Monday, November 6, 2017

Second Amendmentitis: Inflammation of a vestigial law

The appendix in the human body is vestigial: it used to do something but now it doesn't. And sometimes it gets sick and has to be removed.

The Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution is likewise vestigial: it used to provide the basis for arming a universal militia, in which every adult citizen served as a matter of law, but since that system broke down and was replaced by the National Guard, the Second Amendment no longer serves a purpose. Some people say that it guarantees an individual right to gun ownership, and it may indeed. However, that was not its purpose. And that is what makes it vestigial.

America is very sick right now. It is sick of gun violence. It is sick of the slaughter of masses of innocent people. It is particularly sick of its impotent division in the face of this slaughter. One side wants gun control; the other side is all guns and undisciplined, open-carry nonsense.

In this case--unlike an appendix--the vestigial Second Amendment has made America very sick not because the amendment itself is sick, but because it has lost its original purpose.


And--also unlike an appendix, which must be removed when it gets sick--a vestigial amendment can be returned to health if it is restored to its original purpose. And given the impasse between the two sides that shows every sign of getting worse and worse (I saw a tweet today that said that the two sides would erupt into a war), it seems to me that someone somewhere should be talking about doing that.

One of the things that's making us sick is that we no longer act like we are the government. The government is something other than us, even if we elect our representatives. This is particularly pronounced on the Tea Party right, which has tossed out the traditional conservative reverence for state and local government, and which regards even such traditional civic solutions as public education with undisguised scorn.

In this fevered atmosphere we should remember that the most universal governmental institution of the early Republic--the one in which the entire public of the time (adult white male) was involved--was the militia. You might not have enough property to vote, but you had to serve in the militia--by law. None of this volunteer garbage. This meant that there was one universal arm of government in which everyone participated, and which provided a check on the power of elected or appointed officials.

Today, with the definition of citizen broadened to include everyone of both sexes, universal militia service would provide a common bond of civic duty unparalleled in the nation's history. Don't tell me that wouldn't make a difference.

I tell my gun control friends: stop talking about gun control. Instead, revive/update the militia law of 1792 by requiring all citizens to be armed, then regulate! The Second Amendment allowed it then, and it allows it now.

  • Don't want to have a gun? Pay a tax, the same as people who don't want Affordable Care pay the mandate. Those taxes would pay for the administration of the militia system. Reduce or eliminate your tax by participating in the "peace militia" that would perform a wide variety of public services.
  • How many people should have semi-automatic weapons? That's a military decision to be made by militia commanders in each state. Only those authorized for military purposes would have them.
  • Concealed or open carry would be not be based on individual whim but would be subject to military regulations established by each state militia.
  • Require semi-annual (at least) inspection, drill, and firearm education (especially safety) of all gun-bearing citizens.
  • Those buying or selling firearms contrary to militia regulations for registration, fitness, etc., would be treated as insurrectionists.
  • Make the militia relevant by giving it a hard purpose: dissolve the National Guard, stand down most of the standing army, and demilitarize the police.
These are only a few examples of the kinds of things that are possible with a Second Amendment well-regulated militia. Right now we are living practically in a state of anarchy when it comes to firearms. Change the culture. Let the Second Amendment be the Second Amendment.

Or you can keep on doing like you're doing and either not get anything done or do something half-assed and not address the real problem.




Thursday, November 2, 2017

Compromise and the Civil War: My way AND the highway

What's this crap about compromise preventing the Civil War? Anybody saying that is ignorant of some real basic facts. It's so easy, people! The facts that are right in front of your @#$%^&* face!

(There must be something about something being so obvious and easy that nobody talks about it--kind of like the well-regulated militia in the 2nd Amendment.)

Here you go: a simple timeline.

Nov. 6, 1860: Abraham Lincoln elected President of the United States. Will not take office until Mar. 4, 1861.

