March 07, 2013

Act Two
Spear’s in wizard’s castle tower.
And messengeress is in his power.
He tells her to use charms upon
The teenage fool who shot the swan.

She tries her best, but kid gets smart;
He’s immune to all her art.
Grabs the wizard’s holy Spear “€”
Wizard, castle disappear!

Act Three
Years pass. Fool gets back to knights.

Grail’s power denied, they’re sorry sights.
Racked by wound, Prince wants to die.
Begged to show Grail, he won’t comply.

Messengeress sees fool can save her.
Bathes his feet; he shows her favor.
Fool heals Prince’s wound with touch.
Christian allegory, much?

Worries. Following my January 17th column titled What, Me Worry? I got a few emails from readers wanting to know what, if anything, I really do worry about.

As a temperamental fatalist I can’t be much of a worrier, but I do occasionally find my dark tranquility disturbed by thoughts of calamities that might befall me. As a trained statistician I instinctively rank those calamities by probability, which saves me fretting about asteroid strikes, terrorist nukes, or decimating plagues. All of those are certainly possible, but there are way-higher-probability things just as personally devastating to worry about.

My top three would be: (1) death or maiming of wife or child in a car crash; (2) having a stroke; (3) losing all my savings in a financial calamity. The first is far too common”€”around 34,000 deaths in the USA last year, five Gettysburgs or ten 9/11s. For the second, there’s some family history. The third is worry-worthy for anyone who believes, as I do, that human events are smarter than human beings and will catch us out eventually.

Horsemeat. It’s been in the news. Why do people mind it? The most sensible man his wife ever met (according to her) had an opinion:

It is not very easy to fix the principles upon which mankind have agreed to eat some animals, and reject others; and as the principle is not evident, it is not uniform. That which is selected as delicate in one country, is by its neighbours abhorred as loathsome. The Neapolitans lately refused to eat potatoes in a famine. An Englishman is not easily persuaded to dine on snails with an Italian, on frogs with a Frenchman, or on horseflesh with a Tartar.
“€”Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland by Samuel Johnson

Reactionary wisdom. When some new fad comes up, we of a reactionary temperament give it a few years to run its course. If it shows no signs of doing so, we grudgingly incorporate it into our lifestyles.

My reactionary wisdom has been vindicated regarding Facebook:

Facebook has made the startling admission that teenagers are becoming bored with the social networking giant.

Thank goodness. Now I’ll never have to bother with the fool thing. Teen enthusiasms occasionally have staying power”€”Elvis, Monty Python“€”but that’s not the way to bet.


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