Wednesday, January 18, 2017

1748 Rethinking Congress

1748 Rethinking Congress

Let’s pay our congressmen and women by the pound.
Blake Farenthold (R-TX) Soon to be nouveau riche
We’ll have weigh-ins once a month and that will do several things:

  1. Determine the following month’s pay.
  2. Get them to Washington more than three days a week.
  3. Help them avoid actual work, something in which they need no training.  The line for the scale will be so long, they can spend hours waiting.

As a society, we’ve learned to take our shoes off at the drop of a TSA hat.  So there’ll be no problem for Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas removing them for the weigh in. But there are some who are too thin, and maybe they’ll have to put fishing weights in their shoes.

Of course, this would encourage our employees to overeat.  No worries.  There’s plenty of food to go around.

(And no, they won’t have to disrobe further. The sight of naked congressmen and women is even more repulsive than the site of them fully clothed.)

But in America we must complicate everything. It’s in the Constitution. Look it up.  So here’s something else to do: a bonus for low IQs.  We can’t be having smart people in the house or senate, now can we?  Do we want someone who can actually think beyond his belly?  Of course not.  Smart people are dangerous.  IQs at about room temperature would be ideal.

Hmmm. Do we really need a Senate?  Yes, temporarily.  But let’s start phasing it out.  Zap one southern state and one northern state at a time.  If we run out of small northern states with elephantine sway, we can always start on the far west and the midwest where we can do without all kinds of places.


--For those thinking of leaving the US because of the change in Presidents, strike Poland from your bucket list.  Air pollution abounds.  People without two Zoltys to rub together are burning garbage for heat.

--An Oxfam report says eight men are as wealthy as 3.6 billion people combined, the bottom half of the world.  The names:  Bill Gates (Microsoft,) Amanico Ortega (Intidex fashions,) Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway,) Carlos Sim (Mexico Telco,) Jeff Bezos (,) Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook,) Larry Ellison (Oracle) and Mike Bloomberg (Bloomberg LP.)  Obscene.

--There are two main lists of the world’s billionaires.  The Forbes 400 never mentions anyone named Forbes (probably with good reason.)  And the Bloomberg list never mentions anyone named Bloomberg.

-Not to be outdone, the president will start his own magazine with its own top moneybags list:
-Trump, Donald (New York)
-Trump, Ivanka (D.C.)
-Trump, Melodious (Kiev)
-Trump, Dondon (New York)
-Kushner, Jared (New Jersey)
-Trump, Todd (Ohio)
-Trump, Don (Florida)
-Trump, Fred (Arizona)
-Trump, Hubert (Indiana)
-Trump, Angelica (Oregon)

-“I’ll run if I can walk.” Joe Biden on his plans for the 2020 presidential election when he’ll be 78.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Monday, January 16, 2017

1747 This Way to the Egress

When the milling crowds on the midway got too thick, P.T. Barnum -- so the story goes -- would put up signs pointing to the “egress.” Many thought that was another exhibition and left, allowing waiting patrons in. Too many people?

Barnum’s successors at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus haven’t had that kind of problem for decades.  So much so in recent years that current owner, Feld Entertainment announced this weekend that the circus will close permanently after this year’s tours.

Poetic justice:  The tattered and superannuated traveling show will make its final bows at the equally tattered and superannuated Nassau Coliseum on New York’s Long Island on May 21st.

Beside declining attendance, CEO Kenneth Feld cites protests from animal rights activists and changing tastes.  At least he had the grace to not blame the media.

One hundred forty six years of freak shows, scary and semi scary clowns, death defying feats of aeronautical acrobatics, overpriced food and trained big cats always on the edge of mauling and devouring any living being under 60 pounds.  

One hundred forty six years of bearded ladies, adult conjoined twins, three legged men, four legged women and “the living torso.”

Goodbye Lobster Boy, General Tom Thumb and the Human Unicorn.  Also jugglers, unicycle riders, tightrope walkers, human cannonballs, fire eaters and sword swallowers.

And with all that, dies a whole culture of workers from tent builders to boxcar loaders, the whole backstage crew, animal handlers and ringmasters.

Life has become so heart-in-mouth that there’s no more thrill to watching some skinny dude and a leggy woman do mysterious things on a pair of trapezes without falling to their deaths.  The real circus is going on all around you and there’s no admission charge.

Of course, Ken Feld’s announcement could be just another circus stunt.  Maybe he’s opened 30- million fake email accounts and contracted with some temp agency to write angry protests and demands that he keep the company running.

