Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Equal Opportunity

(41) Equal Opportunity

Okay, why are there no female sanitation workers in Moote Pointe?

It’s hard to tell, because the garbage trucks come in the pre dawn darkness. But careful investigation shows there are no women on the trucks.

Women run giant corporations. They serve in high government positions, like Secretary of State. They walk beats and drive patrol cars. They deliver mail. They run trains and subways and even 18 wheelers. They are Army Generals, doctors, lawyers and so forth. In this respect, 21st Century America has, at last, equaled the mid-20th century Soviet Union.

But not when it comes to sanitation workers. If Petrushka from Pinsk can be a hod carrier, why can’t Mary from Moote Pointe be a garbage hauler?

Also, auto mechanics. There are no women auto mechanics here, either.

Come to think of it, we have no male secretaries here at The Pointe, either. Probably we’re equal to the Soviets in this respect, too.

We also were hoping that the President would nominate someone to replace Greenspan who has no ability in math.

Please remember that Greenspan himself was an affirmative action hire. Reagan put him in office as chief regulator of monetary policy, finally finding a guy who didn’t believe in government intervention in the economy. That’s like hiring a preacher who doesn’t believe in a deity.

Maybe no Moote Pointe women want to be sanitation workers. Heaven knows why. It’s good, steady work. Good pay. Good pension. Good benefits, and about 200 holidays a year.

Maybe no Moote Pointe women want to be auto mechanics (who now call themselves “technicians” for some unknown reason.) Heaven knows why. It’s good, steady work. Good pay. Good Pension. Wait. Forget the pension.

Maybe no Moote Pointe men want to be secretaries (who now call themselves “assistants” for some unknown reason.)

Maybe Greenspan will become a secretary and his wife, Andrea Mitchell, a sanitation truck driver. It would be a nice retirement job for both. Even part time.

Which brings us to the notion of a woman President.

There’s some talk about Hillary Clinton. But that’s not going to happen. More likely Andrea Mitchell.

Which would stop Alan from being a secretary.

But one must make sacrifices. After all, it takes a village.

Maybe Oprah. That would solve a few problems. Woman President. African American President, sensible President who knows how to say she was wrong about something fairly significant.

Or maybe Judge Judy, who was mentioned for President in this space last month.

Footnote: the good people at Google’s Blogspot.com have finally decided these postings are not spam (little do they know, heh heh.)

This is inconsequential to anyone who reads them (you know who you are.) But it makes it easier than ever to post. No more secret codes and such that were at first necessary in order to get the words from the computer to the internet. No more hoops through which to jump to prove this is a legitimate Wessay and not something that tries to sell you generic or herbal pills.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Ratings

(40) Ratings

They rate TV shows. They rate cars. They rate computers. So why not rate political parties and politicians.

The People Meter people could put little devices in your home or office and when a political party or office seeker or holder got under your skin – or did something you liked, you could punch a button or speak a command and the “vote” would register.

Let’s pose a red button for “no” or “stop” and a green one for “yes” or “go.” Maybe an orange one for “undecided.”

Spying on the pubic? Red. Spying on the public to “fight the war on terrorism?” Orange. This would keep the politicos in line with the pubic opinion they crave and would give you a voice in government or in political campaigns.

But it’s not only the big things, like the war in Iraq that could be rated. There also are local issues.

Build a road to ease traffic on the Moote Pointe Expressway? Green. Build it in your neighborhood? Red.

The possibilities are endless.

And such a system would guide the office holders toward a better understanding of their constituents (assuming, of course, they WANT a better understanding.)

Plus, think of the fun you can have screwing with their heads.

You don’t have to tell the truth. People lie on public opinion polls all the time.

Nielsen likely will tell you that about TV ratings. Any pollster will tell you that about any poll (especially those that turn out wrong,) and Arbitron Diaries are notorious works of fiction, having nothing to do with the company’s intention.

You could expand the political aspects of this brilliant plan to include stuff you buy, or people you buy FROM.

Gigunda-Mart? Green. Working for Gigunda-Mart? Red.

Store brand canned peas? Orange.

Generic medicine? Red.

What fun, to arise first thing in the morning and have the opportunity to vent about the question of the day.

