Friday, November 17, 2017

1871 There's Always Somebody Out There

1871 There’s Always Somebody Out There

We all know radio is dead.  It’s a given. It’s in the Guinness Book.  You can look it up.

We all know there are only a handful of companies that own all 15,330 licensed stations and that they all sound alike and that no one is listening.  In the Age of Pandora Premium, YouTube Red, Sirius/XM and smartphones, everyone is a program director and no one is listening to the free stuff.

This gives today’s local disc jockeys and talk show hosts (all 14 of them) the freedom each wanted to say whatever they wanted.  Careful, boys and girls.  There’s always someone out there.  And each has a chip on his shoulder.  Each is ready to argue and each is at the ready, cassette recorder in hand, to send what you say to the Federal Communications Commission, the League of Decency, the Prissy Posse or Steve Banana, the boy genius former trump strategist.

Some closet listeners remain but are accidental.  Crazy Lem lives in a hospital bed in his home in East Armadillo, New Mexico.  His radio is on 24/7.  It’s sitting on a shelf in his bedroom.  It’s too far away for him to walk over and turn it off.  So, he’s listening. And he’s taking notes and making calls.  The first is to the KJFN News department, also known as Frank. He can’t get hold of Frank easily because when the news is over, Frank goes to his day job which is behind the counter at Wendy’s.

When Crazy Lem finally does get through, he yells at Frank for “not covering “that Uranium deal between Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin” or “not investigating why Obama’s Grandma wasn’t responding after telling us ‘the truth,’ that the former president was born in Uganda and was the love child of Idi Amin and a white hooker from Kampala.”

All 15,330 of those radio stations are programmed by a garden gnome sitting in a control room somewhere inside Cheyenne Mountain.  Even Frank’s KJFN needs permission to say stuff between commercials for Diabetes cures and testosterone replacement pills.

The station owner, who also works at Wendy’s but only part time, listens on a private listen line and doesn’t hesitate to call when he hears something he doesn’t like.  And he doesn’t like much.

This is serious stuff. One day, the garden gnome was distracted and forgot to push the buttons that put Rush Limbaugh or The Grateful Dead or Pat Robertson or Motown Magic on about 2,000 stations each.  By sunset, the folks from NORAD -- the other occupants of the mountain -- had to be called upon to fend off a throng of protesters from the ranks of the Ditto Heads,  heavily armed Stepford Wives, the entire stoner population of San Francisco and a bus carrying 250 of Al Sharpton’s closest friends.

You may think you’re able to say whatever you want on the air.  But beware.  There’s always somebody out there.

--Get well wishes to heart attack patient John Warner.  Warner, 52, is a cardiologist and is president of the American Heart Association. The “mild”attack came as he was participating in the group’s annual scientific conference.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

1871 The Pill Police

It’s about 10 a.m. on a weekday.  A patrol car two wheel screeches around the corner, lights a-flashing, siren a-blaring and pulls up in front of the house of a man we’ll call Crazy Henry.

Two cops walk to the front door and give it the cop-knock, the one that sounds like beating a bass drum with a nightstick.  Loud enough to wake the dead.

Henry’s napping on the couch. He staggers up, opens the door and one of the cops -- the big one with the officer Potsy beer belly says “Hankis, you haven’t taken your 9:30 Abilify.  Get moving or you’re going downtown with us.”

Henry takes his pill as Potsy takes a picture with his smartphone.  “Don’t do that again, Hanky or you’ll regret it.”

The cops leave and Henry goes back to finish his nap.

What has just happened?  Nothing.  And that’s the problem. If Henry had taken his pill, it would have sent an electronic message to his doctor.  Yes, they have a pill now that does that.  But he didn’t take it. So Dr. Modern’s office manager dials 1-800-PILLCOP, taps in a patient number and presto! The Pill Police arrive at Henry’s door with a friendly nightstick reminder.

The Food and Drug Administration approved that drug recently, and the results are amazing.  Abilify is a pill that fights a wide swath of mental problems.  People who fail to take it often cause trouble for themselves and others.  The transmitter and the Pill Police have solved that widespread memory lapse.

Henry drifts off to sleep trying to figure out how to separate the pill from the chip so he can game the system by swallowing the little chip but not the actual medicine.

Meanwhile, across town, the Part D directors of five major health insurance plans are meeting.  They want to decide among themselves how to classify this new pill so they can wring the most money out of patients. In ordinary times, we would call that a conspiracy in restraint of trade.

