Friday, September 30, 2016

1701 You Are An Island; I Don't Exist

Let’s talk about people who live in a fake world they create.

Solipsist Worldview

They have a philosophy called Solipsism.  And when you strip away the academic claptrap and the pinheaded arguments it boils down to “I am the only thing I’m sure is real.”  

Boil a little longer and it becomes “Only I exist and you and all else are products of my imagination.”

Sounds silly, right?  Well, it is. And it’s also widespread and spreading faster.

Solipsism allows you to pretend there’s life out there.  But it also gives you the fallback position: It’s only my imagination.

It comes in three broad forms: Orthodox/Traditionalist, Conservative and Reform.

The Orthodox/Traditionalism observes like the original Solipsist who fervently believed that he or she is the only reality on earth.  They observe the Solipsist Holy Day (their birthday.)

The Conservative branch follows most of the teachings of the Orthodox/Traditionals, but allows for the possibility that the bus racing toward them at 45 mph might actually be there.  So, they are conservative in the sense that they are slow to change but not dead set against it.

The Reform movement is Solipsism Lite.  As in beer, it tastes more or less like it should, makes fewer demands on your system and is hailed as an easy way to live in the society they’ve created in their imaginations.  But it’s still solipsism.

Those who don’t subscribe to this loopiness often wondered what happened when two Orthodox Solipsists met.  The question is less critical for the other two denominations.

Now, what is the practical result of all this highfalutin’ philosophizing?

That’s the easy part.

Rude behavior of every possible description.  A disrespect for life unless it’s a blob of unborn and partly formed protoplasm.  A disrespect for the miserable driver ahead of you -- the one man (or woman) traffic jam.  A person of great girth who blocks the supermarket aisle while taking forever to decide which vegetables to put in the cart to lovingly carry home and eat between the chocolate cake and the Wendy’s triple cheeseburger.

But these are just minor annoyances.  Some Solipsists are doctors or dentists.  And some of them are patients.

Don’t worry about all that blood.  Head injuries tend to bleed profusely. Plus “I’m only imagining the blood.”

And some run for public office.

Today’s Quote:
“You are not the only pebble on the beach.” -- Pearl Richards (1908-1987)

Grapeshot:
-By the time Sears drops dead -- which looks like it’ll be soon -- no one will care or even notice.

-A small Sears had 15 grand worth of eyewear stolen the other day, proving that with no one on hand to watch the store and no one on hand to buy anything it’s open season on whatever’s lying around.

Shrapnel:
--A Republican congressman from Pennsylvania announced a “second amendment rally.”  Admission is free, advance reservations are required and there will be metal detectors at the door.  Anyone who doesn’t set them off will be ejected.

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

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

1700 The Candidates Debate

Today’s Quote:
“Up until tonight, I thought the craziest thing to ever happen on the Hofstra campus was my parents meeting for the first time.”  -- Charlie Richards

Well, maybe.  But there was the time that a flying boxcar trying to land at the Air Force base across the street hit the chemistry building then bounced smack into the street sign that announced “Caution. Low flying planes.” Or the classes in quonset huts with heaters in the ceiling and installed by the Engineering students who apparently hadn’t yet gotten to the part about hot air rising.

But, yeah. It was a pretty strange debate. And expectations were low to begin with.  We’re fond of saying this is a contest between two of the least likeable candidates in modern history. We’re fond of saying it doesn’t matter who wins.

This has a ring of truth.  Usually, at least one presidential candidate is warm and fuzzy.  But warm and fuzzy doesn’t always translate into competent and effective. Usually at least one is seen as able to get the job done. Not this time.

Haughty Hillary and Lyin’ Donald are the candidates from Planet Bizarre-O.

If you had to pick a winner, it would have to be Hillary because she was prepared and aptly demonstrated how easy it is to provoke Trump into mindless and meaningless babble, evasions and fabrications.

The fairy tale about his support or opposition to the Iraq war. The secret tax return.  But how did she fail to leave out the wall with Mexico?

As for her… there were the emails. And how did the attack rabbit Trump fail to mention Benghazi or the speeches at Goldman Sachs?

By now you’ve heard 800 opinions about the substance from five thousand pundits.  So here, we assume that you either watched the thing or saw clips or read about it.  

So we’ll restrict our own punditry to the little things you might not have noticed.

Mrs. Clinton didn’t cough once, though she had been hacking away during previous appearances.  And she didn’t collapse or have to be carried to or from the podium.  The supermarket tabloids of record have her at death’s door.  Did she have lung cancer?  A stroke?  Tuberculosis? Parkinson’s?

Evidently not.

