Saturday, April 30, 2011
Royal Wedding 1 by Pants (Acrylic on canvas)
As expected, the royal wedding has rehashed all the usual gaping anomalies and circular arguments about the monarchy; its place and function. The royals are a fissure in modern, multicultural Britain, reminding everyone that the endless talk of 'striving for equality' is utterly pointless as long as they remain enthroned.
Here in Australia, we have a slightly different take on the whole confusing business. The British Queen is still head of state of this country - arguably an even more pointless situation in an independent nation. But, as no one has ever been able to come up with a workable alternative, we confine ourselves to exploring the question of whether or not the royals are 'relevant'. Well, of course they're relevant, in the same way that religion is relevant. Their relevance is sustained by their seemingly unassailable ubiquity. And at least we're not struggling to prove their existence. I have personally pressed flesh with more of them than is strictly hygienic so I can vouch for that much. They are a mighty and entrenched construct that no one has the stomach for dismantling, no matter how just-plain-wrong we might find the present situation.
Since I am not daft enough to spend the day chasing my tail in order to discover that it is still there, I'll get straight to the point. ('That would be a first', says Barney, a staunch royalist). My proposal is that the current monarchy be replaced with Pearly Kings and Queens, at least as a transitional mechanism until we figure out why it is that a free and liberal people requires the illusion of servitude to maintain civil society.
Pearlies embody all the fine qualities that are considered positives in a royal family. They work for charity and perform a ceremonial function, but without requiring silos full of readies to keep them in beer and skittles. They get about in black cabs and generally have just the one suit of clothes that they've designed and sewn themselves. There is still the problem of heredity as Pearly titles are handed down through families in more-or-less the same fashion as occurs within the nobility. And it is a strictly London-based monoculture. But there's no reason they can't expand ethnically and geographically, certainly not one that would require an Act of Parliament, anyway.
There are all sorts of practical problems involved in dispensing with the royal family, not the least of which is what to do with all those fine palaces and cathedrals. My solution is that the Pearlies could turn all the regional estates into holiday camps and take turns at caretaking Buck House and the Windsor Gaff. The Tower of London would make an excellent indoor/outdoor adventure centre. Just think of how much fun could be had bungee jumping from those towers and the internal walls are just crying out to be defaced by climbing spurs.
The royal parks could be divided up into allotments dedicated to the growing of austerity-busting, obesity-melting Swiss chard and curly kale. And the jewels - can you imagine the Koh-i-Noor diamond adorning a fine flat cap? What a picture that would be. I would keep the garden parties but I would add a jumble sale and a tombola. A plate of egg sandwiches can only be enhanced by the addition of a bit of a rummage in other people's cast offs and a wager on a bottle of Babycham. The cathedrals would make excellent music halls. Just think of how glorious Jerusalem would sound played on spoons.
Instead of having just the one king and queen, they could take turns. One week it's Crystal Palace's turn and the next it's New Cross and Old Kent Road, and after that, Isle of Dogs. They could get professional cockney Barbara Windsor to draw the lots, sort of keep it in the family. And instead of flying the Royal Standard, they could just hoist up a nice cheery kerchief. And there could be a rash of new Royal Patents - F. Cooke's eel and pie shop, Truman's Brewery and Fags 'n Fings could get lovely 'by appointment to their multifarious majesties' signs put up. It would be a boon to London's economy and a tourist magnet, especially the stewed eels with pie and mash - yum! They'd certainly put dull old cucumber sarnies in the shade.
Problems may arise with rotating Pearly royalty if they were called upon to visit Australia though. They may be mistaken for asylum seekers and dispatched to a remote island for 'processing', which, in this country, means a very long unscheduled holiday in a place that wouldn't be your first choice. No amount of claiming to be 'on state business' would wash there, I can tell you. Customs officers have lost count of the number of times they've heard that one and that other hoary old porkie about being 'at risk of death or persecution'. It's a lucky thing that the Britannia has been decommissioned. I wouldn't advise anyone to try to come here by boat.
So, who's on board with this fabulous compromise? Let's seal it with a song. Just watch the bouncing ball.
My old man said follow the van, and don't shilly-shally on the way, pom, pom, pom...
