Monthly Archives: September 2002

Tanzanian Devils and the BSA

The following news story, which I wrote, first appeared at a little over a year ago

This is satire, based on actual news stories from July 31-Aug 5, 2001. Excerpts from the news stories appear afterwards.

BSA seeks to exclude Tanzanian Devils from organization

(Associated Poets – Wash. DC) — Four missing Tanzanian Boy Scouts, visitors to a national jamboree in Virginia, have reappeared, possibly seeking asylum. While no decision has been made yet by the INS, an official from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has expressed a desire to keep them out of the US youth organization.

“Within the past week the European Court declared Islam contrary to the principles of the European Community. We at the BSA see this as enough reason to take the opportunity to to add Muslims to our list of despised, inferior peoples not permitted access to our organization.”

When asked if the Boston Scout Council might allow them in, if the kids agreed not to speak about their religion, the official said he wasn’t sure, but he hoped not. “Though we wouldn’t know if the children were Muslims, we’ve been told 1/3 of Tanzania practices this so-called religion. If they do seek asylum in the US, that’s great and all, we wish them luck, but we don’t want to take the chance of allowing any Tanzanian Devils into our organization.”

When told he was confusing “Tanzanian” with “Tasmanian” the BSA official had no response.

News Stories:

  • July 31, 2001: Islamist Party Banned in Turkey
  • The European Court of Human Rights upheld Turkey’s decision to ban an Islamist party because it wanted to establish Islamic law, which it said “was in marked contrast to the values embodied in the (European) Convention.”

  • Aug 1, 2001: Four Tanzanian Boy Scouts
  • Four Boy Scouts — ages 14, 16, 16 and 17 — who had traveled 10,000 miles from Tanzania to attend the quadrennial National Scout Jamboree became lost, and were later found. Justice Department officials said they were trying to determine whether the Scouts were seeking asylum or whether their wanderlust was an adolescent prank.

  • Aug 5, 2001: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
  • Boston’s Boy Scout council decided to adopt a ‘don’t ask-don’t tell’ policy that would allow gay scoutmasters to be affiliated without technically violating the national ban against them.

    Recent News concerning discrimination and the BSA.

Weekly Poem – e.e. cummings

maggie and milly and molly and may
– e.e. cummings

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldnít remember her troubles, and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
itís always ourselves we find in the sea

Quote – Chief Joseph – 1879

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce (Nimiputimt) – Speech before Congress 1879:

“I have heard talk and talk, but nothing is done. Good words do not last long unless they amount to something. Words do not pay for my dead people. They do not pay for my country, now overrun by white men. Good words will not give my people good health and stop them from dying. Good words will not get my people a home where they can live in peace and take care of themselves. I am TIRED of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and broken promises.

The earth is our mother. She should not be disturbed by hoe or plough. We want only to subsist on what she freely gives us.

I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more. I will tell you in my way how the Indian sees things. The white man has more words to tell you how they look to him, but it does not require many words to speak the truth.

If the white man wants to live in peace with the indian…we can live in peace. There need be no trouble. Treat all men alike…. give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who is born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases. We only ask an even chance to live as other men live. We ask to be recognized as men. Let me be a free man…free to travel… free to stop…free to work…free to choose my own teachers…free to follow the religion of my Fathers…free to think and talk and act for myself.”

Dear John emails

Here follow two responses I recently received from the same magazine regarding two fiction submissions. First is the exact wording, in full. (These were short responses.) Second is the way I translated it.


Dear John,

Your submission, “X”, was not right for [name of magazine], but thank you for thinking of us.

Dear John,

We don’t publish this kind of material in our magazine; what are you, stoned?


Dear John,

Thank you for letting us read your work. We will not be publishing “Y”,
but we enjoyed it and would like to see more.

Dear John,

We enjoyed reading this, but we aren’t going to publish it anyway, because we don’t publish stuff we enjoy reading. But please send us more stuff we can enjoy reading, and not publish.

A New Year

It’s been over a month since I wrote anything here. I’ve been writing things elsewhere. And often something will occur to me, and I will think, “I should write an entry on this”…and then I don’t….and by the time I am sitting in front of my computer again, I’ve forgotten about it.

The High Holy Days are over, and we are 10 days into the Jewish New Year. 5763. I just finished breaking the fast with several older members of my family. Many of the topics of conversation were morbid. Arguments over whether certain people were alive. Burial plots. Cremation. The last was a rather surprising one. One family member wishes to be cremated. However, Jewish tradition maintains those who are cremated may not be resurrected at the end of days.

On Rosh HaShanah during her sermon, our Rabbi encouraged the congregation to “enjoy life” for “this is it.” My father says he heard her use those three words, which shocked him. I didn’t hear them. Though there are a couple interpretations. Judaism definitely doesn’t believe in reincarnation. “This is it” in that respect. Reform Judaism has moved from a belief in a specific Messiah to a Messianic Age, but we still hold on to that. I suspect she wasn’t professing a lack of belief in an afterlife, but instead was referring to this being our only life on Earth.

In general 5762 was not a good year for me. I lost my job of the past 10 years 6 months ago, and I have yet to find a new one. For the past month or so I thought I was going to start one as a consultant programmer, but the project was pulled out from under me at the last minute. Hopefully 5763 holds happier news.

I am a few months away from a numerical milestone in my life. In January I turn 34. Normally 34 is not a major milestone. However, in January 1986, at age 17, I was flattened with Guillain Barre Syndrome. A disease that devastated my nervous system and paralyzed me. Even though I ultimately recovered almost 100% of my abilities, it still had a profound effect on me. In January I will have lived the same amount of time after as I did before. I don’t feel I’ve accomplished what I would have wanted to in the past 17 years, but I know I can’t look back. I can only look forward.