But Trump kept sniffing like a coke user and no one at the instant analysts’ after party brought that up.  

One exciting part of the 90 minutes was the split screen that kept both candidates visible for the whole ride.

We got to see Trump’s advanced repertoire of facial contortions and we got to see Clinton’s arrogant smirk.  Good reminders that we’re dealing with a television show, not a class in political science.

Donno kept interrupting Clinton.  This is a debate?  He kept dribbling meaningless and irrelevant words and phrases and not answering questions.

But she convicted Putin of hacking American computers… kind of a Watergate moment perpetrated by a ghost without a physical body to leave DNA or fingerprints.  

Then there was the moderator, NBC’s well liked and well watched Lester Holt.  He had to tread a fine line between fact-checker-in-chief and day care worker. And there was no way to do that without seeming either like a partisan hack or a wimp.  He chose the middle ground, pretending he was in solitary confinement but still could make outgoing phone calls.

Was a single mind changed?  Probably not. Did  people on the fence fall off on one side or the other? Same answer.

The good news:  we have two more of these Hootenannies scheduled plus one for the vice presidential candidates.

The bad news:  we have two more of these Hootenannies scheduled plus one for the vice presidential candidates.

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

Monday, September 26, 2016

Voting Advice from the Grave

1699 Voting Advice from the Grave

Here’s Today’s Quote:
-“If you agree with me on nine out of 12 things, vote for me.  If you agree with me on 12 of 12 things, see a psychiatrist.” -- Ed Koch (1924-2013)

Many people today can’t make up their minds about which candidate to vote for (or against.)  So as public service, here’s a scorecard in case you’d like help deciding.

The major party candidates are designated “A” and “B.” You can decide which one you want to put first. There is no room for the little leaguers because there’s no chance of winning.

Scorecard
Issue: A           B
Personal integrity __   __
Global warming __ __
Iran __ __
Trade agreements __   __
Tax cuts/rich __   __
Tax cuts/middle __ __   
Mexico Wall __ __  
Mexican deportation __ __
Muslim Ban __ __
Honoring Treaties __   __
Freedom of abortion choice __   __
Probable Supreme Ct. choice(s) __   __
LGTBQ rights __   __

That’s 13 issues, not twelve.  And you can adjust the standard to fit your own peculiarities.  For example, some people don’t need nine categories of agreement. Seven or eight will do.

Many Libertarian followers like to say that supporting their candidate is not throwing your vote away.  Very pure of you, fellas and girls.  Flush that toilet on principle if you must.  You’ve made a statement! It’s one that only your fellow solipsists can hear… which doesn’t matter because you’re really the only one who counts and you’ve heard it.

Some people who support the Green Party candidate say the same.  Some questions: Would you let Dr. Stein anywhere near a patient you love?  And Ajamu Baraka, nee LeRoi Jones?  Gimme a break.  The Greens also are Ever So Pure.  But they have the same solipsism problem as the Libertarians.

(More about Solipsism Wednesday.)

So now you have a scorecard. And if you’re on the fence, it may help you clarify.  But unlike your golf score, you can alter it to suit your needs without sneaking into the rough beside the 12th Green with your little pencil and trying to make it look like you didn’t erase anything.  

We can’t see you cheat.  But on the Wednesday after the election, we’ll know.

Shrapnel:
--Felonious banks when caught resort to platitudes and promises to fix things and often don’t do more than form committees and task forces that go nowhere.  Here’s an example of how they act when charged with bad taste in their ads.  A cry of outrage forced Capital One to re-do an ad in which spokesman Samuel L. Jackson’s script told him to say they pay bonus points “every damn day.”

Grapeshot:
-If they can make decent tasting decaf and perfectly good unleaded gasoline, why can’t they make whole wheat pasta that doesn’t taste like the box it comes in?

-Where does Publishers Clearing House get all that money it claims to give away when what they now sell mostly is dime store stuff without a magazine in sight?

-China has launched the world’s largest single dish radio telescope in hopes of finding intelligent life in space … few have found much of that here on earth.

-Arnold Palmer’s passing makes us wonder if maybe you shouldn’t ask your doctor if Xarelto is right for you.

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

Friday, September 23, 2016

1698 No Laughing Matter

Here’s the quandary:  The old pressure cooker no longer works.  It’s one of those snazzy electrical things, with a 1990-ish Star Trekky control panel on a brushed chrome body.  It’s taking a lot of valuable cupboard real estate and we have to get rid of it.

Sounds like a simple problem. Isn’t. You can’t put something like that out on the curb for collection without attracting a visit from the bomb squad.

