Galanty Miller

 

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12-10-15

THERE'S NOTHING SEXIER THAN A POLITICAL MODERATE

You never hear about the rise of politically middle-of-the-road talk radio. Nobody has ever been called a “bleeding heart moderate.” There’s the religious right; but nobody speaks of the religious nonpartisan. During the holidays, nobody ever gets into a big argument with their crazy politically-reasonable uncle or their bohemian free-spirited, politically-balanced aunt.  

If I had to describe myself, I’d say I’m, oh, socially liberal, economically conservative, sexually moderate, emotionally radical, conversationally reactionary, stylistically bipolar, culturally neutral, philosophically orthodox, ethically impartial, and inquisitively magnanimous. In other words, I’m not a slave to a political agenda; I’m a slave to adverbs.  

I believe the four biggest issues facing the United States right now, in no particular order, are…

1. global warming

2. terrorism and the rise of religious fundamentalism

3. economic stratification

4. college students getting their feelings hurt because you say something that contradicts their personal emotional space 

Conservative people compare President Obama to Hitler. Liberal people are comparing Donald Trump to Hitler. Adolph Hitler systematically tortured and killed millions of people. We in the politically middle think that comparing people to Hitler trivializes the Holocaust. No American public figure in the year 2015 comes close to the evil that was Adolph Hitler. Eh, maybe Kylie Jenner.

Most situations are not objectively political. But we make them political. If penis-shaped sponge pods from outer space landed in Times Square and demanded a small discount on their ginger ale purchases, the MSNBC narrative would be “we’re a nation of racists for not offering free ginger ale to the sponge pod dicks” and FOX News would obsess that somehow this proves Barack Obama’s lack of leadership.  And every liberal person would feel one way. And every conservative person would feel the other way.  

Free speech is more than just the right to express unpopular views. (I don’t love Adele’s music! There. I said it. Now go ahead and hate me.) It’s about the civil exchange of ideas. It’s about people with different viewpoints coming together to compare and contrast their analysis of the facts, their personal perspectives, and their logically-constructed points-of-view. And then if things go really well, this leads to a sex orgy.     

But things have changed. Social media and biased news channels have changed the way that individuals access information. Human nature is to immediately form an emotional response at the same time your mind is processing the initial stimuli. (And that “stimulus” can be an image, a collection of words, the weird guy on the subway rubbing his leg up against you, the hot and sexy guy on the subway rubbing his leg up against you, etc.) Then that emotional reaction evolves into a more rational response, guided by the exchange of alternative ideas that makes up society. Think of this metamorphosis as similar to when a caterpillar awakens from its cocoon and blossoms into a beautiful, more humble Justin Bieber. Or don’t think of it that way.  

Unfortunately, there is no exchange of ideas anymore. People form an opinion based on the political agenda to which they’re stuck. Then they are bombarded by the same opinion, from like-minded sources, over and over. Usually this is done in the form of comical Facebook memes. And so people never have the chance to process an issue rationally. They’re only hearing one side.  

Hence, we’re stuck with pointless nonsense posing as serious political issues: culturally insensitive Halloween costumes, the “war” on Christmas, transgendered bathrooms, defunding Planned Parenthood, “standing with” Ahmed- that annoying kid who brought a suitcase that looked like a bomb to school, building a wall around Mexico and making Mexico pay for it, college “safe” spaces,  governors halting refugees from coming into their state, the weird guy on the subway rubbing his leg up against you, etc.  

These are not issues. Oh, sure, they might be important to the small number of people directly involved in the situation. But these are not issues that we as a society should be focusing our attention. Sometimes, a passionate person needs to be told, “Don’t be passionate about this. It’s stupid.”  

Being a political moderate used to mean seeing both sides of an issue. Now it also means the ability to recognize actual issues.   

And being politically moderate is to understand that everything isn’t political. Being politically moderate is the feeling of freedom- that you can look at a topic rationally and without prejudice.  

With all due respect to people who hate Earth, global warming is not a political issue. This is an actual issue. It’s a scientific phenomenon that’s happening. Scientists know what they’re talking about; that’s why they’re scientists. Right-wing radio hosts don’t know what they’re talking about; that’s why they write best-selling books.  

No, climate change doesn’t shoot people or set off bombs. But living in an ISIS-free wasteland without breathable air, edible food, or a place to stand isn’t so great, either. Heck, that’s Florida.   

If a moon-sized asteroid was hurtling towards our planet, the asteroid-deniers would call Obama “weak on terrorism” for attending a summit on how to destroy the asteroid. (My suggestion? Send a ragtag group of drillers up into space. And then have them land… eh, just read the plot summary of Armageddon on the Internet Movie Database. That’s pretty much my idea.)    

Yes, there is a worldwide problem with Muslim extremism. To state actual facts is not being Islamophobic, no more than to fear an unleashed, snarling Rottweiler is dogophobic. (note: You know who is having a big problem with dogophobia right now? The squirrel community.)   

This is not about taking away people’s individual liberties or religious rights. This is not about Donald Trump’s bigoted fake plan to bar Muslims from entering the country, or to turn hardworking, patriotic Muslim-Americans into casinos. But there is a large spot on the world map, which is now spreading to other areas, in which a religious culture is dominating and is dominated by violence, misogyny, homophobia, and however else one might describe Eminem’s next album. This is not a political issue. This is really happening.   

To say that religious extremism played a part in 9-11, or in the deadly San Bernardino shooting, is to accept reality. When you’re politically moderate, you allow yourself to accept reality. When a large number of people are committing violent atrocities in the name of religion- maybe it’s time to believe the people committing the atrocities. I know this is unfair to the many peaceful people who follow the same religion- and those people should certainly be allowed to worship without harassment. But, as I wrote when Tom Brady and Gisele had to cut short their private yacht tour of the Cayman Island coastline because of a slight drizzle, sometimes life just isn’t fair. And women are treated like absolute garbage in the Middle East and this needs to stop.  

Everything isn’t political. Everyone doesn’t always have to take political sides.  

Of course, we need a police department. And many police officers do a fine job. But a police officer’s job is to arrest criminal suspects- regardless of how thuggish those suspects might be- and to allow those suspects’ their day in court. This is how our justice system operates. When we hear about a suspect killed by a policeman, our first reaction should not be to “support the police.” Rather, it’s to take the death extremely seriously and to investigate the incident. And police officers who are found to have used excessive force should be prosecuted. This is not political. This is reality. Everything doesn’t have to be political.  

The United States has a history of racial injustice. Racism is still rampant, only in more subtle, hidden ways. Our economic system is set up so that people of minority races, often of a lower socio-economic status, are at a disadvantage. Changes to our system should be made so that these Americans are given more opportunities. These are not liberal issues. Also, the family unit is breaking down. Many poor, minority children are growing up in dysfunctional, fatherless households. This is a problem. It can be fixed. This is not a racist, conservative issue. This is reality. Everything is not political.  

We in the political middle- we’re pomiddical, and, to be clear, I own the copyright on that word- believe the majority of our government officials are generally decent people, doing what they feel is right for the country. On the other hand, when a psychopath walks into an elementary school and murders twenty-six people, most of them toddlers, and Congress’ response was… well, nothing… this is why we give the government Jar Jar Binks-like approval ratings. We’re not “politicizing” the gun debate; we understand that some Americans want a firearm for the feeling of protection, but that there are too many guns and they’re too easy to get. This is not political. This is the real world.      

Free yourself from the two-sided duct tape of political correctness, of political agenda, of political bias. It’s a wonderful feeling! It’s like when you agree to help your friend move his stuff but then your friend cancels at the last minute so you get credit for offering to help but you don’t actually have to help him move.  

Smug, self-righteous jerks on the left and hateful, ignorant lunatics on the right have taken over the political system. But they haven’t taken over America. This country is still dominated by sane, reasonable citizens who understand the difference between legitimate political debate and stupidity. Unfortunately, we don’t have our own cable news channel.  

 

11-18-15

IT'S TIME TO END THE SAGGING PANTS TREND

Today I was walking behind two white guys- both looked to be in their early twenties- who were wearing jeans below their ass. I assume they were not on their way to work.  

I’m generally indifferent to most stupid trends, styles, and fashions. Neck tattoos? Hey, who am I to judge? Earlobe stretching? Sure, why not? Donald Trump Make America Great Again baseball caps? Heck, it’s a free country. But, seriously, we’ve got to put a stop to young men wearing their pants six inches before their waist. This is making the entire country look bad. A chain is only as strong as its weakest douche bag.      

Pants are supposed to be worn at the waist. That’s how they’re designed. That’s how they fit. It’s like pulling up your sock to the middle of your foot, or wearing a shirt with only one arm in the sleeves. This is not being dressed; this is getting dressed. You’re still in the midst of putting your clothes on properly. I mean- you’re almost there. But you’re not quite finished. Now, once you pull your pants all the way to the top of your waist… good, now you can leave the house and start your day.  

There is nothing cool about wearing your jeans low. You’re waddling in order to keep your pants from falling down and you think that looks cool? People want to be Batman or the Joker. Nobody wants to be the Penguin.  

Old men wear their pants too high. Young men wear their pants too low. It’s no wonder that men can’t find a woman’s erogenous zones. They can’t even find their own waist!  

My friends, this is not some foreign problem happening thousands of miles away. This is going on in our own backyard. These are our brothers, our sons, our teenage fathers. Our fellow Americans are walking around public looking like absolute f*cking idiots… and we’re turning a blind eye. We’re ignoring the reality, denying it, hoping that “somebody else” takes care of the problem. This is no different than global warming, except instead of seeing a decline in the polar bear population, we hope to see these low-jeans-wearing jerks being mauled by polar bears. The analogy fits perfectly… or at least it fits better than your jeans. 

I mean, okay, I get it. A few kids thought it was edgy to wear jeans in a way that looked like they were pooping themselves while they walked. Nothing says “hard core” more than soiling yourself. That’s why toddlers are the trendsetters of fashion. But when is this trend going to be over? How long is this going to last? Maybe their jeans are falling down because of the heavy flip phone and Dishwalla CD in their back pockets?   

For those of you unsure where your jeans’ highest body point should be, I’ve created an easy guide.  

Clothing That Should Be Worn Above Your Genitals

-          Shirts

-          Hats

-          Pants 

Clothing That Should Be Worn Below Your Genitals

-          Shoes

-          Socks 

I will soon be coming out with a list of clothing that should be worn on your genitals. The list might just surprise you.   

Wearing pants so ridiculously low has deteriorated the culture and has made society so much worse that I’m surprised Apple didn’t invent it.  

I mean, in what situation would you take someone seriously when they are literally hold up their pants to prevent them from falling down? “Yes, Doctor, I’m ready for my surgery. Oh, and nice boxer shorts.” 

I’m pretty sure there’s a direct correlation between successful people and those whose jeans are falling below their ass. Actually, I did a little research. The sagging pants trend started in prison. Do you know what fashion trend didn’t start in jail? Literacy.    

But we shouldn’t be blaming the morons themselves. Yes, they look like total ass clowns, but they don’t know any better. To wear jeans halfway to the end of your dick is simply another effect of the self-absorbed posting pictures of your meal on Facebook taking selfies at funerals letting children grade their teachers everyone gets a trophy political correctness pseudo-empowerment everyone gets to express themselves entitlement “me” society that we’ve indulged ourselves into creating. I mean, we can’t tell someone he looks like a fool if there’s no such thing as “foolish” anymore.  

Like most pop culture trends, I assume that the kids will lose interest once the middle-aged squares start to do it. We’re counting on you, Kanye.  

In the meantime, though, I guess it’s just an annoying part of society I have to accept. But to be clear- if you’re trying to look tough by wearing your pants low, it’s not working. Nobody has ever won a fight while their pants were falling down. That’s probably why I’m such a big fan of The Incredible Hulk. He’s the biggest badass around. And, defying the laws of physics, the Hulk’s pants always stay on.  

 

11-8-15

LINKED HELPED ME FIND MY DREAM SPAM (or: TAKING A STAND AGAINST LINKEDIN)

Question: What do LinkedIn and printing your resume on a dead prostitute’s leg instead of paper have in common?

Answer: Neither will get you a job.  

I can count on my hand the number of times I’ve lost a finger. (twice) I can count on all the books that Kylie Jenner has ever read the number of times LinkedIn has been of use to someone looking for career advancement. (zero)    

A few years ago, someone thought, “I’m going to start a porn site. Oh, but there won’t be any actual porn on the site. Rather, you can network with other people who are also on the site looking for porn. And you’ll be able to track each other, to see who is looking for porn. We’ll also put a few people on the site who do have access to porn. But you won’t be able to get in touch with those people.” Then, right before the website’s launch, this person thought, “Eh, I’ll just change porn to jobs.” And LinkedIn was introduced. Coincidentally, they also came up with the same idea for infidelity and called the site AshleyMadison.  

Aside from dating and karate sites, I don’t trust any dot com that charges a fee. Facebook is a multi-billion dollar company, with close to eight employees, and yet it has managed to make money without gouging a subscription fee out of its users. And that’s because when you’re on Facebook, you’re the product. You’re also the product on LinkedIn. And yet LinkedIn still charges you money to obtain the contact information of the people you might actually want to contact. It’s like getting charged twenty bucks a month to sit through GEICO commercials.  

Would you invest your money with a stockbroker who had a face tattoo? Would you use an accountant with a Hitler moustache? Probably not. (Though, in fairness, my friend Mitch the stockbroker tattooed “Invest In Apple” on his neck right before the company hit it big.) Then why are you trusting something as serious as your career to a website that makes its money off of people desperate for a job? It’s like those theater companies in Los Angeles that charge out-of-work actors a fee for performing in their plays. This ain’t where the big Hollywood agents are looking for talent. And the employers offering the great jobs don’t need to be on LinkedIn. Oops- spoke to soon. Steven Spielberg just added me as a connection. Eh, I guess I’ll accept.   

To quote my friend Nancy, “Even if LinkedIn were to fold, I think they'd still find a way to spam me twenty times a day.” (I just endorsed her for a skill: snarkiness.)   

LinkedIn is a website for people looking for a job to network with other people looking for a job. It’s like a crack house where nobody has any crack. Things are about to get ugly. 

 

Like, I get that privacy is dead. But how come LinkedIn is privy to everyone I’ve ever sent an email? Was LinkedIn part of the Patriot Act? It’s bad enough I sent that awkward “I really like you” email to the woman I met at a bar twelve years ago, who then never wrote back. But now I have to be reminded of all my humiliating failures on my LinkedIn’s People You May Know section? (Oh, hey, she’s a senior associate at a pharmaceutical company in Denver now. Well good for her.) 

 

Speaking of which… 

 

I understand that I don’t understand LinkedIn. But there is simply no way some random person from high school I haven’t spoken to in fifteen years is “endorsing” me for some arbitrary skill that I may or may not possess. This is a scam, right? I mean, five years ago, the last thing my ex-girlfriend said to me was, “I never want to see you again.” And now she’s endorsing me for “Content Strategy?” What the fuck is Content Strategy?! Hey, do you think this is her way of trying to get back together?

 

But I won’t look at her LinkedIn profile. Because on LinkedIn, you can see who looked at your profile. I don’t want people to know I’m looking at their profile. Heck, if I wanted people to know I was stalking them, I’d just write to the Tanning Mom directly. Oh, but I think you can hide your viewing habits if you pay the special premium fee… just like how the school bully charges you a “protection fee.”

 

I’ve written to three LinkedIn “connections.” They didn’t write back. Did they actually see my messages? Who the hell knows? Mostly, I get messages from people asking me to help them. I feel it’s rude not to respond to someone who has taken the time to write. But I feel kind of bad about telling them I really can’t help them… and then asking if they can help me. Ah, LinkedIn is like life; we’re all is this crapfest together. 

 

I tried getting in touch with a successful media personality who, days earlier, accepted my connection request. But I was unable to send this person a message. A more accurate name for LinkedIn would be ShutOut.

 

Let’s face it. We’re all on LinkedIn for the same reason. Some jerky friend encouraged us to join. “It’s a great way to network. Just take a few sips. Be cool.” And like the social media sheep that we are, we signed up without giving it much thought. Plus, I mean, our headshot looks great.

 

And now we’re limped in. And we forget about it. I mean, technically, I think I still have a membership to Blockbuster Video. But then, out of the blue, we get an endorsement or a profile view or a personal message or some pseudo-important announcement. And we get excited- thinking that some total stranger is specifically targeting you for this amazing dream job. Then our excitement quickly takes a sucker punch to the jaw, as we’re confronted with the obvious truth; LinkedIn doesn’t care about you.

 

Join me in standing up to LinkedIn. Let’s send a message to the giant corporate tech companies. Let them know that they can’t control us any longer. Technology’s pointless existence does not, by definition, make it a necessity. We don’t need Google Glass. We don’t need an iWatch. And nobody is advancing their career through LinkedIn.

 

Unfortunately, we can’t cancel our membership to LinkedIn. The site is far too confusing to figure out how to do that. But we can stop using it. Stop updating and endorsing and messaging. If we pretend it doesn’t exist, maybe it will just go away on its own… like how the teenagers got rid of Freddy Krueger in the first Nightmare On Elm Street movie… I mean, before he came back. 

 

And if LinkedIn disappears, maybe it’ll finally stop spamming us… in about ten years.

 

11-2-15 

WHY COLLEGE PROFESSORS HATE BERNIE SANDERS’ “FREE COLLEGE TUITION” PLAN

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is pushing to make public college tuition-free. Athletic scholarships for all!  

College professors around the country are stating their support for Sanders’ idea. Privately, though, they’re horrified. Free college will be the final nail in the coffin of the American university system. Or at least it’s one of the final nails in the coffin- along with camera phones in class, fraternities, on-line education, disinterested instructors, inflated grading, campus shootings, the University of Miami, texting, helicopter parents, politically-biased lectures, outrageous administrative salaries, absurd courses, turning a blind eye to sexual assault, longer vacation breaks, and, oh, let’s sixth-year seniors.  

Hey- did you know that Kourtney Kardashian has a college degree from a public university? And she’s still paying off her student loans.   

Basically, there are now two kinds of college students: those forced to pay their own way, and those whose tuition is being paid for. Well, there are also the fat dudes who wear shorts to class year-round, even in the winter. So three kinds of students.  

College professors love students who are forced to pay their own tuition, the students who have to work fourteen hours a week at Burger King in order to afford their textbooks. Why? Because these students care. When you’re spending your own hard-earned money on college, you show up to class, you study, you don’t leave the lecture every twenty minutes to go to the bathroom, you are a responsible student.   

It’s like the difference between buying a Ferrari and renting one for the weekend. When it’s your car, which you paid for, that you worked hard to own, you tend to be more careful. Maybe you don’t take such a sharp turn around the corner. Speaking of which, I just can’t get behind the latest Republican plan that guarantees a free Ferrari to all rich people.  

Hey- have you seen Kourtney Kardashian’s Ferarris? Those are some beautiful cars. It just goes to show how much a college education really pays off.  

Yes, college professors know it’s unfair. They know it sucks. It doesn’t seem right that some students, simply because of their socio-economic situation, are burdened with this huge disadvantage. These students are forced to work, to take out loans. These students don’t have the luxury of excess time to study, to read, to party, to locate fake ID-makers on the Internet. College professors are very sympathetic to their situation. And, yet, professors don’t want to change the system. Oh, they won’t say it out loud. But they’re thinking it. Because these students- the ones who could really benefit from free tuition- are the best students. Because they care. They’re committed. They are willing to do what is academically necessary to succeed. You know what you never hear an economically-disadvantaged college student say? “It took a lot for me to get here. So now I’m going to secretly whip out my iPhone during class and check my friends’ Facebook updates.”  

The working-class students, who are on their own in figuring out how to pay for the upcoming semester, come to see their professors for extra help. Professors appreciate this. The entitled students, who are in college thanks to the family trust fund, see their professor to complain about their grades. Professors don’t like that. Professors would prefer to use their office hours for more important academic pursuits… like checking their friends’ Facebook updates.     

When students don’t have to pay for their own college tuition, when their parents are footing the bill, they simply don’t have the same academic work ethic. Oh, sure, there are many quality students getting a free parental ride. When you don’t have to pay for college on your own, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a crappy student. However, if you are a crappy student, I bet you’re not paying for college on your own. Heck, I bet you’re not even paying for beer on your own.  

Students forced to pay for college on their own can’t afford to miss class. So they don’t. Students lucky enough to have someone else pay their tuition miss class all the time. Oh, and they have all kinds of excuses. Sickness isn’t even in the top five anymore. No, wealthier students were unable to make the exam because of “a family emergency.” In college, family emergencies are the new sick. Or, if not a family emergency, then another hip, popular new student excuse is “anxiety.” Students are constantly missing important academic deadlines now because of their crippling anxiety. It’s understandable why they’re so anxious about the test; they didn’t study, read the material, or attend the class lectures. But if you want, they’ll supply you with a note from their psychiatrist.  

Students who pay for college on their own focus their attention on schoolwork; these young adults don’t have time for clubs and sports and other ridiculous nonsense. Students fortunate enough to have someone else pay for their schooling put actual schooling somewhere on the priority list between Ultimate Frisbee practice and the dorm video game tournament. Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, would not let murderous attempts on her life dissuade her from getting an education. Rich American college students had to miss class this afternoon because they had a field hockey game.    

That so many economically disadvantaged teenagers don’t attend college is an unhealthy aspect of our society. And it is a waste of intellectual resources. Given real opportunities, I have no doubt that many young poor people would reach socially valuable academic heights. But that they can’t afford the relatively low tuition at public universities is only a small reason why they’re not in college. Often, their circumstances- such as the insufficient education they receive in underfunded, urban high schools, for example- leave them academically and socially unprepared for college- even if they could afford to go.   

Hence, under Bernie Sanders’ plan, the students going to college for free would be the same students who are already there. And this will give lazy students even more incentive to not give a shit. And this really, really frightens our already-frustrated, burnt-out professors. I mean, when your parents are paying for school, at least there’s a little pressure to keep up your GPA. But when nobody has to pay for your college tuition? I predict you’ll be seeing a lot more sixth-year seniors.  

Eh, but if we are going to eliminate college tuition, this is going to cost a lot of money. So let’s take a page  from Donald Trump’s campaign playbook; we’ll make Mexico pay for it.

http://www.rasmussen.edu/student-life/blogs/main/100-celebrities-with-college-degrees/  Kourtney

http://www.carhoots.com/celebrity-cars/the-cars-of-the-kardashians-photos/

 

10-25-15

THE HILLARY CLINTON CONGRESSIONAL BENGHAZI HEARINGS: LET'S AGREE TO DISAGREE 

I was disappointed with the Benghazi hearings because I was hoping the Congressional committee would subpoena more celebrities.

Instead, it was eleven straight hours of Congressmen saying the same stuff over and over, taking only occasional breaks to fundraise. Oh, and Hillary Clinton had a front row seat.

Eleven hours is a long time. Heck, Birdman was only nine hours. And that won an Academy Award for Best Picture. What? It wasn’t? Oh. Well, it felt like nine hours. 

