Take Time to Know Her


[Cue Percy Sledge]: a funereal organ, drums tapping out a rhythm befitting a march to the gallows:

I found a woman I felt I truly loved.
She was everything I had ever been dreaming of.
But she was bad; I didn’t know it.
Her pretty smile never did show it.
All I knew is what I could see,
And I knew I wanted her for me.

Accountant Nikki Haley doing arithmetic

Accountant Nikki Haley doing arithmetic

Too bad McMaster, Bauer, or Sheehan didn’t tap Percy’s “Take Time to Know Her” for his campaign theme song when running against our mathematically/ truth-challenged Governor. Perhaps the righteous gospel undertones of Percy’s dirge might have infiltrated the ideological fortresses of the heavily garrisoned but ultimately impoverished minds of hourly employees who want to see estate taxes abolished, those folks who like to hear their prejudices echoed with panache.

If played often enough, Mama’s wise words – it’s not an overnight thang/take time to know her/please don’t rush into this thang – might have infiltrated the unconscious to tap into some not-quite-yet desiccated pool of ancestral wisdom.

Those losing campaigns should have played Percy Sledge’s soulful warning over and over and over again while campaign workers waved signs brandishing the late Ann Landers’ warning to ‘60s adolescents who might be considering sex: Don’t Flunk Your Chemistry Test! Don’t Flunk Your Chemistry Test! Don’t Flunk Your Chemistry Test! 

Michael "Tammy Wynette" Haley Stands by His Woman as She Counts to 5 Outloud.

Michael “Tammy Wynette” Haley Stands by His Woman as She Counts to 5 Outloud.

A modicum of caution might have been in order: after all, Nikki was, as they say, an unknown, untested: a degreed but uncertified non-public accountant doing books in her daddy’s business, a woman married to an under-employed husband, the two bearing a $300,000 mortgage on a $40,000 income.

With her political office comes a sudden spike in prosperity – a 6-figure salary with Lexington Hospital for a 50K job, a cushy National Guard gig for her seemingly non-officer-grade husband. (Elsewhere, I’ve written about those pesky extra-martial rumors). But hey, South Carolinians weren’t the only ones to go gaga. That permanently constipated pundit George Will un-pursed his lips for some praise:

 The political class and its parasitic lobbyists preferred government conducted in private.  Haley, whose early campaign strategy was exuberantly indiscriminate (“go anywhere and talk to anybody”) won the gubernatorial nomination by defeating the state’s lieutenant governor, its attorney general, and a congressman.


That, in turn, is evidence of this: If the question is which state has changed the most in the last half century, the answer might be California. But if the question is which state has changed most for the better, the answer might be South Carolina.

What has South Carolina done to earn such accolades? What have we done that signifies we’ve changed most for the better? Because we now elect immigrants/people-of-color who vow to fight illegal immigration, taxes, and government handouts for the poor rather than electing jowly bald bigots who vow to fight illegal immigration, taxes, and government handouts to the poor.

Ah, but I digress. My point, dear citizens, to quote the great Tom Waits, is that “the large print giveth, but the small print taketh away.” [Warning: oncoming barrage of mixed metaphors]: Before dumping your spouse for a sexpot. do the following: kick the tires, pour over those background checks, draw up an ironclad prenup.

Take time to know her.

In short, don’t spasmodically fall in lust and marry some tawdry tea party gal who runs with flashy frontier women, or you might end up with a kinghell case of buyer’s remorse.


Come to think of it, George Will might be on to something about one aspect of change in South Carolina. At least no one during the campaign except Jake Knotts was overtly racist/xenophobic. It’s not hard to imagine the Late Lee Atwater would have done if he were running the McMaster campaign. I suspect flashing the pix below as a stentorian basso wonders ad nauseum if she really is one of us?

Haley Family

Haley Fami

That hair-do in the held snapshot looks more Pentecostal than Sikh to me. No, Nikki is one of us. In fact she’s old school, a practitioner of cronyism, and you have to admit that she’s certainly been transparent when it comes to that.

What type of person makes this type of mistake:

From the State Newspaper 16 March 2011:

Then state Rep. Nikki Haley’s application for a job at Lexington Medical Center reported she earned $125,000 a year – more than five times the amount that Haley, now SC Governor, said she earned on her federal tax returns.

