Archive for the August Category


The first random thought is that we are making some sort of progress in terms of imagining supernatural creatures sending storms and hurricanes to disrupt our lives.  At the moment those of us on the east coast of the United States are preparing to deal with Hurricane Irene.  It threatens to uproot our trees, blow the roofs off our houses, and de-shingle our structures.  Like everyone else, I hope that the storm goes out to sea and dies there.  But that is not for me to say.  But at least I am not blaming some supernatural creature who sent the terrible destruction my way.

A few years ago – or many years ago – there would be prayer meetings to make the storm go away.  I always wondered about those prayer meetings that would make the storm go away because if it did not loose its treachery on us, then it would be on some other poor souls.  But the fact of the matter is that as we await the destructive storm, there are no prayer meetings here on the east coast and we are simply battening down the hatches.  I view this as a fairly positive development in that we are showing some independence of supernatural creatures.  And as a non-believer, I thoroughly applaud this development.


The second random thought has to do with the promotion possibilities in the Libyan army.  Some 42 years ago, the Libyans were introduced to Colonel Muammar Qaddafi who would be their ruler for the next 42 years.  It has been a turbulent era for the Westerners to put up with Colonel Qaddafi.  You may remember the destruction of the Pan Am plane that killed something in excess of 200 people.  One of the great triumphs of the Bush administration was to cause Colonel Qaddafi to give up his nuclear ambitions.

But now I have a further thought about Colonel Qaddafi.  When he took over after the coup, he introduced himself as Colonel Qaddafi.  I have no idea whether in the Libyan army they have such ranks as full colonel and lieutenant colonel.  So I am assuming that he was a full colonel.  But now, 42 years later, we are pursuing Colonel Qaddafi and his sons and he still has the rank of colonel in the Libyan army.  For all of those years he was in power, you would have thought that Colonel Qaddafi would have promoted himself.

I might suggest that he would promote himself to rear admiral.  That has not been the case here.  Colonel Qaddafi has kept his own rank and has not pursued a higher rank in the Libyan military.  On the other hand, it should be pointed out that he ran the country and, I suppose, that was enough for him to do.  But I must say that if I were a Libyan mother, I would not encourage my sons to join the Libyan army because of the limited promotion possibilities as they don’t seem to exist.

Well, there are two random thoughts.  They are totally and thoroughly unrelated to each other.  One has to do with praying the hurricane around us; the second has to do with the Libyan army.  I would defy anyone to come up with two more disparate thoughts.  But on this Thursday morning as we await the arrival of Hurricane Irene, that is the state of the record.  I hope that the storm goes out to sea and dies, and secondly, I hope that Colonel Qaddafi is brought to justice and that we will have to worry about him no longer.  But as I say there are two thoroughly disparate thoughts that I hope will enliven your day as the hurricane approaches.



August 25, 2011

Essay 578


Kevin’s commentary: … and we’re back! This has been the longest haitus of essays yet.  And though it was random, I do have to wonder why he elected to stay as a colonel instead of a general, or why he didn’t just make up some rank like North Korea does.

Also, hurricanes are obviously just a function of having lots of gay people here in the US. If we were more like Iran, that wouldn’t happen.


This essay is being dictated on Sunday, the morning after the straw poll in Iowa was taken.  In the straw poll, Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul each finished with about 30% of the vote.  She was fractionally better than Ron Paul, so she claimed a victory.  Mind you, this is 30% of the vote in the Iowa straw poll.  It has no consequence on the ultimate decision on the presidency, but Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann had so many votes that Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the race.

Here is the point of the question.  Michele Bachmann appeared on five separate news programs on this Sunday morning.  On two of the programs that I happened to hear, she was asked the question having to do with the Biblical admonition that “wives should be submissive to their husbands.”  I suppose that the burden of the question is that if Michele was submissive to her husband, her husband in fact would be the President.

But Michele Bachmann turned the question on its head.  She said, “I respect my husband and he respects me.”  May I submit that even with my dubious credentials, I understand that “submission” is one word and “respect” is quite another.  The questioners on two of the programs did not ask Michele Bachmann if she was respected by her husband.  But that is the question she elected to answer and I am astounded to find that experienced announcers let her get away with it.  If Mrs. Bachmann is permitted to answer only the questions that she likes, we are in for a long campaign.  But here and now, I want to assure you that “respect” is a different word from “submission.”

