A defrocked New England minister attends a San Francisco convention learning how to sell life insurance to seminarians. He accidentally encounters an old friend from seminary days--a man who's been reduced to selling trinkets. On three consecutive days the two have discussions in which they progressively reveal their most personal secrets to one another.
"Begging the Question"
In its original and proper meaning, this phase refers to the act of assuming the truth of what you're trying to prove. It's a logical fallacy. (When I tried to put it in the original Latin, my spell-check refused my attempt. So I'll just spell it out: p-e-t-i-t-i-o p-r-i-n-c-i-p-i-i.)
But in recent times the phrase has come to be used in a quite different way. For example, "That begs the question, should Trump be impeached?" (For what it's worth, the correct answer is probably "Maybe, but not in the way some in the House are going about it." But that is by the bye.)
Using the phrase in this second way is a crime against logic. What the speaker or writer is trying to say is, "That raises the question, should Trump," etc. The crime is that in using the phrase, one is keeping oneself from ever using the phrase in its right way.
For more on this issue, a trip to Google shows that "begging the question" calls up a long panoply of sites. For example, try begthequestion.info for a clever treatment of this common mistake.
Show off your vocabulary skills! Don't appear to be a dolt! Show off your logic chops!
Ms. Ladrona: We’re back at the first DRiP debate, coming to you live from the Watering Hole, located in the nether regions of Hotel Adios in Small Southwestern City. Tonight, our two participants are Mr. Ab Ennis, candidate for president, and Mr. Orville Slack IV, his running mate. Mr. Slack, one, could you tell us what adversity you have overcome, and two, how you overcame it?
Mr. Slack: Yeah, Ah sure cane. Yuh see, Ah was browt up in Hillbilla Countra, which is ’bout as ad-verse uh piece uh real ’state as a mayun can in-habit.
Ms. Ladrona: And how did you overcome this adversity?
Mr. Slack: By movin’ ta Smawl Southwesten Cita.
Ms. Ladrona: Could you say more?
Mr. Slack: Ah could, but Ah won’t.
Ms. Ladrona: I see. And you, Mr. Ennis?
Mr. Ennis: I was brought up in Russia—that was before the Revolution of ’17. But Czarist Russia was not all that different from Hillbilly Country, which, as my running mate has noted, is about as adverse a piece of real estate as a man--
Ms. Ladrona: A man!!??
Mr. Ennis: Oops! Excuse me. As a person can inhabit.
Ms. Ladrona: That’s much better. And how did you overcome this adversity?
Mr. Ennis: By moving to Small Southwestern City.
Ms. Ladrona: Could you say more?
Mr. Ennis: I could, but I won’t.
Ms. Ladrona: I see. So that concludes our debate tonight. But keep informed, audience, because you might just have to vote somewhere down the line.
Audience: Hear, hear! (And other modes of applause.)
Transcript, First DRiP Presidential Debate
April 15, 2024
Ms. Ladrona: We’re live here at the first DRiP debate, coming to you live from the Watering Hole, located in the nether regions of Hotel Adios in Small Southwestern City. Tonight, our two participants are Mr. Ab Ennis, candidate for president, and Mr. Orville Slack IV, his running mate.
Without further ado, let us begin with Mr. Ennis. Mr. Ennis, why are you running for president of the United States of America on the Dead Rights ticket?
Mr. Ennis: It’s the only ticket I qualify for.
Mr. Slack: Me too.
Ms. Ladrona: Aha! I notice that there is little or no disagreement between you two on this point.
Mr. Ennis: I noticed that.
Mr. Slack: Ah also notice that.
Ms. Ladrona: Another point of agreement! Mr. Slack, is there anything you find yourself disagreeing with Mr. Ennis about?
Mr. Ennis: He was born in Panhandle County. I wasn’t.
Mr. Slack: Tha’s ’bout right.
Ms. Ladrona: What about policy issues? Are there other points of disagreement there?
Mr. Slack: He don’ think we sh’ be ’tacklin’ China. Ah do.
Mr. Ennis: That’s correct, though I would like to add that it probably makes no difference whether we do or don’t.
Ms. Ladrona: Aha! I sense a difference of opinion.
Mr. Ennis: Not so fast. I agree with my esteemed running mate that I don’t think we should be tackling China.
Mr. Slack: Ah agree with muh es-teem runnin’ mate that Ah think we sh’ be ’tacklin’ China.
Ms. Ladrona: On that note, let’s take an ale break.
Crowd: Hear, hear!
Minutes of the KRT Meeting
April 2, 2024
By Ms. Leticia Ladrona
The meeting was called to order by Ms. Talia la Musa.
The purpose of this meeting was to inquire into the surreptitious authorship by Mr. Myles na Gopaleen, Jr. of a recent piece concerning the ancestry of Mr. Orville Slack IV, a writing that had been neither requested by the KRT nor passed through the regular channel, i.e., the Committee of the Whole of KRT, over which said KRT has, by both custom and law, complete control.
Mr. na Gopaleen moved we adjourn. Motion failed for lack of a second.
Mr. na Gopaleen called for a point of order.
Ms. la Musa granted Mr. na Gopaleen a brief time (i.e., thirty  seconds) to explain his point.
Mr. na Gopaleen rose to deny authorship of any and all writings, surreptitious or otherwise, concerning the ancestry of Mr. Slack IV. As an addendum to his denial, he explained that if he did not compose said piece, it would follow that no inquiry should or indeed could be made into his putative authorship.
Ms. Ladrona moved we adjourn. Motion failed for lack of a second.
Mr. Slack requested that a committee be appointed to investigate the veracity (my word) of Mr. na Gopaleen’s claim.
