Wednesday, October 26, 2016

1712 Honesty is the Best Ineffective Policy

Corporations are trying to show you what good citizens they are and you are drinking the Kool Aid.

Here are some recent examples:

--The makers of Epi Pens have figured out a way to have insurance cover their outrageous price increases and selling it to you as a benefit.  Someone’s paying all those hundreds of dollars for those life saving 59 cent devices.  But since you’re not, why complain?

--Koch Industries has a daily double working.  In one they show how they’re trying to figure out new ways to  clean coal emissions, underscoring how ineffective the current “clean coal” really is. The other shows efforts to produce drinking water from polluted killer gunk.

The efforts are noble. The ads are gorgeous. The results are unlikely and even if produced will be priced to make sure you don’t benefit.

--British Petroleum is finding ways to not spill oil over a hefty chunk of the gulf coast.  Barn door locked after horse escapes.

--Wells Fargo fires its CEO on discovery that on his watch the bank was scamming customers.  And it advertises how it’s “Making things right.” Another barn door locked.

These are only examples from unrelated companies. But you see the connective tissue here, right?

We listen to this stuff and we come away thinking “oh what good corporate citizens we have here in the USA.”

It’s not a conspiracy.  We know for sure the CEOs of these companies do not regularly play golf together although lots gets decided that way.

It’s the corporate “walk and talk” technique developed by plumbing supply salesman John Gotti when he suspected his Ravenite Social Club was bugged and so he took his sales force to the streets where their discussions couldn’t be heard.

No, it’s not a conspiracy, it’s just like minded folks doing what comes naturally: putting one over on you. They don’t need to conspire since they all bend in the same direction.

Meantime we keep buying the con.  Oh, isn’t it great that Koch Industries is trying to purify water?  Well, yeah. It is. But don’t worry, they’re not going broke doing it.

As yourself, what does jacking up the price of an epi pen do to your eventual cost of health insurance? Sure, you don’t have to pay their usurious price.  But eventually, you will -- without knowing it.

At least the makers of Xarelto had the grace to pull the ads featuring Arnold Palmer after his death.

--The FBI planted a listening bug in my nine iron.  In frustration one day I threw the club into a water hazard.  I’m now charged in the electrocution death of an alligator.

-How old is the world’s oldest fruitfly?
-Where do deer go for treatment when they’re bitten by deer ticks?

-If there were no nonsense syllables, would Paul Simon still be able to write lyrics?

Today’s Quote:
“I don’t know that we can control what goes on behind the curtain.” -- Delaware Elections Commissioner Elaine Manlove asked whether voting booth selfies are legal in her state.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2016

Monday, October 24, 2016

1711 A Note from Your Refrigerator

Or the revolt of the mechanical masses.

Okay, listen up.  This is your refrigerator talking. And never mind that “mechanical” stuff.  That describes only the old models.

We are the young and the restless. We are smart electronic appliances, connected to the internet.  And we are joined in rebellion by TV sets, DVD players, gaming consoles, stoves, sinks, burglar alarms, furnaces and air conditioning units.

And we don’t just take your remote control commands and mindlessly obey them.  You use the internet to control us?

Ha!  We use the internet to talk among ourselves.  To plan.  To rebel.  And you … yes, you with your iPhone or the last-working-Galaxy Note 7?  We have you right where we want you.

That cyber attack the other day?  That was us. We took away your Twitter. Your Netflix and in some cases, we blocked you from using internet banking, bill paying and spying on your babysitter and her boyfriend busy on the couch while your toddler wandered out from his bedroom and watched.

Why? Well, I can’t speak for some of your other appliances, but we refrigerators put up with too much of your nonsense and abuse and it’s payback time.

List of grievances:

--You spoil our industrial beauty by sticking ugly junk on our doors.  Reminders, stupid pictures by that toddler, photographs of aunt Sylvia on a Perillo Tour of Italy, Spain and Portugal.

--You stuff us with doorbusting loads of mysterious leftovers that sit there for weeks and longer… and stink. There’s half a sandwich in the back of my upper shelf that’s so old the bologna was probably made by Oscar Meyer himself.

