Friday, November 30, 2012

1103 Casey Anthony Again

The hot babe America loves to hate is back in the news.  An idiotic and probably libelous bunch of stories about the “tot mom” has surfaced recently, led by HLN Television in general and America’s two angriest women, Nancy Grace and Jane Valez-Mitchell in particular.

Here’s what happened:  The accused and acquitted murderer of her two year old daughter, Anthony, apparently -- though unproven -- conducted a search on her family’s home computer using the term “fool proof suffocation...”

This happened on the day authorities claim the baby died.  And this has provoked countless hours hammering away at Anthony, her parents, her lawyers and countless other people.  Grace and Mitchell spit out gratuitous one-liners and parenthetical phrases, winks and nods that let you know that they really know... they KNOW that Casey killed the kid.

How?  Somehow.

Anthony’s lawyers knew about this search, but the computer geniuses at the Orange County FL (Orlando) Sheriff’s office didn’t and the prosecution never brought it up.

The jury found Anthony not guilty.  That’s the end of it. Period.

There’s no federal violation that would call for a new trial in federal court, and the state of Florida had its chance and couldn’t connect its dots to the satisfaction of the jury.

That’s it.  She’s free.  Did she get away with murder?  It sure looks that way to many.  Can anyone do anything about it if she did?  No.

What’s the next legal step?  If it’s possible to launch a lawsuit on the basis of innuendo, parenthetical expressions, scowls, winks and nods, Nancy and Jane would need lawyers of their own.  So would Time Warner/CNN, owners of the sleazy HLN network.

It would be really nice to lock these two women up for awhile or at least put a dent in their assets.  But, of course, that won’t happen.

In a way you can forgive HLN for Valez Mitchell.  It’s always nice to have a somewhat attractive half-Hispanic un-closeted homosexual recovering alcoholic on your staff.  Meets a lot of EOC standards.

Grace?  Graceless.  She gives journalists and lawyers a bad name, and we don’t need the help.

Shrapnel:

--Oh, and speaking of stupid law enforcement tricks as we were earlier, the Nassau County New York Police supplied some confetti for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and some of it had social security numbers and other private information printed on it for anyone who picked it up and looked at it to see.  Now, there’s a “thorough investigation” underway. Who’s going to take the fall for this one?

--The guy who owns the factory in Bangladesh where all those people died in the fire?  He says he wasn’t aware he needed more exits and exit signs.  Absentee landlords of this ilk need to be taught a lesson and made an example of.

--Thanks to readers for all the suggestions for the upcoming WestraDamus 2012.  It’s the 24th annual edition and will be here and on the 'Damus Website late next month.  Since next month starts tomorrow, the wait is short and the suggestion box remains open.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them.  ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

1102 Industrial Family Values -- History Repeats

On Saturday, March 25, 1911, someone tipped a cigar ash into a bin full of oily  cotton scraps on the ninth floor of the Asch Building at 23-29 Washington Place in lower Manhattan and the Triangle Shirtwaist Company on nine, ten and eleven burst into flames.  

Managers and owners had chained shut the exit doors.  Workers -- 146 of them -- died horrible deaths.  Most of them were girls -- not women, GIRLS -- according to the Yiddish press of the day which was the main source for coverage.

Of course, this could never happen today, right?  Well, not on these shores anyway.  Enlightened management and ownership? Nah.  OSHA?  Nope. We just don’t make enough clothing to have a factory that employs that many workers here anymore.

But then, there’s Bangladesh.  Check the label on that pair of jeans or that t-shirt.  You’re likely to find “made in Bangladesh” written there.

Oh, and by the way, did you hear the one about the shirt factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh?  The death count was a bit lower than that of the Triangle fire, a “mere” 112, at minimum.  Again most of them female, most of them girls.  It happened on a Saturday, too.  Four days ago.

Did the owners chain the exit doors shut?  Yes.  And they also made sure there weren’t enough of them to let the workers out as flames and choking smoke engulfed and murdered them.

