Digging Deep
By R. D. Flavin

8-16-2013

     Most of the recent national polls (for example, Gallop, Wall Street Journal) suggest that Americans believe the One Hundred Thirteenth United States Congress (Jan. 3, 2013 – Jan. 3, 2015) is on-track to become the laziest, darn tootin' bunch of good-for-nothings since the infamous 104th (1995 – 1996) and their masturbatory “Contract With America.”  Yeah, back then Nobel laureate Toni Morrison called Pres. Clinton "the first Black president" and today Newsweek refers to Pres. Obama as “The First Gay President.”  Modern “Lost Cause” Republicans are a pretentious and whiny cult who favor neither blacks nor gays, and surely African-American homosexuals must be some form of aberrant anathema for the GOP-ers.  The poopy diaper-wearing Red State elephants are digging deep in their trunks when they should be making laws and working toward the good of the nation.

     Mindful that the nose-picking Republicans are sadly matched by too many runny-nosed asses (Equus africanus asinus variety) who should be enjoying party health instead of political infirmity and ineffectiveness, the Democrats have indeed done much good, yet more needs imminence.  A clearer vision of progressive civility is needed with support by better legal scholars, surer philosophers of egalitarian ethics, less reliance on 'independence' and a greater recognition of welcomed interdependence and cooperation.  Democrats need to be the faction of science and truth against the Republican denomination of pseudoscience, lies, and obfuscations.  We've had Gods and Generals, Gods and Monsters, and, may it please Lugh, never let us witness ...Gods and Politicians.  Though, in fairness, some seem intent on picking and picking on God's nose...


God Nose by Jaxon and "God" in the Creazione di Adamo by Michelangelo, 1512.

     Before Wonder Wart-Hog, Fritz the Cat, and the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Jack “Jaxon” Jackson is credited with producing the first “underground” comic, God Nose (1964, self-published), featuring an irreverent and madcap cosmic character with an appropriately sized holy honker.  I use the adverb “ appropriately” because the Semitic and Christian god has a long history of ...a long nose.  No, not as in some recycled hooked-nose Jewish stereotype, but rather ...with traditions of respect and consideration.

     With linguistic reconstruction, it's proposed that the the Proto-Semitic term for 'nose' was something like *ʔanp[ʱ].  Yeah, a glottal stop with a voiced glottal fricative always makes me think of a schnoz, but that's probably just me.  Anywho, attested with the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, ca. 1772 BCE, and written in the East Semitic Akkadian language (Hammurabi spoke Amorite, a Northwest Semitic language), the expression appa labānu or “to stroke the nose” is an ancient “hand-lifting” ritual and gesture of respect and subordination (Frechette 2012, 2.4.3.3).  The importance of the 'nose' in early Semitic language and culture extends from the Ugaritic “[k qṭr . b ˀaph” or “(vanish) like smoke from his nose” to Hebrew scripture with אף or 'nose' often translated as 'anger', as in אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם (erek apayim) of Proverbs 16:32, as one of Yahwey's Thirteen Attributes of Mercy is that He's “slow to anger” which literally means He's got a “long nose.”  Linguists argue that flaring nostrils is a universal sign of anger, while religious scholars qualify with an explanation that as Yahwey excels in patience and self-control (yeah, tell that to His enemies), the more time it takes a breath of consideration to travel through the nostrils, the greater the level of self-control and, hence, a really long, godly nose.  An alternative epithet, “long suffering,” is yet another poetic turn-of-the-nose.  I'm not going to get into Genesis with Yahwey breathing life into Adam's nose, as what happens in Eden should stay in Eden.