That application also said Haley expected to be paid the same amount – $125,000, a year, according to hospital documents obtained in a public records request by the State.

Haley’s federal tax returns show she was paid $22,000 by her parents’ clothing store, Exotica International, during 2007.

A careless person? A dishonest person? Her spokesman points out that such a discrepancy is illogical, so Haley couldn’t have done it, and that anyway, whoever had filled out that particular page hadn’t signed it and that the page also lacked the official stamp that embossed the other pages of the rest of the application. Maybe some Democratic hacker stole her pin number and social security number and fabricated the form and sneaked into the hospital offices and slipped it into Haley’s application file Mission Impossible style.

Or, but this seems so much less likely. Maybe she lied about her salary, intentionally didn’t sign or stamp the form (in case something like this ever came up).

On the same day that the State published the salary discrepancy story, they also informed us that Haley had removed the most generous benefactor in the state’s history (Darla Moore who donated 70 million gift to the Business School at USC) from the board because she “wanted a new set of eyes,” so she replaces Moore (for whom the Business Department is named) with a Columbia lawyer who just happens to be one of Haley’s biggest campaign contributors.

-1 set of old eyes + 1 set of new eyes – $70 million = idiocy.

I mean, this woman is a piece of work.

Channeling David Foster Wallace and Senator Larry Grooms

Years ago, I lazily cooked up one last essay assignment for my hopelessly checked-out seniors, an essay that would force them to revisit their time at Porter-Gaud. I say lazily, because it occurred to me that I could have them deliver the essay as a speech. That way, I wouldn’t have to correct it as writing – you can’t hear the difference between a comma and a semicolon; when you’re talking from the heart, you don’t necessarily want to introduce clauses with “as” instead of “like.” Nine months of reading and commenting on inexact writing can get old.

Their last essay would be graded as they delivered it, it might force the unreflective to recollect, and the succession of speeches might reinforce a sense of sharing and camaraderie. But, actually, none of those positive student benefits figured in my thinking. I essentially assigned them a valedictory address as their last assignment for selfish reasons.

Stacks of papers versus mouthfuls of air. first-essays

Not surprisingly, given the quality of our students, I’ve amassed some beautiful speeches over the years, and when I assign the project, I include samples from their predecessors. Two years ago I included in my assignment packet a commencement speech that David Foster Wallace had delivered at Kenyon College. This week, I had to abandon one of my block classes for forty minutes to observe a candidate teach a class of sixth graders, so I prepared a short answer reading quiz on the Wallace speech and had my current seniors read it and take the quiz in class while I was gone. This inadvertence also turned out to be propitious, because when I returned, several of the students praised the speech, one saying it was the best essay that she had ever read. [You can read it here].

Essentially Wallace argues that “learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think,” which essentially means switching your mental radio station from its “default mode,” i.e., from “the constant monologue inside your own head” to a station that “[is] paying attention to what is going on right in front of [you].” He goes on to describe himself in his default mode driving home from the grocery store “disgusted about all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV’s and Hummers and V-12 pickup trucks, burning their wasteful, selfish, 40-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumper-stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers.” However, Wallace argues that this negative thinking is essentially unproductive. Switch stations, think about what it might be like to be the driver of the V-12 truck emblazoned with NRA stickers, etc. ZPWM4Fu Which, brings me, finally, to the subject of this posting, my least favorite person of the week, Senator Larry Grooms, (R-Daniel Island), who has topped V. Putin and Cliven Bundy in the lowness of my estimation, which, come to think of it, would not matter a jot or tittle to him if he knew, or perhaps, he might even welcome the animus of a leftist old bald-headed hippie like me.

Senator Grooms has kindled my wrath by cutting off funds for the College of Charleston because he disagreed with the College’s choosing a summer reading Fun Home, a novel with a gay protagonist. The novel has been adapted into a musical nominated for two Pulitzers. The College decided to host the show on campus for two performances last Monday, performances that didn’t expend a penny of state funds. Nevertheless, this “giant middle finger to the Statehouse” has provoked the arse-belching consternation of several legislators. This from the City Paper:

And then there’s state Rep. Bill Whitmire (R-Walhalla). Recently, a joint committee of senators and representative interviewed candidates for the CofC Board of Trustees. In a transcript of one such interview, the topic turned to Fun Home, and during that discussion, Whitmire called the book “highly offensive” and “promoting a specific lifestyle.” He even suggested that an individual could be arrested if he or she invited a 17-year-old to read it and encouraged every person interviewed for reappointment to the CofC Board of Trustees to keep something like this (meaning a book that addresses issues of non-heterosexual identity) from being a College Reads! selection ever again.