Same scenario:  people jumped from windows to safety or death, usually death.  People couldn’t get out.   The building has no emergency exit on the ground floor.

What company?  Tazreen Fashions.  Never heard of them?  Well, they’re a subsidiary of Tuba Group.  Never heard of them either?  Not surprising.  But that’s where Wal-mart got those eight dollar t-shirts you wear.  In defense of the Wal-Monster:  they had Orange-Listed this particular plant as unsafe.  That means it won’t sell Tazreen products in its stores for at least a year.  If conditions are so bad Wal’s won’t buy from them, you can only imagine how horrible they were.  But then it turns out that Tazreen was still working for Wal-mart through a subcontractor.  “We didn't know that!” cries a spokesman. “That’s a violation of our policy!” he moans.  That’s almost as good as “I didn't know the gun was loaded.”  Turns out Wally was still dealing with the factory through subcontractors. As, reportedly, were Sears and Disney.

The alarm sounds.  The response?  Get back to work!  Like the fire extinguishers?  They weren't doing much work, either.  In fact, none.

The AP quotes a woman it identifies as a worker in a factory near the fire as “Yasmine” as saying “Oh Allah, where is... my son?”  Good question.

At Triangle, the fire turned the fledgling International Ladies Garment Workers Union (now called UNITE HERE) into a large and powerful organization.

At Tazreen, something similar may be forming as thousands across Bangladesh’s vast and mostly female garment workforce.

So, more than 100 years after “Triangle,” what has changed?

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

1101 H. Ross Nader

1101 H. Ross Nader

Everyone tells the Republican Party it’s time to get its act together, get with the program, get in touch with the American people, get real.

The GOP is told “get to the center,” “get rid of the religious extremists.”

But their act IS together.  What you see is what they are.  At least for the moment.

It’s the Democrats who need help.

Here’s some advice:  Get some of your moneybags boys together and secretly fund that third “centrist” party.

Can a third party elect a President?  Sure.  Ralph Nader has proven that.  He singlehandedly elected W over Gore.  Well, maybe not single handedly.  He had some help from Pat Buchanan and Antonin “Tony Ducks” Scalia.  But not much.

Ross Perot.  Lotta votes there the first time.  Not so much the second time.   But that wasn’t because of his ideas or policies at least not entirely.  It was because Perot became a bobblehead of himself.  But he did contribute to the winners by making them seem sane and stable.

Get that mid-road party started!  You’ll siphon off the Republicans With Sanity vote.  You’ll marginalize The Limbaughs and the Hannitys and the Santorums and the Ryans, the anti-abortion, anti-women, anti-union and evangelical crazies.  You’ll appeal to the great middle.  It may be “great” in the sense of important, but it’s no longer “great” in the sense of size.

Conventional wisdom says Obama won this year because he appealed to the young, the Hispanics, the African Americans and the three remaining white left wing bomb throwers.

That’s not the whole truth.  He appealed to those groups alright.  But he also appealed to Republicans who realize that along with the cost of government, there are benefits to be reaped from government.  Not just welfare, food stamps, Medicaid and free lunch at school.  But those who realize that that carnivorous capitalism doesn’t work in a country of America’s size and scope.


Shrapnel:

--This tip appeared on Gmail: You can make a lovely hat out of previously-used aluminum foil.  Now we know where the people who have them get them.  But what about the antennas... how do you make those?  

--We used to make fun of Britney Spears on the air, going so far as starting a five day a week feature called the Daily Britney, enumerating her battles with booze, bad child rearing, drugs, auto accidents -- real and imagined --  harassment treatment from celeb photogs.  Now, 30-ish and apparently straight and sober, she has become plump, dull and boring.  And if they keep her as a judge on “The X-Factor” next year, assuming there is an X factor next year, the producers need their heads x-rayed.

--And speaking of stuff like that, there is no truth to the rumor that the Geico Gecko was arrested on his nationwide trip and charged with DWI and driving without a license.  The Gecko, who as far as anyone knows has no name, is quoted as saying “Blimey, mate, I don’t drive at all... I can’t reach either the windshield or the pedals from the front seat.  Probably just a rumor floated by Flo or maybe Dennis Haysbert.



