Silence Is Golden

You can say nothing and be thought a fool, or you can open your mouth, and remove all doubt.  This is an idea I try to keep in mind whenever I submit an Op-Ed letter, publish a post, or comment on someone’s site.  My father, who was a constant font of little homilies, often said, “You just missed a great chance to keep your mouth shut.”

I read the Op-Ed letters in two newspapers every day, just to know what’s going through the public’s heads – besides a strong breeze.  Out of the blue, a couple of years ago, the local paper printed a letter from a man.  I’ll assume he’s a relatively young man, from the content and tone.

He had found out that some people still took baths, rather than showers, and he was just disgusted.  You wouldn’t catch him “soaking in a tub full of dirt soup!”  He musta got plumbing installed in the double-wide, and didn’t have to take a bar of soap down to the creek.

As one who regularly enjoys a hot soapy soak, I felt it my duty to set the dear boy straight, so, off went a rebuttal letter.  Had he ever considered the dispersal ratio – how much (little) oils and actual dirt, spread though how many gallons of water?  Was he aware of di-atomic, hydrophilic/hydrophobic soap molecules, holding dirt and oil away from the body?  Did he know about colloidal suspension/colloidal dispersion?  Had this little couch-potato watched enough TV to have seen ads for Cascade dish detergent, with sheeting action, which guaranteed no re-deposit?

Occasionally, when something like this post reminds me of that letter, I wonder just what set off his little diatribe.  All he had to do to avoid looking like an opinionated fool, was shut up – says the guy with the blog-site.

Christmas has reminded me of another strange newspaper find.  The Toronto Sun used to have a “human interest” columnist.  Like some blogs, it was a thousand words a day, Monday to Friday.  I’m sure it must have been a challenge to come up with something interesting every day, to fill the spot.  One year, on October the 19th, (I remember the date because it was so out-of-season.) in the middle of a column, suddenly he inserted, “And the name of Santa’s reindeer is Donner, not Donder!”

There’s a term in English.  It means that something has been incorrect so long and so often, that now it’s accepted as correct.  I seem to have mislaid it.  If any of you come across it, please toss it back in the Den.  A Library book, printed in 1907, gave “Donder.”  One printed in 1921 showed the slide to “Donner.”

Like a discussion I had with SightsNBytes recently, about diarrhoea vs. diarrhea, there are two acceptable ways of spelling it; the original is just a bit more correct.  An amateur student of psychology, I still wonder what twisted his tail hard enough that he would deny the other option.

Living here in German town, it’s easy to pick up a bit of German usage, and it seems obvious what the correct original was.  In the German language, the thunder and lightning team are “donder und blitzen.”  If Santa’s got a Blitzen, it follows that he’s got a Donder too, not a Donner.  All this columnist had to do was keep quiet.

Back when the entire world was on tenterhooks, waiting for J. K. Rowling to pound out the fifth in the series of Harry Potter books, the local paper printed an odd Op-Ed letter from a young graduate of one of the local universities.  Essentially, he denied that the fifth, or any more, Hogwarts books would ever be written.

When he graduated and was awarded his degree, it was on the basis of his thesis paper, the theme of which he tried to explain in his letter.  He may have done great research, and assembled a good paper, but at least he, and perhaps the examination board, may have snorting copier toner.

His paper proved conclusively that there were only four basic states to any construction.  He listed the four archaic elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, and then, ignoring the final 21 New Testament books, he cited the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  He mixed it all together with some New-Age psycho-babble, and absolutely guaranteed that no fifth book would ever be printed.

Of course, we all know what happened.  There were waits, but books numbers 5, 6 and 7 all appeared.  I delayed about six months after the release of number five, when Rowling had made another Billion dollars, and sent in a letter of ridicule.

Ivory-Tower Ivan had ignored several large chunks of reality.  The series was not complete at four books.  Rowling and her publishers had clearly stated that the series would go to seven.  Enough money to purchase a medium-sized country was at stake.

Even if, at the end of book four, a large asteroid crashed into the school, destroying it, and killing all the characters, the stories are about Magic.  Someone would have seen destruction approaching, and waved a wand and shouted Petronum, and everything would have been restored.  Everything except this dolt’s “reasoned conclusions.”  Just shut up and avoid the embarrassment!

As we were having coffee and donuts at the Farmers’ Market recently, we were joined at the food court by the man who sells us honey, and beeswax for the wife to make candles.  Not Amish or Mennonite, he is still a very religious person.  The conversation got around to allergies, as conversations with the wife and daughter often do.  The wife stated that she is allergic to several types of flowers, and has trouble breathing when they are near.

As a farmer, he must be familiar with stinging nettles, poison ivy and sumac, poisonous foxglove, and dumb-cane, Dieffenbachia, which can paralyze the voice box and cause breathing problems in small children and pets.  He and his bees like the flowers.  He relies on them for much of his income.

As soon as the wife mentioned allergies to flowers, he “corrected” her and told her that her problems were caused by the sprays which are causing hive collapse, “Because God wouldn’t make blooms that are bad for us!”  Yeah, well, God called.  He says you’re a narrow-minded idiot who can’t keep his mouth shut.