You could even judge these posts. Rating systems? Orange. Dick Cheney? Red. Dick Cheney, newly minted private citizen who resigns to pursue Other Interests? Green.

The Euro? Red. The Ruple? Red.

A service like this would have brought big changes to the careers of people like George P’ataki, Al D’Amato, Hubert Humphrey and Mark Green.

It would probably have saved Ford and GM from their present woes.

It would have killed Medicaid Part D before it had a chance to rise from the ooze of Washington.

And it might have made Ross Perot President.

Come to think of it, maybe it ain’t such a great idea, afterall.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Friday, January 27, 2006

Other Interests, Inc.

(39) Other Interests Inc.

Let’s start a new company and call it “Other Interests.” We’ll get the pick of the executive crop that way.

CEOs are forever leaving their jobs to pursue “other interests.” And “new challenges” and “new opportunities,” most of which are undefined.

So, we define ‘em.

Actually, the original working name of the new outfit was “SingSing Recruiters,” whereby you could do your executive recruiting behind bars, saving a common step. With your CEO behind bars already, no need for all those messy legal fees and expense accounts (except for cigarettes at the commissary.) But the people at the New York State Department of Corrections (there’s a name for you!) raised a fuss about the name, as did the people at “Song Airlines,” which is (or was) Delta’s “discount”
airline.

We also considered “To Spend More Time With My Family,” an excuse heard often from a departing executive. But that’s not nearly snappy enough in today’s corporate world, and it doesn’t fit easily on business cards.

Anyway, being pursued is almost as good as being seduced.

While they’re out looking for “other interests” they go to movies which play at “a select theater near you,” which leads us to want to start a chain of movie houses called “Select Theaters.” Think of the free advertising. Trailers on TV every ten minutes. Every time a movie would open, “Select Theaters” would get a free plug.

Come to the “Moote Pointe Select Theater” and see “Wedding Crashers.”

Sneaking in your own popcorn to be dealt with at a later date.

About now, you might be asking “what would ‘Other Interests’ do or make?”

A good question. And that’s the beauty of the whole idea.

We’d do nothing.

You don’t have to DO anything or MAKE anything any more.

This is 21st Century America, afterall.

Just set up a snazzy corporate headquarters visible from a major highway, make sure your logo is big enough and clear enough to be understood.

Establish a telephone number like 1 800 CALL OTHER.

Then, get a voicemail system that answers: “You have reached Other Interests. If you know your party’s extension, you may dial it at any time. For a directory push ‘star.’”

BEEP

You have reached the “Other Interests” automated directory. Enter the name of the person whom you wish to contact, last name first. Or push “one” for a complete listing.

You push “one” and the machine says

“Thank you for calling ‘Other Interests.’ Goodbye.”

…and hangs up.

No one will give it a thought. Voicemail does that all the time.

Since nothing is done and nothing is made, how do we pay the rent on the building?

We don’t. Let them sue “Other Interests” after a year or two of failing to pay up.

But get some insurance, first.

Anyone have Jack Abramoff’s phone number?

His cell phone, will do. The one on the wall in his cell.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Petrified City

(38) Petrified City

What an abysmal, ugly, depressing collapse in waiting.

What a confused and confusing dump of a small town with mental elephantiasis, given there’s anything mental left once freed of the heft sucked out of the atmosphere by all those self important schools.

Why does anyone come here? Why does anyone who comes here stay longer than it takes to work one’s way out of the rat’s nest that passes for a road system?

The only visible use for this city is as a backdrop for horror films.

And in a recent snow “shower” even that’s hidden. Thankfully.

In fact, like many places, a coating of snow goes a long way toward improving things.

Here’s a free idea for those car-painting places or anyone else who wants it:

Forget the cars and spray paint the towns.

Run special promotions on TV. Coupons in the newspapers.

Surely, you can develop a spray booth that’s the size of a city block or two, ship it in a tractor trailer, to be followed by a tanker truck full of the faux snow or whatever color a block wants.

Paint the whole thing. Fold up the spray booth and move on to the next eager municipality.

This will raise some concern among historical society types and maybe some politicians. That’s an easy one to deal with.

Bribe ‘em.

It’s as all-American as…. Traffic jams in the aforementioned rat nest.

