"By whatever political laws men are governed
in the age of equality,
it may be foreseen that faith in public
opinion will become a species of religion there, and the majority its
-- Alexis de Tocqueville --
There are few pleasures in life more enjoyable for me than
getting up before dawn on a Saturday morning, putting up a pot of coffee,
fetching the newspaper, and enjoying the cool, damp breezes of the quiet night
air out on the veranda before the memory of them is erased under the fascism of
another hot summer day in Washington, D.C. Oh, I know I could sleep late, have
the coffee maker start itself, and read fresher news on the PC -- but what
would that achieve? Where's the gestalt of working against time rather than
with it? If the tempo of life cannot occasionally be slowed down, we'd all be
breakdancing, not waltzing.
Plett, our other cat, comes to join me. She is a small,
skittish orange-beige creature about half the size and half the age of good old
Londolozi. She is all mixed up genetically; I could not identify her breed if I
had a textbook in one hand and a magnifying glass in the other. There has got
to be a little bit of Siamese in Plett. She has this thing about catnip toys.
Whenever she deigns to interfere in human events, her idea of a good time is to
drag a little catnip bag over, and drop it at one's feet as if handing one a
business card. Then she mewls for attention, or respect, or something. She
especially likes doing this in the middle of the night.
I finally figured Plett out a few years ago. It's not that
she has no understanding of time; it's just that she has a superb understanding
of her own time. She is the center of her very own universe. Plett takes
no real interest in the affairs of others. Newspapers, for example, exist to
sit upon. People exist in order to pay attention to cats. It is all very
simple. I used to think that cats could not speak. I learned, eventually, that
they did. It was just that they did not use human language. But they
communicate very well, if one has the time to observe and understand
their language and their worldview. And this was a lesson that
came in enormously handy when dealing with humans, too.
I still don't appreciate being awakened at 3:30 AM,
however, to find Plett standing on my rib cage testing it for structural
integrity. So we cut a deal, she and I. If she can hold off with her impromptu
arias until 5:30 AM, then I get up, change out the litter box, put food in the
dish and fresh water in the bowl, and pay attention to her. Having performed my
plantation duties, I am free to do as I wish. All very ante-bellum Old
Dominion, I guess. Republican democracy is just not a feline thing.
Headline: Religious Coalition Attacks Virtual Smut;
Banned in Cyberspace?
A front page item, no less. The Coalition for Preservation
of Family and Society intends to fight back, lobby, support legislation, blah,
We fought this issue seven years ago. Are people getting
senile? Maybe the problem is lack of institutional memory. It's not that people
are stupid; it's that institutions are ignorant of their own history. Oh
I find one good piece of news in this article, although the
second half containing the key point is buried back on page A23 next to an
article on the "war-torn" Balkans. Smorgjasbordenia vs. Vomitslavia in the
semi-finals. No wonder I have been experiencing more deja vu than usual --
we're beginning to recycle entire topics. It's a curiosity, isn't it, that on
one side of the globe Christians and Moslems can band together to decry
obscenity, while on the other side of the globe they create obscenity. Their
endurance is impressive, I'll admit that. Of course, the definition of a
fanatic is that, having lost sight of his objective, he doubles his efforts.
Anyway, to the point at hand. Executive Director Wallach
has instructed the membership of the CPFS to enter the fray. "We intend to
spread the word of the five books of Moses, the New Testament, the Koran, the
Works of the Latter-Day Saints, and other great works of God and God-inspired
literature on the Internet," she intoned in a press conference. "We believe in
the democratic ideals of the founding mothers and fathers of these United
States. Cyberspace is the new frontier. We have a responsibility to do
missionary work there, too. We will take back the virtual streets of the
virtual cities and virtual worlds."
Hoo-boy. New customers.
("Bugs, Mr. Rico! Zillions of 'em!")