Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category


A congress of baboons and other collective/group nouns

Today we will go from Aardvarks to Eagles.

  • BaboonsAn armory of aardvarks
  • A shrewdness of apes
  • A Coffle of asses
  • A congress of baboons 
  • A babble of barbers
  • A bike, bike cast, cluster, erst, drift, game, grist, hive, hum, rabble, stand, or swarm of bees
  • A sute of bloodhounds
  • A rood of boors
  • A keg of bowlers
  • A chatter of budgies
  • An obstinacy of buffalo
  • A clowder, cluster, clutter, destruction, dout, dowt, glaring, kindle, litter, or pounce of cats
  • A parenthesis of cellists
  • A coalition of cheetahs
  • A brood, chattering, cletch, clutch, flock, or peep of chickens
  • A consort of corgi
  • A saunter of cowboys
  • 1-1-13-american-crows-img_4589A cauldron, caucus, congress, cowardice, hover, murder, muster, parcel, or storytelling of crows
  • A squat of daubers
  • A decanter, or decorum of deans
  • A rash of dermatologists
  • A guess of diagnosticians
  • A meaning of dictionaries
  • A vane of directions
  • A bevy, cote, dole, dule, exaltation, flight, piteousness, or prettying of doves
  • A bevy, or frost of dowagers
  • A badelynge of ducks (on the ground)
  • A paddling of ducks (while swimming)
  • A raft of ducks (while idle in water)
  • A flight, plump, or team of ducks (while flying)
  • An aerie, convocation, jubilee, soar, or spread of eagles




No, you’re not from [expletive] Boston

From my column yesterday in The Boston Globe:

THE WORLDWIDE outpouring of sympathy over the Boston Marathon bombing has resulted in a lot of well-meaning out-of-town people and institutions showing their solidarity with us by saying or publishing some version of “We’re all Bostonians now.” In keeping with the true spirit of the city — as perfectly captured by David Ortiz — I’d like to say, “Appreciate the thought, but no you’re [expletive] not.”

Those nice folks shouldn’t take this personally; after all, a lot of us who live here aren’t sure if we’re Bostonians.


I am not a nerd!

I Am A: Lawful Good Human Monk (7th Level) 

I still have all my AD&D books from high school.

I still have all my AD&D books from high school.

Ability Scores:

Lawful Good A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. He combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. He tells the truth, keeps his word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished. Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion. However, lawful good can be a dangerous alignment when it restricts freedom and criminalizes self-interest.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Monks are versatile warriors skilled at fighting without weapons or armor. Good-aligned monks serve as protectors of the people, while evil monks make ideal spies and assassins. Though they don’t cast spells, monks channel a subtle energy, called ki. This energy allows them to perform amazing feats, such as healing themselves, catching arrows in flight, and dodging blows with lightning speed. Their mundane and ki-based abilities grow with experience, granting them more power over themselves and their environment. Monks suffer unique penalties to their abilities if they wear armor, as doing so violates their rigid oath. A monk wearing armor loses their Wisdom and level based armor class bonuses, their movement speed, and their additional unarmed attacks per round.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)


10 Reasons Roger Williams is the coolest American historical figure you’ve never heard of

Roger Williams (1603 – 1683)

57961_ri_seal_lg1)      Kicked out of Massachusetts for opposing an oath of allegiance to government (but still helps out Massachusetts by getting the Narragansett Tribe to ally with Bay State during Pequot War. Massachusetts, in keeping with a long tradition of being assholes, would later betray the Narragansetts.)

2)      After being convicted of sedition and heresy for spreading “diverse, new, and dangerous opinions” the order to have him kicked out was delayed because Williams was ill and winter was approaching – as long as he ceased his agitation. Guess who went on agitating? So in January 1636 the sheriff comes to get him only to discover that Williams had slipped away three days before during a blizzard. He walked 105 miles through deep snow in the heart of winter from Salem to the head of Narragansett Bay.

3)      First abolitionist in colonies – Rhode Island is only colony to pass a law banning slavery after Massachusetts (no surprise, right?) introduced the first law legalizing slavery in the colonies.

4)      Wrote a pamphlet arguing that land belonged to Native Americans unless they were paid for it. Paid fair market value for land he bought from Native Americans to found his own settlement.

5)      Writes first dictionary Native American-English Dictionary – a best-seller in England.

6)      Because he hated Massachusetts’ courts being able to rule on people’s religious practices he creates the idea of separation of church and state. His book arguing for this was also a best-seller in England and the Parliament ordered it burned by the “Public Hangman” (which probably helped sales).

7)      Founds Providence Plantations (which would later become Rhode Island), the first government (probably in Western history ) to separate Church and State legally.

8)      Although believing his hard-core brand of Puritanism was the One True Way, created a government built around the idea of religious tolerance. He believed that you changed minds through argument not by legal coercion. As a result Rhode Island became a haven for religious and even atheist minorities. This is why Rhode Island has the oldest synagogue in North America.

9)      Seemed to know everyone in England and the Colonies. Only clerk ever to Edward Coke, jurist who is basically responsible for the English legal tradition. Taught John Milton. Good friend of Oilver Cromwell.