For those who favor “organic growth,” consider this: this historic city is busy digging what locals call “the big dig,” a mammoth building project to bring some sense to traveling.

So far, 15 billion dollars into the mission it hasn’t worked. Now, don’t single out Petrified City for a municipal project that doesn’t work. It’s a national pastime, though these guys have gone one better than most other cities.

The cab driver says the thing was supposed to cost four billion, escalated to its present level and in the private sector “…heads would roll.”

He also admitted under intense grilling and with the promise of a large tip on a 15 minute ride in the middle of the night, that “this is one of the most confusing cities in America.” No kidding!

Maybe it looks so downtrodden because the buildings are mourning for the Home Team. Mourning for a happy, winning team that at last broke its World Series losing streak? Sure. Other than that, fans had nothing to talk about except for when they traded some monster player to New York a million years ago.

The trip was capped off with a rousing chorus of “traveling down that lonesome one way highway… the wrong direction.” Living the folk tradition in a historic town without pity, without street signs, without logic and without which we’d all be better off.”

Meantime, anyone have a phone number for Maaco?

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Monday, January 23, 2006

Faith Healers

(37) Faith Healers

Are there any Reform Jewish faith healers? If not, there’s a market niche waiting to be filled.

You could always tell when Mom forgot to take her heart medicine. She suddenly remembered everything else. The docs swore that was coincidence. Nah.

Forget the pills and the energy level rose to normal or above. And short term memory problems cannot, repeat cannot, be caused by any known medication.

This protocol has only strengthened over the years since Mom’s death (which was not, repeat not, due to heart problems, of which she had none.)

Pill this, pill that. Herbal this, herbal that. Homeopathic this, homeopathic that.

Here’s the way one known regimen started:

Zoloft for depression. Okay. Slows you down; killed the black moods. But it didn’t kill the smoking or the coffee and therefore didn’t kill the high blood pressure.

So another pill for that, one that also makes life a journey along the trail of public bathrooms and reduces sleep to snoozing, along with intermittent trips to you-know-where.

It didn’t work too well, but it sure sapped the energy.

No high blood pressure.

Then: cholesterol is high-normal, better take another pill.

Okay, that works. Except every joint is rigid except the joint that should be.

There’s a pill for THAT, too.

So, low energy, good mood, low blood pressure, low cholesterol. Best of all possible worlds. You call this a LIFE? Oh, forgot: the memory’s going, too.

While searching for a Reformed Jewish faith healer, let’s back off the most recent prescription (and search for a Pharma mutual fund.)

Hey, waddaya know! The memory’s back, the energy’s back the fingers type fine and the limp’s almost gone.

And the saved co-payments are enough for a nice meal at a nice restaurant – and a couple of beers, beside.

But not for a pack of Marlboros. Beyond the affordable.

That mutual fund is looking better all the time.

Have you noticed the chirpy little TV ads for all kinds of new potions? Little butterfly lighting on the naked shoulder of a peacefully sleeping woman? Elderly couple glowing with youth?

The announcer, most often a woman with a light but throaty voice, comes on to describe the benefits. Slipped in between the Pollyanna is a bunch of warnings: “Wingedpeace is not for everyone. Do not take for long periods of time without discussing this with your doctor. In certain rare instances can cause major heart attacks even among people with no history of heart trouble…” Then it’s back to the smile: “Shouldn’t you be getting a good night’s sleep (or better sex or less moodiness or a more regular heartbeat or lower cholesterol or whatever?”)

Now, about that faith healer: if there are ANY Jewish practitioners, they’re probably orthodox. And that means before you get healed you have to speak Hebrew.

Anyone got a pill for THAT?

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Friday, January 20, 2006

Balance And Status

36 Balance And Status

There’s something out of balance here.

The guy who delivers the morning paper does so from the window of a Lexus SUV. The guys who used to walk around during snowstorms offering to shovel drive a Ford SUV, or maybe it’s a Jeep.

The doctor down the block has a 1984 Toyota Corolla.

Cars used to be an indication of status. And income.

No more.

Who cares? Why those of us who keep track of the status symbols, now that Vance Packard isn’t doing it anymore.

What HAS become a real symbol of status?

The biggest plasma television?

The jeans with the most rips and tears and shredding?

The ugliest pedigreed dog?

