Tuesday, December 22, 2020


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at the Secret Mountainside Laboratory in Central PA and the Secret Oceanside Wesidential Library and Museum in Moote Pointe, NY.  

Wessays will resume Tuesday, January 5th, 2021, and will post on Tuesdays and Fridays thereafter.   

Monday, December 21, 2020

4680 Mutually Assured Destruction


Back in the bad old days, the US and the Soviet Union kept threatening each other.  “We will bury you,” said Khrushchev.  Their nukes and our nukes faced off in places like Turkey and little kids in elementary schools learned to duck and cover.


Those days aren’t gone but they’re not forgotten. Except what they used to call Mutually Assured Destruction has gone cyber.  Like everything else.


So now, versions of the Big Button sit on the desks of the Russian and American presidents and we can wipe each other out without contaminating the earth, air and water.  How politically correct!  Destroy the people without destroying the planet.


Everything depends on computers, both here and there. 


In the Pentagon and in the Kremlin, secret bunkers are populated by operators wearing military jumpsuits.  


Let’s say the president decides to zap an important Russian City like, say, Vladivostok and in response, the Russian president decides to zap an important American city like, say, Reno, Nevada.


The presidents log in. They go to the map app, push the “destroy” button and … then … nothing happens.  A screen appears.  It says “We’re sorry. Due to unusually heavy traffic some users will find longer waits.  We’re sorry for the inconvenience. You can reach us by calling toll free 1 800 Zap Them.  Or visit our website at mutuallyassureddestruction.gov.


The presidents dial the number.


“Due to heavy traffic, we are experiencing unusual delays. Please be patient.  Your call is very important to us and we look forward to serving you soon. Your call will be answered in the order in which it was received.”


Then callers get an endless loop of music. Something catchy, like “Third Man Theme” played on the zither.


Meantime in the bunkers, guys in military jumpsuits wonder which side is first in the lineup of callers.


“Thank you for your patience. We look forward to serving you shortly. Your estimated wait time is 37 minutes.”


Finally, after 72 minutes:


Operator: “Good morning.  This is Brenda in Cincinnati. How may I help you today?” 


President: “Yes, it’s the president calling for destruction of the computer infrastructure of Vladivostok.”


O: I’m happy to help you with that, sir. Please let me have the last four digits of your social security number.”


P: Checks his wallet, gives number.


O: Thank you Mr. President.  Now please tell me the color codeword of the day.


P: Red


O: OK, that is correct. Now, let me see. You say you want to destroy the computer infrastructure of Vladivostok.  How do you spell that?


P over his shoulder: Melania, how do you spell Vladivostok?


P: gives spelling.


O: OK, Mr. president. Please continue to be patient. My computer is a little slow today.  Let me put you on hold for just a moment.


O, back on the phone after another five minutes of “Third Man Theme”: I’m sorry, sir, we’re unable to complete your task today.  Please call back later in the day or tomorrow.


And this and the Russian version is why Vladivostok still has a working computerized sewer system.  As does Reno.


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

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WIR 2020


Friday, December 18, 2020

4679 It Seemed So Normal


We had a pretty good snowfall around here this week.  About a foot. Maybe a little more.  Took most of one day and half of the next.  It seemed so normal.


Usually, when it snows like that, we get all twisted.  Oh, the shoveling. Oh, the roads. But in the year of the Covid, this was a welcome change.  One we were used to. One that happens almost every winter here in the northeast. One we know how to deal with and then deal with.


People strip bare the store shelves of bread and water and ice melt crystals.  They fill up the kitchen cabinet with pasta and canned this and that. They leave the TV on where meteorologists from the Carolinas up to Maine get on camera wearing snow gear and talk endlessly about every flake that has fallen.


It seemed so normal.  Meteorologist Josh Fosbrink from Altoona… or Al Roker from New York, jolly men with remote control clickers concealed in their hands and maps and charts behind them tell us what happened and what they think is going to happen next.


Solemn-faced government officials come next with dire warnings about staying off the road because “your safety is our biggest concern.”  Old guys wearing jumpsuits or bib overalls in public works garages with mountains of salt or sand behind them carefully explain all they’re doing to make the roads passible.


