Monday, February 27, 2017

1763 The Entropy of Competence

City Hall, where ideas go to die.

Mayor Bill de Blastoff of New York is a well meaning guy who doesn’t know what the job of mayor is and proves it every day.  But New York is used to incompetence.  We had Giuliani, O’Dwyer, Jimmy Walker, Impeliteri and Beame.  Some were screwups. But some were crooked. And it looks like Blastoff may join that elite club.

Something about pay for play and stocking the swamp.  But we’ll leave that up to the US Attorney Preet Bharara, St. Preet to his followers, and the Royal Canadian Mountie to others. No, he’s not Canadian.  But like the Mounties he “always gets his man.”

Even without the crook possibility, this guy Bastoff has been in office since 2014 and has yet to find the light switch in the City Hall men’s room.  

Before that, he was “Public Advocate” whose job is to hold news conferences about things he knows nothing of and complain.

In city government, everyone should be the “public advocate.”

You can forgive him for having his head in the clouds.  He’s almost 6 and a half feet tall. What you cannot forgive is not knowing where the lightswitch is.

Incompetence in office is spreading.  So without further picking on the poor mayor, let’s look at how this virus is spreading throughout the country.

In rural Pennsylvania a bloated and bumbling member of Congress has thus far refused to hold town meetings. He’s not alone in a district gerrymandered into something that’s shaped like psoriasis.

But in this case, his constituents held one without him.  If there was a spy in the meeting, he probably was there to write down license plate numbers, not to bring word to the boss about what his constituents were saying -- none of which was pretty.

In Tennessee, the legislature is considering a bill to rename the state’s Cordell Hull office building. Hull was Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of State and held that office for longer than anyone else. Roosevelt? That immediately makes him a “socialist” in one of the reddest of red states.  Oh, and he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945.

In New Jersey, Chris Christie has become a punchline ending in the word “bridge.”

And there’s nothing to say about the 45th President who can’t go a day without… Well, you know.  I’ll leave 135 of the next 140 spaces blank so you can paste in the latest tweet.

__________ __________ __________ __________

__________ __________ __________ __________

__________ __________ __________ __________

__________ ______.Sad.

Be sure to eliminate the spaces, to bring it down to size.

--The deportation police are going after a lot of illegals with American children. Where do the children go?  It’s a tough decision… Crips or Bloods.

-When Bannon says Trump is a “good blunt instrument for our purposes” just what purposes does he mean?

-“But ‘La La Land’ won the electoral college.” -- Retired CBS News Executive Producer Charlie Kaye after the presenters at the Oscars announced “La La” as winner of the best picture, when the real winner was “Moonlight.”

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Friday, February 24, 2017

1762 Dwarf Star and the Seven Planets

NASA Illustration

No longer content to rest on its fake moon landing laurels, NASA has invented a new dwarf star with seven earth- like planets orbiting.  Imagine that!  Dwarfstar and the seven planets. Eat your heart out, Snow White.

Planets that could support human life. They call it TRAPPIST.  Discovered using the Transiting Planets and Planetesimal Small Telescope in Chile.  And it’s only 40 light years away.  (About 235 trillion miles. Chicken feed in the outer space business.)

Wessays™ has conducted a quick check for reaction.

The White House:  We will deal with each of the planets separately.  We’re hoping this is not another EU or UN or OAS in the works.  Meantime, we may build an asteroid belt around earth.  Earth First!

The UN: admitted all seven planets and the dwarf star to membership by a nearly unanimous vote of the General Assembly. (Vatican City voted no. Russia, China and Saudi Arabia abstained. Nauru was absent. They’re still fighting over whether to have a capital city and what to do now that the fossilized bird dropping phosphates have run out leaving the island with no source of income.)

Richard Branson: Virgin Air will inaugurate commercial flights starting in 2022.  We knew about this ages ago. Why do you think we feature Captain Kirk in our ads?

Blightbarb:  The planets are all flat, not spherical.

Scientific American:

Elon Musk:  We’re already building charging stations on four of the planets.

Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina: Who decides who uses which bathrooms?

Al Sharpton:  We’ll picket first and ask questions later.

Wayne LaPierre: Little green men from TRAPPIST have a God given right to arm themselves.  And someone give a Sig Sauer to Captain Kirk.

Gay Men’s Health Crisis:  We demand that the TRAPPIST medical establishment recognize the need to curb the spread of AIDS in space.

China’s Secretary of Commerce:  Whatever they make, we can make it cheaper and ship it faster.

Sarah Palin: Drill, baby, drill!

Paul Simon:  I am claiming Planet D so short people can have a place of their own.

Shaquille O’Neal: I am claiming Planet G so tall people can have a place of their own.
Bill Gates: Just what I always wanted… my own solar system.

