"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, and the right to make that of another miserable by thrusting upon him an incalculable quantity of acquaintances; liberty, particularly the liberty to introduce persons to one another without first ascertaining if they are not already acquainted as enemies; and the pursuit of another's happiness with a running pack of strangers."2009 Update: The propagation of two new antipathies and three suspicions.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
INTRODUCTION, n. A social ceremony invented by the devil for the gratification of his servants and the plaguing of his enemies. The introduction attains its most malevolent development in this century, being, indeed, closely related to our political system. Every American being the equal of every other American, it follows that everybody has the right to know everybody else, which implies the right to introduce without request or permission. The Declaration of Independence should have read thus:
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
At December's ebb, we mull and count
Our datebooks' recent pages
As the world completes an orbit more
And the mirror brusquely ages.
But why look back as new dawn breaks?
Why not look brightly out instead?
Toward our regrets next New Year's Eve
If we're not already dead.
NOSTALGIA, n. Analgesia applied to healed wounds.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
INADMISSIBLE, adj. Not competent to be considered. Said of certain kinds of testimony which juries are supposed to be unfit to be entrusted with, and which judges, therefore, rule out, even of proceedings before themselves alone. Hearsay evidence is inadmissible because the person quoted was unsworn and is not before the court for examination; yet most momentous actions, military, political, commercial and of every other kind, are daily undertaken on hearsay evidence. There is no religion in the world that has any other basis than hearsay evidence. Revelation is hearsay evidence; that the Scriptures are the word of God we have only the testimony of men long dead whose identity is not clearly established and who are not known to have been sworn in any sense. Under the rules of evidence as they now exist in this country, no single assertion in the Bible has in its support any evidence admissible in a court of law. It cannot be proved that the battle of Blenheim ever was fought, that there was such as person as Julius Caesar, such an empire as Assyria.
But as records of courts of justice are admissible, it can easily be proved that powerful and malevolent magicians once existed and were a scourge to mankind. The evidence (including confession) upon which certain women were convicted of witchcraft and executed was without a flaw; it is still unimpeachable. The judges' decisions based on it were sound in logic and in law. Nothing in any existing court was ever more thoroughly proved than the charges of witchcraft and sorcery for which so many suffered death. If there were no witches, human testimony and human reason are alike destitute of value.
2009 Update: Unappealingly prejudicial.
Monday, December 28, 2009
IDOL, n. An imagine representing some object of worship. That the image is itself worshiped is probably not true any people in the world, though some idols are ugly enough to be divine. The honors paid to idols are justly deprecated by the true believer, for he knows that nothing with a head can be omniscient, nothing with a hand omnipotent and nothing with a body omnipresent. No deity could fill any of our requirements if handicapped with existence.
2009 Update: A physical representation of the profane- frequently composed with feet of clay, golden calves, the tongue of a press agent and a numbered verse.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
AUTHENTIC, adj. Indubitably true- in somebody's opinion.
He ne'er discredited authentic news,That tended to substantiate his viewsAnd never controverted an assertionWhen true, if it was easy of perversion.So frank was he that where he was unjustHe always would confess it when he must."The Lawyer," 1750
2009 Update: Traditional, according to a previous revision. For example, fajitas, White Christmas and Waking Ambrose.
Merry Christmas Eve to you all.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
A little boy out in the cold,
Up on the great north plain,
Stood watch through a snowstorm
And stayed out in the rain
In hope of seeing Santa fly
And heaven's child reign.
The lad kept up his vigil,
Through changing Christmas breezes,
And made hopeful lists and prayer
In defiance of diseases.
He breathed soft words of thanks and praise
In between the sneezes.
By early dawn he heard some bells,
Like those rung through the ages
"I've been good the whole year long,"
The child coughed through fever's rages,
"Ho ho ho!," a flying elf replied,
"But now you are contagious!"
The little fellow was rewarded,
As the sleigh sped o'er night's vault,
With Santa's middle finger
And a fat elf's cursed assault:
"If Christmas spreads the pox this year,
It's little Dougie's fault!"
