OT, since his arrival on the planet sometime in the
1990s, has become something of an international bum, spending a couple of years
here, a couple there, and, occasionally, dropping in when he's in the
vicinity. Being from another planet, he has always been intrigued by how
members of our species (the human one) interact, especially those of various
ethnicities. Now, visiting here for the holidays, he was looking over my
shoulder as I perused the messages regarding which irises are eligible for the
Dykes Medal given by AIS.
"Ha!", he said, reading Loic's first posting,
"Here's a Frenchman living in Holland giving the Americans what-for for
discriminating against the British when awarding an iris named for an
Englishman! -- A paradox, a paradox, a most ingenious paradox .
. ." He began hopping around, humming the Gilbert and Sullivan
"Now, wait a minute", I said, "here's a
message from a Scot (at least by her name) in the American Southwest,
saying that there are different Dykes Medals
awarded to irises first introduced in different countries. And, apparently,
that's okay with the Brits."
"Okay," said OT, "but here's the Frenchman quoting
the American Iris Society's Handbook and still objecting that it restricts the
award to irises first introduced in the United States or Canada."
"Speaking of which," I replied, "here's a message
from a Canadian who says that the AIS Dykes Medal is an award from the British
Iris Society on licence to AIS, and that there are other Dykes Medal
licences to other nationalities.
"Well," said OT, "the Irish would agree that the
British are licentious. But look, here's a message from a Hungarian in
northern Virginia. He says we should pay attention to the name of the
organization, and that "American [as in AIS] is
one of those tricky words. In a very broad sense, it would apply to both north
and South American continents, a more restricted sense applies it to North America only, and, in the strictest sense, it
applies only to the US."
"The Hungarians are very good at making fine
distinctions," I answered. "They can also be very expansive, especially
when it comes to boundaries. But in this case, I think he's leaving
"Look at this one," said OT. "I think it's
from some kind of Viking, although he lives in North Carolina. It's a long
"Like the ships," I said.
"He says," continued OT, ignoring my witticism,
"that there is 'a discrepancy within
the American awards system since all of the American Medals are open to anyone
in the world provided they introduce it first in North America (USA and
Canada).' "He says that the "first" is ambiguous, since it could mean, on
the one hand, only that the iris had to have been introduced in
the U.S. or Canada, so that judges of these countries would have a chance to
evaluate it, or, on the other hand, it could mean that it had to be introduced
in the U.S. or Canada before it was introduced anywhere else. He
favors the first interpretation, but says that the AIS Board adopted the
second. He says the matter came up before the Board again this fall, but
doesn't say what happened."
At this point, I decided to call it a night.
I retired, and OT, pursuing his study of aberrations in the human psyche,
stayed up to watch Dave Letterman.
On the following day, we found that the discussion
had taken a different tack.
OT observed that "The Frenchman says he forgot that
there were other Dykes Medals besides the North American one, complimented
the Americans on having been able to work together to accomplish this award and
expressed his hope that the Europeans would do likewise."
"Let's nominate Loic for President of the Council
of Europe", sez I.
"Agreed," OT responds, "except that, as
non-Europeans, we might find it difficult to get their
"Here's another message," I report. "From her
first name, I'd say she's Irish. She says that at the last Board
meeting, someone suggested that the Dykes
could only be awarded to an iris of North American origin, and
they discussed what constituted American origin, like, for instance, a
seed pod set in Australia and grown in the US versus a seed pod set in North
America and grown in Australia . . .
"Oh, rats!" exclaimed OT, surprisingly, since he
doesn't usually get upset about things.
"Rats!", he said again.
"What's up?", I asked.
"Look here," he said. "It's a message from
the Welshman in California."
"You mean, Numero Uno? Our
"Yes, and he says they not only discussed it, but
they adopted it, and that he made the motion! He quotes it. Here's
what it says: "The American Dykes Medal . . .
is restricted to irises first originated and introduced in the
United States or Canada. Irises
originated elsewhere, although not eligible for the American Dykes Medal, are eligible for other AIS awards . . "
"Well", I said, "that settles it.
"So," said OT, actually appearing agitated, "you
remember the seedling that bloomed for me in Hawaii?"
"Oh, sure," I replied, "the one you said you're
going to introduce as 'POTUS' in honor of ---
"That's the one."
"Well, what about it?
"Well," he said, dejectedly, "it first bloomed in
Hawaii, all right, but the cross wasn't made there. It was made
"Wait! Stop!" I said. "Don't tell
"And the seed . . " he continued.
"I don't want to hear it!" I cried.
I turned back to the computer. "Here's a
message from Holland . . ."
"I saw it," said OT. "The Frenchman burned
his judges handbook." He shrugged. "I was just thinking . . . about
that seedling . . . actually, only you and I know . . ."
"OT," I said, "You're beginning to think like an