Let’s see. It’s too new for there to be a generic, so we’re safe on that.  The pill costs eight cents to manufacture, so the drug company has decided the retail price should be something like $364.72 each. The pharmacies will take their usual cut, bringing the customer price to $437.66 each. So the insurance companies make it a level 10 drug which means users will pay the first $430 dollars and insurance will pick up the remaining $7.66.

Is there some kind of privacy right violated here? No. People with mental health conditions have no privacy rights. It’s in the Constitution. You can look it up.

While you’re in a research frame of mind, take a look at the side effects for this stuff.  One of the main ones is warning about “suicidal thoughts or behaviors.”

What, exactly, is a “suicidal behavior?”  You know the answer.  Swallowing the microchip counts if you swallow them but not the pills.

And let’s hope the microchip melts after sending out its signal.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2017

Monday, November 13, 2017

1870 Welcome to the University of Buzzard

1870 Welcome to the University of Buzzard

For-profit colleges will take almost anyone. That means almost anyone can earn a college degree. Maybe “get a college degree” is a better way to put it.  And that means that college degrees don’t mean what they’re “supposed” to.

It’s not that you can’t get an education at the various mail order schools.  And many respectable real colleges offer distance learning courses and degrees.

But the secretary of education, Betsy DeVoid has stopped allowing attempted voiding of loans.  So an enterprising lawyer has figured out a workaround.

A loan for a “college” that makes promises of help finding work, that makes promises its credits are transferable, that its credentials will be recognized as legitimate is selling a defective product and should pony up for the remaining money or forgive the loans.

Well, why not. If it’s good enough for PayLess Shoes and Skippy peanut butter, it should be good enough for the University of George. Except the federal government is one of the loan makers or arrangers and so are some private finance companies. So it’s complicated.

Eventually, there will be a class action suit.  And the schools (you know the names, so they won’t be named here) will be forced to pay some humongous amount of a settlement. They lawyers will get one third of the payout. And each affected student will get 29 cents and a coupon for a free taco. (Regular size only. Some restrictions may apply. Photocopies not accepted.)

As for the schools themselves, it’s tough to separate the legitimate ones from the phonies.  But the community of employers (how vague is that?!) is unlikely to accept your credential.

Unless your veterinarian (the one who amputated the wrong leg) is a graduate of the University of George, she is unlikely to accept your mail order sheepskin.

So… fraud, defective product, false advertising? What’s not to love. It’ll keep flagging employment in the legal “profession” flying with new opportunities abounding.  It’ll keep rinkydink advertising companies healthy. It may fix a broken school system.  

And you’re going to love that free taco.

Sponsored content:
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Imagine the daily excitement of stitching wounds, extracting bullets and treating drug overdoses in the emergency room of a big city hospital.  Imagine hiding your sexual predation behind the mask of a friendly OBGYN specialty.

Our faculty, led by President Bertha Brunkhaussen, CNA, includes some of the leading practitioners in the USA, India, Uzbekistan and Uganda.  Sign up today and get a free Skype account.

Why play doctor when you can BE a doctor and learn from the comfort of your own home.  Send for a free booklet today. Write to us at PO Box 5, Buzzard Roost Mississippi 39452.  For faster service call us toll free at 1800- CARRION.

--Sadly, there will be no WestraDamus year ender this year and we have abandoned the website. There is no way to make fun of 2017 at least in a ‘Damus kind of way.  Maybe notes from the Non-Prophet will pop up here or here .

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2017

Friday, November 10, 2017

1869 The Revolt of the (Suburban) Masses

1869 The Revolt of the (Suburban) Masses

(With apologies to Jose Ortega y Gasset who wrote the original in 1929.)
Let’s not get carried away by the results of this week’s election. It is not necessarily a foreshadow of things to come though many hope it will be.  But it proves one thing:  The American Suburbs have discovered their clout at long last.

Why hadn’t this happened earlier? Well, it’s hard to stay focused on today’s plug ugly politics when you have a lawn to mow, an SUV to wash and a barbecue to clean up post-season.

And the kids! Gotta get the kids to soccer practice, gymnastics, scouts, Little League, tutoring for the SAT exams even though they’re in third and fifth grade and won’t be taking them for years.

Someone awakened the suburbanites this year.  Reminded them they had brains.  Remind them they were about to lose their health care, that their taxes were going to rise, that their incomes were going to fall and that their investments were a bubble that in the best of conditions will develop a slow leak if they haven’t popped first.