Probably not.  But don’t be surprised if you see the clown car up for auction.  And Emmett Kelly’s broom.

--For many years on Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday this space has railed against those trying to second guess what he would have said about these times had he not been murdered. Not anymore.  This year, it wouldn’t take much guesswork, though you won’t find any here.

--If you thought we were governed by the worst among us for the last few decades, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. We’re days away from government by kleptocracy.  We are days away from Alice in the rabbit hole where up is down, down is up and nothing is real.

--But we sincerely hope for the continued good health of the president- elect.  That’s not some sentimental statement of faux patriotism as once we offered for the health of George H.W. Bush.  You want this guy healthy because if he dies, we get Pence -- and that’s even worse.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Friday, January 13, 2017

1746 A Tale of Two Presidents

On Tuesday night, President Obama delivered a long “farewell address” to the public.  On Wednesday morning, the president-elect held his first news conference since July.

Obama’s speech was part Bill Clinton (long,) part Ronald Reagan (tugging at heartstrings,) part John F. Kennedy (gracious and graceful) and part FDR or Winston Churchill (understated but powerful.)

You couldn’t ask for more in that kind of a speech.

The following day, the president-elect met the press. He backed down from “Russia didn’t hack us.”  And he got into a shouting match with a CNN reporter.  He had a pile of manila envelopes beside him, said they were legal documents about how he’s going to temporarily cede control of his holdings but wouldn’t let anyone see any of them because they’re “legal documents about how he’s going to temporarily cede control of his holdings.”

Obama drew smiles, tears, applause.  The president elect drew flies.

You had to wonder where the Obama on stage in Chicago had been hiding for the last eight years.  You had to wonder at how he went to work each morning when the path to accomplishment was always blocked by the body of a morally, spiritually and legislatively dead series of republican bodies lying across the path.

Was this guy really president? This master of the speech, this orator in chief?  Yes, he was.  But the part we saw was hidden behind those bodies.

Was the Affordable Care Act all it was cracked up to be in the long run of coming attractions that came before it?  Of course not.  Can you figure out why?

The President elect has shown no understanding of how government works.  He appears to have confused the presidency with wheeling and wheedling real estate development companies he’s been running.

Development has several meanings. You can look up the original definition in any dictionary, even the newer ones that report your usage, unlike the older ones that report on what should be you usage.

In Academia and other charities, “development” means panhandling.  In real estate it means take paradise and make it a parking lot, according to pavement scholar Joni Mitchell.

So the president elect has been in effect privatizing the executive branch.  But there are some in government who haven’t gotten the message.

Little Marco Rubio for one.  He’s already started his 2020 presidential campaign by feigning a move toward human rights while the basket he’s shooting for is the White House.

The intelligence agencies may be several dogs fighting over the same bone. But they’re best friends when it comes to digging up dirt on people they don’t like.

--FBI director Comey is on the carpet over the timing of his big mouth. He presented the beanbag on Hillary Clinton eleven days before the election, ceremoniously opened it.  No beans spilled and now the parent agency, the Department of Justice wants to know he got away with it.

Today’s Quote:
“There’s not a guy would try something as stupid.” -- Chairman Sergio Marchionne of Fiat Chrysler on reports of a federal investigation into VW- like cheating on emissions tests.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

1745 All News is Fake News

1745 All News is Fake News
Retired New York Daily Mirror Science Editor Merton D. Hasenpfeffer is widely credited with starting the Global Warming hoax.

Here’s the secret oath we newspeople all take before receiving our destructo buttons:

“I _____ ____ do solemnly swear to uphold this Newspersons’ creed.  I will to the best of my ability lie, cheat, steal, accept bribes and write what my masters tell me to.

“I will do my best to withhold important news and/or trivialize it.  I will do my best to bring my inherent dishonesty and laziness to full flower.

“And I will do my best to write or speak it in terms to confuse and befuddle, so help me God.”

So you see the rites of the journocult are now in plain sight and it’s likely your correspondent will have to go into hiding to avoid contract underworld hitmen, government death squads and the issuers of fatwas.

But no one will report that.

Omitting stories takes no energy.  CNN barely mentioned Meryl Streep between red carpet shots at the Golden Globes.

We do our best work when we simply invent events.

Here are some examples:

The Holocaust and the bombing of London. It’s been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Jews left Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, etc. voluntarily.  Those trains didn’t go to death camps. They went to Paris.

