Wednesday, April 25, 2018
10:25 am pdt
The History of the Future --
October 1, 2058: The Last Novel
The last novel ever published, a 600 page tome entitled Autofill that those critics who
actually finished reading it unanimously called "a rather tedious story," was published on October 1, 2058.
Written by Neville Whinewright, the book was about a writer coming to terms with the fact that he had nothing to say that
anybody wanted to hear. Whinewright reports that, in writing his novel, he was using a word processor that included
the latest algorithm, one that was able to adapt to his writing style. Not only was it able to predict what form of
any given word Whinewright was likely to choose, but it was also able to predict what words Whinewright would use next.
Says Whinewright, "After the first word, it autofilled the entire novel. If that wasn't bad enough, I couldn't
think of how I would've written it any differently. I thought about writing more, but in the end, what's the point?"
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
12:13 pm pdt
An Open Letter from the Honorable
Senator Leonard K. Bullfinch:
The increasing epidemic
of gun violence in the United States has come to even my attention. It seems hardly a day goes by that
we don't hear of some gun-toting wacko taking the lives of innocent people everywhere, and then, more often than not, killing
himself before we can. And this is especially true in our schools. This has got to stop.
There are those who suggest, for instance, that we
should arm our teachers. Though I am not opposed to arming teachers, I don't think we're going far enough.
After all, aren't we still leaving the protection of our students to those school officials who have failed them so
many times before? Shouldn't we be teaching our students to take care of themselves? Shouldn't
taking care of themselves be the goal of every citizen?
My solution, therefore, is to arm everybody. And by everybody, I mean everybody.
Every last man, woman, and child. I propose that every citizen be given a fully automatic assault
rifle with 1,000 rounds of ammunition. After all, if we expect our peace-loving citizens to be able to
protect themselves from somebody who has an assault rifle, how else are they going to do that than have an assault rifle themselves?
There'll be no discrimination, as there should never
be in this great country of ours. Not by age, race, political or religious inclination, or even because
of felony convictions. If one person is safer because she has a gun in her purse, then it just goes to
follow that everybody is safer if everybody is armed, and armed equally. And the safety of our country,
the safety of our citizens, should be the primary concern of any politician.
There are some who may object to my plan because of the expense of giving away a few hundred
million assault rifles. First, the government will be buying those assault rifles in bulk, and everybody
knows that things are cheaper when you buy them in bulk. And then what little expense there may be, at
best, will be short lived. Overall, though, we expect the government, and you, the taxpayer, will save
money. Studies have shown that arming the entire population could very well pay for itself in the long
run. For instance, it is quite possible that we could phase out police departments altogether.
Gang violence, for instance, would become a thing of the past. And just imagine how much money that
would save us.
But even if there is an
expense, isn't it worth it to feel safer in our homes and on our streets? To feel safer in our workplaces
and places of worship? To feel safer in our cars and the airplanes that fill the sky?
There are also those who think this plan will be more dangerous than any gun violence that
we are currently experiencing, especially if we don't check anybody for their latent, or even overt, violent tendencies.
I disagree. If we happen to give an assault rifle to somebody that really shouldn't have one, such
as a convicted violent felon or a known terrorist, what with everybody else being able to protect themselves, how much harm
can he do? And what better way to discover those people who shouldn't be armed.
Along these lines, it is true that there may be a "slight" rise in gun violence,
but we expect that to quickly fall to way below current levels, if for no other reason than there will quickly be less people
shooting at each other, because there will be less people to shoot. And less gun violence is a good thing.
Therefore, I urge you, my fellow citizens, to support
my plan. Together we can end gun violence by not hesitating to shoot anybody who threatens our peaceful
way of life. God bless this great country of ours.
Senator Leonard K. Bullfinch (I., At-large)
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
The Aardvark and the Ants
9:51 am pst
Once there was an anthill
that every generation
was ravaged by an aardvark -
They tried building stronger walls
and deeper tunnels,
but it made no difference.
The aardvark would invariably
all but a lucky few.
After many generations of failure
the ants finally decided
that their only hope
was to talk sense to the aardvark.
So every ant - man, woman,
and child -
learned to speak Aardvarkian.