Thoughts wander in this direction:  A cop with a bullhorn at 3 am on a weekday announces for all the neighborhood to hear

“This is the police.  Your house is surrounded. Come outside with your hands up.”

Thoughts of eager officers with one of those break-down-the-entrance ramrods eager to swing it at the front door, turning it to splinters and rolling a flash-bang grenade into the living room followed by a canister of rifle-launched teargas.

The bomb robot rolls to the curbside pressure cooker, picks it up, rolls it into a truck with steel walls three feet thick and slams the door shut.  Then we’re all cuffed and herded into patrol cars or a paddy wagon and taken “downtown” for interrogation.

Meantime, as the teargas clears, still more officers, these in hazmat suits, are scouring the house for traces of ammonium nitrate or dispatching bomb dogs to sniff every corner.

Guys!  It’s just a pressure cooker.  No bomb. Just a broken 1990s Star Trekky kitchen appliance.

Okay, curbside disposal is out.  Maybe we can bag the thing and after dark slip it into someone’s dumpster.  That’s a crime called theft of services.  But it sure beats a visit from the bomb squad and its ramrods, flashbang grenades, tear gas canisters, hazmat suits and handsome German Shepherds with sensitive noses.

Except when Homer and Gomer take their trash to the dumpster and spot the chrome thing and call the police, the scene will take place as described and cause a fuss out in back of the big box store.

The place and surrounding buildings will be evacuated and closed for the duration.  They’ll find fingerprints on the cooker -- our fingerprints -- and the whole break-down-the-door scene will spread to our house.

It’s just a pressure cooker, officers.  No bomb. Nothing but the fumes left by years of cooking the yummy kind of mush that pressure cookers make.  One pot dinners. Can’t you see the little picture of Wolfgang Puck or Emeril or Paula Deen on the side there?

Who would want to blow up Wolfgang or Emeril or Paula?  (Well, maybe Paula… but really!)

Maybe we should rent a steam roller and flatten the thing in a road somewhere. No one would be bothered by the sight of a former pressure cooker that’s been reduced to two dimensions by a 44-thousand pound steamroller.  

Plus where do you rent a steamroller?

Maybe just leave the pot in the cupboard.

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

1697 Larry Kingski

What are Larry King and Ed Schultz doing on the Russian government owned TV channel RT America?
Talking, what else?  
American broadcaster Larry King holding microphone


Americans don’t take kindly to offshore owners of media unless it’s Rupert Murdoch (who became an American citizen so his company could own actual TV stations in this country.)  Or maybe the BBC, because they’re so… so English.  But Russia?  The Red Slave Empire reimagined for the 21st century?


RT wants to be known as a legitimate news outfit.  At least that’s what their publicists say.  What they say in Russia is Demigod Putin started this “service” to sneak into the US with Russia’s point of view.


It’s kind of the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in reverse.  Remember Radio Moscow? And if you watch it, which an overwhelming majority of Americans don’t, it’s perfectly clear which side they’re on.


King’s program is sold by a syndicator called Ora Media.  One of its head guys is a man named John Dickey.  


Asked about putting All-American Larry King on PutinVision, he said every network has a particular viewpoint and Ora is only a seller of programs.  



Does Larry King need the money?  Does Schultz? CNN busted King and MSNBC busted Schultz.  Ed did nothing for awhile. Larry did and does infomercials for questionable health-inducing potions.


King is 82.  Time to slow down, fella. He does a fairly decent interview under the right circumstances… like when someone hands him a sheaf of research and he actually reads it… or he reads at least the dust jacket of an author’s latest book


Schultz is only 62.  And while he’s a lefty, he carries on with the bluster of Rush Limbaugh and the charm of Tales from the Crypt.


No one has taken either of these guys seriously for ten years.


To both we say отвяжись which is pronounced ot-vy-az-HIS'.  And it doesn’t mean “have a nice day.”

Shrapnel:


--This Ahmed Rahami fellow will soon be in court where he can tell us his little bombing spree in New York and New Jersey was because he had a tough childhood and be assured, he’s “not a bad person.” Further we will learn about his lifelong devotion to his religious beliefs and all the other claptrap these guys always spew.  Good thing he’s more inept than inspired.


--How long before Governor Doublewide (R-NJ) is subject to a recall movement?  The prosecutor in the George Washington Bridge intentional traffic jam nonsense says Chris Christie knew about the problems as they happened, something he’s denied. There goes that appointment as Secretary of Morals and Morale in the Trump cabinet.


--We always wanted to live in a pre-war triplex and we do.  Unfortunately it’s not in Manhattan.  And the war it was built before was Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


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

© WJR 2016