That’s Absurd!

Two days ago one of the pundits on CNN suggested that what is happening in the United States, what with the shutdowns, intransigence and such, is the Theatre of the Absurd. Admittedly there is a sense of absurdity in what is going on, but the use of the term is not correct. It has a very special connotation.

In common usage absurd means ridiculous, but the dictionary defines it further as out of harmony with reason or propriety, incongruous, unreasonable, illogical etc. I will come back to this later. But first, let me tell you a story—the story of Sisyphus.

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was the founder and king of Corinth. Renowned for his cunning, he was said to have outwitted even Death. For his disrespect of Zeus, he was condemned to eternal punishment in Tartarus, where he toiled vainly trying to push a heavy rock to the top of a hill. Just as he was about to reach the top, his strength failed and the rock came tumbling down to the bottom so that he had to begin all over again.

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Sisyphus was a person of interest for the Absurdists (think Albert Camus, philosopher, scholar, poet).  The Absurdists saw the meaninglessness of the task of Sisyphus. They further felt that our philosophy, rituals, languages and sciences are nothing but an attempt to hide the absurdity of existence.

“Theatre of the Absurd” was a term coined by Martin Esslin a Hungarian dramatist, journalist, producer and dramaturge. (At the risk of name dropping let me say that he was my professor at Rada; his lecture notes would eventually be published in 1962 as a book The Theatre of the Absurd.) It never developed as a unified school and as such is not a movement. Rather it consists of a group of playwrights who appeared at about the same time around the world and expressed pretty much the same view of life. In one way or the other they conveyed a sense of alienation and of people having lost their bearings in an illogical, unjust and ridiculous world.

The most important playwrights of the absurdist school are Samuel Beckett, Arthur Adamov, Eugene Ionesco, Jean Genet, Harold Pinter and to a certain extent Edward Albee.

I don’t intend to write about all these writers or their plays. But any discussion about this would be incomplete without at least a superficial mention of Samuel Beckett and his seminal play Waiting for Godot. ( Later Beckett would receive the Nobel Prize for literature.)

A very brief description of the play is in order at this point, I think. It is a shortish play in two acts. In the first act we see two tramps waiting by the side of as road for Mr. Godot.

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They don’t know who he is or why he is coming. One character says that Godot is coming to “save us”. But when the other asks, “to save us from what?” the first replies, “I don’t know.” They occupy themselves during the waiting with inane chatter, with petty quarrels and occasionally with questions that seem to have some philosophical significance. Later on, a messenger comes and tells them that Godot will not be coming that day, but may be the next day. The second act is almost in the same vein with minor changes. Godot does not come.

One aspect of the human condition that the play focuses on is the act of waiting itself.

All of us, I am sure, spend a great deal of time waiting for things to happen to get better—for the university diploma, a promotion, for the right boy or girl, for the right job, for the windfall in a lottery, for the children to grow up and become some body……

Unquestionably Beckett is the foremost absurdist and that he has influenced the western theatre immensely. However the play had a rather patchy and unexciting run for many years in Paris. People did not understand it. When Beckett was asked what the play was about, he said that he did not know!

The play was written around 1947 and did not get a very rousing reception. And did not for many years. Then on November 19, 1957 something remarkable happened. San Francisco Actors’ Workshop decided to stage the play at the San Quentin penitentiary. It would be an understatement to say that the actors were nervous! The captive (!) audience consisted of 1400 convicts at the prison. No play had been performed there since Sarah Bernhardt appeared there in 1913.

San Quentin News, the prison newspaper would write, “The trio of muscle men, biceps overflowing, parked all of 642 pounds on the aisle to see the girls. When this did not happen, they audibly fumed and decided to wait until the house lights dimmed before escaping. They made one error. They listened and looked two minutes too long—and stayed. Left at the end all shook.”

A reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle who was present noted that the convicts did not find it difficult to understand the play. One prisoner told him, “Godot is society’’. Said  another, “Godot is society.” A teacher at the prison was quoted as saying, “They knew what is meant to be waiting and they knew that if Godot finally came, it would only be a disappointment.”

What is happening in the United States, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela and other places is absurd. But they have nothing to do with the theatre of the absurd.

To end with a quote. “The Theatre of the Absurd strives to express its sense of the senselessness of the human condition and the inadequacy of the rational approach by the open abandonment of rational devices and discursive thought.”

Sounds familiar?

 

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On Buzzwords

Hope you had a happy Christmas and that you have made your New Year resolutions. I have made one. I will not write anything about Burger King anymore. I don’t mind too much his utter disregard of political norms, I have become immune to his incessant lies.  I am now able to tune out his braggadocio; but I take exception to his total disregard for normal decent behavior. I have come to think that he is an affront to my sense of decency, decorum and civilized behavior and as such writing about him diminishes me. I started writing about the “Trumpisms” for laughs but now it is clear that matters have gone far beyond the realm of humor; the situation is deadly serious. But it appears that a large number of Americans approve of what he does.  Well, I am not going to give time or space for a demonstrably unfit head of state. I will continue to comment on the American scene as it develops because what happens in the US has ramifications in Canada and elsewhere.

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I was going through the archives and found what I wrote on the 3rd of January 2000!!! We live in a time when English language is undergoing change with the infusion of new expressions, especially in computer lingo. Hope you find it interesting.

“If you were watching the US Open tennis last month, you would have seen a commercial promoting Tyco International. I am not sure what the product is. Anyway, the commercial features two men watching tennis, and one of them asks the other what he thought of the players. The reply is a tirade of gobbledegook, which consumes 15 seconds. After a pause, the other guy asks, “What are you talking about?”

Coincidentally to that gobbledegook, last week’s MacLean’s featured an article entitled “The Buzzword Paradigm”. Written by one Ross Laver, it takes a humorous look at our everyday vocabulary. He quotes from a memo someone wrote. “Dave,” said the message, “think we should call an off-site to discuss next month’s deliverables? That way, we can identify any disconnects and forward an action plan to the impacted sales reps.”

Pardon me, what did you say???!!!

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This acrobatics with the English language might sound ridiculous, but we are bombarded by usages like this every day. Have you noticed that you can’t buy a razor anymore? You have to ask for a ‘shaving system’. There are no supervisors in an establishment; there are facilitators. And the employees are associates.

Computer technology seems to come out with totally unintelligible lingo. A California based software outfit advertises one of their products thus. “The Webtop is a new, innovative based interface that allows server-based applications and server administration functions to be securely accessed from a browser.”

Well, pal, I believe you. I will take your word for it.

Now, don’t be mistaken. You find this in other areas as well. Physicians are starting to call pep pills ‘activity boosters’. ‘Preschoolers’ are enrolled in ‘early learning centres’, where they orbit between their ‘pupil stations.’ which were, in my school days, called desks. The saddest demise is of the word ’library’ from the education scene. There are ‘learning centres’.

On the east coast, a garage mechanic advertised himself an ‘automotive internist’. Teachers are a dying breed too. They are being replaced by ’educators’. And, God forbid, you don’t go around looking for second hand cars. You will get pre owned cars.

After years of hacking through the etymological thickets at the US Public service, a senior civil servant Philip Broughton hit upon a sure-fire method for converting frustration into fulfilment, jargon wise. Euphemistically called the Systematic Buzz Phrase Projector, Brougham’s system employs a lexicon of 30 carefully chosen buzz words.

