Friday, February 25, 2011

Legal system gone to the dogs, or is it cats?

Tabby Sal Esposito of Boston Massachusetts received a summons for jury duty. This is not unusual, everyday people all over the country receive summons, report for duty, and serve on juries, as part of their civic duty. This particular summons, however, points to a new and progressive approach to populating juries, by the Suffolk Superior Crown Court in Boston. The Superior Crown Court has summoned into their presence, a cat.

It is obvious to everyone, except the Superior Crown Court, that Tabby is a cat, and cats should not serve on juries. I think it is entirely possible she would make an excellent juror. Detractors indicate that she is an animal. I would like to point out that cats have been domesticated for close to 12,000 years. This, according to some women, is longer than men have been domesticated. In fact, my wife is not convinced that I am domesticated yet. 

Cats would make wonderful jurors due to their independence, which has been duly noted throughout the years. Rudyard Kipling tells of the “Cat who walks by Himself”. That is what cats do-- walk by themselves. Cats would be uneasily swayed by the impassioned rhetoric of attorneys, nonplussed by the imposing figure of the presiding judge, dressed in long black judicial robe, and most importantly, ignoring the opinions of his or her fellow jurors. Cats have that extremely amazing ability to discern lies; it would be extremely difficult for a lawyer to explain away a defendant’s actions with some crazy story of alien abduction and brain washing, both would be instantly identified as fishy; beyond that, woe to those malefactors who fall into the category of being cat burglars.

It is interesting to note that cats were probably domesticated to keep vermin out of stored crops, catching thieving vermin for some 12,000 years. Many farms still welcome ‘feral’ cats for this very reason. Thus, it makes excellent sense for the Crown Court to tap into the feline’s long history of reducing the population of thieving vermin (rats), to assist in the courts mission to reduce the number of rats.
Ms. Esposito has contacted the Superior Crown Court, including a letter from Tabby’s veterinarian that explained that Tabby is “a domestic short-haired neutered feline.” The Court responded that Tabby must report despite her felineness. Imagine with me what went through the mind of the Superior commissioner of the Crown Court as he or she opened the letter and read the enclosure from the Doctor (of veterinary medicine.) “Oh good grief, another doctor letter, don’t these people know we are handicapped accessible? Well, let’s see what this person’s excuse is…hmmm, suffers from being a neutered feline? Ability to conceive is definitely NOT an acceptable reason for excusal from jury duty. ‘Short-haired? Good grief, who cares how her hair is coiffed.  I mean really, what will these jurors come up with next? Besides that, feelings is not spelled f-e-l-i-n-e. And the abbreviation for Doctor is M.D. what is up with this D.V.M? This whole letter is fishy.”

There are some misgivings about requiring the service of cats on juries. First, cats cannot speak English. This, apparently, is not an issue. The federal guidelines for juries do not require that jurors speak English, I suppose they would provide a translator, which wouldn’t be hard, since the government is full of fat cats.
The next problem is the rest of the animal kingdom. Once the dogs find out cats are on juries, they will want to join, then horses, then cows, even monkeys. Fairly soon the entire jury pool will be a veritable zoo. I foresee grave unheard of issues if horses are on the jury. Cows? Utterly ridiculous. And monkeys would only lead to a hung jury.

Therefore, I can say, with respect due to Barney Fife, a jury with a cat? Nip it in the bud.

Friday, February 18, 2011

When south is north and north is south.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the shifting of the north/south pole, and the resulting impact upon the world of airports and professional hockey. Now it appears that this problem is much more troublesome than previously reported. It seems that the north and south poles are about to trade places.

Scientists say that this process is not quick, but may take thousands of years. They also indicate that the last time it happened was 780,000 years ago, which was about ten years before the invention of classical music. Most scientists are quick to deny that any of them are that old, which obviously brings into question the accuracy of their observations, since they have not actually witnessed the last great “Flip-Flop”. Scientists say the evidence for pole reversal can be found in rocks. This begs the question, “are they stoned?”

