I was up all night wondering about this — During Passover, what is the status of a Jewish woman with a yeast infection?
The United States Geologic Survey reported unusual seismic activity in Washington DC on Saturday, with similar aftershocks felt around the country.
Whatever you think of Donald Trump, he's spot on about this!
Here we are again. Another massacre in a school, this time in Parkland, Florida. Before we ultimately resign ourselves to this obscene state of affairs, shouldn't we at least see the actual crime scene photos? It's an argument made recently in Slate. Don't we deserve to have all relevant information and visual material as we debate the issue of guns in this country?
It's unlikely. In the meantime, let's close our eyes and imagine what the bodies of youngsters in Sandy Hook Elementary torn apart by assault weapon ammunition really look like. Conjure up the slumped figures peppered with slugs in the pews of the Sutherland Springs Church, the dead and wounded littering the campus of Virginia Tech, the concert grounds in Las Vegas, and the hallways and classrooms of Columbine and Stoneman Douglass High School. Think of the thousands of shattered families, who's lives surely will never be the same.
While we're at it, consider the injured survivors, some of whom will have lifelong disabilities, medical needs, and unalterably changed futures. Go on to contemplate the emotional distress of witnesses and first responders who may be physically unscathed, but will suffer PTSD for months, years, perhaps their entire lifetimes.
Don't stop there! Think of the millions of American schools students (elementary to high school) who are forced to participate in active shooter drills. They become wonderfully proficient in immediate responses to alarms, barricading doorways, picking up objects to hurl at an armed intruder, knowing where they should assemble after the terror subsides, and how to properly exit their buildings in full view of heavily armed SWAT teams. Sweet dreams, kids!
Almost done. Now bring to mind the 30,000+ who die each year at the wrong end of a gun in far less spectacular ways, through suicide, in gang-related shootings, during marital disputes and drunken rages, or through accidental discharge of a gun. Tally up the astronomical emergency room costs we generate each year as the bodies — dying, dead and wounded — roll in.
Maybe now you have some vague notion of the cost our society pays for our inalienable right to fetishize and acquire millions of guns, that give so many the illusion of enhanced power and imaginary safety.
Yep. It's time to see the photos, which will likely never see the light of day. In the meantime you have my pale rendition as a study aid.
I want to make clear that any rumors of inappropriate sexual behavior toward anyone on my part are unfounded accusations with no basis in fact. I don’t even wear that kind of underwear, and that’s not my size. Furthermore, I'm terribly allergic to latex. Finally, working as I do by myself as a freelancer, I don’t have, and have never had, an assistant. Anyone, male or female, who claims to have held that position is either lying or delusional.
Nonetheless, I will work tirelessly to regain your trust.
It’s worth asking if we have front row seats to a profound moment in history—the unravelling of the United States of America. The improbable election of Donald J. Trump, his distressing actions and behavior in office, and his sustained support among large swaths of the country would seem to suggest just that.
Our president is an unstable narcissist, pathologically needy, and gleefully dishonest. His racist attitudes are scarcely hidden, his geopolitical understanding nil. He wantonly backs away from carefully crafted international agreements with other countries, ensuring that any future diplomatic engagements with us will be justifiably seen as empty and transitory. President Trump sows chaos, division and rancor the way a farmer plants fields with soybeans, corn and alfalfa.
As for governance, the President’s operating model is a wrecking ball. Each blow bangs away at the edifices of law, journalistic free speech, civil and environmental protections, and informal but necessary customs and norms needed to conduct the country’s business.
Even so, Trump is not the problem. He’s the symptom of long decline in our perceived sense of a shared national identity and purpose. Trump’s destructive acts and impulses are cheered as necessary to “shake up Washington.” Demolition is mistaken for revolution.
Our capacity for frank yet respectful disagreement is melting away faster than a water ice in July. We’ve arrived at the point when John McCain is treated to catcalls of “Hang him!” at a GOP convention, for the “crime” of offering a critique of the President at his Liberty Medal Award in Philadelphia.
We find to our horror that with a wink and a nod from Trump, unresolved issues of race, religion, and class have re-erupted into freshly festering wounds. Who would have imagined a short year ago that Neo-Nazis would be parading in Charlottesville, that nooses would be hanging outside the National Museum of African-American History in Washington?
What we’re experiencing is the culmination of decades of debasement in our political discourse. Since the 1990s, Congress has incrementally ceased to be a functioning body. What little it gets done bears no relationship to the actual needs or desires of its constituents. The last “big” thing it accomplished, the ACA, is under full blown assault from both the President and the Republican Congress.