Column 1                                          Column 2                                Column 3

  1. integrated                             1. management                       1. options
  2. total                                        2. organizational                    2. flexibility
  3. systematized                        3. monitored                            3. capability
  4. parallel                                  4. reciprocal                            4. mobility
  5. functional                             5. digital                                   5. programming
  6. optional                                 6. transitional                         6. time-phase
  7. responsive                            7. logistical                              7. concept
  8. synchronized                       8. incremental                        8. projections
  9. compatible                           9. third-generation                 9. hardware
  10. balanced                               10. policy                                  10. contingency

The procedure is simple. Think of any three digit number, and then select the corresponding buzzword from each column. For instance, number 378 produces “systematized logistical projection”, a phrase that can be dropped into virtually any report with that ring of decisive authority. ‘No one will have the remotest idea of what you are talking about”, says Broughton. “But the important thing is that no one is about to admit it’.”

And you public speakers use it if you want to sound scholarly and knowledgeable. I found it very effective by pausing a bit after each word.

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Last week’s column about wonky policies appear to have hit a sensitive nerve. Two registrars—both very dear friends of mine—objected to my painting all Registrars with the same brush. Burk talked about ‘we registrars’ doing everything possible’ to ensure that the student’s welfare is paramount. But then Burk, Donna, you are exemplary individuals who are strictly professional to the core and as such you are the exception rather than the rule. I have many horror stories to narrate, perpetrated by officials who are half the consummate professional that you are.

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Wonky Policy

The Michener Institute of Education is a post-secondary institution in Toronto. It is governed by the University Health Network and funded by the Ministry of Health. It offers certification in various medical technologies, including chiropody, respiratory therapy, medical radiation technology and such.

I happened to be at the institute a couple of weeks back to see my chiropodist. We diabetics are advised to get the extremities (toes) checked to ensure that they are still sensitive.

While I was waiting for the ride home, I saw on the table several publications and one of them happened to be the 2019-2020 Viewbook, basically a calendar detailing admission procedures, courses available, fees etc.

I was browsing through the well-produced book and one section caught my attention. It was “Application Process for Internationally Educated Applicants”. For someone like me. The first step was, of course, credential evaluation. The second requirement was “English Language Assessment”. It read, “Where education did not take place in a country recognized as English language dominant, applicants must take one of the four approved tests listed in the chart on the next page.”

This, of course, is standard requirement. Many students from overseas, brilliant in their own right, flounder when they have to rankle an illogical language like English. And facility in the use of English is crucial in succeeding in the institutions in Canada and elsewhere.

But a post script to this requirement baffled me. It said, “ELA results are valid for two years only; passing the ELA is required prior to application.”

I thought that the premise behind this statement bears some thought.

Suppose a student from say Taiwan or China wanted to be a radiology technician, and he seeks admission to Michener. I suspect that he would take courses in ESL to improve his ability to use English and then sits for the ELA test. And let us say that he passes. That qualifies him for admission, and he starts classes. Inevitably his knowledge of English improves what with lectures, term papers, social interaction with colleagues, watching TV and so on. So the validity of the tests for two years does not make any sense.  It appears that the registrar, a typical bureaucrat cranked out this policy without thought.

I am sure you can quote instances where policies are written without thought and sometimes, specifically to make life difficult.

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Julius Caesar at the height of his glory was consumed by his power and as such had the propensity for showing this. He had believed that he was the Emperor of the country. He developed the habit of referring to himself using the third person. One recalls the situation where Calpurnia, his wife, entreated him not to go to the senate on the fateful day. He said, “Caesar shall forth. The things that threatened me ne’er looked but on my back. When they shall see the face of Caesar, they are vanished.” Or, “Shall Caesar send a lie?”

Caesar

We have now a modern day Caesar who is relishing the use of his name in the third person. He cannot claim any great achievements on the battle field because he had bone spurs in his heels, and because of this he could not be drafted for duty in Vietnam (critics say [unkindly, I must add] that this appendage must have grown overnight because until that year [1968] he had played tennis, football and squash). There cannot be any credence to the fact that his father paid a doctor handsomely for a false certificate.

Anyway, after wearing the mantle of the king (Burger King) he is showing a proclivity to use the third person when referring to himself. He uses ‘Trump” wherever the first person is usually employed. For example he said “….Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing an election. Perhaps Trump ran a great campaign….”This is fodder for the late night comedy specialists like Stephen Colbert.