Before the horrible murders at the American embassy in Libya, almost nobody in America could tell you where Benghazi was located. Now, at least forty or fifty people can.

It’s hard to blame Americans, though, for their lack of interest in the Benghazi story. For one thing, it’s almost never covered on TMZ. But also, there’s just not much too it. It’s like how your high school social studies teacher tried to explain the reasons behind WW1, and eventually she just had to give up and say, “I don’t know. I guess it just sort of happened.” 

Personally, I prefer my political scandals sexual. But even the most boring Washington scandal should be, at the very least, a scandal. The Benghazi attacks were hideous murders, in a dangerous and distant part of the world, carried out by Islamic militants. American military forces were unable to supersede in time. And four Americans were killed. That there is some debate over just how premeditated the attacks were does not seem reason enough to spend this many hours holding Congressional ranting sessions. Heck, if I wanted to watch a panel of self-righteous blowhards scolding a woman, I’d tune into America’s Next Top Model.

Representatives Jim Jordan and Trey Gowdy received a lot of coverage for their fiery questions and for the fiery way they then answered their own questions. I don’t why they called this a hearing. Jordan and Gowdy didn’t seem to hear anything. This was more like a saying.   

There are only three certainties in life: death, taxes, and that when Republican Party politicians want to embarrass their political opposition through televised hearings, they end up looking really, really bad. Oh, and Wendy’s always screws up your order. So four certainties.

Has the Republican Congress ever considered hiring a publicist? Maybe just get a part-time marketing guy, to remind them not to act like sanctimonious jerks when questioning their Democratic rivals. It tends to lower one’s Q rating. The Republicans’ delusional perception of how they come across on television is sort of like the guys who send dick pics to women after a first date. It seems like a good idea at the time… but it doesn’t end up helping your likeability… which is ironic since the Democrats are the ones who are literally sending dick pics. 

At one point in the hearings, Alabama Representative Martha Roby got upset when Clinton laughed at the unintentional innuendo posed by Roby’s question. “I don’t know why that’s funny,” stated an indignant Roby, “… I don’t find it funny at all.” I mean, it’s 2015 and we still have to deal with the sexist notion that women aren’t funny. I’m surprised Jerry Lewis wasn’t on the panel.

The Benghazi hearings have cost taxpayers millions of dollars. It’s a TV show that nobody watches and nobody likes and yet they just won’t cancel it. It’s the America’s Funniest Home Videos of political douchery. Except the American people are the ones getting hit in the crotch with a Wiffle ball bat.

Actually, a more interesting investigation would be to find out why Congressional hearings cost so much in the first place. Are they using some sort of super-expensive, high-intensity light bulbs? Though I can’t say for sure, I’m pretty sure I can set up a table and a couple of chairs for around eight bucks.

Even Republicans have admitted that the Benghazi hearings were part of a strategy to hurt Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. And that’s how the Republican Party honors four dead Americans- by turning the deaths into a political sideshow. 

The Secretary of State has to deal with conflict in the Middle East, moderate our uneasy alliance with countries like Russia and China, and help to ease the “will they or won’t they” romantic tension between Norway and Sweden. But the Secretary of State is not a security expert. That’s not the Secretary of State’s job. Nor should it be.

The Hillary Clinton Benghazi hearings were a complete waste of time. Heck, the Hillary Clinton Benghazi earrings were more thought-provoking than anything the Congressmen had to say. Whadda you think- real gold?

Each day, I feel like I have less and less in common with the Democratic Party. And then I’ll watch something like the absurd Republican Party-led Benghazi nonsense and realize, “Darn. I guess I’m stuck with the Democrats.” Really, there’s only one party I truly believe in- Elton John’s annual Oscar party. But I’m never invited.    

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpCRL_KVC1k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFoMXLjRUuo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ7qfnaYSTA

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kevin-mccarthys-truthful-gaffe/2015/09/30/f12a9fac-67a8-11e5-8325-a42b5a459b1e_story.html

 

10-22-15

KIM KARDASHIAN’S LABOR PAINS (OR: THE SOCIOLOGY OF REAL WORK)  

Do you know what Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, and Donald Trump all have in common? Yes, they all became famous after leaking a sex tape. But, I mean, besides that. Answer: they don’t work.  

Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t work. Nor does Senator Bernie Sanders. Nor does Lil Wayne… although I do appreciate Lil Wayne’s comprehensive plan for universal health care.  

Yes, these people do stuff. Trump oversees construction. Sanders votes on bills. Paltrow sells organic socks made from kale. But this isn’t work; this isn’t a job.   

Let’s be clear about what constitutes work… 

Work means having a boss.  

Just because someone signs your paychecks, that doesn’t mean you have a boss.  

The person you try to avoid all day long? That’s a boss. What- you don’t have someone like that? Then you don’t have a boss. Maybe you have an executive producer. Maybe you have an editor. Maybe you have to answer to “the board.” But you don’t have a boss.  

A politician will say that the American people are his boss. Well, in that sense, politicians do try to avoid their boss all day. But politicians can be quite rude to their constituents. You can’t be rude to your boss. The boss controls the conversation. The boss decides when the conversation starts and when it ends. The boss gets to decide when to make a joke and when to be condescending. The boss is like the more attractive person on a blind date.   

Work means having a deadline. 

If you can be late, then it’s not a real job. If you have a deadline, but you don’t make your deadline, and you don’t get fired… then it’s not a real deadline… and it’s not real work. Deadlines are not tweets; you can’t just delete them once you lose interest. #HostingTheVoiceIsNotActualWork

The concept of time means something different to hard-working Americans than it does to rich and famous people. To regular people, time means when you have to show up to your job, how long you have to stay there, how many minutes you get for lunch, and deadlines. For movie stars and runway models and CEOs, time is more of an existential question to ponder philosophically- like “happiness” or why Kanye cares so much about who wins at awards shows.    

Some people work independently: they own restaurants, they run construction companies, etc. Owning a business comes with the most stressful sort of deadlines- financial deadlines. They have to make payroll. They have to pay bills. And they have to do anything they can to stop themselves from leaping off tall buildings when they hear celebrities talk about “the stress” of releasing a new fragrance. Did you know that David Beckham has three different colognes? They smell like me throwing up.   

Work means not being able to take that late-afternoon nap.  

Human beings get tired around two-thirty in the afternoon. It’s coded into our biology, just like how we get hungry or how we always get stuck talking to the weird lady at the party. You know it’s real work when you’re unable to enjoy that midday snooze.  

Progressive pundits speak of economic stratification and income inequality. But nobody is speaking about nap inequality. In a perfect world, everyone would be able to doze off for ten minutes during the day, incorporating the sounds around you into your freaky but oddly comforting dream. Nap dreams are the best.  

Work means doing it because you have to. That’s why it’s called work. Being a professional athlete is not real work. Professional football players play football. They don’t work football. Hollywood stars play a role. They don’t work a role… unless it’s Will Smith’s kid; his acting feels like a struggle.    

Celebrities complain about having to do talk shows to promote their films. Teachers complain about a lack of funding for classroom supplies. Wealthy basketball coaches complain about having to do post-game interviews. Janitors complain about cleaning shit off the toilet seat. Do you see a difference?  

The great Studs Terkel wrote a famous book in 1974 called Working, in which regular people in the labor force describe what they do all day and how they feel about doing it. I wonder how Terkel would feel about jerks who make a living posting YouTube videos?  

Politicians warn about the growing gap between the wealthy and the middle class. But there’s also a growing gap between real work and the socially unproductive, obscenely-paid nonsense that occupies the typical day of those who just happen to be fortunate enough to have a lot of Twitter followers. 

On Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Scott Disick earns thousands of dollars by making “appearances” at Las Vegas nightclub parties. In Stud Terkel’s book, it’s Chapter What the F**k!?!

And that’s fine, I guess.  

People shouldn’t be condemned for being beautiful or having great connections or for just being lucky- in other words, the Academy Award voting guidelines. Heck, I find the Kardashians show very entertaining. Although I’d really like to see a reality show about how the Kardashians act when the cameras are off. (You might need to think about that one for a minute.) But… perspective.  

Put perspective on your good fortune, as it compares to the millions of Americans who still work… I mean, really work. Be considerate. America needs firemen and teachers and airline attendants and house painters. But America will survive if your new CD doesn’t drop. And when the regular, jealous, ugly, angry nobodies say you don’t have a real job, don’t get so defensive. Just politely respond by saying, “Yes, I’m very fortunate.” Is that so hard? Or, better yet, don’t respond at all.     

The concept of work is not to be taken lightly. Let’s not throw around the W-word so loosely that it literally loses its meaning. It’s bad enough that we did that with “literally.” 

 

10-15-15

HERE'S THE REAL AND DEPRESSING REASON PLAYBOY IS ELIMINATING NUDITY

Did you hear the news? Playboy Magazine is eliminating nudity from its pages. So now if you want to check out penises, you’ll have to look elsewhere.  

Honestly, I only read Playboy for the articles. But without naked women, I don’t think I’ll be reading the articles anymore.   

Hopefully, the new Playboy will include lots of articles about nude women. And hopefully, the articles will include pictures.   

In other news, Hustler has announced that it will be eliminating the barely legal models from its Barely Legal website. From now on, the videos will only feature very legal women… like, in their mid-thirties.   

Many news reports are calling Playboy’s decision a “reaction to the ever-growing accessibility of online pornography.” Ever-growing!? You mean it’s still growing? How much more can online pornography grow? This morning I accidentally downloaded a webcam threesome in my bowl of cereal.  

It should be noted that the articles in Playboy Magazine are horrible- slick, superficial fluff treating celebrity as significant and politics like a late night talk show monologue. Hence, the new Playboy should do just fine. Heck, nobody reads the articles in Vanity Fair magazine, either, and somehow that pretentious rag is still around. My favorite article in this month’s Vanity Fair style section? (I’m not making this up.) Masked Holiday Beauties from the Clé de Peau Collection Bal Masqué. That’s something I think we can all relate to, as we sit on the couch eating Doritos.   

It feels kind of sad that Playboy is eliminating nudity, actually. Now where are washed-up actresses trying to revive their career with topless photos going to turn? I mean, besides Twitter. 

I guess I’m just nostalgic for a time when our nation’s destructive misogamy was more innocent and quaint. The modern high-tech porn industry can get super sleazy. Back in the day, when pretty, naïve girls were being exploited at the Playboy mansion, at least we knew they were safe… I mean, on the days when Bill Cosby wasn’t there.    

Playboy Magazine used to be handed down from father-to-son as a rite of passage. Today, father and son are sitting alone in dark rooms, on opposite ends of the house, clicking on link after link of vile, perverse Internet pornography, debasing themselves in a fury of pent-up sexual rage. Really, the end of traditional Playboy represents a breakdown of the family… and a lot of broken chairs.  

Nevertheless, easy access to Internet nudity should not be to blame for Playboy’s downfall. Even within the vast porn landscape, there was still a place for classy smut. Even adolescent males appreciate what Playboy brought to the table: professionally photographed women in artistic and playful poses, the appealing lure of fantasy wrapped in a little mystery. And thousands of gorgeous women, who would never have considered less dignified ways of revealing their bodies, were willing to expose themselves for the prestige that Playboy offered. Why? Because Playboy wasn’t just a magazine, it wasn’t just nudity; it was an idea. And that idea had a symbol, a face. No, not the bunny. Rather, it was the face of Hugh Hefner. And Playboy could no longer survive as a nude magazine because, somewhere along the way, Hugh Hefner became a sad joke.  

Playboy no longer has the respect of female-nudity connoisseurs (IE all men not currently in a coma) because nobody respects Hugh Hefner anymore.   

Okay, most men could never actually “relate” to the founder of Playboy Magazine. But they could pretend to relate. A distinguished, intellectual fifty-fifty-year-old man dating a twenty-three-year-old centerfold? Yeah, that could me. I’m going to be in my fifties someday. Yeah, that could totally be me.  But a ninety-year-old man dating nineteen-year-old triplets? It looks ridiculous. And it’s kind of embarrassing.   

Hugh Hefner wasn’t just a ladies man; he was a respected businessman, a musical aficionado, an articulate spokesman for 1st Amendment rights. Then, at some point, he became a silly, out-of-touch old guy making an idiot of himself on a reality show. Oh, wait, I was referring to Donald Trump.  

Undoubtedly, some people will mourn the end of Playboy as a nudie mag. But the real tragedy is the deterioration of Hugh Hefner’s image. My Hugh Hefner would never have allowed Playboy to become irrelevant. But the happy man in the bathrobe, dancing with the girls next door, seems to have lost interest in his legacy. Well, I mean, that’s not the real tragedy. The real tragedy is poverty and disease. But you know what I’m saying.   

I root for Mr. Hefner to long a long, healthy life, well into his one-hundred-and-twenties. And when he finally passes away, I will remember him for what he once was, not for what he became. Of course, when Hugh Hefner is gone, I suspect his cryogenically-frozen head will be dating Miss August.

http://foxct.com/2015/10/12/playboy-to-eliminate-nude-photos-from-the-magazine/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9La7PBodBts 

http://www.vanityfair.com/style/2015/10/masked-holiday-beauties-from-the-cle-de-peau-collection-bal-masque 

 

10-1-15

HERE'S MY ADVICE TO COLLEGE PROFESSORS BEING PRESSURED TO CHANGE STUDENT-ATHLETES' GRADES

Last month, the football coach at Rutgers University got into trouble following allegations that he tried to pressure a part-time faculty member into raising a player’s grade. Which begs the question- Rutgers has a football team?  

Many people are outraged, claiming that scandals like this hurt the integrity of big time college athletics. However, since there is no integrity to Division 1 college athletics, I’m not sure if a simple “grade changing” scandal makes a difference. It’s like criticizing the grammatically flawed instruction note you just handed the teller- because it hurts the integrity of your bank robbery. And yet, sadly, I suspect that most bank robbery notices contain better grammar than, oh, a typical University of Miami defensive back’s English paper.

No college professor should ever feel “pressured” into changing a student-athlete’s grade. Why? Because there’s no pressure. Just do it. Change the grade. Who the f*ck cares? If the beloved coach or a school administrator wants you to pass that star quarterback who has never attended a single class- and probably isn’t aware that he’s even registered for your class- then give him a damn A. Eh, that might be a little suspicious. Maybe a B+.  

Star athletes attend Division 1 colleges to play sports. That’s why they’re there. They represent their school. But they’re not students. Their job is not to attend your class. Their job is to score touchdowns and shoot three-pointers- because that has something to do with college, apparently. So get over yourself. You’re not curing cancer; you’re teaching intro level political science. Hell, even the actual students find your lectures boring.

The real game is not on the field. Rather, it’s this giant, ridiculous lie in which we all have to pretend that college sports is something other than powerful forces colluding to entertain the masses at the expense of ignorant, exploited young athletes. And that’s fine. I’m all for exploitation; I DVR the Dr. Phil show. But end this condescending, phony concern about “academic integrity”- whose virtue falls somewhere between televangelism and Jared Fogle’s hard drive.

Star athletes simply represent their college, in the same way that Peyton Manning represents the Denver Broncos or that Flo so annoyingly represents Progressive Insurance. But that’s different from being a student.  

If you’re a college professor at Syracuse or Nebraska or Ohio State, and a coach contacts you and asks you to give his linebacker a better grade, otherwise the kid won’t be allowed to play in this weekend’s important game, you should respond by saying, “Okay. No problem.” Don’t feel guilty about it.  I mean, you let your seven-year-old niece beat you in chess. Do you feel guilty about that? Just give the athletes a passing grade. Tell them they don’t even need to come to class. Hell, specify this in your syllabus. And don’t feel bad. This has nothing to do with your real class and your legitimate students and your actual, honest grading system.

You give a Division 1 athlete an A that he didn’t deserve. So what? Who is it hurting? Don’t get all self-righteous about university standards- the same standards that have given us Girls Gone Wild DVDs, fraternity hazing deaths, massive student debt, absurd out-of-control political correctness, and date rape.

You don’t think it’s fair to give athletes better grades? Fair for who? For the other students? Well don’t worry about them. Student-athletes are not competing for your job. Even with a college degree, functional illiteracy tends to catch up with you in the workplace. Whether you give an athlete an A or an F, they’re either going pro or they’re going back to their hometown to work at some crappy, menial job; they’re not taking your spot in medical school. Jameis Winston didn’t graduate Florida State thinking, “Should I enter the NFL draft or take that job offer at Apple?” Oh, wait, Winston didn’t graduate. Yeah, that’s common.  

Everyone knows that the grades you give to your sports stars don’t really mean anything. It’s like how they keep giving Billy Joel these honorary doctorates. We all know he didn’t really work for them… except for the PhD he received from the State University of If I Hear ‘I Love You Just The Way You Are’ One More Time I’m Literally Going To Kill Myself. He earned that one. We all earned that one.

Let me be clear. I’m not opposed to college athletics. I enjoy watching college sports. Rather, I’m opposed to the way society rationalizes unpaid labor by calling the athletes- the workers- “students.” Hence, if they’re students, they have to keep up their grades… because that’s what students are supposed to do… oh, and even though they make money for their schools and the television networks, we don’t have to pay them or offer any benefits… because “students” don’t get paid.

It’s a sick, hypocritical, greedy, corrupt system. It’s like Congress, but with shoulder pads and groin injuries… which, coincidentally, describes Ted Cruz’s most recent fundraiser.

Too many college athletes should not be in college in the first place. Sometimes people will say, “These kids wouldn’t normally have the chance to go to college, and sports gives them that opportunity.” Nice sentiment, but, uh, no. Having attended some neglected, underfunded public high school, failing to master even basic academic curriculum, does not adequately prepare one for a college education. Unless, I mean, you’re going to UNLV.

College is hard enough for the real students, who spent twelve years preparing for the intellectual challenges of a higher education: learning how to write, learning comprehension skills, math skills, etc. Middle school students and high school students, when they’re faced with new academic challenges, sometimes ask, “Why do I have to learn this when I’m never going to need it in real life?” Damn snarky kids. But here’s the answer. “You probably won’t need it in real life. But you’ll need it for college. That’s why the stupid kids flunk out after their first year.”  

Even if you have the incentive to succeed, you can’t just “start” at the college level. You’ll be lost and confused. It’s like starting Game of Thrones in the middle of Season Three. Before you begin college, you need to learn how to learn.

But even the student-athletes with legitimate academic credentials can’t expect to get good grades while carrying the burden of a big-time football schedule: games, practices, traveling. When exactly are the players supposed to study their anthropology notes? During halftime? I didn’t have any time-consuming extra-curricular activities during my college years and I still barely had time to get all my schoolwork done. Though, in fairness, I also drank heavily and that took up a good portion of the day.

Here’s the truth. The athletes have no interest in school. The coaches only care about winning games. The fans just want to be entertained. The television networks crave good ratings. And I just want my teams to beat the spread.

Nobody cares if the Division 1 football and basketball players go to class. Society’s fake outrage isn’t about academic integrity; it’s about racism. It’s bad enough that the players- many of them from poor, minority communities- don’t get paid for their athletic performance. We want to further humiliate and degrade them with the threat of expulsion. In exchange for entertaining us with your on-the-field exploits, we’ll give you… no, not money, but the obligation to finish your ten-page Greek History paper by Friday. This is white America’s passive-aggressive way of telling young black men, “We hope you appreciate all that we’ve done for you. At least you better.”

If men could get pregnant, abortion wouldn’t be a controversy; it would be an Olympic sport. Similarly, think what would happen if college roles were reversed. What if college football players were all wealthy, middle-aged white men? What if college coaches and university presidents and television network executives were nineteen-year-old black kids from the inner-city? Well, for one thing, the games would suck. But also, you can be sure that the players would demand to be paid. And the rest of society would agree.

“A free education? Take that free education and shove it up your ass! We’re making you millions of dollars while risking serious injury. We want a piece of that delicious economic pie. And if, as a requirement to play, we need to maintain a B average… then force the professors to give us a damn B!”  

Here’s my advice to college professors being pressured to change student-athletes’ grades…

Save yourself the hassle. Do yourself a favor. Make things easy on yourself. Change their grades. Let them pass your class. Delete that 19 in your grade book and make it an 87. Give them extra credit for, oh, I don’t know, drawing a smiley face on the back of their midterm. Whatever. It doesn’t really matter. Nothing really matters. In a few years, nobody will remember that you changed a grade so that a college athlete could play in a game. And in a few years, nobody will remember the game, either.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8iNjyaefU8

 

9-21-15 

I’M SORT OF SORRY (or: THE SOCIOLOGY OF APOLOGIES)  

There are basically two kinds of apologies. Well, three if you count “sorry” sex… which is never as good as “make-up” sex, slightly better than “honeymoon” sex, and much better than “trying to keep your mind off the sudden death of a loved one” sex. But for our purposes, let’s assume we’re talking about words and not actions… which, coincidentally, is the official motto of Congress. “Congressional” sex? The worst.  

But be clear about what constitutes an apology.  

Fake apologies have, unfortunately, seeped into the social cesspool of self-obsessed impatience. “Yeah, I get that you’re mad at me for something I did, but your hurt feelings are starting to annoy me, so I’ll just barf up some meaningless apologetic words so we can move on.” Well guess what? I don’t want to move on, jerk.  

If you truly believe that you’re in the right, stand by your actions. And if you know you’re wrong but you don’t care, then you’re a dick. But at least you’re a dick with integrity… which coincidentally, is the title of Ron Jeremy’s penis’s autobiography.  

Famous fake apologies include Chris Brown for domestic violence, British Petroleum for the oil spill, and literally every single political sex scandal ever. “I’m sorry I got caught” is, by definition, an apology to yourself. Yes, and I’m sorry to myself that I just ate this entire bag of Doritos in one sitting, but that doesn’t mean I should call a press conference. 

Fake apologies are easy to spot.   

Real apologies begin with I. “You’re an hour late.” “Sorry.” You just wasted an hour of my time, but you’re not willing to spend the extra fraction-of-a-second to clarify that you are the one who is sorry? Who is sorry? You? This chair? Ruth Bader Ginsberg? Are you sorry, or did you just feel like saying a random word? “You’re an hour late.” “Dragon.” Same flippant sincerity and same flipping effect.  

One-word apologies are about as heartfelt as a typical Kim Kardashian wedding vow.  

Real apologies contain the word sorry. “I apologize” is not an apology. “I apologize” is a way to describe the apology that you’re not currently giving me. It’s sort of like saying “I exercise” while sitting on the couch. Okay- you apologize. I wait for apology. I still not hear apology. When apology come?   

Real apologies end with the word sorry. The only thing that comes after a real sorry is a period, or maybe an exclamation point if you’re far away. Be wary of apologies that include the word but, however, or even though. A real apology is not followed by an explanation. “I’m really sorry, but let me explain why I’m not sorry.” The first time a woman said to me, “I love you,” it was a wonderful feeling. The first time a woman said to me, “I love you, but…” the night didn’t end well.  