Senator Grooms, not to be outdone, offered this threat: “If lessons weren’t learned [at the College], the Senate may speak a little bit louder than the House. There would be a number of members in the Senate that would have a great interest in fixing the deficiencies at the College of Charleston.” Okay, my default mode when I encounter philistinism is Mencken-like mockery, Ezra-Pound-like intemperance of language. Here’s a snippet from the penultimate paragraph from Mencken’s obituary of William Jennings Bryan:

He seemed only a poor clod like those around him, deluded by a childish theology, full of an almost pathological hatred of all learning, all human dignity, all beauty, all fine and noble things. He was a peasant come home to the dung-pile. Imagine a gentleman, and you have imagined everything that he was not.

Here’s Mencken’s last paragraph: “The job before democracy is to get rid of such canaille. If it fails, they will devour it.”

Senator Larry Grooms (R-Daniel Island)

Senator Larry Grooms (R-Daniel Island)

Okay, I find myself in an uncomfortable position. How can I in good conscience after making my students read DFW’s commencement speech revert to my default mode of quoting Pound’s “vice crusaders farting through silk,” splattering the self-righteous senator with vulgarities, and, by the way, am not just as self-righteous as he? Shouldn’t I imagine – as DFW does in his commencement address – what it must be like to be that person whom we hold in contempt?

On the on-line scstatehouse.gov bio site, we discover that Senator Grooms lists his occupation vaguely as businessman, graduated from Clemson University in 1987, and designates his religion as “Christian,” having been “saved by Grace in April of 1987” (which is really good timing: sow those Dionysian grapes, be forgiven, and get righteously on with the business of adulthood). Oh yeah, to slide myself into Senator Grooms’s Bass Weejuns, I would also have to imagine being a proud lifetime member of the NRA.

Okay, here goes. I’m Larry. The Bible is the greatest book ever. Here’s Leviticus 20:13: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.”

Jesus is conspicuously silent on the subject, though it’s hard to imagine his condoning an execution of Cole Porter or Elizabeth Bishop for committing the above-described “abominations.”

But Paul isn’t silent on the subject: 1 Corinthians 6:9: “Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexuals nor sodomites … will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Greg Koulkl: “Homosexual desire is unnatural because it causes a man to abandon the natural sexual compliment God has ordained for him: a woman. That was Paul’s view. If it was Paul’s view recorded in the inspired text, then it is God’s view. And if it is God’s view, it should be ours if we call ourselves Christian.”

So, the Larry Grooms I have become accepts premises and reasoning of Koulkl’s conclusion. The novel and musical Fun Home promote a sinful lifestyle (genetics be literally damned!)

Goddamnit , these Weejuns are killing my feet [author removes them and flings them out the window of his drafty garret].

But, hey, Larry – what about that separation of Church and State thing? And if you’re going to go by the Bible, what about Matthew 6:5-6 – “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.…” In other words, remove that “saved by Grace” from your website. After all, you know what Jesus said about casting stones.

At any rate, I’ll leave you with a sentence from Friday’s Post Courier editorial page, and believe me, when the editorial staff of that newspaper and I agree, the Second Coming might truly be at hand!

Sen. Grooms and his meddlesome colleagues have a misguided idea of what a college education should be. In addition to literature, science and economics, it should challenge students with new issues and different viewpoints. A college’s goal should not be indoctrination. And the “academic freedom” espoused by the school’s Board of Trustees should put curriculum decisions in the hands of administrators.


Follow on Twitter @ragwatercat

Celebrating Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday

Throughout 23 April 2014, the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare, I imagined his actual birth, picturing in my mind’s eye the room where the event occurred.  There would have been a midwife there and perhaps some of Mary Arden Shakespeare’s lady friends who might witness the appearance of his bald dome, the final push, the slap and scream – perhaps punctuated in crescendoing iambs.  He would have been immediately swaddled.