You can’t parade around the streets carrying a $150 bottle of single malt Scotch, which would impress the daylights out of anyone who (a) sees it and (b) knows what it is.

That plasma TV doesn’t travel well, so what’s it worth as a status symbol if you can’t show it off, which is the whole idea behind the symbols in the first place?

Among those of us of a certain age, infirmity can be a status symbol, but it has to be at least slightly visible.

Cancer and heart disease may draw sympathy, but they’re usually not obvious.

Even Dick Cheney doesn’t walk around in a bomber jacket that says “My Heart Is A Time Bomb” embroidered on the back.

Even using a motorized three or four wheeled scooter doesn’t hack it anymore. EVERYONE has one of those.

Can anyone tell if the “diamond” you’re wearing is a diamond or “diamond essence” or zirconium? Only people who (a) carry jewelers’ loupes and (b) look closely and (c) know what they’re looking at and for do.

You can buy a “Coach” purse or briefcase that isn’t. So that doesn’t work. (You can tell it’s a knockoff by looking closely, but no one but the Intellectual Property Police looks closely.)

You can receive a zillion dollar bonus from your employer, but no one actually SEES that – so THAT doesn’t work.

It’s a terrible situation for anyone who wants to project status.

Those ripped jeans? If you’d gone out of the house with those on 25 or 30 years ago, your mother would have KILLED you.

Carrying the “Times” or the “Wall St. Journal” or “Foreign Affairs Quarterly” or “Scientific American” doesn’t do it. EVERYONE reads the Times and the Journal, no one knows what “Foreign Affairs” is and SA no longer is written in a way that only Einstein would understand it.

Even “tough-guy” status isn’t what it used to be.

Dress like a rapper, mumble when you talk and everyone thinks you’re Steven Segal or Luca Brazzi.

Maybe neuroses are the new status symbols. Like who can panic first when a train stalls?

Or gets out of the Lexus when the hurled newspaper lands sideways instead of aligned with the direction of the walkway.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Call Ahead

(35) Call Ahead

On bad weather days, the radio and TV traffic reporters caution us of flight delays and tell us to call our airline for up to date information.

Right.

Ever try that?

You wake up. It’s pouring. Winds from the west at about 40, gusting to maybe 50.

You have a flight booked on, say, Untied Airlines for noon. You’re going from New York to Washington.

First you scurry around looking for the phone number. After some serious research, you find it: 1800 UNTIED AIR. (Since when did they start using nine digit phone numbers?)

“Welcome to Untied Air. Our menu has changed. Please listen carefully to the following 19 choices before making your selection. To book a reservation, press one. To check on a flight, push two. To auto-confirm your reservation, push three. To change a reservation, push four. To find a seat assignment, push five.”

By the time you reach the 19th choice, you’ve forgotten the other 18, so you push “zero” and hope you’ll be connected to a live body. The time now is 8am.

BEEEP.

“I’m sorry, I do not recognize your selection. To hear the choices again, please push ‘one.”

BEEEP

“Welcome to Untied Air. Our menu has changed. Please listen carefully to the following 19 choices before making your selection. To book a reservation, press one. To check on a flight, push two. To auto-confirm your reservation, push three. To change a reservation, push four. To find a seat assignment, push five. If you’re a stock or bond holder checking on our bankruptcy proceedings, please hang up and dial 01 91 11 248 3456.” (notice they slip that one in only occasionally. You have to call India direct.)

You pound on the pound sign until you see stars, thus remembering the star sign and push that.

BEEEP

“That is an invalid choice. Please wait while we connect you to a customer service associate.”

Click click click

Then, the music starts. You get a snippet of “We Kiss In The Shadows” by the Elevator Strings and Chorus. Maybe eight bars.

Then:

“Due to unusually heavy call volume, you may experience delays in connecting with a customer service associate. Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered by the next available associate.”

It’s now 8:30 am.

Another few moments of the song and:

“All customer service associates are still busy helping other customers. Please stay on the line for the next available associate. While you’re waiting, did you know that Untied Airlines Frequent Flyer miles accumulate faster than any other airline’s? Find out more by pushing one.”

Don’t you dare.

More music.

Then: “All customer service associates are still busy. Due to new homeland security regulations, Untied Air reminds you to arrive at the airport no later than two hours before your scheduled flight time….”