Monday, April 18, 2011
Patchwork, Kodakotype by Pants
A few weeks ago, I wrote a withering review of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom in which I quoted Lionel Shriver's assessment of its instant, gushing and quite undeserved Great-American-Novel status. She says,
"Great American Novel" = "doorstop of a book, usually pretentious, written by a man."
I then promised to read some Lionel Shriver and have just ploughed through So Much For That. I'm not convinced that Shriver is in a position to aim rotten tomatoes. No stranger to the doorstop genre herself, Shriver has delivered a whopping 433-page diatribe on the inequities of the American 'health-care' system that falls short of coherent and is often a rather-too-obvious rehash of all the usual clichés about modern American life. It is part-novel,part-op-ed piece and part-extended-blog; and does none of them well.
Handyman Shep Knacker has a dream to escape to something he calls the 'Afterlife'. Some years earlier, he'd sold his handyman business for a million dollars to a lazy-slob employee, a man he'd come close to firing on a number of occasions. The taxman gobbled up a quarter of it and the rest went into 'can't-lose mutual funds'. He set his family up in a rental home and he and wife Glynis made regular forays to off-the-tourist-map locations in search of their Afterlife retreat. But paradise after paradise has been eliminated for falling short of ultimate perfection in some small detail. So they sit in their Westchester rental and Shep stays on as an employee for the firm he used to own, in a limbo between past and future lives.
At the beginning of So Much For That, Shep has decided the Afterlife's time has come. "A 'month-or-two' had now stretched into over eight years." The 'can't-lose' fund into which he'd sunk his nest-egg capital has finally recouped its original value after years in the fiscal doldrums. Without consulting his family, he has bought three tickets to Pemba, one of the Zanzibar Archipelago islands. The third ticket is for son Zach, whose hunkering down in his room in the manner of a Japanese hikikomori, has lately been the cause of concern. Shep is going, whether or not the rest of the family is in. Very democratic. In fact he's even burned his bridge at work, directing a "so long, 'asshole", to the 'callow, loud-mouthed, ignorant twit' who had been paying his salary.
"... I'm afraid I will need your health insurance", Glynis announces coolly after Shep has dropped his Pemba bombshell. Glynis, it seems, has a trumping bombshell of her own. She has been diagnosed with deadly mesothelioma. Moving swiftly on, we cut to the home of Shep's best friend Jackson and his wife Carol who are dealing with an ongoing health situation of their own. Their eldest daughter Flicka (don't ask), has a rare congenital condition called familial disautonomia. Consequently, both Jackson and Carol are trapped in jobs they consider somewhat beneath them by their need for employer-funded health plans. Jackson works with Shep at 'Handy Randy', in a job whose protected generous salary and benefits were negotiated by Shep when he sold the business.
So, that's the set-up, all established in the first couple of chapters. Would you be surprised if I told you that nothing much happens for the next three hundred pages? I know I was, and not in a pleasant way. Along the road, Shep acquires an added burden or two. His self-righteous documentary-making leech of a sister tries unsuccessfully to tap him for money to buy a Manhattan apartment but he ends up subsidising her utility bills, and his ex-clergyman father takes an uninsured fall and lands in a gold-plated recuperation facility on Shep's dwindling dime. But the substantial 'middle' of So Much For That is, I'm sorry to say, wasted on rant that is long on scattergun rage and short on reason. Then suddenly, at page 303, and with no warning, the story wakes up and makes a frantic dash for the finish.
I am going to reveal the endgame here because I'm beginning to wonder if there can ever again be such a thing as a Great American Novel, and I'd like to explore that a bit. This is not a new book, (published 2008). However, if you would like to read it and don't want to know how it concludes, stop reading now.
Shep's $731,778.56 savings disappear on medical treatment not covered by health insurance. He gets fired anyway for taking too much 'personal time' so ends up with no coverage. The net result is that Glynis's life is extended, in pain, for approximately three months. Jackson, inexplicably, decides to have expensive penile enhancement surgery. He opens several new credit card accounts for this. Unsurprisingly, it's not covered by his health insurance. Neither are the two unsuccessful restorative surgeries he requires when it goes horribly wrong. He makes a token effort to pay down the credit cards by stealing his employer's customers. The debts mount. The day Shep gets fired, Jackson calmly goes home, lops off his recalcitrant dick with a meat cleaver and shoots himself. Glynis sues the art supply company she believes is responsible for the mesothelioma and, in what must be the most expedient court case in US history, wins a settlement of $1.2m. She lies during the deposition. She knew the products, which incidentally she had stolen from art school, had been recalled but used them anyway. The money goes straight into a Swiss bank account. Shep takes everyone to Pemba - his dying wife, Jackson's grieving widow, sick kid and other kid, his own hikikomori kid and his ailing dad, whom he springs from the care home. The sick ones die off in short order leaving Shep and the widow Carol to live out their days in tropical bliss.
