21 July 2007
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Why It's Hard Sometimes to Come Up With a Good Title

Schadenfreude.  "Mocking the Afflicted."  Being cruel.  Every title that I came up with (except the above, of course) was either mean in itself, or impliedly mean once the context is revealed.  I'm not a mean person!  And on the rare occasions that I may appear to be, it's simply social ineptness.  At least that's easier to forgive, with a bit of schadenfreude of one's own.  What titles did I reject?

  • There is a God
  • Winners and Losers
  • The FBI in Peace and War
  • What Immigration Problem?

So let me reveal the context.  It was an editorial in the Wall Street Journal about the current immigration hassle.  I don't pretend to have followed all the arguments; it's one of those things where everyone is right and wrong while trying to be both moralistic and practical.  Open the floodgates and we'll have cheap labor and more engineers.  Close them and wages will go up but you'll have to pick your own lettuce.  Or something like that.  The Journal, of course comes down on the side of business:  Don't allow the migrant workers in and there's nobody to do the work.  Who will pick our veggies, ponders the Wall Street Journal in its 20 July 2007 editorial."Where are all the farm workers?" asks the article?  Who will pick our veggies?

In any controversy such as this there are winners and losers, real and imagined on both sides.  I like my veggies in general.  I've written on the subject, thankfully not extensively.  And, like most people, I have my winners and losers in veggie land.  One loser is the dreaded cuke.  And perhaps now is the time to mention another:  Asparagus.  I have on occasion entered the house to the yummy aroma of cooking shallots.  "Yum!  Shallots!"  I am heard to exclaim.  (Or onions; I can't reliably disambiguate all members of the allium genus by aroma alone.  I love them ecumenically, with an especial nod to the noble garlic bulb.)  But when I go in search of the source of the aroma, I often find that premeditated contamination has occurred.  That's right:  The shallots have been cooked with asparagus, rendering them inedible.  My options are either to learn to cook or to emit a sigh.  The latter invariably is the one I select.

Imagine, then, my excitement when global politics intrudes on my personal vegetablic preferences.  Who could resist a frisson of joy when reading the excerpt, below, from the article I mentioned above?  Read it! I'll wait...

Asparagus rotting in the fields!*  Fewer cukes!  I am a winner!  There is a God!  We kept those illegal aliens out!  And yet, there are losers as well.  There are people who actually make a living from selling cucumbers and asparagus, improbable as it may seem.  I have no desire for them to suffer.  Neither does it make me feel good that people who are willing and able to process these benighted items of nature for more money than they would otherwise make cannot do so for artificial or bureaucratic reasons.  I'm unhappy for them all, and the fact that certain execrable vegetables may be suffering along with them (Science isn't entirely certain about this, but it is hopeful) doesn't ameliorate this feeling for not-mean me.  Hence I've eschewed the listed titles.  Perhaps I should have gone with "The FBI in Peace and War."

*  Not that asparagus actually rots in the fields.  In effect it's born pre-rotted for our convenience.  And, unlike yogurt, if you leave it out for too long, it won't go good.

NP:  "Temperamental" - DiVinyls

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