Over the weekend when the Iowa straw poll was conducted, we were treated to the fact that Governor Rick Perry of Texas elected to enter the race.  Governor Perry is a contestant who will challenge Mrs. Bachmann for the far right religious vote.  Governor Perry has a reputation for being ruthless.  If Governor Perry is allowed to get away with answering his own questions, as was the case in the respect versus submission question to Mrs. Bachmann, we may be in for a long race and perhaps even an interesting one.

As most of you know, I am a non-believer in organized religion and I do not put much faith in Biblical quotations.  But this morning two experienced questioners permitted Michele Bachmann to answer her own question.  I can only say, “Gentlemen, we will have to do a lot better than letting the questioner answer his own question.”  Whether Mr. Bachmann has respect for Mrs. Bachmann is a question that I will not touch.

Now that Mr. Bachmann has entered the discussion, it will be interesting if questioners in the future will ask Mrs. Bachmann about her husband’s belief in “reparative therapy.”  Under this doctrine, a person who is gay undergoes treatment for reparative therapy with an ample amount of prayer.  According to the doctrine of reparative therapy, a gay person can become a full-fledged heterosexual person.

I have been acquainted over the years with a number of people who identify themselves as gay.  It is my belief that no matter how much praying may be conducted, in the end the gay person will still be a gay person.  And I have absolutely no trouble with that concept.  When he escaped from the womb, I assume that he was a gay person.  Nobody, to my knowledge, has ever made himself into a gay person.

I am a right-handed thrower.  In my early days, I wished that I could become a left-hander.  But that was not to be the case.  It turns out, also, that I am bald and, if the truth were to be told, I am also blind.  These things were foreordained.  There is no amount of a prayer therapy program that would turn me into a left-hander, would make hair grow on my head, and/or would make me sighted.  What the questioners had in mind were stories about Mrs. Bachmann becoming submissive to her husband with her husband holding these very strange views.  That is totally a question that Mrs. Bachmann should answer.  But Mrs. Bachmann would have none of it.

As I have said, over the weekend Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, entered the race and he will contest with Mrs. Bachmann for the far-out religious right vote.

I simply hope that the questioners on television will hold him and Mrs. Bachmann accountable for answering the questions of the interviewer, not for answering their own thoughts.

Well, these are my thoughts after unfortunately running into Mrs. Bachmann on two of the programs which she appeared on this Sunday morning.  At the Iowa State Fair where she is now appearing, there is a confection called “fried butter.”  It may be that fried butter is eaten by the questioners of Mrs. Bachmann, which permitted her to get away with answering her own questions.  In any event, it is my fervent hope that during the campaign Mrs. Bachmann and Governor Perry will answer the questions that are asked of them.  In Mrs. Bachmann’s case, she turned around the quotation from the Bible about being submissive.  It would seem to me that this is disrespectful of the teachings of the Bible.  I would hope that she will be better in the future but I am quite aware that this is not in the cards.



August 21, 2011

Essay 573


Kevin’s commentary: Hey, I just published an essay about reparative therapy. It was called “the Power of Prayer” and constituted the 174th essay that I have pusblished to this website. For those counting, that makes this particular essay number 175.  At number 185 I will be approximately one-quarter of the way through Ezra’s Essays as they stand today.

Onto the subject matter at hand, I think that any attempts to pray away the gay are generally doomed to fail but I realize that most readers of these essays are likely to already be of that opinion.

Using my knowledge of the past year that Pop was not privy to as of August of 2011 I can say with relative confidence that Bachmann became irrelevant before she was forced to address the issue of reparative therapy. Whether this was ultimately a good or bad thing I cannot say. Unfortunately she did go on to (narrowly) win re-election in her home state, so I guess people aren’t entirely as sick of her as they probably ought to be.



A casual observer reading the title of this essay might conclude that it is a religious essay.  But that is not the case at all.  I believe that upon further examination, the contents of this essay will be revealed to be totally political.  I have nothing against doing religious essays, but in this case it is my intent to deal with political matters.  Specifically, I have in mind two aspirants to the Republican Presidential nomination.  They are, of course, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry.

Until Rick Perry checked into the race a week ago Saturday, Representative Bachmann had the ecumenical field to herself.  Then Mr. Perry had a prayer meeting in Houston that launched him on his bid to be President of this country.  If we have Mrs. Bachmann and Mr. Perry on board to make their religious pronouncements, I do not see any way that any deity will be against us.

