A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor: A Survivor’s Tale

The loss of two great artists last week demonstrates the inequalities of newspaper obituaries. Of course, it might not always be a fair comparison. Not everyone lives their lives precisely the same way to justify the additional column space to recount their existence.

As our first example, the influential playwright Lanford Wilson, whose writing since the early 1960’s resulted in such gritty urban dramas as The Hot L Baltimore and small town family angst fests as Fifth of July, died last week. His plays were briefly mentioned, with nary a word devoted to his personal life. This brings us to our second example: screen goddess Elizabeth Taylor. In our feeble attempts to capture Taylor’s life with mere words...where does one begin?

Let this be said now: all of the articles and tributes published about Taylor reflect the fact that she lived a long, full life. How full? She was an Oscar-winning actress, iconic film star with a rocky personal life that expanded the boundaries of tabloid news reporting, cosmetics entrepreneur, and last but certainly far from least, humanitarian.

Elizabeth Taylor was the last of what we may consider to be the old-school movie star. As a point of reference (and reverence), think of her fellow colleagues in this school: Cooper, Bogart, Tracy, Hepburn, Wayne, and Monroe, among others. Her longevity in show business — from her breakout role in National Velvet (1944) to guest shots on television up to 2001 — certainly attests to a large quantity of work. In between there was magnificent quality — A Place in the Sun, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? — with which she enriched our culture and, in turn, she was rewarded with two (out of three) Oscars for her acting achievements.

Naturally, the obituary writers could not downplay Taylor’s personal life. Indeed, there was so much to cover that our local newspaper devoted a second article just to her marriages. The reports recounted all of the details of all eight of her marriages to seven men. In my reading of these accounts, I have concluded IMHO that, in addition to several high-profile friendships with gay actors (Montgomery Clift and Rock Hudson), Taylor had two great loves: Michael Todd and Richard Burton.

Fate cheated Taylor and Todd out of God knows how many years of happiness when he died in a plane crash. Burton was lucky enough to be invited back to her marital bed, even after their divorce was final. They married again, and concluded again, that a contractual living arrangement couldn’t work for them.

In between the marriages, there were bouts of grief, scandal, alcohol binges, and ultimately recovery. The American movie-going public exhibited a love/hate relationship with Taylor throughout it all. The public loved her as a teenage actress in Father of the Bride, wanted to scratch her eyes out when it appeared she stole Eddie Fisher from Debbie Reynolds, warmed up to her sympathetically when she had a near fatal bout of bronchitis (indeed she felt her Oscar win for Butterfield 8 was more for her illness than her performance), then turned on her again when she began cavorting scandalously with Richard Burton during the filming of Cleopatra. Sometimes it seemed like Liz couldn’t win for losing! Fortunately, all of the tabloid columns and condemnations would fade from memory as Taylor moved from this second act of jet-setting materialistic debauchery to a third act of redemption.

In her later years, Elizabeth Taylor devoted more time to humanitarian causes, chief among them raising funds and awareness for HIV/AIDS research. Oh, she was still hounded in the press for a few more marriages, stints at the Betty Ford Center, and hospitalizations, but they seemed to take less importance when she became a leader against a disease (and its corresponding prejudice) that nearly decimated an entire generation. The results must have been gratifying to her: satisfaction in waging a war against AIDS; her reputation restored to one of high esteem; a humanitarian award from the Academy, and made a Dame of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth.

All these details from her life make her succinct suggestion for her own headstone inscription — “She lived” - seem like a massive understatement. More than anything else, Elizabeth Taylor was a survivor. Could we have asked for anything more? I seriously doubt it.

(Thank you for reading. Rest in Peace, Liz.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Another Reason to Take the Train

Did you ever hear the story of the CEO of a large conglomerate who was faced with a labor crisis one day? It seems that experienced workers of one particular skill set for one of the CEO’s subsidiaries was threatening to walk off the job if management did not negotiate with them for a new contract. The CEO acted quickly by not negotiating at all and firing the entire lot. The subsidiary immediately hired inexperienced workers for a highly specialized, highly stressful job, and it’s a wonder to this day that there weren’t more incidents with loss of life due to the turnover of experienced workers.