10)   Was hated by Cotton Mather. Mather continued to be afraid of Williams and his ideas long after Williams’ death. He wrote in 1702: “There was a whole country in America like to be set on fire by the rapid motion of a windmill in the head of one particular man, Roger Williams.” Mather warned that Williams ideas menaced “the whole political, as well as the ecclesiastical, constitution of the country.”

That ain’t the half of it. Read Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul by John Barry for the whole story.


Things you wish you said

Image“Who’s the mother?” — Homer Bigart, renowned war correspondent for The New York Herald Tribune, on learning that Marguerite Higgins, The Herald Tribune’s other equally renowned war correspondent, was pregnant.

In case you hadn’t guessed, they did not get along. This did not stop them from winning a Pulitzer Prize together for their coverage of the Korean War. Bigart later wrote of Higgins,

“When I came out I thought I was the premier war correspondent and I thought that she, being the Tokyo correspondent, ought to be back in Toyko. But she didn’t see things that way. She was a very brave person, foolishly brave. As a result, I felt as though I had to go out and get shot at occasionally myself. So I resented that.”


Notes on the care and feeding of media frenzies

ImageToday we got to see a frenzy in full force. CNN, citing various official sources, claimed there had been an arrest in the Boston Marathon bombing. The Boston Globe, citing CNN, re-iterated the same. The AP, citing G-d knows what because I didn’t read their story, claimed an arrest was imminent. Then the national news outlets got in on the job and it was too late; anything even resembling a fact was going to die a lonely, forgotten death. TV news trucks and serious looking reporters littered the streets of Boston, making it even more impossible than usual to find a parking spot. Or, as our good friend Spike Milligan wrote, “Nothing happened but it happened frequently.”

On the plus side, we did get some humor out of the whole thing:

And even as I write this another frenzy is in the offing, “RT @JesseRodriguez: NBC’s Pete Williams: Arrest made in potential ricin letters case.” The media has the institutional memory of a mayfly on crystal meth. (I should have known better than to doubt Pete Williams. That’s like doubting the sun will rise.)

My lone experience on the inside of one of these things was in 1989, proving you don’t need twitter or even email to start a stampede. I was working as a news copy editor at The Boston Herald. If anyone asked I told them I was responsible for removing polysyllabic words from the paper — which was close to the truth. On October 24, an alleged human named Charles Stuart had shot and killed his pregnant wife while driving in a car in Boston’s Mission Hill neighborhood, he then shot himself in the abdomen and called the police claiming to be the victim of a carjacking.
Whatever else you say about Stuart he knew how to play an audience. The media went from 0 to full bat-shit crazy in the blink of a deadline. The national networks and newspapers parachuted so many people into Boston it felt like we were in France the night before D-Day.
Stuart claimed the perpetrator was a dark-skinned male between 20 and 30 wearing a red jumpsuit. Guess what the predominant skin tone was of the Mission Hill population? The Boston Police snapped into action and rounded up the usual suspects who, based on Stuart’s description, included at least 50 percent of Boston’s male African-Americans. In December the police arrested one Willie Bennett who, to no one’s surprise, fit the description — as did the members of Run-DMC and a significant portion of the New England Patriots’ defense. None of this prevented Stuart from identifying Bennett during a police line up. Mike Barnicle, then of the Boston Globe, wrote that the police had “covered themselves in glory” in their handling of the case. He was not being ironic.
And that sent the bat-shit crazy (BSC) through the sound barrier. There was no rumor so unsubstantiated that it would not make page 1 of any paper or the first story in any broadcast. The editors  were clamoring for anything they could use as an excuse to make it look like they had more information and they got it. My boss at the Herald, the late great Norm Gray, said all the coverage should be nominated for a Pulitzer — in fiction. Sadly, he was not in charge of the paper.
Oddly the case against Bennett fell apart quite quickly. This was mostly because Stuart’s brother Matthew came forward and told the police that he had been in on the whole thing and had tossed the murder weapon from the Pines River Bridge. Charles, perhaps knowing a good idea when he saw it, jumped off the Tobin Bridge the next day. No tears were shed.
Here’s how to tell that a story has entered the BSC zone: The Wall Street Journal starts reporting on a local crime story. The WSJ is a fine paper that covers business very well and that’s what they should stick to. In the Stuart case and now in the Marathon Bombing case they just get stuff wrong. Love ya, guys and gals but there are some sandboxes you really shouldn’t play in.

What I believe

I got tagged in game of blog meme by my friend Pam Phillips. It’s a simple enough meme: What are five things you believe? (Pam had tagged me at CollateralDamage but I decided to move the response here to my irony-free zone.)

I believe:

  1. I’ve had enough to drink
  2. in God as I do not understand God
  3. form is emptiness, emptiness is form
  4. art is essential
  5. in everyone’s absolute right not to believe

OK, now I have to pick five folks. First is easy: Jennifer. Then … hmmm … Andrew, Rob, Churbuck and Forbes. Have at it gang.


The Ministry of Culture is a blog (duh!) about whatever interests me, a professional journalist. It looks at current events, culture -- rock & roll, literature, roller derby, opera, comedy -- military history and whatever else crosses my path. All opinions are my own.


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