Monday, April 30, 2012

1011 The Destruction of New York Chapter MCXXIII

1011 The Destruction of New York Chapter MCXXIII

Green Taxis?  APPLE Green.  That’s what the mayor calls it.  Oh, boy.  Yet another improvement!  Can you just hear it now “hey, let’s hail a green cab!”  It’s the kind of green you get in a bathroom sample when you have a bad liver.

These are special new taxis, the kind that are going to put the yellow cabs out of business or at least devalue the medallion, leaving dozens of guys named Ahmed deep in debt with little chance of paying off the loan.  (Is there a bailout for cabbies whose medallions are under water?)  Devalue.  But not reduce the cost which at latest report is over half a million.  Some say closer to $800-thousand.  But there have been some sold at auction for $1 million.  (These are not typos.)

The Kermit Kars are for the exclusive use of the outer boroughs, where you can’t get a regular cab, nohow.  The object is to improve cab service.  And to shut out the black car drivers who now pick up passengers illegally.

New license fees.  And now you won’t have to stand on Queens Boulevard for three hours in the rain to get a cab to Harlem or to East New York, Brooklyn.  Oh.  Wait.  That probably won’t happen with the baby-poo green cars any more now than it does with the Yellows.

But they’re mostly going to be hybrids.  Nice.  That’s not going to affect the gas usurers of midtown west.  Probably going to spawn a whole new breed of battery charge usurers.  

The real cure would be to get the rackets out of the yellow cab business -- the real rackets and the municipal racket.

From the same book of horrors:  By the time you read or hear this, the World Trade Center will once again be the tallest building in the city.  It’s not nearly done, but workers are scheduled to put some structural beams in that will raise the height to 1271 feet.  The Empire State Building’s roof is a mere 1250.  The antenna brings it to 1454.  One World Trade will get a spire as well.  Plus only King Kong can get a decent view from either of the antennas.  

The Sears Tower, or whatever it’s now called... Taipei 101... the Burj Kahlifa all measure taller than Empire.  But none measures up to it.

And no dung-green Prius is ever going to measure up to a Checker Marathon.

--It was slow at the all night shoe store and two clerks, one a man, one a woman decided to take a sex break and were caught.  They were fired on the spot for being discovered in a compromising position.  This was true...he wanted one way, she wanted another and so they compromised.

--Speaking of which, the Secret Service will dispatch chaperones for agents on some of their trips, especially outside the country.  After which they’ll probably have to send chaperones for the chaperones.  And then, chaperones for chaperones for the... oh well, you get it, right?

--Busy week for the Secret Service.  They cleared Ted Nugent of threatening Obama.  But the brass at Ft. Knox banned his scheduled show anyway.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2012

1007 Trickle Down Fascism

1007 Trickle Down Fascism

(Note to readers:  I bollixed up the numbering sequence some days ago, so while this is numerically out of sequence,  the overall post count is accurate at 1010.)

(NEW ROSES PA) -- Trickle down economics doesn’t work.  Even Reagan would admit that today.  But trickle down fascism does.

On Tuesday, 4/17/12 two events took place in Pennsylvania each a milestone in proof of identity.  A leading discounter told customers over 55 they no longer had to show their Tuesday Senior Discount Club cards to get their 10% off.  And the State started requiring voters to show government issued photo identification cards in order to vote in the primary.

Apparently there is more voter fraud here than there is old-age-discount fraud.

The funny thing about the photo ID thing is that it is the lovechild of the people who want smaller government and less “government intrusion” in their freedom-loving lives.

Supporters say this is no big deal.  They’ve forgotten about people who don’t drive and up until now haven’t needed photo ID cards from the motor vehicle bureau and who had to schlep off to these badly located, short-houred little places where the cards are issued.  In what?  Well, they either had to find a driver or take a bus or cab.

You vote in a place a time or two and the volunteers who staff it get to know you.  Plus you tell them your address, they check it out in their books, you sign, you vote.

In fact, voter photo IDs are no big deal.  But what’s next?  Yellow armbands?  Tattoos?  Cops stopping random people on the streets to ask “you have papers?”