NOG, n. The blended deprivation of calf, chick and Australian.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
ABRIDGE, v.t. To shorten.
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for2009 Update: 2 amend 4 modernity's sake, contesting vapidity with vacuity. To shorte.
people to abridge their king, a decent respect for the opinions of
mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel
them to the separation.Oliver Cromwell
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
LAPIDATE, v.t. To rebuke with stones. St. Stephen, for example, was lapidated like a Chinaman*.
Lamented St. Steve,What Christian can grieveFor the way that you came to your death?For the monument fairOf memorial stonesWas reared in the airO'er your honored bonesEre yet you'd relinquished your breath.No doubt as your soul exhaledYou were thanked by resolution;For the builders' design had failedExcept for your execution.
2009 Update: To blog at close range.
*A note on the language- Among the sects of humanity that Bierce was especially caustic towards were the anti-chinese populists of his era who lobbied in the halls of power to limit immigration and, alternately, committed acts of violence in the alleys of San Francisco. In one case, which might have inspired this definition, a Chinese woman was found murdered, of which Bierce wrote "The cause of her death could not be accurately ascertained, but as her head was caved in it is thought by some physicians that she died of galloping Christianity of the malignant California type."
All of which is to say, Bierce was a
honky man of his time and I have intentionally omitted a few racist definitions. I included this entry out of confidence that he did not intend to insult Chinese people, but rather James Sensenbrenner who deserves it.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
LOGIC, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion -- thus:
Major Premise: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man.
Minor Premise: One man can dig a posthole in sixty seconds; therefore --
Conclusion: Sixty men can dig a posthole in one second.
This may be called the syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed.
2009 Update: The most analytical form of reason, by which the capable human animal combines two assumptions into one irrelevancy. Logic is never as coldly precise as when it used to explain a failure of judgement, and judgement fails primarily due to distraction and, therefore, the Orange Bowl? Not too shabby.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
When money's tight in hardship's dark hour,
With gifts too dear for giving or snatching
It's hard on the merry and the dour
Here are hints to make grinching relaxing.
Plastic toys, you can break at home yourself,
Making young children feel justly like fools-
Blame the damage on a foreign-born elf
And translate the package to Magyarúl.
Under the Christmas tree, I'd try setting
Pretty boxes filled with wrapping paper.
Rather than tinsel, string chits from betting
And seal up the stockings with a stapler.
The spirit can flourish, broke though you've grown,
By spiking the eggnog with acetone.
-Brunhilda N. Tepes
CHRISTMAS TREE ORNAMENT, n. A decoration on a hook, symbolizing the season.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
LAP, n. One of the most important organs of the female system -- an admirable provision of nature for the repose of infancy, but chiefly useful in rural festivities to support plates of cold chicken and heads of adult males. The male of our species has a rudimentary lap, imperfectly developed and in no way contributing to the animal's substantial welfare.
2009 Update: The foundation upon which ambition rests.
Monday, December 14, 2009
LIBERTARIAN, n. One who is compelled by the evidence to believe in free-will, and whose will is therefore free to reject that doctrine.
2009 Update: A political philosopher who would limit the government to the construction of roads, the enforcement of contracts and defense of the borders by happy accident. A utopia awaits the triumphant libertarian in which borders recede into the bedroom, grunted greetings grow into contracts and a highway is made straight not only through the desert but across every inch of national soil, extending to the depths of the ocean.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
To hear this week's reading, get anywhere near the young German woman knitting.
To read this week's episode, check inside the lovely bad knitted for Vater Karl.
Friday, December 11, 2009
OPERA, n. A play representing life in another world, whose inhabitants have no speech but song, no motions but gestures and no postures but attitudes. All acting is simulation, and the word simulation is from simia, an ape; but in opera the actor takes for his model Simia audibilis (or Pithecanthropos stentor)--the ape that howls.
The actor apes a man--at least in shape;
The opera performer apes an ape.
2009 Update: A coincidence of sheet music with a libretto, typically tragic. The term derives from the Latin plural of OPUS, meaning "works" or is, perhaps, a durable misprint of "ONERA."