Real apologies are spoken or written directly to a specific person or people. This often contradicts the classic bullsh*t public apology. “I’m sorry to the people I’ve hurt.” Then apologize to the freakin’ people you’ve hurt! (I’m far away.)  Why am I involved in your drama? Real apologies don’t involve a middleman. Or “I want to apologize to anyone I’ve hurt.” Anyone? What if ISIS was hurt by your mean fat-shaming twitter joke. Well, I for one will never apologize to ISIS, though I do feel a little bad about taking so long to return their One Direction CD. God, how were you English lads able to pack so many amazing songs on one disc?  

Real apologies are simple; I’m sorry. Too much wordiness tends to cloud one’s sincerity. “Very” or “really”, in between I’m and sorry work. I’m skeptical of “so”, though, as in “I’m so sorry.” So sounds a little sarcastic. So often comes with a condescending eye roll. I think you are so talented, Mr. Seacrest.   

Along with a real apology, one will sometimes ask, “Do you accept my apology?” or “I hope you can forgive me.” And that’s fine. But you apologize because you truly regret the hurt that you caused. Whether or not the victim accepts your apology is irrelevant. Sometimes people say, “I hope you can forgive me,” without first issuing an actual apology. It’s like asking for “make-up” sex before you’ve made up. Incidentally, “before making up” sex is always hotter than tepid “make-up” sex. “Make-up” sex is like the movie Birdman. I’m not saying I don’t like it, but it’s overrated. The dialogue is pretty good, though- I mean during the sex, not in Birdman.  

There are two kinds of real, sincere apologies- prompted and unprompted.  

The best apologies to receive are unprompted. That’s when, out of the blue, unexpectedly, someone issues an apology for something he or she did in the past. The apologizer could be thinking about something horrible they did the day before, or maybe an inconspicuous comment they made years earlier. Sometimes the receiver doesn’t even remember the thing you’re apologizing for… at least they say they don’t remember… but, of course, they do. I can’t remember my first wife’s name, but I can still remember anytime I was ever made to feel left out, made to feel inferior, embarrassed, degraded, humilia… oh, wait, it was Jennifer! Yeah, we had some good times. I wonder whatever happened to her?  

We don’t like to think about the hurtful stuff we’ve done in the past. We’re human beings, one of the top twenty species. Eh, maybe top fifty. But most of us are pretty decent. And to recall our regretful actions/words, it reminds us that we’re hypocrites- that we’re justifiably angry when someone wrongs us, but that we’re not doing anything to rectify the pain that we’ve caused. So we throw that emotional damage in a cardboard box, tape it up, and store it in the attic with the “I thought I would use it more” appliances we bought at Bed, Bath, & Beyond eleven years ago.  

Nevertheless, aside from sneezing and “after-sneezing” sex, few things feel better than receiving an unexpected apology. It validates the hurt that you felt at the time. Plus, it means the person was thinking about you, which is always kind of nice. If you are really sorry for something you did to someone, I’d always recommend reaching out to the person. Maybe send an email. There are worse ways to spend a few minute than trying to be a better person… unless you’re Tom Brady and you’re thinking of apologizing to us Jets fans. Don’t waste your time. We don’t forgive you.    

A prompted apology is a two-part process. First you tell the person about the crappy thing they did. Then you get your apology. This kind of feels like you’re “asking” for an apology. And, of course, you shouldn’t have to ask for an apology. It’s like when the movie theater counter lady asks if you want butter on your popcorn. Uh, duh! Hell, I don’t even care about the popcorn. I’d eat a sock if it was covered in movie butter.   

Nevertheless, a prompted apology doesn’t necessarily make it any less sincere. That’s why I send out an annual Christmas card to all my loved ones, specifically telling them all the things they need to apologize to me for.  

Sometimes, politicians debate whether or not to offer formal government apologies for crimes of the past, like slavery or Native American genocide or Dick Cheney. It’s misguided pride to think that we shouldn’t admit and acknowledge our mistakes. Is an apology always enough? No. But it’s a start. I’m not sure about the term formal, though. I prefer personal, informal apologies; they come more from the heart.  

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan- the hero of modern Republicans- issued an apology to the Japanese-Americans who were unfairly forced into internment camps during World War 2. About twenty years later, the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney published his book No Apology: The Case for American Greatness. The Republican Party has changed. I’m looking forward to Donald Trump’s next autobiography: You Want An Apology? Fuck You!  

I don’t think greatness and a willingness to apologize are mutually exclusive.   

One time I wrote an essay about the difference between liberals and conservatives. Here’s an amendment to that piece. Conservatives don’t apologize. Liberals apologize too much. Liberals are sorry about everything, it seems. Nobody should say “I’m sorry” that much unless you’re Charlie Sheen at a parole hearing. There’s a difference between sincere contrition and obsessive self-loathing.  

Nevertheless, a real apology is still a powerful force. And I stand behind every apology I give. Unless you’re being unappreciative about it. Then I take my apology back. 

 

9-10-15 

HERE LIES MY THOUGHTS (or: THE SOCIOLOGY OF CEMETERIES)

I like to take a walk in the morning. It’s very relaxing. No music, no audiobooks, no distractions- just me and a dozen or so government drones circling above. Lately, my walks have taken me through a nearby cemetery.  

I’m not sure what the difference is between cemeteries and graveyards. I think graveyards have zombies.  

We drive past cemeteries without giving it much thought. “Look to your right, kids! Human corpses!” Eh, but you could say the same thing driving past a law office, a modeling agency, or pretty much any food stand that sells cheap hot dogs. Hence, cemeteries don’t have much of an impact. Still, to actually walk through a field of deceased bodies fills one with contemplation.   

Cemetery sounds a little like the word secretary. Have you ever been to a Secretary Cemetery? Just look for the entitled male bosses overworking and sexually harassing the headstones.  

Cemetery headstones vary considerably. There are big headstones and little ones. There are fancy, beautiful headstones and plain ones. Some headstones hang out in groups. Other headstones sit alone. Cemeteries are a lot of like high school, except that everyone is in the “goth” clique.    

Many of the headstones have an image of a football team logo or a fishing pole or some sort of activity or hobby chiseled into the stone. People live for up to one-hundred years old, sometimes even longer. Yet their entire lives can be summed up by a couple of hobbies. I guess it’s true what they say; life is short, so stay within your comfort zone.  

Lately, my hobby is walking through cemeteries and looking at headstones. Hence, when I die, on my headstone, I’ll have them chisel a picture of a headstone.  

Headstones with pictures that sum up a person’s life are a recent trend. In the cemetery where I take my walks, only the newer headstones have graphics. The tomb markers with death dates in the early 1900’s are pretty empty- usually accompanied by just a name and a birthdate. But if those older headstones summed up the person’s entire life, then I’d imagine you’d see a lot of pictures of, oh, I don’t know, constant tooth pain? Life was hard back then.  

On the other hand, everyone’s life can be pretty much summed up by their name, when they were born, and when they died. And maybe their horrible high school prom photos.   

Married couples are often buried together, which is both lovely and sad. Some of the married couples share a headstone, which includes their names, their birth and death dates, and their AshleyMadison user accounts. 

I pay attention to the death dates of the married couple headstones. Sometimes, a husband and wife die only a few years apart. But sometimes, the gap is wider, with one spouse dying twenty years or more before the other. I guess it’s assumed that the living spouse will not find another wife or husband. Or, if they do, then they’ll be buried with their initial spouse. Or maybe they’ll be buried with their favorite spouse. It’s sort of like when the Baseball Hall of Fame has to choose which team’s cap a player will wear on his plaque. Legendary slugger Reggie Jackson played more years with the Oakland A’s, but he’s wearing a New York Yankees cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. He’s “known” more for being a Yankee. People should be buried with the spouse they’re most known for. Hence, Pamela Anderson should be buried next to Tommy Lee. Sorry, Kid Rick.  

Cemeteries are quiet and peaceful. Unlike so many other aspects of modern society- like at one’s job, for example- people still act respectful when in a cemetery. I hope they never broadcast the MTV Music Awards from a cemetery. Live from Mr. Charles Roger Westchester’s Headstone (1879- 1952), it’s Miley Cyrus! Shit’s ‘bout to get nasty! Some things should stay dignified.  

Sometimes when I’m walking through the cemetery, I pass the same friendly man walking his dog. I wonder if dogs are aware of the cemetery concept. Do they know they’re walking above human remains? I think it might freak them out. Although a dog park combined with a squirrel cemetery seems like a good fit.   

Throughout my cemetery walk, I pass several mausoleums, the fancy little forts where wealthy dead people are housed. When I die, I hope God and Elvis don’t ask me why I tolerated a society where dead people were kept in expensive little buildings, while thousands of living people remained homeless. I don’t really have an answer. 

Nevertheless, some of the mausoleums are quite impressive, built with beautiful, quality craftsmanship. When I die, I’d prefer a mausoleum over a coffin in the ground. That way, if it turns out I’m not really dead, at least I can spend the rest of my life in a nice little house. I don’t think most Americans are properly prepared for the possibility of accidentally being buried alive. As I walk through the cemetery, and I pass by human hands desperately trying to claw out from the ground, hoping for some sort of miracle rescue, I think, “Would it have killed you to spend an extra couple of bucks on a walkie-talkie?”    

Cemeteries make some people uncomfortable. I guess that’s because people don’t like to be reminded of death. But cemeteries aren’t really about death. War is death. Poverty is death. Improvisational jazz is death. But cemeteries are about the living. I mean, once you’re dead, it doesn’t matter if your hotel has a Jacuzzi; the deceased don’t care on whose couch they crash. Cemeteries are for people like you and me- to honor, to ponder, to appreciate.  

I don’t have much advice to give. But if I could offer you a suggestion while the weather is still pleasant, it would be to take a walk through a cemetery. Simply drive your car to a cemetery in town, park your car, and get out and walk. Don’t bring anyone with you. Go solo. Read the names and dates and poems and quotes on the headstones. Literally touch the stones. Graze your fingertips over the words. Nobody will mind. In our modern world of flashing lights and in-your-face opinions and the on-again off-again Blake Shelton Miranda Lambert saga, it’s not always easy to find a little inner peace. But this will help.

 

9-3-15

IT'S TIME TO STOP THE PUBLIC AOL USER SHAMING

I still use an AOL email address. There. Are you done snickering? I’m glad I amused you. No, I don’t have one of those hip, state-of-the-art, space-age gmail accounts. So… now what? I have to give back my coolness membership card? My invitation to the Macklemore Hosts the Vanity Fair Party Celebrating the New Kylie Jenner App gets rescinded? 

There’s no consistency when it comes to mocking outdated technology.  

If you still buy music CDs, you’re old and out-of-touch. But yet it’s fashionable to collect vinyl records. Hipsters and music snobs cherish the cracks and pops of a needle passing over the grooves of an LP. In other words, it’s cool to listen to music that sounds like shit. Heck, if I knew that, I wouldn’t have given away my R. Kelly tickets.     

You’re not supposed to enjoy outdated video game systems… unless you do it ironically. Then it’s sort of okay. Well, while my friends are playing Grand Theft Auto 5 on Xbox and murdering prostitutes, I’m “ironically” piling up six-digit scores digits on Atari Frogger. Take that, suckas. (note: I’m not sure if I used the proper grammar. Did I make it sound like my friends were playing a video game and then, separately, they also happen to be murdering prostitutes? Because that’s what I meant.)    

Only losers and ninety-year-olds still watch movies on a VCR. Only dorks and sixty-year-olds still watch movies on a DVD Player. Only goofballs and forty-year-olds still watch movies on a Blu-Ray player. Young, edgy people watch movies on their wristwatch.  

Old cameras are still cool- the bigger, the bulkier, the better. Behind every sixty-pound early 1900s vintage wooden box camera is a hipster with too much integrity to capture a moment with a tiny, modern, soulless, picture-taking device… unless he’s taking selfies at Burning Man.  

People under the age of twenty-five don’t make fun of me for owning a landline phone because they don’t know what a landline phone is.  

I have a cell phone, but I’m still afraid to eliminate my landline. It’s like my security blanket. (note: My actual security blanket is made by Apple. It’s a limited edition Linus iBlanket. So nobody makes fun of me for that.) I don’t receive many phone calls on my landline phone. A nice Indian lady calls me every few months with an opportunity to save money on my electric bill. But that’s about it. But I’ve never lost my landline phone, it has never been stolen, I don’t rudely whip it out when I’m at a restaurant, and the screen isn’t cracked.    

Now, you can still be hip and cutting edge with a landline phone, but only if it’s one of those retro-looking antique telephones. In fact, even if the phone doesn’t actually work, it’s mainly just there for decoration, anyway. Sort of like a BlackBerry.   

I’m also afraid to drop my subscription to Time-Warner. I have a growing number of friends who have ditched cable entirely- because they have their Netflix and their Hulu and they don’t feel like paying a monthly fortune to watch teen moms and twelve auto racing channels.  

I’m not emotionally prepared to get rid of my cable, however. Not yet, anyway. I don’t like the idea of turning on the television and then having to program in a show. When I turn on the TV, I want the TV to be on. Plus, I’m one of the forty people left in America who still watches the evening news. And I need cable TV for that. Of course, with Netflix, you can marathon an entire season of news in one weekend, which is pretty convenient. But it’s just not the same.  

So there’s no technological consistency. Sometimes we deride older technology. Sometimes we admire it. But there’s usually some explanation. I mean, I understand why my Friendster account is losing steam.   

But why is AOL a joke? What is the explanation? Why do people laugh when I tell them I still use America On-Line? I don’t get it. It’s embarrassing. Every time I give out my email address, I feel like I’m using a Discover card.  

Look, I “get” technology. But what technological email breakthrough did I miss? With my AOL address, I deliver and receive messages instantly. Did Steve Jobs improve on that somehow? Was “instantly” not fast enough for people?  

When people are at my home, and they hear “you’ve got mail” coming from my computer, they make fun of me. Why?! I don’t get it. Why do I feel like I’m wearing dad jeans to a rave? Did the hip gadget gods come up with a better way of letting you know you have mail? How does Scarlet Johansson get her emails- by drone?  

In this politically correct world we live in, in which shaming/ mocking groups of people is socially condemned, there remains one category of Americans that continues to be scorned, joked about, condescended to, laughed at, ostracized, judged, questioned, and publicly humiliated- AOL users. Well, also mimes.   

Personally, I’ve had enough of the abuse. I’m taking a stand. I will no longer be embarrassed over my love for AOL. I’m a proud AOL user. AOL is convenient and reliable and I’ve never seen any reason to change. Plus, with my new unlimited AOL pricing plan, I can use the Internet for hours at a time. And if you don’t like what I’m saying, then send me a message at ScrewYou@aol.com. (note: Don’t actually send me a message at that AOL address. It’s not really mine. It’s Jeb Bush’s.)

 

8-27-15

ONLY WINNERS SHOULD GET A PARTICIPATION TROPHY 

Last week, Pittsburgh Steeler James Harrison was applauded throughout the Internet universe for making his two sons return their “participation trophies”, which they received at a youth football camp. Americans are getting tired of self-indulgent socialization, in which kids are praised and rewarded for just showing up. Instead, we believe children should only be celebrated when they score a touchdown at youth football camp. And when they win. Because that’s a great accomplishment, apparently. Many people don’t know that Albert Einstein won his Nobel Prize for hitting .400 in Little League.   

It’s interesting that Harrison referred to raising his “two boys to be men.” In 2008, Harrison was arrested for domestic assault. The charges were later dropped after he completed anger management counseling. I believe that real men don’t hit women. I think fathers should raise their boys to be men by teaching them not to hit women. If your son gets an “I Don’t Hit Women” trophy, you’re doing something right. But he has to earn it. As for awarding kids with sports participation trophies… eh, who gives a shit?  

"While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best. Cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better...not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy.” 

There’s an irony to this story when you think about it. The criticism of participation trophies is that kids are being given artificial praise and made to feel special, like everything is all about them. If the trophies were so worthless, then Harrison should’ve just thrown them in the trash. Story over. Instead, he is returning them. And he’s announcing to the world that he is returning them. In other words, he is making everything all about him. And he feels special. And now he’s receiving tons of artificial praise. Well, he still deserves the Father of the Year award… just for participating.   

Sure, participation trophies are stupid. But all trophies are stupid. How insecure is the human race that we need a useless, cheap plastic piece of crap on our bookshelf to feel accomplished?  

Well, I mean, it’s not completely useless. Al Pacino used his trophy to fight off a psychopath in Sea of Love. That movie’s not on cable much anymore. Good flick, though.   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkMX7HskxXc 

But assuming you’re not using your trophy as a weapon against crazy movie stalkers, what’s the point? Maybe we’re better off teaching children the simple, intangible joy of reaching a goal. Savor the emotional satisfaction of your achievement. Enjoy the memory of your victory. Normal, rational human beings have the ability to cherish our accomplishments without an ugly piece of hardware with a little gold person at the top to remind us that we did something pretty good. This is what sets us apart from actors.  

Actually, I suspect that young people themselves don’t care about the worthless trophies and ribbons and certificates thrown at them. Rather, it’s all about helicopter parents who feel the need to be a constant presence within their children’s extra-curricular activities. I’ve never seen a kid excited about receiving a participation trophy. Kids get excited about receiving video games and smartphones. Eh, they’re not even excited about that. Nothing excites kids anymore. God it’s depressing.     

But to say that we shouldn’t be handing out trophies for participation is more figurative than literal. From the time they’re born, children are praised for just showing up. Parents applaud their toddlers for going to the bathroom on the potty. What’s so great about making on the potty? When my sons first became toilet trained, I returned the poop.  

We live in a “participation trophy” world now, unfortunately. But the real issue isn’t the praise children are given without accomplishment. Rather, the bigger problem is what society considers an “accomplishment.”   

I’m curious as to what James Harrison would consider trophy-worthy. Being the best player on the team? Winning a few games? See, the more serious problem is that kids are being raised to think that all the stupid activities they do are important. And they’re not. Unless your nine-year-old is working on a cure for cancer, he or she needs to understand that their dance recital and their soccer game aren’t important. I mean, it’s important to them, but not to the rest of the world. In the rest of the world, ISIS is chopping people’s heads off. You scored a goal? Big f**king deal. Even Mommy and Daddy hate going to your boring activities, but for some reason, somewhere along the line, society decided this was mandatory for being a good parent. Plus, Mommy and Daddy are trying to save our marriage after Daddy was caught kissing his secretary on the mouth.  

Mothers and fathers in the stands, unnecessarily cheering on their kids, are sort of like the “participation trophy” of parenting.   

Kids shouldn’t receive a participation trophy at football camp- but not because they didn’t do anything to deserve it. Rather, because football camp, like all youth social activities, is supposed to be parent-free fun. You’re not participating for a trophy; you’re doing it to have a good time. Outside of school and chores, kids are supposed to have a good time doing unimportant, non-trophy-worthy things. And, outside of school and chores, everything they do is unimportant. And nothing they do deserves a trophy.  

If kids have fun getting trophies, then let’s give them trophies. But the reason you don’t see trophy camps is because it’s not something kids care about. Within our absurd “you get a trophy just for participating” society, literally getting a trophy just for participating is probably the one aspect of today’s horrible parenting that doesn’t make children believe the world is all about them.  

As for adults… 

If the Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl this year, they’ll win the Lombardi Trophy. But it doesn’t matter how well James Harrison plays, or how injured he gets in the process. He doesn’t get to keep the trophy. Instead, when a football team wins the Super Bowl, their rich, white, old, out-of-shape owner gets the trophy. And the owner didn’t even participate.  

And that’s the more accurate message we should be sending to our kids. Play hard. Have fun. But know that the game is rigged.

 

8-22-15

I KNOW THE REAL REASON WHY DONALD TRUMP IS SO POPULAR 

They just don’t get it. And by they I mean the political pundits- the “experts.” And by it I mean why Donald Trump continues to resonate with Americans. And by Americans I mean the people of whom 41% can’t name the Vice-President, 65% can’t name a single Supreme Court justice, and 77% believe that space aliens have visited Earth. Also, according to the Rotten Tomatoes website, 87% of audience members liked Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman.   

What are the job requirements to becoming a political expert, anyway? I think I would make a good pundit. Based on what I’ve gathered from watching a lot of cable news, all you have to do is dress sharp, pretend like you know what you’re talking about, and use the term “from Wall Street to Main Street” a lot. Oh, also, you’re supposed to get a sense of things. The political pundits say stuff like “the sense I’m getting” and “the mood in Washington…”   

It’s obvious why Donald Trump continues to surge in the polls. Yet the political pundits still can’t explain it. Google “why is Donald Trump doing so well” and you’ll get more clichés than an NFL locker room interview. You’ll read that people like Trump for being a political outsider or that voters find his brash style appealing. But in the way same way football players are giving it 110 percent, there is a logical inconsistency to these explanations. (Incidentally, I’ve always wondered how fans would react to an athlete who only gives 104 percent when he’s on the field.  Would he be accused of not making a full effort?)  

First of all, Trump isn’t a political outsider. The Clintons attended his wedding. The Clintons didn’t attend my wedding. Well, Doug and Maggie Clinton came, but Doug isn’t the former President of the United States; he’s my dad’s bowling partner. Donald Trump speaks about calling famous politicians on the phone. Well, if Mitt Romney is on your speed dial, you’re not a political outsider. Heck, if I want to talk to Mitt Romney, I have to use his 1-800 number, which I got off the back of an 18-wheeler that asked what I thought of Mitt’s driving.  

Most people aren’t political outsiders. But most people aren’t leading in the Republican primary polls. Lou, my mailman, is a political outsider. But Lou doesn’t seem to be appealing to voters. Heck, Lou is barely polling above George Pataki or Bobby Jindal.    

And it’s not about personality. If you could win an election simply by being obnoxious, then Ted Cruz would be the next President of the United States. And it’s not about the issues. Trump and Cruz are simpatico on the issues. If you could really solve the immigration issue by crapping on the 14th Amendment of the Constitution’s guaranteed right to citizenship, then President Cruz would have to deport himself.  

No, the reason that Donald Trump is so popular is because he’s a celebrity. That’s all there is to it. We love celebrities. And when we hate celebrities, we love to hate them. We care about celebrities. People care about Donald Trump.  

That ordinary, everyday Americans can “relate” to Donald Trump, or that they believe he can relate to them, is even more absurd than Jared Fogle winning next season’s Celebrity Apprentice. The man is a multi-billionaire who keeps a private jet inside his bigger private jet. But it doesn’t matter. Americans feel they can relate to celebrities. Why? Because we want to be celebrities. People don’t imagine themselves as politicians or as mailmen. We picture ourselves sitting at the head of a fake boardroom studio saying “you’re fired” and then going out and meeting Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston for cocktails. God I wish those two would get back together.   

It doesn’t matter that Donald Trump says stupid stuff. He’s a celebrity. Ryan Reynolds isn’t saying anything of substance, either. And he has six-hundred-thousand freakin’ Twitter followers! Hmm… let’s see what smart things Sharon Osbourne is telling her 2.3 million Twitter followers.  

Sharon Osbourne @MrsSOsbourne Aug 14 @SalmaHayek is a true natural beauty on the inside and out. Believe me I’ve met them all and she’s the best.  

Thank you, Sharon. That’s good to know. Now what do you think we should do about ISIS?