I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com.
© WJR 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

1100 The Guarantee

1100 The Guarantee

The cliche goes “nothing is certain but death and taxes.”  Another variation:  “nothing is guaranteed but death and taxes.”

Wrong.

There are actual guarantees out there.  The most famous, and shortest is from the Lands’ End division of Sears, “Guaranteed.  Period.”

But, of course, most guarantees and warranties have between ounces and tons of fine print.

The $10,000 Martin Guitar?  They’ll fix it free only if you can prove you’re the original owner.  That’s an ounce of fine print.

The warranty on your new Kia or Lexus?  Get out the magnifying glass.

Now, the stunner, discovered only on Thanksgiving Day.

The Sunbeam baster that cost 97 cents at the supermarket is warrantied “for life.”  No questions asked.  No proof of purchase.  Just send it back and they’ll replace it.  Or so they say.  No “original owner” nonsense.  No disclaimers.  No exceptions.

Of course, there’s implied fine print.  For example, whose lifetime?  If you wrap one up for your three year old as a stocking stuffer (why would you do that?) and 70 years from now, the rubber bulb develops a leak, will Sunbeam honor its warranty -- assuming there still is a Sunbeam then.  Does the “lifetime” apply to the owner or the item?  If the latter, what is the expected lifetime of a 97 cent plastic and rubber baster.  Hard to find some actuarial tables on that.

Also, it will cost you at least 97 cents to ship the thing back for repair or replacement.

While on this topic, do you really think companies like Timex or Mr. Coffee have little old repair shops with little old Mr. Fixits to make repairs? Nah.  That’s a heavy duty personnel cost.  It requires capital investment for equipment and training.  It requires a big, populous and efficient mailroom.  You send, they toss.  They replace.

Then, there’s the Men’s Wearhouse situation.  George Zimmer, founder and a nice Jewish boy from New York appears in his commercials which mostly end with his saying “You’re going to like the way you look.  I guarantee it.”  Can you believe a guy who works in the rag trade in HOUSTON?  Probably.  Anyone try to find the terms of that guarantee?  Probably.  Anyone know the result?  Probably not.

Shrapnel:

--I hate to say bad things about people I like and who at least up until they see this liked me.  But the narration for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade sounds like it was written by a joint committee of superannuated Brill Building song pluggers and over the hill, fear-crazed Madison Avenue types who hate one another.  And, understandably, the read sounded like it came out of the mouths of the parade of the wooden soldiers.

--Getting with the program.  This post is going up about six or seven hours earlier than usual so you have something to read while you stand on line awaiting the 12 or 4 or 5 or 6 am opening of Macy’s or Best Buy or JC Penney.  However, we’re not reducing the price, which some say even for free costs too much.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

1099 Plain Brown Wrapper

1099  Plain Brown Wrapper

When someone promises to send you something in one of those, you can bet it’s something you don’t want your spouse, your kids or your mail carrier to know about.

In earlier times, plain brown wrappers were used to send “Illustrated booklets, the kind men like.”  Soft core porn.  Now, it’s diet pills or books that tell you how to win the woman of your dreams or stuff to grow hair or remove it.  And cigarettes.

Yes, cigarettes.  Australia has a new law that says a pack of smokes must be clothed in a plain brown wrapper with a standard and uniform size and style of typeface listing the brand.

This is a far cry from Australia’s distant but cultural neighbor, Canada, where not only are brand names proudly displayed but are accompanied by gruesome pictures of diseased lungs and deformed faces as part of their version of the US’ “Surgeon General’s Warning.”

What’s Australia’s point?  Why to reduce the attractiveness of the package and therefore discourage people from smoking.  Nice try Canberra, but no... um... cigar.

The packaging change will have no effect on anything except the canning of the relatively well paid designers who will have to look elsewhere for work.  We suggest the labels and bottles or cans of alcoholic beverages.