And when the aardvark returned
they sent out an envoy
with the aardvark,
to try and make her understand
that they, too, were sentient beings
who cherished life
and hoped for the future.
And the aardvark ate them.
So they sent out more envoys,
with each envoy
arguing more eloquently than the
and she ate them, too,
until there were no more envoys to send,
for she had eaten them all,
but at least she hadn't destroyed their anthill.
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
1:20 pm pst
Shrove Tuesday (AKA Pancake
Day, AKA Mardi Gras)
"Shrove" is the past tense of "shrive," to confess. I shrive; I shrove; I have shriven.
Shrove Tuesday, then, is "...a day of penitence, to clean the soul, and a day of celebration
as the last chance to feast before Lent begins..." on the next day – Ash Wednesday. (What Does It Mean) Ash Wednesday, of course, is
the day when the faithful are marked with a cross on their forehead made from the blessed palm ashes from the previous year's
Palm Sunday. Not only does this show one's sorrow for her or his sins; it also marks "the need to prepare for a holy death." (What is Ash Wednesday)
Ash Wednesday always falls 46
days before Easter. When Easter falls, however, depends on the moon. Easter is "...celebrated on the first Sunday
that occurs after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox,” which is also known as the Paschal, or Passover,
Full Moon. (Paschal Full Moon) 46 days before that can be anywhere from as early as February 3 to as late as March 9.
though, Lent only has 40 days, which ties into "...the traditional number of judgment and spiritual testing in the Bible (Genesis 7:4, Exodus 24:18, 34:28, Numbers
13:25, 14:33, John 3:4)." In particular, "Lent bears particular relationship to the 40 days Christ spent fasting
in the desert before entering into his public ministry (Matthew 4:1-11)." As such, Catholics are attempting to
"...imitate Christ by spending 40 days in spiritual discipline before the celebration of Christ's triumph over sin and
death." (Why Do Catholics Practice Fasting and Abstinence During Lent)
The other six days of Lent are Sundays, which are considered "feast
days." (What is Ash Wednesday)
Therefore, Catholics are not required to fast on Sundays during Lent. Indeed, some authorities believe it is
biblically forbidden to fast on Sundays, because Sunday represents the day Christ was resurrected, and should always be a
day of celebration. (Should Catholics Fast On Sundays During Lent) Now there's a technicality I wish I knew when
I was a child, suffering without candy during Lent. Go ahead and have that Snickers Bar. It's Sunday! As
far as that goes, Catholics are not required (at least, not any longer) to fast during Lent at all, with the exception of
two days: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. (Should Catholics Fast On Sundays During Lent)
And that abstinence, or fasting (whether you technically need to or
not, or even whether you intend to or not), led to Pancake Day. It's pointless (or so Sister Theresa would argue) to
give up those things for Lent that you aren't indulging in to begin with, such as cigars, prostitutes, and crack cocaine.
Therefore, traditionally, people gave up those things they enjoyed, the "luxuries" of life, which included such
things as flour, butter, and eggs. The flour might keep for 46 days, but the eggs and butter... probably not.
So they feasted on all those perishable items on Shrove Tuesday. And if you have flour, butter, and eggs, you've got
pancakes. Further, because those "luxuries" were those "fatty" items, Shrove Tuesday became known
as "Fat Tuesday," or, in French, "Mardi Gras." (Willis) So if you are giving up those luxuries of
life for Lent, and one of those luxuries happens to be alcohol, then why not be hungover for 45 of the next 46 days?
Mardi Gras is the second most "drunken" holiday, following only the Super Bowl. (The Top Ten U.S. Drinking
2018, Shrove Tuesday falls on February 13, which means that Ash Wednesday also falls on Valentine's Day, making for quite a quandary if you're giving up sex for Lent. Or, you can just make
it easy, and give up Lent for Lent, which is something Sister Theresa probably wouldn't've approved of, either.
Castelow, Ellen. "Pancake
Day." Historic UK. Historic UK: n. pag. Web. 13 Feb. 2018 http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Pancake-Day/
“Paschal Full Moon.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. (26 Dec. 2017):
n. pag. Web. 13 Feb. 2018. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paschal_Full_Moon
"Should Catholics Fast On Sundays During Lent?" ThoughtCo.