Edward R. Murrow wasn’t speaking from a London rooftop. He was on the air from Studio 5 at CBS headquarters on Madison Avenue.

Hiroshima/Nagasaki:  Anyone actually see the mushroom clouds?  No, of course not.

North Korea: China annexed the northern half of Korea in 1951.  The war?  What war?

The Castro Revolution: Never happened.  The Miami Herald in cahoots with Meyer Lanski dreamed it up. Castro was just a figurehead so that Lucky Luciano could keep a low profile.

Moon Landing:  Faked and you know it.

Watergate: Hmmm. That might have been real although information has come out to hint that Spiro Agnew set it up.

The Affordable Care Act: You can keep your doctor?  Affordable?

The end of organized crime: New York’s “Five Families” lost a little weight but retain their grip on the waterfront.

The Kardashians: Invented whole cloth by OJ Simpson’s fake “Dream Team.”  Johnny Cochran was doing real estate transactions and divorce cases from 1980 until the time he faked his death in 2005. Dershowitz had an ambulance scanner in his 1985 Datsun and Robert Shapiro was getting ready to launch Legal Zoom and appeared in court only on alternate Wednesdays.

All along you thought this stuff was true.  Fool you once, shame on you. Fool you a thousand times, still shame on you.  We’re just doing our job.

There are three areas of coverage that deserve special mention:

  1. Weather. Weather forecasts routinely predict conditions that either don’t develop or develop later than they’re supposed to.  Do you think that’s an accident? Think again.  The forecasters are just showing off their spiffy new graphics.  No one can do anything about the weather.
  2. Sports: with interest flagging in football and baseball games lasting forever, sports reporters have to do something to justify their existence. Hence we get fake stories about football injuries and steroid use in major league baseball.  Pishposh.  We make it all up.

  1. Technology:  the saddest part of reporting on technology is that the geeks who report on it are ripe for payoffs but so enthralled with their subject that they’ll do the sugar coated stories without so much as a free cup of coffee.

There.  It’s all out.  Now you know that all news is illusion and that we do it on purpose. To us newsies, every day is April Fool’s.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Monday, January 09, 2017

1744 Sloan's Big Idea

When Alfred Sloan of GM invented planned obsolescence, he understood that "upgrades" were a crap shoot.  The public would decide whether it was worth trading in their 1947 Pontiacs for the "new, improved" 1948 Pontiacs.  Sloan bet they would want to and he was right for the most part.

In this age, crap shoots are reserved for casinos including the various financial markets.  But planned obsolescence was no longer adequate and enforced obsolescence took its place.

The shine of newness has dulled.  But the need to sell stuff has not diminished.  So now rather than entice you, companies force you to buy new stuff.  

Hence a perfectly good computer operating system like Windows XP was costing Microsoft multi millions of dollars each year as people decided there was no reason to "upgrade."

Plausible deniability.  New systems added actual improvements to some computer functions. And always with forced marched you to buy new gizmos to because your old ones no longer worked with the new software.

You “upgraded” to Vista which should have been called “Dizasta” and then to WIN7 which actually was better.  So much so that when WIN8 appeared you could still specify the much better “7” and you had to pay extra for the “downgrade.”  Eight was worse than “Dizasta” to the point where Microsoft distanced itself by skipping 9 and going directly to ten, which everyone says is “7” in a better dress.

It’s not just cars and computer operating systems. Almost everything is subject to planned obsolescence.

The makers of Gibson guitars were in love with the word “advanced.”  Basically, here’s what happened:  they came out with a new model.  When sales slowed, they made a slightly bigger version and called it “advanced.”  They had more “advanced” stuff than a Monopoly game.  That extra inch?  Not much of an advancement.  But they sold a lot of wood that way.

What is the difference between an MP3 and an MP4?  One. And not much else.

Can you see the “improvement” of a Blu Ray disc over a DVD?  Do you get better care than you used to from Northwell Health than you did when it was merely North Shore Hospital?

And finally, would Alfred P. Sloan have gotten a better education at MIT/Sloan than he did at Brooklyn Poly?

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I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Friday, January 06, 2017

1743 The Inauguration

Photo by Martha Washington
Just a few days, now.  You too can be a witness to history, just like Martha Washington was when she took out her camera and snapped this picture of her husband taking the oath of office in April of 1789.  Photohistorians are divided on whether she used a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye or her Sony RX 100.

We’ve come a long way since those primitive cameras. Remember, that up until 1902, a Brownie was the size of an orange crate and weighed 48 pounds.