More music.

Time now: 8:40 am.

Just when music-on-hold gets to a song you like:

“Untied AirthisisCindyhowmayIhelp you?”

You provide your name, your reservation number, your airport and she tells you

“Your flight is on time, sir, please get to the airport by 9 am.”

Click.

Time now, 8:50.

Not going to make it.

Good thing you called ahead.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Monday, January 16, 2006

Remembering Martin

34 Remembering Martin

(The following is adapted from the Annual Martin Luther King Essay first heard on Bloomberg Radio 1/7/05)


Ever see a gambling raid... a real one? they parade the people they've arrested
into the front door of the police precinct.

They carry in evidence... in the form of telephones and betting slips..
computers and such.

High ranking officials get up and tell us that through the cooperation of the
district attorney and the police undercover investigators ... this ring which
took betting on sporting events... or the election or the ponies or whatever...
has been broken.

What you DONT get to see is the guys who came in the front eventually go out the
back ... some without so much as a token appearance before a judge.

Somebody does a little time... and the massive ring is back in business in days
if not hours.

There are those who believe (or until recently believed) that this was pretty
much how the civil rights era murders were being handled.

Especially in rural Mississippi. especially in 1964.

Maybe it took the movie Mississippi burning... which came out 24 years after the
voting rights worker murders in Mississippi.

Or brilliant investigative work.

Persistence, diligence... all that good stuff.

Or maybe it was just some sad, decrepit Klansman running his mouth, bragging to
a cellmate that finally led the law from making an arrest.

Guilt in this case depends not on some creep in the tank pointing a finger... but
on the justice system.

So who knows what'll happen. but at least they went looking, all these years
later.
--

That's not going to bring back James Chaney or Michael Schwerner or Andrew
Goodman.

That's not going to change that the state did not bring murder charges against
Suspects back then.

But it's at least *something.

The first arrest, as it turns out and probably with little coincidence came
just in advance of this holiday commemorating the birth of martin Luther king
junior... who was murdered in Tennessee... but not far from the border with
Mississippi.

We are given on this day to speculation about what Dr. king would have thought
about the events that took place since his death... where he'd stand on this or
that issue today...

We have been fond of reminding the speculators that
there's no way to tell.

But on this one, it's not much of a leap to guess what doctor king would say.

Chances are, it would include a prayer of thanks that justice might at last be
done.

But the chances are it would also contain a caution, for in most matters, Dr.
King was a cautious, contemplative and thoughtful man.

He might tell us then that the arrest is cause for recognition... but not of
celebration.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Thursday, January 12, 2006

John Frogge

First off, the name rhymes with "brogue." But shoe leather was NOT the guy's M.O. He used the telephone.

John was a radio news director. And although he spent most of his life in New York, he was born a Kentucky Colonel and never left the bluegrass, at least not completely.

Lived into his 90s. Big person, probably 300 pounds and over six feet tall. Big hat. Big car, a Chrysler Imperial.

Walked through the door, once. It was made of glass and was closed at the time.

Never took a drink after that.

Totally polite.

One day he was doing a tape recorded interview on the telephone, a call from a woman who wanted an end to nuclear testing. Sweet talked her for maybe 20 minutes of tape.

At the end of which he slammed the receiver back down onto the phone and muttered "commie bitch."

Disliked Jews. But all (not some, but ALL) of his best friends were Jewish. Your correspondent among them. His colleague Gene Gugic. Others, galore.

Disliked Negroes, as they were called in the 1960s. Blue gums. Cro Magnon Jaws. All that. But he understood the need for equal opportunity and fought for it from his perch as a radio newsman and a Republican.

Smoked. They did that in Kentucky.

Held the door for women, never swore in front of them.

Ate. That 300 pounds didn't come from nowhere.

One day, he walks into the studio and says to the Kid "You are the only one around here with half a brain. You're going to be my vacation replacement. I'll show you how to write.

Jots a few words on a 3x5 card and that's the whole style book. Haven't needed anything else, since.

Didn't sink the ship during his off time, so the "lessons" continued.

Election night, 1965: traveled all over with a tape recorder. Got the winners and the losers. Returned to the station at maybe two or three in the morning. Wrote and recorded a two hour "election special," put it on the air at seven in the morning and went home for the day.