In a test drive of these thoughts, one critic says likening the “insignificant” voter ID law with a genocidal maniac’s regime is “making a huge issue out of nothing.”

He had to be reminded that Hitler also started small.  And so did D.F. Malan, South Africa’s first Apartheid prime minister.

“You haff paperrrs?” worked only for a short time in Germany.  But it would have lasted longer if they’d moved slower and didn’t wage war against  the US and most of the rest of Europe at the same time.  It lasted almost 40 years in South Africa.


--Are we at last free of Gingrich, major domo of the smart sounding dummies and Confederate con men?  Even this Great Historian can see his candidacy hit the wall and spilled his jolly venom all over us.  Unlike his days in congress, this time we can wash it off.

--Since we’re rid of this guy and his domestic partner Little Ricky Sanatorium, we now have to deal with The Young Fossil, Willard Romney.  Dog stories aside, doesn’t this guy remind you of the self repairing robots in the Schwarzenegger movies or zombies who rise from the dead in low budget horror movies or a prehistoric Ken doll unearthed by a team of archeologists at a dig in Detroit?

--Free form rock radio pioneer Pete Fornatale has passed away, and fairly suddenly.  Three good places to find out more.  This New York Times story, a recently created, a fan page on Facebook and an outpouring on the New York Radio Message Board, the NYRMB.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

1010 Coupon For Eternity

1010 Coupon For Eternity

Forget the “Forever Stamp.”  This is even better.  A regional department store just sent a coupon that says “valid April 1-April 31, 2012.  Um... say what?  

Since the expiration date will never come, this is the Coupon for Eternity.  Just think, you can carry this baby all the way to the grave and then pass it on to your children... and grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Of course, by the time your great grandchild tries to use it, the ten bucks will be worth about four cents.  But a discount is a discount.  And, of course, this requires that the store exist for generations to come.  Which is about as likely as the deal being honored on May first.

The real story here is no one proofs ads these days.  Which is why you often see the disclaimer “not responsible for typographical errors.”  Well, actually, you probably don’t see it, because it’s buried in the bunch of fine print at the bottom and almost no one even notices that, let alone reads it.

If they’re not responsible for typographical errors, who is?  The Devil?  You? The Welfare State?  The Motor Vehicle Bureau? Al Qaeda?

When someone commits a minor, stupid and funny error like setting a non-existent date for the expiration of a sale or discount, though, you have to wonder what else is going on that you haven’t noticed.

While the coupon thing is likely unintentional, some things are not.

First among them is the “vanity size.”  What, you may ask, is a vanity size?  It’s when the dress marked “size 6” or the slacks marked “37” really are size ten or have a 40” waist.  And this isn’t limited to dresses and men’s pants.  It’s happening to shoes, too.

You’ve been buying the same make and style shoe for years?  All of a sudden, you try on a new pair and it doesn’t fit?  If there’s a shoe pro in the house, he or she may tell you it’s because the manufacturer is using a “new last” or “your foot widens out as you age.”  The first is bunk. The second can be true, but that depends on your age and weight.  It’s really because they’re shrinking the sizes incrementally.   Small is beautiful.

So if you get one of those 4/31 coupons, hold on to it.  A little something to pass along to your heirs.


--The catch phrase “all new” has become one of the most frequently heard on TV.  Maybe it should be restricted to reality or magazine shows which can be pieced together from previously seen episodes.  After all, has there ever been a “partially new” or “somewhat new” episode of, say, “House” or “Two and a Half Men?”

--They’re making a big fuss about the differences among regions and hospitals in the cost of having your appendix removed.  Prices vary from a little over a grand to more than $30-thousand.  But has anyone looked into the cost of having an appendix implanted?

--Early warning:  Google spent more than $5 million in lobbying charges in the first quarter of the year.  That’s triple the amount paid in the corresponding quarter last year.  When an outfit that had ignored Washington for most of its life suddenly spends that kind of money, something’s up.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them ®
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© WJR 2012

Monday, April 23, 2012

1009 Phony Fights & Wars

1009 Phony Fights & Wars

The world of conflict has been taken over by the world of professional wrestling.  Everyone’s fighting for or against something.