J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame wrote, I wonder whether Trump talks to Trumself in the third Trumperson when Trump is alone. Another critic said, Trump is  the overlord of Trumpistan”. I loved Ken Wynn who said, “He’s Trumpercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

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To make you feel good

Ogden Nash said:

You can be young only once, but you can be immature for ever.

          Some pains are physical and some pains are mental, but the one that is both is dental.

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NUMBERS

$120 million

Les Moonves, the boss of CBS was fired for sexual misconduct, but he claimed $120 million severance pay as per contract. But an investigation by the company revealed that he misled the company over the allegations and failed to work with investigators. “He had displayed wilful and material malfeasance and failed to cooperate fully with the company’s investigation into allegations against him.” The Board has denied payment.

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Omar Khayyam

Sometime in 1954, I happened to watch a movie called Pandora and the Flying Dutchman. Any detail about the movie is a forgotten memory, but one thing about it still fresh. It was a poem that was flashed on the screen, even before the titles.

It was:

The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

The stanza was accredited to one Omar Khayyam.

Many years later, one of my students gifted me a book which was called The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. I still cherish the book which is basically a collection of quatrains— stanzas of four lines. Each quatrain is a poem unto itself. It is not certain how many quatrains there are.  In fact his contemporaries did not take any notice of his work.  This is because Omar was well known as a mathematician, astronomer and philosopher. Omar (full name: Ghiyath al-Din Abu Umar ibn Ibrahim al-Nisaburi al-Khayyami) was born in 1048 in a place called Nishapur in Iran.

He is known for the “systematic discussion of the solution of cubic equations by means of intersecting conic sections”. I hope you understand this; I don’t.

If he dabbled in poetry, the middle easterners are not very sure. In fact, The Rubaiyat would never have become famous if an Englishman by the name of Edward Fitzgerald had not, in 1859, translated the poems into English. He also conceived the idea of combining the stanzas into a continuous elegy that had an ‘intellectual unity’ and consistency. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Fitzgerald’s ingenious and felicitous paraphrasing gave his translations a memorable verve and succinctness.

December 4 was the 887th death anniversary of Omar Khayyam.
 
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Meanwhile in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
 
Things are going swimmingly, thank you.
 
The long trek to make America Great Again is getting shorter.  You might recall that one of the campaign promises was that the swamp, also known as Washington, would be cleared. That impossible task is going on well too. The only problem is that all these guys and gals first have to spend time in the new administration in some capacity or the other—preferably a cabinet post. The latest alligator to be cleared out is  Ryan Zinke who is at present the Secretary of the Interior. He is under multiple investigations about his shady deals in real estate. He will be gone in two weeks.
 
In the new realm, breaking the law will not be a crime. Thus spake the modern day Draco**, Rudy Giuliani.  To refresh your memory Rudy is not only a lawyer but special counsel to Burger King. He is also one who has made discarding wives a cottage industry. He divorced his first wife after 14 years, the second after 18 years and the third after 15 years. That makes the average 15.7 years per wife.
 
He is 74 but is seeking the hand of the fourth wife. The lucky woman is Republican fundraiser Jennifer Le Blanc (57). If history is anything to go by, means that after 15.7 years, he will be seeking the hand of yet another woman. And he would be 89.
 
The king, who is also on his third wife, might be getting ‘counsel’ on how to go about eyeing the fourth. Though I am no Nostradamus, I will make two bold predictions. (1) Melania will boot him out once he leaves the White House. (2) In 2020 when running for reelection, Burger will discard his VP Pence  and pick Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, as his running mate. That would be the start of the Trump dynasty. Lucky you, my US friends!!
 