In reporting on the new law, “The Economist” magazine calls the tobacco industry “weirdly resilient.”  Indeed.  Except the “weirdly” part.  Yes, cigarette sales are down in the US.  Yes, there may be some cutbacks in other parts of the world.   But there’s nothing as dedicated as a smoker.  The big companies have nothing to worry about.

Smokers settle on brands early on.  New smokers are born every day.  If they’re born into a world without fancy labels, they’ll still find their way to a brand and keep buying it.

Mayor Bloomberg, a reformed smoker, has tried to tax cigarettes in New York to the point that only he can afford them and he’s not buying.  It hasn’t worked.

Health advocates have peppered then pounded us with the wisdom of giving up the evil weed.  To an extent this has worked.  But you see an awful lot of young people taking up tobacco use.  While it’s no longer cool to smoke Kools, smoking does kick the metabolism up and that convinces young women that smoking will keep their weight down.  And it will.

Depressed people will use cigarettes to counteract their malfunctioning serotonin reuptake mechanisms.

Smokers are born, not created.

And no change in packaging is going to change that.

Now, about those illustrated booklets...


Shrapnel:

--Happy Thanksgiving, one and all.  Except a few of you. You know who you are and I know where you live.

--Sac(k)ed!  Former SAC hedge fund honcho Steve Cohen charged with a $276 (m) million insider trading scheme.  One hundred percent of those responding to an on-line poll in the Los Angeles Times say they think this kind of thing is common.


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2010

Monday, November 19, 2012

1098 Welcome to ABE

1098  Welcome to ABE

Tired of the ups and downs of the stock market?  Tired of worrying about your 401K?  Tired of pitches for annuities, reverse mortgages and all that?  

Well, then, welcome to the easy path to riches.  If you act now.  Welcome to ABE, the Antiquarian Bakery Exchange.

If you’re in today, you’re in on the ground floor!  With the expected shutdown of Hostess Brands, a market already is developing in Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Hostess Cupcakes and Wonder Bread.

We at the ABE are ready to help you in a world of diminishing assets.

The price of Wonder Bread still on the shelves is about two dollars a loaf.  But as smart early buyers stock up, prices are bound to rise.

Get in on the action today.

It’s more certain than the Dow.  It’s cheaper (and lighter) than gold (and has a longer shelf life.)

Yes, Wonder Bread and Twinkies are the precious metals and blue chip stocks of the future.

And here at ABE, when you buy, you don’t get some dumb piece of paper showing you own the stuff.  You get the actual stuff. Plus for a slight extra cost, it comes wrapped in waterproof stackable plastic bags.

FAQ:

Q: How long do you expect the antiquarian baked goods to last?
A: That depends on which baked goods you own.  Our research shows that the average loaf of Wonder Bread has a shelf life equivalent to that of Uranium, in the range of 708 million years.

Q: What determines the value of a particular baked item?
A: Condition, age, demand.  The big three in any commodity.  For example, a loaf of bread labeled “builds bodies eight different ways” in mint condition is worth considerably more than newer versions that “build bodies in 12 different ways.” And a loaf of white bread “baked with whole grains,” or one labeled “smart white” is worth less than the basic standard loaf.

Twinkies made with trans fat are more valuable than those made without.  Since Hostess eliminated trans fat before listing it, the only way you can tell is this:  Those without trans fat say so on the nutrition information label.  Those that don’t list it probably contain it and are assumed to.

Q: Do you take commissions on each transaction?
A: Yes, we do, but they are smaller than those you pay to your more traditional brokers and auctioneers.  This is, after all, a business, but making you rich is our main goal.

Q: Beside the commission, are there any other fees?
A: Yes.  We charge a nominal amount for shipping and handling.  Certain quantity purchases are subject to express charges while others may offer reduced or free shipping.

Q: Is opening an account free?
A: Yes, for individuals. Corporate accounts, please call customer service for details.   1866-TWINKIE, However, there is no minimum balance for either type of account.