As I said, Mrs. Bachmann had the religious field to herself before Governor Perry entered the race.  Now, as it turns out, Mrs. Bachmann is married to a fellow who does what is called “reparative therapy.”   Reparative therapy is all about turning gays into heterosexuals.  I will make it clear how it works.  Let us suppose that a man concludes that he is gay.  If he places himself under the care of Mrs. Bachmann’s husband, the reparative therapy begins to take place.   The best that I can determine, “reparative therapy” consists of nothing more than praying to God or some other supernatural creature who will turn the gay person into a straight person.

My thoughts on the subject of being gay have been expressed on numerous occasions.  I find nothing wrong with being gay.  If, as the religious claim, God made us in His image, it is obvious that therapy is attempting to reverse what God has ordained.  It is my contention that being homosexual should be of no great concern.  I have known many homosexual persons and tend to find them delightful.  Can anyone on the political scene denigrate Barney Frank of Massachusetts and his accomplishments?

But reparative therapy is intended to alter God’s work.  If anyone in this case could stand prayers, it would be the person in charge of reparative therapy.

Curiously, all of the attention has been directed toward male homosexuals without regard to lesbians.  As far as I can determine, reparative therapy does not apply to the female gender.   I believe this is a case of discrimination against women.

Mrs. Bachmann also has a peculiarity of getting things twisted.  Recently the anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley was celebrated.  Somehow Mrs. Bachmann came to believe that this was the anniversary of Presley’s birth, not of his death.  So she led a few of her followers in some song about “Happy Birthday, Elvis Presley.”  If Mrs. Bachmann ever becomes the Republican nominee and seems to have a chance of winning the election, I will begin to apply for Canadian, Mexican or Australian citizenship.

Now the case of Rick Perry has some interest.  In the one week that he has been exposed to the national media, he has jammed his foot in his mouth repeatedly.  That seems to bother Rick Perry not at all.  There was the instance when Governor Perry said that if the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, created more money, he would consider that a case of treason.  As a matter of fact, creating the supply of money is Mr. Bernacke’s foremost duty.  And I don’t know whether anybody has explained to Rick Perry that treason is a capital offense.

It is Eric Holder’s job to call anyone to account who threatens a public person from doing his job.  The fact of the matter is that Rick Perry can make such statements because the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, is as gutless as his boss is.

But once again, if Rick Perry were ever to succeed to the Republican nomination and show signs that he would prevail, you might find me in front of the Canadian, Mexican or Australian embassies with the intent to change my nationality.

I realize that the chances of Mrs. Bachmann or Rick Perry ever succeeding to the Republican nomination or the Presidency in the year 2012 are remote.  But on the other hand, the current President of the United States has ratings so low that anything can happen.

Now ordinarily I do not take sides in a Republican matter.  But in this case, I believe that I will contribute to Mrs. Bachmann’s campaign in the hope that she becomes the Republican nominee for the Presidency.

Furthermore, I will call the attention of Barack Obama to the fact that a former non-believer has been converted to contributing to Mrs. Bachmann’s campaign.  All of this of course is in the hope that she does become the Republican candidate for the Presidency and that Mr. Obama will finally gather the courage and guts to defeat her.  On the last point of the courage and guts, we will have to await the campaign to find out.  But you may mark me down as a contributor to Mrs. Bachmann’s campaign on the grounds that the power of prayer caused me to do such a monstrous thing.




August 22, 2011

Essay 574

Kevin’s commentary: this one reminds me of the first essay posted to the site — God’s will. Basically the application here would be that God clearly intended for gay people to be gay, unless he either isn’t all powerful, didn’t create us, or is a tremendous jerk.

There are two more essays in this Power of Prayer series. View numbers two and three.



In mid-July of 2011, a giant dome formed over the eastern states. The result was several days of temperatures exceeding 90°.  On one of those Sundays during the period of the dome, a major sound reached my ears.  It was a one-lung engine, which was mounted on a lawnmower.  The sound came from my immediate neighbor at 504 Long Hill Drive.  This next-door neighbor has lived next to me for more than four years and he has yet to say “Hello.”  When he arrived on the scene, I sent a bottle of French champagne to welcome him.  Apparently he is not a large consumer of champagne.  On one other occasion, my wife tried to signal to the owner of the house next door that I wished to speak with him.  He was playing soccer with his two small children.  He declined to interrupt his soccer game.  While he does not speak to me, the family is quiet and I have no complaints on this score.