Coming back to Giuliani’s pronouncement about law and crime, I admit that I am confused. I wonder if you recall my report some time ago that a trio of college students got ahold of a gun. (Easy in the US. You have only to go to the nearest Walmart, after making sure you have included a gun in the list of groceries) And they shot and killed two people. According to Rudi the kids broke the law but did not commit a crime. (I can see Shavers and Hawkesworth marching towards me with a cudgel.)
 
I am not sure how the Canadian laws accommodate Rudi’s theory. If they do, I have a list of things that I have to do, something I have been putting on the back burner because I was afraid that I would be committing a crime.
 
**Draco (7th century BC) was the first legislator of Athens. His severe code has given rise to the term Draconian.
 
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Just to make you feel good
 
A Book of Verses underneath the Bough
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of bread— and you
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow.

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Farewell to #41

I had been researching and mentally composing this week’s blog which was linguistic in nature. In fact, I did write a couple of paragraphs.  But then Senior Bush (the 41st President of the United States) passed away and the airwaves were consumed with the life and times of the one term President. There is no need to describe yet again the formal and personal ceremonies in Washington and elsewhere.

But a couple of things stood out for me.

The first was on the 4th when his body was lying in state in the rotunda of the Capitol. Dignitaries, friends and relatives walked past the coffin. At one point we could see an old man being wheeled into the chamber. He was Senator Robert Dole, arch rival of the President who had prevented Dole’s ambition to be the president. When the wheel chair reached the casket, the frail man was helped to his feet, and the support worker helped him raise his left hand and held the position of a military salute. (His right arm had been out of commission for a long time.) Even with support the weak arm was tottering. It was a moving occasion.

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The second was on the 5th at the national memorial service which was attended by 3000 (?) invited guests. The front row was reserved for the presidents past and present. The first two chairs were reserved for the current occupant and his wife. The others, the Obamas, Clintons and the Carters were happily chatting and joking away. But every silver lining has a cloud (I know, I know) and a few minutes before the ceremony was due to begin, Burger King and his wife arrived and it was as though a pall had descended on the hallowed hall.. The king shook hands with Obama, who had to respond because he was sitting next. The others showed a lofty disdain.

The speakers while showering encomiums on the deceased man said things like ‘he believed in the goodness of people’. They quoted the man: “Always tell the truth; don’t blame others”. They said that he believed in preserving the dignity of the office of the President. All the while, when others were intently listening to the speakers, burger sat with a pout on his face. The analysts and pundits went out of the way to suggest that nothing that was said was about Trump. Really?? They were at pains not to mention the current state of affairs and never mentioned his name.  But Politico was brutally honest. In the section Postscript, the headline was:
Bush’s Funeral Wasn’t About Trump. But Of Course It was.

John Harris, Editor in Chief, agreed that the service for George H W Bush was a  perfectly civil and eminently civilized event, and if one was listening in a literal minded way it all sounded like a grand exception to life in modern Washington—two hours of stories and tributes that were entirely bereft of political tension.

“The only way to listen in a literal frame of mind, of course, was through some equivalent of self-lobotomy—to be wilfully oblivious of context, guileless in a way that certainly does not describe Bush or any of the people he chose to speak at his funeral….The service was replete with praise for the 41st president that could, with just the slightest nudge of interpretation, be heard as an implied rebuke of the 45th president. Only implied, never explicit…..And yet it very much was. Speakers rhapsodized about Bush’s natural good cheer, his preference for self-deprecating humor, his gift for personal diplomacy, his loyalty to friends when they were down, his talent at assembling international coalitions, his mistrust of “unthinking partisanship”, his commitment to truth and to living up to the obligations of a gentleman.

Who wouldn’t admire these traits? Or expect that any president should try to emulate them?”

As I said three of the four living Presidents sat together in the front row. (George W sat with the family on the other side.) The cameras caught Trump in a pose that, if he were a kid, might have gotten him a whispered correction from a parent—don’t pick your nose at a church service!”

Trump has been openly critical of the Bush family, so much so that he was not invited to the funeral of Barbara Bush in April. And yet, Bush Senior, while planning the funeral, insisted that the President be invited. He was not inviting Trump; he was inviting the President of the USA.

