloom, that [warningly], if no one is willing to come up to the front and just say, just a few nice things about him, we will all just sit here, and  I will not conduct the balance of the funeral service… maybe just one good thing.

 After the passage of two minutes of silence, an aged, gnarly, white bearded man in the rear of the hall, slowly rose to hobble slowly to the front, all the while, audibly, muttering the rabbi’s remembered request, “Vun good ting, only vun good ting.” He finally and painstakingly, reached  the podium, turned slowly around,  and in compliance with the Rabbi’s request, raised his right hand and said out loud:  “O.K, vun good ting…. his brudder vas worse!”

We hope that you enjoyed this small, tart aperitif of classic Yiddish humor and easily discerned the implicit messages. They are funnier and more effective when orally presented.


Post # 650 THE SKY [IS NOT] THE LIMIT (Redux)

The media has reported that Charles Branson and five other billionaires are soon to embark on self-financed moonshots. We, responsibly, cannot avoid hazarding the presumption that the motivation for such space ventures is predominantly personal, and only secondarily, scientific, and entrepreneurial.

In an early essay,  [“It’s All Internal”] we sought to explore the attainment of the universally prized goal of “Happiness,” and noted some commonly misdirected routes seeking its destination. We declared that the popular image of the goal, unfortunately, was too often closely bound up with the concept of the sizeable accumulation of demonstrable assets, acquired by dedicated efforts, or by way of fortunate inheritance. We stated, and still adhere to the belief, [assuming the availability of sufficient means of subsistence] that happiness is the ultimate realization of personal growth and attained self-fulfillment.

The psyche of contemporary mankind is so intimately beholden to criteria emanating from the profitable production of goods and services, that, to our discernment, it entirely loses sight of the pre-industrial, natural criteria of pleasure, derived from the precious rewards of individual accomplishment. Money, to our jaded fellow citizens, not Mother Nature, causes the Planet to, heliotropically, orbit the Moon and the woodlands to resound in sweet birdsong and pleasant animal chittering. In this dystopic view, the influence and power of wealth, “makes the man” and is determinative of his importance; yet, this view, ultimately, proves inadequate, or possibly, in some cases, altogether irrelevant, to one’s empirical attainment of happiness. Popular criteria seem to be laser-focused on production and profit, a misdirected and unnatural route to mankind’s success and happiness.

 In reality, the phenomenon of “money,” exists and functions solely as a means, and not an end in and of itself. Money serves as a medium of exchange, a measure of practical and comparative value and a store of potential purchasing capability. People who, irrespective of need, believe that money serves as a competitive marker of success are never ostensibly, visited with the feeling of ultimate sufficiency, but chronically suffer from an infectious virus, demanding to make yet more. No individual, by any standard of luxury, needs billions or millions of dollars to live as desired.

Apparently, wealth and business prosperity alone, as previously observed, do not empirically result in the ultimate recognition of happiness, or of having lived a truly successful life. These tangible elements can, if needed, make one “feel” powerful if such is the neurotic need, but the candid conclusion of ultimate satisfaction and of self-fulfillment are far more difficult of acquisition. Striving for wealth and comfort is commendable provided it is accompanied by something more personally enriching. What matters is not how much one earns, but how much he can spend enjoying life experiences, i.e., doing things he enjoys. Experience seems to prove that investment in knowledge pays the highest dividends.

It is our surmise [if we are correct] that Mr. Branson and the other venturous billionaires, have discovered a paucity of satisfaction in the earning of untold sums of money and enjoying [deserved] unprecedented financial and influential success; and have therefore decided to obtain personal fulfillment by way of novel, private expeditions into outer space. If our assumptions are correct, we would more efficaciously recommend to them a novel by Dickens or Faulkner, planting colored tulips or listening to the music of Claude Debussy or Count Basie, all of which are safer and privately rewarding.

We are pleased to offer three sage comments on our theme, that seem to say it all:

THOREAU: “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”

PLATO: “No wealth can ever [give] a bad man, peace with himself.”

EINSTEIN: “ Not everything that can be counted, counts, and not everything that counts, can be counted.”


Post# 649 DUALITY

We are not in accord with those, exasperated, fellow Americans, who feel that all possible questions have been asked,  regarding the unprecedented, “storming of the Bastille,” on January 6, at the Washington Capitol Building. Popularly known inquiry has dealt with: the invitation to the violent protesters by the defeated Trump, the manufactured belief in purported election fraud, the eternal pathology of ignorant reductionism and racial and religious prejudice, the perennial existence of an ignorant, poorly educated and discontented citizen underbelly, the bizarre inclination to indulge in paranoidal and irrational conspiracy theory, the subject of the neurotic need for participation in tribalism and “groupthink,” religious and political extremism, personal self-interest, the inspired illusion of faux patriotism, general disappointment with personal life, hooliganism and anti-social motivations, and conceivably, other personally nuanced subjects, presently in the realm of popular discussion.

