The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

BIRDS: You may not spend a lot of time worrying about things like this, since you are clearly a superior sort of person with better things to do with your time than to worry about things like this, but it is increasingly clear to a great many people here in our happy little burg that the younger generation of migratory birds has absolutely no clue where in the hell they are going. Many people here in the northeastern United States, especially those of us over the age of thirty-five, remember well the great V-shaped squadrons of migratory birds passing overhead in the late autumn, filling the skies with avian arrows streaking southwards away from the oncoming winter. Those of us left behind could only curse those birds and their damnable good luck in spending the winter months on some Caribbean island drinking mojitos and dancing the rumba all night long with some hot young Latin mamacita or a newly divorced not so young high school English teacher from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, out to prove that whatever was wrong with her marriage, it was all her ex-husband’s fault; she's still got it going on, thank you very much. Those of us who had to stay here with the crows and the seagulls just had to accept our fates and dig ourselves out of the snow whenever we had to.

This has all changed, and not for the better, I fear. Scarcely a week goes by nowadays without news of some fresh catastrophe befalling a flock of migratory birds. On Christmas Eve, for example, a flock of Canadian geese, who really ought to know better than to do something like this, flew north into a blizzard and froze to death in the updrafts, the frozen geese plummeting down from the sky and smashing through the roofs of a residential subdivision outside Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, as if Santa Claus had decided to carpet bomb everyone on his naughty list there with frozen poultry because he couldn’t lay his hands on some cluster bombs. In big cities throughout this our Great Republic sanitation department spokesmen note with ever increasing alarm the large numbers of migratory birds found dead on the sidewalks in front of skyscrapers in the morning, these poor birds never having learned that flying into a tall building in a single bound at full speed is not an act conducive to enhancing their long term quality of life.

There is, of course, no great mystery as to why migratory birds can no longer find their own backsides with both wings, assuming such an act is physiologically possible for any bird not already on its way into an oven. Once upon a time, a migratory bird had to know its business before they went anywhere. Without the Global Positioning System or digital mapping systems to assist them, an earlier generation of birds had to learn the various aspects of celestial navigation, how to take longitude and latitude while on the wing, and how to get from Point A to Point B by dead reckoning if all else failed. Above all, it took time and a dedication to the migratory way of life that is increasingly lacking in today’s younger generation of birds.

I suppose we can trot out all the usual suspects here for why younger birds fail to meet the expectations of their elders: the movies, the culture, the Internet, the failures of public schools that exist today to provide ever more remunerative jobs for teachers and not to educate the young, the constant denigration of the traditional migratory lifestyle by the political and cultural elites, but in a larger sense these are just symptoms of a larger, and less politically correct truth: birds, as a biological class, tend towards the egregiously stupid by any standard measure of intelligence, with your more intelligent birds like crows and parrots dazzling us all by being just a smidgen brighter than your average neighborhood tree stump in those neighborhoods that still have tree stumps, and just a smidgen dumber than your average Red Sox fan, although the IQ’s of the latter fall precipitously with every beer they publicly imbibe at Fenway Park; groundskeepers on forklifts haul the passed out fans outside and pile them in heaps near the entrances in order to provide some protection from terrorist bombs or equally crocked Yankee fans. After the game, the city of Boston carts those fans that have not returned to consciousness off to the harbor and throw them in as landfill. Red Sox fans are just as dumb in the off-season, of course, but in the off-season no one notices them. I know I don’t, and I suspect that neither do you. The birds, being teetotalers, do not have to worry about such things, and so their intelligence remains on a very low and even keel throughout the year. This is normal for birds and is one of the reasons why birds usually do not suffer from hypertension, diabetes, severe stress, or any of the other ills that afflict modern American society.


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