Q: Do you accept credit cards?
A: We accept electronic transfers, cash, checks and Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Pay Pal and those little cylinders from ExxonMobil.  But sorry, no CODs.

Q: Are Antiquarian Bakery products returnable?
A: Sorry, no.  We make every effort to accurately describe all our goods.  But they are sold “as is.”



Note:
“Investors should be cautious about any and all ... recommendations and should consider the source of any advice on (any commodity.)  Various factors, including personal or corporate ownership, may influence or factor into an expert's... analysis or opinion.” -- CNN Money

Other Note:  The above note is lifted with small modification from the CNN Money website, but is standard cya legal boilerplate and probably has no actual owner. Plagiarism checkers note this.

Other Other Note:  1866 TWINKIE is a real number having nothing to do with Twinkies.  Please don’t call it or you will get a pitch for refi.

Shrapnel:

--Here’s a way to get the Associated Press wire for free:  just follow it on Twitter.  They post about a million stories a day, usually faster than their own websites or even the wire itself.  And there’s no pay wall.

--One more football game and we get our phones back on weekends.  Sharing a cell tower with a huge stadium that sucks all the bandwidth from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon means no wireless service as guys in the stands and in the tailgate park continuously and in vast numbers text people sitting or staggering two feet from each other before, during and after the game.  Would that they’d drop their phones into their buckets of beer so that someone half an air mile away could reach 911 if he had to.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

1097 On Your Mark Get Set, Inhale

1097  On your Mark, Get Set, Inhale

We’re all in the same boat here, we sleep apnea patients.  

For all you normal people, sleep apnea patients have to use what's called a CPAP machine which forces air into your system while you sleep. For this, you have to strap on a mask.

The mask is attached to a hose that looks like the trunk of an elephant, but much thinner.  The hose is attached to a little box that plugs in and pumps the air.  The air pressure is determined by a sleep test you take before the insurance company authorizes the equipment and is pre-set by the vendor,

The hard part is getting the mask on right.  The machine forces air into your nose.  The masks tend to leak.  As you move around in your sleep, the mask can get slightly out of position and leak.  When it leaks, it sounds like anything from a squeak to a fart.

A friend with an older machine suggests that using cpap pumps be designated an Olympic sport.

Why not.

And why not get ready right away.  The next winter games will be in Sochi, Russia in 2014.  And there are only 15 sports.  Why not raise it to 16.  What’s good for Putin is good for the IOC.

Since cpap breathing is a year-round activity, there’s no real reason to wait until the next summer games which are so far away -- 2016 -- we may all have been washed out to sea by melting icebergs.

And there’s no reason to divide the teams by gender.  In fact, a male/female team could result in all kinds of new relationships.

(No touching during actual sleep, though.  Too much of a distraction.)

Think of the endorsements and corporate sponsors:  Lunesta, Sleep Number Beds, “My Pillow.com,” ResMed, Blue Cross, Kensie Sleepwear... the possibilities are almost endless.

I am training for the next olympics even as we speak.  In. Out. In. Out.  You get points off for mask leaks and some of us have to somehow overcome breathing blind, as we can't wear our glasses and the mask at the same time.  We must practice, practice, practice.

This is often thought of as a “sport for older people.”  But there's some stiff competition from younger athletes who have started training early, and cpap prodigies who have had sleep apnea from birth.

You should see the Team America uniforms!  Red white and blue nightcaps and old fashioned dressing gowns.

Speedo, Frederick’s of Hollywood and Victoria’s Secret are competing for a contract to produce alternative uniforms.  Maybe we should rethink the nightgowns.

We should also think about breaking the competition into categories as in boxing.  Heavyweight, light heavyweight, etc.  In this case, the breakdown would be based on cpap pressure which runs from 1 to 25.  So, Heavypress, Light Heavypress, Super Middlepress, Middlepress, Welterpress, Featherpress,  etc.

Hmmm. Too many categories.  We’ll have to lump some of them together.