Top of the list of worsts:  Politicians.  They’re fighting for your freedom.  They’re fighting for your rights.  They’re fighting to lower your taxes.  They’re fighting to restore white America to its rightful owners.  

How do they do this?  Like George “The Animal” Steele and Gorilla Monsoon duking it out in the squared circle after each makes a televised statement about how the other’s days are numbered.

Then, like the stage enemies they all are, they walk off in the sunset arm and arm.  And guess what?  Your freedom, your rights and your taxes are all about the same as they were before the three count.

The things they claim to be fighting for don’t need fights.  They need work.  At least some of them.  

Your health insurance company is “fighting to keep you healthy.”  So-and-so dies after “a long fight against cancer.”  Actually, your health insurance is fighting to not pay your medical bills and so-and-so lying there while radiation and chemo drained his remaining resources was in no condition to fight.  Not exactly Wrestlemania here.

Your union is fighting for your contract.  Claritin is fighting your allergies.  Uh... not quite.  Your union may be fighting for your dues and negotiating a contract.  Claritin is performing chem lab experiments in your bloodstream some of which might relieve your itchy sneezy self.

The Jets are fighting from behind hoping to overtake the Redskins in the fourth quarter.  Actually, the Jets are haplessly moving the ball around hoping Washington makes enough mistakes to be overtaken.  Right out of Jobber Jake’s predicted fall against John Cena, except the football game isn’t fixed.  Probably.

A little peace, please.  We don’t need all that fake fighting.   Especially from fat slob members of congress who wouldn’t know what a fight was because they’d be on the canvas after taking the first punch.

A little peace and a little work, please.  Especially from people who produce enough wind to turn the turbines when the real wind falters.

We can fight our own battles, most of us.  We don’t need a designated hitter, to use another dumb jock metaphor.

--Has anyone tracked the ethnic/racial makeup of the people featured on “America’s Most Wanted?”  You look at this program long enough and you conclude that every fugitive is black, Hispanic and male.  Occasionally there’s white trailer trash and almost never a Caucasian guy in a suit and tie.

-- El soborno asociado wanted in Isle Cuarenta y Tres.  The Holy Rollers of Walmart Mexico are said to have been paying off building permit officials left and right  according to news accounts, and their headquarters counterparts have been promoting those sobornos asociados and sweeping the acts under their cheap rugs.  Time for a rollback.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them and I’m fighting for your right to share them. ®
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© WJR 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

1008 Abie Finally Got Caught

1008 Abie Finally Got Caught

You have to be careful who you scam and for how much.  Abie Goldberg’s doing soft time at Club Fed for not following his own advice.

“Look,” he used to say... “what I have for you is a Ponzi scheme.  But you should know, I don’t scam little kids or the charities that support them.”  Nor did he scam big corporations with independent auditors, nursing homes, politicians, scout troops, little old ladies on Social Security or known mobsters.

“Yeah, it’s a Ponzi scheme, plain and simple.  But low key.  And you can get out early.”

When guys like Madoff were offering ten, 12, 14%, Abie would offer 5.8 or 6.2.  “Still a good return, but not wild enough to scream ‘scheme.’”  Plus he’d offer an early warning system at no extra cost.  When things started looking shaky, he’d let his suckers know... also low key.

Why oddball percentage returns?  “Because it looks legit.  It looks like a carefully calculated rate from a broker.  The big fish?  They’d offer round numbers which are suspicious to start, and the numbers were so high only an idiot or another crook would put money into their funds.”

So Abie Scheme 101:  Pay well, but not outrageously well.  Use complicated looking figures.  Don’t take huge money.  Don’t take from sympathy magnets.

Guy rolled along like that for 15 years, maybe more.  No one batted an eye.  There were times it looked like it could go on forever.  The customer pool was pretty big.

Then, a while ago -- this was before Madoff got caught -- he posts some losses.  That’s the secret handshake that was supposed to tell investors to get out.  Unfortunately, too many did, even though the notices always were accompanied by a tearful, soulful letter of apology to his customers and predictions of a sunny future.