ThoughtCo: n. pag. Web. 13 Feb. 2018 https://www.thoughtco.com/fast-on-sundays-during-lent-3970756
"The Top Ten U.S. Drinking Holidays." BOTY. Apocalypse, Inc. (2017): n. pag.
Web. 13 Feb. 2018 https://botyapp.com/blog_top-us-drinking-holidays/
Does It Mean...?" This is Church. ThisIsChurch.com (2010): n. pag. Web. 13 Feb.
"What is Ash Wednesday?" Bible Info. BibleInfo.com (2012):
n. pag. Web. 13 Feb. 2018 http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/ash-wednesday-bible
"Why Do Catholics Practice Fasting and Abstinence During Lent?" Catholic Answers. Catholic.com
(04 Aug. 2011): n. pag. Web. 13 Feb. 2018 https://www.catholic.com/qa/why-do-catholics-practice-fasting-and-abstinence-during-lent
Willis, Amy. "Shrove Tuesday: Everything You Need to Know About Pancake
Day." Metro: News...But Not as You Know It. MetroUK (13 Feb. 2018): n. pag. Web.
13 Feb. 2018 http://metro.co.uk/2018/02/13/shrove-tuesday-everything-you-need-to-know-about-pancake-day-7231953/
Thursday, February 8, 2018
10:36 am pst
This' year President's' Day falls'
on February 19. Because, apparently, nobody in the English speaking world know's the difference between singular and
plural possessive, or even when a possessive e's's' i's required at all (or when its not), here at the Holy Grail Press',
we use this' opportunity to celebrate the life of whichever President we choose, and thi's year we choose Andrew Jackson!
Andrew Jackson, the seventh president
of the United States (1829-1837), was born into poverty on March 15, 1767, so deep in the Carolina woods that it wasn't ever
clear which Carolina his family lived in. (Freidel) To date, Jackson is the only president who was a prisoner of war
(even though he was only 14 at the time), captured as a boy by the British during the Revolutionary War. His two brothers,
along with his mother, died as a direct result of the Revolution, which is why Jackson, understandably, never really cared
for the British. (Bradley)
Though Jackson didn't have much formal education, and what little he had was interrupted by the Revolution, following
that war he read for the law in North Carolina, and went on to become a prosecuting attorney in the territory west of North
Carolina, in what would soon become Tennessee. (Andrew Jackson) Jackson was a very successful lawyer in Tennessee,
and eventually bought a mansion, "the Hermitage," along with enough slaves to run it, in his adopted state of Tennessee.
apparently never considered the moral implications of slavery. He grew up with slavery, and he bought and sold slaves.
Slaves were just a part of life (though there were certainly those at the time who thought slavery was odious). He supported
the westward expansion of slavery and was opposed to the rising tide of those who sought to end slavery. Ending slavery,
he knew, would divide the country. Therefore, he was opposed to abolishing slavery, as well as even debating it, if,
for no other reason, simply to keep the country together. (Feller)
Jackson's success as a lawyer led to his initial involvement in national politics, serving
both as Tennessee's first Representative, and then later as a Senator. Both early forays into politics were brief, with
Jackson not serving the full run of either office. On his return to Tennessee, among other things, Jackson was elected
Major General of the Tennessee militia. It was through that position that he became a national hero in the War of 1812,
both for his victory over the Creek Indians in the Battle of Tohopeka, and over the British in the Battle of New Orleans,
(Bradley) even though the war had officially ended before the battle occurred. News traveled a bit more slowly back
then. (Andrew Jackson)
Following the War of 1812, Jackson, pretty much on his own authority, invaded the Spanish possession of Florida.
Understandably, Spain was a bit perturbed, but Jackson was backed by then Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, and the short
of it was that Spain was effectively booted out of yet another one of its possessions. (Bradley)
Jackson's military prowess, more than anything else, led to his national
popularity, and that led him to run for president in 1824. (Bradley) When the votes were counted, none of the four candidates
running for office had a majority of electoral votes. Jackson (who led in popular votes) ultimately lost the election
to John Quincey Adams (who finished second in popular votes), but only after William H. Crawford (who finished third) effectively
removed himself from contention by having a stroke, and Henry Clay (who finished fourth) threw his support to Adams.