The matters listed above are worthy of consideration and comprehension to the extent that they address the various possibile motivations of the insurrectionists. However, we do apprehend useful, but unraised, questions relating to the reactive private impact on the individual participants, of the mob’s adoption of  “The Big Lie,” its avowed disrespect for demonstrated and objective truth and its ready inclination to easy acceptance of paranoidal conspiracy theories. The miscreant mob, itself, has been the subject of socio-political study since the violent event; nevertheless, we have fundamental, unexplored questions on the routine life and daily social relationships, of its unruly participants.

In our view, the most intriguing questions relate to the accepted, existentially important element of “truth.”  Early human society could not have survived without truthful communication, and neither can contemporary society.  Paleolithic reliance upon accurate information, concerning danger, food and water sources and, as well, on newly developing skills, has historically kept man singly, and as a conjoined tribe, both alive and progressive. It is an empirical fact that the implied assumption of truthfulness, has eternally and universally, been a fundamental axiom in the dynamics of society and an existential ingredient of its interpersonal speech.

General societal mores, like “truthfulness,” have been traditionally reinforced by tales and legend. The following are summaries of two such  tales, on the vital significance of truthfulness and moral behavior:

[American] “The Cherry Tree.”  [Truth] This apocryphal legend concerned our first President, George Washington. The story is that G.W., when but a youngster, impulsively, committed the egregious act of chopping down his family’s beloved cherry tree.  Despite his expectation of a sound thrashing and perhaps other punitive treatment, he fearfully, and honestly approached his father and said: “Father, I cannot tell a lie, I chopped down the cherry tree.” The tale relates that, rather than being punished for his thoughtless deed, his father rewarded him for his honesty.

[International] Pinocchio [ Falsehood]. The wooden protagonist, a puppet named Pinocchio, as retribution for the venal sin of telling an intentional falsehood, to his puppet-making father, Geppetto, suffers the ignominious punishment of a greatly extended wooden nose.

There is little question but that the bearers of the directional, avion-like title, “The Right Wing,” known and acknowledged to be apt practitioners of false conspiracy theories and “alternate facts,” are familiar with such traditional children’s morality tales and their expressions of societal reproval of mendacity.  Yet, any generous measure of  rationality, militates against credibility in their irrational constructs and faith in conspiracies, such as: that Israel is shooting laser beams at Planet Earth from Outer Space, that both American latitudinal coasts are inhabited by socialistic hippies, that the Founders intended to create a ”Christian” Democracy, that Columbus first discovered America, that Jews, funded by Soros, are out to dominate the world, that Chinese people are responsible for the Covid-19 outbreak, that liberals are in the child slave trade and are child molesters, that[ like Hitler] the pure white race is being “mongrelized” by darker skin races, that immigration is a dangerous invasion of disreputable people,[ despite the fact that our successful Nation is composed 100% of  immigrants and their descendants] that the Trump elective loss to Biden was fraudulent, despite several accredited audit reports to the contrary, that Anglo Saxon citizens and their descendants are the American elite [despite the fact that relatively few, if any,“ Anglo-Saxons” populate our Nation], that government programs of assistance and compassionate capitalism are in actuality, “dreaded socialism,” [despite the fact that they, happily, accept the benefits of such programs], that the entire population of coastal America is elitist, left-wing intellectual snobs, that the teaching of American History, should expunge its past history of cruel treatment of Black People and Native Americans, that the popular American vote should be racially culled, and so on, ad nauseum, into the dense mist of  bedlam-grade lunacy.

What, thematically, puzzles us, is the query as to what extent, far right Trump sycophants, readily inclined to displace empirical reality with “alternative facts,” and to construe “sci-fi” conspiracies to serve their personal dogma, utilize such tactical practices in their private lives? Or, alternatively, do they have a compartmental mindset or some non-computerized “App.” to switch to standards of societal acceptability, at home, with their family and friends. The most intriguing of all the unasked questions, referred to, is: are such phenomena, the product of innate nuance of the persona, or is it a volitional dynamic of convenient choice?

If we were permitted to hazard a guess, our best assumption would be that, at instances when these practitioners of “alt facts ” and far-fetched conspiracy delusions, are at home, en famille, or with relatives and friends, there is an intentional morphing, or transmogrification of [elsewhere] avowed delusional belief and tactical portrayal of persona, which, in a non-political context, is more centered and credibly, mainstream. One assumes that family members do not programmatically exchange intentionally false, alternate facts, nor expect the same of other family members, co-workers, or friends. A self-indulgent child is expected to honestly own up to having eaten all the chocolate donuts, the mother’s information concerning the price of seafood or her new dress is accepted as truthful. No fictional conspiracy theories are necessary to maintain that teachers are underpaid, or professional athletes, by comparison, overpaid, or explain a sudden change in the local school bus route, a new admission cost of movies, or the rising price of good bread. When complete reliance is not possible, family and civilized society are empirically impossible.