Suburbanites elected the new governors of Virginia and New Jersey.  Democratic party members won in a walk in places that had never or rarely had a Democrat in office.

Here’s a common internal American population shift. It starts in rural areas as farm kids move to the cities. City people move to suburbs. Suburban kids move back to the cities. (And few, if any, return to the farm.)

Right now there are enough suburbanites to swing the mid term elections… But the democrats are going to have to find a way to stitch their own wounds.  They can’t rely on trump and the Congress of Stunted Growth and Self Delusion to keep being so bad no sane person could vote for them or what they stand for.

Their own Mister Purity, Bernie Sanders, will have to come to terms with the “establishment” democrats who continue to sit out the revolution because others have already taken a step or two they think of as radical enough.

For the most part, “you people” are educated, middle to upper middle class and just now learning to walk on your hind legs.  A radical agenda will overwhelm you.

From Westchester to Washington State a fed up population expressed its fed-uppedness.  It’s a good start. But it’s only a start.

“Among college educated suburbanites (trump) is a pariah.” -- Former Washington State Republican leader Chris Vance quoted in the NYTimes.

“[T]here appears to be… a type of man who does not want to give reasons or to be right, but simply shows himself to impose his opinions.” -- Jose Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955)

--There’s something untoward about the Veterans Day sales pitches that have come over the transom. A favorite thus far is from a company that sells socks. The perfect way to observe and honor the men and women who gave their lives in defense of covered feet.

--In olden days we at the Associated Press published an hourly newscast to be read by our broadcast clients.  With the advent of the internet, the AP simply updated top stories as they developed.  The latest iteration of their website is… is…  I don’t know what to call it, but it sure looks like a committee project.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

1868 Two Recent Anniversaries

1868 Two Recent Anniversaries

They took place yesterday, 11/7/17 and two days before (for the subtraction challenged that means 11/5/17.)
  1. In 1892, Susan B. Anthony and other women were arrested for voting. Now, 125 years later not only do women have the right to vote but they have a nifty one dollar coin with Ms. Anthony’s image to remember her struggle.
  2. One year ago you elected trump.

Happy now?

Granted the choices were hideous. But this time America voted for the worst of two evils and now we have a new normal and he’s just getting started.

Others have pointed out that eventually the shock of this presidency wears off and makes you tired.  Maybe weary is a better word.  But you don’t get used to it, you meekly accept it as, well, normal.

Administration by Twitter. Soak the poor. Kill your health insurance or maim it. Privatize your schools. Send an A-bomb to North Korea. Produce more coal. Soak the government by sending millions of tax dollars to your business interests.

Threaten to lock up your opponents. Threaten the free press guarantee in the First Amendment. Talk about grabbing women’s private parts.  Make deals -- secret deals -- with the leader of another country which has regularly pledged to “bury” us.

Racism becomes fashionable.

And the lies atop lies atop lies as facts face off against “alternative facts.”

Is this how we “Make America Great Again?”  Government by tweet.  Government by screen printed red hats and a roulette wheel of policy changes.

Admit it. We’re starting to think of all this as just another day at the office.  Shame on us.


--Twitter says we can now use up to 280 characters in a tweet, double the original allotment.  It’s nice. But that 140 character limit forced us windbags the focus our thoughts before running our mouths.

--With no particular news hook, an appreciation of Leslie Nielsen.  Before his hair turned white and he made some of the funniest slapstick-y comedies of his era, he was often cast as a white collar villain with ice in his veins.  And he played those roles with the same skill and talent he brought to Frank Drebin.

--Panel discussions are not news, they’re… panel discussions. If all the contact lists of all TV bookers suddenly vanished, CNN, MSNBC, Fox and HLN would have to actually do some work. The downside: thousands of “experts” and “retireds” and “formers” would be out of work.

-“You might end up dead is my middle name.” -- Leslie Nielsen as Lt. Frank Drebin in “Naked Gun 33 ⅓.”

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I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2017

Monday, November 06, 2017

1867 Advice to the Lustlorn

1867 Advice to the Lustlorn
Leave it Energy Secretary Rick Perry to solve two problems at once: energy development and sexual assault.  After a trip to Africa (that’s a big piece of land called a continent, it is to the east of Texas and surrounded mostly by water) he told an audience at an event sponsored by Axios and NBC that fossil fuels will reduce sexual assault.


