At the Ohioana awards luncheon on Saturday I was fortunate to share a table with Michael J. Rosen, who won an award for his terrific book The Cuckoo’s Haiku. My good friend Michelle, who also sat at our table, confided that the book had inspired her and her husband to write some bird-related haiku.
I thought I would try my hand at some bird-related haiku — but what bird? When I walked around the golf course today, the answer quickly became apparent, because on one hole the tee featured the signature calling card of the Canadian goose, Branta canadensis. It is a noble looking bird, but it must be the messiest, loudest, most obnoxious bird found anywhere in the world. What better subject for a haiku?
Your loud, braying honk
overwhelms the silent dawn
droppings coat the ground
Stock Market Haiku
Ode To A Twinkie
One of my favorite classes at Ohio State was an American history class that examined the first half of the 20th century. The teacher was excellent and enjoyed using anecdotes to illustrate the characters of historical figures. For President Calvin Coolidge — nicknamed “Silent Cal” — he related a story about a talkative woman who bet her friends that she could get Coolidge to say more than three words to her during a dinner party. At the party, she went up to Coolidge and told him about the bet. Silent Cal looked at her and said: “You lose.”
Now some historians are reconsidering Coolidge, who served as President from the death of Warren Harding in 1923 until 1928, and arguing that he should be ranked as one of America’s greater Presidents. A recent article in Forbes makes the case. It notes that Coolidge presided over a time of peace and prosperity, cut government spending and tax rates, and achieved an enviable record of economic growth. And — almost unimaginable today — Coolidge voluntarily decided not to run for re-election in 1928. (His timing was impeccable, of course, because the stock market crash happened only a few months after Herbert Hoover succeeded Coolidge, and the Great Depression began. If Coolidge had decided differently, his historical pedigree might be significantly different.)
It is hard for me to rank Coolidge as one of the greatest Presidents, and surveys of historians suggest there is general agreement on that point. Wikipedia has a handy chart of the various rankings over the years, and Coolidge, in recent times, has consistently ranked in the third quartile — i.e., the bottom half — of Presidents. I think the truly great Presidents are those which had to overcome some great test or challenge, and Coolidge never had that opportunity. Still, in an era when government has grown to an enormous size and government spending is at unimaginable levels, Coolidge’s focus on very limited government, and his view that “I want taxes to be less, that the people may have more,” is very attractive, indeed.
The Buckeye Nation is in mourning today. Ohio State fell from the ranks of the unbeaten last night, losing to the Wisconsin Badgers 31-18 under the lights in Madison.
The Badgers punched the Buckeyes in the mouth at the outset, running the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, gashing the Ohio State defense with long running plays through huge holes, and sprinting to a 21-0 lead. The Buckeyes fought back but could get no closer than 21-18.
This is one of those losses where what was feared came true. Ohio State’s special teams had another breakdown, putting the Buckeyes in an immediate hole. The Badgers ran the ball down the Buckeyes’ throats until adjustments were made, but by then it was almost too late.
All credit must go to Wisconsin, which played a characteristically tough, gutty game in front of their home fans. At the crunch times — such as after the Buckeyes got an interception in the first half, and after the Buckeyes closed the deficit to 21-18 in the second half — the Badgers made the big plays and Ohio State didn’t. The Buckeyes now must try to regain their focus, bounce back next week against Purdue, and get back in the race for the Big Ten championship.