Dec. 20, 1860: South Carolina secedes. (Lincoln not president yet.)
Jan. 9, 1861: Mississippi secedes. (Lincoln not president yet.)
Jan. 10, 1861: Florida secedes. (Lincoln not president yet.)
Jan. 11, 1861: Alabama secedes. (Lincoln not president yet.)
Jan. 19, 1861: Georgia secedes. (Lincoln not president yet.)
Jan. 26, 1861: Louisiana secedes. (Lincoln not president yet.)
Feb. 1, 1861: Texas secedes. (Lincoln not president yet.)
Feb. 8, 1861: Provisional Constitution of the Confederate States of America adopted. (Lincoln not president yet.)
Feb. 9, 1861: Jefferson Davis elected President of the Confederates States of America. (Lincoln not president yet.)
Feb. 18, 1861: Jefferson Davis inaugurated President of the Confederate States of America. (Lincoln STILL not president yet.)

Mar. 4, 1861: Abraham Lincoln inaugurated President of the United States. (Whew! Finally!)


What caused secession? The constitutional election of Abraham Lincoln--wishy-washy on slavery--caused pro-slavery-expansionist firebrands in the deep Southern states to break away from the United States. Lincoln was presented with a fait accompli by those states that before his inauguration had already established a separate nation. He could either accept this and preside over a USA shorn of these states, or he could seek by military means to reconstitute it.

No compromise was available--short of accepting the dissolution of the USA. The question was whether it could be put back together by military means.



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Graffito: Dissertation Decapitation

A letter in the mailbox. When does that happen anymore? One for you, and one for me.

One for you: I want to blurt it all out, but I'm forcing myself give you an entire explanation.

One for me: "I've just finished reading your dissertation," it began.

Now that was a sure-fire way of getting my attention. As far as I knew, the only people who'd ever read my dissertation were the three professors on my review panel. They'd gotten me my Ph.D., which entitled me to a shot at some beggarly adjunct spot in Beaufuque, Tennessee, that might keep me in espresso and scones if I economized and gave up eating actual food.

But here was somebody outside that world who had read also it.

Sure, the dissertation was good. Sure, it was fascinating! I mean, how could something not be fascinating with a title like "Reconstructing a Symbolist Hymn to the Guillotine: Finding Meaning in the Argot of a Fin-de-Siècle Paris Crime Scene Graffito"? It was all about how I had solved--or thought I had solved--a real puzzle.

OK, so it wasn't the Rosetta Stone, but it took a lot of doing to produce an answer good enough to convince three hoary scholars of epigraphy and French linguistics that it was the answer.

It had all started the way epigraphy always seems to start--with the construction of a sewer, in this case the upgrading of a sewer line in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. Workmen came upon a subterranean room that had a wall with an intact graffito so mysterious and so lovingly inscribed that the crew foreman himself cut it out and delivered it to the Institut français.

The graffito was not of any great age, but the civil authorities soon discovered that it came from the house that had produced a notorious murder in 1875: a woman had killed her husband--probably after she had suffered years of abuse--by decapitating him with a home-made guillotine, which crime earned the murderess the same fate beneath the judicial blade.

But the obscurity of the inscription was such that before long the civil authorities issued a call for help decoding it, via a notice in a bulletin somewhere, which my advising professor happened to notice. "Here's your dissertation," is what she'd said.

It was four lines of French gibberish. You will forgive me if I bore you with it. I know French isn't your thang, but, believe me, it's essential to my reason for writing this letter, so here it is:
Bob Echafaud seconde tous 'ci
S'il--verts beaux culs ennuis anis--
y compacte Tue-Mari immisce:
Prie-Dieu, Bob Echafaud!
Why, you ask, bother with gibberish? If the history of language demonstrates anything, it is that today's gibberish is yesterday's everyday speech. And for me, for some reason, after reading it for the first time, I couldn't get it out of my head. I ran it over and over when I was trying to get to sleep that first night. It sounded like something I knew! It seemed to be calling me with a siren call I couldn't resist.

My non-resistance turned into seven years of work. People who have not done scholarship have no appreciation for what I mean by "work," either. I was possessed: I followed every lead, mined every obscure lexicon with a toothpick, looked at every worm-eaten scrap of archival evidence, talked or wrote to every specialist in the arcana of the Parisian monde and the demi-monde of the late 19th century, and basically lived, breathed, and shat those words for seven whole monastic years. Sure, I went on dates from time to time, but I always wound up sitting at a table alone, because who wants to hang out with someone who is obsessed with translating four lines of French gibberish? It was like I was Dan Brown before DaVinci Code.

