Fractured Humerus
'The gully dwarves have only one proverb: "Life like stew." This proverb applies to everything encountered, (i.e., "Mountain like stew." "River like stew." "Highbulp like stew.")

Unfortunately, there was a time (seven months ago last Tuesday) when a gully dwarf with a philosophical turn of mind came up with the profound reflection, "Stew like life."

This threw the gully dwarf intellectual community into turmoil. Factions and schisms and splinter groups were rife. (Mainly from having been left out in the sun too long.) Entire families were split, some going with "Life like stew" and others favoring "Stew like life." Blood was shed one night when the Stewers attacked the Lifers for having called them "Goldfunger lompchuters!" and making insulting gestures with their feet.

Matters grew worse. Factions and schisms and splinter groups broke off from the main factions and schisms and splinter groups. Now there were those who stated firmly, "Stew!" and still others who believed devoutly, "Life!" (A small minority in favor of "like" flourished for a time but died out from lack of controversy.)

To this date, the matter is still unresolved, and travelers through gully dwarf country are warned neither to eat the stew nor philosophize about it.'

--Weis and Hickman, Leaves from the Inn of the Last Home

I suppose you've all been watching the news lately. At least, this is the first week CNN has capped "The Simpsons" in the Neilson ratings, so someone must have been. The nation is once more being polarized along lines which shift even as I write. There are a lot of things that bother me about this war, about any war, but a few stick out primarily because this is the only major conflict I've experienced first-hand. One of those, a human tendency that has never ceased to amaze and amuse me, is the schisming of the American people into opposite camps. Obviously, this is not a limited phenomenum in history. Modern society is riddled with "lefts and rights of passage, blacks and whites of youth." (Rush: Grace Under Pressure, "Distant Early Warning")

The above extract from Weis and Hickman is amusing, because we can so easily envision a crowded tavern filled with almost religious contentions of "Less filling!" and "Tastes great!" More than a story, this is a satirical parable scoffing at humans and their endless willingness to divide and fracture. "A small minority in favor of 'like' flourished for a time but died out from lack of controversy." "Like" as in "same," or as in "appreciate," or "regard?" The meaning in the original text is clear from context, but sometimes the deepest truths are unintended. Now THAT sounds like a typical human response: that the faction for peace should die out from lack of controversy.

When challenged, a Douglas Adams character sputters "Why build it? It's a by-pass! You've got to build by-passes!" (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) as if the existence and necessity of by-passes were forgone conclusions. Here too, the humor lies in the apparent absurdity of commonly held assumptions, made darker by the reader's vague worry of whether or not they would have "gotten the joke" had it not been slipped in a book already billed as "Comedy." In fact, I wonder how many generals might be able to state with perfectly straight faces, if asked about the Iraqi conflict, "Why fight it? It's a war! You've got to fight wars!"