As you may know, grass cutters use a one-cylinder mower to cut the grass.  On the day in question, conditions were that the temperature would reach the mid-nineties.  And I recall that the last time his grass was cut was three weeks ago.  This does not make it any easier.  The name of the operator of the mowing machine is Mr. Feldman.  From what I have been told, mainly by the people from whom he bought the house, Mr. Feldman and his family are orthodox Jews.  This was fine with me because I am a non-believer in all religions.   Upon the three occasions when Mr. Feldman has seen fit to cut his grass, it has always been on the Christian sabbath.

Short Hills, where I live, is a respectably quiet community, where grass cutting on a Sunday is frowned upon.  I know that Mr. Feldman would not want to cut his grass upon the Jewish Sabbath of Saturday, so it seems that the only appropriate day for the grass cutting will occur on Sunday.

You may recall that Mr. Feldman lives in the house that had an appendage to the “for sale” sign stating, “I am gorgeous inside.”  The house was on the market during all of the 2010 selling season and, again, it was placed upon the market at the beginning of April 2011.  Apparently it was withdrawn from the market on about May 1st, and at that same time Mr. Feldman no longer employed his professional grass cutter.  In the weeks since he ended his association with the professional grass cutter, Mr. Feldman has made an attempt on three occasions to cut his grass.

My wife and I were totally amazed to find that Mr. Feldman was actually trying to cut his own grass.  I have lived in this house for 42 years and I cut my own grass until I could no longer see at the age of 82 or 83.  At that time, I hired Antonio Salazar, a Costa Rican who has his green card, to cut my grass and shovel my snow.

As you may imagine, a high proportion of my neighbors are the sons of Abraham, who are referred to now as Jews.  I will not trouble you by telling you that some of my best friends are Jews but that is essentially correct.  But I have a long history of grass cutting going back to the house in Richmond Heights, Missouri owned by my father.  My grass-cutting career started at about the age of six.  When I moved into this home in 1949, there were several of my neighbors – all gentiles – cutting their own grass.  The sole exception was Bob Lilley, the President of AT&T.  Apart from Lilley, the rest of us cut our own grass.  But the fact of the matter is that our many Jewish neighbors did not cut their own grass but hired professional landscapers.  Whether a man cuts his own grass is not a litmus test as to whether I like him.  But in all of the years that I have been grass cutting, ranging from very early days in Missouri, to Kansas to Illinois to New Jersey, to Washington, and in returning to this state, it has generally been true or invariably been true that the grass cutters were gentiles.  This did not make the gentiles a superior race.  It is simply a fact of life.

The former owner of the house next door was Jewish.  In accordance with a long-standing tradition, he did not cut his own grass.  And I thought that this was the way that things normally worked.  As a matter of fact, I thought nothing of it.  But on cogitation, which I am inclined to these days, I concluded that the sons of Abraham, normally called the Jews, are not cutters of grass.

Well, in any case, Mr. Feldman has fired his professional grass cutter and is taking over those responsibilities himself.  But I don’t love Mr. Feldman any less or any more because he is now the grass cutter next door.  Absolutely aside from the matter is that he is going against every shred of evidence that the sons of Abraham are not to be grass cutters.  So you see why I was astonished on that Sunday morning to hear the engine grind next door and find that Feldman was cutting his own grass.

Again, I state that because he cuts his grass on Sunday morning, he forgets the protocol of peacefulness in this neighborhood.  It is slightly bothersome to me but I do not of course accuse him of violating the Sabbath.  It might be that after four years, if Feldman ever speaks to me, I might give him a few tips on grass cutting.  After all, I have had a career going back pretty close to 80 years of grass cutting.  But Mr. Feldman has not seen fit to ask my advice and I patiently kept my mouth shut.

Now if you think that there is some bias in my reporting these events which would even hint at anti-Semitic behavior, I would deny that vehemently.  I simply would like for the readers of Ezra’s essays to know that at this late date, a Jew is cutting his own grass right next door to me.  Far from being discriminatory with respect to Mr. Feldman, I applaud him.  I wish he would observe the general rule of peacefulness on Sundays.  Then I remind myself that I am a non-believer who never intended to go to church anyhow.  So that is my report on the astonishing fact that after all of these years I have found a Jew who cuts his own grass and he lives next door to me.  Beyond that, I have fashioned the title of this essay in a Biblical manner by referring to “cutters of grass”as distinguished from “grass mowers.”   This would seem to put me in good stead with Christians, Gentiles, Jews, Pagans and perhaps Muslims as well.