Ned the driver of a giant snowplow gets a Channel 248 microphone and camera lens stuck in his face and has confidence he’ll get to your street “soon.” So you have confidence in Ned and in Channel 248 News Now.  Maybe well placed, maybe not.  But for the moment you think “oh, good, Ned’s at work on his giant snowplow.”  When there’s snow in the forecast, Ned doesn’t shave for a few days.  Stubble photographs well.


So very, very normal.  No masked doctors worrying about hospital capacity.  No congressional games of chicken over the future of your next dollar. No vaccine worries, at least none right now.


It was a throwback Thursday, alright. Something we’ve lived through since forever.  But there was a difference.  This storm was pretty big given recent standards.  But it wasn’t the least bit scary.


Covid has shown us that our upset about past storms was misplaced and likely will lead us to leave it misplaced in the future.


An old friend, now in the deep south called and asked about the storm. The response after listening: “I haven’t seen snow in a long time.  I’m so jealous.”


And you should be.  It’s so… normal.


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

Any Questions?  wesrichards@gmail.com

© WIR 2020


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

4678 The Final Rats


 The most hopeful and often smartest rats don’t immediately desert the sinking ship.  Nor do the ones that look at the water pouring through a gaping hole in the hull and ask, “What hole?”


But eventually, the urge to preserve kicks in and even the most loyal rats take the great leap downward, where they drown anyway.


This is the tale of Moscow Mitch McConnell and Billy Boy Barr.  The Senate Majority leader held his nose and leaped overboard when he said “OK, Biden won.”  All the grace of an elephant auditioning for The Nutcracker. Come January, Mitch will have a job, even if it’s a demotion to minority leader.


Barr won’t.


Oh, where have you been, charming Billy?  Why you’ve realized that when you signed on as Attorney General you signed your political death warrant.  Of course, at 70, you didn’t have much of a future in politics, law or legislation.  So you might as well try to make up for lost time and money with speakers’ fees.


Mitch doesn’t have to worry about money. He married it. Dollars or yuan, it doesn’t matter as long as the exchange rate holds.


Here’s a question. Would you pay to sit and watch Barr deliver a speech or scholarly lecture?  If this guy were lecturing on gravity, he’d drop a bowling ball and ask how you know it won’t fall UP next time?


The answer is you don’t.  But the probability is really, really high unless you’re in a space capsule.  Conditions never bother guys like Mitch and Billy. They just invent stuff and often convince you it’s possible, if not factual.


In times past, that would be tough because conditions counted. Now, they don’t.  Mitch controls a lot of what goes on in the Senate -- some say everything that goes on. 


That’s a lot of bowling balls to keep in the air. You have to multitask. Intensely. But, tortoise-like as he seems, you have to give the guy credit.  Maybe he’s part turtle and part mantis -- with all those eye lenses able to see a million things at a time. Maybe he’s Gretzky and knows where the puck will head next even before someone hits it.


Billy is another story. He’s the ultimate lawyer: stall, circumvent, ask for continuances, read the finest of legal fine print then pick some tiny point that you can say justifies doing whatever the hell you want.


Mitch is from Kentucky, deeply aged in charred oak barrels and a product of the Confederacy.  So it’s easy to understand his early surroundings and the resulting patterns of thought and action.


Barr is from New York -- specifically, the Upper West Side -- which is a good thing.  That’s because he’s one of two guys -- the other is trump -- who give the city a bad name anywhere else.


Maybe now that he’s going/gone, the thinking people of the so-called heartland can ease up their criticism. Not that we really care.


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

Any Questions?

© WIR 2020


Monday, December 14, 2020

4677 The Modern Bar


Billie Mae Harper hit a wall when the pandemic hit everyone else. It’s not easy to lose money as a saloonkeeper in a drinking town which is where Billie Mae kept her saloon.  But she did.  The rednecks just squeezed out the white necks and the college kids and even the neighborhood hangers-on.


So while she was closed down, she sprang into action. She was going to reopen when permitted but with the rightness of the stopped clock, she had a Big Idea.  Social distancing. Jack and cokes with a twist.


That long oval bar was perfect.  So Billie Mae built partitions of acrylic and inserted them between the stools. When the indoor restrictions relaxed, Billie Mae was ready with the World’s Only Social Distancing Bar.