Thursday, December 10, 2009
OPPOSE, v.t. To assist with obstructions and objections.
How lonely he who thinks to vexWith badinage the Solemn Sex!Of levity, Mere Man, beware;None but the Grave deserve the Unfair.Percy P. Orminder
2009 Update: To make a martyr or to make a satyr.
Half-man-half-beasts took up their seatsIn the parliament of ancient Crete'sUnder good King Minos' aegis.The floor lay still, and what a thrill,The King would sing in elden trill"No law will e'er besiege us!"So long as human source and rump of horseOr goat-legs, with bull's heads, of courseAre joined two-in-one-creature-The caucus lasts, and pretty fastThe opposition's votes are castConsensus "neighs"- a democratic feature!"-Herodotus
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Whenever you go dinosaurin',
At school, at home or someplace foreign.
The important thing is to select
The mighty lizard most correct
To roar and gnash in just the way you're feeling.
When locked behind your bedroom door,
Consider the great allosaur-
A giant mouth with giant tail,
Chomping leaves along the trail
And banging your head on the (forest) ceiling.
And when you're feeling wild and fleet,
The pterodactyl's pretty sweet
Hunting, tackling, and tearing clothes
Goes well with friends and knives for toes.
On the playground, none are more appealing.
But then there's days of youth or age
When nothing can contain our rage.
A mighty predator is due
And that T-Rex must now be you,
Tearing flesh at liberty
Scaring prey right up a tree-
A gnashing, thrashing, thick-skulled daemon
To pursue, subdue and chew on Eamon.
DINOSAUR, n. coll. A lumbering, unadaptable relic, such as an uncle.
Happy birthday, Stevie
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Monday, December 07, 2009
OUTSIDER, n. A person austerely censorious of that which he is unable to do or become. In commerce and finance, a member of the army of provision.
2009 Update: Every member of congress, each American journalist, the entire class of working people, any accountant, police officer, preacher, pundit, populist, layabout, roustabout, goldbrick, drunkard, teetotaler, academic, artist, manager, managee, social worker, malcontent, discontent, pollyanna, lama, rabbi, imam, infant, decedent, defendant, prosecuting attorney, judge, juror, executioner, monarchist, patriot, jihadist, bartender or, in the end, every individual member of the great global village of outcasts and separatists as well as their cats. All but the dog.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Friday, December 04, 2009
SCARABEE, n. The same as scarabaeus.
He fell by his own hand2009 Update: A dung beetle touched with religion..
Beneath the great oak tree.
He'd traveled in a foreign land.
He tried to make her understand
The dance that's called the Saraband,
But he called it Scarabee.
He had called it so through an afternoon,
And she, the light of his harem if so might be,
Had smiled and said naught. O the body was fair to see,
All frosted there in the shine o' the moon —
Dead for a Scarabee
And a recollection that came too late.
They buried him where he lay,
He sleeps awaiting the Day,
And two Possible Puns, moon-eyed and wan,
Gloom over the grave and then move on.
Dead for a Scarabee!
Thursday, December 03, 2009
SEINE, n. A kind of net for effecting an involuntary change of environment. For fish it is made strong and coarse, but women are more easily taken with a singularly delicate fabric weighted with small, cut stones.
The devil casting a seine of lace,(With precious stones 'twas weighted)Drew it into the landing placeAnd its contents calculated.All souls of women were in that sack —A draft miraculous, precious!But ere he could throw it across his backThey'd all escaped through the meshes.—Baruch de Loppis
2009 Update: A French river which separates the dissolute from the industrious Parisian- a distinction too speculative to be made along any other course.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Once upon a time, an aesthete and a chimpanzee sat down for tea and a continental breakfast. In the course of the conversation, the topic of religion naturally arose. The aesthete argued passionately that the soul of religion itself is not faith but ritual. The chimpanzee listened intently until, perhaps bored with the lecture, she leapt onto the tea service and did a back-flip, demonstrating her intellectual elitism.
HAUTEUR, n. Speaker envy.