See, these people are celebrities. We listen to their gobbledygook because we need them. What would our shallow, pointless existence be without famous people’s opinions? Talk shows and reality shows and celebrity blogs keep us entertained. I for one refuse to go back to books. 

Donald Trump is an entertainer. If his poll numbers drop, it’s like we’re cancelling the Donald Trump Show. And we don’t want that. We love his show too much.

I don’t even think most of the Trump supporters realize why they like him so much. They think they like Trump’s “tough talk.” But that’s not what it is. They’re simply hypnotized by the power of celebrity. It’s sort of like how if your grandfather gets a tattoo, it’s gross. Meanwhile, if an attractive woman gets the exact same tattoo, it’s sexy. It’s not the tattoo- it’s the woman. It’s not what Trump says- it’s the celebrity saying it. (Incidentally, I wanted to get a tattoo that best represented me as a person. So I got a tattoo of me getting a tattoo. It’s on my neck.)

A few months ago, I read about a dangerous trend in which teenage girls were sucking shot glasses to puff up their lips… in order to look more like Kylie Jenner. Why? Because young girls love Kylie Jenner, who of course is famous for

According to reports, Kylie, who is occasionally seen but not heard on the reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians, was paid two-hundred-thousand dollars by promoters to appear at her own 18th birthday party. Oh, and her boyfriend Tyga gave her a Ferrari. That’s nice. Most kids celebrate their birthday in a less extravagant way, I assume. But that doesn’t matter. Young people can relate to Kylie Jenner because she’s a celebrity. They think of Kylie as a “friend.” And one day, years from now, Kylie Jenner will be the President of the United States of America.

When Donald Trump announced his candidacy, a lot of people didn’t take him seriously. But I did. I knew he would do well. Why? Because he’s a celebrity. People like celebrities. I still tell friends about the time I met Sergeant Slaughter, the professional wrestler from the 1980s. That’s all there is to the story; I met him. And, yet, people really like the story.

Nevertheless, I did write that Donald Trump probably wouldn’t end up winning his party’s nomination. But I only wrote that because the political experts on TV were saying that he wouldn’t win his party’s nomination. Now I think they might be wrong. And from now on, when I want solid political analysis, I’ll go to TMZ and find out what the celebrities are saying. Because celebrities know everything. Or at least that’s the sense I’m getting.  

http://www.newsmax.com/Politics/Bidenvice-presidentPewsurvey/2010/09/29/id/371976/

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/12/opinion/sunday/bruni-america-the-clueless.html?_r=0

http://www.sott.net/article/271567-More-Americans-believe-aliens-have-visited-Earth-than-believe-that-Jesus-is-the-Son-of-God

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/diary_of_a_mad_black_woman/?search=diary%20of%20a%20mad

 

8-18-15

I SHOULD BE HILLARY CLINTON'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER

The hit film Straight Outta Compton tells the story of legendary rap group N.W.A. The charismatic performers became famous for their controversial, hard-core, and sometimes misogynistic lyrics- which chronicled gang life on the streets. And that life involved a dangerous mix of violence, economic stratification, and conflict with a racist white police force. Hence, I was thrown off by Kirk Cameron’s surprise cameo, in which he played “Todd”, the kindly mailman. While the movie takes place in the 1980s, many see a direct parallel to America in 2015. I certainly do. Oh, I don’t mean about the stuff with the cops, although I guess that’s true. I’m referring to the fact that America is still misogynistic.  

As a college professor in 2007, I remember asking my class why our country has never elected a female President. I also remember that the students didn’t text as much during my lectures. My best student brought up the fact that women weren’t even allowed to vote until 1920, a mere fifty-one years after former male slaves were given that same right. (That my student inaccurately thought Congress added these amendments into the Pledge of Allegiance- rather than the Constitution- does not take away from his powerful observation.) Then another student raised her hand and asked, “But haven’t things changed for women? Hillary Clinton is probably going to be the next President of the United States.” I replied, “Eh, we’ll see.”  

As it turned out, Clinton wasn’t even selected to be the Democratic Party’s Presidential nominee, although President Obama did hire her to be one of his secretaries. It was either that or appointing her Waitress-of-State.    

The Republican Party has been accused of waging a war on women. That’s probably an unfair accusation. Sure, the leading GOP Presidential candidate publicly calls women “fat pigs” and Fox News’ latest crusade is to stop funding Planned Parenthood. But I wouldn’t call this a war- more like a “public shaming” of women.  

The abortion debate was supposed to have ended in 1973. Or, as my best student stated, “The Supreme Court legalized abortion after ruling on Roy G Biv.” I asked, “Do you mean Roe v Wade?” My student responded, “Whatever. Is the test gonna be cumulative?” But FOX News values life so much, it will do anything to keep the “control over women’s bodies” debate alive.  

Oh, but Fox News calls it the Planned Parenthood scandal. On Fox, the new strategy is to refer to women’s issues as scandals. There’s the Planned Parenthood scandal. And Hillary Clinton used her private email account scandal. And the Bill O’Reilly sexual harassment scandal. Well, actually, Fox kind of kept that last one quiet.

FOX News: We Decide. You Retort.    

Nevertheless, I’m starting to question liberal America’s feelings about women. 

Our country is, sadly, turning a blind eye to the systematic rape and genocide of women in the Middle East and on The Cosby Show. ISIS has created an entire industry of selling girls as sex slaves and torturing non-believers. And since the horrific abuse of women is an important part of the terrorist doctrine, life ain’t so great for the female believers, either.   

Yet liberals continue to be enslaved by a political philosophy, overwhelmingly supporting less military involvement in overseas affairs. Look, I get it. You don’t like war stuff. I don’t, either. Heck, I don’t even watch the annual Army Navy football game. And the baby in American Sniper was obviously just a doll; it looked ridiculous. But I refuse to believe that the feminist response to an international holocaust of women is “well, this isn’t our problem.”   

Meanwhile, Democratic voters are beginning to turn on Hillary Clinton, the most important American female political figure since Eleanor Roosevelt, the former First Lady and versatile actress who played the strong-willed grandmother on The Waltons.   

I’m not saying that liberals who aren’t supporting Hillary Clinton are sexist, but… no, actually, I am saying that. Why else wouldn’t Democrats pledge their loyalty to Clinton? Because she used a private account to send government emails? Or was it that she used a government account to send private emails? Either way, it’s the biggest this affects absolutely nobody bullshit “scandal” since Ben Affleck ran off with the nanny. Or was it that the nanny ran off with him?  

The progressives’ verbal attacks against Hillary Clinton have been unwarranted, unfair, and divisive. And it’s not just Hillary Clinton, either. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Condoleezza Rice, and, yes, even wingnut Ann Coulter have been publicly degraded by the left in ways specific to their gender. Apparently, there’s only one woman in the United States that liberals won’t say anything negative about: Caitlyn Jenner.  

Hillary Clinton is still, overall, dominating the Democratic national poll numbers. Yet now I’m reading about Democratic bigwigs- like Joe Biden or Al Gore, for example- possibly entering the race in order to “rescue” the Party. Yes, Hillary Clinton is like a Disney princess in need of rescue.  

Dana Perino of Fox News suggested that Joe Biden would be more appealing to young voters because people under thirty-five associate Biden with Barack Obama. Yes, the kids just love Joe Biden- almost as much as they love dancing to the Elvis Presley music at the sock hop.   

If a male candidate had the kind of name-recognition, popularity, and experience as Hillary Clinton, do you think there would be grumblings within the Democratic Party to bring back Al Gore? Well I hate to break it to you, but Al Gore is never coming back. And I’m not just referring to this election; I mean in general.  

Some Democrats are turning to Bernie Sanders. Heck, if Bernie Sanders is the savior of the Democrats, then Colonel Sanders is the savior of chickens.   

Liberals prefer Bernie Sanders over Clinton because of his outsider status. His unconventional political rhetoric makes him more relatable to everyday Americans, apparently. Meanwhile, I’m told, Clinton is a “typical politician.” Hence, I don’t have the heart to tell Sanders supporters that Hillary Clinton is a private citizen, while Sanders has been in Congress for twenty-five years. As a Senator, Sanders makes the same salary for doing nothing that Republican Senators Cruz and Rubio make for doing nothing. Do you know how much they make? More than you. Bernie Sanders isn’t an “everyday” American; he just dresses like one.      

Bernie Sanders reminds me of my professors in grad school. They rattled on to like-minded individuals about political philosophy without offering any specific or realistic plans that might actually help anyone. Sanders has been in political office for a long time. What has he accomplished? Poor families can’t pay their weekly grocery bill. Has the Sanders Grocery Payment Plan for Low-Income Families Bill passed through the Senate yet? Meanwhile, as First Lady, Hillary Clinton introduced a comprehensive health care plan that would have revolutionized the nation’s embarrassing medical industry. It was rejected by Congress. (“Some unelected lady telling us how to do our business? Oh, pish posh.”)  But at least Clinton had the balls… the ovaries to do it. It took work. And it’s the first time I heard anyone talking about fixing our healthcare mess, which then led to the political reforms made over the past few years.  

Incidentally, did you ever need to speak with your graduate school professors privately, to deal with a personal concern? I did. They were usually condescending dicks who had no idea who I was, had no interest in helping me, and seemed bothered that I would waste their office hours when they could’ve been using that time to write their crappy academic books and order sweater vests on-line.  

Heck, I like Bernie Sanders… but as a friend. But, I mean, I’m not attracted to him. And none of Sanders supporters are really attracted to him, either. Rather, they’re just opposed to Hillary Clinton. But why wouldn’t Democrats support the candidate with the best chance of beating a Republican in the general election? Why are these people opposed to Hillary Clinton, who is dedicated to protecting abortion rights, confronting climate change, filling the Supreme Court with qualified judges, and fighting economic stratification with social programs and sensible taxation? I know why; they can’t quite put their finger on it, but there’s just something about her they don’t trust. After all, women are sneaky.  

If you’re ever going to vote a woman for the highest office in the land, Liberals, Hillary Clinton is your man. There is nobody waiting in the wings- not now, and not in 2020.  Sorry, Elizabeth Warren. Hillary Clinton must win this election, if for no other reason than to strengthen my shaky belief that society has made some strides towards gender equality since the early 1980s. And if Clinton doesn’t win… well, to quote a lyric from the N.W.A. classic A Bitch Iz A Bitch, “Oh, shit. I guess there’s one less bitch you gotta worry about.”  

 

8-15-15 

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE GEORGE PATAKI IS POLLING AT FIVE PERCENT AMONG LIKELY PATAKI VOTERS

Unfortunately for Donald Trump, his most recent verbal attack on women only pushed his poll numbers up by a few points. However, there are far more offensive and misogynistic things yet to be said. And he’ll say them. And that should boost his popularity among likely Republican voters. 

But while Trump continues to surge, I’m also interested in the Republican primary field lightweights. Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore is currently polling at 0.0 percent- three tenths of a point lower than Sean Hannity’s college GPA.  

Polls have a margin of error of a couple of points, which means, theoretically, Jim Gilmore could be polling at less than zero. Of the millions of Republican Party voters, less than none of them want Jim Gilmore to represent their party. That sort of describes my social life in Middle School.   

Gilmore didn’t make much of an impact on the first Republican early debate. Did you notice the boom mic operator standing near the candidates? That was Jim Gilmore. Some people have the personality to command a room. Gilmore couldn’t command a room if he was the only one in it. If Jim Gilmore was standing next to a beige-colored wall, your attention would be focused on the beige.    

My theory is that Gilmore formed a Presidential Exploratory Committee made up of small children, whom he bribed with candy in exchange for urging him to run for President. Either that or this is the same Presidential Exploratory Committee that urged George Lucas to write Jar Jar Binks into the screenplay.  

George Pataki is polling at less than one percent. And, according to post-debate polling, only one percent of viewers thought that Pataki “won” his debate. Similarly, after mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey decimated her last opponent in twenty seconds, about one percent of the audience felt that her opponent won the fight. The more popular candidates did not participate in that early debate. Hence, of the tiny percentage of people who were leaning towards Pataki, only a tiny percentage of those people liked what he had to say. The polls didn’t specify who those people were, but I suspect it was a combination of Pataki’s family, confused dogs, and viewers who were watching TV at an awkward angle so that Pataki was the only one on the screen they could see.  

During the 1990s, Pataki was picked from obscurity to run for Governor of New York. He won the race, and then proceeded to serve three consecutive terms in obscurity.  

While tiny New York State isn’t the political kingmaker of, say, a Nebraska or Puerto Rico or West Dakota, it’s still populated enough so that a three-term Governor should receive a little buzz upon announcing his Presidential candidacy. That Pataki’s complete lack of charisma, likeability, or political savvy supersedes this logic is impressive in an opposite sort of way.   

I lived in New York State (we’re not just New York City, by the way) during George Pataki’s reign as Governor. There’s only one thing I remember about his time in office- constant self-promotion. I’m not opposed to spending tax dollars on promoting NYS tourism or on marketing our business opportunities. But why the hell was bland, boring George Pataki in all the commercials?! Nobody wants to see George Pataki. It’s like trying to get people to see Jurassic World by pushing the lame love story. We want to see the freakin’ dinosaurs. Remember the scene where the T-Rex eats the goat? Pataki was the goat.       

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTwBXnDmc5E

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTJntO1iIP8 

As Governor, George Pataki spent millions of dollars of other people’s money to advertise himself. Oh, technically the commercials were about New York’s health care plan or the MTA Metrocard. But Pataki always managed to put himself in a few scenes. He was like the “Flo from Progressive Insurance” of politics… but even more annoying. Well, just as annoying. Well, almost as annoying. Well… Flo’s really annoying.    

And this is what’s so bothersome about the Republican Presidential losers… I mean candidates. There’s certainly nothing wrong with an underdog running for President. America boasts a long list of political success stories who started out as unknowns. And even if you don’t get a lot of votes, there’s something honorable about putting yourself on the line for a cause. But Tim Gilmore and George Pataki don’t have a cause; rather, they’re compassionate about using debate airtime to get a talk show on FOX News or to pick up speaking gigs on Tea Party cruises. Wait- is it Tim or Jim? I’ve already forgotten.  

Other low-polling Republican candidates, like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, are basically making a career out of running for President. They’re never going to win. They know they’re never going to win. But running for President is a fantastic, economically-smart way of promoting oneself. It doesn’t cost the candidates any money to get interviewed by Megyn Kelly.  

The problem, though, is that you’re not supposed to run for President as a way of promoting yourself. That’s what shirtless Instagram pics are for.  

If you want to promote your new book, go on Good Morning America. Don’t run for President. You’re wasting people’s votes.  

Donald Trump’s message is absurd. But at least he does have a message. (If you told me, several months ago, that political pundits on television would be analyzing and dissecting “building a border wall and making Mexico pay for it” as a legitimate political policy, I would have thought you were insane. Unfortunately, I also would have thought it sounded about right. Society is idiotic.) Plus, Trump truly believes he is going to win. Heck, if you put Donald Trump in a boxing ring with Ronda Rousey, he would truly believe he is going to win. Actually, I’d like to see that.  

During the next debate, the moderators should ask Jim Gilmore and George Pataki and Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum two important questions. Why are you running for President? And why are you really running for President?

 

8-13-15

THE FIFTEEN BIGGEST PLOT RUMORS SURROUNDING STAR WARS: EPISODE VII THE FORCE AWAKENS

(Spoiler Alert)  

1. Han Solo meets Greedo’s orphaned children. Han shoots first.

2. Adam Driver reprises his role of Lena Dunham’s eccentric boyfriend from HBO’s Girls.

3. The “F” bomb is dropped by various characters over 200 times throughout the film.

4. Luke and Leia continue their romantic relationship.

5. Darth Vader dies again.

6. George Lucas is already working on the new edition.

7. The droids are perverted.

8. Tatooine now has a Chipotle.

9. We finally meet Chewbacca’s dentist.

10. The film’s total running time is 42 minutes.

11. Director J.J. Abrams is entirely CGI. 

12. Lupita Nyong’o plays a bounty hunter named Nyong’o Fett.

13. Over 60 percent of the film’s budget went into perfecting Jar Jar Binks’ pratfalls.

14. Two months before its official release date, the film will be screened in prisons.

15. The force isn’t awakened.

 

8-7-15 

MY DENTIST KILLED A LION

I hope the Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the Lion in Africa comes out of hiding soon. I have an appointment on Thursday and my left molar feels a little loose.

It’s not so hard to explain. Some people simply want to kill lions. Since I was a young child, I’ve wanted nothing more than to stab a wooly mammoth with a pocket knife. Damn extinction. 

Big game hunting doesn’t make one a horrible person, necessarily. On the other hand, let’s say two men see a majestic giraffe. One guy looks at the animal in awe, admires it, takes an unobtrusive photograph. The other guy pays twenty-grand to shoot a bow and arrow through its neck. Now- which of these men is more likely to be the asshole dad who screams and curses like a lunatic at his kid’s Little League game?

Who is more likely to aggressively cut you off in traffic in a fit of road rage- a vegan or the guy with a mounted rhino head in his living room?

I’ve heard people compare the insignificance of the lion story with some of the other fake outrage flooding cyberspace, like that TV Land took The Dukes of Hazzard off the air because a Confederate flag was painted on the car. But there’s a big difference. The problem with most of these other nonsense stories is that symbolism takes precedence over reality. The real issue is not a flag; rather, it’s racism. The reason that Confederate symbols exist in the first place is because racism exists, not vice-versa. Taking down the flag isn’t tackling the actual problem. But there is no “bigger picture” to the lion story. It’s a neatly contained story about a meathead with a tiny dick who shot a lion. Of utmost importance? Not really. But it’s not taking away from more serious stuff, either.

Oh, but other people say that stories such as the lion-killing dentist are a distraction from the more important issues. One popular Internet photograph shows a man sitting with a sign: 23 American Veterans Commit Suicide Everyday. No One Cares. 1 Lion Gets Killed And The Country Is In An Uproar. Well, in fairness, nobody cares about lion suicides. Nevertheless, while I hesitate to ever disagree with a sign, I care about our military veterans. Soldiers who bravely fought for our country deserve the finest mental healthcare available. So now can I feel bad for the lion? 

Yes, of course some things are more important than other things. That doesn’t mean we’re stupid or naïve for having an emotional response to a human interest story… or a feline interest story. As intelligent adults, we can educate ourselves about the Iran nuclear deal while simultaneously watching The Bachelorette. Well, not literally simultaneously. God I’m glad Kaitlyn didn’t pick that weasel Nick. I couldn’t stand him. I have absolutely no evidence to prove this, but I’m pretty sure Nick kills lions.

Some people have suggested that the lion-killing was justified because, given the chance, a lion would kill a human being. True, but I would never give a lion that chance. I don’t hang out with lions. My apartment building has a strict no-pets policy. Basically, if you stay away from where the wild animals roam, you’ll be safe. Lions don’t want to murder you; they want you to leave them alone.

Besides, a lion would only kill a person for food. And even then only as a last resort. I mean, have you ever tasted human? The meat is gamey and bland- very similar to roasted Panda.  But lions don’t kill people for fun. Do you know why? Because killing living creatures for fun is sociopathic.

Other people feel it’s okay that the dentist killed the lion, because lions are naturally violent creatures that kill their own kind… unlike, say, human multi-billion dollar weapons industry war-obsessed death penalty giant corporations dumping toxic cancer-causing waste freakin’ beings. 

Nevertheless, the fact that lions kill lions does not give us the right to kill lions. So the moral standard we’re now striving for is lion culture? We’re satisfied with being the ethical equivalent of jungle cats?

Personally, I still believe in a higher moral ground- one of compassion, tolerance, and kindness. Hence, outraged lion-lovers need to leave the dentist alone. Yes, he’s a jerk. Lots of people are jerks. But you can’t threaten the man or harass him at home or ruin his livelihood or give out his private information. It’s a crass and undignified way to respond to stupidity. Lions don’t write troll reviews and personal attacks on Yelp. Neither should human beings.  

Nevertheless, I’m sure the Minnesota dentist has learned a valuable lesson. He has learned that he’s a douche. And in turn, we’ve all learned a valuable lesson. We’ve learned that dentists make a shitload of money.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pR3IQO_6hTo

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/07/28/minnesota-dentist-walter-james-palmer-cecil-lion-africa/30785881/

 

7-30-15

I FEEL LIKE MILEY CYRUS AND I WOULD BE REALLY GREAT FRIENDS 

This morning I read an on-line news headline: Miley Cyrus Posts Photo of Herself As Topless Pirate. I thought to myself, "If I die right now at this moment, the last thing I will have ever read was 'Miley Cyrus Posts Photo of Herself As Topless Pirate'."

Miiley has 21.1 million followers on Twitter. Here is her most recent tweet...

Fuck yeah VMAs!!!!! #VMAs on @MTV Aug 30 at 9pm- July 20 

And after watching last year’s telecast, I would add “Fuck you, VMAs!”  

Miley is hosting the MTV Video Music Awards show in August. I’m not sure if that warrants five exclamation points, however. Miley is a terrible role model for young, impressionable punctuation. 

Miley is only following 362 Twitter accounts, most of those accounts being famous people. Celebrities like to follow each other on Twitter. I suspect that when famous media personalities get together, the conversation rarely centers on their fans. I have no doubt that famous people love their fans… they just don’t care what their fans have to say. The same holds true if you replace famous people and fans with “Leonardo DiCaprio” and “whatever model he is currently dating.”  

Mike Tyson spent time in prison for rape. A number of beloved male celebrities have been arrested for domestic violence. And there’s an endless list of well-liked celebrities who have been arrested for driving while intoxicated: Reese Witherspoon, Keifer Sutherland, Tim Allen, the dog from Frasier, John Quincy Adams, etc. Yet there is so much hate directed towards Miley Cyrus because she rubbed her crotch with a giant foam finger on stage one time. Heck, if molesting oneself on stage with a giant foam finger was so horrible, we’d have to impeach half of Congress.  

I like Miley Cyrus. You never hear her say or do mean-spirited things. In interviews and performance, she stays positive and fun and friendly. And yet check out the reader comments underneath any Internet article about Miley Cyrus; there’s so much anger and venom and slut-shaming and mocking of her talent and her career.  

Miley Cyrus found initial fame as a Disney Channel child star. Hence, some people feel that she is obligated to remain publicly non-sexual, so as not to “offend” her fans. This is an unfair double standard between men and women.  I mean, nobody expected Justin Bieber to stay young forever; we just wanted him to go away forever.  

Like it or not, Miley Cyrus is an adult. She expresses herself sexually as part of the artistic path she chooses to be on right now. Heck, at what point did viewers start tuning into the Mtv Music Awards hoping for less nudity? It’s like watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey for the non-trashiness.  

The real reason society is angered by Miley’s open sexuality is because she’s not a guy and she doesn’t have a voluptuous porn star body and she looks like a typical girl you might know. She’s relatable. And regular, relatable women are not supposed to flaunt it; this contradicts the status quo of traditional gender roles. Nobody is bothered when Adam Levine shows skin… except for the people who are bothered by Adam Levine in general… which, okay, I guess is everyone.    