Vladimir Vladimirovich (AKA Vladimir Putin, Jr.): History shows that these planets were originally flung into space when a tidal wave hit Russia.  So now that we’ve found our lost territories, we are reclaiming them.

National Enquirer: We told you so.

Fate Magazine:  We told you first.

National Enquirer: Did not.

Fate Magazine: Did too.

Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association: Be kind to the aliens.  They live closer to heaven than we do.

Betsy DeVoid:  What’s a solar system? Oh, wait. I know.  It’s where you get a winter tan if you can’t afford a second home in Palm Beach.

Secretary of State Rexxon Exxon:  We cannot depend on foreign suns for our solar energy.

Hillary Clinton: Ya think they pay speakers better than Goldman?

Bill Clinton: They’re right up the block, Hillary.  Why don’t you  take a listening tour and find out?

Uber: Drivers wanted!

McDonald’s: We will be opening our first interplanetary restaurant on Planet E sometime after the first of the year.

Oprah: I will be moving to whichever planet shows the lowest number when I step on a scale.

Bernie Sanders: Notice those planets are all different sizes.  We have to equalize them. No planet should be bigger than any other.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

1761 Conflicted Thoughts on Simon and Garfunkel

Paul... one 75ish year old Queens boy to another? I gotta hand it to you.  You made something out of nothing. Or maybe something great out of something small. Or maybe it was just that other guy who made half the sound.

After reading that endless new Paul Simon biography by Peter Ames Carlin (Henry Holt, 2016) you renewed and underscored my lifelong habit of never wanting to know much about an artist whose work I admire. Much of it, anyway.

It paints you as a nasty bully, a reputation you already had in the world of music, entertainment and broadcasting.  To know you is to diminish your work.

Your first big hit after years of doing mindless teeny bopper songs as Tom and Jerry (always with Art Garfunkel who is a mensch) “Sounds of Silence”... took decades to appreciate.  And that didn’t happen until that live recording recently out.

Why now?  A number of reasons. All but one of them are in the picture at the top of the page:  You are smiling at Artie. You are looking at him instead the usual off in space to your left.  The newly tweaked arrangement of “Sounds” is better than the 704 other versions you’ve recorded and the dreary big string versions and assorted covers by other artists.

Do you know how much work it was to cut that still photo from the video?  It passes so quickly you have to be a sharpshooter and surgeon to freeze and copy it.

This one’s more typical:
There you are, staring off into space.  In front of you, Paul, that’s where the people who paid to see you are seated. In front of you.  To your right, Paul, that’s where the guy who makes you sound wonderful is standing.  To the right.

Maybe you’ve mellowed with age.  Maybe with all your fame and fortune you’ve emerged from that case of the shorts you’ve had all these years.

Your talent was always treetop. Not like the pollution- stunted maples of Forest Hills, but like the mighty oaks.

Maybe at 75, you have at last come of age.

-“Don’t want to end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard.” -- P. Simon, “You Can Call Me Al.”

--Another reason to love football.  The Salt Lake Screaming Eagles of the Indoor Football League have created an app that lets spectators vote on the play. Next up: an app that directs the players before the play which means you the viewer can save lives by directing the team to the locker room.

--For-profit colleges were in President Obama’s crosshairs, as he fought to keep them honest -- maybe an impossible dream.  Now we have so-called Education Secretary Batguano  DeVoid and school stocks are climbing. Great… they can use all those government backed loans to trick even more kiddies into crushing lifetime debt for a degree that is a puff of smoke.

-“...we’ll be talking to John Bolton in a different capacity.” -- President Trump explaining why he chose respected general H.R. McMaster as national security adviser over the scary former UN ambassador who might as well re-polish his resume because the quote translates into “hit the road, Jack.”

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Monday, February 20, 2017

1760 Twelve Lanes Wide and Crawling

DEERFIELD BEACH FL --  It’s a 12 lane highway, six in each direction.  The speed limit is 55. Nobody is from   here.

In the far right lane is Mrs. O’Connor originally from Greenbelt, Maryland.  She’s cruising along at about 25.  Doesn’t want to miss her turnoff which is two miles away according to the sign she just passed.

Pacing her in the adjacent lane are Mr. and Mrs. J. Frangipani.  Julius and Julia, originally from Massapequa, NY. J & J, Juli and Juli, combined age of 166, cooking along at maybe 30 mph. The right blinker has been flashing for the last ten miles.  The Julis want to get ahead of Mrs. O’Connor in her lane, but anything close to 50 makes them nervous.

One lane to the left is Florence Northam, originally from Webster City, Iowa. Her two grandchildren, Norman and Joanie, age five and seven, are fighting at high decibel over a bag of potato chips, half of whose contents have landed on the seat and the floor.  Florence is spending more time in looking in the rear view mirror than she is at the cars ahead of her.

