A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

My Photo
Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

History and 2 x 4s

We begin this week with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday and National Day of Service coupled with the second inauguration of America’s first African-American President, Barack Obama. This time, the inaugural festivities were slightly different. For one thing, they were pared down due to economic reasons. The first Obama inaugural had 10 balls; this time there were only two.

Yet the festivities were also similar. Both times, Obama took the oath of office twice. At the first inaugural in 2009, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts screwed up the wording. Just to be on the safe side, and also so Obama’s presidency would be legitimized, justice and president redid the swearing in privately. In the end, their extra effort didn’t matter: Obama’s political enemies spent much of the next four years and untold financial resources trying to delegitimize Obama’s presidency.

This time the constitutionally mandated start date for the new term — January 20th — fell on a Sunday. It just wouldn’t do to have the usual festive celebrations on the Sabbath. Thus Justice Roberts administered the oath to Obama in a private ceremony to satisfy the Constitution. On Monday, the usual public swearing-in was held at the usual time and at the usual location. This time, the justice and the president got the wording right, but some people still bitched because the swearing in was held on the Sabbath.

You can’t win with some people, no matter what you do.

As for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday itself, I would have made a point of setting aside the entire day for my volunteer work at Learning Ally, but I did not have the day off. I did volunteer for a couple of hours after work, and I will do another two hours later this week. I don’t usually double up like this due to work time constraints and energy, but this week is different. After this week, the Philadelphia studio for Learning Ally will be no more. I’ll publish its obituary at a later date, but I don’t want to ruin the festive mood of the day.

This inauguration is historic for several reasons. It marks the first time in our nation’s history that an African-American is returning to the White House for a second term. It is also only the second time in American history that we will have three consecutive two term administrations. The first time this happened was with Presidents Jefferson, Madison and Monroe. Since then, the American electorate changed its mind and displayed buyer’s remorse after one term for many Chief Executives. In other cases, fate intervened and a number of Presidents didn’t live long enough to see a second term.

So, once the partying is done, the President will go back to the Oval Office,  Congress will come back to Capitol Hill, and Republican legislators will return from wherever they were during the inaugural just so they could avoid rubbing elbows with Democrats. Apparently Democrats have cooties.

The big issues to which these divergent parties will return include gun control, the debt ceiling (or Fiscal Cliff Part 2), and maybe immigration reform.   

Inexplicably, one issue will not even register on their radar: the length of our American sandwiches. It appears that one enterprising person with lots of time on their hands (or a lawyer who desperately needs work) has decided to sue the Subway sandwich restaurant chain for deceptively selling foot-long hoagies which are not, in fact 100% of the time, precisely a foot long. A team of investigative reporters on Good Morning America ordered hoagies and measured four of them on live tv. The verdict: two were exactly a foot long, and the other two were short by fractions of that last inch!

Scandal! Horror! Shriek, shriek! Visions of Macauley Culkin doing his impression of Munch’s Scream, etc. etc. etc.

Well, America, while I do not want to throw cold water on a seemingly national crisis, I should point out that this is just another example of business as usual. Consumers have long been exposed to a slight exaggeration of reality when it comes to measurements of our most cherished goods. It’s known in mathematical terms as “rounding up”. (Just for the record, the French also have a term for it, which is roughly translated as “rounding up”.)
For example, let’s look at the lumber industry. Do you know, my fellow American do-it-yourselfers, that a piece of construction material commonly known as a 2 x 4 is not ACTUALLY two inches by four inches? Don’t take my word for it: measure it yourself.  You’ll probably find that the actual measurement is 1-3/4 x 3-3/4!

Scandal! Horror! Shriek, shriek! Visions of Macauley Culkin blah, blah, blah.

This shocking revelation is made all the worse by complacency: apparently the average American consumer has long accepted this short-changing of our lumber supplies. Consumers should not allow this to become a trend. Let’s contemplate what this shorting of wood dimensions would mean. 

  • 1 x 3 is actually 3/4 x 2-3/4!
  • 1 x 2 is 3/4 x 1-3/4!
  • 1 x 1 is 3/4 x 3/4! (1 x 1 should by all rights cease to exist!

Scandal! Horror! Shriek, shriek! Who gives a damn about Macauley Culkin?

Are we willing to let this happen? Apparently yes! Has this blog entry veered off into a bizarre topic? Naturally! More importantly, will we allow this to happen to our lumber just so we can concentrate on matters of greater importance like gun control, budget deficits, gay rights, and immigration (all topics which President Obama touched on in his inaugural address)? So help me God I hope so!

(Thank you for reading. Now I the French have an expression for a sentence that begins and ends with the same word?)


Post a Comment

<< Home