Now if Mr. Feldman ever places the house back on the market, for which he is asking nearly $2 million, I will suggest an appendage to the “for sale” sign to replace “I am gorgeous inside.”  The new sign would say, “Grass cut by Feldman, the carriage trade grass cutter.”  When that happens, I suppose that the offers to buy the house next door will pour in and Mr. Feldman will recover his $2 million.  For the time being, I rejoice in the fact that my neighbor, a descendant of Abraham, is cutting his own grass.



August 3, 2011

Essay 564


Kevin’s commentary: Now, the logical leap here that I’m struggling with is between “Jews don’t cut grass” and “Jews are bad at cutting grass.” I don’t see how those two are really related, but I have never seen a Jew attempt to cut grass and since Pop did not comment on the quality of his mowing job, I can assume that it was at least satisfactory. Of course, nowadays even if it was a poor job Pop would have no idea, unless Judy decided to let him know that there were a few errant strands poking out of the lawn.



There are several conditions and practices in the world that authorize men to have multiple wives.  In the western world where Christianity prevails, we limit one man to one woman at a time.  A knock on Mormonism is that for years the Mormons insisted that their followers could have multiple wives.  It seems that Orrin Hatch, for example, the Senator from Utah, contends that he is a product of a Mormon marriage wherein he was the son of the number two or three or four wife.

In the interests of equality, it would be significant for me to find out if there is a religion that practices multiple husbands.  Certainly there must be some hot-blooded women who could handle two or three husbands at a time.  Currently that is against the law in the United States but I see no reason why the issue of multiple husbands could not be explored.  It has always been my interest in seeing that females were accorded equal opportunity.

The purpose of this essayette is to explore the possibility of multiple husbands for women, much as the Muslims provide multiple wives for their adherents’ marriages.  I do not expect that this thought of multiple husbands will sweep the country but in the interests of fairness, what could be wrong with looking into the possibility that some women desire and prefer multiple simultaneous husbands?  Yes, I know about the right-wingers who contend that a marriage should be between one woman and one man.  But I dismiss the thought processes of right-wingers.  As a matter of fact, they have no thought processes.

So this essayette is provided simply for the purpose of exploring the possibility that somewhere, some time, somehow there may be a religion or a practice that authorizes multiple husbands for women.  If love is a wonderful thing, what could be wrong with one woman having multiple husbands?  So I will leave you with those thoughts, recognizing that not many people will follow such a practice, but in any event I think it is worth considering.



August 3, 2011

Essay 569

Kevin Shepherd:

I wonder how many husbands Pop thinks that Judy ought to handle. I do wonder though, if there’s ever been a matriarchal culture where this was standard practice. Surely there has to be at least one?

Also, read more about Pop’s thoughts on this subject here.


Those of you who parse these pages of Ezra’s Essays will recall the name of Sven Lernevall.  Mr. Lernevall is an accomplished fellow who speaks his native tongue of Swedish.  Also he and his wife Ella speak flawless English.  Interestingly, the accent that he brings to the English language is of the American variety.  I had thought that, being a European, his accent would be more British than American but that is not the case.

Mr. Lernevall was born six months after my birth in 1922.  Because he is younger than me, I have taken it upon myself to be sort of his elder brother.  I have warned him about the danger of smoking too much and hanging around with loose girls.  That is the function that every older brother must perform for those who are younger.  Sven is now at 88½ years of age, which makes him six months younger than I am.

Upon the occasion of my 89th birthday, Sven sent me the following email.  Here is what it said:

“As I am a little younger than you, Ed, I look upon you as an example of how an old man can take care of his life.  Not many people of your age are so happy as you, writing essays and so on.  And I admire the way that you deal with your sight handicap.  More action than lamentation.  I Guess that’s the guts of an American soldier.”

In no way do I deserve all of the praise that Sven has brought to me in his birthday message.  But as always, there are jewels in what Sven has to say.  Remember that English is his second or third language when he says “More action than lamentation.”  That tells you a little bit about the depth of Sven’s intellect.  And finally there is the line about the “guts of an American soldier.”  From my writings, Sven knows about my service in the American military.  I do not worship the military of this nation or any other.  But when war comes, as it did in the case of World War II in 1941, there is no choice but to deal with it.  I hope that in my service to the American military, we earned the high praise that Sven has heaped upon it.  From my standpoint, I did what I had to do with respect to being a soldier, and as soon as it was possible, I abandoned that career once the war was finished.