Not-necessarily-accurate internet sources claim that an Elizabethan birth room would have been decorated with the finest “hangings” the family possessed, and I don’t doubt this superstitious possibility given I know 21st Century football fans who wear the same totemistic socks every Saturday during a win streak. After all, the chances of an infant surviving until puberty weren’t promising.

For example, here’s a list of John and Mary Arden Shakespeare’s children:

Joan b. 1558 d. 1558.

Margaret b. 1562 d. 1563

William b. 1564  d.1616

Gilbert b. 1566  d. 1612

Joan Shakespeare Hart b. 1569 d. 1646

Richard b. 1564 d. 1613

Edmund b. 1580 d. 1607

William himself (often away from Stratford in London) only fathered three children (two of them twins) and lost his only son at the age of 11.

Elizabethan Birth

No wonder they farmed infants off-site to (I would lie to imagine) buxom nursemaids.  Don’t want too get too attached to something with the life expectancy of a gerbil.

But Will did make it, made it real big, as Eric Burdon said of Bo Diddley, so in celebration of Sweet William’s nativity (as the ladies supposedly called him). I thought I’d share with you a few rather non-famous but killer quotes from the plays.

  • “Chanting faint hymns to a cold, distant moon.”   Theseus to Hermia in 1.1 of A Midsummer’s Night Dream, answering her question of what would become of her if she refused the hand of Demetrius, whom her father demands she marries. Updated Urban Dictionary paraphrase: your ass gonna end up in a nunnery.
  • “I’ll lug the guts in the neighbor room.  Mother, have a good night.”  Hamlet to Gertrude in her closet as he disposes of the corpse of Polonious, whom he has slain and who has been lying in a pool of blood for about twenty minutes while the Prince has been royally reaming the Queen.  That “have-a-good-night” ranks right up there with “Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”  A couple of scenes later Hamlet answers King Claudius’s demand to know where the body has been hidden with this:  “But indeed, if you find him not within/this month, you shall nose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.”
  • “Here’s Agamemnon, an honest fellow enough and one /that loves quails; but he has not so much brain as/earwax.”  Thersites in a soliloquy commenting on Agamemnon’s lack of intelligence in 5.1 of Troilus and Cressida.. This scene has some utterly delicious insults. Earlier Thersites had informed Patrroclus that  word on the street was that he was Achilles’ “masculine whore” and lays this curse on Patroclus:

Now, the rotten diseases
of the south, the guts-griping, ruptures, catarrhs,
loads o’ gravel i’ the back, lethargies, cold
palsies, raw eyes, dirt-rotten livers, wheezing
lungs, bladders full of imposthume, sciaticas,
limekilns i’ the palm, incurable bone-ache, and the
rivelled fee-simple of the tetter, take and take
again such preposterous discoveries!

Patroculus counters with “[. . . ] you ruinous butt, you whoreson/indistinguishable cur, no.”

But is bested by Thersites with this venomous tirade:

No! why art thou then exasperate, thou idle
immaterial skein of sleave-silk, thou green sarcenet
flap for a sore eye, thou tassel of a prodigal’s
purse, thou? Ah, how the poor world is pestered
with such waterflies, diminutives of nature!

O my stars!

So let us praise that mid-wife, that plump wet nurse, Will’s immune system/good luck and/or God for the Bard’s survival, for what a gift to all us that birthday boy was!

Oh, yeah, he also died on the 23rd of April.

Hemingway Manuscript Declared Forgery

Hemingway scholars seem almost universally convinced that the discovery of the unpublished manuscript The Sun Also Sets is a hoax. The manuscript,

Action Comics 263 Bizarro World

Action Comics 263 Bizarro World

supposedly found in a strong box in Finca Vigia , Cuba, on 1 April 2014, came to light via Hemingway’s grandson, Sean, the issue of Hemingway’s youngest son Gregory, who “suffered” throughout his life from gender dysphoria and also went by the name Gloria.

Also found in the strong box was a well-preserved copy of DC Action Comics #263 (April 1960) entitled “The World of Bizzaros.”[1]

Hemingway left Cuba for the final time in July of 1960, so the issue date of the comic is not anachronistic.