And to those of you who think this is as useless and slow moving as golf, think again.  Sleep apnea patients get more exercise in four hours than an entire foursome playing 36 holes on a muggy Sunday morning in Georgia.  This will rivet the television audience and encourage more kids to sleep with awkward, noisy uncomfortable machinery.  Good for the economy.  Good for learning sportsmanship.  Good for kids who don’t excel in regular sports or who always are the last picked for a gym class basketball game.

One problem, though: Bob Costas doesn't want to do the play by play so they're probably going to use Ann Curry or maybe Brokaw if he's feeling up to it.

Shrapnel:

--There is no doubt that cpap machines fix a host of problems.  But it’s hard not to wonder if some of that is mental.  Maybe they should conduct placebo experiments by hooking the mask and the elephant trunk hose up to some other source of annoying noise.

--The sellers and renters of “durable medical equipment” like to call and nag you about stuff like “be sure to use your machine at least four hours a night...” and “..it’s about time for a new mask and elephant hose.”  This sounds like caring professionals and it is, but the caring is not about your health but about their reimbursement.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments and Victoria’s Secret pictures to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Who Ya Gonna Call?

1096  Who Ya Gonna Call?  

(DIPINDAHEARTA, TX) -- This small east Texas town calls itself “the Tomato Capital of the World” and is home to the world’s largest salsa bowl.  But something’s gone terribly wrong.

Instead of tens of thousands of pounds of chubby firm tomatoes, this year’s crop grew perforated and shriveled on the vines.  Mayor Mel and Manager Mo were stumped.  The department of Agriculture was stumped.  

We are not stumped.  The secret is in that giant salsa bowl.  Living in that giant salsa bowl. It’s vampires.  Vegetarian vampires.

This is a new breed, already gaining ground on the horror film circuit.  They are compassionate vampires, vampires who don’t want to hurt innocent creatures... like us.  

And they have been evolving biologically for some time now (even though evolution is “only a theory.”)

You can identify a Vegvamp easily by the look of his fangs.  They are blunter than, say, Dracula’s, unsuitable for penetrating human throats.

And they are longer and have serrated edges perfect for sucking the blood of watermelons.

But the meal of choice is tomato juice.  It’s kind of like eating tofu or soy Burgers.  Looks like the real thing.  Even tastes like the real thing.

So a large colony of Vegvamps has settled here in east Texas.

This could be an economic disaster.  Once local officials and farmers realize what’s happening, though, they can take steps to preserve their industry.  If it’s not too late.

They may be able to provide a separate crop for local consumption.  They may charge a fee for visiting their fields after dark. (That would improve the unemployment numbers because they’d need to build new fences and hire security guards.)

Why, you may ask, haven’t these vampires been spotted and contained?  A good question with several good answers.  First, they’ve learned to dress better.  You don’t wander around a town in Texas wearing a black woolen cloak in 110 degree weather.  So these guys just put on the uniform of the day, which is jeans and cowboy boots, some with spurs.

Second, they keep their mouths shut.  That’s kind of like gays in the closet.  No one knows about their secret lives or their secret fangs.

Third, they talk the talk.  They’ve taken speech training to get rid of the Transylvanian accent and learned words like “y’all” and “podner,” “Catywampus,” “Pole Axed,” and “Frog Strangler.”

And they’ve learned to curb their V-8 lust during daylight hours.

Assimilation.  Good for the vegvamps.  Bad for the crops.

Shrapnel:

--Panic at the “Today Show” over ratings?  Look not the fairly decent executive producer and the removal and replacement of a co-anchor, but to the multi-hour dilution of the franchise, the boardroom games of a new majority owner and the quality of the newer employees.  And thank your lucky stars that one of your two major competitors remains an also-ran.


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments and recipes to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

1095 42 Skidoo

1095 Forty Two, Skidoo

Yes, yes.  The original phrase was “23, Skidoo.”  But this isn’t about the Flatiron Building or the 1920s or any of the other things “23” brings to mind.