On her left are Jacob and Mia and their surfboards.  They are heading for the beach so they can tell their friends back in Honolulu how crummy the surfing is in Florida.  They’d gladly go the speed limit, and plenty faster. But they’re stuck behind someone in a newish Fiat that appears to stall over 40 or so. And they’re boxed in by Florence on the right and a refrigerator truck on the left.

We can’t make out who is behind the wheel, but the truck is a blue smoke belching 1985 Dodge with a sign that says “Bobby’s Fresh Fish, wholesale only.”

In the high speed lane is a 2017 chalk white Cadillac Escalade doing 35 with Uncle Moishe behind the wheel over which he can barely see.

The only way anyone can move to the right before Mrs. O’Connor gets to her exit is if she has a blowout and shifts to the shoulder before she stops.

In fact, no one is going to pass anyone, ever.

Everyone’s taking heat. Mostly Uncle Moish, who it turns out is sitting on a Webster’s Unabridged, 2nd Edition and still can barely see over the steering wheel.

Oh, and his blinker has been on for a few miles, too.  His left blinker.  Hey, Uncle, there is nothing left of you but the guardrail and the other side of the road.

When you plan to travel this road, remember Amtrak crosses up a ways.  Pays to call ahead and see how late the noon time Silver Meteor from Miami to New York is running.  Or whether it’s stalled across the highway.  Again.  Which can mean road traffic is backed up to Havana.

--Remembering James Buchanan on Presidents Day. In a recent survey, historians named him the worst American President in history.  Move over, Jimbo, next survey you’ll no longer be the bottom of the barrel.

-“I am the last president of the United States.” -- James Buchanan just before the outbreak of the Civil War.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Friday, February 17, 2017

1759 Listen Up. I'm Only Going to Say this Once

1759 I’m Only going to Say This Once
Once it leaves this thing, it’s gone forever
People who write or broadcast things like Wessays (™) are commercial artists.  The posts are not great art. They are not fine art.  They’re just the equivalent in words of the pictures you see in the paper advertising Madd Matt’s Mazda or Three Buck Chuck. We are writing for the moment and for the ear.  Pictures are optional.

So are many of the conventions of grammar, a discipline developed by people of good will to set a standard the untrained and unimaginative can use so others understand what they’re saying or writing.

But with commercial art for the ear… once it’s gone, it’s like light traffic on the highway:  it passes quickly and vanishes over the horizon before you can give it a second look.

Why this subject and why now?  Because I’ve gotten variations of the same questions over the last 50 years.  Why aren’t you more careful with structure? Why don’t you print some of this stuff so your kids have something to remember you by?

Because it’s traffic, and nothing more.  Because if you hear and understand it, that’s the best possible outcome. Who wants to read your high school love poetry?  Who wants to read and study and pick apart a “column” you heard?  

Ahah! Scrutiny be damned.

Well, yeah that’s a part of it.  We talk in fragments. Grandma Grammarama will tell us every time we commit that sin.  Unless, of course we make a deal with the devil who masquerades as the “ignore rule” button in MS Word.

Diagram a sentence?  How about diagram a painting or a cartoon or photograph or a statue or a bag of popcorn?  Extra points for the statue and the popcorn.

Also: print leaves evidence.  Talk does not. Except when you put a script on the internet where everything lives forever.  But who believes anything on the internet these days?

It’s either fake or has been hacked or has been leaked or it’s a lie or an alternative fact.  Which brings us to …  (drum roll, please!)

The Alternative Lie.  Yes, the alternative lie is the yin to the yang of the alternative truth or fact.  Here is a solid example of an alternative lie:  If you drop a quarter on the sidewalk, it will fall down, not up.

That one is pretty easy to debunk.  You can try it yourself.  Go ahead. Drop a quarter, see which way it falls.

While an alternative fact is just a lie in a tuxedo, an alternative lie is a fact.  

--Anyone else notice this?  President Shlump is looking even shlumpier than ever these.  Probably the weight of all those lies.

--Workers at the Department of Commerce thought there had been a mistake in their paychecks.  But they only looked bigger than usual because the checks are written in rubles which are selling for about two cents per US dollar these days.

I’m Wes Richards. My alternative facts are my own but you’re welcome to them.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

1758 Ray the Egg Man's Sunny Side Down

Ray the short order cook made the best egg sandwich north of E.57th but they fired him, anyway. One day he comes to work, sick as a dog. Coughs all over the place. Everyone complains. Can’t eat stuff from that cyclone of germs Ray’s transmitting.

He’d called in sick the night before.  Spiro told him he had to come in or be fired.  So he came in.  And they canned him anyway.  But not until he’d finished his shift.