One of my main criticisms of Freedom is that it has no moral core. It contains not one character with sufficient decency or clarity of purpose to credibly explore the central question of any novel - how is one to live? I'm not against flawed and reticent humans, but there needs to be a belief in something other than oneself and one's inalienable right to get one's own way to hold my interest. So Much For That suffers from the same fault. It is ostensibly a book about the ridiculous health-care conundrum in the world's wealthiest country. One can essentially be 'ruined', in a quaint Dickensian sense, by the simple act of getting sick. Sounds like a great premise for a novel because that is just plain wrong. But, inexplicably, the author does not nail that.
Shriver has been resident in the UK for many years and has first-hand experience of a health-care service that is by no means perfect but is the diametric opposite philosophically of the American 'system'. In Britain, health care is free at the point of service. If you're sick, you get treated without having to pay. If you need drugs, the prescription is subsidised so it costs only a few pounds. It is not 'free', but 'prepaid'. Every working Briton pays into a universal fund that pays for people who get sick and need to be helped. If you want private health insurance, you pay for it in addition to National Insurance contributions. In the US, individuals pay into their own fund that only benefits them and their family. If they never get sick, or only get illnesses not covered by their insurance, private enterprise gets richer. Britons have the comfort of knowing that if they don't get sick, their contributions have directly benefited those who weren't so lucky. For reasons that are a total mystery to me, the American obsession with self-reliance appears to completely cancel out the human instinct to care for others when it comes to illness and disadvantage. Perhaps this partly accounts for the moral murkiness of this book.
The way that Shriver has chosen to handle the absurdity of people being financially ruined by illness is baffling to me. Over 433 pages, she could have conducted a comprehensive discourse on the moral conflict inherent in a market-forces-led approach to life and death. Instead, she chooses a clumsy device that trivialises her subject. The arguments are filtered through the prism of Jackson's angry rants directed at a non-critical audience of one or two, and usually triggered by the title of a book he will never write, like,
SOAKED: How We Wet, Weak-kneed Wusses Are Taken to the Cleaners and Why We Probably Deserve It.
How We Gullible Goodie-Goodies Are Brain-washed into Shit-Eating Compliance (or) You Have No Idea How Much You Could Get Away With if You Only Had Balls.
Jackson divides the world into 'mugs and mooches'. The law-abiding citizens are 'mugs' who carry the load for 'mooches'. Injustice is not seen as the absence of universal fairness, but the bum deal of ending up as a giver rather than a taker. Shep and Jackson both perceive altruism as a mug's game. This would have been a much better book if they'd disagreed on that point. But no. Shep achieves the transformation from mug to mooch in the end by simply abandoning the accumulated complexities of his life, leaving his car at the airport and splitting with his ill-gotten legal settlement. He encourages Carol to dodge Jackson's whopping credit-card debts by doing the same. It's arguable that neither Shep nor Jackson were ever good people. Both behave dishonourably towards their employer and think this is justifiable because, by their assessment, he is their moral and intellectual inferior. They are wrong on both counts. Handy Randy not only comes into money perfectly legally through a trust fund, he has grown the business and made it much more profitable. Shriver has shot herself in the foot with her own irony. I sure hope she's covered for that.
I happened to hear an interview with the late American author and social commentator Joe Bageant the other day. He died a couple of weeks ago - of cancer spookily enough. Bageant said that there were whole streets of houses in his hometown of Winchester, Virginia where families were renting houses that had been built by their fathers and grandfathers. They'd had to sell to slum landlords to pay medical bills. The slum landlord then rents the house back to them for a hefty price. Why don't any of the characters in So Much For That get politically active instead of dreaming about living high on the hog on a tropical island and having their pricks lengthened? Bageant wrote a lot about class in America. It was his view that Americans exist in a kind of collective hallucination where they think that because they can buy a new car on credit and a house on a hundred-and-ten per cent mortgage, they're middle class. They're not dirt poor because at least they have clean clothes, but they don't actually own anything except debt. They work in call centres, which Bageant describes as 'plantations', in mind-numbing jobs that they can't leave because they need the health insurance. Bageant calls this a form a of 'indentured slavery'. So where is Norma Rae when you need her?