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When the Apostle Creed was read by the priest, the whole congregation stood up and mumbled or mouthed the words except burger king.

It was a field day for the late night comedians. Stephen Colbert said, “Donald Trump is the only person in the world who can bring down a funeral.”

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In the December 7 issue of the New York Times a very interesting article appeared, certainly not by accident.. It is entitled, “The 550 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A complete List.”

For those who have time hanging heavy on their hands or who are interested in reading about a curious slice of US history, I give the site below. It is quite a collection, I assure you.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/28/upshot/donald-trump-twitter-insults.html

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Once Upon A Time….

How many millions of parents have said this (or something similar) to millions of kids to lull them into sleep! What follows the familiar phrase is a story in the folklore genre called fairy tales. I don’t need to describe what a fairy tale is. We know that the characters in the stories are usually dwarfs, dragons, fairies, gnomes, goblins, talking animals or witches. Sometimes the story includes princes, princesses, and pumpkin chariots drawn by small rodents. They almost always are ‘moral’ stories, the good overpowering evil.

The most famous writers are Brothers Grimm (Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty), Charles Perrault (Cinderella), Hans Christian Anderson (The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid), and Joseph Jacobs (Jack and the Beanstalk). Then there is the great Aesop whose stories are called fables

But there is one author who we do not usually associate with fairy tales. Oscar Wilde.

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Wilde is best known for his satirical comedies, critiques of Victorian mores. The Ideal Husband, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Lady Windermere’s Fan are perhaps the most brilliant comedies written in any language.

Wilde’s incarceration in Reading Jail for being a homosexual is well known. While there he also wrote fairy tales. “The Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde” includes two definitive story collections:  The Happy Prince and A House of Pomegranates. The stories are “exquisite and poignant, full of beauty, selfless love, loyalty, brilliant wit and moral aestheticism…” and they do not fit the genre of the traditional fairy tale like Cinderella or Jack and the Beanstalk. They are profound psychological and social commentaries. One could, however, argue that there is a “moral” to each of the traditional fairy tales.

A discussion on these stories and their import are beyond the scope of this blog. But I brought it up because yesterday, the 30th of November, was the 118th anniversary of the death of the great man.

Wilde, on release from jail, exiled himself to France where he died. His remains lie buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery, inside Paris.

To end on a personal note. Wilde, Shaw and Shakespeare were three of the many authors who featured in the conversation in our house. Wilde, especially, had been the subject of discussion when the kids were growing up.

A few decades ago Radha and her friend were on a tour of Europe and she made it a point to visit Wilde’s cemetery. Wilde is buried in the same cemetery in Paris as Jim Morrison of the famous rock band, The Doors.  Young hippies and Door wanna-bes flock to his grave in drives, and sing songs and smoke pot.  Radha decided that wasn’t her thing, and set off in search of Wilde.  She found him around a long time of roaming, and in the end, was the only one who visited his grave!  She also stopped in on Chopin on her way out…

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The Americans celebrated Thanksgiving last week. Thanksgiving, for the benefit of readers in far flung climes like Tajikistan and Mongolia, is a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. I had made a mention of it last week, when Burger king wondered on the day what happened to global warming when it was unseasonably cold in the eastern part of the country. The king, of course, did not know the difference between climate and weather.

Anyway, he also did his share of thanking. He thanked himself!! The actual quote is, “So great that oil prices are falling (thank you President T). Add that, which is like a big tax cut, in our other good economic news. Inflation down.”

UTOPIA, finally!!

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NUMBERS.

500 million. The number of guests whose personal details have been compromised at the Marriott chain of hotels. The details include names, addresses, dates of birth, passport numbers, email addresses and phone numbers.

The hotel group which runs more than 6700 properties around the world, was informed two months ago about an attempt to access the database, and an investigation this month revealed that unauthorized access had been made on or before September 10. Hackers also obtained encrypted credit card information for some customers.

