Err, Day AFTER Festivus Animals:
I’ve prepared this
pic instructional poster due to popular confusion regarding the Red-bellied Woodpecker’s nomenclature. Sure, its red head is quite noticeable…but is it more so than that of the Red-headed Woodpecker? I’d call it the “Fancy Zebra Jacketed Woodpecker”, but the Golden-fronted Woodpecker has one, too. So here we are:
Archive for the 'Ombudsman Heritage Week' Category
Err, Day AFTER Festivus Animals:
Matt Taibbi: The entry by “Fish” I liked because of the clever Twitter-age five-syllable ending – this is like one of those actual Japanese haikus where a single sound symbol may count as two on:
Cross-posted here. Mouse over pics for captions, and click them for larger versions.
Here at the Central Ombudsman’s Board of Accession (COBA), we like to celebrate the achievements of our beloved ombudsmen the world over. So a hearty congratulations to Elisabeth Beikirch, the newly anointed “Ombudsfrau” of the German Underwear Ministry for Sneezes. We were present at the, ahem, later ceremony, ritual, and sacrifice, and we can report that the omens were appropriately neutral.
While at COBA, we normally refer to all our members and provisional members as Ombudsmen regardless of sex, the unique institution of the Ombudsfrau has special significance in German culture, in particular the production of the Ombudsbrau, the neutrality inducing drink used since ancient times in Teutonic cultures to ensure even-handedness in judgement.
So congratulations, Ms. Beikirch! May all your ministerial sneezes be unbiased.
How does one enroll in OmbusAcademY?
is there like a test or something?
Indeed there is! Enrolment in the 3Bulls! Academy of Ombudsmeese involves an intensive selection process, rigorous written examinations, a near-pathological dislike of Pitchfork, and a studied disregard for the gripes of our dear, dear readership. It is not an easy undertaking. The interview process alone (known as the Trials of Umbrage) can break down even the most YouTube-hardened commenter.
The written portion requires an extensive knowledge of condiments and BUBBLE TEA, as well as a demonstrated familiarity with the only occasionally sensical vocabulary of this blog.
Once the applicant has passed the selection process and the Antlers of Incomprehensibility have been bestowed, training begins. Novitiates are required to modify their diet in order to develop an immunity to Ghost Melon, Grapefruit Chupacabra and other genus Citrullus entities. There is also limited exposure the RedState, WorldNetDaily, and other toxic substances, in order to better condition trainees for the rigors ahead. If overexposure occurs (and it is always a risk), a healthy dose of Somerby is administered immediately, followed by a decompression period at Sadly, No!
When the trainee has toiled to the satisfaction of the editorship, the secretive Rite of the Pork Snorkel takes place. This cannot be discussed openly. Only qualified students may learn of, and attempt to survive, its delicious mysteries.
Finally, once the smoke has cleared and all the barbecue sauce has been scoured from the ceiling, survivors are given a lengthy login name, an amusing password, and set loose on an unsuspecting public.
The rest, as they say, is history.
In the previous posts in this series, we have outlined the many ways in which ombudsmen have contributed to human history, and all the ways in which ombudsmanship is not only a product of our time, but perhaps an inbuilt pattern of Nature itself. Given this knowledge, one would imagine that the whole of mankind would treat the craft of ombudsmanship with at worst indifference. For better or for worse, we live in a world in which this is not always the case. Sometimes, ombudsmen have to take real risks for their essential work, and sometimes they are victimized by the forces of bias. This post seriously considers the putative oppression that the authorities may or may not be meting out to ombudsmen.
Consider the 2006 case of Merceditas Gutierrez, the Ombudsman of the Philippines’ national government, who was forced to flee her country in the course of her duties:
Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has made herself very scarce a day before her office made public her decision to absolve all those accused in the Supreme-Court deemed anomalous P1.3-billion automated counting machines contract entered into by Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials and the Mega Pacific consortium.
Some say she was merely avoiding a corruption scandal in which she had become involved. The Central Ombudsman’s Board of Accession (COBA) has no position on this matter, for the sake of neutrality. However, consider the location to which she fled—and its significance: Switzerland, the neutral state, the Ombudsman of Nations.