This is what you call a setup. Setups are common enough in the world of small businessmen in the high rent district.  Ray got even.  No one disputed his claim for unemployment comp.  And when his near-pneumonia cleared, he landed quickly because … well, he made the best egg sandwich north of 57th.

A legendary egg guy with a rep.  Tens of thousands of breakfast-at-your-desk breakfasters on the upper east side.  No problem for this guy getting work and above market compensation.

Before he signed on at the new place, he made one thing clear:  “When I call in sick, it’s because I’m too sick to work.”

But Ray also had a dark side.  Something with a teen girl in a stairwell in an apartment house.  “She came on to me,” he once said.

Nah.  She’s a kid. A child.  “No. She came on to me.”

“You’re the grownup. You want to be flipping eggs in The Tombs?”

This was not the worst kind of child abuse.  But it does point to one way “older guys” like Ray get into trouble.  (Older in this case meant 24.)

Egg man, she came on to you because you gave her the two things no one else did: Attention and a sense of protection.  It’s what kids want. They don’t get it from home, they’ll find it somewhere else.  And if she came on to you… which probably she didn’t, it was those needs and not yours she was trying to satisfy.

Ray,  unrequited in his post adolescent stupor, avoided jail time when Concetta spilled the beans to her BFF who spilled the beans to her brother who spilled the beans to her mother who spilled the beans to her father who spilled the beans to a community organizer dressed in medium blue and an L.A. baseball hat and carrying a Louisville Slugger whom he joined one afternoon to have a sitdown with Ray as he got off the bus.
Well, not exactly a sitdown. One of the three had a lie down and two others walked away. And nobody saw nuthin’.

Good thing Ray was still on unemployment comp at the time.  When the labor department asked him why he wasn’t out looking for work, he said he had an excuse.  He was in the hospital for three of the previous four weeks.

--Some years ago, this space promised there would be no more full-size posts about anything Sandusky.  But it’s tough to keep now that Jerry’s “kid,” 41 year old Jeff has been accused of improper conduct with an underage girl.  But keep it we will.

--Dirty Jeffie has hired a lawyer with a lot of experience in cases like this.  The fella once was a star prosecutor but ran into trouble about the way he handled some victims of domestic abuse.  Suddenly, he was in private practice and no baseball bat or blue gang jacket was involved.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Monday, February 13, 2017

1757 Party Like it's 1854

President Lincoln’s 208th birthday. Guy never looked a day over 56. In 1854, he burned his membership card in the Whig Party and joined the fledgling Republicans.  He would not recognize his party today.

But that’ OK.  His party doesn’t recognize him either, except when it feels necessary to remind us of its past or hide its present.

The one trait he shared with today’s iteration? Small government.  But there was no way to visualize it any other way when Abe was elected president in 1860. It was small by definition.

Before Abe, Mary and the kids moved into the White House -- just before -- the Confederate States seceded.  So from Day One, he had a constitutional crisis on his hands, but not one of a president’s own making as we have today.

Lincoln compromised, unheard of among today’s Republicans.  But there was one thing about which he refused:  The United States was one country, not two.

Biographer Carl Sandburg once said the Civil War was fought over one word: “is.”  Previously, he said, you said “the United States are…” something. Today, you say “the United States is.

The Republicans of the 1850s are what we would today call “progressive.”  Black people were people not partial people, not property. A pretty radical idea. And Lincoln had to give a little before he got the mechanism to emancipate.

A Republican who compromised?  Yeah.  Believe it or not.  A Republican who was ambivalent about Christianity and attended church the way you attend weddings -- reluctantly if at all.

Lincoln lived five days into the newly re-united nation. In the years before, he brought new regulation to the finance industry.  And to the railroads. No, he wasn’t perfect. But…

What would Lincoln think about Trump? Or McConnell or Ryan.  What would he think of “Citizens United” or photo ID at the voting booth?  We have no way of knowing.

But we have a pretty good idea.

So Party like it was 1854 when being a Republican meant something decent.

--New York’s Paper of Record is crowdfunding among its digital subscribers to bring “a new generation of readers” -- school kids -- into the fold, keeping circulation figures up as the older generation degenerates. Shockingly, it did that in the 1940s by selling discount subscriptions at PS150 and other schools.  Most of us took the Trib instead because it had more pictures, a comics page and a weekly current events quiz.

--Protecting our shores from terrorist octogenarians, the safety folks at Myrtle Beach, SC stopped a woman trying to board a flight with her wooden walking cane.  Seems there was a sword hidden in the thing.  Woman says she had no idea the sword was in there.  

-Last night’s Grammy presentation had to be the most screwed up awards show in history with problems for Adele, Metallica and others and a show open about mistakes… how apropos.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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4745 An Ounce of Cure

  Forget the ounce of prevention and the pound of cure.  With everything getting odder, let’s make it a Troy Ounce of prevention.   While “n...