The fired experienced workers: air traffic controllers. The CEO: Ronald Reagan.

Now — nearly 30 years after Reagan dismissed the unionized workers — there is a news report of an air traffic controller falling asleep on the job at — irony of ironies — the airport named after Ronald Reagan!

The incident happened around midnight one day earlier this week when two flights were unable to establish contact with the control tower at Ronald Reagan National Airport near Washington, DC (actually located on the southern edge of Arlington, VA). Normally the tower would have a full staff of controllers to guide the flights down, but since Reagan National has reduced air traffic after dark due to noise restrictions, the staff is comprised of one flight controller. One and only one! Uno! Single! Sole controller working the night shift who

Meanwhile, high over the monuments and edifices of democracy in Washington, two sets of pilots were probably wondering what the hell was going on. They couldn’t reach the control tower through normal radio contact and they couldn’t know if any other flights were ahead of them in landing. Their options: contact the next nearest control center forty miles away; or wake up the sleeping passengers on their respective flights and order them to all yell as loud as they could all at once in hopes that this might wake the controller up; or just crash into the Potomac River with the hope that the cacophony of screaming sirens from hundreds of emergency vehicles rushing to the river might rouse Sleepy from his late winter hibernation!

(Speaking of hibernation, I feel compelled to go off topic very briefly with a personal message to Phil from Punxsutawney, PA. Yes, I mean you, you demented little rodent! You better be in the Witness Protection Program, because there are hundreds of people literally gunning for you after we had snow showers this week, five days past the beginning of spring! Who awarded you a degree in meteorology? Reagan should have fired your flea-bitten butt years ago when he dumped the air traffic controllers! Six weeks more winter, my ass!)

Meanwhile, back at the airport...

So the pilots did contact the nearest control center which could help them up to a point, and they did announce to the passengers that they were circling the airport until they could get clearance to land. Both flights were able to land safely by maintaining radio contact with other pilots in the area so that they could coordinate their actions and land safely. However, that isn’t the end of the story.

The Federal Aviation Administration has vowed a thorough review of procedures for overnight landings. The FAA has already helpfully suggested that there should be no fewer than two controllers on duty at all times. Some critics have also helpfully pointed out that this won’t solve the problem necessarily, because then the probability exists that both controllers might fall asleep due to lack of activity.

One solution around this might be to arm both controllers with very sharp instruments so as to poke their drowsy buddy into alertness. If one poke doesn’t do the trick, then by all means, try harder thrusts multiple times. The other person will have to wake up sooner or later, or bleed to death. Okay, so there are still some details to be worked out on this plan, but it might yet prove to have some merit.

As of now, the air traffic controller has been suspended. I wouldn’t be surprised that — in the very near future — he is given lots of time off to catch up with his sleep. And by time off I mean the type of free time that Reagan gave to those other air traffic controllers a generation ago.

Whatever happens — disciplinary actions, upgrading of air traffic control systems throughout the nation, etc. — it will all be for the good and safety of the air traveling public. Some day soon, passengers and pilots will be able to fly in confidence to the nation's capitol, secure in the knowledge that they will land safely when they hear an alert, highly-caffeinated voice from the control tower of Ronald Reagan National Airport say, “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Washington, DC”. At that point, the horrified pilot will look at the co-pilot and say, “Aw, shit, Hal! We overshot Minneapolis again!”*

*Please see blog entry: “Meanwhile, Somewhere Over Minnesota...or Wisconsin...or...?” 11/09/2009.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember if you have to go, go Amtrak!)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Snort Notes – March 2011


Minnesota Senator Al Franken, considered an extreme liberal, has become close friends with tea party fave Rand Paul. The friendship began when Franken, believing he was following Senate etiquette, phoned to congratulate Paul on his election to the Senate shortly after the November election swept Republican conservatives back into the majority. Franken has since conceded that he was mistaken about the etiquette, but no matter. Both men are holding steadfast to their beliefs even as they enjoy a camaraderie that many people wish would happen more often in the halls of power.