You could sit there and drink yourself stupid, but without fear of catching that nasty disease.  She put a full page ad in the Pennysaver, put notice on Craigslist. Put a big sign in the window.  Got on the radio to be interviewed about The World’s One And Only Social Distancing Bar.  Bought a lot of pretzels and peanuts and some tiny bowls which she placed in each cubicle.


Opening day comes and Slick James, once a regular, was first in the door. Takes a stool in the middle. Orders “the usual,” which means dumping endlessly varying contents of near-empty bottles with less than a shot left into an Old Fashioned glass of ice.


James is on his second when the second customer comes in.  Johnsie.  Johnsie is a woman and no one knows her real name.  She’s not of carding age. She orders a vodka and cranberry juice.  Next in was Mac. Mac also is a woman.  This town likes to give its girls the names of boys. Mac orders a Jack and Coke.


Slick James is now on his third “usual” and he is surrounded by two lovely women, known to be social. But they are behind Billie Mae’s walls of acrylic and can’t hear each other.

There will be no pickups here tonight.  How do you pick up a girl at a bar if both you and she are in a 1960s TV quiz show “isolation booth?”

This gives Billie Mae her second Greatest Idea of the Century: Install intercoms so patrons can hold conversations.  After all, it is well-known that it’s much harder for one person to pick up another if they can’t converse.


After a brief conversation, Johnsie leaves her isolation booth, steps into Slick James’ and slaps him square in the face.  Mac, also isolated notices.  Not because she is a nosey body but because Johnsie the Slapper is blocking her view of the LMT Movie of the Night playing on the TV set over the bar mirror.


Mac orders a steak.  


“How do you want your steak, Mac?” asks Billie Mae.


“Raw, please.”


Mac takes the raw steak off the plate and takes it to Slick James’ isolation booth. She places it on James’ developing black eye and swollen cheek.  She writes her address on a bar napkin and slips it to the dry space in front of Slick James. Then she goes back to her cubicle, pushes the intercom button and says “Don’t be long. I have to be at work at 9 tomorrow morning and I don’t have all night.”

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

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

If it’s not working, wesrichards@protonmail.com

© WIR 2020

Friday, December 11, 2020

4676 Just Doin' My Job


This is the worst excuse for misbehavior yet concocted by the concoctors of bad excuses.  When you’re faced with a cop and you know you weren’t speeding, he or she will tell you “only doin’ my job.” Then you get the ticket and the sanctimonious “Have a nice day.”


The customer disservice operator who can’t help you is in the same boat.  So will the medical professional who shows up in his golf outfit an hour after you were to have an exam.


The teacher who flunks you when you know you’ve earned a “D.”  The plumber with plumber’s block who bills you even when the pipe continues to leak.


The guy with the Tommy gun who comes to collect the vigorish which you can’t pay “until next week.”

Granted, sometimes it’s legit.  But it’s often abused.


Some suggested responses to this:


--Do it somewhere else.

--I should help you do a terrible job like that?

--Why me?

--They pay you for this?

--Your job is stopping innocent motorists and accuse them of speeding?

--Your job is to bash out my taillight so you can plant meth or pot on my empty passenger seat?

--Your job is weighing your thumb when I buy lamb chops and bananas?

--Your job is patting down teenage girls with large handbags and who shop at lingerie stores?

--Your job is writing blog posts that demean America’s Great (Again) President?

--Your job is using high pressure firehoses to force water in the face of the planet?


--Making sure that your cows use fishing streams as toilets?

--Earning commissions on my stock losses?

--Receiving bonuses for running a good company into the ground?

--Selling financial products with gains and losses based on no actual production but plenty of trafficking in speculative buys and sells?

--Selling costume jewelry as exotic stones no one ever heard of before?

--Making your kids vaccination free and free to infect dozens of other kids?

--Going bare faced instead of masking up during a pandemic? (Chances are you look better masked than un-masked.)

--Pushing propaganda and calling it news?

--Shilling for hospitals that are really fake charities?

--Shilling for casinos where your customers can bet the rent and the grocery money on sure losers?


The list is endless.  The profits are wonderful. Until you’re caught.  Which often you aren’t.