When it comes to all of the sexually inappropriate things your kids see in a typical day, a topless Miley Cyrus isn’t even in the top twenty. But, I mean, if you’re really adamant about not letting your children view sexual imagery, then simply don’t let them or their friends or their friends’ friends watch it.    

Some people hate Miley Cyrus because they hate her music. But I doubt that most of the people who hate Miley Cyrus’ music have heard much of her music. They just assume they hate her music. I’m certainly no connoisseur of the Miley Cyrus musical catalogue. So I have no opinion on this matter. Wrecking Ball is pretty good, though.  

My guess is that I probably wouldn’t be a big fan of Miley’s music. My tastes tend to run closer to Kurt Cobain, Lou Reed, Johnny Cash, and other dead white men. But I’m one-hundred years old and the last concert I went to was  an evening of acoustic jams by Whitesnake’s bass player. But Miley Cyrus’ music was not meant for me. And I’m okay with that.   

People over the age of thirty can get a little snobbish when it comes to music. And people over the age of thirty can be just as self-absorbed as millennials. Everything is not about you. I get it- you don’t listen to Miley Cyrus. On the other hand, the average 15-year-old girl has no idea who Led Zeppelin is, other than that three of the original band members are Harry Styles’ dad. But teenagers aren’t angry that you are listening to Kashmir. High school students don’t take your love of Cheap Trick personally. So why do you care what they like? Get over yourself.      

Miley Cyrus participated in the 2015 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions, which I watched on HBO. (Right Said Fred was snubbed, yet again) Miley displays an appreciation, interest, and respect for the rock music that came before her. It’s an admirable quality for a young performer to possess. I don’t think a lot of current musicians pay attention to the history of their craft. One doesn’t get the sense that Iggy Azaela listens to a lot of Muddy Waters.      

Miley Cyrus has a cool, weirdly deep voice. Her vocal texture falls somewhere between Billy Ray Cyrus and an adult man. I really like the way she sounds, as a matter of fact. And if her career extends beyond her twenties- which, contrary to what the haters are hoping for, I predict it will- it will be due in large part to her unique sound. Having an unconventional voice certainly hasn’t hampered the careers of Cher, Stevie Nicks, Queen Elizabeth, Jason Voorhees, etc.   

Sometimes Miley tries too hard to “shock”. When George Carlin used profanity, the words glided off his tongue. When Miley drops the F-bomb, it feels a little forced. I don’t think Miley is a natural swearer; she’s just doing it for show. There’s another word for fake edginess- “desperation.” But Miley isn’t desperate and she’s young and she’ll grow out of it soon… as hopefully Bono will.

Miley Cyrus, you’re a positive role model for young women, you refuse to compromise your integrity to appease the cynics, and you make the world a better place. And I’m going to start following you on Twitter. I mean, not literally, or even figuratively, but, well, in spirit.

 

7-26-15 

PEOPLE WHO DRINK WINE ARE WIMPS 

The United States is a beverage-crazed nation. A while back, I wrote an essay about Americans’ infatuation with coffee. I’m not a big fan of coffee because it’s too darn hot. I’m not a big fan of wine because it gives me a headache. And I’m not a big fan of beer because it tastes like dirty toilet water.  

Yes, there is something about the properties in wine that makes me dizzy and nauseous- the same side effects I get, coincidentally, from watching five minutes of The View. Unlike with other alcoholic drinks, I find it difficult to get through a single glass of wine. One wine loving friend suggested that I have a negative physical reaction to the sulphites found in wine. Another friend suggested I’m just a pussy. Eh, let’s say it’s the sulphites.

I do enjoy the taste of wine, though. Wine tastes like adult Kool-Aid, which is slightly more appealing than actual Kool-Aid, but less satisfying than Kool-Aid for adults… which is actual Kool-Aid mixed with the flavored vodka that rappers drink.   

Wine lovers, however, love wine- which is redundant, I know. But, I mean, they really really love wine. Their lives revolve around wine: meals, vacations, etc. There’s a point where enjoyment turns into emotionally unhealthy obsession. Perhaps a more accurate description for these people is wine stalkers

I’m told that certain wines go better with specific types of food. For example, you’re supposed to have red wine with meat and white wine with fish. And it’s best to drink a mouth-numbing acid before eating Irish food.  

It’s all nonsense, of course. Your filet mignon tastes the same whether accompanied with a vintage French Bordeaux or that orange-colored Mountain Dew. But connoisseurs are sticklers for the detailed art of wine. It’s like statistics-obsessed baseball fans or when nerds watch Ant-Man. Self-appointed experts find comfort in their believe that even though we’re all drinking the same beverage or watching the same movie, they more fully “experience” what us novices don’t really understand. And we’re all self-appointed experts in something. (For me, it’s “face tattoos.”)  

We think of wine as a classier, more upscale alcoholic beverage. It’s an inaccurate choice of words, then, to refer to homeless alcoholics as winos. How come nobody ever describes the sad-but-loveable drunk hopping the train car as a malt liquoro? 

Objectively, though, there is nothing about wine that makes it more prestigious. Biologically, your taste buds don’t know wine to be of a higher culture. If you spent your life in a dungeon, and you drank wine and then beer for the first time, you wouldn’t think one beverage tasted “classier” than the other. 

Rather, those with social power control the reality of culture. People who drink wine tend to be wealthier and more educated. Wine tends to be more expensive. Hence, you class up any meal with a little Chardonnay. If the nation’s most exclusive country clubs replaced wine with squirrel milk at seventy-five bucks a bottle, then rodent-milk mixer parties would the latest trend in nouveau chic.      

I’m not sure if a wine’s price matches its quality, necessarily. Is a one-hundred-dollar bottle of wine really ten times better than a ten-dollar bottle of wine? An elite bottle of wine might run you two or three hundred dollars. Heck, how much better can a wine taste?!  For that kind of price, I expect the wine to throw in a foot massage. 

It takes a lot of nerve to charge hundreds of dollars for a bottle of wine. Grapes don’t cost hundreds of dollars… I mean, unless you shop at Whole Foods.  

Luckily, if you’re on a budget, many quality wines are available at affordable prices. Or, if you’re willing to slum it, you can buy boxed wine. Hey, if you can eat chicken from a bucket, you can drink wine from a box. And for people who are really struggling financially, I think the Dollar Store is selling wine in a used Tostitos bag.   

The big debate among wine lovers involves red versus white. Some people prefer red wine, whiles others choose white wine. When it comes to taste, I can’t really tell the difference. No- that’s not true. I can tell the difference, but I have no preference. It’s like when I took the Pepsi Challenge years ago. I could taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke, but when the guy asked, “Now which do you like better?” I responded, “I don’t know.” 

I did a little research. Apparently, red wine is more robust because it contains something called tannins. But during the fermentation process, the tannins are blah blah blah antioxidants blah blah… aw, f*ck it; just give me a gin and tonic.  

Other than actually drinking the wine, the two things that wine lovers enjoy doing most are letting their wine breathe and attending wine-tasting events. Wine-tasting trips and parties and festivals continue to rise in popularity. These events give fans a chance to sample different wines and to get drunk in a more refined way. 

I’ve accompanied friends to wine-tasting events a couple of times. The affairs are usually a pretty good time, as attendees tend to be laid back and social. As a general rule, people are friendlier when alcohol is involved. When I watch violent riots in the Middle East on television, I think, “If only these people had more to drink.” 

My only complaint about wine-tasting events is that they always go on for too long. We get it; you like wine. But all day? And I like Pop-Tarts, but after four hours of trying different flavors, I think I’d get a little sick of them. A perfect wine mixer would be, say, no more than two or three hou… wait, they make a cookie dough flavored Pop Tart?! How come nobody told me about this?!   

Traditionally, we think of women drinking wine and men drinking beer. In fact, the majority of wine lovers are indeed women. According to a recent study, about 55% of regular wine-drinkers are women. But the gap is closing. Men like wine. Actually, I suspect men would overtake women in wine consumption tomorrow if not for wine’s girly European names. It’s hard to imagine Dirty Harry sitting on a stool after a day of beating up thugs and telling the bartender, “Give me a Sauvignon Blanc, sweetly tropical.”    

Some people drink wine to relax after a hard day of work. Some people drink wine in the evening to help them get to sleep. Some people drink wine to help break the ice at social gatherings. Wine has so many uses. It’s like the WD-40 of intoxicants.  

I am a sucker for wine labels. I’m attracted to any wine bottle wrapped in colorful packaging. My snobby wine loving friend Jenn told me that if a wine bottle has a cute animal or a cartoon character on the label, it’s a sign of bad wine. Jenn drinks boring wine, the kind that only has words on its label. 

One time, I went to a wine-tasting event with Jenn. I complained a lot. She asked, in a very snarky way, “Would you like cheese with your whine?” I replied, “Yes! I love cheese.” 

 

7-22-15

LOOK AT ME (THE SOCIOLOGY OF SELFIES)

Really, they should be called backgroundies. Because the “selfie” itself is always the same. By now, everyone knows his or her most attractive angle, their perfect facial pose, etc. So the individual in the picture always looks the same. Rather, the only difference- from one selfie to the next- is the background. That’s a nice smiling picture of you standing in front of…  is that a plane crash?

In a way, there’s a psychological truth to the selfie craze; technology finally gives society the opportunity to act on its narcissism. Regardless of the reaction it may evoke, we want other people to look at us. And that trumps any concern for how posting our selfies might be received. I mean, we know that our selfieism is a little bit shallow and self-absorbed... unless the selfier is overweight, in which case we all agree that it’s a wonderful way to empower yourself and be proud of the way you look. But, even though we know that selfies are all style over substance, we don’t care. To be noticed is a form of validation. This is what separates us from animals- at least the non-photogenic ones. (Yes, I’m talking to you, wildebeests.)

In June, Disney World banned selfie sticks from its park. Apparently, swinging around a three-foot metal stick in a crowd of people has the potential for danger. Who knew? Nevertheless, I’m proud to introduce my latest invention, the Selfie Sword. 

Americans are constantly looking for creative new ways to be looked at. Google “driving selfie” and you’ll discover thousands of images- idiots taking selfies while operating a moving vehicle. You’ll find even more if you follow the Kardashians on Twitter. 

All parents need to have a serious talk with their high-school aged children, and explain to them that taking their own picture while driving a car can lead to blurry selfies.

We’re moving in a dangerous direction. Selfie sticks. Driving selfies. What’s next- skydiving selfies? At some point, we need to agr… wait, you mean people are taking selfies while skydiving?! This is common?! Yeah, okay. I get it. Nothing matters anymore. 

Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson (currently thirty-eighth in the polls, trailing former reality TV star Brooke Hogan, but right ahead of George Pataki), has publicly condemned the selfie epidemic. And in fairness, it must be very annoying as he travels from town to town meeting voters. Rather than speaking to the controversial conservative about political issues, people in their teens and twenties would rather just take selfies with him. And this is an irritating obligation for all candidates on the campaign trail. But personally, I don’t think this is such a bad trend. In fact, it’s a great way to get young people involved in politics of posting even more pictures of themselves on-line.

Statistically, ninety-nine percent of all the world’s photographs were taken during the past twenty minutes.

My only issue with the absurd number of pictures being taken is the fear that this will diminish the value of actual photographs. There was a time when we’d literally run into a burning house in a desperate attempt to retrieve old family albums. Now we do a weekly scan of our Facebook page in order to delete the pics where our eyes “look weird.” 

I hope that future generations and their robot enslavers are able to distinguish between the photographs of significance- shots that tell a story of time and place- and the current garbage that an average American’s camera phone barfs up on a daily basis. As I watched that guy at the Olive Garden taking a picture of his entrée, I thought, “If your cell phone had hands, it would strangle you.”

Nevertheless, I’m confident that a hundred years from now, real photographs with real heart- everything from black and white to color, from historical to personal, from horrific images of children toiling in 19th century factories to your family vacation pictures circa 1975- will be preserved for their cultural importance. Meanwhile, in the search for viable new forms of energy, we’ll figure out a way to reconfigure every worthless selfie taken this decade into non-toxic burnable fuel chips. 

I’m less optimistic, though, about what selfies are doing to our sense of fun and adventure. Or, to be more specific, we’re no longer living in the moment. We’re documenting our lives, rather than living them. Whether you’re hanging out with friends, attending a political rally, or parachuting to the ground, not living in the moment makes it a lot harder to live in the moment. It’s kind of like spending your entire Caribbean vacation thinking about whether or not you left the oven on. Taking a selfie is like an oven that’s still on.      

At some point, the selfie craze will probably diminish, but only because new technology will enable people to self-exploit at an even greater degree. Perhaps Apple will come out with a phone that you swallow and people will start posting innies.

Or maybe it won’t be so much about technology, but of a change in social standards. Heck, maybe in the near-future people will just take pics of their genitalia and post them publicly. Wait- you mean people are doing that? This is common?! Yeah, okay. I get it. Nothing matters anymore.   

 

7-16-15

ATTICUS FINCH IS NOT A RACIST 

I read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was in high school. And it started my love of reading… which ended, incidentally, when I opened a Twitter account.

I recall watching Oprah Winfrey talk about a meeting she once had with the great Harper Lee. Winfrey, a huge fan of To Kill a Mockingbird, asked the author why she never wrote another novel. Lee replied, “I already said everything I needed to say.” Then Oprah gave Lee a free car!  

Those words stuck with me. “I already said everything I needed to say.” I suspect the director of the Fast and the Furious movies will say the same thing after around the fifteenth or sixteenth installment of the franchise. “I already said everything I needed to say.” Now, had the frail, elderly Lee added, “…  oh, but also Atticus Finch is a racist,” then perhaps I’d be more accepting about Go Set a Watchman,  the  newly released Mockingbird “sequel.”  

But let’s get something straight. Atticus Fitch, the noble father and lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird, is not a racist. He is exactly what he is in To Kill a Mockingbird. There is no Atticus Finch outside the pages of that book.  

Go Set a Watchman is not the continuation of To Kill a Mockingbird. Rather, it was a rejected experiment that Lee would use to perfect her writing and polish her ideas. To write a masterpiece takes practice. Go Set a Watchman was practice. I mean, Alex Rodriguez didn’t become an all-star baseball player overnight. It took years and years of practicing the proper steroid-taking techniques. And when A-Rod retires, is it fair to include the first time he played catch in the backyard among his lifetime stats?   

Atticus Finch is not a racist. That a completely different character with the same name, in a first draft left unpublished for sixty years, displays racist tendencies is of no consequence. Maybe in 1990, J.K. Rowling doodled a picture on a napkin of Harry Potter snorting coke. Doesn’t turn the Half-Blood Prince into a different book.    

I don’t want to read about a fake Atticus Finch. I share no enthusiasm for a “first draft” Atticus Fitch. Could you imagine if Superman was the total opposite of what we know the character to be? It would be like some sort of “Bizarro” Superman.  

To discover that Atticus Finch is anything less than honorable is like finding out Holden Caulfield grew up to be Kid Rock.  

In 2003, the American Film Institute voted Atticus Finch the greatest hero in American film, based on the movie adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird… followed by Joe Dirt and Christian Grey. And until Harper Lee writes a new novel telling us differently, Atticus Finch will remain a symbol of dignity and tolerance.  

It’s already so disheartening to learn that Dr. Huxtable was giving Quaaludes to Denise’s college friends. I refuse to give up on Atticus Finch. America needs Atticus Finch.   

Personally, I find the circumstances regarding the release of Go Set a Watchman distasteful. That corporate greed supersedes our literary obligation to preserve a classic leaves me uneasy. It seems unlikely that an elderly, reclusive woman who chose to never write another novel really is excited that this book is being published. But regardless, Lee certainly wasn’t clamoring for this manuscript to be found or released. And she had sixty years to let that be known.  

It’s unfair to critique an unread literary work. For all I know, Go Set a Watchman is a brilliant piece of fiction. So I won’t criticize the novel itself. But nor will I read it… unless they release it in comic book form and add Batman into the story. I’m just not that interested.

Because when it comes to the Atticus Finch, I already read everything I needed to read.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/set-watchman-shows-literary-hero-atticus-finchs-dark/story?id=32405930

 

7-14-15

FORTY IS THE NEW TWENTY

In some societies, people don’t keep track of birthdays and numerical age is meaningless, like in the Australian outback or among Samoan tribes or in the backseat of Leonardo DiCaprio’s limo.    

I wish that we didn’t recognize birthdays here in America. Oh, sure, you’d miss the parties. On the other hand, you don’t need “on this date you were born” as an excuse to get together with friends, accept their generous gifts, eat cake, get sh*tfaced drunk alone in the upstairs bathroom while cursing out your friends, sober up the next morning, apologize to your friends for your inappropriate behavior, and post the group pics on Facebook.   

Rather, I don’t like birthdays because I hate the random, socially constructed guidebook associated with how old you are. Teenagers are supposed to talk like this. Sixty-year-olds are supposed to act like that. President Obama is too young to be wearing those jeans. Caitlyn Jenner is too old to be wearing that dress. Blah, blah, blah.  

To quote the dying one-hundred-and-four-year-old woman whose doctor incorrectly told her she had another six months to live, “Life is short.” So do whatever the hell you want.    

Age is just a number. Only a year and a day separate twenty-nine from forty. But yet what it means to be in your twenties is so much different from what it means to be in your forties. They say that fifty is the new forty.  But nobody ever says that fifty is the new twenty… I mean, other than the Real Housewives on Bravo.    

The reality is that, biology aside, the life course is pretty subjective. There are twenty-year-olds who are married with a full-time job. There are forty-year-olds who are still in school. There are twenty-five-year-old homeowners. There are forty-five-year-olds who live with their parents.  

In fact, even our biological changes are pretty inconsistent. There are twenty-year-olds who suffer from serious illness. There are forty-year-olds in perfect health. There are twenty-year-olds with gray hair. There are forty-year-olds with six-pack abs. There are thirty-year-olds who run five miles every morning; there are thirty-year-olds who are unable to do a sit-up.  

Jennifer Lopez is closer to fifty than forty. Lil Wayne is barely out of his twenties. Who looks better? Heck, who looks younger? (Though, in fairness, if you replace Jennifer Lopez with Betty White, the answers still won’t be Lil Wayne.)  

Nevertheless, everyone experiences and changes and grows. And there are general differences- sort of, kind of, more or less- between people of different ages. Yes? No? What do you think?  

When you’re twenty, you’re competitive. When you’re thirty, you’re innovative. When you’re forty, you’re contemplative.  

You learn when you’re in your twenties. You live when you’re in your thirties. When you’re in your forties, you learn that everything you learned in your twenties was wrong.  

When you’re twenty, you say you don’t care what other people think about you. When you’re thirty, you actually don’t care what other people think about you. When you’re forty, you finally understand that nobody is thinking about you.  

When you’re twenty, thirty seems old. When you’re thirty, forty seems old. When you’re forty, thirty-nine seems so young.  

When you’re twenty, you’re too young to drink alcohol. When you’re thirty, you’re too young to be President of the United States. When you’re forty, you’re too old to play the girlfriend in a Hollywood film.  

When you’re twenty, you love all your friends. When you’re thirty, you start to lose touch with friends. When you’re forty, you realize who your true friends are.  

Twenty-year-old women think that forty-year-old men are too old to date. Thirty-year-old men think they’re young enough to date twenty-year-old women, while thirty-year-old women think they’re old enough to date forty-year-old men. Forty-year-old men think we’re all in the same general dating “age range.” Forty-year-old women think that forty-year-old men are too immature for them to date.  

Some twenty-year-olds look thirty. Some forty-year-olds look thirty. Thirty is the age when people start looking really good or really bad.  

Unhappily married twenty-year-olds get divorced. Unhappily married thirty-year-olds try to make their marriage work. Unhappily married forty-year-olds try to make their divorces work.   

When you’re twenty, you don’t think about your health. When you’re thirty, you start thinking about your health. When you’re forty, you start thinking about your mortality.  

People in their twenties are Millennials. People in their thirties are Generation Y. People in their forties refuse to be labeled.  

When you’re twenty, you hate your job. When you’re thirty, you like your job. When you’re forty, you like your job but hate your boss.  

When you’re twenty, you wear jeans with holes. When you’re thirty, you wear jeans without holes. When you’re forty, those comfy jeans you still own from your twenties are starting to get holes 

When you’re twenty, you listen to popular music. When you’re thirty, you discover different kinds of music. When you’re forty, you listen to the music you grew up with.  

When you’re twenty, you think about children. When you’re thirty, you love your children. When you’re forty, you can’t stand other people’s children.  

Twenty-year-old athletes are gifted. Thirty-year-old athletes are experienced. Forty-year-old athletes are “crafty.”  

When you’re twenty, you don’t care about politics. When you’re thirty, you’re interested in politics. When you’re forty, you’re disgusted by politics. 

When you’re twenty, you live life without regrets. When you’re thirty, you have a lot of regrets. When you’re forty, you just live life.

 

7-9-15

CALM THE F*CK DOWN, AMERICA 

Free speech in America officially began on December 15, 1791, the day the First Amendment (along with the rest of the Bill of Rights) was ratified. Free speech in America officially ended on July 1, 2015, the day TV Land cable network announced it was pulling repeats of The Dukes of Hazzard because there’s a Confederate flag on the car. This is not state government honoring a terrible symbol of oppression and secession. This is The Dukes of freakin’ Hazzard! The show with Boss Hogg! Next they’re going to take Three’s Company off the air because Mr. Furley opposed same-sex marriage.  

The United States of America has gone completely insane. Oops. I mean… “mentally ill.”  

The Mayor of New York City is now reviewing the city’s business relationship with Presidential candidate Donald Trump because Trump made a racist comment about illegal Mexican immigrants. Americans all over are celebrating the potential boycott. And that’s how free speech dies- with thunderous applause and thousands of Facebook “likes.”  

Listen, as a general rule I totally support the complete removal, from every aspect of society, of absolutely anything related to absolutely anyone who says absolutely anything that might be remotely offensive to absolutely anyone. And if the only way to stop the horror of hurt feelings is total censorship of anything anyone might be actually thinking, then so be it.  

But- and, yes, I love free speech so much I’m actually defending Donald Trump- you might, just might, in order to preserve our most important right as Americans, have to get the fuck over yourself.  

Donald Trump is not the worst person in the world.  

And just to really push you over the emotional edge, here’s more…  

Game of Thrones is not the greatest show in the history of television. Neither is Breaking Bad. Nor is The Walking Dead. That you enjoy a quality show does not make it the greatest show in the history of television.  

You just watched a show you dislike? Doesn’t make it the worst show in the history of television. Everything you dislike is not the worst thing ever. (Well, unless maybe you just watched Mulaney.)  

You don’t have the greatest friends in the whole wide world. Somewhere today, someone is donating his or her kidney to a friend. Do you know who that person is? Me, neither. But I know who it’s not- one of your friends. Your bestie took you out for a drink that time you were feeling down? Woo hoo! Throw them a goddamn parade and pin a “greatest friend ever” medal on their freakin’ shirt.  

Everyone with whom you disagree politically is not evil. All Republicans are not evil. All Democrats are not evil. Adolph Hitler was evil. I can’t stand Rush Limbaugh and Rosie O’Donnell, either. But neither of them invaded Poland.  

