Friday, September 29, 2017

1851 Saudi Women Drivers

1851 Saudi Women Drivers
Saudi Arabian women will get the right to drive next year.  We welcome them to this 19th century opportunity.

But already, there are problems.  

Cop: May I see your license and registration ma’am?
Driver: Here you are, officer.
Cop: Ma’am I’ll have to ask you to remove your hijab so I can be sure you are the same person on this license.
Driver: You know I can’t show you my face unless you’re a relative.
Cop: I’m so sorry, but I’m required to ask.
Driver: Oh… Okay.

He hands her three traffic tickets, one for speeding the second for refusing the command of an officer and the third for dressing suggestively in public.

“There are some difficulties yet to be worked out” says Prince Achmed bin Alawi Basaab al Alouf, 389th in line to the throne and third in line for traffic comissioner of Riyadh.

“Your highness is working as a mechanic at Rolls Royce of Lake Ronkonkoma, New York?”

“Oh, please call me Al! Yes, the family wants to make sure that no harm can come to their US cars.”

“You taught your wife to drive, correct?”

“My US wife, yes.”

“And because you’re royalty, Rolls of Lake Ronkonkoma loaned you a car to teach her?”

“Well, not exactly.  First you have to understand that we on the Arabian Peninsula adhere strictly to Royalty rule #2.”
“Which says what?”

“To put it in layman's’ terms it says the smaller the country, the larger the royal family and the longer the members’ names.”

“That means Denmark should have five times more royals than your country.”

“Not necessarily.  We go by percentages, not raw numbers.  And no, my employer declined to offer me a loaner in which to teach my US wife. So I bought a two year old Cadillac Escalade. Got a great deal, too.”

“So at number 389, you have very little chance of becoming king, right?”

“Yes. That’s true, but only two other princes have to die for me to get the traffic job.  And if they teach their wives to drive as expected, the job should be mine in a year or so.  Meantime, as a mechanic, I am able to keep my US wife’s car in top condition.”

“They let you use the repair shop here at Rolls of Ronkonkoma?”

“Yes, as long as I drive it in after dark so no passing Rolls Royce owner sees we work on more than just Rollses.”

“Can’t your wife drive it here?”

“Oh no. Women are not allowed into our dealership.”

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

1850 What's Wrong with this Picture?

1850 What’s Wrong with this Picture?

It depends on who you ask. But no one yet has asked the right question. The proper question is “What is America’s most widespread religion?”  And the answer is Sports.

And as a bonus, you can practice it alongside any other faith without angering your priest, minister, rabbi, guru, swami, imam, grand dragon or whatever.

Football players knelt during the playing of the national anthem.  Sacrilege?  No. Nowhere does it say you have to stand.  No one made a big deal of this when Jackie Robinson did it in the 1940s.  

For that matter, no one really cared that Tim Tebow did it in what we were assured was a gesture of devotion.

In the US, there’s supposedly a separation between church and state.  But what happens when the religious divisions are Football, Baseball, Basketball and Hockey instead of Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus?

The critics are loud and numerous.  It’s a disgrace, they say.  It’s the wrong venue for a protest against racism, they’ll tell you.  The president says the owners should fire the “offending” players.

The team owners tell trump to mind his own business. Not bad advice in general, but especially with this particular play -act president.

Sports as religion is as American as the Star Spangled Banner.  It embraces true American values, not the Judeo-Christian ideals we think of, sometimes delusionally.

Violence. Grudges. Ridiculous rivalries.  It enshrines Darwinian survival of the fittest in those rivalries. And it enshrines tribalism.

But it also advocates “sportsmanship” just as long as you don’t get caught cheating or mainlining human growth hormones or taking steroids, or gambling or womanizing or manizing.

In much of the country, a major denomination is Footballism.  In Brooklyn of the 1950s, it was Baseballism.  In parts of Europe and Latin America, it’s what they call Football but we call soccer.

In all cases, the ruling body is the ruling body and the commissioner is the pope. The teams are the dioceses and the owners the bishops.  The players are the priests and the spectators are the congregants.

How do you show reverence?  Ask Uncle Mac from down the block.  He went to Iowa City this past weekend for the Penn State game, a distance of almost 800 miles.

“Aunt" Rose’s dying words in a cab in Gramercy Park were said to be "Go Yankees!"  

There are devils and angels.  The angels?  Oh, Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Michael Jordan.

There are fallen angels: Pete Rose, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong.

And there are devils: George Foreman (since redeemed, but be careful, those grills get hotter than… well, hotter than they should if you misbehave.) Ronda Rousey,  Fuzzy Zoeller, Mayweather, LeBron James.

When trump goes after the clergy and the congregants, he's making a big mistake.

