“My pathological Hawaiian shirts,” Professor Plum said as he entered the mail room, “are the Big, Big Story.”

He read the mail. (More)

“Your shirts aren’t pathological,” Chef said, shielding her eyes. “They’re just kinda … blinding.”

“In that case,” Professor Plum replied, “this one should light up the wine cellar library nicely.”

The Professor of Astrology Janitor chuckled. “It may scorch the bottles books.”

Professor Plum then left with Ms. Scarlet to join the resident faculty in the aforementioned wine cellar library, where they’ll 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’s pathologically poor cards were the Big, Big Story. “I almost raised last hand with the Ten and Four of Hearts,” he said. “At least they were the same suit. But when the Squirrel raised to open, I knew he had something.”

The Squirrel tapped at his Blewberry. “I had Queens. And all I got for them was the big blind.”

“Better than losing with them,” Chef noted as she dealt out the next hand.

The Squirrel nodded, looked at his cards, and pushed them into the muck. The Professor of Astrology Janitor peeked at a pair of black Fours and put in a pot-sized raise. Chef bent up the corners of her cards, pondered for a moment, and called.

The Professor of Astrology Janitor thought his luck had turned when the flop brought the Ten of Spades, Six of Diamonds, and Four of Hearts. It was the kind of flop that would have missed most opening hands. So the Professor of Astrology Janitor put in a pot-sized bet, reasoning that Chef might make a weak call on the mistaken belief that he was merely following through on his opening raise.

Instead, Chef replied with a pot-sized re-raise.

Had she called with a pair of Tens or Sixes, for a higher three-of-a-kind? Might she have called with Ten-Six and think two pair was ahead? Was she semi-bluffing with a straight draw? Or was this an all-out bluff? None of those seemed any more or less likely than the others, and the Professor of Astrology Janitor led all but a better three-of-a-kind. So he called.

The Six of Spades on the turn might have helped, or hurt. If Chef raised at the flop with three of a kind or two pair, she now had a better full house than the Professor of Astrology Janitor’s. But if she raised with a straight draw, she was now drawing dead to his full house of Fours over Sixes. Not sure which was which, the Professor of Astrology Janitor checked. To his surprise, Chef checked behind him.

The Four of Diamonds fell on the river, giving the Professor of Astrology Janitor four-of-a-kind. He couldn’t merely check, lest Chef merely check a beaten hand. But how much to bet? If he bet too small, it would be a too-obvious teaser. If he bet too strong, she would fold without paying off his hand. He decided on his standard half-pot-sized bet …

… and Chef moved all-in. Only one hand could beat him: pocket Sixes for a higher four-of-a-kind. Could his bad luck really be that pathological?

He certainly wasn’t about to fold four-of-a-kind. “I call. Quad Fours.”

“Ouch,” Chef said, turning over the Queen and Jack of Clubs. “I hoped you were bluffing a missed hand, coz I sure was.”

The Professor of Astrology Janitor scooped in enough chips to double his stack. “Wow.”

The Squirrel tapped at his Blewberry. “You’re supposed to do that plaintive mewling, so Chef can go make breakfast.”

“But … I won,” the Professor of Astrology Janitor said, “and not just some itty-bitty pot. A big one.”

“Well, you could make breakfast,” Chef suggested.

So the Professor of Astrology Janitor went to slice bagels, leaving your lowly mail room clerk to review the week’s correspondence….

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

Wait … the Professor of Astrology Janitor won? That’s almost as big a story as my Big, Big Story, the one the media have bungled badly.

Two weeks ago today, President Trump went on Twitter and leveled a series of accusations against former President Obama, most notably that Obama had wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower. The claim has been roundly criticized ever since. Notably, it came on the heels of a new round of damaging revelations about ties between Trump’s entourage and Russia. We’ve now had formal inquiries from the congressional intelligence committees, statements from the Department of Justice and the FBI, a follow on attempt by Trump and Spicer to redefine what the President actually said.

We know this much of the story. But this is a case where the particularity of the story, the minutiae of intelligence officials’ denials, discussions of what authority a president might theoretically have to do such a thing all conspire together to confuse rather than illuminate what happened.

The real story here is that the President, by force of his office and audacity, was able to inject into the national conversation a preposterous claim which the country has spent two weeks debating. True, most people may not believe it. But virtually everyone has gone through the motions of probing the question as though they might be true. Intelligence communities have been briefed, statements have been made, a number of news conferences have been dominated by it. Perhaps most notably, members of his party have only been willing to say that there is as yet no evidence to back up the President’s claims – not that they are obviously false and represent a major problem in themselves.

I would say that this ability – both the President’s pathological lying and our institutions’ inability to grapple with it – is the big, big story. The particulars of the accusation basically pale in comparison.

This is classic enabling behavior. It is amazing, crazy that we’ve actually spent two weeks discussing this as a real issue. Now, because of this enabling, we have a bona-fide, if minor, international incident with the US’s closest ally, the United Kingdom because the President’s press secretary actually spread the accusation that the UK somehow conspired with President Obama to do this. That’s nuts. Nuts on its own terms but even more nuts that this charade has spread to this level.

The President had a moment of anger, desperation, agitation and made this farcical claim. Admittedly, we don’t have a lot of experience flatly rejecting a public accusation from a sitting President. But it’s a new world. Treat it as such.

Josh in NY

Dear Josh,

We think the Really Big, Big Story is how you got that time machine working. Otherwise how could you have known that the Professor of Astrology Janitor won, if you sent your letter early enough that Professor Plum read it up at the top of this story?

Dear Ms. Crissie,

The BPI Fizzix Department let me use theirs.

Josh in NY

Dear Josh,

They have one?

Dear Ms. Crissie,

Their time machine is as real as the rest of BPI … and as real as the God-King’s ridiculous accusations.

Josh in NY

Dear Josh,

We commend your deft segue!

We also agree with your assessment of the media’s abject failure to call out the God-King’s blatant lie. By dancing around with phrases like “no evidence to support this,” rather than simply saying he’s “lying,” they let his lies continue to fester and gain a footing in our national and now international dialogue. And the Out House Sewer Spewer’s explanation – that neither he nor the God-King have any reason to apologize, because “We literally listed a litany of media reports that are in the public domain” – brings ‘spin’ to new depths. His defense boils down to: “We’re factually repeating other people’s lies.”

We hope enough Americans will see through the God-King’s web of lies … before he alienates all of our allies and blunders us into war with North Korea.

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

So just … bagels for breakfast?

Hoping for More in Blogistan

Dear Squirrel,

The Professor of Astrology Janitor is also putting out cream cheese, smoked salmon, and thinly-sliced roughly-sliced kinda-diced red onions. Bon appétit!

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Photo Credit: PBS

Josh in NY; “classic enabling behavior;” “We literally listed a litany of media reports that are in the public domain.”

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Happy Sunday!