“I could have fled to Sudan or Laos because they don’t have extradition from there.  But I’m 85, I hate the hot weather and your life in places like that isn’t worth a nickel.”

“So some schmuck files a complaint and all of a sudden I’m Mr. Popularity with the IRS, the Treasury Department and the FBI.  Maybe I should have paid three percent...”  And they did what no one else bothered to do before, they looked at the books.  Carefully.

So Abie is doing his time at the low security Federal Correctional Institution near Miami.  “Not too bad here, but I hear the heat’s murder in July and August.”

Plus, he’s in there lining up future customers from among his fellow well-heeled inmates.

Shrapnel (water edition):  

--You can help your dentist maintain a decent income by drinking more bottled water.  The rate of tooth decay, falling for 60 years, recently has  skyrocketed as people avoid fluoridated tap water.  So the choice is kill the environment with all those plastic bottles or kill your teeth with them.

--At least one major water bottler has added fluoride to some of its products.  What’s the point? At least they mark the bottles clearly and in big, colorful type.   Which doesn’t help if you don’t read the label.

--Around here, a close relative avoids the tap water because of its heavy concentration of calcium.  And then, she takes Citracal and Fosamax.  She’s getting soaked without getting wet.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

1006 (Self) Defensive Driving

(MOOTE POINTE NY) --  A motorist was stopped in the early hours of this morning and accused of speeding.

Cop:  Hey, Mario Andretti, you were going 80 in a 35 zone.

Motorist:  Yes... I was.  It was self defense.

C: Huh?

M: I was being followed.  Guy was right on my tail.  Had strange red and blue lights.  I was in fear of my life.

C:  That was me.  The lights are standard police car issue.

M: How was I supposed to know that?

The Moote Point Flee Your Ground Law allows someone in fear of his life to flee at speeds of up to 100 MPH.  But our motorist is going to have to prove the legitimacy of his fear.

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  Like George Zimmerman in Florida, who feared a kid armed with a package of Skittles.  And Anders Behring Breivik in Norway, defending himself against a bunch of kids at a political summer camp by shooting them dead, after blowing up a car in Oslo.  Self defense.  Even if the car was in a no exploding zone and the kids were at a weapons-free camp.

There is, of course, a slight racial/cultural component to all of this.  Zimmerman the white guy killed Martin, the black child.   Breivik, objected to the diversity in Norway.  (What IS that?  Bright white, Off White, Oyster White and two oil guys from Kuwait, a minyan of Hasidim and 14 women working off their indentured servitude at Asian massage parlors?)  He also hoped to prove that he only kept shooting until the police arrived, thus blaming the cops for more than half the deaths, was also trying to show that the Norwegian justice system had no jurisdiction over him.

Worked for two characters in Ayn Rand novels, so why not in Norway?  Or Florida.

Guy takes the stand... says he'd self- defend all over again.  Probably had a tough childhood.  Maybe ADHD.  Delusions of grandeur?  Gotta cut a poor gentleman with those burdens some slack.

Figure there are at least 77 people would glad to cut.  Or at least stab.

Too bad Norway doesn't have the death penalty.  

Members of  Breivik’s "international" secret society can't take matters into their own hands because a secret society without members also is without hands.


--What jumped out of the beautifully produced 60 Minutes Mike Wallace obituary on CBS?  How about this:  able and brave as he was, prominent as he was, during the tough questioning his arms usually were folded across his chest.  Body language interpretation, anyone?

--A toast to former colleagues at the Associated Press.  They won the investigative Pulitzer earlier this week for their stories about the NYPD spying on Muslims in and out of its jurisdiction and not telling the locals or the feds.  Aside to Ray Kelly:  how long you think Mayor Mike will continue to back you on this one?

--Another toast to reporter Sara Ganim of the Harrisburg PA Patriot News.  The 24 year old reporter won a Pulitzer for unearthing the little boy sex scandal at Penn State.  Her former paper, the Centre Daily Times of State College though nearer the epicenter, didn’t come close to her dogged determination.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

1005 Did You Hear the One About The Missile?

1005  Did You Hear the One About the Missile?

We’re all having a good laugh about that North Korean missile that fired off, guaranteeing the absolute safety of anyone in its direct path.  If this were America, we would have outsourced it to the Chinese or to the South Koreans or the Japanese.  Or to the Cambodians.  You know, some group that knows how to make stuff that works.

