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Twelfth Sort

Letters from Joe Q Public

by Dear Jon
December 28, 2000

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Twelfth Sort_Dear Jon-Letters from Joe Q Public Here are more letters to Dear Jon. Dear Jon gives advice, whether or not it is solicited. Judging by the recent dearth of “Actual Letters to Dear Jon,” one can estimate the value of Dear Jon’s advice.


Dear Jon: What does “dearth” mean? Don’t you realize that you owe it to your reading public to write in plain English, rather than coming off like a talking thesaurus? Sincerely, Joe Q Public

Dear Pub: I owe nothing to anyone. If you don’t know what “dearth” means, look it up. The problem with the masses today is not that they are ignorant, but that they are impatient. That is why the opiate of today is “convenience,” rather than “religion,” since most religions require patience and inconvenience.


Dear Jon: Oh Yeah? Well I heard a rumor that you don’t even know how to spell T.S. Eliot! Sincerely, “Q” Again

Dear Pub Again: You are referring to a double-typed “l” in the “Fifth Sort.” You may choose one of two explanations: First, that I did not take the time to proof-read, or second, that I did not take the time to look up T.S. Eliot. Either way, I was impatient to meet a dead-line for the whip-cracking “Webmaster” who runs this show like a slave galley. I have never set myself above the masses.


Dear Jon: But I bet you’re a real Dennis Miller fan, huh? Sincerely, “Q” for the Third Time.

Dear Pub for the Third Time: You don’t happen to live in Kenosha and drive a lot, do you? Didn’t I just write, “I have never set myself above the masses”?


Dear Jon: Do you realize that this will be your final “sort” for the Second Millennium? Sincerely, 2001 Celebrator

Dear 2001: Yes I do. But unlike Christmas Monday when I took a vacation, look for the First Sort of the Third Millennium to appear on January 1. The throngs of True Millennium celebrators will be happy to note that the “Millennium” edition of Trivial Pursuit® got it right, too. Still, you have to admit, there was something pretty cool about watching all those “nines” turn into “zeros.”


Dear Jon: Please don’t tell me you're one of those WEENIES still fighting that argument about when the 21st century and the 3rd millennium began! Sincerely, Y2K Hooray!

Dear Hoo: There is no argument.


Dear Jon: My friends and I can’t agree. What was the greatest moment of the last 1000 years? One friend says it was when Columbus discovered America, but she’s been criticized by my Indigenous Nations friends. Another friends says it was when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the church door that sparked the Reformation, but of course my Catholic friends disagree. Another friends says it was the invention of the printing press; another one, the moon landing; another one, the American Declaration of Independence; another one, the Gettysburg Address; another one, Brown vs. Board of Education; another one, splitting the atom. And then people bring up the inventions of cars, telephones, cameras, motion pictures, airplanes, the microprocessor. I still say it was Franco Harris’ “immaculate reception” that propelled the Pittsburg Steelers to their Super Bowl dynasty of the 1970’s, but no one takes me seriously and they call me superficial and shallow. Sincerely, Dazed by Millennium Memories

Dear Dazed: Unfortunately, you have not even chosen the greatest moment in all of football history. The greatest moment in all of football history, is on the last play of the game, Stanford ran back a kick-off for a touchdown to win, and Cal-Berkely’s marching band was already strutting onto the field to celebrate their team’s victory before the play was over. The greatest moment in sports history for the last thousand years, was when the U.S. Hockey team upset the Soviets in 1980.

We all look at history through our own lenses. The event that I pick will be criticized by many as being ethno-centric, and therefore tossed into the “Flippant Machismo Sarcasm” category of Dear Jon responses. But I never promised my readers that Dear Jon would be a humor column, or even sarcastic all the time. So, in all seriousness, the moment in the last thousand years that has proved most decisive for the entire world in shaping the millennium that followed, is the Battle of Hastings, 1066. Feel free to argue. I really do like to get “Actual letters.”


Dear Jon: You did not answer the question, “What was the best moment.” Instead, you picked “most decisive.” What was the BEST moment? Sincerely, Curious

Dear Curious: The BEST moment of the last thousand years was when I chose to ignore your picayune hair-splitting.


Dear Jon: What does “picayune” mean? Sincerely, “Pub”

Dear Q: I don’t know, and I don’t have time to look it up.


Dear Jon: What was the worst moment in the last thousand years? Sincerely, Historical Pessimist.

Dear Pess: That question is much more difficult to answer, because of the pain and memories involved. The best way to account for everyone’s pain, is also what I believe to be the answer: The imposition of the Versailles Treaty on the Empire of Germany in 1919, and the consequent evaporation of Third Millennial thinker Woodrow Wilson’s dream of a civilized world order (and America’s disastrous relapse into isolationism) is the worst moment in the last thousand years, with consequences still suffered.


Dear Jon: Will your next column, for January 1, feature predictions for the coming Millennium? Sincerely, Fan

Dear Fan: What a great idea! Not only that, but also the century, the decade, and the year. See you Monday!

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