Although the manuscript itself was created on a 1955 Smith Corona Standard Typewriter (Model 88), modern optical brighteners were detected in the manuscript’s paper, which means the manuscript had to be created after 1975. Sean Hemingway, however, contends that the manuscript could have been retyped later to for preservation’s sake.

However, this scenario seems unlikely given that one, not two, manuscripts were found, and certainly whoever supposedly retyped the manuscript would have preserved the original typed by the Master himself.

The story itself is a self-parody of Hemingway’s first novel The Sun Also Rises set in Paris and Pamplona in the early Twenties. Taking its cue from the Bizarro World concept, the names of the characters in the parody have been reversed as have been the roles of the characters. For example, the first person narrator of the parody is Barney Jakes, a conscientious objector from the Great War who is gay and possesses super-sized reproductive organs, as opposed to the original, Jake Barnes, a stoic hero who Fisher King like has suffered permanent impotence from a war wound. Other prominent characters include Lady Ashley Brett, Count Maddox Ford Maddox, and Francis Scott, who is obviously a caricature of Scott Fitzgerald and has taken the place of Robert Cohn.

Perhaps the most “bizzaro” aspect of the parody itself is that its prose seems much more Jamesian – as in Henry – than it does Hemingwayesque. In other words, Hemingway’s clipped declarative sentences have been replaced by syntactically difficult rhetorical structures that tax the reader’s patience.

For example, compare the first three sentences of the original with the first sentence of the parody:

Robert Cohn was once the middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Do  not think that I am very much impressed by that as a boxing title, but it meant a lot to Cohn. He cared nothing for boxing. In fact, he disliked it, but he learned it painfully and thoroughly to counteract the feeling of inferiority and shyness he had felt on being treated as a Jew at Princeton.

Francis Scott, a young man of five-and-twenty, of not more than middle height and slightly more than middle weight, had at his alma mater, the University of Alabama, received accolades in his prowess in forensics as he had captained the Crimson Tide’s nationally acclaimed debate team.

Perhaps, it need not be stated here that the parody – whoever may have written it – is an abysmal failure. All of the innovative aspects that render the original interesting – the crisp imagery, the unadorned dialogue, the lost generational angst-ridden hedonism – have been replaced with turgid descriptions, wooden dialogue, and homoerotic repression.

The question arises – who would waste his or her time concocting such an ill-thought out confection? No doubt some talentless wretch desperate for attention.

Some latter-day James Macpherson perhaps.

[1] Via Wikipedia: In the Bizarro world of “Htrae” (“Earth” spelled backwards), society is ruled by the Bizarro Code which states “Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!” In one episode, for example, a salesman is doing a brisk trade selling Bizarro bonds: “Guaranteed to lose money for you”. Later, the mayor appoints Bizarro No. 1 to investigate a crime, “Because you are stupider than the entire Bizarro police force put together”. This is intended and taken as a great compliment. In popular culture, largely influenced by the Seinfeld television program, “Bizarro World” has come to mean a situation or setting which is weirdly inverted or opposite of expectations.

Gregory "Gloria" Hemingway

Gregory “Gloria” Hemingway

Bridled Joy

Click arrow above for sound


The Caribbean wind

has miraculously


a strand

from the slab

of George Will’s



It dances a samba aloft,

like a kite string, aquiver.


Snapped open, his laptop gongs

its corporate fanfare

glowing into life.


Yahoo Sports!

Click. Click.

NL Scores

Cubbies 7, White Sox 6.


The thin crease of his lips

parts with an inaudible yes!

He takes a celebratory sip

and catches the eye of the waiter.

george will 1.0

follow me on Twitter @ragwatercat

Amphetametic Nation

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.” ― Thich Nhat Hahn

Ever since the publication of Tom Friedman’s The World Is Flat, educational entrepreneurs have been cashing in on the concept of 21st Century Education. These forward-looking wealth amassers thinkers inevitably arrive at the same conclusions and cast their findings into market-savvy alliterative lists, e.g., Tony Wagner’s 7 Survival Skills, Bernie Trilling & Charles Fadel’s 8 Retooling Schooling Reshaping Support Systems, Wesley Moore’s 10 Tiny Tips to Help 21st Century Teachers Identify Clandestine Texting in Technocracies.

chinese school

As a public service, I’ll summarize the 21st century global educational rap so you can save yourself forty bucks:

The triumph of multinational corporations and the ever-increasing sophistication of computer technology have created a brave new globalism. If students are to be highly successful. i.e., land jobs in multinational corporations, they need to be analytical, collaborative, creative, adaptive, syntactically competent, technologically literate, and culturally sensitive.