A felony indictment against the newly appointed Texas Youth Commission ombudsman was unsealed Monday, accusing her of possessing a prohibited item in a prison facility.
Catherine Evans, who was a Republican district judge in Dallas County until stepping down in 1994, is accused of trying to smuggle contraband – including a knife, a cellphone and prescription drugs – past security officials and into a TYC facility in Crockett, in East Texas.
Individuals with any knowledge at all of the way of the ombudsman would first believe that she was not smuggling contraband (or, in preferred ombudsman language, “she and the contraband were not smuggling each other”), but rather that she was being unbiased as to the location of the objects in relation to relevant reference points in the universe.
But worst of all:
Berkeley economist Brad DeLong blasts New York Times ombudsman Clark Hoyt for missing the real story behind “Busted” reporter Ed Andrews’ personal financial nightmare: Selling his New York Times stock and buying a house with a sub-prime mortgage was a great financial move.
To be blasted uncourteously and uncivilly by a well-known economist, well, sirs, that is the unkindest cut of all. We searched in vain the archives of Amnesty International for protest against the maltreatment of Mr. Hoyt—but we suspect that Amnesty does not yet have representatives from COBA.
Fortunately, all is not lost in these dark days. There’s an increasing awareness that along with journalists, dissidents, and democracy activists, ombudsmen too must be protected from abuse so that they can continue to do their jobs. To that end, COBA has formed a number of subsidiary organizations. One such is Ombudsman International, led by Mr. Mark Hucko:
Mr Mark Hucko had suffered enough from discrimination and racism, had his property confiscated, had his children stolen and alienated from him by various criminal mini-magnates; who are everywhere and who abuse, manipulate control and steal the rights of citizens in all countries of the World. Therefore, he can best understand your problems, therefore he is best suited to listen and to analyze the problems of the World.
Mr. Hucko’s organization has many affilliates around the World, as you can see from the bottom of OI’s page (these are all previously direct subsidiaries of COBA now brought under Mr. Hucko’s authority). The World will be grateful to the efforts of Mr. Mark Hucko.
Another new COBA subsidiary is the Organization of News Ombudsmen (ONO, pronounced “Oh No”). As time goes on, we will see more international efforts to protect ombudsmen worldwide from abuse and to help preserve their neutrality, “contraband” or not.
A FINAL NOTE
In this series for Ombudsman Heritage Week, we have witnessed the ways in which your life has been touched by ombudsmanship–and the life of the world. Whether it be COBA’s proud revival through Canadian television, its roots in the deepest patterns of nature, its proud Renaissance, art, it’s history in Enteroxaeresothykalos’ ancient language reform, its concern for public health in Australia, or its influence on the primal origins of civility, we have marked the ombudsman’s craft as central to modern life.
So we would like now to turn this over to you, the reader. What things have you done, or plan to do, to make this world a more neutral and unbiased place?
TOMORROW: Ombudsmen in peril.
Did you know that one little-known function of ombudsman in some parts of the world is in monitoring public health, particularly the health of public bodies? If your body happens to be a public body, you might be pleased to know that in the Australian state of Victoria, the Ombudsman Victoria office has a procedure for well-meaning individuals to make “disclosures” or “allegation” (this is apparently an Australianism for “diagnosis”) about it:
A disclosure must be made to either the public body to which it relates or the Ombudsman. Every public body is required to establish procedures for handling disclosures. Information on how to make a disclosure should be readily available through the public body’s complaint management processes and any website maintained by the public body.
In most instances it is up to you whether you make a disclosure to the public body or the Ombudsman. However, there are certain circumstances where the disclosure must be made in a particular manner.
So if your friend, who maybe has a private body, observes that you have an obvious health problem with your public body, he or she can “disclose” this either to you or to an ombudsman! Ombudsmen in Victoria truly have your health in mind. There is even a whole hierarchy of possible recipients of your “allegation”—for instance, in the table on that page, it suggests that if there is a “disclosure” to be made about an “employee” of your body (we can assume that this is another Australianism), it can be made to you, but if the diagnosis is being made about a politician, it must be reported to the Ombudsman, because in Australia, only the healthy may serve in public office, just as the ancient Australian philosopher Plato intended in his The Republic, Mate.
