I Consider What a Piece of Work is a Man (posted 3/24/23)

Boy, is our world a dizzying mix of the amazingly good and the hideously bad!  

I usually take a few daily notes on things I’m thinking of writing about, but this week my notes were all over the map. 

I noticed a ton of things that are really, seriously great, as I went down internet rabbit holes on several different topics.

As I was re-listening to some great country/folk songs from Billy Strings and Colter Wall, I came across a handful of new-to-me singer/songwriters, including Tyler Childers and Benjamin Tod. They’re both blue-collar, no-frills singers – acoustic guitar, raspy voices, dead-on lyrics – from the parts of Kentucky that my dad’s family comes from, and I haven’t heard a bad song from either of them yet, though they’ve got a lot of sad ones.

I somehow went down another path leading me to dozens of videos about dogs.  Some featured K-9s putting the fear of God in some bad guys, or going through a retirement ceremony after years of faithful service, or – heartbreakingly – being given a sorrowful send off by a police department and citizens as they are escorted into a building to be put down, due to illness or injury. 

Some featured military dogs, which are like the K-9 ones, only even cooler.  Many focused on everyday pets – sometimes helping out owners with disabilities, sometimes going nuts greeting owners after they return from being away, sometimes merely acting goofy.

Just as I was reconfirming my belief that in general, humans don’t deserve dogs, I came across a series of people finding injured or sick strays, then nursing them back to health and finding families for them.  And if I weren’t as tough as a two-dollar steak, those would have made me cry. 

I also found some addictive videos showing grandparents and family members meeting newborns for the first time.  In several of them, a proud grandpa falls to pieces when he discovers that a grandson has been named after him. 

(Note to my married daughter, who should probably start having some babies soon: You can’t go wrong with “Martin” as a classic and timeless name for a grandson.)

I even found a bunch of videos about a guy named Devon Rodriguez, a talented artist who rides the subway in NYC, capturing other riders in super-realistic pencil drawings. 

I know, I was thinking the same thing: “…and then the stabbings began.” 

But no, he creates the drawings, and then surprises the subjects with them, giving them their portrait and complimenting something about them.

From there I somehow got to a bunch of videos showing kids or adults who were fitted with cochlear implants and were able to hear for the first time.  And then to videos showing color-blind people putting on special glasses that allow them to see color for the first time. 

Watching all of these inspiring and heartwarming videos reminded me of the best of people (and dogs).  Musicians who hone their talent and write raw and honest music, families celebrating new life, an artist seeing the beauty in strangers.  Inventors who help the nearly blind to see and the deaf to hear.

It brought to mind one of my favorite passages on the topic of human potential from Shakespeare:  “What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!”

(Of course Hamlet is depressed when he speaks those words, and the following lines undercut that imagery.  But he had it right, all the same.) 

But then I watch some current events and political news, and my faith’s teaching on human nature was reinforced: created in God’s image… but fallen and depraved and ridiculous. 

Our political class, especially, is the worst.  

Everything in our country is going off the rails like a train full of toxic chemicals with Mayor Pete in the conductor’s chair, sitting on a huge phone book so that he can see out the window, and wearing an old-timey conductor hat and brand-new work boots that are even now creating blisters on his delicate little never-been-in-work-boots-in-their-lives feet.

Our numbskull-rich Congress held hearings in their eternal, logic-free attempts to ban all guns so that only criminals will be armed, and Sheila Jackson Lee ranted about how pistol-stabilizer braces turn firearms “into killing machines!”

For one brief moment I thought about a handgun turning into a robot Terminator the way Transformers turn into robots in toy commercials.

But then I remembered that Sheila Jackson Lee is a moron.

Since I’d never heard of a stabilizer brace, I did 30 seconds of research.  And found out that they don’t turn pistols into machine guns, or phasers, or sentient cyborgs of death.

They strap to your arm and help you aim your pistol.  Which remains a pistol, the whole time. 

And don’t tell Jackson Lee, but pistols are basically “killing machines” already, just like cars are killing machines, and banana peels are killing machines, and Simpson Slinger™ trebuchets are killing machines, in that they can all be used to make someone dead.

Ugh.  Jackson Lee also graced the hearing with a little history lesson, stating that the ATF has been “keeping us safe” since “as far back as 1886.”

Petty sticklers for detail might point out that the ATF was established in 2003, which was, technically, a lot LESS far back than 1886.   But they’re probably the same kind of dopes who think that a pistol-stabilizer brace stabilizes your pistol for you.  So what do they know?

But of course it’s not fair to just criticize political underlings – spokespeople who can’t speak intelligibly, flatulent congressmen who are too busy banging an Asian cutie to realize that she’s a Chicom spy, crotchety white ladies who think they’re Sitting Bull’s 4th grand-niece, twice removed (#wemustneverstopmockingher) —  without criticizing the Big Guy at the top.

And yes, it was quite a week for Joey Gaffes, who was inexplicably let out to speak at several PR events, and incomprehensibility ensued.

He tried to say a few words at a Women’s History event, and how hard can that be?  (“Women are better than men!  Yay women!  Goodnight folks!”)

Apparently pretty hard, judging from this quote, which I am not making up: “This is a time for celebrating extraordinary women… like Jill, the First Lady, the first full-time lady, the First Lady who works full-time in addition to being the First Lady.”

Okay.  Moving on…

…to his attempt to point out how the Violence Against Women Act – which he called “the Violence zmm mm zuh Act” – has been a great boon to women of many colors (“Did he mention white women?” you are not asking, because you already know the answer.), before ending the list with “LGBTQ survivors.” 

Um. Well, considering the gross incompetence of KJP, “Admiral” “Rachel” Levine, and Mayor Pete, aren’t we all really “LGBTQ survivors” after the last two years, if you think about it?

Biden also made an impassioned promise to “keep guns out of the hands of domestic political advisors,” before some minion at the WH changed the transcript to what he had been supposed to say, which was “convicted domestic abusers.”

(Although, judging from the quality of Biden’s domestic political advisors, who’s to say which would be worse?)

But that wasn’t all.  On St. Patrick’s Day Biden claimed that the Irish are mostly low IQ, drunken jailbirds (I’m not making that up), before he headed over to a celebration of the Persian new year. 

And we all braced ourselves. 

I don’t know about you, but on my “Joe Biden Talks to Some Persians” Bingo card, I scored with, “Claims that his paternal grandpa was Persian,” “Claims to have marched against the Shah in Tehran in 1979,” “Remembers that when he was a young man, after going to the local synagogue and before going to the local black Baptist church, he’d pop into the Persian mosque everyday after school,” and “In middle school he sat at the feet of the Scranton Imam and learned to weave Persian rugs.” 

Sadly for me, I didn’t have “Claims to be a student, but not a practitioner, of Persian culture,” so I didn’t get my Bingo.  (That was really a thing he said.)   

And that was not counting his mangled attempt to read about 6 lines of poetry, multiple times.

But I love the written word too much – and there’s not enough bourbon in my house – to recount that atrocity here. 

To summarize today’s column:

First half – “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”

Second half – “Jesus wept.”

“Dr.” Jill Biden/ Sheila “Killing Machine” Jackson Lee, 2024!

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