In other words, the economy’s done gone global on us; ergo, it’s time to bid adieu to accountants and autoworkers. We won’t be needing them anymore because we got robots and Turbo Tax. The new worker better have his/her left/right hemispheres well-wired because he/she is likely to spend his/her day interacting in various media with far-flung team members solving problems.

Sounds fun, huh?

art by Nick Gentry

art by Nick Gentry

What’s different now is the concept of student-centered education, as opposed to adult-centered education, which means, in part, that students utilize the awesome resource of the internet to research topics and then teach those topics to each other. For example, in January of 2012 at a conference I attended, Tom Daccord, an employee of EdTechTeacher, whose “mission is to help teachers and schools leverage technology to create student-centered, inquiry learning environments,” demonstrated how the model works. He manipulated a screen that showed us images of how innovative first grade teachers in Saskatchewan and coastal New England had created interactive websites so that the New England first graders were teaching the Canadian first graders about horseshoe crabs, and the Canadians the New Englanders about Native American cultures. These little ones were not only learning about a subject but teaching it to others in several different modalities, but, also, they were well on the way of becoming successful 21st Century citizens, i.e. effectively exchanging fairly simplistic information through images and words via the internet.

Kind of like me on this here blog.

self-portrait of the author as tech guru

self-portrait of the author as tech guru

Ironically enough, Mr. Daccord, like virtually all of these 21st education entrepreneurs, delivered this information via a lecture, a keynote address, albeit in a well-wired one in which he strutted across a stage using the intonations of a motivational speaker and the studied hand gestures of an ESPN football analyst. His presentation was not student centered because student centered learning is not an efficient way to relay expertise. Dividing his audience into groups to research various technological innovations and then to regather to have each group teach the others how technology can be “leveraged to create inquiry learning environments” would not only take weeks, but also perhaps be rife with amateurish misinformation.

Underlying these presentations is the concept that the younger generation interfaces with the world in ways that we troglodytes can’t comprehend and that chiding the young for exchanging the heavens above for its image on a 3 x 1 screen is hopelessly naive. We need to be adaptive, to channel their Sesame Street quick-cut edited consciousnesses into small incremental periods of hands-on instruction.

I beg to differ. It probably suits multinational corporations just fine for us to produce highly articulate and analytical non-questioners willing to do industry’s bidding; however, the corporate worldview is not necessarily the best of all human perspectives.

What you never hear about in these educational manifestos is the individual’s place in the cosmos. How cognitively dissonant it must be for students inundated with American society’s corporate messages of cohesion and conformity to encounter the Steppenwolf, Stephen Dedalus or Caddy Compson in my AP classroom.

After all, the history of the West is the story of the heroic individual – Prometheus, Milton’s Satan, Hester Prynne, Martin Luther King. Although we don’t envy Job’s suffering or Oedipus’s fate, we sure as hell don’t admire their mealy-mouthed counsellors and chorus.

"Job" by William Blake

“Job” by William Blake

The world is too much with us late and soon, but it’s sweeping past much more quickly than it did in Wordsworth’s day. Video games, smart phones, tablets, the pinging of emails, the flashings of voicemails, the dizzying editing of movies all feed the fragmentation of attention to the detriment of the rich introspection that only deep silence can accommodate. Even college football games transpire in huddleless supersonic speeds. In this year’s Orange Bowl the announcers couldn’t keep up with the frenetic pace that seemed better suited to a professional basketball game than it did to football.

Perhaps an alternate, innovative 21st Century school might provide students with the best that has been thought and said and discovered with time to reflect on what they have learned. They certainly don’t need me to show them how to incorporate technology into their inquiries.

But as citizens, they certainly need to know our Constitution, the scientific method, the patterns that history provides, how art can provide beauty and mirror a culture’s preoccupations. To accomplish this education, it just might be necessary for an adult to tell a child what the adult knows about chemistry, the Russian revolution, or Irish history’s influence on the novels of James Joyce.  Certainly, we can enhance this instruction through computer-generated multi-media presentations and deepen students experience through projects; however, in high school we need to teach them a little about a lot, and you can’t beat lectures (and reading) for providing a lot of information in s short amount of time.  Just ask Tony Wagner.