However, they still insist that the process will take a long time and that during that time there may be multiple north and south poles at different points throughout the earth, such as Tahiti, Moscow, or even Moose Jaw, Canada. The apparent reason for this “Flip-Flop” is the boredom of the poles. Being stuck in such cold wintery conditions with no variety for 780,000 years would bore even the heartiest of souls. So the poles start to do a polka and dance their way across the globe, until eventually, after ten thousand years of polar oompahs, at least according to scientists, the south pole is in the middle of the arctic ocean and the north pole has taken up residence at McMurdo station.

Scientists are conflicted over the results of this polar shift. Some believe it could be the harbinger of another ice age, some are convinced that there will be hurricanes more powerful than have ever been recorded. Others believe that with the confusion of north and south poles, navigation will be impossible and that all air travel will hardly be possible. Congress will launch an investigation to find out who is responsible for the reversal. The TSA has announced both stepped up pat-down searches to prevent any terrorist attacks on either the north or south pole, and is looking into establishing checkpoints at all highway toll booths due to the possibility of terrorists hijacking mini-Coopers.  The only thing for certain is that during this period, Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan will continue to spend as much time in and out of rehab as I do in and out of the supermarket.

I already wrote, in the previous post, about the effects of the pole shift on the National Hockey League, specifically the Penguins and the Lightning. With this new “Flip-Flop” information, I contacted other professional sports leagues for their statements. The National Football League’s response may or may not have been, “Per NFL policy we do not comment on matters of such magnetitude, however our head referee’s call is that the penalties for global warming and for the “Flip-Flop” would offset and result in no loss of downs.” Major League Baseball spokesperson, Ann Ominous (I think that is how she spelled her name) stated, “Upon the advice of our lawyer, MLB does not have a problem with steroids.”

This Flip-Flop could have some unforeseen positive impacts on the economy. All present maps would have to be reprinted. The flow of money to map makers may outweigh any negative impact of stalling the entire airline industry. I do not think it will, however, since the thrifty traveler could simply read his map while standing upon his head. This increase in blood flow to the head may increase intelligence and help bring an end to male pattern baldness.

Scientists are excited about what the future holds and encourage, “if you have the next few thousand years free, get ready for a once in a millennium event; grab a compass and track the movement of the magnetic poles.” As exciting as this invitation is for me, I am afraid I will probably have to pass. Although, I think it would be wonderful to lie on a warm beach in Tahiti late at night and gaze up at the northern lights as they dance across the sky.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Curse you Esther Howland, curse you.

Before Esther Howland,‭ ‬simple folks celebrated Valentine’s Day in simple ways.‭ ‬A humble man gave the lovely woman he had grown sweet on an uncomplicated gift‭;‬ a hair ribbon,‭ ‬a bird carved from a piece of pinewood,‭ ‬a tin cup he had fashioned with his own hands.‭ ‬Yes,‭ ‬these gifts were unsophisticated,‭ ‬down-to-earth,‭ ‬and straightforward‭;‬ to our modern eyes the quaint expressions of a country clodhopper.‭

Attached to‭ ‬such humble and straightforward gifts would often be a handwritten note.‭ ‬This note would match the unpretentiousness of the gift with a simple‭ “‬To:‭ ‬My beloved‭; ‬From:‭ ‬me‭”, ‬scrawled in dull pencil on a wrinkled scrap of paper.‭

Then the situation became‭ ‬a bit prickly.‭ ‬Some unknown person found that using the quill of a porcupine and a small well of ink,‭ ‬one could write fluidly.‭ ‬This fluidity was,‭ ‬of course,‭ ‬due to the ink.‭ ‬Now people started composing poems and‭ ‬fluidly‭ ‬writing them down with the help of porcupine quills and ink. To make things more outrageous,‭ ‬some nutty nincompoop decided to attach a poem to the hand-carved bluebird he gave his sweetheart for Valentine’s Day.‭ ‬This proved to be the undoing of many a man,‭ ‬as women all over now expected poetry with their hair ribbons and homemade tin cups.‭ ‬Unfortunately,‭ ‬not all of the male gender were poetic enough to write poetry, and not all were rash enough to try to pluck quills from porcupines.‭

Then,‭ ‬in‭ ‬1847,‭ ‬Esther Howland received an English valentine.‭ ‬She was so captivated by the card she decided to make her own for the American market.‭ ‬She ordered lace,‭ ‬flowers,‭ ‬and paper,‭ ‬to make her own cards.‭ ‬Now the poor simple men could give their valentines a card,‭ ‬covered in lace and pressed flowers,‭ ‬with lovely verses that were sure to melt‭ ‬any ladies heart -‭ s‬uch as the following:

‬I was going to give you a pint of pure nard,

‬Instead,‭ ‬I found this‭ ‬lace-covered card.

