Written by Theolonius McTavish

Copyright Theolonius McTavish 2004.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF ELEPHANTS -- Or, can you tell me where I can find “Babar”, “Dumbo” or “Topsy”? --

According to Google, 826,000 websites are devoted torepparttar topic of elephants.

Just imagine what would life be like if there were no behemoths rambling about to give someone a bad-hair day?

Actually these boisterous bruisers have been around for millennia; so long in fact that 4,000 years ago, people inrepparttar 118156 Indus Valley decided it was about time to tame them.

Besides hauling around oodles of stuff, including monarchs and their entourages,repparttar 118157 plump pachyderms becamerepparttar 118158 weapon of choice for ancient warriors with lots of time on their hands. After all, no one moves quickly in a military campaign using ‘Babar’, ‘Dumbo’ or ‘Topsy’; everyone that is except Hannibal, who in 218 BC took a joy ride with 37 elephants overrepparttar 118159 Alps to winrepparttar 118160 Second Punic War.

Not to be outdone byrepparttar 118161 continental hordes, nor content to be just 'King ofrepparttar 118162 Castle',repparttar 118163 British boasted of their intention to rulerepparttar 118164 whole wide world before engineers laid claim to that feat first. To that end, they thought a few elephants might dorepparttar 118165 trick. So,repparttar 118166 Royal Navy got busy and named two 18th century storage vessels and a gun-ship, “HMS Elephant”, (in spite ofrepparttar 118167 fact that gun-powder had renderedrepparttar 118168 elephant obsolete as a high-performance fighting machine).

Wars involving blessedly big beasts and man-made monsters would soon fall byrepparttar 118169 wayside, in favor ofrepparttar 118170 more popular "rat race", (a leisure activity pursued by ripsnorting rodents and robber-baron wannabes). Clearly,repparttar 118171 elephant would need a new reason for being if it was going to surviverepparttar 118172 slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Since pet rocks, silly putty and slinkies had not yet been invented,repparttar 118173 rich and famous still needed something to amuse themselves. Elephants looked like a good idea atrepparttar 118174 time. So, with a new lease on life, these hefty hairless creatures became objects of affection and "must-have" items of conspicuous consumption for several dudes of distinction. French Emperor Charlemagne acquired a hungry household pet named “Abul-Abbas”, while Pope Leo X, (with few friends around to chewrepparttar 118175 fat and down a pint of grog), found solace through a spiritual connection to his non-ruminating hoofed animal companion, “Hanno”.

With far too many elephants and sacred cows hanging around and taking up space onrepparttar 118176 planet, not to mention scads of young men with blunderbusses, and numerous old bucks bored out of their trees romping aroundrepparttar 118177 back forty, a new trophy sport emerged to keep these testy titans occupied. Whilerepparttar 118178 lads were enthusiastically engaged in "offing"repparttar 118179 floundering floppy-eared things plodding aboutrepparttar 118180 plains of Africa --repparttar 118181 taxidermists enjoyed a booming business upon their return. Apparently,repparttar 118182 only ones who complained bitterly aboutrepparttar 118183 trophy hunt were those left behind -- an odd assortment of neglected nitpicking nags, abandoned paramours, and inconsolable damsels-in-distress.

Seeingrepparttar 118184 “Old World” get allrepparttar 118185 credit for coming up with ways to tame or trounce elephants,repparttar 118186 “New World” cowboys were a tad ticked off. The pursuit of happiness pioneers, (with precious little to do inrepparttar 118187 "home ofrepparttar 118188 brave"), decided it was high time to kick butt for a change. So, they tossedrepparttar 118189 yoke of yucky British tea, put an end torepparttar 118190 tyranny of tasteless crumpets, and created new job opportunities for bronco-busters (in a country with vanishing buffalo, no elephants, and a wide array of flea-bitten mules). A glorious and bright future lay ahead for those who dared to ride bulls bareback, or those willing to take up less stressful occupations such as tenderfooted cowpokes, barnyard groomers, and burger flippers.


Written by Rev. James L. Snyder

"When in polite society," my grandfather opined, "never talk about religion or politics." Then he would dismiss himself from said "polite society" and talk about nothing but religion and politics.

Mostly, he talked about politics and believe me, he had a lot to say onrepparttar subject. Much cannot be repeated in polite society or any other society.

All I know about politics I learned from my grandfather and yet, to this day I don't know if he was a Republican or a Democrat. He prided himself in being an independent thinker.

He was so much an independent thinker that often he would takerepparttar 118155 opposite side of an argument.

For more than 20 years, he served inrepparttar 118156 Department of Transportation regardless ofrepparttar 118157 political party in office atrepparttar 118158 time. In fact, he wasrepparttar 118159 only person who never got fired when a new administration came to power. Every new administration thought he was on their side.

If a Republican was in office, he talked Republican and when a Democrat was in office, he talked Democrat. "It doesn't matter what you say," he once told me, "once inside that voting booth you are always boss." Then with a devious smile he would repeat, "always."

Few things in life he respected more than that voting booth. He deemed it a sacred obligation to vote and never missed a chance to exercise his American citizenship duty.

It was simply impossible to know how he voted. The secrecy of his vote wasrepparttar 118160 most precious thing he knew and could never understand why people boasted of who they were voting for.

I suspect, and I have no reason to really know this, he probably voted people "out of office" rather than in. Just a hunch I have, but will never know for sure.

Duringrepparttar 118161 recent political campaign I heardrepparttar 118162 phrase, "the devil is inrepparttar 118163 details." The first time I heard that phrase it came from my grandfather. But he always said it a little differently. "The devil," he stated, "is in de tales." Then he would slap his knee and roar with laughter.

Atrepparttar 118164 time, I laughed with him but I really did not knowrepparttar 118165 full import of his little joke. Thirty years later, I'm beginning to understand what my grandfather was talking about and I'm inclined to believe he was right onrepparttar 118166 money.

It is notrepparttar 118167 "details" that gives so much trouble, it isrepparttar 118168 insistence of "de tales," whererepparttar 118169 devil lies. It is probably as difficult for a politician to tellrepparttar 118170 straight truth as it is for a porcupine to go into business blowing up balloons for birthday parties.

My grandfather taught me that for a politicianrepparttar 118171 truth equals "fact" plus "spin." The spin, he alleged, was much more important thanrepparttar 118172 fact. According to my grandfather, any politician worth his salt can take any fact and spin it to make him look likerepparttar 118173 winner.

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