We should salute Pyongyang for one thing, though.  When the show flopped, at least they admitted it.  Of course, they had a little help.  The Evil Media was busy covering it.  And when you see footage of the thing crumbling like a Kaesong Shaman’s paper mache Muppet mask, there isn’t much deniability.   Still, it’s a step in the direction of openness.

The failure came under the worst possible circumstances for the Student Prince and his inherited kingdom.  It was a day that was to defy world opinion.  It was a day to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung.  It was Baby Doc’s first real show of military power since taking over for his father who took over from his grandfather.

Losing face is a big deal in Asia.  But no worries, he won’t fall on his sword.  What he will do is stage something he knows his military CAN do... like a nuclear bomb test.

A reminder:  These guys aren’t dummies and the failure of a test flight does not mean a failure of a mission.  They’re still pretty dangerous.  And like the Iranians, Al Qaeda, the Tea Party, drug lords, the Mafia and competition figure skating champions, they are to be respected for what they’ll eventually be able to do.  And feared.

Another reminder:  The American Redstone missile, based on the German V-2 failed a lot before it succeeded.  We eventually got it right.  They will too.  Couple of days after the unintended joke, Kim the Younger made a speech in which he denied he feared foreign powers.   That’s kind of like the ghetto kid who loses a fight and retreats while threatening the guy who beat him.   

Meantime, the country celebrated the birth of its founder with fireworks, music and dance.  And you’d better believe there was a little something extra in the paychecks of those who attended and posed for the cameras.  What we don’t know is what happened to the people who had “scheduling conflicts” and couldn’t attend.  Probably, they have no further need for schedules, conflicted or otherwise.


--This is a toaster radio made by Kenwood and, astonishingly, no longer being produced.  It’s the goofiest appliance yet.  Thought you’d like to see one.

--Failed presidential hopeful Little Ricky Santorum is holding a conference call this evening (4/16/12) at 6PM Eastern.  Give him a ring at 888 673 8921.  You can then personally thank him for the single most important act of civic import he’s ever performed... dropping out.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

1004 Mike Wallace Interviews a Chicken

We join this previously unreleased program in progress...

Wallace:  So you ADMIT you crossed the road.

Chicken:  Yes, of course I did.  

W:  On more than one occasion?

C:  Well... yes.

W:  In fact, many times.

C: Cluck.

W: But you still won’t tell us why?

C: I didn’t say that.

W: Okay, then why did you cross the road?

C: well...

W:  Well?

C: To get to the other side.

W: (Stunned silence.  Raised eyebrow)

W:  Do you mean to sit there and tell me you crossed the road to get to the other side?

C: Cluck (humiliated)

They don’t make ‘em like Mike anymore, or if they do, you don’t often see them. And for good reasons.
Some of them:

Many stories today are about as significant as the chicken interview and don’t warrant a Mike Wallace style interview.  And those that do need enormous preparation and research, work that many “reporters” are either unwilling or unable to do.

But the lack of Wallaces is more a problem of the  interviewer than of interviewee or story.

Although they won’t admit it, most people who go into this field today don’t want to be journalists, they want to be television stars.  They want the flash and fame, no matter how fleeting, of being on camera and of being recognized when they visit the local bar after the show.  They don’t know from that “finding out the truth” thing.

If you don’t believe that, turn on any local newscast and watch it as long as you can stand it.  If you want to see the Big Time Version, try HLN where you can view and hear the Battle of the (Ted) Baxters and Barbies.  Looks that stun but voices that grate or are parodies of themselves.

Along with the empty barrels, you get the empty heads.  Many of today’s “reporters” don’t know much about much.  They’ve had trade school educations, and what little on the job training they get is often from other trade school educatees who also don’t know much.  

No J-school can teach curiosity.  That comes built in to the curious.  You can learn it.  But before you learn it, you have to know you need to.