Okay, let’s get this out of our system now. WTF! What is the world coming to? Liberals consorting with conservatives! OMG!!! It’s the end of the world as we know it! This is terrible! This is horrible! This is wonderful!

While it is perhaps premature to start a registry for the two men at Macy’s (they’re close, but not THAT close), it will be interesting to see where this relationship will go. Who knows? It may be the beginning of a new era where poisoned rhetoric and action are abandoned in Congress and, more importantly, something could actually be accomplished for the good of all Americans.

I do hope some others inside the Beltway are noting the Franken/Paul relationship. Please take notes John Boehner, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Eric Cantor. Watch these two carefully. You might learn something about the proper way to serve the people.


In the wake of the disastrous earthquake and tsunami to hit Japan, pledges of relief and assistance have been pouring into the country. As the waters from the flooding are receding, survivors are locating and removing bodies. Search and rescue missions are ongoing with a few success stories. Over the weekend, an elderly woman and her grandson were found alive after nine days. It is wonderful that they survived, but I doubt if the child will want to spend another weekend at grandma’s anytime soon.

One major complication was the explosions and threatened meltdowns at nuclear power plants in the area. Nuclear workers have gone to the reactors at a great risk of their health to contain the radiation. Concerns have been raised about radiation levels found in food and milk. In short, the Japanese are experiencing a lot of difficulties just now, so the last thing they need are some idiotic pronouncements from some right-leaning bimbo that heightened levels of radiation are good for you.

First question: what university or other institution of higher learning in their right minds would award a degree in nuclear fission to Ann Coulter? What makes her an expert in this highly specialized level of energy management? Doesn’t she realize that in the past severe nuclear radiation poisoning has been proven to cause a variety of cancers and other ailments?

Oh, right, the fact that she is a paid commentator on Fox News makes her an expert on absolutely everything! She knows that large doses of radiation are healthful, that Al Gore is a “total fag”, and that communicating with liberals should be avoided as much as possible. Unfortunately for society at large, all of her rhetoric is protected once again by the First Amendment. Fortunately for Ann Coulter, stupidity is not a capital offense.


Knut, the cuddly polar bear cub abandoned by his mother only to be raised by loving, nurturing zoo keepers at the Berlin Zoo, has died. His loss is being mourned by his keepers and his fans throughout Germany and beyond. In the four short years the world knew him, Knut burrowed a place in the hearts of animal lovers everywhere.

His popularity didn’t hurt the Berlin’s Zoo bottom line either. Attendance spiked when the cub’s remarkable story went viral on the Internet. Increased attendance receipts and the resulting merchandising of Knut souvenirs was an economic boon for the zoo. Knut may be gone, but his popularity will likely live on in the shape of cuddly, fuzzy Knut dolls.

His fans are consoled by the fact that Knut’s passing was quiet and quick. He didn’t die from the old Gestapo illness: shot while trying to escape. Nor did he choke on a knockwurst while ogling a cute cubette at a local beer garden.

Okay, calm down! I’m sorry, but I just had to get that out of my system.

In all seriousness, rest in peace, Knut.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember exposure to excessive radiation can also lead to extreme lightning of hair follicles, brain loss, and an increased incidence of saying really stupid things. Hmmm...that explains a lot!)

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Firing of Beethoven and Big Bird

In the near future, children may not learn their numbers from a tall, gangly creature covered in yellow feathers on their television screens. Similarly, such obscure beautiful melodies as Beethoven’s Fur Elise or Dave Brubeck’s Take Five will cease to be heard over the nation’s airwaves. Why? It’s certainly not through a sudden change in popular tastes, but rather because a large deficit is being used as a good excuse to score big points with an extremely narrow-minded political ideology.