America takes this religion seriously, donates generously and sometimes talks and thinks about nothing else.

So the answer to “What’s wrong with this picture?” is nothing.


Footballism: There are three major branches. High Schools play Friday nights after sundown. Colleges are Seventh Day players. The largest branch, the NFL plays on Sundays, but usually with extra services on Monday and Thursday Nights.

Baseballism, Basketballism, Hockeyism, Soccerism:  Services are held daily during the seasons.

Golfism, Tenisism, NASCARism:  Services at these branches are weather and climate dependent. Check your local newspaper or news website.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Monday, September 25, 2017

1849 Self Driving Cars

1849, year of the gold rush.  Crossing the great expanse of the United States in search of riches.
2017, year of the parking space “rush,” seen above. Racing along the Cross Bronx Expressway in your self driving Smart forTwo?  Wedged between two 18 wheelers, one leaking goo resembling Log Cabin Syrup and smelling like a combination of Chanel No. 5 and a spittoon.

Racing isn’t exactly a term you’d apply to this or any other major highway.  But if you can go at half a mile an hour and pass three cars during that half mile, you’re a winner.

As we’ve been told by major brand car makers and internet sites, the self driving car is just around the bend.  It’ll soon be here and traffic jams like this one which starts at 3:30 am each day and lasts until 3:29 am the next, will be a thing of the past.

Pure nonsense.

So far, the test cars act like a demolition derby but with new tin and real injuries.  Eventually they’ll overcome the technical problems.  That’s when the real work begins.

If you think gun owners are a clingy lot, wait until you see what happens when instead of “coming for your guns,” the next Obama-like president will actually come for your cars.

Where is Charlton Heston when you need him? “You’ll get my car when you pry the steering wheel out of my cold dead hand” (and off that telephone pole.)

Americans love their cars.  Traffic jams or none, they want that autonomy and control that goes with making your own route and your own schedule.

There are an estimated 230-million privately owned cars and trucks on the road right now.  (That’s some busy road!)  

Replace all of them with self drivers?  Not in five lifetimes.  Banning them may be legally possible.  But such a law can’t be enforced. And yet, all the manufacturers are racing to be first with a practical and affordable model.

Driving these days is scary enough without having no control over your vehicle.  Drivers will go through the motions even if there’s no steering wheel and no pedals, just as they do now when they’re passengers.

And remember, please, computer reliability is an oxymoron. We may have progressed beyond the Blue Screen of Death.  But we haven’t yet been able to eliminate this phrase from the lingo: “I’m sorry to keep you waiting but our computers are slow right now.”

A slow computer in a self driving car will brake to a stop only after first hitting and killing that pedestrian.  What happens when your self-applying brake encounters “error #2314a,” a complete disconnection from the brain?  It will no longer be funny to see news footage of cars driving through the McDonald’s line when that particular McDonald’s doesn’t have a drive-through window.

Yes, self driving cars are inevitable.  But they’re not going to be here tomorrow.

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

1848 Gravity: The Jury is Out

Scientists disagree on this.  But most seem to believe something completely wacky about the theory of gravity.

Yes, there are those who believe that gravity is real and that every time you drop something, it falls down until you catch it or it hits the ground.  Absolute nonsense.  It’s a liberal plot to make you feel guilty.

Have you ever seen gravity?  Or smelled or tasted it? Of course not.  Oh, yes, there is a consensus among scientists that it’s some kind of invisible force like positive thinking or good will, corporate generosity and government efficiency.

Scientific consensus is not science.  We all know that. It’s guesswork.  If it were real science, everyone would agree.  A fact, after all, is a fact.

Oh, sure, every time we dropped something, it fell down.  We know that.  But what we don’t know -- can’t know -- is whether the next thing we drop will follow suit.

It could just hang there in mid-air.  Or it could move up. You just never know for sure.  Wessays™ is known for its bold neutrality and takes its usual radical middle position.  That is to say, there may be a good scientific basis for the existence of gravity, but the other side has some good points, too.

Among them:
--When you’re watching an action movie and see a car drive off a cliff, land on rocks below and burst into flame, that’s fake.  Hollywood can do that with models, computer animations and your willingness to suspend disbelief.  That car did not drive off a cliff even if you saw it with your own eyes.

--Blimps float in the air. They fall up.  How do you account for THAT, you tree-hugging solar powered liberal freaks?  Same with hot air balloons.

--Submarines seem to fall lower in the ocean. But they always float back to the surface.  Well, not always but most of the time.

--Sometimes, you start to fall. Often you return to upright before you hit the ground.  How do explain that, you socialist, folk-singing smarty pantses?

If gravity were real and you dropped a soccer ball or basketball, it would just sit there.  But does it?  No. Sometimes it rolls into the street and if you chase it you could be hit by a passing car.  Where’s your gravity now, huh?