And most troubling of all, we can no longer agree on what a “fact” is. Social media has opened a Pandora’s Box of competing realities, a smorgasbord of delusional, often paranoid notions that could be easily debunked if verifiable reality had real currency. Our Declaration of Independence begins, “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” Not so much, really.
So is this it then, the beginning of the end for the American experiment? Will future historians point to this moment and say, “Yup, that’s when the wheels really came off the bus!”
Maybe. Maybe not. There are hopeful signs that this traumatic era has reawakened a new commitment to citizenship. For many, it’s broken through the apathy, cynicism and complacency that’s resulted in the dismal voting numbers recorded year after year. There’s a renewed sense that every election matters. The off-year contests for judgeships, state legislative seats, school boards, and other seemingly minor offices matter deeply. In important ways, they’re every bit as important as Presidential elections.
So if you’re unhappy with the current state of affairs, get busy, get informed, get involved, get in touch with others on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even face-to-face conversations (remember those?). Your first opportunity to vote for the America you cherish is just days away.
Or you can stay home, settle into your front row seat with some popcorn and a soda, and watch the show.
There! Now don't you feel better?!
I'm on the National Writing Project Writers Council. Not sure how that happened, but there I am. They have an ongoing challenge to Council members to take on the topic "Why I Write." Here's what came out...
Why do I write? Hmmm. Give me just a minute….
OK, I guess I’ll start with one of the few sharp memories I had as a child. I sat at our kitchen table with my younger brother and my parents while my father jotted something on a notepad. As hilariously mundane as it seems now, I was struck with a kind of amazement that his fingers held this little plastic stick, and words were pouring out out of the point onto the paper. The connection between the hand and the pen, and the act of writing itself seemed somehow magical. The fact that he may have been jotting down “Oil change, call Murray, pick up dry cleaning” wouldn’t have spoiled the moment in the least.
My father was a word aficionado. Sadly, the words he loved most were from 17th century England, which made his own writing more or less unreadable. In his view of style, why use the word “fancy” when you have “crinkum-crankum,” “soldier” when you have “man-at-arms, or “Wow!” when you have “Zounds!”
However, his devotion to language wasn't always a bad thing. On long road trips we’d often play an unnamed describing game to pass the time. Dad would suggest some random object, say “bicycle,” or “giraffe” or “pyramid,” and my assignment was to define the thing as clearly as I could to someone who didn’t know what it was. As a car game it never gained much traction outside our own Ford LTD, but I found it fun nonetheless.
My impulse to write is deeply connected to humor, which was my survival drug of choice during my adolescence. While my peeps toyed with cigarettes, alcohol or weed to salve their hormone-induced angst, I was zoning out on the collected works of Robert Benchley, James Thurber, and Jean Shepherd, the recordings of Alan Sherman, Tom Lehrer and Jonathan Winters, the cartoons of Walt Kelly, Charles Schultz, Ronald Searle, and…..well, you get the idea.
My attachment to humor was in large part due to the endorphin-inducing pleasure I took in laughing. But it was far more elemental than that. It began for me as a deeply consoling way to confront reality, which I found then, and increasingly find now, so demoralizing, threatening, chaotic, and absurd. Humor gave me release in unexpected puns, offered solace in shared catastrophe, transmuted the frailties and tragedies of human existence into something I could bear more easily.
The tools and timing of humor were cemented into the metamorphic rock of my personality long ago, and now writing offers me a way to explore them, play with them. I often have the experience of smiling, even laughing out loud at some unexpected thought when I’m tapping away at my computer alone. It’s possible this behavior is diagnosed somewhere in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but I’m perfectly OK with that.
Over time my writing has taken on distinctly unhumorous roles — book reviews, political commentary, corporate communications, eulogies, wedding toasts, feature articles for trade publications, and more recently, the gaping maw of social media. But the challenge and joy of finding the phrase that most elegantly expresses a thought or emotion is one of the great free pleasures In my life, nearly equal to watching YouTube Fail videos of people slipping on ice.
My assignment, when I choose to accept it, is to find elegance whenever I place words next to each other. I don’t mean elegance in a highfalutin sort of way. I’m talking about the exquisite and elusive spot where simplicity meets beauty. I’d like to think I have my moments of success. Here’s one I’d choose, from my current project Hugh Manatee’s Last Stand, an enviro-political dystopian satire.
“Gideon Manatee was a tall man, but he’d gone to pot over the years, and had a belly that entered a room a solid two seconds before the rest of him. His leather belt suffered in a state perpetual defeat under the overhanging flesh.”
Feel free to disagree, but I liked this paragraph when it first came to me, and it pleases me all these months later, which is exactly my point.
My enthusiasm for gluing words together well isn’t limited to some ambitious work I have underway. I take as much gratification composing an angry e-mail to my dolt of a congressman as I do composing my next masterwork (which I guess would be my first masterwork). I’ll occasionally return to my sent e-mail folder just to gloat over how pithy and exquisitely expressive one of my messages was.