Ms. la Musa moved that the meeting adjourn, citing the water-under-the-bridge principle. Motion seconded by Mr. na Gopaleen. Motion failed for lack of a positive vote.
Mr. na Gopaleen moved that (1) an investigation be held by the Small Southwestern City Bureau of Investigation and (2) this investigation be concluded within a fortnight. Motion seconded by Ms. la Musa and passed by acclamation as we all scurried down the hall and to our left.
With the money he inherited from his ingenious Papa, Slack IV was able to purchase a small bungalow—ironically, this modest home had belonged to a creditor, who had been hanged by a righteously indignant mob consisting largely of Papa’s disciples. It was his father’s success that allowed him to finance his son’s seventh grade education.
Shortly thereafter, the present Slack met a charming woman called Akleema—the name, it is said, comes from one of the daughters of Adam. (See Holy Bible, Book of Genesis, second chapter.) Akleema was a former stowaway on a ship headed from the Arabian Peninsula to Galveston. On the occasion of a series of trysts with Slack IV subsequent to a torrid romp in the dried alfalfa, she urged him to make her an honest woman. But Sarah Cohen-Slack would have none of it. As candidate Slack explained, “I was forced to apply my family talent to the situation and beg off the proposed matrimony,” proudly adding, “This fact, together with my mother’s longevity, is why I have remained a bachelor to this very day.
Orville III, or “Papa,” as he was called by his adoring son, was more fortunate, undoubtedly because of his firm commitment to the Protestant work ethic, which he had heard about at a revival meeting presided over by a Baptist preacher who doubled as his (the preacher’s) mother’s secret lover. On one of his infrequent trips to Waco’s dens of iniquity, Orville the Third met and married Sarah Cohen, the candidate’s mother who, it was later learned by reading her correspondence with a former yeshiva-attending husband, was of Jewish ancestry. Ms. Cohen-Slack gave birth to Orville the Fourth on Christmas Day, prompting the mother to predict that her newborn boy would “make something of himself,” adding, after giving the matter a moment’s thought, “and I mean in a big way.” Some considered these words a prophecy of the self-fulfilling genre, citing the fact that she had come to the marriage with a small dowry, allowing Papa Slack to work himself up to a shack. It was at this point that the Slack family developed a substantial following. While still at the tin can stage of his life, Slack IV told Talia la Musa that he distinctly remembered that many of his neighbors would miss church of a Sunday morning and come over to Papa’s paint-thirsty shack to ask for his advice on how to deal with medicine pushers and other types of confidence tricksters. They would all sit around the stove and discuss the problem of evil and how to fight it. Papa’s quick mind was always “running like sixty,” as they used to say in those days. His best pieces of advice would invariably cause the advisee to flip a quarter into the ten-gallon hat that abutted the tips of his (Papa’s) five-gallon shoes.
It was in this cactus-enhanced seraglio that the candidate’s father, Orville Slack III, aka Père Slack, was begotten from a pool of English/Oriental/ Hispanic/Indian/black/French/faux-Mormon genes. His birthmother Matty was a woman of industry who both believed in and implemented the American dream. Not long after her entrance into the abovementioned ménage-a-trois, she insisted that her swain improve their circumstances by moving from the foul-smelling sod hut w/ fossil-stocked basement to a shed at the center of the town that was destined to become the renowned Slackville, then in the no-man’s-land adjoining Texas and Oklahoma. How she bankrolled this exchange has yet to be ascertained. All that is publicly known is that after giving birth to Père Slack, she skipped town with a Bible-toting circuit-riding migratory Methodist minister of the Gospel who peddled copies of the venerable Shankara’s eighth-century commentary on the Bhaghava-Gita, as well as armadillo-armored firkins of spirits, on the side. Not long after this scandalous skedaddle, it should be noted, Sacajawea II yielded to her inbred wanderlust and, one night, hopped astride the family steed and, leaving father and son to fend for themselves, headed north and west to sample the Nez Perce experience.
At age 18, Slack II then took up with a woman of Amerind descent. It is said that Sacajawea II was to bow-and-arrow hunting as her mother-in-law Margarita had been to bank borrowing. Her other notorious skill was the ability to guide U.S. Cavalry units through rattlesnake country—a skill, they say, she had learned from her own great-grandmother. On one of her scouting expeditions, Sacajawea the Second came across a large band of Mormon women who had answered a Brigham Young ad and were en route to the Promised Land. From this troop of lustful, lonely ladies she bought, in exchange for a foal of the mare she was astride and as a gift for her husband, a black Frenchwoman who had inadvertently joined that jubilant posse of nubiles. At the suggestion of this woman, Matty II la Mort du Slack II, Slack IV’s grandfather added another bedroom to the hut, though there is no record of how this appurtenance was financed. [Not much is known of Slack II’s second wife, Grandma Maria del Ojibway, of the Ontario Ojibways, except that she excelled in pistol-shooting and also had one helluva temper.]
Slack II worked himself up from cave life to a sod hut, which in bygone days was considered the American equivalent of a castle. His calling was to further develop the art form he had learned from his father, the art that came to be called “begging off”—a set of techniques the candidate himself was later to perfect. After a down-on-his-luck builder had mounted a sod dwelling atop a sequestered cave strewn with ancient jawless fish from the mid-Ordovician period, Slack the Second refused payment. In fact, he threatened a lawsuit on the grounds that there were several discernible bits of cactus admixed with the sod. The builder, caught in his evil ways, folded and was run out of town, leaving Slack II to live mortgage-free for the remainder of his many years. Not much is known of his first wife, Marie Antoinette du Ojibway, of the Quebec Ojibways, except that she excelled in archery and had one helluva temper.
Paul Enns Wiebe perpetually asks himself, "What do I want to write when I grow up?"