Here’s the logic, if you can call it that.  Many places in Africa don’t have decent electric service and some have none.  Lots of rapes take place in darkness. If there were light, women would see and be able -- somehow -- to fend off their attackers.  The best way to bring light to a rural village is to dig for oil, he says.

Why didn’t I think of that!

If Perry said anything else of note in that appearance -- unlikely as that would seem -- it will be lost in the mists of time before the laughter dies.  The sad part here is that the guy probably believes what he says.

Same with Ejakayshun Secretary DiVorce.  
Her policy is keep ‘em barefoot and pregnant. Even the men. (Her home school -- or was it Amway Academy -- didn’t include the chapter on how babies are made.)

What good is developing a breed of gig economy drone workers if they’re going to learn to think for themselves? And while you’re at it, let’s pay a little more attention to the accused.  After all some of them are “very good people” with rough childhoods and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Maybe even PTSD from getting slapped a lot by the women they hit on.

But the recent tidal wave of sexual harassment, sexual abuse and rape leads us to one important question: Where is the line between casual, good natured flirting and the door to obnoxiousness or criminality?

Do I have to describe it for you?  Okay, I will.

There are a few things that you can say without doubt.  Rape is a crime and morally wrong.  But where flirting results in abuse depends on who, what, when and where.

If she’s already told you to buzz off, buzz off. If she seems open to conversation, converse. If she seems to be inviting, accept the invitation. If you misinterpreted something as an invitation and it wasn’t, apologize, accept the correction and buzz off.

This kind of exchange happens every hour of every day.  If it happens at a bar at 11 pm it’s different than if it happens in your faculty or film studio or hedge fund office.  But the guidelines don’t change.

If there’s a working or academic relationship where you have authority and she does not, anything but innocent word play is out of place. And even that is risky -- and should be.

If you’re a rich guy preying on vulnerable women remember that pay-to-play is widely available and in the long run less expensive and damaging than this hour’s target of opportunity.  And both participants end up with something to show for the encounter.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2017

Friday, November 03, 2017

1866 The Quaintness of Spam

1866 The Quaintness of Spam

All this fuss about Facebook and the Russians getting trump elected is making spam look quaint.  What used to be among the most annoying features of email and the internet seems like a relic now.

There’s no doubt the evil uses of social media are, well, evil.  And we might ask what does their use say about us as both user and use-ee?  But that’s another topic for another day.  Today let’s think about that little corner of our mailboxes that used to be stuffed with the fantastic.

Is your folder getting anemic?  Many have this condition.  Does the stuff in your folder make you laugh more than want to cash in on that big windfall from a Nigerian prince?

Yes, there still are plenty of sucker games on spam, but it looks like we’ve learned to see them for their entertainment value rather than as a way to get rich quick or grow a bigger whatsis or for a small donation get a tube of “miracle water” that will cure your ills.

I kind of miss the Nigerian prince.  He seems to have stopped trying to get my checking account information.  But he didn’t go easy.  He moved somewhere else and became an Ethiopian prince or a Cambodian prince or even a distant relative of the British royal family.

It’s gotten to the point that if you feel the need for spamish recognition, you have to feather your own nest.  People are taking legitimate ads and marking them as spam just to fill the seats.

The mail that comes in from Sen. Toomey (R-PA) now goes directly to the spam folder. He probably would object if he knew.  But it kind of adds a bit of class to the bleak worlds of tire shops, men’s stores, and counterfeit Viagra from the “Canadian pharmacy” which actually is in India.

Yep, most of that stuff is gone.  Now we’re subjected to much more subtle and believable stuff on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

There is, however, one bright spot in all this: Natasha, the would-be Russian mail order bride and Bobette who wants to know why I didn’t respond to her most recent e-mail (never received.)  The offers are tempting, especially in an age where if a guy looks sideways at a woman he’s immediately put on the sex offender list.

Oh, the things Natasha wants to do to make me happy. All it takes is a small donation on my credit card.  The same goes for “Long Lost Navajo Secret Restores Hearing in 14 Days” and “Get Out of Debt Tomorrow.”

--If you’d never heard the name “Indo Pacific” before just now, get used to it.  It’s the trump administration’s way of saying “Asia.” The reason for the new name is shrouded in mystery… kind of like a joke that no one gets.

--Spokeswoman Sara Huckster used it in one of her briefings the other day.  Secretary of State ReXXon used it 15 times in a short speech. Count on another change of phrase as soon as someone in Washington realizes that India and other countries have been using Indo Pacific for years… so it wasn’t made in USA.

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