However, there are far more consequential reasons why I write. I can think of half a dozen right off the bat — my six glorious grandchildren. They all live close by, a situation which is a constant source of wonderment and existential gratitude. Yet for all the joy my wife and I take at their presence in our lives, dark thunderclouds of foreboding for them haunt me in the wee hours of the night.
The imperfect but robust country of my youth is unraveling surprisingly quickly, and the imperishable planet I grew up on is literally melting away, both in real time. My writing is often now an act of defiance, of wavering but fervent hope, and love. Whatever teeny consequence my words might have in putting off the gathering pandemonium, I can at least look my grandkids in their eyes without offering an inner apology to them.
Beyond that, I suppose I write for the same reasons people make movies, dance, sing, compose, act, paint, play violin, or take photographs. It’s my way of experiencing the world deeply, making as much sense of it as best I can, adding as much imagination, humor, eloquence and passion to my understanding as I can manage, and sharing whatever comes out the other end with anyone who’s interested.
Isn’t that’s what nearly every artist aspires to do, one way or another?
This Game of Thrones Lannister ball point pen has just arrived in the HBO online store, available for a measly $295. No doubt this was created after Khal Drogo's cheap Bic bled all over Daenarys in their love scene in Season 2, episode 6.
A host of new GOT products are on the way. Here are just a few —
Ariens Deluxe "Jon Snow" Blower (28" 306 cc)
Ariens took it up a notch with this powerful snowblower that can handle anything — snow up to 24", ice, slush, or stab wounds to the heart. It just won't die. Fur cowl keeps the engine toasty and dry, even in the most extreme conditions. Financing available.
Daeny's Fire-Breathin' Hot Sauce
This hot sauce will have YOU breathing fire. The ingredients are secret, but this unique blend is based on an ancient Dothraki recipe handed down from Khal Drogo's grandma. Perfect on fish, beef, pasta, chicken, or camel. At $45 a bottle, it's a luxury well worth the price.
Tag Heuer "Night's Watch"
-Tag Heuer's 30 gem "Night's Watch" with black dial, black bezel, black band. $5635. This is an eye-catching statement that's sure to draw attention. The "super black" dial face actually absorbs all visible light, so don't stare at it too long. The disturbing blood-stained dagger hands represent the sacrifice all Nights Watch members are expected to fulfill. Also helps with that celibacy thing, if you're into that.
With conditions getting a little dicey inside the Beltway, the Republican caucus huddles to see if they should re-think their position on human's impacts on the environment.
The Attorney General announces President Trump's plan to jettison DACA in 6 months. Not surprisingly, DREAMers aren't sleeping all that well. And most folks wouldn't call what they're having dreams, exactly.
While the administration is busy dismantling the EPA and withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords, the horrifying flood in Texas gives a preview of the world our children and grandchildren can look forward to. Good luck, kids!!
As the nation watched east Texas prepare for biblical flooding, President Trump pardoned ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio for his conviction on racial profiling and intimidation, and formerly issued his trans-gender ban for the military. It's hard to say which disaster is more horrifying.
Another inspiring performance from our Divider-In-Chief in Phoenix last night. Today he's back in the lab under the White House...
The two co-founders of the Ludicrous Hair Club for Men are going at it tooth and nail. What could possibly go wrong?
July 28, 2017
After 7 years of vilification, obstruction, misrepresentation, legal challenges, and unrelenting scorn for the ACA, we finally have proof that the Republicans ain't got nothin'. Senator McConnell, how would you like those eggs?
You’re probably wondering, “How can I get fake news to work for me?” The President, Kelleyanne Conway, Sean Spicer, and the whole crew make it look so darn easy! Just imagine how liberating it would be for YOU to be divorced from any kind of verifiable reality!!
Fortunately, the cagey methods the administration’s been pioneering so successfully are now being made available TO EVERYONE in our FakeNews4U online syllabus from Trump Educational Enterprises (formerly Trump University). In this easy-to-follow instructional series, you’ll learn how the masters change the subject with preposterous conspiracy theories, conflate wildly different issues, boil down incredibly complex issues into five-word catchphrases, and last but not least, blame anyone else!
Here are just a few testimonials from REAL PEOPLE who’ve taken the course —
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Disclaimer: Fakenews4U is offered without any guarantees or warranty. Trump Educational Enterprises makes no warranties of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to assertions of effectiveness, coherence, truthfulness, or of even rational thought. Use of the product by a user is at the user’s risk. If you call us, we won't answer the phone, and any attempt to seek redress by legal action will be construed as an act of treason.