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..." "...it 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) akakyakakyevich@gmail.com

Saturday, May 19, 2007

DRY SPELL ALERT: My apologies for the lack of posting this week, but I am yet again in the midst of a vast dry spell in which my every attempt to think of something to write about dies a quick and violent death. These spells occur with more and more often, I’ve noticed, and they tend to last longer now than they used to when I was younger, which, as you might imagine, I find pretty damn annoying. I thought I might do something about the presidential race, but the election is still a year and a half away and, to cite Will Rogers, I don’t waste no oratory on prospects. So, so much for that subject.

Then I thought about the plight of the definite article in Albanian. This is a terrible story, filled with heartache and shame. Albanian does have a definite article, but this sorry article does not stand in front of the noun, as such articles do in many other languages. No indeed, Albanians routinely force their definite article to take up positions behind the noun, slapping it across the face if the poor article even thinks of moving to a better seat. Albanians will abuse the poor definite article even to the point where the poor thing becomes part of the noun. This is just the sort of thing that will crush the self-esteem of any young definite article and limit its life chances. Why should the young definite article go to school at all if all that they can look forward to there is relegation to a second-class status while the nouns rule the school roost? Is it any wonder then that the high school graduation rates for Albanian definite articles are as low as they are? Other languages do not treat their definite articles in this way; some languages have as many as five or six definite articles, depending on gender and case, and those articles always go first, clearing the way for the noun. Definite articles are happy in those languages, knowing, as they do, that they are making a real contribution to society. Even English, which has only one definite article, treats that word with all the attention and consideration an only child gets from overly solicitous parents. And yet Albanian, a language that says it wants to join the European Union, to be part and parcel of the new Europe, still publicly treats its definite articles as though they were second class citizens unworthy of further notice. It seems to me that one of the great violations of linguistic human rights is going on right before our eyes in the Mediterranean basin, and yet no one seems to want to do anything about it.

And then there is the shepherd question. You would not know this without the Wall Street Journal telling you this, but apparently lost in the details of the recent immigration deal is a provision that would allow thousands of foreign shepherds to remain here and deprive hard-working American shepherds of their jobs. This, it seems to me, is the lowest sort of crass pandering to the immigration lobby. There are tens of millions of unemployed native-born shepherds in this country who can’t get work because Big Wool is importing Peruvians to do the work at half the wages, and now the Congress wants to put its imprimatur on this gross exploitation by letting the sheep companies keep their foreign shepherds despite the American people’s demand that someone, somewhere exercise some kind of control over the nation’s borders. It is bad enough when American workers lose their jobs because they cannot compete with cheap foreign labor, but when some American companies decide that they want to import that same cheap foreign labor and still pay them starvation wages, well, that’s just way too much for any educated populace to bear, I think.

Since none of these ideas really panned out in any meaningful way, I thought I might do something about the egregious mold pit wherein I labor for my mostly moldy daily bread. The 135th anniversary of the institution’s founding is coming up rapidly and we will be having festivities to mark the event. We should have had them ten years ago to mark the quasquicentennial anniversary, but at the time we were looking for a new director and so had other things on our minds. The reporter for the local journal of record came rushing in the other day to interview the current director. This reporter is an attractive young lady, full of enthusiasm for her job, unlike the fellow they used to send here to do stories about the library. The man was half-crocked all the time and was fond of telling everyone how his wife and the Associated Press didn’t understand him. When he was really drunk, he’d insist on pulling up his shirt and showing you his qwert mark. Apparently, way back in 1968, when men were men, women were women, and Portuguese dictator Antonio Salazar was only a few months away from his fateful meeting with a beach chair, the man had thrown himself on a Viet Cong typewriter thrown into the bar of the old Hotel Continental in Saigon, saving his drinking companions from the pernicious threat of the Red Menace and impressing the aforementioned letters into his flesh for as long he lives. He wept for the good old days, when the news he covered was important and bewailed the fate that led him to covering the news here in our happy little burg for a readership that had very little interest in the subject matter. Even the people who live here don’t care all that much; it’s just the way we are sometimes. You have to feel sorry for such people, I think, you really do. Ordinary life can be a terrible comedown.

Well, I’ll think of something eventually; it’s just a matter of waiting for the dry season to pass and the rain will come. It always does, eventually.

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