The Republican-led House is set to do something they’ve been hoping to do for years: get rid of the Public Broadcasting Corporation. This has been a fantasy for them since the Clinton Administration, championed at that time by none other than Newt Gingrich. Now, it seems their wish is closer to becoming reality under the guise of cutting federal spending.

Since its inception by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (and its affiliated networks Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio) has been required by law to follow a “strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature”. Unfortunately, this pursuit of balanced programming has been perceived by many lawmakers and pundits as leaning too far to the left. Conservatives see little reason for the government to fund what they believe to be liberal-biased and superfluous programming.

The argument against Public Broadcasting in the 1990s pointed to cable television's rising prominence offering a number of networks (e.g., The Learning Channel, Arts and Entertainment, etc.) that duplicated PBS’s programming. It was a considerable challenge for public broadcasting advocates to counter this argument, but nonetheless they were triumphant. PBS survived the controversy then, and in some respects public broadcasting has remained true to its mission. In the meantime, the cable channels that were touted as its replacement have been seduced by the insatiable demand for sensationalistic "reality" television shows.

Today, conservatives argue that PBS and NPR will survive without public funding. Perhaps they might survive, but not in their current form or without a shift in focus. In actuality, the federal government funding represents only a small portion of the money used to operate public broadcasting television and radio stations throughout the country. The bulk of operating funds are donated by corporations, foundations and individual viewers.

This argument reminds me of a question asked during a broadcasting class I had at Bloomsburg University some years ago. Someone asked our instructor, Bill Kelly, (currently President and CEO of WVIA, the PBS affiliate in northeastern Pennsylvania) if public broadcasters would consider accepting advertising revenue like all other media to support their operations. Kelly replied, “In a heartbeat!”

His answer demonstrated the broadcaster’s frustration with depending on government funding and pledge drivers to keep their stations operational. Likewise, viewers also loathe the weeks of broadcast time devoted every year to “banging the tambourine”, but the dependence and pleas for dollars are a necessary evil to maintain public broadcasting's unique character.

PBS has long broadcast programming that would never see the light of day on commercial television. The reasons are many and varied, but most often this happens because there is not enough demand for the performance of a Mozart concerto or a Ken Burns documentary to make it economically feasible for broadcast on the commercial networks who insist on making a profit. Although, to be fair, if PBS had to support the lifestyle of a performer like Charlie Sheen, then they would also probably require a profit.

However, public broadcasting is a non-profit venture, and American society is all the better for it. Without public broadcasting, many of us would not be familiar with the theories of physicists Stephen Hawking or Dr. Carl Sagan; a generation of Americans would not know who Monty Python is; and God only knows how many children learned to read and count on Sesame Street. Likewise, National Public Radio provides unique forums for local and national public affairs programming; a showcase for artists performing in such wonderful, but otherwise commercially unviable, genres as classical and jazz music; and introduce listeners to other forms of entertainment, such as opera.

Yet all of these benefits are lost on conservatives who think only in terms of dollars saved, and the subjugation of ideas with which they disagree. If public television had to resort to selling actual commercial time to operate, then the schedule would become a dumping ground for programming with the widest (read: most profitable) appeal to audiences with the lowest common denominator. The PBS stations would become susceptible to the whims of the marketplace as dictated by the almighty Nielsen ratings. Public broadcasting would be forced to abandon its enriching mission to cater to viewers who may not be literate and/or appreciate the beauty of Beethoven’s work. That would be a pity, but apparently it is an outcome which many conservatives see as a worthy goal.