And stop comparing everyone to Hitler. Hitler massacred twelve million people for being different. George Bush is not Hitler. Barack Obama is not Hitler. Only Hitler was Hitler. And maybe Tom Brady.   

Can we all just get over ourselves?!  

Yes, you like that performer’s album. Doesn’t make them a musical “genius.” Everyone is not a musical genius. In fact, nobody is a musical genius. Albert Einstein was an actual genius. Some people are gifted with musical talent and ability. Some dudes are gifted with the talent and ability to fart loud. They’re not farting geniuses. (And if you do call yourself a musical genius, you sure as hell better be playing piano symphonies when you’re five, like Mozart and Beethoven and Kanye.)     

Everyone isn’t a hero. Everyone isn’t brilliant. And your boyfriend isn’t amazing.  

Everything isn’t phenomenal. Every stroke of good luck isn’t a miracle. Every coincidence isn’t eerie. The Grand Canyon is extraordinary. Your graduation party? Not so much.    

Your occupational choice doesn’t, by definition, make you a hero. Having a disease doesn’t, by definition, make you brave. And, by definition, nothing you do, say, admit, express, reveal, display, perform, apologize for, or acknowledge on YouTube, The View, or the cover of any major magazine makes you courageous. The self-absorbed attempt to become more famous doesn’t take courage; it takes gall. And, yes, that includes you, guy who lost three hundred pounds but is insecure about all the extra loose skin.   

No actor, athlete, politician, or wealthy entrepreneur ever deserves an award for being an actor, an athlete, a politician, or a wealthy entrepreneur. Those most deserving of acclaim are those whose selfless acts usually go unnoticed and unappreciated by the masses. Off the top of my head, I can name at least four-thousand people more deserving of accolades than whoever wins next year’s Best Supporting Extra in a Television Mini-Series or Dog Food Commercial or whatever the frick they’re crapping out awards for these days.   

Get the hell over yourself, America!  

You want to censor speech? Then let’s ban the following expressions… 

“… shocked the nation.”

“… an unimaginable crime…”

“… did the unthinkable…”  

Slavery existed up until 1865. For the next hundred years, people of different races were legally segregated in schools, restaurants, hotels, etc. And yet a school shooting is unimaginable? A violent college campus rape is unthinkable? We’re shocked that it didn’t work out with Juan Pablo and Nikki?  

If America really lost its innocence every time I heard someone on the news say that America lost its innocence, then America’s current innocence would fall somewhere between Bernie Madoff and a pretty young Russian woman marrying a fat guy for the green card.   

We have reached the hyperbolic fake outrage zenith. Hence, it’s no longer enough that we just pretend to be incensed over semi-offensive moments of minor significance. It’s no longer enough to slightly praise that which is sort of kind of impressive. Now we must dig through the dirt of random tweets and off-hand remarks and private phone conversations and cheesy 1970s TV shows- absurd ridiculousness of absolutely no social significance whatsoever- to pronounce outrage and to call on their banishment. And we have to scour the Internet in search of pointless feel-good stories to celebrate and pseudo-heroes to applaud.  

Nevertheless, intelligent people can distinguish between the serious and the silly, the important and the trivial. And rational people can articulate the reasons why certain circumstances are inappropriate and should even be eliminated, rather than form an immediate and hypocritical self-congratulatory mob-like screech to vanish whatever they happen to find offensive that day. Or at least they used to… back when being rational wasn’t the worst thing in the world.   

Oh, and your baby isn’t the cutest baby ever.

 

6-25-15

BEFORE WE HAVE AN HONEST DISCUSSION ABOUT RACE 

Whenever there’s a story of racial conflict in the news, media pundits will say, “We need to have an honest discussion about race.” But first we need to have an honest discussion about slavery. 

Slavery happened. In the United States of America, one group of people owned another group of people. One group of people legally, systematically, and continuously killed, tortured, raped, degraded, exhausted, poisoned, and utterly demoralized another group of people for financial gain, social control, and sadistic pleasure. This happened in America.  

We’re socialized- or perhaps it’s our inherent nature- to suppress the evil that surrounds us. This is why an individual can post “having a great day at the beach” on Facebook while, on the same day, Boko Haram in Nigeria is kidnapping hundreds of young girls from their school. To feel happy and emotionally fulfilled in a world where children suffer in poverty seems almost sociopathic… unless you block out the bad stuff from your mind. It’s a coping mechanism.     

And it’s easy to expunge slavery from our collective memory. Because we feel no relation to its time and place, no emotional connection to its inhumanity. Surely, slavery must have been bad- but life was hard for everyone back then and, more importantly, we’re different now. We’ve changed.   

That there are people alive today who survived the Holocaust is an obvious reminder of Nazi German atrocities. Even without those personal stories, however, the Holocaust still resonates through photographs and film. Images of American slavery, meanwhile, are limited to childlike etchings. Slave photography does indeed exist, but as portraits and posed shots. But 19th century scenes of forced labor and brutality in the Deep South are illustrated in a surreal way, visually more reminiscent of ancient cave drawings than of the graphic, familiar scenes of Nazi concentration camps.  

Since most people today are familiar with the Holocaust through black-and-white imagery, it’s no surprise that modern media representations of the genocide are in black-and-white. In other words, Schindler’s List would have lost much of its emotional power had it been released in color. Society recognizes the Holocaust in black-and-white, but still as a human evil with which they can relate.  

American slavery, on the other hand, is unrecognizable in any modern context. Yes, films like 12 Years a Slave reveal harsh moments of violence and a lack of compassion. But those evils happened so long ago. The characters’ way of dress is so long ago and their manner of speech is so very long ago. The movie looks different from the world we understand now. One tends to watch the scenes as “people doing bad things to each other” rather than “this really happened.” In 2015, it’s easier to comprehend mass slaughter than a slave auction.   

Hence, to have a serious conversation about slavery is to make it relatable- first, by reevaluating the timeline.  

As a matter of fact, the institution of slavery did not exist so long ago. American slavery is not ancient Rome. In relative time, American slavery is closer to the rise of Netflix than it is to say, the time of Christopher Columbus.   

The country’s current oldest living woman was alive at the same time as abolitionist Harriet Tubman.  

Clint Eastwood was alive at the same time as Orville Wright, who was alive at the same time as Andrew Johnson, Abraham Lincoln’s Vice-President who, once in office, immediately took executive measures to oppress black people.    

Madonna was alive at the same time as Ernest Hemingway, who would’ve been alive at the same time as Lincoln, had Lincoln lived a full life.  

George Washington died almost seventy years before slavery was abolished. Legendary comedian Groucho Marx was born only twenty-five years after the end of American slavery. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow was already five-years-old when Groucho died.  

There are Holocaust survivors alive today. And there are many people who were alive during the Holocaust who were alive during the time of slavery.  

So what happened between the 13th Amendment, the 1865 Constitutional law abolishing slavery, and the 2015 politically conservative view that racism is no longer a legitimate factor? Did people change? Did society change? How? When did this happen? In 1866, right after slavery was banned? In the early 1900s, when President Woodrow Wilson, who resided in South Carolina during the Reconstruction period, reversed the previous administrations’ racial integration policies? When did people change? When did racist beliefs come to an end? During the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and the 1960s, when police departments and other government agencies led a violent assault on black protesters? 

Slavery happened. Not long ago. Slavery didn’t end with united agreement. Rather, it ended through bloody battle, which is to say that many Americans still strongly believed in the right for a person of one race to hold ownership over a person of a lesser race. When did these people, who were willing to fight and die for the rights of white men to keep underage black girls as full-time, unpaid prostitutes caged in a nearby hut, change their belief system? Did these people teach their children racial tolerance? Did their children teach their children to love one another? When did the people of South Carolina see the error of their ways? 1970?   

The same Americans today who don’t believe that human beings could have evolved over millions of years believe that human beings evolved over the past fifty years.  

Racism cannot end until we have an honest discussion about slavery. Regardless of political opinion, all racial strife that exists today, all racial stratification, all racial social segregation is dependent on the slavery that came before it, that existed in America. Slavery happened. Not that long ago.  

Human cognition has not changed over the past one-hundred-and-fifty years. Our biological ability to think, the way the brain works, is the same now as it was in 1865. The one-hundred-and-fifty-years that separate legal slavery from a pathetic, angry loser murdering nine black people in a church barely register a blip on the human timeline.  

White plantation owners hated their slaves. You don’t shackle those that you love. You don’t whip those that you like. To forcibly separate families is not a feeling of “indifference”; it’s hate. So what happened in society that the hate disappeared? Integration? Laws seeking to end discrimination? But the slave owners were opposed to integration. They supported discrimination. Slave owners’ children were taught to oppose integration, to support discrimination. So when did the human condition change? When did those who were once racist change their way of thinking? How did this happen? The racists all just died off? And are these questions not part of an honest discussion about slavery?  

Long-time South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond, famous for conducting the longest solitary filibuster in Congressional history (over 24 hours!) in an effort to stop civil rights legislation in 1957, practically died in office in 2003, at the age of one-hundred. A politician who wore racism on his sleeve, who dedicated his public service in pursuit of oppressing black citizens, Thurmond’s only hurdle to winning yet another term in the Senate was death… which is to say that in 2003, the majority of South Caroline voters still supported an outspoken racist. So when did the racist feelings stop? In 2005? In 2010? Why? What happened to finally free all these South Carolinians from the emotional handcuffs of hatred? Strom Thurmond was alive at the same time as Suri Cruise. Had Abraham Lincoln lived to the same age as Strom Thurmond, then Lincoln and Thurmond would’ve been alive at the same time.  

Lincoln, of course, only lived to the age of fifty-six, having been shot to death by a lone white supremacist and Confederate sympathizer, just as- in 2015- nine innocent black people were shot to death by a lone white supremacist and Confederate sympathizer.  

But people are different now than they were in 1865, we’re told. We used to have hate in our heart. But not anymore. Something changed. Racism ended. That’s the narrative.  

One day slavery was legal in America. The next day, it wasn’t… well, sort of. Slavery went away. But the racist attitudes that allowed slavery to flourish for so long, that allowed segregation of schools and hotels and drinking fountains, that rationalize economic inequality and outrageously biased legislation and law enforcement… that didn’t just go away the next day. So when did it go away? Fifty years ago? Ten years ago? Yesterday? Or will it go away simply by removing a Confederate flag from public display?    

We need to begin with an honest discussion about slavery. We need to talk about how human beings- biologically, emotionally, and intellectually no different than the human beings that we are today- allowed this ocean of horrors to happen. And we need to talk about how, in 2015, human beings have the same mental capability to hate and to enslave, and that national strides of equality never erupted as a collective conscience, but rather these gains were won through a continuous war between the tolerant versus those unwilling to relinquish their power.  

But we haven’t begun this discussion. Instead, we rationalize the “long ago” institution of slavery as “complex”, and we replace the word slavery with terms like historical pride and states’ rights, and we bring up the “decent” slave owners who treated their property with kindness. Or we justify our history by arguing Africa’s role in the slave trade. Or we don’t talk about it at all.   

Slavery happened because of a burning racism whose flames extended well beyond even the southern states. And then it ended. And nobody talked about it. Now it’s time.    

 

6-23-15

YES, DONALD TRUMP IS A SERIOUS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

To be fair, I fully support Donald Trump’s anti-Rosie O’Donnell policy. 

On Celebrity Apprentice, Clay Aiken bested Arsenio Hall in money raised, task victories, project leader win/loss percentage, and general likeability. Yet on the season finale, Trump picked Arsenio over Aiken. It makes one question Trump’s decision-making, especially when considering the very realistic possibility that, within a few years, Supreme Court justices will be chosen via reality show.   

Political pundits are mocking the Trump campaign, saying that he’s not a “serious” candidate. My question, then, is who are the serious Republican candidates? Ben Carson stated that serving time in prison makes people gay. Ted Cruz read Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor. Should I go on? Okay, let’s. In regards to his opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape, Rick Santorum stated that women should “make the best out of a bad situation.”  As governor of Texas, Rick Perry suggested that his state should secede from the Union.  

Here are some serious Republican candidates during a 2008 debate. This clip is my screensaver.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4Cc8t3Zd5E

Mike Huckabee, one of the candidates with his hand raised, is running again this year. It should be noted that John McCain, the eventual Republican Presidential nominee, pandering to the party base, later amended his answer to explain that, well, he didn’t exactly believe in evolution.

Many Americans, according to polls, don’t think that Donald Trump has a shot at a winning the Republican nomination. Well of course he has a shot. He’s running. Unless the voting machines are unable to calibrate his name or unless he’s the oldest-looking thirty-four-year-old in the country, then his votes count and he has a chance to win. (note: By law, you have to be thirty-five-years-old in order to serve as President. According to Trump’s Kenyan birth certificate, he’s sixty-nine, making him Constitutionally eligible.)  

Besides, I question the correlation between “having a shot at winning” and “serious candidate.” News flash for all you Bernie Sander supporters out there: he’s not winning. Former football star Barry Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Sanders have a better shot at being the next President of the United States. But Bernie Sanders is still being taken very seriously as a Democratic candidate.  

My guess? Trump doesn’t win the GOP nomination. However, his campaign winds up being more successful than the naysayers are predicting. The Sick Fascination With Seeing Donald Trump As President voting block is much more powerful than, say, the People Who Have Ever Heard Of George Pataki voters.   

Comedians are frothing at the mouth over the Trump Presidential campaign. Sure, the rules of political comedy require some Trump jokes. But not too many, I hope. Trump is ridiculous on his own, and to spoof a spoof leads to lazy punchlines. Sure, Marco Rubio is almost too boring to joke about. But you’ll think of something; that’s why you’re professional comedy writers. You can make anything funny… except maybe that new Odd Couple sit-com with Matthew Perry.  

By focusing too much attention on Donald Trump’s ludicrous quotes, the other Republican candidates’ positions, simply by disagreeing with Trump, appear more legitimate. But I’m not so sure that Rand Paul’s approach to ISIS is, in fact, any more realistic than Trump’s strategy of buying a black belt in karate and personally taking out the terrorists one-by-one, Bruce Lee-style.

A much smarter form of political comedy, and more responsible media reporting, would be to focus on the actual issues that are affecting the country right now- like our pathetically crumbling infrastructure and individual states chipping away at abortion rights. But I’m a realist. And I accept that the vast majority of political coverage will now center on Donald Trump because he has goofy hair and he’s entertaining. But you can’t really blame Trump for all the coverage he’s receiving. That would be like blaming Kim Kardashian for her best-selling book of selfies.  

At least give Trump credit for speaking out about real, important issues. His solutions are about as realistic as the plot of a typical episode of Full House. But at least he’s talking about topics like immigration and our unequal trade situation with China- stuff you don’t hear much about on the evening news. And, hey, maybe he can work with China. After all, he did write The Art of the Deal. And he recently penned Think BIG and Kick Ass in Business and Life, which also happens to be the title of Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography. And Gandhi’s pretty good.   

Donald Trump has never held any political office. That’s not a criticism. By Constitutional definition of how the separation of powers is designed, being a Congressman has nothing to do with being President. It’s like saying you’d be a good quarterback because you served six years as a football referee.  

Most social activists don’t brag about their wealth the way Donald Trump does, which makes Trump more “rapper” than “politician.” But in terms of money, Trump has something in common with all the other candidates- both Republican and Democrat- running for office; they’re richer than you. If being out-of-touch with the American people disqualifies one from holding political office, then that rules out politicians from running for political office. And, quite frankly, the American people are pretty out-of-touch with the American people, too. Nobody cares about you; they’re too busy playing Candy Crush.      

I’m not naïve. I realize that Donald Trump says embarrassing things and he acts like a jerk and that Malania only married him for his looks. And if Trump becomes President, the nation will most likely implode within a couple of weeks. But merciless media mocking by self-righteous moralists starts to feel like mean-spirited bullying… even if the target of wrath is indeed Donald Trump or Sarah Palin or the Duggars or any of the other ignorant people who, admittedly, make me barf.  

Nevertheless, regardless of who becomes the next President of the United States, we all know that Omarosa is really the one pulling the strings.

 

6-19-15

THIS IS WHY I BOYCOTT POLITICAL RALLIES

Anytime a political candidate is at a podium, speaking to a large and enthusiastic crowd, drumming up support for his or her campaign, I’m reminded of how lucky I am that I’m sitting on my couch… away from the pandemonium…  relaxing comfortably in an air-conditioned room… only a few feet away from my own private bathroom… flipping back-and-forth between the speech and whatever channel the Frasier marathon is on.  

It’s not that I’m disinterested in politics. I’m quite familiar with each of the 2016 Presidential candidates and, like millions of other informed Americans, I care deeply about the issues that I pretend to care about.  

Rather, I will never again attend a political rally because political rallies are boring, tiring, congested, humid, crowded, redundant, physically uncomfortable, mentally unfulfilling, emotionally numbing, and if the candidate cares so much about the middle class, would it kill him to pass around some snacks? Or at least some Gatorade.  

Having attended political rallies in the past, I’ve calculated the sum total of my experiences: 92% standing around waiting for the speaker to arrive, 8% standing around listening to the speaker say nothing new, 5% standing around mind wandering hoping the speech ends soon, and 5% trying to beat the crowd out of the parking lot. Hey, I might be a political cynic, but I always give 110%.

I don’t need to see the candidate in person. Years ago, when John Kerry won the Democratic Presidential nomination, I was at one of his first campaign stops, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I joined thousands of like-minded people in wildly applauding the brief glimpse of an average-looking, middle-aged man waving his hand out the window of a bus. Then, after another long wait in the hot sun while the campaign bus arrived at its podium destination, we watched Kerry, in the distance, give pretty much the same speech he had given at the Democratic convention. We couldn’t see Kerry very well. It’s possible we were watching a John Kerry holographic image. Eh, either way, I would’ve rather been sitting in the ice cream shop we passed along the way.

I don’t need to shake a candidate’s hand. They say you can tell a lot about a person by his handshake. No you can’t. Unless the handshake consists of genital groping or some sort of cash money exchange, a handshake is just two hands grasping one another. Do you really want to know what it feels like to shake Jeb Bush’s hand? Shake your dad’s hand. It feels the same. Unless Andre the Giant decides to run for President of the United States, a handshake is just a handshake. (True, Andre the Giant is dead. But, hey, that hasn’t stopped Bernie Sanders.)

Political rallies are like outdoor music festivals, but without the food stands and the craft tents. And the only thing worse than standing outside in the blistering sun listening to crappy jam bands is standing outside in the blistering sun listening to pandering public servants. 

And while politicians might express great concern about economic inequality, they certainly don’t care about making you wait. Of course, those seeking high office aren’t intentionally inconveniencing you. But the little college shits working for the campaigns sure seem to be. God forbid your foot is a couple inches over the wooden barricade that separates the candidate’s entourage from you and all the other worthless peasants. You’re scolded like a five-year-old who just Magic Markered the wall.

Worse than attending a campaign speech, however, is to be among the masses at a political protest march. There are many ways to express your support for an issue, and I choose the ways that don’t involve joining hands with sweaty people I don’t know. Plus, political marches are rarely effective. The legal future of abortion will not depend on your placard.

Sure, political marches look exciting. I mean, outside of scoring courtside seat Lakers tickets, they’re your best chance of spotting a celebrity. Look- there’s Susan Sarandon! Look- there’s the guy who plays the Hulk! But don’t get your hopes up. You don’t get to walk next to the famous people. And after you’ve spent the entire afternoon not affecting the fracking debate, and you’re waiting in line to use one of those disgusting porta-potties, Leonardo DiCaprio will be taking a dump in his private helicopter… and his helicopter doesn’t even have a bathroom. 

This is a true conversation I overheard one time.

“I don’t like large parties.”

“You know with therapy, you can learn to enjoy them.”

“Or I can just not go to large parties.”

Next time you’re at a political rally, ask yourself two questions: “Do I have a moral obligation to be here?” and “At this very moment, would I rather be home watching Netflix?” If you answer no and yes, give yourself permission to leave. (note: In fairness, wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, the answer to the second question is usually yes. The only exception is when I was at home sludging through the overrated second season of House of Cards. Yuck!) 

I get it. You missed Martin Luther King giving his “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963. Now you’re afraid that, by not attending a big rally, you might miss out on something of historical importance. Eh, just stay home. History’s over. You’re not missing anything. In 2008, Senator Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Presidential nomination in front of 80,000 people at Denver’s Mile High Stadium. Do you remember anything from Obama’s speech? Can you recite a single line? Bet you can’t.  

Look, if going to big, crowded, disorganized, pointless, overlong, ineffective political rallies is your thing, then be my guest. Bring a selfie stick. But if you’re uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to admit it. Don’t be ashamed to tell your politically-active friends you simply don’t want to join them. Heck, you can still meet up with them afterwards for margaritas. And when they tell you what an amazing time they had at the rally, don’t feel bad; they’re lying.  

And if you really want social change, if you really pine for social justice, if you want the best people in office and if you really want the issues-of-the-day to bend in your favor, you’re in luck. There’s a much more powerful option than standing around a public park bored- it’s voting. And do you wanna know what’s great about the polling places? They’re never crowded.

 

6-13-15

DOES EVERYONE ELSE SHARE MY LOVE OF PEANUT BUTTER?

The grocery store didn’t have my Peter Pan peanut butter. So I bought Skippy peanut butter, instead.

Peanut butter is one of those food items in which name brand is a necessity, like ice cream and salad dressing and water. Generic-brand peanut butter? Blah. Tastes like peanut-flavored tar. I’ve seen thrifty people with store-brand children’s bicycle helmets in their shopping cart, yet they are still willing to pay an extra dollar for the Smucker’s Natural.

Skippy and Peanut Pan are a little different, but they’re both good- like Pamela Anderson’s sex tapes. I still prefer Peter Pan, however. To me, it’s more “peanuty.” You can really taste the nuts- like Pame… well, never mind.    

I’m not sure what separates the different brands’ taste, as both jars contain the exact same ingredients: roasted peanuts, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil, and salt. According to its nutritional facts label, the Skippy contains 20% of one’s recommended daily value of niacin, which as any good parent knows, is necessary for a child’s hand-growth and eyebrow-thickening. The Peter Pan label doesn’t list any niacin. You’d think that both peanut butters would contain the same amount of niacin. But whatever. I snack on at least four or five niacin bars a day, anyway. So I’m good.

I love peanut butter. Heck, everyone loves peanut butter. You hear about kids being allergic to peanuts. But you never hear about anyone being allergic to peanut butter.    

Nevertheless, I’m an adult. And I’m of a generation where nobody is allergic to things. Yet, as adults, we’re made to feel foolish for our love of peanut butter. Society tells us that peanut butter is for kids, designed for school lunchboxes and field trips to the zoo.

They give peanut butter silly child-like names. You’d never see a Jif brand escargot. Skippy is literally a kid’s name. I mean, the brand is over eighty years old. It’s about time we call it Skip. Peter Pan is a kid’s character. Why not an Alan Turing Peanut Butter, named after Benedict Cumberbatch’s complex character in the award-winning spy thriller, The Imitation Game?

