Shy of a Load


Shy of a Load

Who to believe, once again. The Washington Post on Dec. 15 reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been instructed to not use seven words (including two two-word phrases) in budget documents. Later CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald partly refuted that, “calling the report ‘a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process,'” reported The Boston Globe’s science news site STAT.

That the list comprised seven words instantly reminded the culturally aware among us of late comic George Carlin’s 1972 routine “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” a classic. (Here’s a not-too-blurry YouTube of the spiel.)

Here is one sentence from the Post’s article, which tracked the policy up to the overseeing Department of Health and Human Services: “In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of ‘science-based’ or ‘evidence-based,’ the suggested phrase is ‘CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,’ the person [an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing] said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.”

A humor writer friend, Paul Lander, made a great post of this, “Quiz.”

Between the news and Paul, I saw this as a writing prompt. If it’s not particularly literary then call it a self-dare. That is, to use all 14 in a single sentence.

Note: It’s awkward for me to use cuss words in writing. Besides, it may offend my 14 readers. Hence asterisks abound.

Overheard at the Voyage of the Beagle Gastropub in Foggy Bottom: “What do you mean, you c*cksucker of ent*tlement, this sh*t stratifies my p*ss and population-sequences my t*ts, and it’s a motherf*cker, too, what that c*nt at HHS told us here at CDC, that the grant for the NIH transg*nder epigenetics project is stalled, though we can do the job right, it’ll be random-sampled, evid*nce-based and transparent thus sc*ence-based, but it won’t matter, it won’t help the f*tuses of today grow toward a distribution of div*rsity tomorrow, that they’re just as v*lnerable as ever — oh, f*ck.”

Speaking of Foggy Bottom, the administration’s recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel kicks any hope of peace into a gully. Early in December, DJT (say digit) proclaimed this presidential edict and today our U.N ambassador, Nikki Haley, endorsed it before the world body, which condemned Trump’s move.

Sand dunes landscape with sky and clouds in Israel
Sand dunes in Israel. Credit

There is a new solution that could bring peace in the Middle East. Actually it’s a solution applied elsewhere that if it’s not perfect has worked well enough for others, for a long time.

Apply the lesson of Brazil’s Brasilia, Missouri’s Jefferson City and America’s District of Columbia — make the capital not the obvious choice, the major city. Oh it’s not that simple? It can be, for a simpleton.

There’s two peoples involved? That’s easy, two capitals. Just back up a few clicks from The Holy City for the Israelis and for the Palestinians, to the next pair of wide spaces in the desert.

Those will be the two political, secular capitals. Hire construction crews and go to towns on ’em.

Jerusalem remains a spiritual, historical and cultural capital for the three religions Islam, Christianity and Judaism, welcoming pilgrims, tourists, scholars and ramblers. The region ends up with a trinity of capitals, and if not peace then less reason for strife.

Why isn’t New York or Philadelphia the United States center of government, how did Washington end up between two Southern states, Maryland and Virginia? It’s complicated, sure, but there were rival groups and anger all around. Alexander Hamilton was on one side and Thomas Jefferson the other, with George Washington mediating.

It worked out, well enough. Creating capitals out of mud or sand is a judgment call.

©2017 Ben S. Pollock

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