Let’s hope public broadcasting wins this latest assault on their honor.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember education — even through the media — is an investment, not a luxury.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Who’s Who on The Unemployment Rolls

Quick personal update: I am still unemployed, but I did have an interview last week. I thought it all went well, but I am still waiting to hear from them. This happened among several encouraging signs that the unemployment rate has started trending downward. I am also encouraged that the recession has affected more than just the middle class. As examples, I will cite several recent high profile additions to the unemployment rolls, and one who is literally committing murder to keep his job.


It finally happened! After nearly 50 years, the fast food giant has retired their happy-go-lucky corporate symbol. In job severance parlance, the company has decided to “go in a different direction”. Apparently the success of their lattes has gone to their corporate heads so much that now McDonald’s wants to move away from their core business of fast food. Gee, they couldn’t have decided this, say 40 years ago, when they used every trick in the book to convince an entire generation of American youth that there was a great future in being morbidly obese! Anyone who knows me will attest that I swallowed this argument hook, line, and McCheeseburger.

So it is with heavy cholesterol-laden-arteries that we bid farewell to another of our childhood memories. Good bye, Ronald! Farewell to your hamburgers that swayed in the breeze from their patch on our Saturday morning television screens in the 1960’s. Adios, H.R. Pufnstuff rip-off Mayor McCheese, with your human body, very large cheeseburger head (the original cheesehead) and Ed Wynn voice. Good riddance to Grimace, you purple blob pile of I-don’t-what-and-I-don’t-even-want-to-think-what-you’re-made-of-considering-you’ve-been-around-all-that-food-for-four-decades-or-so!

Job Loser #2 – CHARLIE SHEEN

Sheen is a television actor with the second largest ego in the universe (for largest ego, see Job Loser #3 below). Here is a man who had it all — a steady gig in a business not well known for supplying steady gigs that paid him $2 million (yes million) per episode of Two and A-Half Men. He was literally on top of the world with large mansions, a large drug habit, and a couple of female buds who may or may not be prostitutes/porn stars.

So how did he become unemployed? His sitcom is still very popular and wasn’t canceled. Gross misconduct? Hmm, we’re getting warmer. Embarking on a loud campaign denigrating his bosses as maggots, crapping on the entire industry before demanding a raise to $3 million per episode? Bingo! Hey Charlie, way to commit career suicide!

I wonder how long it took the producers to decide that they wanted to “go in a different direction” from Charlie Sheen. I suppose the debate could have gone something like this: “Gee, billions in syndication residuals, but he called me a maggot! Billions in syndication residuals...but he called me a maggot! Billions in syndication, the hell with it!”

Do not cry for Charlie, Argentina, or anyone else for that matter! Charlie will find work again, even if it is just his photograph in your favorite dictionary illustrating the definition for the word “asshole”.


Actually, the plucky mass murdering dictator is still employed — despite my earlier prediction. Unlike some people who know they are not wanted when they get their notice (for example, moi), Ghadafi can’t take the hint. He is not being very gracious at all by staying on, killing thousands of his countrymen, and trying his very best to plunge his country into civil war.

Ghadafi’s arrogance just edges out Charlie Sheen for largest ego award!

We can’t stress this enough, Moammar: it’s time to go and call it a career. Retire before any more embarrassing information comes out about you, like the fact released by one of your former ministers that you ordered the Lockerbie bombing. Actually, all of us figured that one out a long time ago, but it was still satisfying to find out that our suspicions were correct.

All of this violence and killing cannot be good for his resume. How will all of this look when he goes on a job interview? Well, that interview might go something like this:

Human Resources: So, Mr. Ghadafi, I see you were at your last job for what, 40 years. Why did you leave?

Ghadafi: My people, they loved me, but they wanted me to leave. So I killed them! I killed them the thousands.

Human Resources (after a long awkward pause): Okay, well, they probably had it coming to them. (Chuckle.) Anyway, where do you see yourself in five years, Moammar?

Ghadafi: I see myself ruling over my people...with a benevolent iron fist!

Human Resources: Benevolent iron fist?

Ghadafi: I will love them, or crush them underneath my iron fist...with benevolence, of course!