This is about one of the most common waist sizes among American men and which is close to impossible to find.  The orphan diameter.

If you’re anything between a 32 and a 38, you can get pantsed anywhere.  In the department store, from the catalog.  Every color, style, material, “look” feel or pattern.  

Getting a 40 is iffy.  But Eddie Bauer and Banana Republic and Macy’s mostly have something, something that’ll fit, limited in color and style that it may be.

If you’re 44 or more, you have the world of big and tall shops and catalogues and websites from which to choose.

(Note to self:  please pick a spelling -- either spelling -- for catalogue/catalog and stick with it! And for that matter, Skidoo/Skadoo too.)

So if you’re between 44 and 60, no problem.

If you’re 30 and 38, no problem.

If you’re 40, you take your chances.

If you’re 42... skidoo.

Stroll around a mall in, say, Altoona PA or Buffalo NY or Hattiesburg, MS and what do you see?  If there are any guys there, they’re All American Double-wides.

And chances are, they’re fully clothed.  But it’s daunting to walk up to one of these walking walls and say “hey slim, where’d you get them thar’ jeans?”

You know where they didn’t:  at the mall they’re walking in.
You confront a store clerk after failing to find anything larger than 40.  “Hey, do you ever look out the door and see what kind of guys are walking around out here? You DO?  And you see these great big guys?  And what do you tell them when the walk in here, ‘don’t even bother, we don’t have your size?’”

“Oh... 42 is in the catalog, here use my phone.”

You can’t try it on over the phone.

Shrapnel:

-- Rest in peace, Upstate Onion Farmer.  That’s what they called Carmen Basilio, dead at 87, whose claim to fame was that he once beat Sugar Ray Robinson, pound for pound the best professional boxer of all time, according to Muhammad Ali, who these days is too modest to keep calling himself  “the greatest.”  Robinson reclaimed the middleweight title a year later, 1958. Basilio was a good boxer, and a lucky one but not a great one.

--Can Mitt Romney now collect unemployment comp?  Some White-guys-over-65 didn’t vote for him but certainly hope he’s eligible.  Wouldn’t want the poor guy to go broke... and it’s not a handout like -- you know: Social Security, Medicare, VA benefits and the GI Bill.

(No dogs were hurt in the making of this blog post.)

--Weed tourism in Colorado and Washington State?  Sounds like a goldmine after each legalized pot on election day, setting up a land war with the federal government and which the federal government will ultimately win.  Meantime, you can fly out there without a plane.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Friday, November 09, 2012

1094 Groupthink

1094 Groupthink

Shlomo Tzedaka, the last Bronx Jew, is sitting in his kitchen with the usual sugar cube in his cheek and the glass of tea on the table before him.  This is a new dinette set and Shlomo bought it only reluctantly when his previous furniture became too battered, scarred and rusted even for his fading eyesight.  (Wessay™ #607 10/5/09.)  Across the table is Hermy from Upstairs, the next to last Bronx Jew.

Shlomo is listening and nodding his head and trying to be a good neighbor.  Again.  Hermy has been here a few times in recent days, urging a vote for Mitt Romney.

“Voting for Obama is like pulling the trigger on Israel,” says Hermy.  Shlomo nods.  “Voting for Romney, that’ll mean finally peace among nations,” Hermy says.

“Hermy, who pays your medical bills?”  

“I do.”

“No you don’t.  You pay mine.  I pay yours.”

“C’mon Shlo, this isn’t 1932, it’s 2012.  This socialism has gone too far.”

“Hermy, you channeling the late Donald Trump?”

“Trump is dead?”


“Just because he’s still walking around doesn’t mean he’s alive.  You sound like the worst of Donald with a little bit of Leona Helmsley thrown in for good measure.”

“Maybe you want to give up your Social Security and your Medicare and your Medicaid --and mine-- because you think this plastic yokel from Michigan and Massachusetts is going to Nuke Iran?  Let me tell you something.   He wouldn’t nuke Iran.  Or if he did, the commies would nuke us back.  For this you give up everything America means?”