But we also have come a long way since George Washington was president.  Since then, we’ve had presidents who have led us into wars, justified and unjustified; into and out of economic crises.  We’ve had presidents who sullied the environment and those who have tried to save it.

But in each case, the president has nurtured growth and stature; the wellbeing of its people filtered through their personal definitions of wellbeing.

At least that’s what we have had so far. Now, who knows?

The president elect has been variously on every side of every issue.  He has worked to circumvent anything anyone else has accomplished and then reversed course.

We in the crystal ball business try to take his 70 years of past behavior and accurately forecast what the next presidency will bring.  And we have no way of predicting that.

We use his pronouncements and proposals and retractions, his nominees for important government jobs and his reality TV show persona to come up with a workable theory of what he will or won’t do as president.

We parse his every statement and come up with a library of self cancelling contradictions.  But he’ll be president and that means he can’t just sit there.

The pundit consensus seems to be that the next four years will be no fun.  Will he name Vladimir Putin US Ambassador to Russia?  Will he let the religious fanatics he’s criticized all his adult life but who voted for him run his administration and if he does… what will they do?

In any event, we’ll soon learn what “Great Again” looks feels and smells like.  And even though past performance is no guarantee of the future, it’s easy and forgivable to be pessimistic.

Today’s Quote:
“We feel the inauguration of a president is not a political event.”  President Billy Hawkins of Talladega College attempting lamely to defend sending the historically black college’s marching band to play in the inaugural parade.

-How do you trust your own mind when you see the picture that’s developing before your very eyes?
-You can’t and the politicians are counting on that plus they’ll be perfectly happy to tell you what to think.

--Is the entire incoming administration unburdened by brains? Is there no one who will tell the Emperor that when he goes after congress it’ll get even? Waging war over Russian hacking and the value of the intelligence agencies is a fine way for a president-in-waiting to assure his own rough future.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

1742 Orphan Time Zones

Eastern, Central, Pacific.  Those are our time zones. Oh. Wait.  There’s also Mountain, Atlantic, Alaska and Hawaii.  There is?  Yes, of course. But you rarely hear about them.

Let’s resolve to mention them more in 2017.  It’s a hard resolution to keep because nothing ever happens in those zones.  But it’s time to hear it for the little guy.

The biggest piece of geography among these is in the mountains.  And it’s not quite right to say we never hear about that.  Aspen, Colorado gets some play.  Sometimes Park City, Utah.  And there’s the occasional dance between mountain men and federal storm troopers.

But you never hear the TV announcer say something will be on “tomorrow night at eight, six Mountain.” No. It’s always “tomorrow night at eight, seven Central.” Or “tomorrow night at eight Eastern and Pacific, seven Central.”

We used to talk -- infrequently -- about Alaska-Hawaii time.  But Alaska is in one time zone and Hawaii in another.  So when it’s noon in Sarah Palin’s backyard, it’s 11 on Christopher Coles’ beach.

That’s too confusing for most of us.  Plus what’s the big deal about an hour’s difference in two states, one with more moose than people and the other with lovely beaches and hula dancers where real people vacation, the residents call it “paradise” and the rest of the world pays no attention unless there’s a tsunami or a volcano blows its top.

On the other side of the continent there’s the Atlantic time zone.  Even the three people who live in it don’t use it.  Just a little of Maine. And that piece of Maine uses Eastern time in an effort to fit in. The rest covers parts of Canada and Puerto Rico.  No one remembers Canada or Puerto Rico other than one is boring and the other is bankrupt.

Just once, can’t that TV guy say “tomorrow at eight, nine Atlantic?”

Shrapnel  Megyn Kelly edition:
--Fox news actress Megyn Kelly is moving to NBC where she’s in for a rude awakening.  Unlike Fox, NBC is a real news company -- despite Comcast -- and while management will treat her like a star, the people who do the real work won’t.  NBC eats anchor-monsters alive then spits the shells into the Rock Center Ice Rink after hours.

--If Katie Couric can’t make a daytime talk show work, how will Kelly?  If no one can topple CBS’ 60 Minutes, how can Kelly?  Easy answer: she can’t.

--Successful anchors or public figures have gone from somewhere to Fox with continued success. Examples include Tony Snow, Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo.  But no one you’ve heard of started at Fox News and remained successful elsewhere.

-As of this writing hospitalized mass murderer and failed folksinger Charles Manson, 82,  remains alive in a California prison ward, but there’s always hope this bad fortune won’t last.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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