In what Jackson called a "'corrupt bargain,'" Clay became Adams' Secretary of State. Four years later, in
a re-match, Jackson soundly defeated Adams. (Andrew Jackson)
Even so, the 1828 campaign was particularly nasty, with Jackson and his wife, Rachel,
being portrayed as adulterers. And, technically, they were. Andrew and Rachel were first married (unknowingly)
before Rachel's divorce from her first husband was finalized, so technically they weren't married at all. And that meant
they were "living in sin." Even though they were remarried after the mistake had been discovered, it was still
enough to cause public acrimony, especially among Jackson's foes. People cared about such things then. Even though
Jackson won the election, his wife died before he could take office. Many (including Jackson) blamed her death on the
personal attacks on her character. Jackson never remarried. (Bradley)
Not that any of this sounds familiar... Jackson, who became the first
president from west of the Appalachians (Bradley), ran his campaign in 1828 as an outsider, pitting himself against the "corrupt"
Washington elites, even though Jackson had plenty of experience in politics before he ran for president, having served in
both the House and the Senate, and even having lost in his first bid to become president, which he claimed was "rigged."
(Inskeep) Jackson was the first president that won by directly appealing to the mass voters. (Bradley) He "...sought
to act as a direct representative to the common man." Of course, at that time, the "common man" who was
allowed to vote in the United States was just that, a man, and, more so, a white man who owned land. (Freidel)
As president, Jackson pretty much
did as he pleased, ignoring advice from just about everybody. Indeed, Jackson was so polarizing that it led (eventually)
to the creation of today's two party system, with Jackson representing the Democrats, which would become the modern day Republican
party, in opposition to the Whigs (namely Daniel Webster and Clay), which would eventually become the modern day Democratic
Party. (Andrew Jackson) Jackson also sought to reform the government by removing long-standing officials from
public office. Many, though, believe Jackson's true goal was revenge, going after those people who had opposed him in
the election of 1824 and replacing them with cronies who were arguably just as corrupt, if not more so. (Feller)
Like many national leaders before
Jackson, what to do with the Native Americans – all those Indians who were still living east of the Mississippi –
was a definite concern. Even though Jackson fought in many battles against Native Americans, he apparently had no major
problems with them as people. Indeed, he adopted two Native American boys, "'[savages] that fortune [had] thrown
into his hands." Neither child survived to adulthood. (Klein) However, Jackson believed "...he could
judge the Indians' true welfare better than they..." and "...he regarded tribes resident within the states not as
independent sovereign entities but as wards of the government and tenants-at-will." (Feller)
When it came to how states treated
Native Americans, regardless of treaties the various tribes had signed with the Federal Government, Jackson pretty much let
the states do as they pleased, allowing Georgia, for instance, to steal millions of acres of land from the Cherokee Indians
that had been promised to them by the Federal Government, and confirmed by the Supreme Court. (Andrew Jackson)
This valuable land was then sold to Jackson's friends, as well as Jackson himself, among others. (Inskeep)
Along those lines, as far as Jackson
was concerned it was perfectly acceptable for Native Americans to own land, and even have tribal jurisdiction over that land...