I did translate it, and here it is, for what it's worth: "Everybody here, Bob Scaffold is your second. That is, unless his green-ass absinthe issues get in the way and he's only packing a sawed-off Hubby Killer. In that case, Bob Scaffold, you're just a kneeling bench."

But what did it mean? The best part about the dissertation was that I could only say a truly final, conclusive answer, ahem, "awaited further research." Which meant I could publish-or-perish about this damn thing for-fucking-ever. This was truly going to be my lifelong ticket to espresso and scones.

"Bob Scaffold" was most definitely a guillotine. But was it the homemade one or the official one awaiting the murderess? "Kneeling bench" provides a savory equivalence in terms of furniture: the literal translation is "pray-God." Would it be seen as an instrument of divine justice? Even more tantalizing was the fact that the murderess was known to run in the same social circles as Symbolist poets, whose verse made mincemeat out of meaning (but it was very delicious mincemeat). She had met the poets Verlaine and Mallarmé. As far as is known, this was her only poem: etched in plaster, probably after beheading her husband. Even after seven years, I had just bored a hole in the explanation big enough for my head.

And into that breach stepped the letter: "I believe I have some information that can shed some light on your puzzle," it went on. "Your thorough research brought you part of the way, but I feel certain that, with all the work you spent on it, you will be very interested in learning something that will take you the rest of the way."

Interested? No no no I wasn't interested. With that letter I was a fly on the lashes of a Venus flytrap.

There she goes with the piano again. The letter-writer. I was trapped from the beginning.

I responded immediately to the anonymous sender at the address provided: something along the lines of "please I will kill anyone or debase myself in any way you wish if you will only share your information with me," only couched in socially conventional expressions. After a month of sleepless, pins-and-needle agony I received a reply: a carte de visite inscribed "Toussaint, 2017, noon, 947 Ursulines Ave., New Orleans, LA."

Fine. I didn't have to kill anyone or debase myself. I just had to go to the French Quarter on All Saints Day.


It turned out to be a tiny house: a one-storey shotgun with two shuttered apertures in front. I knocked at the one at the top of four crumbling steps. A tiny, white-haired woman answered the knock and asked if it was I, saying my name with a pronounced swallowed "r," French-style. Being told yes, she invited me in. There was a small front room with a couch and a baby grand piano that pretty much filled the room. She invited me to sit on the couch while she went to get a light refreshment for me. She brought some espresso and a beignet, the New Orleans equivalent of a scone. "I will play something for you," she said. It was a very short piece. When it was over, she stood up and said, "That was Bob Echafaud," which didn't really clarify anything. My face must have reflected this sense of unclarity, because she said, "Never mind. Follow me."

She led me through a small kitchen and a smaller bedroom at the back of which was a door. On the other side of the door was ... but wait, not yet.

Here's the deal. She said I could write one letter, so I decided to write to you. You are my last hope.

She is very old: a centenarian? Her mother had her late: "I was a surprise baby," she said. Her mother herself came to New Orleans from France as a young child--orphaned--bringing with her nothing other than the clothes on her back and two pieces of paper: music manuscript of the piece the old woman had played for me and a poem, which she showed me:
Bob Echafaud seconde tous 'ci
S'il--verts beaux culs ennuis anis--
y compacte Tue-Mari immisce:
Prie-Dieu, Bob Echafaud!
That's right: it's the same as the inscription.

She tells me that even though the words look French, they're actually English when they're sounded out. But she doesn't know what the English words are. It's some kind of rhyme--nonsense in French, but an actual rhyme in English. Maybe it is a lullaby? Her grandmother sang it to her mother, who sang it to her. "These are silly English words all dressed up in French," is what mother said to daughter become mother said to daughter said to me.

She sings it in a small voice and accompanies herself on the piano. She doesn't really like to sing, so mostly she just plays it. And constructs palaces of meaning for the nonsense words. It's like all her life she has lived in a Symbolist poem of meaningless symbols.

Here's the deal: she wants to know what English rhyme this is. If she finds out, she will let me go.

"Look," I say, "let me go and I will help you find the answer." No, she says. She has gone too far for that. She couldn't believe what she was hearing when the French consul came to her Creole French circle to talk about the original discovery of the inscription; after that she made it her business to keep up with developments. "It was like being born again," she says. And now that she has found the one person in the world who has the most knowledge of this puzzle, she feels that it is only just that I should die if I cannot give her the answer she seeks. "And if I find the answer?" I ask. I will release you, she says. That is a promise; I have made my plans, she says.