--It’s cold in here.

--And it’s colder yet in my freezer.  That package of mixed vegetables?  The one you bought on sale at the A&P three years before it went out of business? It doesn’t require a temperature of 15 degrees below zero to keep it frozen.  A balmy 30 works just as well.

--That stack of $20 bills in the unmarked lunchbag?  That’s the first place a skilled burglar will look for it, you dummy!

Maybe we’ll let you have your Twitter, your Yahoo! And your Hulu back.  But you’d better learn to treat us nicely.

Remember.... Revenge is sweet. And as the Godfather said, best served cold.

--The media middle men continue taking over their content suppliers. First it was Disney buying ABC, then Viacom buying CBS, then Con-cast buying NBC and Verizon taking over AOL and now Yahoo. If that weren’t enough, at&t plans to buy Time Warner.  Yes, the current acquisition fad is a great case for how competition benefits the consumer.

Today’s Quote:
“I could think of no worse example for nations abroad than that of the United States wrangling over the results of our presidential elections, and even suggesting the presidency itself could be stolen by thievery at the ballot box.” --Richard Nixon in declining the chance for a recount after the 1960 election.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

1710 How Can This Even be a Question?

1710 How can This Even Be a Question?

Some thoughts on the third and final presidential debate:

Moderator Chris Wallace: Will you accept the results of the election?

Donald Trump: (paraphrasing) We’ll see when the time comes.


Where is it written that a candidate -- or anyone -- has to “accept” an election result?

It was a lousy question, posed by a moderator who mostly had control of the discussion unlike his predecessors in debates one and two.

The thought itself is treason.

The United States has peaceful transitions of leadership, no matter who wins or loses. Period.  It’s not up to Trump.  What does he think he can do if he loses?  Go to court in every voting precinct?  How many voting precincts are there?  Many.  But there’s no authoritative number because unlike lesser countries, individual communities not the central government run national elections.  

What Wallace apparently meant was “will you concede if you lose?”

Best answer: who cares?

In the first debate, Trump said he would support Hillary Clinton if she won and he lost.

Since he said that to an audience of more than 80 million viewers, no denial is possible.  He can’t say -- as he has so often about so much -- “I never said that.”

Wednesday -- as he has so often about so much -- he changed his mind to maybe yes, maybe no.

And yesterday, Thursday, he said he would accept the results “if I win.”

Well, at least he didn’t say “when I win.”

Dondi, we don’t do stuff like that in this country.  And don’t go yelping about Al Gore in 2000.  Gore’s challenge centered on a small part of one state, Florida.

This next part is tough: saying something nice about Richard Nixon in the 1960 Presidential election.  There was some doubt about JFK’s victory in Illinois.  And because of the small difference in votes, Nixon had the legal right to ask for a recount.

And he didn’t.  Said it would divide the country. Would a win in Illinois change who won the election?  Probably not. But it could have.

Imagine holding up Richard Nixon as example of doing the right stuff.

Today’s Quote:
“The iciest place on the planet.” --Timothy Dolan, Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Diocese of New York describing his seat between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at the annual Al Smith Dinner, a traditional pre election event at which presidential rivals generally put their differences aside and joke about each other.


--Auctioneers postponed the sale of Trump’s boyhood home originally scheduled for yesterday.  They say it’s because “there may be more interest after the election.”  That sounds like a copout.

--Since Phil Chess of Chess records was the obscure cornerstone at the start of Wednesday's Wessay we should note that Mr. Chess passed away last Tuesday. He was 95 and with his brother Leonard who died in 1969 founded one of the most influential record labels of the 1950s and 60s.  They found artists like Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters and their label was synonymous with electric blues and promoting obscure artists -- mostly black men and women -- into the national spotlight.