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

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WIR 2020


Wednesday, December 09, 2020

4675 WestraDamus and the 2024 Election

 WestraDamus at his secret seaside laboratory in Moote Pointe, NY. Photo is undated but predates his move to the secret mini-mountainside laboratory in NewRoses, PA in 2014.


MOOTE POINT, New York -- The Non-prophet normally antedicts the past and has a terrible track record.  He gets almost everything wrong. That’s his shtick. But we have convinced him to suspend his trump era retirement to look ahead to the next Presidential election.

WestraDamus says:


The pseudo president trump has no intention of running for a second term. He was an accidental winner in 2016. While he may be stupid, in reality he isn’t that dumb.  What he’s doing is what he does best: panhandling.


‘Damus continues: He’ll likely take the money and use it to build a media empire.  It will be a small empire.  Or an Area Code Overlay Empire, like when the phone company runs out of numbers, it makes a second area code in that zone so everyone can get as many new numbers as they like.  Most of New York City started with 212.  When everyone got fax machines and cell phones, they added 917.  Now they have umpteen area codes.  But everyone has enough phones, fax machines and iPads.


Westradamus’ prediction track record isn’t all that good. In fact, it’s downright terrible.  He usually gets even the past wrong as it passes him by.  So this prediction is not something on which you should consult your bookie.  But it IS possible.



-Since Open enrollment has closed, we’re no longer forced to watch the unending ads for Medicare Advantage plans.


-The Niagara of those ads taught me several things, the most important of which is Joe Namath shouldn’t talk on television.


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

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WIR 2020


Monday, December 07, 2020

4675 Runaround Rudy


Rudy Giuliani ridded New York of Squeegemen. It did not last. Squeegeemen are like Subway rats.  They laugh out loud at people who try to destroy them.  Now Rudy has Coronavirus.


We don’t wish ill will to Rudy. He is, after, all a human being, a man of that age in which the mere act of breathing can be a life threatening condition.  But it’s also hard to feel sympathy for Run Around Rudy, who spent his marriages seeking to prove Henry Kissinger right for saying “Power is an aphrodisiac.”


Unmasked Runaround Rudy pranced from rally to courtroom, leaking hair dye, publicly and proving he is a lawyer even lawyers love to hate. Rudy of freedom-to-choose who became Rudy of contraception is murder.


Rudy the US Attorney who proved case after case against alleged mobsters who later walked away on appeal.  Who stashed an emergency response “bunker” on the 23rd floor of a skyscraper that was wiped out in an instant on 9/11.


On September 10, 2001, Run Around Rudy couldn’t have been elected president of the PTA or the Co-op Board.  Then Osama did him a favor by committing mass murder in lower Manhattan. It elevated Rudy to “America’s Mayor.”




Hand count Santa Fe, New Mexico, Reno, Nevada, Newark, New Jersey, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  In late 2001 was Runaround Rudy your mayor?  Um… it’s unanimous. The unraised hands say “no.”


The cameras loved him then. Cameras don’t vote.


The self-reinventing Mayor became a businessman, something for which was even less qualified than he was for Mayor or, before that, US Attorney.  He ran a security company. Customers’ houses are safe from tigers.


Then, he became a hooker for corporations.  A $20 Eighth Avenue girl except his rates were way higher, but you still got your twenty’s worth at least for a while.


He hitched his wagon to trump.  Did business in Ukraine while trying to find ways to diss Joe Biden’s kid for … um … doing business in Ukraine.


The average Joe, Jorge or Jermaine in the streets of the Bronx or Brooklyn or Manhattan learned pretty fast what this joker was all about.  The Joker-in-Chief from Queens saw opportunity and hired him as a personal lawyer.


Two peas in a pod, they are. A couple of New York con men, Runaround Rudy and duplicitous donald.

The worst thing about this pair from Hell? They’re giving people from the rest of the country yet another excuse to hate New York and to think about it as another planet, but one with a really big Macy’s.


We hope they’re treating him well at Georgetown Hospital.  We hope he doesn’t expire there for his sake and the sake of many a New Yorker who has long longed for that resume credit.


TODAY’S QUOTE: “A small man in search of a balcony.” -- Jimmy Breslin distilling the essence of Giuliani into eight simple words.