It is simple to understand why a tin cup or a hair ribbon could not compete with such engaging poetry.

Ms.‭ ‬Howland did well in her card sale business,‭ ‬grossing over‭ ‬$100,000‭ ‬a year.‭ ‬Much of that money came from poor pitiable non-poetic men.‭ ‬Men who could whittle an adorable bluebird,‭ ‬or robin,‭ ‬or whippoorwill;‭ ‬men who could form a piece of tin into a delightful cup,‭ ‬but who could not pluck their own porcupines,‭ ‬or compose their own poems,‭ ‬or could not cut all those tiny holes in a piece of paper to make lace.‭ ‬Strong proud men purchased these cards to give to their valentines.‭ ‬What of Ms.‭ ‬Howland and her English valentine‭? ‬I confess I only know she never married.‭

Now men all over do exactly what I do every Valentine’s Day.‭ ‬I set my jaw,‭ ‬put on my game face,‭ ‬looking as fierce as possible,‭ ‬and set out for the card store.‭ ‬Steely-eyed,‭ ‬I saunter towards the aisle festooned with pink and hearts.‭ ‬Standing there,‭ ‬looking at the plethora of cards, I start to lose my resolve.‭ ‬My palms start to sweat‭; ‬I can hear the pounding of my heart.‭ ‬Never have I faced such a formidable foe.‭ ‬With shaking hands,‭ ‬I reach for first one card,‭ ‬then another.‭ ‬My head starts to spin as I read the eloquent verses printed in each lace covered card.‭ ‬I wish silently to myself for the days of yore,‭ ‬when a simple tin cup would suffice for my beloved.‭ ‬Then I come back to my senses;‭ ‬who am I kidding!‭  I ‬could not make a tin cup if I tried‭!

I finally find a card with a sentimental verse and an appropriate amount of lace.‭ ‬Grabbing it I head out of the ring,‭ ‬I mean aisle.‭ ‬I see another man standing there at the edge of the aisle,‭ ‬psyching himself up for the battle.‭ ‬I slap his bottom to tag him as if this were some WWF wrestling bout.‭ ‬I hear him snort as‭ ‬he heads down the aisle,‭ ‬ready to do battle with lacey pink cards.‭

As I pay for my conquest,‭ ‬I hear a man coming into the store muttering under his breath,‭ “‬Curse you Esther Howland,‭ ‬curse you.‭”

Thursday, February 3, 2011


When I was a youngster I did not have much interest in watching football. Shortly after I was married, I was watching the Buffalo Bills play and the announcer kept referring to some of the players as “Pro-bowlers”. This was interesting, I knew that many professional athletes had experimented with playing two sports, now here were some football players who were also professional bowlers. The image of a three-hundred pound linebacker heaving a twelve pound bowling ball down the lane and smashing the pins to smithereens tickled my funny bone.

Then my wife, yes, my darling, dainty wife, who is an expert on the game of football, informed me that these hulking football players did not bowl professionally, they played in a special game called the pro bowl, just before the super bowl. I find this extremely redundant. Are these football players not already professional? Why invite a few select players to play in a ‘pro’ bowl. Does that make their peers amateurs? And what is wrong with bowling that they will not bowl professionally? Are these monsters of men afraid of being in an alley with a bunch of strangers?

Anyway, back to the Super Bowl, and more importantly, who is going to win, although I think it is a worthless endeavor to analyze who is going to win the game.  It is fruitless because once we know who is going to win there is no joy in watching the game. If people knew which team was going to win, they would not watch the game, if they did not watch the game, this would cause the great Chip and Dip Recession. This recession would be due to the loss of sales from all the un-purchased and un-eaten chips and dip that normally would be served at Super Bowl parties.