just as long as that land wasn't anywhere white folk wanted to live, namely, anywhere east of the Mississippi River. (Feller)
This led to the Indian Removal Act, which eventually removed the Cherokees altogether from Georgia in 1838, with thousands
of them dying on the Trail of Tears on their way to reservations in Oklahoma. (Andrew Jackson) For the most part,
the deals offered to the Native Americans were good (aside from the Tribal Americans having no real choice), offering to pay
fair prices for the tribal lands and removing the Indians in a humane way. However, the actual execution of the deals
was horrible. Though Jackson did not necessarily like what was happening to the Native Americans, he didn't dislike
it enough to do anything about it. (Feller)
Protective tariffs, which were designed to "foster domestic industry," and federally subsidized
infrastructure improvements – both collectively known as the American System of Economic Development – also plagued
Jackson's presidency. The South believed both were designed to siphon money from the South to the North. What
it came down to, predictably, was that those who lived in states that benefitted from these policies loved them, and those
who didn't, hated them. Overall, Jackson supported protective tariffs, but he did not support improving the country's
infrastructure, even though poor roads had severely hampered the military in the War of 1812. (Feller)
Jackson's second term was marked
by a shift in policy on the Bank of the United States, which had long served as a national bank. Jackson was opposed
to the Bank because it depended largely on banknotes – the folding stuff, and not on specie – coins. Jackson
believed that our economy should be based on actual wealth – the precious metals that, at that time, the coins were
made of (in particular, gold and silver), and not on the assumed wealth represented by pieces of paper. Though Jackson
couldn't eliminate bank notes completely, he was able to enact the Specie Circular, which required that only gold and silver
could be used in the purchase of federal lands. The end result was a demand for coin currency that the banks could not
meet, and that caused a rippling effect of bank failures, and ultimately led to the economic crash of 1937, which Jackson
left for his predecessor, Martin Van Buren, to deal with. (Bradley)
Ironically, even though Andrew Jackson "detested paper money,"
trusting only gold and silver, his portrait has appeared on 5, 10, 50, and 10,000 dollar bills (which is a lot easier than
carrying around 10,000 one dollar bills), as well as the Confederate 1,000 dollar bill, and his portrait is still on the 20
dollar bill. (Klein)
Andrew Jackson was a man of many nicknames. "Old Hickory" (as in, "tough
as old hickory") was a nickname given to him by the men he commanded in the War of 1812 for his refusal to abandon them,
even though he was given orders to do so. Jackson was given the nickname "Sharp Knife" by the Creek Indians
because of his refusal to negotiate, and generally for the nasty treatment he gave both the Creeks and the Red Sticks. (Andrew
Jackson Gains His Nicknames)
It's surprising, though, that Jackson doesn't have a nickname for shooting people. It is estimated that Jackson
was in anywhere from five to 100 duels in his life, apparently finding shooting people to be an easy way to solve disputes.
In fact, he lived out his life with two bullets in his body (one that barely missed his heart), both from duels, and he killed
at least one man in a duel. (Klein)
Jackson almost had a third bullet in his body, becoming the first president to survive an assassination
attempt. A man named Richard Lawrence, who is described as a "deranged house painter" (watch out for those
guys) tried to shoot Jackson... twice with two different guns. Each gun misfired, allowing Jackson to attack the man
with his cane. (Klein)
Jackson was also known for his gambling, once losing his grandfather's entire inheritance while on a gambling trip,
presumably not at any Native American owned casinos. (Klein) And it was under Jackson's presidency that running
water was finally made available in the White House. (Bradley)
After Jackson left the White House in 1837, he retired to the Hermitage,
his home in Tennessee, where he died on June 8, 1845. (Andrew Jackson)
"Andrew Jackson." History.
A & E Television Networks, LLC (2018): n. pag. Web. 18 Jan. 2018 http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/andrew-jackson
"Andrew Jackson Gains His Nicknames." National Park Service. US Department of the
Interior (14 Apr. 2015): n. pag. Web. 18 Jan. 2018 https://www.nps.gov/natr/learn/historyculture/andrew-jackson-gains-his-nicknames.htm
Bradley, Harold Whitman. "Andrew Jackson: President of the United States." Encyclopædia
Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. (2018): n. pag. Web. 18 Jan. 2018 https://www.britannica.com/biography/Andrew-Jackson
Feller, Daniel. "Andrew Jackson: Domestic Affairs." Miller Center. Rector
and Visitors of the University of Virginia (2017): n. pag. Web. 18 Jan. 2018 https://millercenter.org/president/jackson/domestic-affairs
Freidel, Frank, and Hugh Sidey. "7. Andrew Jackson." The
Presidents of the United States of America. The White House (2006): n. pag. Web. 18 Jan. 2018
"Donald Trump and the Legacy of Andrew Jackson." The Atlantic. The Atlantic Group (30
Nov. 2016): n. pag. Web. 19 Jan. 2018 https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/trump-and-andrew-jackson/508973/
Klein, Christopher. "10 Things You May Not Know About Andrew Jackson." History.
A & E Television Networks, LLC (15 Mar. 2017): n. pag. Web. 18 Jan. 2018 http://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-andrew-jackson