Companies pander to adults by offering more “sophisticated” versions of peanut butter, like artisan cashew butter and cinnamon maple butter and let’s meet for martinis and talk about the stock market butter. Frankly, there’s nothing objectively childlike about peanut butter. And no American citizen should be embarrassed or ashamed to have a couple of containers in his or her food pantry. To eat peanut butter doesn’t make one less refined. Sometimes I eat it right out of the jar with my index finger. 

You can’t write about peanut butter without mentioning jelly. They are forever linked, like Sonny and Cher or like Dick Cheney and the middle-earth gremlin family that donated their dead son’s heart.

But while the PB&J is a classic, it’s not really an equal partnership. It’s like a Simon & Garfunkel sandwich. Peanut butter is better than jelly. Given the choice between one or the other, I’ll always take peanut butter. Peanut butter writes the songs. Bread spread with just jelly? It tastes pleasant enough; but there’s just no protein.

Smucker’s also produces Goober, a combination of peanut butter and jelly in a single jar. For those busy folks on-the-go who just don’t have the time to spread peanut butter on one slice of bread and jelly on the other slice and then slap the two pieces of bread together. I’m working on a product that combines peanut butter, jelly, and the bread in the same container, for the ultra-lazy. I will pitch it to the billionaires on Shark Tank, but not to that jerk Mark Cuban, who will immediately say “I’m out” and then spend the rest of the segment talking about himself and offering crap advice. Show’s not about you, Mark.   

I love peanut butter. As food goes, it’s relatively healthy. I mean, it has some nutritional value and it’s relatively low in termites. Many companies now offer organic peanut butter. I stay away from that, though- not because of the taste, but because the all-natural versions are topped off with peanut oil, which usually spills out when you pop open the jar and things get messy.

As food messes go, peanut butter is the worst. It’s an annoying property to clean up, especially if it gets on your body. Peanut butter is skin-sticking. If you get even a tiny bit of peanut butter on your wrist, you have to scrub it off with soap and water or the smell and texture stay with you for the rest of the day. It’s like how I feel after watching a Zack Snyder movie.    

Reese’s makes it own brand of peanut butter. I’ve had it. It’s okay. It’s different, however, from the peanut butter Reese’s uses in its peanut butter cups. The peanut butter used in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is more of a candy-version of regular peanut butter. And just for the record, if Reese’s sold its candy peanut butter separately, I would buy it and use it for all my peanut butter needs. Candy-versions of things are always so much better than the actual thing. Candy cigarettes won’t give you lung cancer. Cadbury Creme Eggs taste better than regular eggs. And when my girlfriend wants to know “what I’m thinking”, everyone involved is happier when I sugarcoat my actual feelings.   

The great debate among peanut butter aficionados is creamy vs. crunchy. The winner, of course, is creamy. Oh, crunchy tastes good- better than creamy, in fact. But peanut butter is to be spread. And to spread crunchy peanut butter on white bread is an exercise in frustration. Drop a globule of crunchy, thick, rough peanut butter on soft bread, and after just a few spread attempts with a dull knife, the bread looks more beat up than Tara Reid’s liver on a Sunday morning. Meanwhile, creamy peanut butter glides onto a slice of bread smoothly and evenly, the way a shot of tequila goes down Tara Reid’s throat on a Saturday night.   

It’s not surprising that now I have the urge for peanut butter. Maybe tomorrow, though. This afternoon, for lunch, I’m having tuna fish.

 

6-6-15

HAS A HORSE EVER WON THE TRIPLE CROWN IN BASEBALL?   

Horse racing represents the two things I hate most: animal abuse and rich white people celebrating.  

Nevertheless, congratulations to American Pharoah on winning the equestrian Triple Crown. Animal athletics represent what is pure and good about sports. Unlike the fame-driven phonies who play professional football and basketball and baseball, animal athletes are not guided by money or ego or even a basic comprehension that they’re competing in a sporting event.  

Literally the moment the Belmont Stakes ended, American Pharoah had already forgotten that an important race had just taken place. And five minutes later, the rest of America forgot that an important race had just taken place.

The worse thing that could’ve happened to the sport of horse racing, thirty-seven years later, was for a horse to actually win the Triple Crown. The build-up was suspenseful and spectacular. The actual moment was like, “Eh. Now what?” Sort of like Christmas morning or airplane bathroom sex.  

But unlike Christmas and- too a lesser extent, sex- horse racing is horrible.

Baseball is just as boring as horse racing. But unlike the Kentucky Derby, if Miguel Cabrera breaks his ankle running to second base, the trainers don’t come out to the field and shoot him. I mean, even North Korea waits for spectators to leave the stadium before killing its underperforming athletes. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/03/north-korea-olympics-team_n_1737181.html

To watch a prestigious horse race is not the equivalent of watching the NBA Finals. Rather, it’s like viewing those adorable cat videos on YouTube. That’s because- and I say this in a complimentary way, actually- horses are animals.

1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat ranked #35 on ESPN's list of Greatest American Athletes of the 20th Century, ahead of sports legends such as Mickey Mantle, Lawrence Taylor, and Olympian Eric Heiden. Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax was #42 on the list, which, by definition, means he would've been #41 on a list of Greatest American Human Athletes of the 20th Century.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SportsCentury

Interesting to note that famous horse racing jockey Bill Shoemaker was #57 on the list. Shoemaker ranks lower than the horses. Auto racing's Mario Andretti was #92. But yet Andretti’s car is not on the list. That’s because a car is not an athlete. And that’s because a car, like a horse, is not a human being.

The fastest kitchen table in America might be the fastest kitchen table in America. Doesn’t make it an “athlete.” And I don’t know what you call it when kitchen tables ski jump, but I know it’s not “sports.”

As a matter of fact, three horses placed on ESPN's list of Greatest American Athletes of the 20th Century. Somewhere a javelin-throwing panda bear, not on the list, is thinking, “I was snubbed.”

To describe a horse as an “athlete” is insane. Even weirder is to label it an American athlete. Are horses granted citizenship? I never really thought of animals as having a nationality, though I'm aware of the Republican Party's insistence on building a giant fence around our border to keep out illegal Chihuahuas.

When talking about horse racing, sports pundits speak of the elite horses as having “a lot of heart” or a will to win. But I bet the horses also run fast because they're being whipped.

And why horse racing? Why not, say, guinea pig racing? That horses are fast is not a logical rationale. Hippopotamuses run twenty miles per hour. Hippos are fast. No, they’re not as fast as horses. But other animals are. Explain to me why the Preakness is a legitimate sporting event, but put ten cheetahs on a track and it's a sideshow?

Horse athletes are forced to compete. Human being athletes have a choice… I mean, unless you’re one of Archie Manning’s kids. Human being athletes do it for the fame and the glory. Horses do it for the food. When a human being athlete is unsuccessful, he is cut from the team. When a horse athlete is unsuccessful, he is cut into meat. 

When a human athlete's career is over, he or she usually gets a job in broadcasting or they make a living signing autographs or going on Dancing with the Stars. When a horse's racing career is over, it usually gets eaten… which, to be fair, is slightly less degrading than going on Dancing with the Stars.  

Let’s get real. Let’s call this what it is. Horse racing is not a “sport.” It’s gambling- no different than blackjack or the lottery or getting into a car when Lindsay Lohan is at the wheel.

But it’s 2015. We don’t need horses for gambling anymore. Hell, people don’t care what they’re betting on, as long as they’re betting. Every year during the Super Bowl, literally hundreds of thousands of dollars are waged on the opening coin flip! The freakin’ coin flip! (My free tip for next year’s big game? Tails.) The Breeder’s Cup wouldn’t be any less popular if they raced computerized robot unicorns, just as long as people can still play the trifecta.     

It’s time to put horse racing out to pasture. It’s time. And don’t feel too bad for the rich white owners with the funny hats who look so happy when their horses win the big race. Even without horse racing, those people will still be happy because they’ll still be rich.   

 

6-1-15

WHY DO PEOPLE HATE EVERYTHING?   

If you Google why do, the first search entry that comes up, that finishes the question for you, is why do dogs eat poop. How does the human brain work? How does the theory of relativity work? Nah. That’s not what people are interested in. Rather, we want to know why dogs eat poop. Remind me to sell my stock in the curiosity industry. (Oh, and when I Googled how does the human brain work, the first forty entries were porn sites.)  

The third why do entry is why do dogs eat grass. Human beings are very interested in why dogs eat stuff, apparently. Of course, the answer to both questions is obvious- it tastes good.

Typing further, if one Googles why do people hate, the first entry that comes up is why do people hate Nickelback. The second most popular entry is why do people hate themselves. So people hate themselves, just not as much as they hate Nickelback. I suspect that one of the reasons people hate themselves so much is because they like Nickelback. Heck, I watched the Bachelorette last night and it filled me with ghastly self-loathing.  

The third auto-completion after Googling why do people hate is why do people hate their voice. I don’t hate my voice. Although I hate *The* Voice, especially that phony Adam Levine/Blake Shelton bromance. The fourth entry is why do people hate bugs. People hate Nickelback more than they hate bugs. One would rather get bitten by a tick than listen to How You Remind Me. I feel that way about Iggy Izalea. I mean, I’d rather get bitten by Iggy Izalea than listen to Nickelback’s biggest hit.     

Using the Google search engine as an indicator of what we hate, it’s interesting to see what people hate by alphabetical letter. For example, if you Google why do people hate a, the first completed entry starting with an A is why do people hate America. I don’t think people really hate America; they’re just jealous of our freedom and our dating apps. Maybe they mean South America. Bolivia can get pretty touristy.    

Googling why do people hate d gives you only one auto-completed entry- why do people hate Duke. Why do people hate h gives you why do people hate hipsters. People shouldn’t hate hipsters. Without hipsters, there would be nobody to mock chain restaurants. The first entry for O is why do people hate Obamacare, followed by why do people hate Onision. Better questions would be why do people *need* Obamacare and who the f*ck is Onision

I feel a bit grammatically perverse by not finishing these entries with question marks. These entries are questions, not statements. But I’m transcribing as they’re listed. Don’t blame the messenger.   

Now, if you use the Yahoo? search engine, the first option for why do people hate a is why do people hate Anne Hathaway. Hence, unlike Google users, Yahoo! users hate Anne Hathaway more than America. This is kind of unfair to Anne Hathaway, who seems like a nice enough person. On the other hand, the United States didn’t annoy moviegoers with a whiny and overrated performance in Les Miserables.  

Staying with Yahoo!, why do people hate c gives you, as the first entry, why do people hate Catholics. Do people hate Catholics? I don’t think people hate Catholics. Well, maybe Billy Joel, especially his later stuff. The first entry for J is why do people hate Jews. There’s a lot of religious prejudice, unfortunately. But the good news is that if you type why do people hate bud, then why do people hate Budweiser comes before why do people hate Buddhism. (The answer, by the way, is because it has become so watered-down and unsatisfying. And that’s why people dislike Budweiser, as well.)   

Moving onto the Bing search engine, in order, the most hated C things are Christian Laettner, common core, change, Crossfit, Comcast, charter schools, children, and cockroaches. Do people really still hate Christian Laettner? He was an obnoxious Duke University basketball star from like twenty-five years ago. Let it go. The Internet really despises Duke. And some people must really hate children, which is why families are choosing to have fewer cockroaches nowadays.  

I’m surprised that clowns aren’t in C’s top ten list, although they are in every search engine’s why are people afraid of entry list. People distinguish their fear from their hate, I suppose. For example, we don’t hate the Tea Party. We’re just afraid of them.  

Sticking with Bing, the top entry for, say, why do people hate q is why do people hate quiet people. Weird. The top entry for G is why do people hate Gwyneth Paltrow. The top entry for L is why do people hate Lena Dunham. I love Lena Dunham.  

Do you notice a trend? Based on these popular entries, you’d think that we’d be more curious as to why people hate women so much. But if you type in why do people hate w, the first entry is why do people hate Windows 8. In fact, even if you start with WO, the first entry is why do people hate wolves.  

Geez. I think it’s pretty obvious why people hate Windows 8. It sucks. But not only does society lack curiosity as to why there is such a negativity towards women, we deny that it even exists.  

Society loves dogs. On Yahoo!, the first entry for why do people love d is why do people love dogs. Society doesn’t love women. If you type why do people love w, among the entries are WWE wrestling, weed, and Woody Allen. Women don’t make the cut. People don’t even like women. Type why do people like w and it’ll give you Walking Dead, working at Google, and whiskey. But nothing about women. The CEO of Facebook is a woman, and if you Google why do people like working at Facebook, there are no entries.  

One of the reasons that some people hate America is due to a lack of social and economic equality between men and women. I hope we elect a female President. It will be a nice step- at least symbolically- towards eradicating institutionalized sexism.  

Googling why do people love Hillary Clinton yields over seventy-eight million entries. President Obama was re-elected in 2012 with less than seventy million votes. So the numbers give reason for optimism.   

And if Hillary Clinton is smart, when it comes time to choose a running mate, she’ll pick a dog. Perhaps Joe Biden?

 

5-22-15

HERE'S THE NEW "HOLDING THE DOOR OPEN FOR PEOPLE" RULE 

In terms of usefulness, holding the door open for someone falls somewhere between gesundheit and helping a person cross the street.

Acknowledging a person’s sneeze by saying a random German word is of no real benefit to society. In fact, it’s slightly insane. Next time a co-worker coughs, follow it up with tereyağlı gözleme- the Turkish translation for “buttered waffles”- and see if you get a thank you or a strange look. I predict the latter.

Meanwhile, assisting a person who is crossing the street is sort of helpful. I mean, assuming the person wants or needs your help. Chivalry is to help an old lady cross the street, though when you think about it, how often do you see old ladies crossing the street? It’s pretty rare, like a solar eclipse or having a good time at a nightclub.

But holding the door open for someone? Well, it’s not exactly necessary. Most people are able to open a door on their own. On the other hand, it saves another human being a couple seconds of effort. (Coincidentally, “a couple seconds of effort” is also a perfect way to describe the making of The Expendables film trilogy.)

More importantly, I suppose, holding a door open is a nice way of telling another person, “Hey, life is hard but we’re all in this together,” which is probably more appropriate and less crazy than literally telling the strangers who happen to be leaving a restaurant the same time as you, “Hey, life is hard but we’re all in this together.” Or, if you don’t want to hold the door open for people, then just say to the strangers who happen to be leaving a restaurant the same time as you, “Gesundheit.”

Honorable men used to hold the door open for women who were passing through. Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but I still believe in a world where men do this sort of thing, not because I oppose “feminism”, but because I value common courtesy. I also believe in real, actual feminism: economic equality for both sexes in the workplace, stricter policies protecting women against violence and harassment, and waiting for the Entourage movie to hit DVD instead of seeing it in the theater.   

One takes a risk by holding the door open for people who are entering or exiting a crowded establishment. Sometimes, you innocently hold the door open for a few people, but those folks are immediately followed by more and more people. And the line of people never ends. After the sixth or seventh person passes by, are you still expected to keep holding the door open? I mean, I have a life, too. How long am I expected to stand here with the door open? The hope is that an appreciative person in the moving-line-out-the-door will take the baton and assume the mantle of “standing there holding the door open.”

Men don’t always like to hold the door open for other men. It’s a weird masculinity thing, like not crying in public or pretending we don’t watch Pitch Perfect every single time it’s on cable. Hence, many men have perfected the “swing the door open” system. You don’t hold the door open and wait for the other person to walk by. Rather, in an exaggerated motion, you swing it open, immediately letting go of the door’s surface, but giving the other guy an extra couple beats to pass through a semi-open door. The man-to-man door-swing is usually met with a “thanks, bro” nod. Hey, life is hard, but we dudes are all in this together,

Sometimes, the stranger for whom you hold the door open doesn’t respond with a “thank-you” or even an acknowledging nod. They don’t even look at you. They just walk right past you, out the door, as if your kind gesture was owed to them. Don’t take it personally. That person is a worthless, self-entitled jerk with no ability to comprehend basic human decency or compassion and he probably has the corpses of murdered family members stuffed in the meat freezer in his basement. I mean, there’s a reason you never see anyone holding the door open in those ISIS recruitment videos. But don’t let this occasional sour incident turn you off from holding the door open in the future. Basic social etiquette- like Kanye’s career- is much bigger and more important than individuals.       

Sometimes, a well-intentioned person will hold the door open too early. Premature e-hold-ulation. It’s not uncommon to be a good thirty or forty feet away from a held-open door. So your pleasant stroll turns into a quick, stressful pace… in order to appease the door-holder. I’ve been guilty of this myself. You know that someone is walking behind you. You want to be polite. You open the door and hold it open and turn around. And then you quickly realize the person behind you is actually kind of far away. Now you both have to suffer through the awkwardness of socio-forcing the person to speed up because, well, you made an effort to hold the door open and the least another person can do is make a few “walking” concessions in order to repay your hospitality.  

So I’m declaring a new rule. You’re welcome.

Fourteen feet.

I’ve measured it. Fourteen feet is the exact distance that separates a polite gesture from the hassles of having to change your walking-speed to accommodate the idiot making your life more inconvenient by holding the door open way too soon.

Is the other person thirteen feet away? You hold the door open. Fifteen feet away? You don’t.

It’ll probably take America a few months to get used to the new rule. So if you’re leaving a store and someone eight yards away is walking in and you instinctively start to hold the door open for them…  no problem. Just let go of the door and keep walking. The other individual will understand and appreciate your lack of effort. No social awkwardness.

Learn the new rule. Practice it.

Holding the door open is an important gesture. So it’s important that we get it right. After all, there are thousands of professional doormen. There are no professional gesundheit-sayers.

 

5-15-15

BERNIE SANDERS AND ELIZABETH WARREN ARE VYING FOR THE SELF-LOATHING WRING OF THE PARTY (or: the DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIBERALS AND DEMOCRATS)

Conservatives vote Republican. Liberals don’t vote.

Oh, I’m oversimplifying things a bit. But there’s a reason that Republican Senator Ted Cruz kicked off his 2106 Presidential run at evangelical Liberty University, a school where all students are required to leave the room when evolution is taught and condoms come with a “you’re going to burn in hell” warning label. Meanwhile, you’ll never see a Democrat kick off anything at Berkeley, other than maybe his pants during the semester’s nude meditation folk jam.    

Nevertheless, despite their lack of actual political involvement, leftists are unhappy that Hillary Clinton is the overwhelming favorite to be the 2016 Democratic nominee. They feel that she’s too economically and socially conservative. Hence, they’re very excited that Bernie Sanders has announced his intention to run in the Democratic primaries. Sanders is the progressive Senator from Vermont, perhaps most famous for founding Bern & Jerry’s ice cream.

I like Bernie Sanders. He’s honest and smart and he has a lot to say about the nation’s economic disparity. It’s kind of unfair, though, that he gets to run as a Democrat. Since 1979, Sanders has labeled himself a political independent. Only this year did he switch to the Democratic Party, in order to run in the primary elections. It’s sort of like people who claim to be vegetarians because of their love for animals, but suddenly have a change of heart every few years when McDonald’s reintroduces its McRib sandwich. In that sense, Sanders is a bit of an opportunist, no bones about it.

But the bigger problem with Bernie Sanders is he has no chance of being elected President. He lacks Obama-style charisma, his ideas are too far from the mainstream, and he looks too much like the jerky headmaster who fired Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/j64SctPKmqk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

In a general election, Sanders would be lucky to get forty percent of the vote. And that’s only if he was running unopposed. Against an actual Republican candidate? Maybe thirty-five percent… unless that candidate was wingnut Rick Santorum. Then maybe Sanders would win. On the other hand, my coffee table coasters would beat Santorum in a general election. But Santorum won’t be the Republican nominee, so it’s a moot point.   

Other non-Hillary-supporting liberals are still counting on Elizabeth Warren to run. An anti-establishment Senator from Massachusetts, Warren has been hinting about a Presidential run for years, which sort of makes her the “Donald Trump” of the Democratic Party. And it’s never good to be the Donald Trump of anything

Elizabeth Warren is a former Harvard Law School professor, a crusader for the middle-class, and a positive role model for young, teenage schoolmarms. But she can’t win a general election in 2016. No chance. No state south of Pennsylvania, east of Oregon, or fatter than Ohio is voting for a Northeastern academic with socialist-sounding economic ideas who sneers at (She can read.) and condescends to (She doesn’t give her gun a nickname.) traditional American values.   

Still, others are encouraging populist California Governor Jerry Brown to vie for the oval office, which would mark his seventeenth Presidential run. Brown is credited for his state’s economic turnaround, and is mostly famous outside of California for his numerous unsuccessful Presidential bids and I think for co-founding Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.  

And this big problem that Sanders and Warren and Brown possess- their total lack of Presidential electability- is why they have the support of liberal America. Liberals don’t want to win.  

Friends tell me that I have become more politically conservative. Not true. I stand with the same Democratic values I believed in ten, twenty years ago: an economic strategy that promotes fairness and opportunity, environmental protection, equality for minorities, compassion for the disenfranchised, separation of religion and state… and winning elections so that these ideas can be implemented. I’m a Clinton Democrat because I want to win. And I like pussy.

But something happened to American liberalism in the past few years. Now it’s about condemning free speech and bashing Israel and demanding transgendered bathrooms on college campuses. None of this is helping working-class families pay for their kids’ education.

And even when “new liberal” America does involve itself in economics, it’s in a pointless and useless Twitter hashtag sort of way. I mean, I totally support more regulations against corporate welfare and tax loopholes for billionaires. This is what it means to be a Democrat. But did you get a whiff of those inarticulate, self-satisfied idiots crowding Occupy Wall Street?! God that was f*cking embarrassing. It’s like when your parents crash the prom to warn your classmates against the dangers of meth. Yeah, I mean, I agree with the point. But you’re not helping the cause. You’re making us look bad. When you’re interviewed by FOX News reporters and you are the one who sounds ignorant, it’s time to go back to occupying the couch you’ve been crashing on at your old college roommate’s pad.   

Democrats want to win elections in order to implement their realistic progressive ideals. Liberals want Democrats to lose elections so that they can whine about their unrealisitic progressive ideals on Facebook. Liberals want to talk theoretical change. Democrats want actual change.

Liberals are afraid. They don’t want to be in charge. They want to throw their support to the candidate who best represents their ideals and with the best chance of being nobly thrashed on Election Day. Because if you’re in charge, and you fail, what does that say about your ideology?  

Liberal President Obama has been in the White House for seven years now. The economy is doing well, thank you very much, Mr. Obama. Yet economic disparity still shadows the country. And the richest one percent still owns eighty percent of the nation’s wealth and ninety percent of the nation’s food. And I just noticed in the small print of my organ donor card, it says that my liver and kidney will automatically go to the patient with the nicest car.

So what happens in two or three years when, under President Sanders or President Warren, the United States is still a sea of economic inequality and terrorist countries still hate us? Does that mean maybe a lack of personal responsibility and too much government interference are also factors contributing to society’s ills? The new liberal philosophy is “#BestNotToFindOut.”    

You think Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren represent the common man? Guess what- they don’t. They’re rich politicians with easy schedules. A real job requires a boss, stressful deadlines, and mind-numbing physical labor or paperwork. Congressmen go on talk shows, vote on stuff, and get their own private pool.