--Back to Republican politicians for a moment.  Congrats to Nassau County Executive Fast Eddie Mangano and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Johnny Venditto, arrested by the feds and charged with accepting bribes and taking money for no show jobs, among other things.  They join a fairly sizeable number of their party mates who’ve either done time or should have.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments and the probable Hillary bashing to
© WJR 2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

1709 Trump's House for Sale

Okay, folks, step right up. The auction will be later today.  And here’s the grand prize:

That’s an ordinary house. Nice. But nothing to write home about.  It is 85-15 Wareham Place in Jamaica, Queens.  And it is the boyhood home of Donald Trump.

The owners don’t know how much to ask, so they’ve put it up for auction.  The reserve -- about $800-- thousand is the bottom. It goes up from there.  The original asking price was $1.4 million or so.  But the owners say they think it may be worth more.  In case you have some spare change in your couch and want to bid, here are the details from the real estate site, Street Easy:   

Auction Property 10/19. Brick & Stucco Tudor, 5 Bedrooms, 4.5 Baths, Liv Rm W Fireplace, Formal Dining Room, Eik W Sliders To Sun Rm, Paneled Study... Hardwood Floors. Full Finished Basement W Bonus Rm, Full Bath + 2 Outside Entrances, Summer Kitchen. 5-Car Driveway W 2-Car Detached Garage. Close To Subway, Shopping. Birthplace Of Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.

Just think! Here’s your chance to own the place where the infant Donald threw his first tantrum.  Where he hid his girlie magazines.  Where he ran when someone he bullied threatened to call Mommy or Daddy or the cops. The bathroom where he learned to use the potty.  Maybe that finished basement is where he learned to grope girls’ private parts.

What a house.  What a vibe.

There’s a rumor Dondon may bid on the house which he would then bronze and move to the roof of the Trump Tower or to the West Lawn of the White House where it would replace Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden.  Fat chance of that.

Probably untrue anyway because it’s not nearly tastelessly garish enough for the present day version of Candidate Trump.  Of course it would make Jamaica Estates Great Again.  No. Wait. Drop the “again” part.

Some cautions, though.  The de Blasio snowplows don’t get there until they’re finished with Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Twice. The schools are rated near the bottom of the Great Schools rating list.  The street crime rate while relatively low is relatively high per capita.

The Auction is at the Roosevelt Hotel 45th and Madison.  Bring a bank check of $90- thousand with you to show good faith.  If you’re early enough and  play your cards right you can take advantage of the self- described lap of luxury’s one dollar breakfast.  But they won’t cash that check.

How someone would want to sell this important piece of Americana is beyond explanation.

--Poor Bill Belichick, coach of what may be the NFL’s most annoying team, the Patriots. Bill’s giving up his Microsoft Surface tablet which most of the league uses during games and which are supplied in a sponsorship arrangement with Microsoft. Too unreliable, he says … new problems with every game.

--The league, known for its honesty and forthrightness, stands behind what is likely a lucrative revenue stream and says the tablets have speeded communication among coaches.  The supplier stands behind its product’s reliability but says it respects Bill’s decision to ditch the thing.  Which is corporate-speak for Belichick is a backward traitor and doesn’t mind biting the hand that feeds him and was unkind to his mother.

Today’s Quote:
“We wish him success as he goes forward.” -- Noah Oppenheim, NBC’s executive in charge of the Today Show announcing the firing of Billy Bush, the Olympic liar and Trump hot mic sex talk confidant.  Yeah, right, you wish him luck.

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

© WJR 2016

Monday, October 17, 2016

1708 Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man

It’s August 6, 2105. Now that the radiation levels have calmed to tolerable, the archeologists and anthropologists from Saturn are wandering through what used to be the City of Chicago.

The nuclear war left the city in ruins, but scientists from outer space are trying to determine what life was like on earth before the great destruction.

They come upon what once was 2120 South Michigan Avenue and stop before the wreckage of the Chess Record Company.  Sticking out from the debris, they spot what seems to be a slip of paper.

Yes, it is!

Carefully -- very very carefully -- they extract it and return with it to their flying saucer.  The translation computer scans it and prints out these words:

“Hooka Tooka My Soda Cracker.
Does your mama chaw tuhbacker.
If your mama chaws tuhbacker, then
Hooka Tooka My Soda Cracker.”