TOMORROW: Ombudsmen in primitive societies.
As we have explored in the previous installations of this series, the art of ombudsmanry has been practiced practically since the dawn of time. And as we will explore in a future installation, it had profound effects on the culture of prehistoric Man. But we will focus in this post on one particular facet of human culture on which ombudsmen have had an influence: language.
In Mycenaean Greece, almost every expression was an accusation of some kind. This lack of neutrality in language sparked such tragic events as the Trojan War. King Menelaus would almost certainly have heard something like “Paris stole your wife.” Despite the efforts of the ombudsmen of the time, he did not hear it in an appropriately neutral or unbiased manner. For example: “It is the case that your wife is no longer in an closely proximate geographical location on account of the prince of Troy.” Put that way, he may have fallen asleep before the end of the sentence, and the Trojan Wars would never have happened.
Finally, the great Greek ombudsman Enteroxaeresothylakos came up with the perfect solution: a new class of verb forms known as “middle voice” or “middle-passive”. And the astonishing quality of this invention (PDF) is that it is fully neutral as to the nature of the action:
The principle to be understood here is that middle-passive morphoparadigms do not, in
and of themselves, indicate necessarily either a transitive or intransitive nor middle nor passive
meaning. They are ambivalent and flexible and must be interpreted each in accordance with the
character of the verb in question and the contextual indicators of the instance under
examination. The usage of the middle-passive morphoparadigms is unquestionably one of the
most difficult features of ancient Greek for a learner to appreciate; while one may develop some
facility with reading Greek middle-passive forms and understanding their meaning, it will be
much more difficult to formulate the proper Greek verb-forms corresponding to one’s native
Indeed, with this voice, King Menelaus need neither have heard that “Paris stole [his] wife” or that “[his] wife was stolen by Paris”, but instead something equivalent to “[his] wife and Paris stole each other”—only more perfectly neutral. And thereafter, he would be mollified, and take a nap and have unbiased dreams.
Unfortunately, it were not so, and COBA has it on good authority that Homer’s Iliad was originally written with many more biased statements than we currently see today. It was only the work of Enteroxaeresothylakos and his intellectual heirs that we see the version today. In English, we have lost these grammatical forms in favour of the meagre “each other” and expressions of that nature—as in, “The US and Iraq attacked each other.” The middle voice may yet return in our ombudsmanly future.
TOMORROW: Ombudsmen and your health.
To the casual observer, art, renaissances, and ombudsmen have long enjoyed a neutral but cordial relationship. And that is as it should be, since this the goal of the ombudsman. However, a deeper, more discerning ombudsmanly gaze may observe subtle, careful interactions between these worlds.
For example, we have already explored the connection between COBA and Canada. Lo and behold, this relationship has long since been viewed as a Renaissance:
In my short time as president so far, I’ve been struck by the fact that we are now witnessing a whole new blossoming of the ombudsman concept across this country. You could call it a renaissance or a revolution, but it’s really more like an evolution – as all of us have learned how to grow and adapt dramatically in recent years.
Blossoming—a perfect metaphor for the progress of ombudsmanry in the modern era. (We apologize to creationist readers for this ombudsman’s reference to evolution—it was written in a less enlightened time.)
On the matter of art, Jonathan Quayle Higgins III, the world’s ombudsman, has this to say:
The fact is, one out of a hundred pictures anyone takes might have some artisitic value, just by luck. A UGA sorority girl, taking pictures at her TriDelt – SAE Crush Night 2009 Party on Broad Street might take one picture where the lighting, shadows, positioning and facial expressions are absolutely striking. That doesn’t mean that she can hand me the stack of 100 photos from that night, mostly depicting her friends sweating and holding dixie cups, and say “Here’s the art.”
Observe the neutrality exercised by this ombudsman even in such a charged matter as art. One out of a hundred pictures might have some artistic value—simultaneously implying that it might not have artistic value. “That doesn’t mean” also implies that may still be true.
Here is some Renaissance art:
NOTE: We apologize for a missing comma in the previous post.
TOMORROW: Ombudsmanry and grammar.