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

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com 

© WIR 2020


Friday, December 04, 2020

4674 Party Like it's 2019

Photo: Google Earth via The New York Times

BROOKHAVEN, New York -- What would you say if someone told you there's a million dollar mansion in Brookhaven?  What I said was some particle from the Hamptons must have broken away from the main body and landed several miles west. 


But I was wrong.  It's just a really big house in an unlikely place.  It is owned by a former rapper called Kid Panic who does not live there.  He rents it as an Airbnb, and vets his potential tenants carefully.  


That careful label fell into question the other day. Cops swooped in (cops love to swoop) to break up a party of about 400 people, which is 390 more than permitted under Governor Cuomo's indoor gathering limitation.


No summonses issued. No arrests made. Days later, someone said maybe we should go find these folks and ticket them.  Great idea.  Why hand out summonses when all the ne’er do wells are right in front of you when you can swoop at them one at a time. 


The cops came and had no trouble finding this shindig. A party for four hundred is tough to hide. This is especially true when residents call and ask why all those cars are parked nose to tail on their normally vacant streets.


Never heard of the rapper, never heard of the house, never thought there could be such a house in such a place.


But Brookhaven is 100 square miles bigger than all of neighboring Nassau County and a lot can go on there that we do not know about. When you scatter half a million residents over half a thousand square miles, a lot of them get lost if they want to.


If you want to buy the house, you don’t need the full million.  The asking price is something a little over $900 thousand.  Make an offer, maybe 885.  You might luck out.


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

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WIR 2020


Wednesday, December 02, 2020

4673 Black Friday and Cyber Monday

 No doors were busted on door buster sales days.  Are we getting more civilized or just unwilling to camp out in the cold for a chance at a 50-dollar flatscreen?


We knew these holiday shopping days were going to be different and they were.  


The usual big sales started on Thursday or earlier.  Maybe as early as August. Stores that normally were closed early on pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday or Thursday weren’t.  Some stores that weren’t usually open at all on Thanksgiving Day, were.


But it’s hard to find anyone who camped out early in a Costco or Best Buy or Walmart parking lot ready to bust doors at first light.


In the online world, time and days do not exist. So it really doesn’t matter to the customer.  Some of the online and TV channel sales began in September.  This follows the format of a recently minted “tradition,” “Christmas in July.”  That’s when they start selling winter wear, stocking stuffers and last year’s left over holiday decorations. 


(And then they ask you to buy “storage solutions” so you have somewhere to put the stuff you bought five months too early.)


There’s an advantage to early starts for sales events.  A retailer can spread its gains over a long stretch instead of the usual waiting for the day after Thanksgiving to start turning a profit.  Easier bookkeeping, stock ordering and temp-hiring. Keeps the lights on.


Paste-on floor signs marking safe distancing length probably are tax deductions.  This brings down the bill. Especially if they place them, then take them away only to put down new ones when virus figures increase, as they inevitably seem to.


Electronic merchants have no such deductions.

You can’t simultaneously use and socially distance from your computer or smartphone.


The people who track retail traffic and cash register activity say business was slower this year.  


Meantime, cyberworld was booming.


But now on “Giving Tuesday,” you’d never notice.  There has been no reduction in the Niagara of internet ads.  They are mainly from internet sellers, but not exclusively.  Department stores, cosmetic stores, home goods stores are all aboard the barrels going over Niagara and landing in your inbox.


Here’s a handy tip to reduce the clutter.  Mark all those ads as spam and then once a day, skim the entries in the folder.  It’s unlikely, but someone may have sent you something worthy of your attention or interest.


If such an oddity takes place, move it to your inbox and delete the rest.


Here’s a question for someone else to study and maybe answer:  Did we buy either less frivolous or more useful stuff than usual?


And some other questions:


--Ladies, do you spend less on makeup because your face is almost always covered?


--Gentlemen, do you spend less on shaving gear now that your face is almost always covered?


--Ladies and Gentlemen, do you either like or dislike the appearance of your hair now that you haven’t cut it since who knows when?


--Class clowns, are you okay with doing your act on Zoom or are you getting rusty because there’s no live audience?


--Teachers, how do you guard against open-screen tests and other forms of cheating on quizzes and exams you give via Zoom?


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

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WIR 2020


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...