Out for breakfast at the all night diner and then home for the day. Like a day off.

It wasn't the Luckey Lindy flight, which he'd covered. But it was SOMETHING.

They don't make guys like this any more. Brash, but with good eyes and ears.

They don't make guys like this anymore. Barfly, bunch of wives, part time track announcer at the trotters.

He wasn't' one of a kind. He was one of a breed, an endangered species.

You have to wonder what he would have thought about Brian Williams or Elizabeth Vargas.

Probably not much.

Could have had Dan Rather for lunch.

For, not to.

Somewhere, that grey Imperial is still heading for work and for the telephone.

Crabbing about blue gums and Jews. And the Commie Bitch.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Hit The Road, Jack

Too bad Jack Abramoff flopped as a screenwriter. One little hit would have kept him in Hollywood and out of Washington.

He’ll be a model prisoner, though, teaching fellow convicts how to write bad dialogue, forced plots and to lift weights.

He was a BMOC for that in high school. Prophetic. A prison skill even before we knew he’d need it.

He could also teach business ethics, which, often these days, sounds like an oxymoron.

Maybe he could combine his skills: write about business ethics (working title: “Don’t Do As I Did,”) and then weightlift the books onto the delivery trucks.) Neat. Elegant.

Poor Jack. He needs a little neatness and elegance in his life right about now. All those messy entanglements. All those messy plots.

The stuff of a Hollywood script.

And they can do a “Law & Order” spinoff on his cooperation.

We await his appearance on the witness stand, where he can take a page from the Joe McCarthy playbook and start by saying “I have in my hand a list…”

On that list, we will likely find good folks like Tom DeLay, several Indian tribes and what Jack’s fellow righty, Patrick Buchannan described as Israel’s “Amen Chorus” in Congress.

A little “doing well by doing good?”

Nah. Just bribery, tax evasion and such.

So what’s behind all this? Greed? Selfishness? The cost of doing business?

Yes, but wait, there’s more.

The current administration is channeling Nixon, who would have been 93 on the ninth of this month. Except Nixon probably KNEW that he was trying to live and govern above the law. These guys don’t.

So you can’t fault Jack for his misdeeds. He just got in with a bad crowd. Peer pressure.

As all of our culture deteriorates with time, like a loaf of bread in summer heat, so follows our leaders. So it’s not surprising that a guy like our pal Jack got into hot water, and is dragging so many others into the spa with him.

While Nixon may have known about above and below the law, the current

guys, including President Genius don’t. That doesn’t make them any less guilty, just dumber and brasher.

What really chafes is this: 30 years from now, guys like Ambramoff, DeLay, and company will be looked upon as mild criminals, kind of like kids who steal lunch money or pull heists at convenience stores.

Think about it: these days, Watergate really WAS little more than a third rate burglary. And the coverup? Ah, big deal.

Anyway, Jack’ll look great in an orange jumpsuit. Brings new meaning to the word “neo-con.”


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Carrotarians

You’re not going to like this.

Here are the Secret Seaside Laboratory, we’ve run and re-run the experiments.

And there’s no getting around it.

Carrots have psyches, souls and brains.

This throws a major monkey wrench into the Vegetarian ethos.

Now, what to do?

If carrots have all that, what about broccoli, lettuce, spinach, even peas?

If eating meat is bad for animals, what about eating carrots? And broccoli, lettuce, spinach and peas?

It’s true, more research is needed and the Secret Seaside Researchers are already hard at work on this.

If it turns out carrots aren’t the only ones, what are we to do?

And what about apples, grapefruit and even grapes?

We will ultimately find out.

If, as expected, all fruits and vegetables have brains and souls, what’s left to eat?

Plastic? Can’t do that. It doesn’t digest.

What about lead? Uh, oh. Lead poisoning. Ditto mercury.

Wood? Not terribly nutritious, and maybe danger there, too.

Coal?

Some problems with that, at least for now. It not only kills the people who eat it, it kills the people who mine it. Or turns them into (shudder!) vegetables.

Ah, but do not despair.