And so on and so on...

Attention to Human Resources people everywhere who have to put up with the Ghadafis, the Charlie Sheens, and the Ronald McDonalds of the world: you have my deepest sympathy.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember pimping fatty burgers to children, partying life away on blow, and mass murder do not a career make!)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Are Republicans People?

Members of the Grand Old Party truly perplex me. One-on-one they show many times how they deeply care for their fellow man. They are financially generous to charities and donate much of their time and resources to their local community. I myself have been the recipient of several charitable actions from those proudly professing to be Republicans, and I am grateful for their help.

This makes my personal dilemma all the more vexing. As individuals, Republicans are wonderful human beings, but once they gather as a large group in the Big Tent, they seem eager to cultivate a contradictory image. They rail against many institutions within the federal government that benefit the population at large. More recently, they seem intent on diluting educational, economic, and health care opportunities for those less fortunate in American society. They seem content to follow the Ebenezer Scrooge pronouncement “Are there no workhouses?” as a motto.

I want to stress this main point: Republicans are caring people with an image problem. Submitted as Exhibit A:

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, who just this week released his state budget proposal. True to his word, the budget contained no state tax hikes and slashed spending, mostly in education and mental health care. The big losers would appear to be local school districts (who will end up raising their tax rates to make up for Corbett’s cut), local municipalities (ditto), poor families who dreamt of sending their children to state universities which will now most likely hike up their tuitions out of the reach of these families, and mental health patients who may rely on state programs for help. The big winners: the Marcellus shale drilling industry, who will not have to pay any extraction tax because they contributed heavily to Corbett’s campaign.

This last point is doubly painful to recount: such a tax could go a long way to bringing the state budget back into line. I don’t know if I can even consider Corbett a governor of anything. He appears to actually be a highly paid lobbyist for the drilling industry who just happens to live in the Governor’s Mansion through the graciousness of the state’s electorate.

Further evidence of his ambivalence to the downtrodden was his allowing a health care plan for poor working Pennsylvanians, Adultbasic, to lapse without objection. The best he could offer the poor was a plan which cost three times as much while offering less coverage than Adultbasic. Corbett had already shown his true colors on health care reform earlier when he joined other states in their lawsuit against President Obama’s plan.

He hasn’t demonstrated to me that he wants anyone to have health care coverage. He doesn’t want the federal government to oversee health insurance and he doesn’t want his own state to have anything to do with it either. This sounds cruel, and may not be true, but to what other conclusion can I come?

Exhibit B: Governor Scott Walker finally got his precious anti-union bill through the Wisconsin legislature which will drastically restrict union’s member’s right to collective bargaining. He did this without the Senate Democrats returning from their self-imposed exile in Illinois. The great/horrific event happened through procedural maneuvering by the Senate Republicans. Wisconsin’s unionized public workers will now be unable to bargain for anything beyond a wage increase within the rate of inflation.

Winners here are the Koch Brothers who bankrolled Walker’s gubernatorial campaign and many other tea party candidates throughout the country. Big losers: workers trying to keep their heads above water in harsh economic times, and in general the people of the state of Wisconsin, who up until now were living in a democracy. Sorry, Cheeseheads, but your belief in a representative form of government was just an illusion.

Unions have vowed to fight the law in the courts, but for now the Republican leaderships in several states are claiming victory. Enjoy the moment, Big Tenters! The backlash against your prioritizing money over the needs of the people will be swift. If only the charitable feelings of individual Republicans could overcome the extremist ideology of the whole party, then we might have a better place for everyone to live.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember round one of this fight is over, but the bout has a long way to go.)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Children’s Book Titles I’d Like to See

In the midst of my ongoing sorting out of boxes that have been sitting untouched in the back of my closets for 10 years (or more), I found my stash of How and Why Wonder Books. For those of you born in the Reagan era (i.e., 1980 or thereafter), these were short books geared towards children ages 4-8, or so Wikipedia says. The series focused mainly on the sciences, but there were occasional titles reaching into history and social studies.

