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Front Page - Friday, September 23, 2022

Rogers column: Random thoughts on GOATs, dogs and evil sparrows

As a writer of commentary, I at times ponder deep and meaningful topics for columns. At other times, not so deep or meaningful. Here’s a bit of both:

Is Jesus the GOAT? Ranking the founders of the world’s major religious traditions, also including Abraham, the Prophet Muhammad, the Buddha, Lao Tzu and Confucius. Who’s the Greatest of All Time?

Criteria: number of followers and books sold, pithiness of advice offered, popularity of images and depictions (sorry, Muhammad!). Bonus points for status as an actual deity.

Essential ingredient for the best pimento cheese spread. Is it all about the cheese (sharp cheddar? extra sharp? Monterey Jack? American? cream? combination?), or does the choice of mayo or salad dressing (Duke’s? Hellman’s? Miracle Whip?) make all the difference?

Do jalapeños warrant a place in the discussion? Garlic powder? Onion powder? Onions? Worcestershire sauce? Pickle juice? (No.)

One guideline: If it doesn’t want to spread, it’s not a spread.

Looking on the positive side of COVID. Can we agree that some people look much better in masks?

Misogyny in the world of A.I.-based voice assistants. Why are Siri, Alexa and Cortana – all charged with doing our bidding without question or qualm – represented as female voices? Cortana, the Microsoft version, even “projects a holographic image of herself as a woman,” Wikipedia states. I gather it’s named after a video game character. She looks kind of cute and spooky at the same time.

I wish any of them were capable of producing meals on demand, summoning atoms from the air and magically reassembling them as, say, a cheeseburger and fries. The way it worked on “Star Trek.”

What’s wrong with being woke? As I understand it, “woke” means recognizing that racism exists in our society, that a white view of life isn’t the only/best view of life and that diversity is a positive. Seems like a good awareness to have.

And yet the right has co-opted it as an insult along the same lines as “politically correct.” Speaking of which: What’s wrong with being politically correct?

Should I change my area code to 615? It’s currently 516, and every time I give someone my number I figure they think I’m dyslexic.

Why does Nashville hate English sparrows? The Metro code stipulates “It is unlawful for any person to kill or attempt to kill any bird, game or nongame … squirrels or any other animal, in any of the public parks (including the Custom House Park and the Capitol Hill Park) or in any of the cemeteries, public or private.”

The parenthetical part I left out, represented by those ellipses, is this: “(except English sparrows).” What gives?

Do dogs really want to jog? I sometimes see dogs dutifully traipsing along on leashes as their masters run – or, worse, bike – down streets, sidewalks and park paths. Some dogs probably enjoy it, or at least feel obliged to submit, to continue receiving food. But I can’t help thinking that others would prefer to have some choice in the matter. As a cat owner, this is not an activity for me.

The men’s “fashion” industry is a bad joke. A column on this should probably just consist of pictures.

What states could you do without? I’m not advocating that any be kicked out of the union. Except, possibly, Texas, which seems to want to leave anyway.

But which ones do you have no interest in visiting? I’ll start: Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas.

The stock market: Elaborate Ponzi scheme. I confess current conditions might be coloring my view to a large extent.

Please stop using these words/phrases. As someone whose professional stock in trade has always consisted of words, it pains me to see some of them being used incorrectly. Others are simply being used too often, by too many people in the writing business. And some fall into both categories.

Examples: Comprise. Begs the question. Pivot. Swath. Fortuitous. Sea change. Deep dive. Awesome.

Does the U.S. need a monarchy? Sure, we had that revolution in the 18th century to rid ourselves of George III. But that was back in the day when kings did a lot more meddling than they’re allowed to do now.

If the recent events surrounding the death of Queen Elizabeth II have shown us anything, it is that pomp and ceremony can go a long way in plucking up the spirits of a populace.

And mightn’t it be a good idea to separate the head of state from the head of government? (I also like the parliamentary system.)

Choosing a sovereign at this point, almost 250 years into our history, could be problematic. But Prince Harry has a strong American connection and apparently no full-time job.

Joe Rogers is a former writer for The Tennessean and editor for The New York Times. He is retired and living in Nashville. He can be reached at jrogink@gmail.com