Upon the practical, but generous, assumption that many Republican legislators and citizens have sufficient personal sanity, to privately, recognize the acceptability of three professional audits certifying the accuracy and propriety of Biden’s win [or more to the point, Trump’s loss] or that inconvenient facts, in reality, do not become, ipso facto, false, decry the pathological inaccuracy of assertions that Israel is shooting laser beams from outer space down at Earth, that liberals are child abusers and engage in the child slave trade.

The unaddressed questions refer to the arcane dynamics of individual Jekyll-Hyde transformation, when in non-public, familial, or mundane setting. Does one change theatrical masks, as in ancient Greek or Japanese drama, or, as in Marvel comics, remove the Super-Hero costume in a telephone booth when not pursuing villains in Gotham City, or conveniently shed his skin like a snake? If our supposition of duality is correct, the schizophrenic morphing must be inconvenient and injurious to the self- image of the tactical “shape shifter.” Questions as to its dynamics and the extent of its cost to the persona of this tactical duality have yet to be raised and pursued.



Post # 648 ACCESSIBLE RICHES [redux]

At this time of disquiet and unprecedented threats to democracy, radical right-wing insurgency, and National discord, it might be a respite to consider man’s eternally tranquil but often bypassed, treasure trove of poetry. An eternally available oasis of meditative pleasure, poetry has been readily accessible to every citizen, irrespective of diverse stripe, and solely demanding the requirement of literacy. We can guarantee the singular virtues and rare pleasure derived from the reading of authentic poetry [as opposed to its faux presentations.] We will list the defining and fundamental criteria of authentic poetry, which we derived, and personally adhere to, from our studies of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, colored by the structural influence of the more contemporary, Walt Whitman.

Poetry in its simplest terms is often defined as a literary work in which special interest is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of structure, style and rhythm. Another proffered description describes it as a concentrated, imaginative description of experience or emotional response, employing sensitively employed language, arranged for meaning, sound and style. We would prefer to describe it more descriptively and functionally, as the distillation or refinement of the poet’s experience or emotional reaction to the ambient content of reality [like the derivation of the essential mineral from its ambient ore]. It is a private, microscopic experience in concentration as effectively and functionally revelatory as, a held lantern in a darkened room.

As devotees and, veritable poetic evangelists, of Coleridge, we would instructively restate his basic premise or essential criteria, regarding poetry, which we consider no less than, definitional. Coleridge prescribed as the salient [and mandatory] features of poetry “word imagery and “economy of speech.” Most often, but not exclusively, these criteria are successfully accomplished by the artistic choice of metaphor, communicating the fundamental essence of the described subject by a familiar abstraction. We would offer the following example in illustration: In lieu of the expression of several lines of emotionally worded description of a beautiful young granddaughter, one might, economically and descriptively,[ i.e., poetically] refer to her as a “red rosebud on a pile of newly fallen snow.”

Structurally, in aid of procuring the intended response, important considerations, in addition to the thematic and sensitive choice of strategically evocative words, are the important considerations of length of line and impactful meter [rhythm] in the conveying of  the intended sentiment, [ viz., Henry Longfellow’s, “Song of Hiawatha,” Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade.”]   

Regrettably, we have been dismayed at the publication of far too many examples of faux poetry, in today’s print, shockingly, at times, in publications that deservedly enjoy reputations as well-written and erudite. Nevertheless, such offerings, wherever they may appear, in our respectful determination, fall below the most generous standards applicable to legitimate poetics. The use of irregular or bizarre lines of print, or the misleading employment of archaic or obtuse vocabulary, or like, exotic and misleading, alternatives to the legitimate skills of poetry, are inadequate and merely sham. Such writings despite their unexplained appearance, on the pages of estimable publications, thereby purporting to be “gold” [poetry], qualify merely as “fool’s gold” [faux poetry, doggerel].

It is our view that the intimate experience of rare aesthetic  beauty, metaphysical understanding, and, as well, the salutary diversion from the rancorous ambiance of the day, is attainable, only by indulging in authentic verse. The latter, functions effectively, in switching our dormant, sensory perceptions to “On,” and then relevantly focuses the mind’s broad searchlight on matters, aesthetically and intimately expressed, regarding fundamental and metaphysical truth, only expressible through true poetics.