Monday, April 4, 2016

Monday Marginalia

     Weekends often leave me with nothing “major” to blather about here. That’s the case this fine Monday morning, so I’m afraid my Gentle Readers will have to endure another column of assorted oddments.

     Concerning nuclear weapons’ “democratization” of the modern battlefield, it occurred to me that I omitted one aspect of the “warrior-king” phenomenon that the H-Bomb doesn’t satisfactorily reproduce. I wrote about this in another context:

     We of the Twenty-First Century are largely unaware of the obligations which lay upon the kings of old. They were not, until the waning years of monarchy, sedentary creatures whose lives were a round of indulgences and propitiations. They were expected not merely to judge and pass sentence, but also to lead the armies of the realm when war was upon it. The king was expected to put himself at risk before any of his subjects. Among the reasons was this one: the loss of the king in battle was traditionally grounds for surrender, after which the enemy was forbidden by age-old custom to strike further blows.

     The king, in this conception, was both the leader of his legions and a sacrifice for the safety of his subjects, should the need arise. He was expected to embrace the role wholeheartedly, and to lead from the front in full recognition of the worst of the possibilities. Not to do so was an admission that he was unfit for his throne.

     The emphasized portion is the critical consideration. A king who led his troops onto the battlefield could end the contest simply by being captured, or surrendering. That’s not the case today. But then, the characters of the creatures we call “world leaders” aren’t comparable to those of Arthur Pendragon, Charles Martel, or Jan III Sobieski, are they?

     There’s a lapel button that’s gaining popularity:

     I’m not quite that far gone in my rejection of the process – I still like Ted Cruz – but I can easily understand the animating sentiment.

     The presidential campaign has been going for more than a year already. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent. Dozens of hours of network television have been dedicated to it. Both major parties have been rent and frayed. Agonies of indecision and bumper crops of bad will abound – and we still have seven months to go.

     Chinese water torture is beginning to look pretty good – for the candidates, that is.

     Many persons have protested the Fox show Lucifer as blasphemous or at least unwise. Certainly it was a brash notion to center a crime drama on the greatest villain ever conceived: the archangel who rebelled against God Himself. Yet I find it fascinating: a probe into the mechanisms of personal change.

     No one is seriously suggesting that Satan has human-scale “father issues,” or would voluntarily submit to psychotherapy. What the show does is to pose the “what if” of the matter: What if Lucifer were open to the idea that his problems are his own fault?

     Quite a lot of human beings could stand to entertain that possibility.

     Yes, I really am writing a romance. Moreover, I’m having a lot of fun doing so. Details at some later date.

     Hate Email Of The Week: This arrived just this morning, from “Anonymous,” of course:

     So you feel perfectly comfortable with outright lies, thinly disguised slander and even death threats?. Trash like you are worse than the communists.

     (In response to this piece, of course.)

     To those who are members of Amazon Prime: If you have a box that supports Amazon video, I can heartily recommend two movies provided free to members:

  • Wild Card, starring Jason Statham, Anne Heche, and Stanley Tucci;
  • Solomon Kane, starring James Purefoy, Max von Sydow, and Alice Krige.

     These are both primarily action movies, so they’re mostly for fun. Inasmuch as watching the Rangers slouch toward the playoffs has been no fun at all lately, I appreciated them greatly. Well, anyway, baseball season begins today.

     Here’s a contretemps where the best possible outcome is for both sides to lose:

     DALLAS, TEXAS — Thanks in part to a heavy police presence, a planned demonstration by armed members of the group BAIR — the Bureau for American Islamic Relations — went off peacefully, despite a counter protest organized by a group called the Huey P. Newton Gun Club that included members of the street gangs the Bloods and the Crips, as well as elements of Black Lives Matter.

     Interestingly, the BAIR types were there to protest against a mosque: one being operated by Louis Farrakhan’s “Nation of Islam.” However, any group that styles itself as being about “American Islamic Relations” is anti-American and must be opposed.

     As the event ended, an angry mob of black protesters advanced on the BAIR members, and frantic Dallas police ordered the group to evacuate immediately.

     “Frantic Dallas police” is a phrase I’ve never seen before and would not have expected to see. But what was it that made them frantic?

     Both members of BAIR and the Huey P. Newton Gun Club were openly armed, primarily with long guns.

     Ah! Yes, of course. Dallas is in Texas, after all.

     A friend and I have been exchanging jokes by email – Say what? Of course they’re bad jokes! I have a standard to uphold – and I felt I had to pass this one along:

     The parish needed a new secretary-receptionist, but the pastor was unwilling to hire anyone who wasn’t a Catholic, or at least knew the fundamentals of Catholicism. So he included in the ad “Must be conversant with the Catholic faith.”
     Three women submitted resumes. They were all the sort of resume you’d expect for a secretarial position, so the pastor decided he would interview all three. As it happened they were all available on the same afternoon, so he scheduled them back-to-back.
     The first applicant was a middle-aged brunette, pleasant-looking but not especially striking. After the formalities, the pastor asked her, “What do Catholics celebrate on Easter Sunday?”
     The brunette replied, “That’s the day Jesus was born.”
     The pastor shook his head, thanked her for her time, and showed her out.
     The second applicant was an elderly redhead. After the formalities, the pastor asked her, “What do Catholics celebrate on Easter Sunday?”
     The woman replied, “Isn’t that when Jesus entered Jerusalem?”
     The pastor shook his head ruefully, thanked her for her time, and showed her out.
     The third and last applicant was a stunning young blonde. Even the pastor, sworn to celibacy forty years earlier, was stirred by her beauty. Add to that her tight black minidress, high heels, perfect grooming, and overall poise, and she was almost enough to make the pastor ask to be laicized. But she was there to interview for the job, not to run away with him to Casablanca, so after the formalities, he asked for the third time, “What do Catholics celebrate on Easter Sunday?”
     The blonde smiled and said, “That’s when we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead.”
     The pastor was so overjoyed that he would get to hire the young woman that he shouted “Hallelujah” and rose from his chair to congratulate her. But as he extended his hand in welcome, she said, “And when Jesus rolls away the stone and comes out of his tomb, if he sees his shadow, we get six more weeks of winter.”

     That’s all for today, Gentle Reader. I’m off to the dentist for my semi-annual torture session cleaning. Be well.


brinster said...

Francis, apparently "Anonymous" has a reading comprehension problem.
Can he/she/it quote the death threat passage?

Francis W. Porretto said...

You don't question "Anonymous," Brin. For that he has you murdered, your family sold into slavery, your house and car impounded, and your dog converted to Islam. I'd sooner dispute Al Gore's invention of the Internet!

Weetabix said...

I'll keep this comment in line with my printed time saver from the "What I Will and What I Won't" post:

1, Fran - I wish to insult your bad jokes.
8, Me - I want you to contribute to my being able to make as "good" a bad jokes as you make because
10, Envy - You have induced me to envy your bad joke mastery.

I am sad that this comment will be deleted and that we will have six more weeks of winter. :-(