Far be it for us to leave you without a solution. (Note, regulars, there is a problem and we’re going to offer a solution, as opposed to the gross misuse of the word to mean anything from a car – now a “driving solution,” to a telephone – sometimes referred to as a “communications solution.”

The solution is: Super market house brand pudding. There’s nothing real in it. Read the label carefully. Supermarket pudding has NO natural ingredients. None. Nada. Not one.

In fact, you have to admire the chemists who put it together for making something that artificial without poisoning you.

You can eat it. It is nutritious. It is tasty in its own peculiar way. And no fruit or vegetable has to die to satisfy your idiotic cravings and addictions to food.

Next project: communicating with avocados. There is strong evidence that avocados talk among themselves – like human beings and dolphins and whales and some monkeys.

We pick the avocado over the carrot because they do not have to be peeled to be used, unlike carrots which must be scraped of their outer skins.

(Oh, the pain!)

Concurrently, we are trying to talk with a potato that has been growing in a drinking glass on the shelf over the kitchen sink.

There’s less optimism of success with the potato. It seems to have fewer moving parts than either the carrot or the avocado.

And we don’t want to dissect it to find out. You know how messy autopsies can be.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Three Little Words

(Advance for Saturday 1/7/06)

They are words we just can’t get ourselves to say these days.

Denial? Fear? Growing impersonality?

In an age that sees massive “communication” facility, the internet, chat rooms, instant messaging, conjoined ears and cell phones, cable and satellite TV, satellite radio, newspapers, magazines, and an occasional face-to-face conversation, these are words we almost never hear.

Three little words. It was a song title, once. The words were “I love you.”

Then, followed other variations: “go to hell,” or “let’s do lunch.”

But the three little words that are missing from the conceptual vocabularies of many are these:

“I don’t know.”

What is it about us that makes it so hard to admit ignorance? Maybe it’s because we confuse it with stupidity. The former can be cured by learning, the latter cannot.

Remember Rumsfeld’s twisted comment about WMDs? “We know we don’t know, but we don’t know what we don’t know…” Something like that.

That was as close to a public utterance of the Three Little Words that we’ve heard in decades.

We just can’t admit it.

We just can’t face it.

Why?

‘dunno.

Can you imagine a doctor hearing your symptoms (sneezing, coughing, stuffy, runny nose,) and not saying “it’s a virus?” Of course not. “it’s a virus” is doctor speak for “I don’t know.”

Your broker answers your question on whether to buy a particular stock: “well, it depends on whether you want to ‘value’ or ‘growth’ invest.”

Verizon on why your DSL doesn’t work: “It may be because your ‘Internet Explorer’ is corrupted.”

Your auto technician (nee mechanic) on what’s wrong with the car “it might clear up if you changed your fuel injectors and re-set the computer.”

Little Brat’s teacher on why Little Brat can’t read: “probably a confluence of hallmark events in his early life, combined with the possible influence of too many candy bars and the ambience of the classroom.”

The Long Island Railroad on why and how late the train will be: “We have signal and switch problems at Jamaica and as soon’s we get those resolved…”

Dick Cheney on ending the war in Iraq: “(censored.)”

All these things come down to those three little words: “I don’t know.”

Einstein didn’t know, either, but admitted it. He figured on keeping his brain clear of trivia because anything he NEEDED to know and didn’t, he could look up.

Old Al knew something, when he didn’t know something.

We could borrow a little from that famous hairdo. It would simplify life and other seemingly endless variables.

But now, the only time you hear “I don’t know,” is when a thief or murderer is trying to evade the questions of a cross examination. Or a corporate criminal is trying to cover his part in a book cooking.

“I don’t know” should be covered by the first amendment, not the fifth.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Reissues


Going to plant an “Ironwood” tree. See if we can get some of that saw-killing fiber back into the atmosphere. The great grandchildren can harvest it and then figure out how to cut it into pieces and make something of it.

While we’re at it, let’s re-issue everything.

It’s a successful marketing strategy for musical instruments (guitars, banjos, flutes.) It’s a successful marketing strategy for cars (the PT Cruiser, Challenger and Mini Cooper.)

It’s a successful marketing strategy for books. (Your favorite novelist has written the same story 12 times and they all sell.)

It’s a successful marketing strategy for musical recordings (Nat Cole lives! And Sinatra. And Furtwangler.)