Most of the time, programs like 60 Minutes are prepared at a relatively leisurely pace and collaboratively.  Same with investigative work that ends up in print.  Today’s news maw is so big and hungry, that there’s scarce little time to prepare even if you know you have to and know how.

Wallace and his ilk had no playbook, no trade school teachers.  TV news was tabula rasa. They made it up as they went along.  It took some doing, but they got it done.  These days it’s easy to believe that book went up in smoke during the burning of the library at Alexandria.  And that after the interview, Mike had the chicken over for dinner.


--Prosecutors tend to overcharge and that’s apparently what’s happened to hapless and possibly racist George Zimmerman in Florida where he faces a murder rap for killing young Trayvon Martin.  Florida should have learned more than it seems to have about overcharging since Casey Anthony.  Manslaughter would have been more effective in either case.

--Too damn many obits in this space these days.  Rest in peace, Bob Allen, friend of nearly 50 years, debate sparring partner for all of them.  Bob was 73 and died of respiratory problems he blamed on bad air after the Trade Center bombing and the rest of us blame on decades of unfiltered Pall Mall Reds.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2012 .    

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

1003 A Ghost Story: Myron Was No Egbert... But Close

1003 A Ghost Story: Myron Was No Egbert... But Close

(NEW YORK) -- You walk around the halls at 524 West 57th and you know there are ghosts behind you or beside you.  They are “scary good” in the parlance of modern day television.

It’s not like they’re mysterious presences.  We know who they are.  They have names.  Faces.  Sounds.  And at one time or another, they’ve all worked here... at the CBS Broadcast Center, a onetime cow barn, parts of which still recall the dairy, parts of which, beyond the lobby, are pretty dingy, or -- if not at the center itself,  at its predecessors.

Egbert (Edward R.) Murrow, Fred Friendly, Walter Cronkite, Andy Rooney, Charles Kuralt, Jesse Zousmer,  Hinda Glasser, Don Hewitt.  Shirer, Sevareid, Collingwood, Howard K. Smith,  the still-breathing Dan Rather. Lotta ghosts.  Now joined by Myron Wallik, AKA Mike Wallace.

Wallace, like Murrow and some other Real Serious Journalists, started in show business, but later found their niches playing the parts of Dashing Foreign Correspondent or Prosecutor-in-chief.

It got so that the main Mike joke became a reality:  “What are the four scariest words in the English Language?  ‘Mike Wallace is here.’”

The only people who got scared were people who SHOULD have been scared.  Kings, Presidents, Sheiks, Generals, Wall St. scammers, child molesters.  Wallace was the best at what he did.  He and Murrow and Cronkite and a bunch of others legitimized radio and later television news.

Murrow’s focus was bringing huge events down to bite size so they could be digested.  Wallace’s was bringing huge people down to bite size, shelling his subjects so we could see and hear that inside, they generally were peanuts, often stale if not rotten.
Pioneering in a collaborative medium like television takes more than a stunning front man.  TV news done right -- and CBS did it right most of the time in the early days -- requires the whole band. Toscanini would be little more than a hunched old guy waving a stick without the 100 or so boys in the band, along with the librarians, horn wipers, and so on.

And so while Wallace’s searching interviews were good viewing and usually best quality reporting, he was among the first to acknowledge he had a line of invisible non-ghosts behind and around him.  Murrow was quick to give credit, too.  When asked.

There’s something in the air in the Broadcast Center.  Makes for longer than usual lives and careers.  Even though Murrow was under 60 when he died, many of the others -- especially in the 60 minutes Nursing Home lived into or at least near their 90s.  Hewett, Cronkite, Rooney.  And Mike Wallace, who was 93.


--The question here is not “how many people does it take to change a lightbulb?” but how many hours.  In one recent case, it was four by the time the simple act was finished.  For more on this kind of thing, click here for Wessay #590 from August, 2009.

I’m Wes Richards.  My Opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2012

Monday, April 09, 2012

1002 On Becoming 70

1002 On Becoming 70

Some quotes:

“I’m bewildered that I’m still here.”  -- John Wydra, reporter, commentator, author, former candidate for congress.