But there are thoughts that go with Sven’s offering of “the guts of an American soldier.”  I have given a thought to that line on this very rainy afternoon during the stock market plunge.  My service was not outstanding.  I did what needed to be done, and as soon as possible I told the Army goodbye.  I always bore in mind the corporal’s comment during my basic training, when he told me, “Soldier, you don’t get paid for thinking.  You get paid to do what you are told.”  That may be pretty good advice for all of us.

But as long as Sven has brought up the subject of the American soldier, I have three comments that are of some significance here.  In the first place, I enlisted in the American Army as a means of protection for the United States of America.  I had hoped that, when the war was done, we would bring justice to those who had sown terror upon our troops and upon occupied nations.  So the first comment is that I believed and hoped that my presence in the American military would bring terror to the hearts of our enemies.

Secondly, I hope that the enemies of the United States will treat our prisoners as well as all of those in the occupied territories with great compassion.  I saw what was done to the Italian people after they switched sides and came to us.  They were starved and beaten and treated cruelly by the Germans.  So my second point is that I hoped that our enemies would treat our prisoners and the citizens in the occupied territories with a degree of compassion.

Finally there is the matter of hope.  I thought that my service would bring hope to all of those who were oppressed in the war, with the thought that they would live to see a better day.  I know that the victims of the Holocaust must have given up hope because no one seemed to come to their rescue.  But when the final accounting is made, I would want my service to bring hope to our prisoners of war and to those who are oppressed by occupying forces.

Well, so there are three of the varying thoughts about terror, compassion, and hope.  My service to the American military ended in 1945, which is now the better part of 65 or 70 years ago.  But when Sven speaks of the American soldier, I realize that he does this out of admiration, which I greatly appreciate.  Perhaps this small essay in response will make it clear that my service was intended to bring terror to our enemies, compassion to our prisoners of war and those who are oppressed, and hope to everyone who is downtrodden and under the heel of the conqueror.  My thoughts have not been expressed in elegant terms.  But I left the American army in 1945 and only at this late date do I have Sven’s message.  I hope that my response is adequate, even if it is inelegant.



August 11, 2011

Essay 570


Kevin’s commentary:  I don’t think this was a particularly inelegant essay. It occurs to me to ask, though – if these were Pop’s three goals going in, how effective did he consider himself at meeting them on the way out? I know Pop won’t write about the war so that might make this a tricky question to answer, but I hope nevertheless that he will give us some understanding of how things looked from the immediate other side of the conflict.


During my enlistment in the United States Army, it was my fortune to wind up spending an inordinate time with the forces of the British Empire.  I did not care much for the big shots such as Jumbo Wilson, he being of the rank of general or admiral.  On the other hand, I tended to like the persons who did the heavy lifting who were enlisted men such as myself.

When hot weather came, there were two expressions used by these blokes that are worth remembering.  One of them was “hotter than the hubs of Hell,” the second one being “hotter than a by-god.”  I do not know where these expressions came from but they were used by the British and it is their language so I thought it was appropriate to recognize them.

The expression, “hotter than the hubs of Hell,” seems to be singular and is not repeated in the American idiom.  But the fact of the matter is that it describes hot weather.  Even to this day some 70 years later, I still think to myself that a hot day might rival the thought that it is “hotter than the hubs of Hell.”

On the second expression, “hotter than a by-god,” is easier to parse.  I suppose that it originally was “by God, it’s hot today” or “by God, it’s cold today.”

These are expressions used by the soldiers in the British Eighth Army that have stuck with me for the better part of 70 years.  Any expression that would evolve or otherwise stick with a man for that length of time deserves some recognition.

I have lived much longer than I ever anticipated and on warm days I still think of “hotter than the hubs of Hell” or “hotter than a by-god.”  I have just finished dictating an essay on the power of prayer.  It would seem that these two expressions probably would not fit in with the power of prayer.  But in the final analysis we won the war, which was World War II, and in any case I still have affection for “hotter than the hubs of Hell” and also “hotter than a by-god.”  This essay is being dictated at the end of August and I can assure you that I am ready to see the warm weather vanish.