I wonder if it's even possible for an American to write a Great American Novel now. Lionel Shriver couldn't find the objectivity or courage necessary to confront a clear breach of the social contract, not to mention the Hippocratic Oath. So much for 'never do harm'. Not only does Shriver fail to adequately tackle the central issue of the corrupt relationship between health-care professionals and health insurers which involves each pathologically exploiting the other and directly causing misery to patients, she opens several other lines of inquiry which she then drops after a few cursory remarks. She brushes over the insidious demand on patients with terminal illness to 'battle' their illness and remain relentlessly positive. She never convincingly challenges the ethics of routinely extending the life of terminal patients by a few months at costs into the millions of dollars. It isn't enough just to toss a few snippy comments into a character's mouth, not on a subject as vexed as the one she's bitten off. It needed a good chew.
It seems to me America needs a Great American Novel more than ever but is there anyone left with the critical chops to write it and will the country be able to take it? Shep's American dream is to escape the country altogether, forever. Perhaps that's all that's left. Maybe Americans have the health-care system they deserve. I suppose it's always possible that this is Shriver's point. If so, it's a bemusingly round-about way of making it.
Speaking of escaping, the late David Foster Wallace's uncompleted novel, The Pale King, has been lovingly assembled from drafts and notes by his longtime editor and friend Michael Pietsch and is just out in Australia. Alerted to this some weeks ago, I tested my local library's borrower-choice service to the limit by suggesting they purchase Infinite Jest. Never in a million years did I imagine I'd get away with that. But today there it was, all fresh and new. All one-thousand-pages-and-change of it. There's a budget surplus to be exploited there, I can tell you. I'll be straight back tomorrow to order The Pale King. Larrikin's End Municipal Library will almost certainly have the oddest fiction collection of any regional Australian town by the time I'm finished. Another pretentious doorstop written by a man? I'm about to find out.
Saturday, April 02, 2011
Fiddling while Rome burns, Kodakotype by Pants
In the last week or so, three speakers on radio and television have informed me that they were 'in agreeance' with something or other. Two were professional presenters and one was the spokesperson for a big organisation. Let us be completely clear, 'agreeance' is no more a word than 'annoyment' is a word (although it should be - the more words we have to express the state of being pissed-off we have at our disposal the better, in my view). So, what is going on when people who talk for a living are unfamiliar with the most common of expressions?
I know I'm not the only person to observe that the linguistic skills of the general population are deteriorating. I think it's true in all Anglophone countries. You're probably as tired of reading about it as I am of complaining about it. On the face of it you could say, so what? If you can roughly decipher meaning from a jumble of malapropisms, non sequiturs and neologisms, job done innit? Can we move on to cracking the global energy crisis now, please.
I don't think so. When people can't express themselves and be understood by others, they get frustrated. Frustration with being misunderstood can quickly turn to anger. Believe me, I know all about this, because I am very often on the receiving end of other people's failures to comprehend what I'm trying to get across to them. And it certainly does make me angry. And anger doesn't get anyone very far in a discussion. You need focus and good comprehension skills for that. And let me ask you this - if your boss claimed to be 'in agreeance' with your views, would you not think you were deserving of a better job? Perhaps your boss's job?
The first casualty of speech laxity is that no one you ever have to deal with feels obliged to listen carefully to what you are telling them. Neither do they expect perspicuity from the fullness of a sentence. That would be far too simple. Instead, they scan your conversation for 'key words' and put them together in whatever order best suits their own purpose. So, instead of both of you walking away from the encounter with a clear understanding of each other's opinions and wishes, the meeting turns into the opening salvo of a long email war about the substance of the 'agreeance'.
Politicians and others who are in the position of having to make public statements where the consequences may rebound on them in unpleasant and unforeseen ways, have learned that vague equals non-binding. It's much easier to slip out of a poorly formed fragment of a statement than it is to retract an unequivocal commitment. So now they routinely use the tactic with that express purpose, even if they do genuinely hold convictions and actually can speak with clarity. In the days when poor language skills were not tolerated in the public domain, this course would not have been available to them.