William RogersRush_Hour_b

Sweet Home South Carolina

wooly mammoth can't bare to look at Eve offering Adam the apple

The wooly mammoth can’t bare to look at Eve offering Adam the apple

It’s been a memorable year for South Carolina’s state government. Nikki Haley has staunchly blocked the expansion of Medicaid to help spur the shiftless into seeking gainful employment, so rather than leeching our tax dollars to deal with their health and dental problems, the poor can suffer the wages of their sloth. If their unemployable children suffer as well, so be it.

Call it “natural selection at work.”

shot in SC by NY Times

photo shot in SC by NY Times

Oops, check that. It appears that some of our legislators don’t believe in natural selection.

First, Senator Mike Fair R-Greenville took issue with the following clause in new state science standards and had it removed:

Conceptual Understanding: Biological evolution occurs primarily when natural selection acts on the genetic variation in a population and changes the distribution of traits in that in that population over multiple generations.

Sez the Senator: “To teach natural selection is the answer to origins is wrong. I don’t have a problem with teaching theories. I don’t think it should be taught as fact.”

Not to be outdone, Kevin Byrant R-Anderson essentially derailed a bill that would have designated the Carolina Wooly Mammoth as the official state fossil¹ by adding an amendment to the bill that adds this modifying clause  ” [. . .] Carolina mammoth, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field.”

You’ve got to wonder given their non-evolving protective fur, if both the wooly mammoth and polar bear were thrilled to see the Fall given the 72 degree F. temperature that allowed our grand sire and his mate to loll around paradise naked.

¹It seems as if our representatives spend a great deal of time designating state shit:  State horse: Marsh Tacky; State grass: Indian grass; State language: English; State spider: Carolina wolf spider; State insect: Carolina mantid; State popular music: beach music; State snack food: boiled peanuts; State STD: gonorreah . . .

Carolina Mantid

Carolina Mantid

In other noteworthy legislative events, only a mere 15 years after legalizing interracial marriage, the state looks as if it’s no longer going to go after retirement home canasta clubs. Senator Tom Davis R-Beaufort introduced a bill that would legalize card playing in the Palmetto State:

“Davis, an attorney, said he developed the bill after state police warned a manager at Sun City Hilton Head last May that the bridge and canasta social clubs advertised for residents violated state law. That prompted management of the 14,000-resident retiree community to remove all signs and tell the clubs they could no longer play in community game rooms.”  – The Columbus Republic

At this rate of progressive progress, our dying great grandchildren may one day be able to legally use medical marijuana!

Partying with the Nazarene

Jesus -Tavern-Interior-With-Mandolin-Player

About a dozen or so years ago after returning from home a mole removal/biopsy procedure, I received a visitation from the muse of country music – let’s call her Twangella. The poem – as they say = wrote itself.

Click the arrow for sound:

Drunk me some wine with Jesus

at this here wedding in Galilee.

He saved the bestest for second

and provided it all for free.

So I quit my job on the shrimp boat

to follow him eternally.

No longer bound by them blue laws

enforced by the Pharisee.

And we had us some good times,

Till them Pharisee done him in.

Ain’t got no use for the religious right

After I seen what they done to him.

So when Saul/Paul stole the show

I just sorta drifted away,

Cause he never done quite understood

what Jesus was trying to say.

Paul was more like them Pharisee,

dissing this, cussing that,

giving the women a real hard time,

gay-bashing and all like that.

So I drink at home most nights now

trying to do some good,

offering the beggars a little snort

whilst praying for a robin hood.

Drunk me some wine with Jesus.

It was the bestest day I ever seen.

Drunk me some wine with Jesus,

partying with the Nazarene.

Jesus the wine-bibber, the whore’s buddy, a lot more uptight about money exchange than sins of the flesh. Actually doing a little jig in the Gospel of Thomas. A reformer. To hell with this harsh desert mentality, he preached. While he’s witnessing a throng preparing to stone an adulteress, half a world away in Tahiti naked girls with their parents’ blessings are chanting come-ons as they dance in a conga line past boys’ huts. Family values.