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Sic takes aim at mediocrity

Don’t you miss the old millennium? Sic, too.

(Message from Sic’s personal soothsayer Fr. Joe Gallagher: “Live each millennium as if it were your last.”)

* * *

Veteran journalist Richard Senior reports changes of motto by several states:

Alabama: At Least We’re Not Mississippi.

Florida: Ask Us About Our Grandkids.

Indiana: Two Billion Years Without a Tidal Wave.

Utah: Our Jesus Can Beat Up Your Jesus.

New York: You Have the Right to Remain Silent.

North Carolina: Tobacco Is a Vegetable.

North Dakota: We Really Are a State.

Oregon: Home of the Spotted Owl, and Spotted Owl Pie.

* * *

This Space has a 10-year-old calendar (months don’t change much from one year to another) in which Laurence J. Peter is quoted: “A bore is a talker who can change the subject back to his topic faster than you can change it back to yours.”

* * *

But seriously, Sic wishes to announce our New Year’s resolution: restraint. With another thousand years looming, what the world needs is moderation. Surrounded by intemperate extremists and off-the-wall wackos, including This Space, serious journalists are saying it’s time people moved back to the center where we can all hold hands.

The problem, as everyone knows, is liberals and conservatives, right-wingers and left-wingers. These, the voice of reason says, could all be cuddly if they would just be moderate.

* * *

The raw meat of panache is no substitute for medium-rare intellectual brisket. Or, to take another meaty metaphor, the only good roadkill is on the middle of the road.

All this moderation came as a blow to swashbuckling Sic. So we put our good ear to the ground and listened to the faithful.

“For God’s sake, let’s be moderate.”

“Better still, let’s be mediocre.”

“Yeah, like Jesus.”

* * *

Two words of wisdom Sic has been preserving for years on a faded piece of paper:

“It is in the nature of a work of art to speak ambiguously, like an oracle” (Max Friedlander).

“Americans go deeply into the surface of things” (Henry Ward).

If you’re at a party and say these out loud, they will start or stop the conversation.

* * *

Frankly, what Sic misses most about the old millennium is the weather.

* * *

This was, we think, planted in Sic’s file by some radical feminist:

What would have been the situation if the Three Wise Men had been the Three Wise Women?

The women would have asked for directions, arrived on time, assisted in the birth of the Child, cleaned the stable, prepared a nutritious meal and left appropriate gifts.

* * *

The following, like everything else in Sic, is allegedly the God’s honest truth.

A bonus question in a mid-term exam in chemistry at the University of Washington asked: “Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?”

Most students used stuff like Boyle’s Law (gas cools off when it expands and heats up when it is compressed). But one student wrote:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate that souls are moving into Hell and leaving it. I think we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it stays, so no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions. Most say if you’re not a member of theirs, you will go to Hell. Since there are more and more such religions, and since people do not belong to more than one, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates rising, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.
Boyle’s Law states that for temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same the volume in Hell has to expand as souls are added. This offers two possibilities.
1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter, then the temperature and pressure will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls there, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

The student got the only “A” in the class.

* * *

“Look at Jesus,” non-liberal non-conservatives said. “Jesus always found common ground with apostles, Pharisees, call-girls, guys up in trees looking down, guys cutting off soldiers’ ears, nail-hammering guys, guys around the table at the Last Supper, gals around the same table on account of it being common ground.”

“Yeah!” Those moderates were really groovin’.

* * *

From Mary Hazlett, some signs of the times:

You tried to enter your password on the microwave.
You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.
You e-mail your son in his room to say dinner is ready.
You chat several times a day with a stranger in South Africa but have not spoken with your next-door neighbor in a year.
You check your blow dryer to see if it’s Y2K compliant.
You consider second-day air delivery painfully slow.
You hear most of your jokes via e-mail instead of in person.

* * *

This Space used to boast of an occasional Pet of the Week. Henceforth it’s going to be Pet of the Millennium. This millennium’s pet is John Marrin’s 9-year-old Bert, said by his dad (John’s dad, not Bert’s), Pat Marrin, editor of Celebration, to be very photogenic. That’s one opinion.

National Catholic Reporter, January 28, 2000