“I am... elderly...”  John W. Gibson, Jr. -- philosopher, author.

“Age is just a number.  And mine’s unlisted.” -- Joe Franklin, radio and TV personality, author and owner of the last working rotary dial telephone in Manhattan.  Actually, Joe is now, as he puts it, “celebrating the 40th anniversary of my 39th birthday.”

Seventy used to be old.  Now, of course, it isn’t.  It’s not like when you were a kid and everything over -- oh, 15, was “old.”  Seventy REALLY was old.

But turning 70 -- today -- doesn’t mean much anymore.  Not when one still is the youngest kid in his class.

But what is it that keeps us living so much better for so much longer?  Probably chemicals in the food.

Here’s what doesn’t do it:  Vitamins, minerals, healthy diet and exercise (preferably at an expensive health club or on an expensive exercise machine at home, the cost of which grows in proportion to its lack of use.)

Meds.  It has to be the meds!  Even if you’re not sick, you take something.  Blood pressure, cholesterol, baby aspirin, something.

And air conditioning.  Those of us in this demographic remember when our “older” relatives (that would be anyone over 50) complained that they didn’t like air conditioning.  The reasons were nonsense.  “It makes me feel closed in.”  “It makes it TOO cold.”  “I don’t like the noise.”  What they really meant was (a) It’s too expensive to run except in emergencies and (b) using a/c is a sign of weakness. (“My mother... father... aunt... uncle... didn’t need this, why should I?”)

People in hot climates are less apt to make these excuses.  But air conditioning has probably saved more lives than all the organic vegetables, vegetarian diets, macrobiotic diets, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air purifiers vitamin pills and free range eggs, seat belts, air bags “Wet Floor” signs and chemotherapy combined.

Anyway, reaching 70 isn’t the milestone it once was.

Eighty, that’s another story.  If we’re both still here, ask about it then.

Shrapnel (Kinkade [limited] Edition):

--The illustrator Thomas Kinkade has died of apparently natural causes at the age of 54.  His pictures and reproductions and “limited” editions brought in millions of dollars a year, making him probably the most collected mass market artist in history.  His stuff was Norman Rockwell, but usually without the people, and his strategy was the same: Sentimentality sells.

--Kinkade’s success was largely due to his use of TV shopping channels and franchisee-owned “galleries” as conduits to middle aged and older buyers who didn’t know “what else to get grandma for her 88th birthday next month.”  And it was largely due to the art world’s present definition of “numbered limited edition.”  If a printing run was too small or demand too great, reissue it in a different size.  That counts as two pictures,not one picture with two printings.

--Coming Up (the only banned phrase at Bloomberg on the Weekend)  # 1003: Mike Wallace.  Wednesday 4/11.  If you loved him, you won’t love it.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2012

Friday, April 06, 2012

1001 Memo from the CEO

1001 Memo from the CEO

From: Your CEO
To: All Human Resources Personnel, All Executive Vice Presidents, All Senior Vice Presidents, All Vice Presidents, Department Managers, Assistant Department Managers.

Subject:  New hiring protocols.

As you know, there’s been a huge fuss lately about asking prospective employees for their Facebook and Twitter passwords or requesting they log onto their accounts in the presence of HR people.  This is a gross violation of privacy.  It has never been a practice here and never will be.

However, in today’s conditions, we have to protect ourselves against hiring or allowing people of questionable qualities to remain on our payroll.  So within the next several weeks, each person receiving this memo also will be receiving our new Employee Evaluation Kit.

The EEK, as we call it, consists of a quantity of latex-free exam gloves and a like number of clear plastic evidence bags.

Our aim is collecting the DNA of the prospect or employee.

When taking a prospect to lunch, make sure he leaves the restaurant before you do.  Once he’s gone, don the gloves and using your hands, gently put his silverware or glass or cup into an evidence bag.  Mark the bag with the person’s name and the date and bring it to security on the 2nd floor of our Park Avenue headquarters building.

While interviewing someone already on the payroll, please offer him a china cup of coffee or a can of soda.  (We have eliminated paper cups that the employee might take  and dispose of.) When the interview ends, follow the procedure in the above paragraph.