August 21, 2011

Essay 575


Kevin’s commentary: Since I really enjoyed “A Ribald Hymn” I thought I’d keep the British-army-language-posts rolling. I have no idea where the ‘hubs’ part would come from either. I will attempt to find a brit who I can consult on the matter, unless it’s purely a military thing.

As a side note, I’m not sure New Jersey ever has days that merit the phrase “hotter than a by-god” because it’s my understanding that the state rarely, if ever, reaches triple digits.


As most of you probably know by this time, my enlistment with the American Army resulted in my spending a great deal of time with the British.  Specifically, it was to fly combat support for the valiant efforts of the British Eighth Army.

From time to time, the troopers from the British Eighth Army sang some songs that have stuck with me for the better part of 70 years.  These were not the effete Englishmen that we often associate with the residents of the English countryside; these were toughened troopers from the British Eighth Army.  As one could imagine, the words to this hymn were not within the parameters of ordinary church-going folks.  In this case, the song refers to the slang name for sexual intercourse.  The title of course is “F— ‘Em All – The Long, The Short, and The Tall.”  Now the lyrics go like this:

F… ‘em all – the long and the short and the tall,
F… all the sergeants and WO1’s (Warrant Officer First Class).
F… all the Corporals and their bastard sons (that refers to Lance Corporals the equivalent of Private First Class in the U.S.).
For we’re saying good-bye to them all,
The long and the short and the tall,
There’ll be no promotion this side of the ocean.
So cheer up my lads; F… ‘em all.

Now I realize that this is not a song that should be sung at gatherings of the faithful.  But in this case, some nearly 70 years after World War II, the song struck me and I wish to record the lyrics to that song so that they may be preserved for historical purposes.  So I hope that you will excuse the ribald thoughts expressed by this wonderful hymn and that you will concentrate on the contribution of the British Eighth Army and its tribute towards musical memories.

Once you have heard the song sung in my melodious baritone, I believe that it will stick with you for the rest of your life.  But always remember that:

There’ll be no promotion this side of the ocean.
So cheer up my lads; F— ‘em all.

That is my inspiring thought as I contemplate what to do with my time as I embark on the 90th year of my life.


August 25, 2011

Essay 576


PS: After having dictated this essay, I ruminated for a while.  During my ruminations, the thought arose that in post-war Britain, the song was changed to “Bless ‘em all.”  Ladies and gentlemen, it beggars the imagination to think that any British soldier from the Eighth Army would have sung such a nonsensical verse.  The fact of the matter is that it was “F— ‘em all” and the thing about “Bless ‘em all” was not thought of at that time.  You may take my word for it in view of the fact that I was there.  So the effects are that “Bless ‘em all” was not even contemplated during World War II.  It was and forever will be “F— ‘em all.”


Kevin’s commentary: You know, just the other day Pop was emailing me about the Etymology of ‘fuck.’ Here’s the conversation:
Hey Kevin,
An Englishman, properly called a “Limey”, said his research into the language of the Anglo-Saxons discloses that one expression called “Fornication Under Consent of the King” actually spells, acronymically, the word FUCK.  This is disturbing to me in that I will think of it as I try to bed Elizabeth, the Queen of all the Limeys.  Do you think that I should be bothered by this development?
Dear Pop,
Thankfully that research is misinformed. Read all about the debunking here
The main issue is “the word ‘fornication’ itself. Though many reasonably conclude fornication is the old-time word for having sex, the term specifically excludes the physical union of man and wife. One can fornicate premaritally or extramaritally, but not intramaritally. In light of this, any claim wedded couples trying to entice the stork down their chimney were granted fornication permits crashes against the rock of the wrong word being used.”

Of course, for more correspondence between the Shepherd grandchildren and Pop on the subject of obscenities, I reccomend browsing the commentary of “Direct Deposit.”
Meanwhile, I hope that Judy finds a recording device for Pop so that he can sing this song. I’d be happy to link to a recording on Soundcloud or Youtube or the like, if this happens.


I have been blind for more than six years and there are certain things that interest and amuse me.  One of the facts that is of interest and amusement to me concerns tying my shoes.  Sighted people have no trouble in performing this service.  But non-sighted people have a bigger problem with tying their shoes.

It strikes me that trying to teach a non-sighted person how to tie a shoe would be a major undertaking.  There are bows to be made and knots to be made.  I have had 83 years of shoe tying.  But I will guarantee you that if I had become blind without having been able to tie a shoe, I would have opted for Velcro which does the job for you.