Remember, gravity is only a theory.  Further study is needed.

The word “theory” has different meanings.  It is commonly thought of as a synonym of “guess.”  In science, “theory” is something that can be regularly tested with the same results, not something “we think may happen.”

TODAY’S QUOTE (Attn: Robt. Mueller):
-“When you strike at a king, you must kill him.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson.

-Did the three recent incidents where spectators were hit with a bat or ball affect Yankees ticket sales and if so, in which direction?

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

1847 The Missing Shoe

Let’s start with TODAY’S QUOTE:
“We will bury you.”  --  Soviet Chairman Nikita Khrushchev to western ambassadors meeting in Poland, November 18, 1956.

Maybe you misremembered the outburst, Mr. K banging his shoe on a table. There’s controversy about that and no clear film.  And the photo at the top of this post may have been retouched.  So maybe it didn’t happen.

But this one did:
If the United States is forced to defend itself or its allies, “...we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” -- President Donald trump, September 19, 2017.

So basically the same thing, separated by almost 61 years and half a world.  Two fragile and infantile dictators get on the world stage and threaten to destroy pretty much everything thereunder.

Except that in Khrushy’s case, the threat wasn’t military, it was economic. It came from the same playbook as all the other Soviet brags:

-We invented space travel.
-We invented steam locomotion.
-We invented the department store.
-We invented the Polaroid camera.  And the Tesla. And Cheerios, the Hershey Bar and Seinfeld.

Or the Soviet lies:
-The Tass bureau in Rockefeller Center is not a collection of spies.
-The Soviet mansion in Glen Cove is not a spy's nest.
-We have no missiles in Cuba.
-Okay, we do have missiles in Cuba but they’re not capable of reaching Miami.
-Okay, they are capable of reaching Miami, but they’re unarmed.

It wasn’t until Presidential Svengali John Foster Dulles, AKA Dr. Evil attached an armed conflict implication to the shoe-fit that we thought of it as something explosive to worry about.  Again… remember, these are two separate but equally famous Khrushchev-isms.

In trump’s case, it is military. There’s no mistaking it for anything else.  Just wait until Huckabee and the other know- nothings try to walk this one back.

Of course even if trump wanted to make it happen, he couldn’t.  His generals are too busy with more important matters. Like controlling when Ivanka can visit the oval office for her daily spanking or how the armed services can appear to get rid of transgender soldiers without actually getting rid of them.

But let’s go back to Khrushy’s shoe, which is easier to read than it is to say. There was controversy about whether what he banged on the lectern was actually a shoe.

The Wessays’ Dept. of Investigative Journalism has conducted an exhaustive search for proof -- or at least strong evidence one way or the other.  It was led by former CIA assassin Al Kinstrey, private eye who wore a light Glen Plaid summerweight suit, a straw fedora and shoes with thick gum soles as a disguise.

Kinstry reports that he watched as a technician in the film lab (yes, we still have a film lab) paused the picture and zoomed in to what looks to be a shoe.

The photo is grainy and a touch out of focus.  Assassin Kinstrey, Private Eye says he could not determine whether it was an actual shoe or an implement used in the Russian table game “Siberia” which is played by slamming the edge of a shoe- like  paddle on the edge of two-million ruble coin (a 1.5 million rubel coin if played in Belarus, and yes, they spell it two different ways) and getting the coin to land in a small basket on the opposite side of an electrified net stretched across the table. (The Russians invented electrified nets.)

Kinstrey says he’ll investigate further as soon as they remove his cataracts and may then be able to get a clearer picture.

Meanwhile, trump is memorizing the alphabetized  26 letter 12 number code for a nuclear launch.  And as for his speech?  All that was missing was the shoe.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Monday, September 18, 2017

1846 It's in the Bag

The controversy over plastic grocery bags has finally died down some.  Yes, yes. Let’s all be good citizens and not throw these earth killers into the landfill where they’ll outlive all of us.

Some municipalities are banning them. Some of merchants are charging a few cents to discourage us from using them.  And the so- called shopping “clubs” don’t use them at all, making it attractive to pay fifty bucks a year to buy discounted Cheerios in -- ahem -- plastic bags that hold enough to fill your coal bin if you decide that burning oats will reduce your carbon footprint, which no one knows for sure is true.

There’s a slight advantage to burning Cheerios as opposed to some other fuels.  Lighter, for example. Cleaner going down the chute to the coal bin.  But then you have the plastic bag problem all over again.

Every place that uses a large number of plastic bags has a recycle bin where you can return them. Supposedly, they’re melted down and re-formed into new ones.