In an age of spiraling health care costs, we want to make sure that no one we hire has the markers for any costly future disease or condition.

If a prospect is found to have any of those markers, he is automatically excluded from further consideration.  If an existing employee is found to have these markers, take the following steps immediately:

1.  Direct his supervisor to start logging complaints even if there are none.
2.  Make sure the employee receives negative quarterly reviews.
3. Make sure no raises or promotions are offered to the employee.
4. After sufficient time, terminate his employment.

I remind you that this memo, its contents and the regulations it provides are strictly confidential and violations of the confidentiality clause in your employment agreement dictates that disclosing this information is grounds for immediate dismissal.

If we all work together for the good of the Company, we’ll have a healthy and happy work environment. And please remember that when an employee or prospect leaves a DNA sample with you, he can have no expectation of privacy.

Shred this paper after you have read it.

Thanks to DT of New York for the seed of the idea.


--You hang out in the same place long enough, they start calling you “venerable” and, these days, “iconic.”  And so it was with Gil Noble, 80 who passed away the other day.  Noble was a reporter/anchor at New York’s Ch. 7 for something like 40 years.  He created and hosted “Like it Is,” the interview program that focused on African American achievers, one of the first -- maybe THE first -- and longest running programs of its kind.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions (and my DNA) are my own but you’re welcome to the former and keep your paws, latex gloves and evidence bags off the latter. ®
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© WJR 2012

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

1000 Wessays at the Crossroads

1000 Wessays at the Crossroads

The one thousandth of these is before you.  Seven years of... of... whatever this is.  It started as an extension of a feature from “Bloomberg on the Weekend” in the spring of 2000 and the internet version began five years later.

A great many changes have taken place since then.  We have a guy in the White House who proves you don’t have to be old and white to have your head up your butt.  We have a major recession.  We have a “tea party” that is missing only the Mad Hatter.  It’s harder than ever to get a laugh when writing about the world around us.

There is nothing funny about the Arab Spring or Trayvon Martin or Casey Anthony or the health care bill.  There’s nothing funny about Israel’s likely attack on Iran or Putin’s return to the Russian Presidency or the crisis in health care or the crooked banks.

There’s nothing funny about killing people at some obscure northern California school of Asian Medicine and Religion.  There’s nothing funny about the Today show fudging the tape of the 911 call in the shooting by George Zimmerman of Trayvon Martin.

Oh, sure there are SOME things that are amusing. Cheney getting a heart -- like the Tin Woodman.   Wal-Mart.    Al Gore firing Keith Olbermann.  Clear Channel Radio not firing Rush Limbaugh.  Rick Santorum, George Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.   The second best prospect on American Idol in years getting bounced off the show because there are warrants out for his arrest.

Oh, and the new two-for-one offers for everything “as seen on TV.”  Two “Aluma Wallets” for the price of one.  Two “Orgreenic Frying Pans” for the price of one.  (Just pay separate handling charges.)  Well, they must do an awful lot of handling, because by the time you pay for it, you’re not getting two for one, but 1.5 for one.

Someone should start a brick and mortar retailer called “Notsoldin Stores.”  It would get free ads on everything that says it isn’t sold in stores, but is.

The pool of funniness is close to fished out.

So here we are 1,000 posts into the game and we are not amused.


--What idiot disgraced NBC News by editing the George Zimmerman 911 tape to make him look like a raving racist?  Internal investigation ongoing. Many of us veterans of the Today Show news operation are appalled. Of course, Zimmerman still may be a raving racist, but you can’t conclude that based on a full hearing of the recorded telephone call.

--Off the sick list, sort of.  Former defense secretary Cheney out of the hospital, proud as the tin man and for the same reason.  Former NY, Boston, Orlando, Baltimore and present San Francisco talk radio host Gene Burns, one time Libertarian Presidential hopeful, is recovering from a stroke which has left him more or less speechless.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2012

4744 The Running of the Bull

  Newsday Photo   A bull escaped from a farm in Moriches on New York’s Long Island and has been playing hide and seek ever since.  It’s not ...