The door on the other side of the bedroom? There was something in that espresso or in that beignet that knocked me out before I saw it opened. I am now on the other side of that door: in a room with pictures of Marilyn Monroe, a nursing Madonna and Child, an undressed dress form, and a smoking cigar with an absinthe distiller's band; as well as an actual, working guillotine, named--of course--Bob Echafaud. I am chained to the guillotine.

I watch the old woman slice watermelon with it. Surely you have guessed that her mother was the daughter of the woman who guillotined her husband in 1875. "If there is no answer, you will beg me to die this way, eventually," she avers in a comforting purr before slicing another watermelon.

I need the English rhyme that sounds like these French words. You are my last hope. You have the address. I await the kind favor of a reply.

I know you will understand when I say I wish you were here.

Instead of me.













Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Militia Arsenal Governance Act (MAGA) of 2018

The title is only partly tongue-in-cheek, as you will see. I'm dead serious about all these innocent dead bodies such as happened in Las Vegas this week.

But the nation is at a standoff. A direct, "gun control" confrontation with the NRA and the gun lobby will produce only political gridlock, legal roadblocks, incremental improvements, and more dead bodies.

Why not take an approach that is both more unifying and more extreme? Why not start thinking how to take the 2nd Amendment back to its original purpose? Besides being constitutional, such an approach--by making gun owners an obligatory part of a national military apparatus, as the Founders intended--could produce the kinds of changes in the nation's gun culture that would turn things around.

Here for example is a statute loosely based on the Militia Act of 1792, but which maintains the current distinction between organized militia (National Guard) and unorganized militia (everybody else). It is very short and straightforward, but the military nature of its requirements would produce a mind-boggling but constitutional change in the relationship between weapons and the State.

Of course, this blog isn't called "follies" for nothing.

The Militia Arsenal Governance Act (MAGA)

Whereas the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America asserts the best security of a free state to be a well-regulated militia, and whereas the United States of America has regulated said militia since 1792, and whereas the militia is a military body, and whereas a military body requires an assessment of strength in order to be effective, and whereas there are two classes of militia, the organized militia (National Guard) and the unorganized militia, therefore the Militia Arsenal Governance Act (MAGA) enacts the following regulations for the unorganized militia:

1. 10 US Code §246 (a) is changed to read, "the militia consists of all able-bodied adults who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States."*see note

2. All members of the unorganized militia unless exempted as in (a) and (b) must possess, maintain, and be trained in the use of a firearm; and must keep a minimum of 20 rounds in a secure location at all times.

(a) Members of the unorganized militia not wishing to possess a firearm must pay a Statutory Annual Firearm Exemption (SAFE) fee as established by their State.  The SAFE fee is to be used by each State only to pay for the administrative costs of the MAGA program.

(b) Each State will determine its own classes of additional exemptions, e.g. felons, medically unfit, etc. 

3. The National Guard of every State will maintain a registry of all firearms in the possession of the unorganized militia in that State and will make an annual report to the U. S. Secretary of Defense enumerating the firearms and ammunition in the possession of the unorganized militia in each State.

(a) Personal information in the registry will be kept confidential by the State National Guard. Release of personal information can only be obtained by court order.

4. The National Guard of each State will perform an annual inspection of every firearm, with attendant ammunition, in the possession of every militia member who has them. Each State will establish and collect fines for those who fail to participate, which fines may only be used to pay for the administrative costs of the MAGA program.

5. All members of the unorganized militia who keep arms must participate in a minimum of 3 hours of annual training provided by the State National Guard. Non-participation will be subject to fines established by each State, which fines may only be used to pay for the administrative costs of the MAGA program.

*Currently the militia "consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and … under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard."

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Next for O'Reilly's "Killing" series: America

To date, Bill O'Reilly has killed Jesus, Lincoln, Kennedy, Reagan, Patton, Japan, and England. It now appears that he has killed Las Vegas as well and is now gunning for America. Will no one stop him?

His weapons of choice are "books," supposedly of "history," that he has "written," but which are in fact toxic emanations from his celebrity status, which, zombified, can only be sustained through the applause of his victims.