The recyclable bags have caused problems of their own.  They are flimsy.  They tear easily.  A head of lettuce or a cantaloupe even one without sharp edges will rip through them with ease.  And how many lettuce heads and cantaloupes have any edges at all.

Fact is, you can cut one of these bags with nothing more than a sharp look.  So to protect your groceries, kindly and sympathetic checkout people will double the bags.  Sometimes that even works.  You can get your lettuce home and only the inner bag is torn.

Carrots are another story entirely.  Carrots -- especially those you buy by the bunch rather than the bag -- are the unsung secret weapons of the parking lot defenseless.  You see a little old person loading the trunk with plastic bags and say “easy target for robbery!”

Don’t be too sure.  The intended victim could pull the carrots through the prefab hole in the bag and stab you before you even know what sliced you.

And don’t bother running off.  Police are well trained to canvas the hospitals and clinics for people who come in with carrot wounds.

The best part about these bags is you don’t have to worry that your toddlers will consider them a toy and stick their heads in and suffocate.  No one has ever died of grocery bag suffocation.  At least no one willing to go on the record about it.

These things are so porous you can drop them in the cells of inmates on suicide watch.

--Someone finally noticed there’s now a “Bio Hazard” sign posted in the room where these masterpieces of blather are concocted.  Why? Well, it’s of a reminder of the power of words… and besides, there was no “Nuclear Waste Dump” sign available.

--For the first time in recent memory, the Emmy awards show was worth watching. Colbert was first rate as MC, had a truly funny opening monologue including a cameo from the real Sean Spicer. And the thing was paced perfectly, not a minute wasted.

--Well, maybe part of a minute. In the requisite obituary department the TV Academy said goodbye to a long list of household names including Roger Ailes. Guess they were trying to be fair and balanced.

“At long last, Mr. President, here’s your Emmy.” -- Actor Alec Baldwin who played trump on Saturday Night Live.  trump had been nominated for Emmys for his role in “the Apprentice,” but failed to win and claimed the voting was fixed. To paraphrase Baldwin: to win an Emmy, you have first to win the popular vote.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Friday, September 15, 2017

1845 It's Never Nothing

"Honey, what's wrong?"


"No, really. You look annoyed.  What's going on?"

"Nothing.  Really.  It's nothing."

It's never nothing.

In the eons-old jousting between men and women, women have taken to (a) denying what they'd really like to tell you or (b) refraining from punching you out over some slight, real or imagined or (c) admitting you know them well enough to perceive the radiation of "something is wrong" vibes from them.

What's truly scary is when you, the guy, know what is wrong and you can't get the lady to confirm it.

The other day on arising, the look of scorn came over "her" face.

"What's wrong, honey?"


"No, really you look annoyed.  What's going on?"

"Nothing.  Really, it's nothing."

But it WAS something.  It always is.

The t- shirt was too tight.

It took two days, but finally:  "You look like a meatball in that yellow t- shirt.  You look like a sausage."

AHAH! It WAS something.  It always is.  In this case, it's a "so what?" moment.  But that almost never solves the problem.

You didn't put the cat out.  You didn't take the garbage out.  You had one-too-many glasses of wine at dinner. You didn't load the dishwasher.   You DID load the dishwasher but you still came back with spotted dishes.  You didn't wish my mother a happy birthday.

"But your mother's been dead for 30 years."

"No matter.  You still should have called.” OK. He calls. “The number you have reached is not in service.”  Or worse:  “Hello?” “Hi, Mrs. Klutzhammer, it’s Don.  Just calling to wish you a happy birthday.”  “Don?  You must have the wrong number. It’s not my birthday.” “Aren’t you Mrs. Klutzhammer?” “No.” Click.

“Okay, honey, I called. She didn’t answer, but I left a message.”

Or maybe the car needs washing.  Or the laundry needs washing. Or "You told me not to buy two packages of bath soap at Sam's Club two weeks ago and we'll soon be out of the stuff."

The complaint could be legitimate.  If you can pry it out of her:  “Can’t you get rid of that 1920 refrigerator in the back room? It doesn’t work and it just takes up space.”  “But dear it was my grandmother’s. It’s all I have to remember her by.”

Sometimes it’s not:  “Why do I have to do all the moving of stuff around in this house?”  (Why does anyone, including you?  Does it make a difference which side of the room is home to the philodendron plant?)

Freud is said to have asked "What do women want?"

The answer is "nothing, dear.  Really. Nothing."

No it ain't.  It's never nothing.

--Sometimes you can’t solve a problem by simply cutting the Gordian Knot. Sometimes you have to actually learn how to untie it. And then actually untie it.

-“We have a deal.” - Donald trump after a White House dinner with congressional Democratic leaders.

-“There’s no deal.” - Same guy the next morning.

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...