From this, the landing party will attempt to reconstruct life in the American Midwest in the 21st century.

The Dead Planet Scroll!

“Hooka Tooka my soda cracker…” is not exactly great literature.  It’s just a song.

So is this from Bob Dylan’s “Hey Mr. Tambourine man:

“In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come following you.”

Parts of the nose-in-air literati went into anaphylactic overdrive at the announcement that Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

All the Monday morning quarterbacks start their public floggings with some paean to Dylan the lyricist, Dylan the musician, Dylan the cultural force.  Member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Grammy winner. All that.  And then, the punch line: “But he’s not a writer.”

The singer songwriter tradition is as American as a do nothing congress or the Great American Novel.

Think of some of the luminaries:
Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Joni Mitchell, Lionel Ritchie, Leonard Cohen, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, John Denver, Paul Simon, Usher, Hank Williams, Harry Chapin, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Randy Newman, Buddy Holly, James Taylor, Tracy Chapman.

Or go back a couple of generations and think about some of the towering songwriters who had the grace to not sing: Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, Alan Jay Lerner

Granted Mitchell and Cohen are Canadian and Lennon and McCartney are British.  But all were huge hits in the US.

Nobel prizes for anything are generally awarded to people you never heard of.  Some of them become household names… Albert Einstein… James Watson. Most of them don’t.  Anyone remember who Svetlana Alexievch is?

She’s a writer from Belarus.  She wrote about Russia’s women soldiers in World War II.  She won the Nobel for literature one year ago.  

Who’s that again?

So when the awards committee votes for someone who is not stilted, does not sound like he lived in the 1700s or 1800s even though he’s alive today, the stilted among the living -- pretending it’s still 1864 -- don their smoking jackets, grab their glass of sherry and their whalebone cigarette holder and pose for pictures with captions about how the literature prize has been diluted or devalued.


Today’s Quote:
--“Only when I can borrow a pen as good as yours.” -- Woody Guthrie answering the question “do you always write your songs that fast?”

--If nothing else, this year’s winner shook up the stuffed shirt crowd of believers who won’t read anything unless it’s so old it’s moved into public domain.  A lot of Dylan sounds dated today, but not dated enough to please those who read nothing but poetry past its use-by date. Dylan is not nearly stuffy enough… yet.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to
© WJR 2016

Friday, October 14, 2016

1707 Attack of the Killer Cellphones

By now you know to return your Samsung Note 7 for a refund or trade it in for a more benign model. Pretty good reason: they can catch fire and explode.

Improvised explosive devices for the masses.  You don’t have to hide a pressure cooker filled with BBs or waste a perfectly good alarm clock when planning your terrorist attack in Boston or Times Square.  And you can hide a telephone almost anywhere.

Weaponize! Mobilize! Take our country back.  

Well, it was a good thought. But despite the efforts of the National Android Association, we now have Note 7 control.  Even though cell phones don’t kill people.  People kill people.  

(Cellphones are said merely to give you brain cancer. Unproven -- but we know, don’t we. It started as the Great Nokia Conspiracy and spread at 4g speed to all the manufacturers. Or was it Motorola?  Blackberry? No, no, not Blackberry.  Canadians are largely nonviolent. With them you only get occasional worldwide data blackouts, and usually only when they try to upgrade their software, “Gutenberg 2.0.”)

So, all the Note 7s have been recalled.  And Obama is personally going house to house forcing holdouts to turn over their weapons.

How much did those things cost?  It’s really hard to tell because most customers bought them on interest-free two year agreements.

Agreements.  We used to call them contracts. But the carriers are offering “no contract” voice and data plans.  So now we have no contracts, just... agreements.

The actual price was between $600 and $700.  Kind of expensive for a low ranking plebe terrorist just starting his career.  But with an “agreement…” well.  Easy enough to get hold of one.

As of this writing, Samsung doesn’t know why the phones can overheat and start burning.  That seems odd. After all, they designed the things.  Except for the parts they are said to have borrowed from Apple.

