A current favorite picture book of the two-year old is “Claude’s Big Surprise”, by David Wojtowycz. (Spelling quiz next Tuesday!) Claude is an anthropomorphic polar bear who lives with his family in the suburbs. The story is that the parents ship Claude to the North Pole to stay with a relative, while Mom heads to the hospital to give birth to the new baby, which is the ‘Big Surprise’ referenced in the title. My complaint with the book involves penguins, which show up as incidental, nonverbal characters as Claude frolics in the Arctic snow. As all of us boring K-12 science professionals know, penguins make their homes in Antarctica and other southern-hemisphere environs. Outside of zoos, penguins and polar bears never meet. I always raise this point with the toddler when we reach the appropriate pages.
If the author were to hear me out, my guess is that he would respond with the irritated incredulity that fiction authors muster for confrontations like this one. “Hey, Mr. Persnickety,” he would say, “did you notice that the bears have their own airport and their own airline? Oh, you have no problem swallowing the bear pilots, the bear flight attendants, and the bear passengers, and that the bears live in houses and talk to each other in English, sometimes on the telephone—but penguins out of their natural habitat, that’s just inexcusable, isn’t it, you miserable blankety-blank ^$&*!% critic!”
Anyway, I wonder if any fans of Donald Trump will take pause over the recent news of the day, which is that the border wall is being breached with power tools. Let us recall the campaign of 2016, when their hero announced, repeatedly, that Mexico would pay for the wall. Later, as President, he demanded that the U.S. Congress pony up the dollars for the wall, to the tune of more than 20 billion. I believe the government was shutdown for about a month over the impasse. Now, with sections of the wall now built, we learn that it is being cut open like plywood paneling.
Might any Trump voter from 2016 be looking at this latest intelligence in the same way that I look at the Arctic penguins—as a damning little detail that pops the party balloon that its author has inflated? Hey, voters, would you have supported your candidate if he had said “We’re going to build a wall that will divert billions of taxpayer dollars, and that drug smugglers can cut down with a cordless saw, available for $100 or so at your neighborhood Ace Hardware or Home Depot?”
For the vast majority of these voters, my guess is that yes, they would still have supported him, or so they will now claim or rationalize. They will shrug their shoulders or say something like “We gotta get a stronger wall, don’t we?” or go cheer on their favorite football team, which here in Massachusetts is the defending-champion New England Patriots.
Yes, there are Trump fans here in Massachusetts, at least in the semi-rural reaches of the state, where I live. One of my neighbors has three large banners stretched across the edge of their driveway. Two of the banners are for the football team. The third is for Trump and Pence. Keep America Great. I imagine someone cutting off sections of the banner with a cordless power tool, but that’s not something I would do or can endorse.
I don’t know the secret for surviving and overthrowing the ugly politics of our time. For now, mostly what I am doing is using my voice (aided by laptop computer and Internet service) to express my distress/outrage/logic/hope. We need to do more, people. We need to get this yahoo out of office!
Speaking of Yahoo, the Internet site, it informs that a bartender in Missouri received a lottery ticket as a tip, and the ticket proved to win a $50,000 jackpot. This just doesn’t happen to me or you, or to anyone we know, unless by an odd chance you happen to be this specific bartender or have made their acquaintance.
I wonder if the word jackpot is related to the word crackpot. Clearly they both involve pots of some sort.
The other night I prepared a Korean meat-and-vegetable dish, courtesy of the food-delivery company, Hello Fresh. Predictably, the recipe called for dicing onions and garlic and scallions, and searing all the ingredients at medium-high heat with sesame oil and soy sauce. Also predictably, the recipe did not call for toddlers and cats being underfoot and demanding a chicken nugget (that was the toddler) or trying to steal the chopped beef (that was the cats). Regardless, the dinner came out reasonably tasty, with no complaints from my wife or the teenager.
I can’t help but look at my little boy, who is busy mastering new words, new foods, and using the toilet properly, and not feel miserably worried about his future. Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager and activist, is absolutely correct to chide us all for not treating climate change as a five-alarm worldwide emergency. We need to do more, people. And the most important thing to do is kick the yahoos out of office.
In college, I made a facetious, ridiculous prediction that the Berlin Wall would be torn down, as an example of an event that seemed impossible to happen. Lo and behold, we now get to mark the 30th anniversary of the wall’s sudden demise, which was followed a couple years later by the break-up of the Soviet Union. So, impossible things do happen, sometimes, and the rules that we thought we knew get all scrambled. We need to do more, people. The most important thing to do is kick the yahoos out of office.