I loved the books in the series, but somehow I only managed to collect perhaps 20 of the possible 70 in the set. They covered a great amount of material written in a fascinating style, but I realized something when I re-discovered my collection. The series had a broad variety of subjects, but a 70 book series cannot possibly cover every subject about which a sophisticated child of the 1960s was entitled to know.

To remedy this situation, I make a modest proposal of How and Why titles which should have been published, but for some reason or another never made it to the coloring book end cap display at my local Woolworth’s. For example:

1. The How and Why Wonder Book of Controlled Substances – defines, describes and discusses such terms as “roach clip”, “lid”, and “junk”. Also answers such classic questions as “What makes a ‘trip’ bad?”

2. The How and Why Wonder Book of Vietnam – discusses the Tet Offensive, Vietnamization, and other concepts of the conflict in language so simple and direct that eight year olds everywhere will finally understand why grandpa is so effed up!

3. The How and Why Wonder Book of The Sexual Revolution – explores the explosion of new mores discovered and experimented with in the swinging 60s. This title would also have detailed discussions of homosexuality, transgender issues, Stonewall (the bar), and why actions that today would be considered sexual harassment were actually tolerated.

4. The How and Why Wonder Book of The Watergate Scandal – everything an eight year old ever wanted to know about the events that destroyed the Nixon Administration. Defines such concepts as stonewalling (the concept of defiance as opposed to the bar), “expletive deleted”, and of course the missing twenty minutes __ _______ _____!

5. The How and Why Wonder Book of The Counter Culture – answers questions about hippies, yippies, Black Panthers, Gray Panthers, psychedelia, “flower power” and other groovy concepts. Can you dig it?

6. The How and Why Wonder Book of the George W. Bush Presidency – as in “Why did it happen at all?” and “How can we get those eight years of our lives back?”

7. The How and Why Wonder Book of Obsolete Inventions – marks the rise and passing in the last 25 years of such common items as reel-to-reel tape recorders, video tape recorders, beepers, cathode ray tube televisions, cassette and eight track tapes, and telephone booths.

8. The How and Why Wonder Book of the Kennedy Assassination – okay, let’s face it; we will always have questions about this one. This may have to be a multi-volume set on its own just to cover all angles of every conspiracy theory floated about this event. At the very least, American children will finally know why their grandparents get so weirded out whenever someone says the words “grassy knoll”.

9. The How and Why Wonder Book of the Wonderful World of Barbie – answers every young girls (and perhaps a few boys) questions about America’s favorite possible anorexic. Details her fashions, her carefree valley-girl lifestyle, as well as her Oprah Winfrey-Steadman Graham-type relationship with Ken. It should settle one issue once and for all, namely, why didn’t every boys GI Joe doll blow away this cheatin’ bitch when he returned from ‘Nam and caught her humping plastic with Ken!

(Thank you for reading. Please remember many questions cannot be answered in a nice compact and timely fashion.)

Friday, March 04, 2011

Freedom of Speech 8, Common Sense and Decency 1

The world is certainly upside down this week with strange and weird events transpiring that I never thought would happen. Example: ongoing conflict and unrest between the people of Libya and their delusional leader who vows to stay in power no matter what. Another example: an entire race exonerated by a global religious leader for a crime for which they should never have been condemned in the first place. And this: pizza shop owners victimized by a rival businessman using rodents to drive away their customers. Now the topper: liberals, conservatives, Democrats and Republicans coming together as one voice in the spirit of bipartisanship to condemn the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the Westboro Baptist Church’s right to inflict emotional distress on Americans mourning the loss of their sons and daughters in war.

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has referred to these church members as “loons”. Sarah Palin has twittered a statement expressing outrage at the ruling’s conquest over decency. On the arguably liberal side, the Southern Poverty Law Center has placed the church on their list of “hate groups”. I find myself agreeing with all of these assessments.