     Ancient nose-picking (rhinotillexis) is a neglected area of study.  Sure, there's mention of the boy-pharaoh Tutankhamun's personal nose-picker, there are Vedic examples of encouraged nose-picking (and mucophagy), but by the time of the Classical Greek and Roman authors, pickers-of-the-nose had assumed a “modern” hypocritical ambiguity (i.e., one picks their nose from necessity, while others pick their noses for vulgar reasons).  Now, in more (supposedly) modern times, the non-exact science of psychology has decried nose-picking as “evidence of a strong inner emotional tension state (Seltzer 1963)” and as “deviant (Lapouse & Monk 1964).”  There's another scientific "N.O.S.E.," but I'd rather not get into it (Palanivelu et al. 2008).  In common (and unspoken) parlance, nose-picking is presumed to be a private activity, while public nose-picking (or, at least, getting caught at it) is viewed as an outward manifestation of laziness, both from the “nothing better to do” approach and the “can't be bothered to do it in private” interpretation.  Digging deep in one's nose is an outward literal indication and an idiomatic expression of extreme laziness.  And so, taking a deep breath, I regard our current Congress as digging deep in their collective noses on America's dime and time.  Is it truly laziness or something more insidious?

     Well, Congress is away until Sept. 9, 2013 and though there are several pending bills and legislation which could actually help us and produce meaningful results, it'd be foolish to underestimate the mean-spirited incompetence and Occam's Razor laziness of the One Hundred Thirteenth United States Congress (First Session).  Last week, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) bragged to his constituents that the House of Representatives has enough votes to impeach Pres. Obama, though it's anyone's guess if there will be a blue dress involved.  It could be about the alleged Benghazi “cover-up” or maybe it's a continuation of the “Birther”-thing.  Let's see, Republican, from Texas, questionable intelligence...  I lived in Wichita Falls for several months as a kid and I remember a tall, beefy history teacher wanting to paddle me because I inadvertently said “darn” in class and he dragged me to the principal's office.  Called in from work, my father, a Master Sargent in the U.S. Army taking a course at Sheppard Air Force Base, whispered something to both the principal and the teacher, and the matter was immediately dropped and never revisited.  My dad gave me a wink and went back to work.  That was then...  However, as things are “bigger” in Texas, there are bigger jerks in Texas, as in their present preoccupation with being anti-women's rights, anti-immigration reform, change in voting requirements, and trying their best to ignore the outcome of Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) which invalidated their anti-sodomy law, as well as being as outwardly anti-LGBT as they can get away with before federal troops are sent in.  My heart goes out to the Democrats in Texas.  Stay strong!  Remember Tony Alamo!  Okay, that was a poor joke about Bernie Lazar Hoffman; ...sorry!

     It could be argued, of course, that most, if not all, elected officials (not only members of Congress) are in it for the gravy and not for any genuine sense of civic duty.  It's an easy gig compared to manuel labor, factory, retail and service employment, or just about any job that doesn't require a degree, certification, and previous or related experience.  Well, there's commission sales and sex-work, though it's sometimes difficult to accurately distinguish between (bad) politics, (bad) sales, and (bad) sex.  Still, for every profession, there should be an inherent degree of competency.  Pick a jerk or a villian and one could reasonably advance that such a jerk or villian is the “best” jerk or villain they can be.  Is Congress the best they can be?  Maybe at digging deep in their noses...

Bibliography:
Frechette, Christopher G.  2012.  Mesopotamian Ritual-Prayers of “Hand-lifting” (Akkadian Šuillas): An Investigation of Function in Light of the Rubric.  Alter Orient und Altes Testament; Bd. 379.  Münster: Ugarit-Verlag.
Lapouse, Rema and Mary A. Monk.  1964.  “Behavior Deviations in a Representative Sample of Children: Variation by Sex, Age, Race, Social Class and Family Size.”  American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.  34, 3: 436-446.
Palanivelu et al. 2008.  “An Innovative Technique for Colorectal Specimen Retrieval: A New Era of 'Natural Orifice Specimen Extraction' (N.O.S.E.).”  By Chinnusamy Palanivelu, Muthukumaran Rangarajan, Priyadarshan Anand Jategaonkar, and Natesan Vijay Anand.  Diseases of the Colon & Rectum.  51, 7: 1120-1124.
Seltzer, Albert P.  1963.  “Nose Picking.”  Journal of the National Medical Association.  55, 5: 451–452.

Readying my handkerchief,

Rick

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