Snoopy at Simply Jews detects a logical flaw in the following sentence from my last post: "…the highway department is resurfacing Main Street to give themselves something to do and to hoodwink us into believing that they are doing something….’” He is wondering, as well he might, how the highway department here in our happy little burg could simultaneously be giving themselves something to do while hoodwinking the public into believing they were actually doing something. Snoopy is a naïve lad, obviously out of his depth in confronting the Byzantine and labyrinthine maze that is the bureaucratic mind at work, or not work, as the case may be. He is in luck here, though, since what would appear to be a logical flaw worthy of the Protocols of the Elders of Poughkeepsie is, in fact, easily explained to even the most ignorant household plant.
Highway departments from one end of this our Great Republic to the other routinely send out road crews to do nothing but sit in their trucks by the side of the road and drink coffee while talking about how the Mets are doing this season. If these highway departments did not send out road crews to sit in their trucks by the side of the road and drink coffee while talking about how the Mets are doing this season, these road crews would not sit in their trucks by the side of the road and drink coffee while talking about how the Mets are doing this season; they would be sitting at the offices of the highway department, not sitting in their trucks, but still drinking coffee and talking about how the Mets are doing this season.
Now, to the uninformed mind it would appear that it makes little or no difference if road crews sit in their trucks by the side of the road or sit at the offices of the highway department and drink coffee while talking about how the Mets are doing this season; either way, the road crews are still sitting and drinking coffee while talking about how the Mets are doing this season and not repairing the roads, which is the ostensible reason why the highway department employs road crews in the first place. The simpleton who believes this is not fit for civil service work and should therefore attempt to find work in the private sector, where such crude utilitarianism has its place. No, what you see as a group of men in unfashionable orange hard hats sitting in trucks and drinking coffee while talking about how the Mets are doing this season is only the most visible manifestation of a profound and usually unseen battle for bureaucratic survival.
The civil service, for all its bland and conformist outer appearance, is in reality a Hobbesian place where bureaucrats routinely try to expand their empires, deprive others of funding, and in general act in a way not conducive to the orderly functioning of government. The bureaucrat has not been born would not willingly gut his own mother with a dull fish knife in order to get a 15% increase in their annual budget, more office space, a fax machine, and maybe an extra box of rubber bands. The highway department is no different than any other bureaucracy in this regard. If the road crews were not sitting in a truck by the side of the road you know the rest they would be at the highway department offices doing the same as above, where other denizens of the civil service, a service not otherwise known for its civility, could see them and wonder why the highway department is getting all that money for its road crews to sit in a truck so on and so forth when their department could get that money and do nothing with it better than the highway department can.
So for the highway department bigwigs, having the road crews sit around and yada yada yada is less important than they not sit around yeah yeah yeah where other members can see them sitting around for Christ’s sake why don’t you end this bit, it stopped being funny three paragraphs ago. If the guys in the road crews don’t want to do anything, that’s fine, that’s what the civil service is for; they just can’t not do it at City Hall. Consequently, the road crews must go and sit in their trucks by the sides of the road when will this tag ever end, which has the added benefit of convincing the public the crews are doing something, whereas they actually aren’t doing anything. I trust this clears up Snoopy’s confusion.
We turn now from matters bureaucratic to matters horticultural. As a rule, I try not to say as a rule, since as a rule I say as a rule for no real reason, but in general, we here at The Passing Parade do not have strong opinions on humanity’s relationship with the flora and fauna that surround us. Flora and Fauna are very nice in their place; they even supply their own beer and prophylactics, which is a good thing, I think, since I hear there’s more fauna in Fauna than just her name. Be that as it may, the Gnome at Down on the allotment** has been conducting an experiment as to whether or not marrow will ever take the place of Miracle-Gro in the rarified world of botanical steroids. The Gnome got the idea from his grandfather, which should have told him everything he needed to know about the alleged efficacy of this idea. I was very fond of my grandparents, but I recognized that in many ways they had not kept up with the times. My grandmother, for example, was absolutely convinced that she could cure scarlet fever with mustard plasters. Now I am sure that stockholders in Gulden’s would love entering the always lucrative over the counter pharmaceutical market, but I am sure most of them would like to know what the business plan is here, what are the chances of expanding the market and employing Gulden’s Spicy Brown Mustard as a cure for diabetes and halitosis, and whether or not that little Japanese guy who wins the hot dog eating contest at Coney Island every year could sue the company for malpractice if some beer-bellied Italian guy from Jersey City beats him in next year’s Fourth of July shove hot dogs into your face as fast as you can without vomiting contest.
Predictably enough, the Gnome’s experiment has met a small patch of absolute failure, thereby proving once again that there is now and will always be a serious mismatch between modern agricultural science and primitive peasant superstition. In response to this, I have advised the Gnome not to seek out a police officer and sacrifice him to some Glaswegian fertility goddess in a burning wicker man. While I realize that this sort of thing is very popular with a good many Scottish horticulturalists, the crime problem in Scotland is now such that the wholesale sacrifice of constables is proving detrimental to the maintenance of public order. Over the years, it has become more and more difficult to recruit police officers in Scotland for just this reason; very few people are interested in employment that ends in third degree burns and conversion from the Scottish Kirk to zucchini; and suitable replacements are now harder to find since the government disbanded the Argylls and the Black Watch. In what might be a hopeful note, however, the Inverness Garden Club has turned a battalion of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers into a very nice stand of tomatoes, with a border of azaleas. It was, in many people’s opinion, a dignified way for the KOSB’s to go, much more dignified than, for example, winding up on a highway department road crew sitting in a truck by the side of the road drinking coffee and talking about how the Mets are doing this season, not that anyone in Scotland gives a rat’s ass about how the Mets are doing this season one way or the other. *
*For otherwise uninterested Scots, the New York Mets are in first place in the National League’s Eastern Division.
**For reasons that surpasseth understanding, Haloscan is sending everyone who tries to go to Down on the allotment back to The Passing Parade. Since you are already here, you don't really need to click a link to get here, but if you want to go to see what the Gnome is up to then just type http://digwell.blogspot.com in your address bar and then press enter. Or you can go to the link conveniently located in the blogroll for your dining and dancing pleasure.