I find the disintegration of the language to be both progressive and cumulative. I have long believed that my own precision with the language is being compromised by the constant bombardment of bad grammar and incorrect spelling. I blame twenty-five years of riding around on the top deck of London buses and subliminally absorbing greasy-spoon menuese - lassunya anyone? I now have to check regularly the spelling of words I do know but not with the confidence I once took for granted. I can no longer count on the reinforcement of that knowledge coming automatically to me via reading.
I have recent experience of attending an institute of further education. I would describe its general written language standard as sub-literate. And the worst thing about that? The teachers wallowed in their own ignorance. They thought themselves far too arty and alternative to bother with such trifles as proper English. I'm just old fashioned enough to think that an educational institution has a duty of care to maintain a basic standard of literacy, much like a cake shop is obliged to stock cakes.
There is a particular example that will always fill me with contempt for their arrogance. I know I've mentioned this one before, but it seems to me a particularly pertinent case in point. At the very beginning of my art course, I received a handout entitled 'Complimentary Colours'. I immediately and diplomatically pointed out to the teacher that 'complimentary' was incorrectly spelt. It should be complementary. Her response? 'Oh, Spellchecker should have picked that up.' 'Ah, no,' says I, 'two different words: two different meanings.' She looked at me like I'd grown an extra head. Further handouts contained no correction. 'Complimentary' colours remained with us, presumably to give themselves away for free and tell us now nice we look today.
Perhaps you can determine whether or not incorrectly applied homophones require revision using your own self-styled value system. You could base your decision on how similar to the actual word you want to use the one you have used looks and whether or not you think it's that important to bother in the first place. Perhaps you can write a wrong, or indeed right a song and tell which witch is which with a blindfold on. But isn't that all a bit too hard, not to mention not especially egalitarian? Wouldn't it be easier and fairer to stick with the one simple rule and one indisputable source of verification - the dictionary - that have served us well for centuries?
One of the great misconceptions of our time is that simplification and casualisation of the language is a gesture of inclusivity. Wrong. It has not only made it possible for people with power to manipulate meaning with liberal use of obfuscation, it has robbed the people without power of the tools to effectively challenge false and absurd claims. Any politician or belligerent capitalist can flannel past a question from the current gormless breed of journalist by stringing together a few positive sounding 'key words' and trailing off with a defiant 'yeah.' Most of the time, they can get away with avoiding verbs altogether. Verbs are, after all 'doing' words. Wouldn't want to raise public expectation with any of those now, would we? And, they can freely misconstrue any counterargument put to them without fear of being called out on it.
Recently, I heard on the radio a candidate for an approaching state government election talking about what appeared to be quite a serious problem at railway stations. She said,
'Station staff have been stripped, which impacts on safety.'
I'll bet it does. Do you want idiots like this legislating on your behalf?
Roughly half the people I know learned English as an additional language. Rarely do they make mistakes in either written or spoken English. And if they do, they not only appreciate being corrected, they don't make that mistake again. It seems to me that learning English as a 'subject' rather than as a laborious task undertaken to reach the minimum requirements necessary to enable you to buy stuff, gives people an appreciation of the beauty and versatility inherent in its complexity.
It may seem pedantic to quibble about sloppy use of prepositions. But I am going to go there for two reasons. It is not difficult to learn the correct way and the correct way contains a logic that we must not lose from our language. The particular example I have in mind is one of the most regularly heard mistakes. It is far more common now to hear 'different to' or 'different than' in the vernacular. The correct assignation in this series is,
the same as
Prepositions used to complement an adjective or adverb are supposed to relate in a logical way. They should 'agree'. 'From' signifies travelling away. 'To' denotes travelling towards. Why would I want to use 'different to'? It's an internal contradiction. And as for 'different than', why can't I use 'different with' or 'different for' or 'different against? As with the homophone example, who decides which variant is meaningful? Some thick art teacher in an Australian country town? Isn't it easier for us all to learn the right way to start with? It seems a nonsense to me to muddle through with having to guess what people are on about when we all have the elements necessary for complete clarity at our disposal. Plasticine comes in a huge range of vibrant colours. If you mix them together indiscriminately, you get a dull grey. It's the same with language.