Even though it's a "blog" and not a "book," Bill O'Reilly, slavering after a dose of blood-sucking applause, hailed the deaths in Las Vegas of 59 innocents and the wounding of more than 500 others as "the price of freedom."

"The Second Amendment," he says, "is clear that Americans have a right to arm themselves for protection. Even the loons."

Even the loons. Please, please give Bill O'Reilly a gun in exchange for not "writing." He'd do far less damage. I'm worried he's coming after America.


Because the Second Amendment means no such thing, and continuing to believe that it does--and here O'Reilly is joined by his fellow bloodsuckers the NRA--is not only getting masses of innocent people killed, it's perverting the soul of the American project.

The soul of the American project has to do with the virtues of self-government. The Second Amendment was intended to be a guarantor that the people would always be armed in order that the people themselves--not a standing army--would provide the continuous military strength necessary to defend the country and execute its laws. Only through carrying out this shared duty and sacrifice--together--could the people retain the virtue of self-government.

The Second Amendment was only one piece of how the military part of the American project was manifested. There is no better place to start to understand how a "well-regulated militia" should function than to read about the Militia Acts of 1792, which provided the statutory flesh for the constitutional skeleton. American adults, universally, were to be self-armed members of a military organization regulated by each state and subject to requirements for training and discipline, the violation of which would be met with fines or harsher punishments meted out by courts-martial.

And now, here we are: listening for the Second Amendment but instead hearing only the call of loons. Will crazy people find a way to kill? Of course. But to say they should be able to amass an arsenal like the guy in Las Vegas is itself a species of suicidal craziness. And to claim that this craziness of constitutionally protected is more dangerous than it is bogus.

Be warned, America. By the lights of the Founders, in the matter of what's needed for the security of a free state, you're already on the ropes. And worse: you're in the crosshairs of "Killing Bill" O'Reilly's toxic grenade launcher.











Sunday, October 1, 2017

In which I try to figure out why some of my neighbors are flying the flag at night with no lights

I love my neighbors. I live in a great neighborhood. The only thing is that lots of them are protesting something, but I don't know what it is.

When I go for a walk at night, I notice that fully a quarter of the houses are flying an American flag outside. In total darkness. Here's an example: oh say can you see the American flag in there somewhere?


I can feel you shudder, dear reader, because you and I both hold very close to our hearts the undying words of 4 U.S. Code Chapter 1 §6a: "It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness."

Say "amen" somebody.

My neighbors though--whom I love--are carrying out a systematic protest day after day after day by flying the flag throughout the day and throughout the night--and the latter time without proper illumination. It is particularly interesting to me that the Code says to illuminate the flag "when a patriotic effect is desired." So, logically it means that my very loveable and worthy neighbors, by flying the flag in the darkness, desire just the opposite: an unpatriotic effect. Say it isn't so.

But I don't know! That's just the thing. I wish I could be illuminated as to the reason for the lack of illumination of their flags at night time.

4 U.S.C. Chapter 1 is known as "the flag code." It has the same status as 36 U.S.C. Chapter 3 §301, which defines the national anthem and delineates the proper conduct to observe during its playing/singing. Certain professional football players have recently been observed not observing that conduct, and this has kicked up considerable brouhaha. Football is after the national sport, pace those individuals who misguidedly think that baseball--a patient game of split-second occasions of the use of lightning reflexes, played without continuous violence, without armor, and without any attendant metaphorical descriptors invoking warfare--can possibly claim any real connection to the American psyche.

But I know what those guys are doing. They are African-Americans, and they are using the occasion to complain of false advertising in the Pledge of Allegiance, which announces "liberty and justice for all," but in practice seems to come with a considerable amount nod-nod-wink-wink read-the-fine-print type stuff: "Caveat civis: this offer may not apply in all police jurisdictions, some of which may enable individual officers to apply extrajudicial capital punishment without disciplinary consequence to unarmed black men if the officers' grandmothers scared them as children with stories of Negro boogeymen, or any other such excuse whether lame or legal."