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Just to make you feel good.

I thought you might enjoy some of the Wildean witticisms.

  • The English country gentleman galloping after a fox—the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.
  • I don’t want to go to heaven. None of my friends are there.
  • George Moore wrote brilliant English until he discovered grammar.
  • Bernard Shaw is an excellent man; he has not an enemy in the world and none of his friends like him.
  • A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
  • Of course, America had often been discovered before Columbus, but it had always been hushed up.
  • Niagara Falls is simply a vast unnecessary amount of water going the wrong way and then falling over unnecessary rocks. 
  • And one of my favorites: Arriving at New York, Wilde was asked by the customs official whether he had anything to declare. “Only my genius”, replied Wilde.

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This ‘n That

A full-fledged war is imminent south of the border. Burger King has deployed more troops to protect the land of the free and the home of the brave from the army of asylum seekers from South America marching relentlessly. As I write this, the invaders, as the king labels them, are in Tijuana, a mere 45 minutes from San Jose. The exact numerical strength of the army is not known but there are 500 criminals and terrorists in the group.  I know this because the king told so. It is, of course, difficult to verify this because he does not always divulge the sources of his information.

It is also not clear what kinds of ammunition these marauders—fifty percent of them children—are carrying. One could take an educated guess and believe that they have machine guns, hand grenades, bazookas and cannon or two. A war in which the US is involved would invariably affect the economy of Canada adversely and the Prime Minister, understandably,  is on pins and needles  as the saying goes.

Meanwhile the Mayor of Tijuana has declared a humanitarian crisis and said that he was asking the United Nations for aid to deal with the migrants, most of whom are camped inside a sports complex.

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Thanksgiving in the US came and went and it turned out to be one of the coldest, the mercury dropping to 33 degrees, a mere I degree above freezing.

“What happened to global warming?” the king sagely asked. His courtiers and the members of the Republican Party nodded in agreement and then went on to eat turkey and trimmings.

Meanwhile, last Friday, the feds released a long awaited report with an unmistakable message. The report’s authors, who represent numerous federal agencies, say that they are more certain than ever that climate change poses a severe threat to America’s health and pocketbooks, as well as to the country’s infrastructure and natural resources.

The fact that the report was released on the Thanksgiving weekend, when people are busy shopping and celebrating Thanksgiving is not an accident.

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Civilized and sensitive people around the world were horrified at the brutal murder of American journalist Khashoggi. The CIA, after very meticulous enquiry, has come to the conclusion that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia ordered the ruthless murder and the inhuman way it was perpetrated. As you know, the Prince is a close friend of Burger King . He says there is not strong evidence to blame the prince. He told reporters during a Thanksgiving appearance at his Mar-a Lago club in Florida. “Maybe the world should be held accountable because the world is a vicious place.” You recall that he said that the forest fires in California are due to poor management by the forestry department.

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Jin Park, 22, a Harvard university senior made history as the first recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program ( also known as DACA) to be awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. But unfortunately he cannot leave the country because he has only a Korean passport and if he leaves the country, he will not be able to return. He arrived in the US when he was seven.

Jin-Kyu-Park

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The Leaning Tower of Pisa is known worldwide for its precarious tilt; but now experts have revealed that it’s going straight. The team’s Surveillance Group, which monitors restoration work, said that the landmark is stable and very slowly reducing its lean. The 57 metre medieval monument has been straightened by 4 cm (1.5 inches) over the past two decades.

Really??!!

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NUMBERS

6.kg  The weight of plastic waste found in the stomach of a dead sperm whale that washed ashore in a national park in Indonesia. Items included 115 drinking cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags and two flip-flops.

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Just to make you feel good.

Had I the Heaven’s embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,I
I would spread the cloths under your feet.
But I, being poor, have only my dreams:
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on your dreams.

W.B.Yeats

 

 

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