Me in agreement with conservatives on an issue! What is the world coming to? Go figure!

(Okay, truth be told I haven’t been feeling myself the last few days. I don’t know what exactly happened, but I can trace it back to a possibly underheated stromboli I ate...for breakfast a few days ago. Now you know...I eat greasy, Italian food for my first meal of the day!)

Regardless, I would still share the conservatives' outrage at this ruling, diarrhea or no.

The ruling is a victory for Wichita’s Westboro Baptist Church, which has gained a national reputation protesting at the funerals for soldiers killed in Iran and Afghanistan. One soldier’s family chose to sue the church for emotional distress, and later saw their original financial award cut in half before it went to the Supreme Court. That court’s vote — by a margin outlined in the title above — canceled the award altogether. And, oh by the way, the court also basically approved the church’s right to spew their hateful rhetoric wherever they choose.

The Westboro Baptists — who are very different from many other Baptist groups which the denomination takes great pains to point out — hate homosexuals. They also hate Jews. They claim that God hates both of these groups and America as a whole because the United States has not condemned homosexuals. Oh, let’s face facts: the Westboro Baptists hate everyone who does not claim to be a Westboro Baptist.

For anyone reading this and who may not be familiar with Christianity, we should point out that the Westboro Baptists do not represent Christ's teachings as much as they believe they do. For many practicing Christians, the overall motto of the faithful can be summed up in the mathematical equation: God = Love. Obviously, the Westboro congregants never got this memo. Either that or they’re just plain lousy at math.

Actually, I wasn’t that surprised by the ruling: how else could the Supreme Court rule. We can legislate the rights of the people to speak their minds and leave it to them to use their own wisdom and judgment to express their views without hurting others. Unfortunately, not everyone demonstrates that they are wise or indeed have any sense of judgment at all, as in the case with the Westboro Baptists.

I have written about Reverend Phelps and his flock several times. Okay, truth be told, one of those entries was in the form of a prayer beseeching God Almighty to whack them with extreme prejudice. God has chosen not to answer my prayers. Perhaps that in itself is a sign that we as a people who are wiser than the bigoted jerks have to find other ways to deal with their prejudice.

The problem is so many different solutions would just bring us down to their level. We could respond with equally violent rhetoric or acts the next time they protest. Concentration camps are too good for them and besides, as a solution, it’s a bit too fascist. There is no ideal way to deal with these jerks because the rest of us all know (or want to believe) that we are better than that!

So the church will survive financially to preach another day. Hopefully, they will see this incident as a sign that they should, perhaps, change their message and talk about Christ’s love instead of giving him a black eye. Don’t hold your breaths! The Westboro Baptists have already vowed to “quadruple” their protests of military funerals in light of their Supreme Court victory.

Truly, the world is upside down...

(Thank you for reading. Please remember to reflect tolerance wherever you can.)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Moammar, How Do We Spell You? Let Us Count the Ways

A few news organizations last week published the information that there are over 100 different ways to spell Moammar Gadhafi’s surname. It’s a pity that no one can agree on how to spell his name, particularly since he is having a life-changing crisis at the moment. The idea that we can’t give him the respect which he has worked hard to attain over the years should be highly insulting and offensive.

Oh well, Moammar, no one cares about your feelings anymore. Deal with it!

Herewith the most popular spellings of his name as printed, spoken, shouted or hailed by his critics. Please keep in mind no matter how his name is spelled below, his name is always pronounced (phonetically) “ka-da-fee”:

1. Moammar Gadhafi
2. Desert Dork
3. Moammar Gadafi
4. Arabian Asshole
5. Moammar Ghadaffi
6. Dune Dickwad
7. Moammar Gaddafi
8. Sheik Shithole
9. Sarah Palin

(Thank you for reading! It’s March! The Sarah Palin diet is over! Welcome back, Sarah! We missed you!)