Despite the grave inherent dangers to the economy, I will lay out which team is going to win the Super Bowl via a scientific analysis of all pertinent data. First the players. Both teams have an equal number of players This is curious, it is almost like someone planned to limit each team to that same number of players. Since each team has the same number of players, and they have endured the same number of games, and have both done well enough in their divisions to reach the Super Bowl, I think any analysis of the depths of their roster is futile.

Instead, let’s direct our attention to the fans. It is these fans who create the energy that teams thrive on. It seems that each teams’ fan base is equally vocal and wild with regard to the support of their teams. Therefore, I tried a real world experiment. I found ten slightly inebriated football fans and first had them chant the name of the Green Bay quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. This they were able to do quite easily and it was not hard to hear the sing song chant clearly calling out his name “RODgerrrrs, RODgerrrs!”  Then we moved on to Pittsburgh’s quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. This presented some difficulty. They started to chant but it sounded like the men were chanting “Cheeseburgers.” This would never do, so I corrected them, and they started to chant again. This time was better, if you like rutabagas. “Rutabageeerrrrrrrs” over and over they chanted. I tried to correct them yet again, but the fans thought it was the fourth quarter, and like most football fans they were more than slightly inebriated. Clearly the fan advantage goes to Green Bay.

The next area of inquiry is the cities from which these two fine teams originate. Green Bay and Pittsburgh are both known as being run-of-the-mill cities: Pittsburgh for its steel mills, and Green Bay for its paper mills. Since steel is mined as ore, this gives Green Bay the advantage again, since rock smashes scissors, scissors cut paper, and paper covers rock. The Packers play on a field named after a long time, well-loved coach and founder, Curly Lambeau. The Steelers play on a field named after a condiment. Advantage: Green Bay.

Under these circumstances, I predict that the Pittsburgh Steelers will win by one kick of the funny shaped ball through those sticky things at the end of the field. Why the Steelers? Because, they are used to playing in catch-up mode and everyone knows that rutabagas are good with ketchup.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Tomorrow the forecast calls for a winter storm, with up to 15 inches of snow in the area. This means a rush on the local grocery stores. For some mysterious reason whenever the forecast calls for snow, people immediately go to the grocery store to buy bread and milk.

I went to the grocery store today to make some purchases for dinner tonight. We are having pot roast, using a calorie-free carbonated beverage as liquid, instead of water. I did not purchase any milk or any bread. The gentleman in front of me as we checked out was lamenting the storm, and the possibility of getting snowed in.

“You were afraid of running out of milk and bread?” I asked him.

“Oh no, I don’t touch the stuff, I am gluten and lactose intolerant. But the talking heads on my television set said it would be a good idea to stock up on milk and bread.”

“Excellent idea, you can feed the poor sparrows and put out saucers of milk for any traveling cats caught in the storm.”

My children are thrilled at the prospect of a snow day. They are eagerly plotting how to ensure that school is closed tomorrow. They have heard from a number of experts on how to ensure this happens. They are going to wear their pajamas backwards, sleep with a spoon under their pillows, and flush ice cubes down the toilet. They received most of this information from a family friend, who is an elementary school teacher. So it must be right!

I told them I have the foolproof way to ensure a horrible snow storm. With great eagerness they begged and pleaded to hear my words of wisdom.

“Wash my car.”

The looks on their faces indicated they did not believe it, so I explained that as soon as I wash my car, it never fails to storm out so it gets covered with salt again. They rolled their eyes in disbelief and grabbed entire trays of ice cubes to flush down the toilet.

My youngest girl announced that the last time it snowed particularly hard out, one of her classmates came to school visibly angry. When she was asked what the problem was she explained her father “made me come to school; he would not let me stay home.”

My daughter consoled her and said that I had made her come to school too.

To which the girl replied, “You don’t understand, my father is the Superintendent!!! I begged him but he wouldn’t cancel school.”

“Why not?” my inquisitive daughter inquisited.

“He said we didn’t have enough bread and milk.”