Professor Plum demonstrated his three-inch vertical leap by dunking our sponge basketball through the hoop over the mail room door. He read the mail. (More)

That hoop gets a lot of use at this time of year, as we post the staff’s NCAA basketball tournament prediction sheets on the backboard. The Professor of Astrology Janitor rides his buffer to perform a 360° slam dunk each time one of his teams wins. Ms. Scarlet also sank a couple of shots before leading Professor Plum off to join the resident faculty in the wine cellar library, where they spend the weekend drinking thinking on our motto of Magis vinum, magis verum (“More wine, more truth”).

In the staff poker game, the Professor of Astrology Janitor had drawn a slam dunk on the flop when his King and Jack of Diamonds met the matching Ace, Queen, and Ten. His prospects looked good when Chef bet, and he took a moment as if to ponder before calling her. The Ten of Spades seemed to offer a good opportunity to bluff a weaker hand, and he bet out. Chef studied him closely and then said “Nice full house,” folding her Six and Seven of Diamonds face-up. The delight of showing his royal flush barely offset his disappointment at not winning as big a pot as he might have, and he began his plaintive mewling. That sent Chef to the kitchen to make Spiced Pumpkin Dunking Sticks, leaving your lowly mail room clerk to review the week’s correspondence….

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

I respect Sen. Rob Portman, but if Republicans change their stance on gay marriage they’re going to lose a lot of their base because evangelicals will take a walk. And it’s not because there’s an anti-homosexual mood, and nobody’s homophobic that I know of, but many of us, and I consider myself included, base our standards not on the latest Washington Post poll, but on an objective standard, not a subjective standard. I recognize the culture is moving away from the traditional standard, but it’s almost like saying, well, we have a basketball team and nobody on the team can hit the goal that’s 10 feet off the floor so we’re going to lower the goal down to six feet and that way everybody can slam dunk the ball. So the question is, have you have improved your basketball game? Or have you actually just changed the standard so it looks like you’re doing better?

Mike in AR

Dear Mike,

We applaud your preference for objective standards, though we feel compelled to note that your basketball metaphor fails that test. James Naismith invented basketball at the International YMCA Training School, now Springfield College, where the balcony rail happened to be ten feet above the gym floor. Naismith wanted the goal high enough players would have to toss the ball in an arc through the goal, so he asked a janitor to nail two peach baskets to the balcony rail. Thus the “objective standard” of ten feet was an architectural accident. Indeed Naismith’s original intent was that no player would be able to slam dunk the ball into the goal. We note that applying that original intent, through your metaphor, would mean that no one should be allowed to marry.

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

My thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman, it’s a well-established uh, fundamental pillar of society. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are, they don’t get to change the definition. So it’s not something that’s against gays, it’s against anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society.

Ben in MD

Dear Ben,

We will set aside your shameful comparison of LGBTs to pedophilia and animal abuse, as others in the media have already taken you to task on that. Instead we note that you echo an argument offered by Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation, who wrote that “no one has a right to redefine marriage for everyone else.”

Simply, you and he argue that the privileged interests of those who benefit by the status quo outweigh the rights of those who are excluded by the status quo. Were the Supreme Court to adopt that principle, then the Equal Protection Clause would be meaningless, as it was written to erase the kind of tautological status quo arguments that, for example, were once used to exclude blacks from many universities, including Johns Hopkins University Medical School, where you now serve on the faculty. Indeed had your tautological status quo argument not been challenged, slavery might still be “recognized as a fundamental pillar of the social order.” We suggest you should be grateful that the mere existence of that “fundamental pillar” was not allowed to justify its continuation.

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

That’s pretty much a slam dunk. Speaking of dunking, how do I make Chef’s Spiced Pumpkin Dunking Sticks?

Shooting for Breakfast in Blogistan

Dear Shooting for Breakfast,

Chef notes that this delightful recipe requires a bit of patience. To start, beat 1 cup of softened butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer for 30 seconds, then add ½ cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¾ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon each of ground nutmeg and ground ginger, and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and ground cloves. Beat until combined, then beat in ⅓ can of canned pumpkin, 1 egg, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Finally beat in 2½ cups of all-purpose flour, using a wooden spoon if the batter exceeds the size of your mixing bowl. Place the dough in a pastry bag and pipe in 4″ long strips onto a cookie sheet, twisting the bag as you squeeze to form corkscrews. Bake at 400° for 5-7 minutes, until just firm to the touch but not browned.

Make a cream cheese glaze by beating together 1½ ounces of softened cream cheese with 1 Tablespoon of softened butter, then adding ¼ teaspoon of lemon zest, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon of orange zest, then ¾ cup of powdered sugar, and finally 2 to 3 teaspoons of milk until the glaze reaches drizzling consistency.

Let the dunking sticks cool on a wire rack, then drizzle them with the glaze and let stand for 2 hours or so, until the glaze is set. Chef likes to dunk hers in coffee, but you may prefer hot tea or hot cider. Bon appétit!

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Mike in AR; invention of basketball.

Ben in MD; Ryan Anderson; once used to exclude blacks from many universities; including Johns Hopkins University Medical School; “recognized as a fundamental pillar of the social order.”

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Happy Sunday!