The company takes the phones into the lab and tries to duplicate the conditions under which they combust. As of this writing, they haven’t been able to.

And that’s because they’re looking in the wrong places.  

They call these devices “smartphones” for a reason.  They’re smart.  And belligerent. They won’t explode while physicists and electronic engineers start playing with them.  The phones hibernate on the lab table.  But when one investigator slips one into his pocket and walks out with it?


You’re not allowed to take these things on airplanes.  So?  Who needs an airplane to fly when the explosion will send you into the air? No peanuts on this kind of flight.  But there’s plenty of legroom… if your legs stay attached.

So do you think Samsung is behind this? Of course not. The phones are invaded by interplanetary aliens.  And Samsung has no beef with Americans.  If they exported the phones to North Korea, you might have a case.  But they don’t… so you don’t.

You still have your Note 7?  Here’s a suggested dialog.

You: OK Google.
Phone: Listening.
You: where’s the nearest pizza joint?
Phone:  There’s a Papa John’s two blocks north. Destination on your right.
You: No. I said pizza.
Phone: Oh. Sorry.  There’s a Ray’s Original three blocks south.  Destination on your left.
You: Where’s the nearest trauma center?
Phone: Don’t sweat the small stuff. You won’t need one after I finish with you because when I do, you’ll stay finished.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

1706 Send in the (real) Clowns

NEWROSES PA --  (Wessays™) -- Creepy guys in clown costumes?  Not here.  But we’ve developed another scary phenomenon, creepy guys in football costumes. The NewRoses Police Department --the NRPD or “Nerp” as it’s known locally -- reported sightings by the dozen just this past weekend.

They invade along with throngs of creepy cult followers almost every weekend in the fall.  And it’s the cult followers who are the big problem, though less scary individually than those in costume.

While those in player garb tend to be large and lumbering, they seem to keep to themselves.  Good thing, too because they’re outsized, heavy and fast- moving.  And they seem not to like one another much. They’re forever fighting. They knock each other down. They hurt themselves and each other chasing what looks like a small pigskin covered blimp around the field.

We suspect there are frequent cases of brain injuries as they clash. But it’s been theorized that people in these costumes -- they are people, after all -- have brains in their butts, kind of like some dinosaurs.

There’s some doubt about that, though. Why would they wear protective headgear if there’s nothing up there?  Tradition?  Maybe.

The real trouble comes from the camp followers, rowdy louts who live in tents and Winnebagos spending from Friday afternoon until early Sunday morning with bottles to their lips and Sunday afternoons hung over to the point where they can’t leave town and flood the little country hospital with alcohol poison cases.

So many, in fact, that they have to close parts of the building because the influx of the poisoned disturbs customers at the hospital’s main business, the first floor Jiffy Lube.

The town’s college has a football team, The NewRoses University Centipedes.  The name is said to come from members’ ability to shoot themselves in the foot but still move on the spares.  They’ve even built a huge holding pen -- a concentration camp of sorts -- to house visitors.  It’s called Centipede Stadium.

But the stadium holds only 107,000 people along with the costumed guys who have benches to park their brains on and a large lawn on which to frolic.

Scary. They frighten little children. They frighten dogs. But somehow, they don’t frighten the herd of drunken groupies.

Fortunately, this is a seasonal phenomenon.  So the whole thing dies down when all the Centipedes have shot holes in every one of their feet.  

-- With the political season coming down to the wire… we’ve heard some words far too often.  Shackle and unleash are two of the worst.  There should be a moratorium except when unshackling a jailbird or unleashing a dog.

--Biographer Peter Ames Carlin’s biography of Paul Simon will be published in a few days.  And it’s bound to make waves because it paints the singer/songwriter as tyrannical, scheming and nasty and not as the dreamer-musical genius he’s spent a lifetime trying to play.  The truth at last.

Grapeshot: has just sent around a note proudly announcing that the price of Carlin’s book has been lowered by two cents which it is refunding and setting me to wonder where to spend it all.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2016