I refuse to accept that this is a Luddite view. I am not opposed to the language growing and changing organically. I just don't want to wake up one morning to discover my mother tongue has turned into Jabberwocky. The addition of a new word should not result in the redundancy of twenty others. I'm also not theoretically opposed to some rationalisation, provided there is no attendant loss of dexterity. Here's an example of the mess you can end up with if you simply chuck a familiar colloquialism at a sentence without considering its individual meaning. I recently read in a British daily newspaper that the Australian zookeeper Steve Irwin had,
'died at the hands of a stingray.'
Stingrays have hands now? Interesting. What did it do - strangle him? Mow him down with an AK47? Feed him arsenic from a silver chalice? Admittedly, this crudity was in The Daily Mail but let us not forget that this nonsense was written by a person with the job title 'Journalist' and, very likely, a tertiary qualification.
A year or two ago, I wrote with some glee about Tesco customers who harangued the UK supermarket giant to the point where it capitulated to public pressure and rephrased its 'Ten items or less' checkout sign. I frankly don't care if the word 'fewer' disappears from the English language because individuals choose to stop using it. This will almost certainly happen because no one likes it enough to protect it. It's arguable that separate determiners are not really necessary to distinguish quantities that can be expressed as integers from those that can't. I guess I can get used to the thought of having 'less' apples today than I had yesterday. It might not sound so wrong in a few year's time.
Tesco, however, is positively Pulitzer compared to our supermarket here in Larrikin's End where checkout signage informs the customer that,
'Our checkouts are plastic bag free when you purchase three items or less.'
I've long since abandoned the expectation that hyphens should appear to lend sense to a sentence, especially in supermarket signage. And don't get me started on the abuse of the apostrophe which seems to have been relegated to the sole function of separating syllables in celebrity names, (Mo'nique, Des'ree). In any case, these are minor misdemeanours compared to the homicidal act that is the nonsense sentence. I did, in fact, purchase exactly three items from the Larrikin's End Lazymart yesterday and the plastic bags did not miraculously vanish as a consequence.
We want to be a little more careful about wandering too close to the thin end of the wedge when it comes to dispensing with our options for describing quantities. It was once a reporting convention to round up casualty figures if the exact number wasn't known and a bulletin was imminent. So, you'd hear reporters in disaster zones say something like, 'more than a hundred people were killed in ...' You understood that that meant 'on the information we have to hand at this very moment, we think it's about a hundred and maybe a few more.' It was an acceptable compromise to sacrifice absolute accuracy given an intractable deadline and the undoubted public interest in this kind of event. Now, you hear reporters using that locution for what would appear to be exact numbers. It's not uncommon to hear something like, 'more than six people were killed in ...' What is 'more than six'? Seven, eight, 4.3 billion? I recently heard a bulletin on our broadcaster of record, ABC Radio National, begin with the words, 'more than 171 people...' And, this morning I read a report on housing 'issues' informing me that 'forty per cent of households are made up of two people or less.' What does less than two people mean?
You'll know the expression, 'the price of freedom is eternal vigilance'. I don't think it's an overreaction to apply it to the preservation of language as it's the only tool most of us will ever have with which to challenge oppressors. It is also the only weapon that cannot be taken from us once we have it. There are some not very nice people out there who can and do benefit from our diminishing collective ability to fight bogus assertions with sound logic and verbal integrity. The pen might once have been considered mightier than the sword but the words it has previously wielded so deftly are now well on the way to acquiring the status of a condiment.
It really doesn't have to be this way. Let's solve the problem now, while there are still enough of us alive who can remember how the language is supposed to work. Schools need to get themselves back in the business of handing down the heritage of knowledge instead of doing whatever it is they do now, which I presume is something akin to what happens in a car factory. If I had a penny for every time someone has said to me, 'let's not reinvent the wheel', I'd be able to buy a very big block of Parmesan cheese. Yet, reinvention of a perfectly adequate wheel is exactly what is happening to our language. A lexicon that has been honed to a high level of sophistication over many centuries and is beloved by everyone except its native speakers is being rapidly deconstructed by the most brutish amateurs amongst us. Let's not allow this.
Can I get general agreeance on this proposition? If not, I'll have no recourse but to experience extreme annoyment.
PS. It goes without saying that any post I write about grammar and spelling will contain some errors. Naturally, I will check it a dozen times. But, one or two will slip through to remind me that I am far more human than I care to admit.