They also claim to observe a pattern of bait-and-switch in the American system vis-a-vis its black population, e.g. the Declaration of Independence "all men are created equal" excepting anyone with African blood; and e.g. again the 15th amendment saying the right to vote "shall not be denied or abridged in the United States or in any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude" but being used by Southern legislators as a parlor game called "Jim Crow, Lynching, and the KKK: The White Citizens Funtime Way of Razzing the 15th Amendment."

OK, so we know what they're protesting. But there's this brouhaha, like I said, because people are all like, "Look, if you're going to violate the National Anthem Statute, you'd better be organized about it. Colin Kaepernick? One dude! And then one week it's a few more, then Trump tweets, and it's a whole bunch, then it dies back down. That's not getting the job done! Think Boston Tea Party! Think Montgomery Bus Boycott! Y'all ain't organized! Where's the Sons of Black Liberty? Where's the NAACNFLP? Get organized and put ALL of your bodies on the line, week in and week out, until it's not just you taking a knee, it's the league itself! If people aren't boycotting football because of what you're doing, and the owners aren't losing money, you aren't doing it right!"

People are rightly pissed because these athletes don't seem to have learned the lesson of Martin Luther King, Jr., who famously wrote from the Birmingham jail that the purpose of direct action is to create a crisis. Look, it doesn't matter who agrees with you or disagrees with you about respecting the flag. You want to accomplish something, right? There will not be a resolution of the problem that you are drawing attention to unless there is a crisis that produces the kind of negotiation or legal action or voter action that produces the change you seek. Until that happens, you're just wasting your time, ginning things up because it makes you feel better. If you're not organized and persistent, it ain't gonna happen. That's the lesson of the civil rights movement. Forget about the naysayers. There's never a right time or place or way to protest according to the people who don't give a shit about your cause.

So that's what the brouhaha is about. But all that does nothing to help me figure out my neighbors, all the ones who are breaking the law about the flag. What are they protesting? Daylight savings time? Burning leaves after dark so you won't be caught? Having potable water unlike Flint, MI? The Federal Reserve System? Political Correctness? Political Incorrectness? Electricity? 4 U.S. Code Chapter 1 §6a?

I really think they're purposely creating an unpatriotic effect by which to say--in their own quiet way--that the national sport of the United States is hypocrisy.










Friday, September 29, 2017

"'Twas in the merry Urology, where prostates all were swellin'"

I live in central Appalachia, in the netherland of Tennessee and Virginia. There are two hospital systems here that are about to merge into one, if the states approve. At this writing, Tennessee has done so. Virginia, if you're listening, approve if you will, but only on one condition: that they come up with another name.

The name of the merged system is Ballad Health. With a name like this, it is readily apparent that whatever board reviewed this decision did not include anyone with a nodding acquaintance of the Appalachian ballad, and the same is probably true of whatever marketing firm sold whatever board the bill of goods that included this name.


The Appalachian ballad is more often than not a complete and total horror show. Somebody's either getting murdered, or cheated on, or knocked up, or people are dying in a fiery train crash, or somebody's lit out up the holler to become an outlaw because he got caught trying to get pain pills with his third cousin's prescription from the back surgery.

Well, actually, that last one hasn't been written yet, but you can bet the next neonatal abstinence syndrome baby that it'll be one of Ballad Health's first hits.

And if you don't believe me, go to the Encyclopedia of Appalachia and look up "ballads," and see how the ones brought over from the old country are about babies dying and girls getting their heads chopped off with swords.

Not that things improve much with the Americanization of the form. According to Encyclopedia of Appalachia the subjects of choice for the more recent Appalachian ballads are "tragic accidents, battles, and sensational murders." Tragic accidents: I'm sure no hospital has ever had to deal with those.

However, if this thing does go through, the least Ballad Health can do is play along by designating their rooms not with numbers but with names--the names being the songs of well-known Appalachian ballads. That way the public could be entertained with code messages on the PA: "Code Brown [mass casualty incident], Wreck of the Old 97" or "Dr. Joe Gottaway, The Unquiet Grave" or "Code Blue, Rare Willie Drowned in Yarrow." The cardiology ward would of course be the Barbry Allen Ward, after the ballad patroness of broken hearts.

The proponents of the merger sing loudly that bigness will accomplish top-notch health care. The new system, if and when it happens, will surely be unsinkable. Unlike a certain unsinkable ocean liner that was the subject of dozens of ballads.