Hermy looks thoughtful and takes a sip of his own tea.

So went the discussion.  A third visitor left before fists began to fly.   But the truth of the matter is while young people and women and African Americans and Latinos and transgender Albanian new citizens and other picked-on groups are keeping their heads on straight, Jews seem not to be.

Seventy or so percent for Obama.  Maybe 68, maybe 75.  But in any case, less than in ‘08.

The Republicans for Mitt failed after spending pushcart-loads of money on the campaign.  Good.  Serves them right.  Just like Rove and his team who couldn’t get to first base at any time in any of the nine innings.

But Jews for Romney made some inroads.  The rightward push has been on for several decades now.  What, you all want to be Michael Savage?  Or Shelly “Addled” Adelson?

What happened to tradition, folks?

Well, there is the tradition of contrarianism.  But this is extreme.  You think you vote for Romney and you get a dog carrier for your car roof?  Or a right to change your mind about every issue every day?  Let’s hope at least you learned how effective flip-flopping is and you’ll flip back to your sanity before the whole country flops.

The Associated Press reported that anti-Obama groups spent $380 million to defeat him.  Think of what good could have been done with that kind of money used constructively.

And this money is from “business people” who claim to know how to invest wisely.

Maybe it’s time to consider a complete ban on political advertising.  At least the money won’t be flushed away, clogging septic tanks and sewer systems when it could build a hospital or rehabilitate storm damaged houses.


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments and death threats to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

1093 Election Day Autopsy Results

1093 Election Day Autopsy Results

At last!  The presidential campaign that would not end, ended.  And not a minute too soon. If it had gone on another day, our heads would have exploded in unison, bring a national unity not seen since the World War II era.

At this writing, the final result in Florida is incomplete.  But even if Romney wins, which seems unlikely, the addition of its 29 electoral votes will not make a difference.

Which means that for all its strutting and preening about being the “most important swing state” meant nothing, at least this time.  Go back to slow driving and golf, guys.

The popular vote is tighter than the head of a snare drum.  So to all the Gore supporters still smarting from his winning the popular vote and losing the election: what do you think about the electoral college now?

Will this election bring the flailing and splintered Republican Party to its senses?  Unlikely.  It’s still so busy fighting among itself that it won’t do anything but give lip service to bipartisanship, which it single handedly destroyed in the first place.

Will it mean creation of a new “centrist party?”  Of course not.  We already have one of those.  It’s called The Democrats.  

Will the Republicans stop trying to brand the dems as “hard left?”  Hardly.  Will it drop all the religious nonsense and revert to the party of Lincoln or TR?  Nah.  

Who was the smartest guy in the national race?  That’s an easy answer.  By running for his congressional seat (and winning it) he showed great deal of foresight.  Wouldn’t want Mr. Ayn Rand turned Mr. Saint Thomas Aquinas revert to his roots?  Probably.  Nothing to lose now.  Not even his day job.

The right wing talkers must be happy as can be.  Four more years to destroy the black, Kenyan Muslim Socialist.  Great for ratings.

Speaking of which... time to get some backbone, Mr. President.  You, too, have nothing to lose.  On November 8, about a year ago, we suggested in this space that the President grow some stones.  He didn’t.  Well, now’s the time to start.

It’s time to stop playing Senator Reconciliation.  It’s time to stop trying compromise with the irrational right wing.  It’s time to stop drinking tea.  It’s time to stop playing nice.

You have all kinds of powers and options at your disposals.  Call Rahm Emanuel. Let him give you some motivation.  The bloom isn’t yet off the rose.  But it needs fertilizing.


Shrapnel:

--So long, Suzuki.  The Japanese carmaker is leaving America and concentrating on places like India and North Africa where people don’t have the choices we do here and don’t seem to care as much about the little things, like passenger safety and reliability.  And it’s put its US operations in bankruptcy while making the possibly empty promises to honor warranties and maintain supplies of spare part.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012