Hence, to the six or seven liberals who actually plan on voting in the Democratic primary, I offer this suggestion; support Hillary Clinton. She’s going to win the primaries, anyway. And she has by far the best chance of winning the general election. And, for the most part, her policies are in line with your beliefs, in least in regards to the actual things that a President can actually do. 

You want to cast a protest vote? Fine. But what exactly are you protesting? President Hilary Clinton supports abortion rights, gay marriage, and raising the minimum wage. The President of the United States nominates Supreme Court Justices. President Hillary Clinton will nominate qualified, intelligent judges who respect the Constitution of the Untied States. President Marco Rubio will nominate Rush Limbaugh. And President Bernie Sanders isn’t nominating anyone- because he is never going to be President.

So get the hell over yourselves and support Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. You’ll thank me later. No, actually, you’ll probably whine about it. But this is still your best option.

I invite all of the new liberals to sit at the grown-ups table come election table. Support Hillary Clinton. Let’s form a unified front heading into the general election. And if your condescending, self-righteous liberal friends ask- heck, just tell them you voted for Bernie Sanders or Russell Brand or Sean Penn or that you just skipped the election altogether to join the non-existent revolution they keep talking about in grad school. But vote for Hillary. Some of the left-leaning Supreme Court justices are getting old. Ruth Bader Ginsberg must have at least four or five terminal illnesses by now. I’m worried how the Supreme Court might look in six or seven years with a Republican President nominating more right-wing clowns. 

Yes, I know. Politics is depressing and corrupt and it’s driven by money and special interest groups. And Hillary Clinton isn’t going to bring any radical change to our political system. John F. Kennedy didn’t. President Obama didn’t. Elizabeth Warren won’t. Nobody will. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Five years from now, regardless of who wins the 2016 election, everything will still suck. But at least with Hillary Clinton in charge, things will be a little saner. And that’s a win.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j64SctPKmqk

 

5-1-15

THE FLAT TAX IS UNFAIR TO BILLIONAIRES. (SO I URGE ALL REPUBLICANS TO SUPPORT MY NEW TAXATION PROPOSAL.)  

Just a friendly reminder to all you rich assholes who don’t want to pay your fair share of taxes; you still have until forever to file an extension for a secret bank account in the Cayman Islands, to receive your well-deserved corporate welfare, or to simply pay nothing and stick your middle finger up at our country’s middle class.  

Republican Presidential candidates are pushing for a flat tax, in order to “simplify” the tax filing process. Also, they’re proposing a wider hole in the front of their trousers, in order to simplify the process of smacking their dicks in the faces of hard-working Americans. In a 2014 column for USA Today, Senator Ted Cruz wrote, “We should let taxes become so simple that they could be filled out on a postcard.”

Hey, I just received a postcard from Presidential candidate Ted Cruz! “With this new tax plan, it will now be an even greater struggle for kindergarten teachers and cafeteria workers to pay for basic necessities like food and clothing. Meanwhile, Donald Trump will have a little extra cash to buy that indoor pool made entirely of gold watches and authentic dinosaur bones. Wish you where here!” 

The majority of Americans support a flat tax plan, which Tea Party conservatives call a “fair” tax. But it should really be called a statistical manipulation, in which the surveyor manipulates the question by not fully explaining how a flat tax actually works. In theory, a fair tax sounds justifiable. Heck, they should call it the “Everybody Wins” tax plan. Or the “We All Agree That Kanye Has Become Insufferable” tax plan. That sounds even more appealing. But what if you explained to people that the flat tax works in a way so that Paris Hilton will be buying diamond-encrusted robots to dog-sit her poodles with the extra money you will now be shelling out?   

Really, that our tax revenue comes from income puts the poor and the middle class at a disadvantage. America’s richest one percent owns over 140 percent of the nation’s wealth. But wealth isn’t taxed. Income is income. But wealth is power. Luckily, though, the working class doesn’t have to pay any taxes on their wealth, either. That’s kind of irrelevant, though, since the working class doesn’t own any wealth.  

America is not about what you earn. It’s about what you have. This is the difference between income and wealth. So let’s say that, instead of an income tax, we have a flat wealth tax system, and we set a flat tax at twenty percent. That means that Mitt Romney pays twenty percent of his wealth and you pay twenty percent of your wealth. Fair, right?  

Mitt Romney’s five bedroom, four bathroom tool shed in the backyard is worth about a million bucks. So he would pay $200,000. Meanwhile, your 2002 Ford Fiesta has a bluebook value of, minus necessary repairs and the fact that your final monthly payment is in just six more years… well, you would pay no taxes because your wealth isn’t worth anything. Doesn’t that sound fair? I bet at least 47% of Americans would agree.   

http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/did-the-47-percent-video-sink-romneys-campaign 

But who are we kidding? This wealth tax plan would never fly. It doesn’t fit on a postcard. 

The Tea Party, which at this point is just another term for the Republican Party, which at this point is just another way of saying FOX News, which is really just a way to sell those Bill O’Reilly Choose Your Own Adventure books, is opposed to pretty much all government taxation. Rather, these people believe in the traditional values set forth in our Constitution, like the 2nd Amendment and states’ rights and, oh hey, Article 1, Section 8: the Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes. I’m surprised people missed that. It’s near the front, even before Article II which clearly disqualifies Ted Cruz from becoming President since he was born Canadian.     

Look, taxes are a pain. But they’re necessary. How else would we pay for roads and schools and Senators’ personal masseuses? And everyone should pay their fair share. And “fair share” means taxation on a sliding scale.  

Wealthy people have convinced themselves that they pay more taxes than everyone else. This is a myth, like Bigfoot and the moon landing was faked and there are good roles for women in Hollywood. The reality is that everyone pays the same tax rate. Let’s say you make $20,000 a year. You’re taxed a specific percentage of that total. Now let’s say someone makes a half-million dollars a year. Hey, the fetish porn industry can be very lucrative. Somewhere in that $500,000 is the first $20,000. And he pays the same percentage on that first $20,000 as you do. Then, the extra income from the next four or five-hundred thousand dollars is taxed at a higher percentage. But the more income you earn, the more money you keep in your pocket, even after taxes.  

Do you understand? So when cumwads like Steve Forbes complain that our tax system discourages people from making money, their lying. Within our sliding scale tax system, you will always keep more money if you make more money. Rather, our current tax system encourages rich people to work harder and create more butler jobs. Have you noticed that the wealthy people who complain our tax system discourages them from trying to make more money are still trying to make more money? They think you’re stupid. And, I mean, you are. But not because you don’t understand our complex system of taxation. Rather, it’s because you like Transformers movies.    

The problem is that “sliding scale” doesn’t sound as good as “fair tax’ or “flat tax.” Republicans always come up with more marketable names as a way to screw you: fair tax, the Patriot Act, the Religious Freedom Act. Maybe we should call it a sliding panda scale. People like panda bears.

Here’s the problem with flat tax. In reality, everyone pays more or less the same amount of money for life-sustaining necessities, like milk and gasoline. Sure, the Koch brothers get their milk from endangered white rhinos. But the initial couple of bucks that you pay for your dairy products, rich people pay, too. Then they pay for extra luxuries on top of that original cost.  

Hence, a flat tax isn’t really flat. A flat tax means that poor people are going to pay a much higher percentage of their income on necessities than are rich people. Let me simplify and try to fit this explanation on the back of a postcard… 

Let’s say that a person needs to spend ten grand a year for basic survival: food, shelter, Netflix. And this assumes you’re eating frozen dinners every night and your home is, well, literally a shelter. Now let’s say the flat tax is at ten percent. Okay, so one person makes $20,000 a year and another person earns a million dollars a year. With me so far?  

Now flip over the postcard. I need to use the other side… 

Fifty percent of the poor man’s income goes to pay for necessities- that’s $10,000. Meanwhile, the rich guy spends only 1% of his income on basic survival. And according to studies, one needs to survive. But a flat tax doesn’t take this important percentage into consideration.  

But there’s more… 

The first man makes $20,000 a year. Subtract the ten-thousand he needs for basic necessities. He’s left with $10,000. The rich guy- oh, let’s call him Richie- makes a million dollars a year. Now take away the ten-thousand he needs for basic survival. He is now left with $990,000, or, as I call it, “the nouveau poor.” 

Now do the flat tax math again. Each person has to pay ten percent of his overall income. After the poor person pays his “fair share”, $2000, he’s left with $8000. In other words, not counting the survival money (which is the same for both men), he is left with 80% of his original income. Meanwhile, Richie has to pay $100,000. So he’s left with $890,000. That means that Richie still has almost 90% of his original income to spend on trips to Cancun and hockey game luxury box seats.   

The poor person is being taxed twenty percent on his extra income. Richie is being taxed about ten percent on his extra income. Got that? God I hate math. But the point is that the flat tax is always going to be a little bit flatter for rich people... and a little shittier for poor people. 

It’s true, though, that our current sliding scale tax system isn’t fair. But not because billionaires and giant corporations pay too much. It’s because they don’t pay enough. Heck, the National Football League doesn’t even have to pay taxes… which seems unfair since I had to cough up an extra eight percent sales tax on the officially licensed Tom Brady jersey I used to clean up my dog’s poop. (note: I’m a New York Jets fan.) 

In the 1950s, under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, the tax rate percentage for higher income brackets was much higher… and we were experiencing an economic boom fueled by a thriving middle class. Oh, the bad old days.

But, hey, if you really want a fair flat tax, eliminate all income tax. Loopholes and creative accounting and off-shore bank accounts give the wealthy endless opportunities to cheat. Instead, the government should rely entirely on sales tax. But don’t tax the necessities that people need, like vegetables, snow shovels, and school supplies. Rather, tax the luxuries. And make it a flat tax. So everyone- both poor people and rich people- now has to pay the same, noticeably higher sales tax rate on Ferraris and private helicopters and Dom Perignon.

Fair, right?

 

4-16-15

WOMEN FEEL BAD ABOUT TREVOR NOAH'S SEXIST JOKES BECAUSE THEY JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND COMEDY

No, it’s not fair that a stand-up comedian be judged on a few lame tweets or that he be secretly videotaped at a club while working out new material. On the other hand, do you find that comedians have become a little whiny lately… and with a whiff of self-importance? You’re being judged unfairly? Well, boo f*cking hoo. And in the Middle East, hostages are getting their heads cut off by ISIS… which, incidentally, I wrote a funny tweet about. 

In coming to the defense of their new The Daily Show host, Comedy Central released a statement that said, "Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included.” Really? Because it seems like he spares everyone except Jews and women. 

Which is fine.

In response to the criticism, Noah tweeted, “To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian.” Maybe. Although his “fat chicks” jokes are pretty spread out over time, so I’m not seeing much of an evolution.

Just a thought…

In the history of stand-up comedy, has anyone who started with “fat chicks are only sexy if you’re drunk” jokes ever evolved into something more? Let me research some of George Carlin’s early material. Hmm… nope. No fat chicks jokes. I don’t recall a young Richard Pryor making fun of fat chicks. And I bet Jon Stewart never started his career with any “fat chicks are only sexy if you’re drunk” jokes, either. Just sayin’.   

But, hey, they’re just jokes. 

Trevor Noah is probably a nice person. That he tweeted some bad jokes is not a crime. Rational people aren’t outraged by anything he wrote. Comedy Central, presumably, put a lot of thought in hiring the next host of The Daily Show. For critics, especially those who don’t even watch The Daily Show, to say that Trevor Noah should be fired from a job he hasn’t even started yet is absurd. And political correctness is rarely found in great comedy and biting satire.

"Oh yeah the weekend. People are gonna get drunk & think that I'm sexy!" - fat chicks everywhere.

                                                                                            6:27 AM - 14 Oct 2011

But isn’t there some gray area between adulation and condemnation? I think there is. I think the gray area, in this situation, is that Trevor Noah is an extremely handsome young man. And for a good-looking guy, who probably doesn’t have much trouble attracting pretty women, to mock fat chicks… well, it just makes him kind of douchey. Not saying he shouldn’t be allowed to take comedy risks. Not saying his livelihood should be taken away because some don’t find his jokes funny. Just saying that for a handsome guy to belittle overweight women is kind of a d-bag move. Am I allowed to say that, stand-up comedians? Am I destroying the sanctity of stand-up comedy by commenting on and criticizing a joke? Am I destroying the very fabric of humor by suggesting that Trevor Noah’s jokes are kind of mean, Patton Oswalt? 

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/patton-oswalt-defends-trevor-noah-785776

The brilliant Chris Rock makes fun of white people. Those jokes aren’t just for black people. They’re for black people and white people. I’m white… more or less. I think Rock’s jokes are hysterical. And they’re true.   

Trevor Noah’s fat chicks jokes aren’t intended for heavy women. Do you think large young women enjoy jokes about their lack of sex appeal? Rather, Noah’s jokes are for a certain type of audience, the type of person who, well, let me just be blunt; jokes about fat chicks are for dickwads in fraternities.

Which is fine.

(full disclosure: I did not officially join a fraternity in college, by choice. I pledged a few, but only because of my weird hazing fetish.)  

But, these days, young people get their news from sources like The Daily Show and Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Ariana Grande’s latest tour pics.

But it’s not just any young people who watch The Daily Show. It’s the intelligent, thoughtful college students and high school kids who are looking for an alternative, progressive perspective on social issues and current events. And Jon Stewart provided that liberal voice. But now, it seems, liberalism is just as sexist and misogynistic as conservatism. In fact, it’s worse. At least right-wing Republicans are honest. The Daily Show hosted by Sean Hannity wouldn’t be very good, but at least you know exactly where the host stands on women’s issues. (Literally, the host stands on women’s issues.) Plus, I’ve watched FOX News; the comedian who portrays the Sean Hannity character is hysterical.

Let’s get real. Comedy Central was never going to replace Jon Stewart with a woman. Oh, the show will still have female commentators. The feminine voice will be heard… it just won’t have any power. Because power comes from sitting in the host’s chair.

The “liberal” media is not a big fan of women. Women don’t host talk shows. Actually, though, if you told me The Daily Show was looking for a new host- one who is talented, young, smart, likeable, attractive, provocative, and edgy, and one who probably has an interesting and outrageous and appropriate take on social and political issues… my first thought is comedian Amy Schumer. She would’ve made the perfect host. But Trevor Noah will probably be pretty good, too. I hope his first guest is a fat chick.  

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/01/arts/television/trevor-noah-new-daily-show-host-comes-under-scrutiny-for-tweets.html?_r=1

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2015/03/31/trevor_noah_to_replace_jon_stewart_on_the_daily_show_offensive_yes_but_also.html

 

4-2-15

PLEASE HELP ME ACHIEVE MY GOAL OF WRITING AN ESSAY THAT GETS ONE MILLION "LIKES" ON FACEBOOK

Along with the “like” option, many people think Facebook should also have a “dislike” option to click on. That would be a waste of time, of course. Facebook already has a dislike button. By not acknowledging a post, one is essentially telling his or her Facebook friend that they hate it. So when you post that photograph of generic vacation scenery, or an image of your Florida thermostat during the winter, or your fifth selfie in the last hour… ask yourself why the “likes” are so few and far between.

Actually, a more interesting dimension would be for Facebook to add a “love” option. I mean, sure I like the picture of your new haircut. But I don’t love it. I’m just being honest. Facebook “likes” would take on a whole new meaning; they would be motivation for social network users to try a little harder.

Interestingly, to like or not like a Facebook post contradicts normal human biology. In real life, by not acknowledging something is to express your like. You like that you were able to make it out of bed this morning. But you don’t actually say it. You like this cereal you’re eating. You like outside. You like listening to the music in your car. You like the birds flying above you. You like this chair. You like this glass of water. You like that you’re finished with this glass of water. You like the color of this wall. You like that work is over and now you can go back home. But you don’t point all this out. You don’t document it. People only point out the things they consciously dislike. Simply say “Kardashians” at a dinner party, for example, and you’ll be met with a barrage of verbal contempt. Heck, say “Kim Kardashian” and don’t be surprised when someone at the table throws their butter knife at you.

Perform this social experiment. For an entire day, literally point to, while saying “like” out loud, all the things you like at any given moment. I like that I just cracked my knuckles. I like that I flipped the light switch and the light came on. I like that I just took another step forward in the parking lot, and another step, and other step. I like that I’m breathing air. I like that I’m still breathing air. Hey- a green light! I like that. But that’s a lot of pointing.   

I suspect that, within five minutes of the experiment, you’d start getting pretty worn out. Plus, you’d look like a crazy person. Nobody points and likes that much unless you’re a redneck at a gun show.

Sometimes we’re under social pressure to like a Facebook post, like when someone posts his big weight loss or she finished a marathon or their kid won the spelling bee at rehab. These posts are created to get likes, rather than to be liked, sort of like what the filmmakers must have been thinking while making Birdman.

Facebook should add a “whatever” option. This would be for the boringly inspirational, serious posts that, whatever, I guess we all like in a perfunctory sort of way. Yep, that’s you in a hospital bed holding the new baby. Whatever.

Facebook liking is often one-sided. It’s not fair that I like your stuff, but you’re not liking an equal amount of my posts. What- is it too much of an effort for you to press your index finger against your mouse? Yeah, I know how time-consuming that can be. But hey, no problem, asshole. I understand that you’re too busy curing cancer and saving the rainforest to display some common f*cking courtesy.

It’s interesting how the concept of Facebook friends establishes so many real-life enemies. Facebook friending is a very passive-aggressive endeavor. Facebook should allow users to send “enemy requests” to other people. However, I’m going to really hate anyone who doesn’t accept my request.   

On rare occasions, people post something on Facebook that I legitimately like. Facebook should add an “actually like” option. Photograph of your kids at swimming lessons, link to a political article, you’re depressed that it’s raining outside right now: LIKE. Picture of you with a washed up celebrity, inappropriately angry rant about your family, beach bikini shot: ACTUALLY LIKE. 

Facebook has created an entirely new rulebook of social etiquette. I grudgingly accept that what was once considered personal, intimate news relayed by telephone or private letter is now announced via public social network. I have a terrible disease, my parents died, I lost my job: ACTUALLY LIKE. 

No, I’m just kidding. Nobody likes your bad news. But we do want to acknowledge your misfortune appropriately. Facebook should add an “acknowledge” option, for to make the poster aware that you read the announcement and you sympathize, at least in a “cyber” sort of way, since the Internet has drained any actual human emotion from the population. A death? Hmm… let me respond with just the right comedic but poignant Saved By the Bell meme.

Attractive people get more likes than regular people, regardless of what they post. If a plain-looking person posts the blueprint for his newly invented ‘climate change’ reversal machine, I’d estimate the number of likes to be around the same as when a hottie posts a picture of her appetizer at Applebee’s.

Some people are on Facebook, but they rarely “like” anything. How selfish. That’s like going to a comedy club with no plans to laugh. I mean, if you’re not going to like anything on Facebook, then I might as well sit in the audience of an Andrew Dice Clay concert.

People who don’t “like” other people’s posts are the sort of people who think they’re too cool for Facebook. It doesn’t occur to these people that they’re not too cool for Facebook since they’re on Facebook. These are the same people who brag about how while, yes, they are technically on Facebook, they rarely look at it. They’re lying, of course. Everyone is on Facebook all the time… and that includes work hours. (note: I’m currently looking for a job that requires procrastination. I think I’d be really good at sitting in my cubicle for eight hours browsing Facebook, texting friends, reading movie reviews, etc… as opposed to my previous office job, where I sat around for eight hours a day browsing Facebook, texting friends, reading movie reviews, etc.)

According to Facebook’s own data, the “like” option is clicked 2.7 billion times a day. That’s a lot of likes, even if you subtract the billion likes a day from my mom. Yet, according to polls, only one in three Americans are very happy. I guess that means Americans really like other people’s lives; they just aren’t happy with their own. In other words, your vacation pics are making other people miserable.

Now, Facebook does give users the option to like their own posts. So it’s possible that many of those 2.7 billion clicks are self-liked. However, that would mean that Americans really like their life, but yet they’re not happy. Apparently, liking life doesn’t make one happy. In other words, it’s very hard to satisfy people. Facebook should add a “satisfied” option. But it probably won’t get clicked much.

 

3-25-15

MAN DRESSES AS A PRINCESS TO BOOST HIS NIECE’S CONFIDENCE AND RUINS EVERYONE’S DAY

The best way to judge a society is by its headlines. So let’s see what’s in the news today: INTERNET FLIPS OUT OVER MICHELLE OBAMA’S HAIR, HOT CONVICT GETS MODELING CAREER, WORLD’S DEADLIEST WALKWAY SET TO REOPEN. Oh, hey, here’s a good one: THIS SINGLE MOTHER OF TWO PAYS $1000 A MONTH TO LIVE IN A GARAGE. Yes, the nation’s economic stratification is probably the most important issue in America right now, affecting so many…  oh, wait, here’s a better headline: MAN DRESSES AS A PRINCESS TO BOOST HIS NIECE’S CONFIDENCE, WINS HEARTS EVERYWHERE.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/24/uncle-dresses-as-princess-niece-cinderella-movie-photos_n_6932782.html

According to the story, a twenty-five-year-old man took his four-year-old niece to see the film Cinderella. The little girl wanted to wear a princess dress. But she was too self-conscious. So, in a display of solidarity, the girl’s uncle wore a matching princess dress. The pictures are going viral. People think it’s adorable and heartwarming. America is happy again… I mean, except for people living in garages and unattractive convicts.

http://hollywoodlife.com/2015/03/24/man-dresses-up-princess-gown-niece-cinderella/

I have two questions. One, how is it that this man had an adult-sized princess costume? And two, isn’t this story just a complete load of shit?

Here are a few typical comments from readers…

Now THAT is a Real Man. What an absolutely lovely man to do this for his niece! He is going to make a stellar daddy one day♡♡♡

Goodness... he's working that dress. That is the sweetest things ever. Good for him for being brave enough and having the confidence to make his niece happy this way.

Speaking of which, here’s another headline I’d like to see: AMERICA’S GRAMMAR BAD.

P.T. Barnum said there’s a sucker born every minute. Barnum should’ve been alive during the computer age. The Internet is a vast, overcrowded wasteland of suckers. And it’s getting suckier.

First of all, this man is not being a good uncle. He’s being a terrible uncle. His niece wants to wear a princess dress so that she can feel special. He’s taking that away. So now he is getting all the attention. It’s like if your nephew is nervous about his Bar Mitzvah, so you dress up as Chewbacca during his Torah reading.

You can’t throw a dead cat in any direction without hitting a little girl in a princess costume. Hell, these days, it’s rare to see a little girl who isn’t wearing a princess costume. But a grown man dressed up as Cinderella? I mean, that’s something you don’t often see… unless you’re on my annual Christmas party guest list. In other words, this guy knew full well that he would be the story. 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3009504/Uncle-year-Detroit-man-wears-princess-gown-watch-Cinderella-mini-niece-scared-dress-alone.html

And isn’t it suspicious that a four-year-old girl would be “nervous” about wearing a princess dress to a Cinderella movie? That’s what