This is an essayette.  Specifically, I do not wish to call attention to my blindness for the sake of seeking pity.  But in this instance, I wish to call attention to the fact that tying a shoe would be most difficult.  If I had not been able to tie my own shoes from memory, I would say again that Velcro is the only answer.  Once again, I do not seek your pity.  But I am delighted to have learned how to tie my shoes before blindness overtook me.  I am glad that things happened in this order, first tying shoes and then blindness.  It would have been a disaster the other way around.  And so we have this essayette on shoe tying.   As time goes on, there may be other essayettes that I hope will enlighten your life.



August 5, 2011

Essay 584


Kevin’s commentary: check out other short essays here. There are definitely some winners. I would have thought that tying one’s shoes by feel probably wouldn’t be the absolute worst thing to do while blind precisely because it is all tactile, but I can certainly understand why it would be unpleasant.


If my sources of news are correct, there will be a large meeting in Houston called by the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry.  I gather that he has made arrangements to set aside a Saturday in August when he will conduct a national day of prayer.  The most important element of the national day of prayer will be whether Governor Perry receives a call from God to run for the Presidency (he received the call and now has declared that he is a candidate to succeed George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and George W. Bush).

Apparently answering the call is a significant part of the Protestant branch of the Christian faith in this country.  For example, when a good preaching job becomes available, people will apply for it.  If they are hired, they will contend that they “answered the call” to the new church.  There was a musical director at the Presbyterian Church here in Summit, New Jersey.  When he found out that the musical director at Princeton was retiring, he put his name in the ring.  Apparently there were several contenders for the Princeton musical job.  But, significantly, after he took the position, he said that he only “answered the call.”  In other words, he answered the call, perhaps from Princeton, or from God. If there is a doctrine of predestination, I am not sure whether the call came from which source.

But in any case, Governor Perry called this meeting and rented a large stadium.  He may or may not show up.  He has promised that after this prayer meeting he will give us an indication of whether he is going to enter the Presidential sweepstakes.  But clearly, what he is waiting for is that during the prayer meeting he will receive a call from God to run for President of the United States.  George W. Bush, the former President, claimed that he had a call from God to seek higher office.  The result was a disaster for the United States.  So I contend that God ought to keep His hands out of the political process in this country.

But at any rate, true to tradition, Mr. Perry is not going to say that he will fight hammer and tong to get the nomination but he will only “answer the call.”  In the Protestant faith, as far as I can determine, people will apply for jobs and, once they get them, they will say that they only “answered the call.”  Presumably the call comes from God.  As a non-believer I am not well connected with celestial figures such as God or other celebrities such as the Holy Ghost.  But Governor Perry, who is the Governor of the great state of Texas, where my daughter and her husband and their children live, is going to Houston to see whether God will call him for the Presidential spot.

Seriously, no one in memory ever received a call from God to run for the Vice Presidential spot.  It is always a call from God to run for the top job.  The fact of the matter is that when Perry looks over the field of Republican candidates, he will probably see no outstanding one and that will open him to answer the call from God to run for the Presidency.  This is chicanery at its worst.  This is not a Christian nation and was never conceived as such.  But Governor Perry will go to Houston to see whether he gets a call from God.  My advice to Perry is why doesn’t he go to Rome where the Pope resides because I believe that there is a direct line between God and the Pope that he may patch into.  But Perry is going to Houston in a couple of weeks and my expectation is that he will run for the Presidential nomination of the Republican Party.  The results of my expectation is that God should keep His hands out of the American political system because it dirties everyone who diddles in it. But nonetheless, everyone from organ players to preachers contends that when they land a job, they are simply answering the call.  This is fraudulent at best.

But that is the way the system works.  You are fortunate in having a non-believer as your essayist who will point out these flaws to you as we march forward singing hymns of praise.  So I will advise you to check with me in about three weeks to see if Governor Perry of Texas has indeed “answered the call,” presumably from God, to run for the Presidency.  My guess is that after viewing the collection of Republican aspirants to the Presidential job, he will indeed “answer the call” (and he did).



August 3, 2011

Essay 583


Kevin’s commentary: My favorite Perryism was when he prayed for rain:

That didn’t wind up working out for him either. Clearly he needs the Pope’s special phone which I believe he may keep in his rather large hat.