It’s a Bonanza for old TV shows. (Lucy, MASH, and Bonanza to mention three.)

So, why not some other things, too.

How about re-issuing your high school sweetheart? Human cloning is just around the corner. Betty Lou Returns!

Or how about re-issuing old issues of newspapers? The “Times” was much more interesting on the day the Korean war ended than it was yesterday. Sure, we know the stuff. But why not know it again?

Remember those delicious cupcakes from your childhood? Make ‘em again. Just don’t confuse them with stored originals. You can EAT the re-issues.

And there are materials that no longer are used and maybe should be.

Pewter. Bakelite. Isinglass. Tin.

Ever see a real tin can?

Not lately.

How about a real sponge? One that’s made out of, well, SPONGE.

Oh, sure, there are modern items and modern materials that are far superior to the originals. Plastic plumbing. Aluminum engine blocks. Ceramic dental fillings.

But in an age of retro this and retro that, maybe copper, cast iron and gold still have their places.

They could re-issue cities. Carthage. Chicago before the fire. San Francisco before the earth quake. Havana before Fidel.

People are making a fortune by selling wooden filing cabinets. Why not wooden rocking horses? Wooden Tinker Toys.

How about re-issuing criminals? Jesse James was far more interesting than Colin Ferguson. Joey Gallo and Joe Columbo were far more interesting than the current crop of Russians and Viets and Colombians.

It’s not that we want to eliminate or replace today’s versions of these beloved memories. We just want to add to them, expand them.

How about re issuing US Presidents? Wouldn’t you prefer Ulysses Grant to the current guy? Or Hoover? Doesn’t the present President make you long for Nixon? Or Franklin Pierce?

Of course, re-issuing doesn’t ALWAYS work.

They tried it with the New York “Herald Tribune,” and Ipana toothpaste, and both bombed. And it would be silly to re make a computer with the chips they used ten or 15 years ago. And we can do without the 1955 Chrysler Imperial, the 1929 Packard and Gillette Blue Blades.

But there’s potential here.

Anyone know where to find Ironwood seeds?


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Monday, January 02, 2006

It's All Make Work


Well, maybe not all. But most.

Nothing much really needs to get done. We create work to fill time, space, emotional needs.

Once we tamed fire, invented the wheel, harnessed the power of steam (or electricity or coal or the atom,) much of what we have left is artificial.

And since this supposedly is the “information age,” (should be the data-age, because most “information” lacks the property of informing,) most of our “make work” now revolves around paper or its electronic equivalent.

Pay your bills, no money actually changes hands, at least for the most of us. It’s paper. It’s “information.”

Your direct deposit check is not a “check.” What they send you is an “Advice.” An advice to advise you that the “money” you have had placed in your account has moved from one imaginary location to another – yours.

Yes, you can convert it into cash. But why bother? All you have to do is advise your creditors that you are sending them “advices” about their payment, which is good enough for them. If you don’t have enough real bucks to cover the “advice,” screw it. Just tell them you have and they’ll accept it for the moment, then find out and tell you. After which you can find some new “advice.”

Forms for health insurance, library books, anything. It’s all imaginary and no one ever sees anything real. In fact, mostly no real eyes even look at the “advice.” It’s all machinery.

This is good for the unemployment rate. Millions of people are employed shuffling “information,” most of which need not be shuffled in the first place.

Scotch tape 39 cents in coins to an envelope and mail it, and see what the post office does. Probably will return your real money in favor of “advice” otherwise known (in this case) as a stamp.

You can’t buy a subway token in New York. They don’t exist anymore and couldn’t be used if they did. Instead, the make work “Metro Card” advises the transit system that you’ve “paid” your fare.

It’s not just the computerized pay system that’s evolved over the last couple of decades.

Sixty guys sit around at the water company and “estimate” your usage. Same with the electric company. Sometimes they read a meter. But why go out in the rain and the cold or the heat or the snow or the gloom of night, when you can manufacture the data in the comfort of your own office, knock down a couple of beers, BS with the rest of the make work crowd and go home.

The reading is not real, the payment is not real, and sometimes you have to wonder if the water or electricity is for real.

But it keeps America working. The wheels are humming, even if off key and out of tune.

Be a real American! Make work.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006