Entry 599: Seeing Eye Turkey

A travel story…

I am among the first to board my morning flight on Delta (motto: “We’ll get there eventually and uncomfortably.”) so I can stuff my carry-on in the compartment over my seat before it gets full and I have to use the compartment 10 rows back so that, when the plane lands, I have to swim upstream to retrieve it and endure the scorn of my fellow travelers who react as if I have cut a line at Disneyland with a family of 12.

Now I’m ensconced in my “Preferred” seat, for which I’ve paid extra so I can spend some portion of the trip without having my knees in my mouth, at least until the person in front of me decides that he just has to recline, and does so completely without warning, so that the crossword puzzle I was doing on my snack tray now has the answer to 37 across going down at a peculiar angle.

I always take an aisle seat so I can go to the bathroom whenever I want without having to perform a lap dance on a seatmate who will not, under any circumstances, stand up to let me pass, so I’m on full alert as others board. I have to be vigilant at these times so people don’t bonk me on the head with their bags as they go by.

Okay, now we’re almost ready to go. Gail, the flight attendant (she has introduced herself and the crew–as if anyone will ever call them by name), is making yet another request for everyone to “Please step out of the aisle.” These requests, which began somewhat jovially, have become increasingly snarky with repetition. I fully expect the next announcement to be “Please step out of the aisle now or we will throw you and your slightly too-large carry-on off the friggin’ plane.”

There–everybody is finally seated, and all that’s left to do is for the flight attendant to close maxresdefault1the one overhead compartment door that’s not quite latching due to the 26-inch bar of Toblerone someone bought at the airport. Gail manages to shut it by turning the Toblerone sideways which, sadly, its owner had not thought to do. In any case, upon arrival, the bar will likely be in handy bite-size pieces suitable to hand out to trick-or-treaters.

Now Gail strolls down the aisle to make sure our belts our fastened and notices that a guy who’s been loudly and obnoxiously berating someone at the home office, which everyone on the plane knows is in California because the guy keeps yelling about traffic on the 405, is doing so on a Samsung Note 7 which Gail is now telling him must be turned off and not plugged into anything lest it become an incendiary device. This does not sit well with the California screamer, who, apparently, is not quite finished admonishing the person back at the office where, I should point out, it is 4:40 am.

He finally relents and stores his phone. And Gail goes to shut the cabin door when one last turkeypassenger appears…

…with a turkey.

I am not referring to one of your standard store-bought Butterballs here. This is a real live gobbling bird, held lovingly in the arms of a real live squawking woman who is claiming that “Ms. Giblet” is a comfort animal, and therefore permitted to fly to provide emotional support, presumably to the woman, because the turkey is certainly not doing anything for Gail’s already-frazzled nerves.

I’m going to pause my little fictional story now to say that, although I have never personally faced fowl on a flight, such occurrences are not as rare as you might think (or hope). Apparently, people are boarding planes with all sorts of service animals, including turkeys, pigs and monkeys. It’s become so common, in fact, that the Department of Transportation has been holding a series of committee meetings to consider new rules for service animals on planes.

Keep in mind that we are not talking about seeing-eye dogs (or even seeing-eye turkeys)141130153420-pig-on-plane-story-top1. This is more about animals that provide emotional support in the case of afflictions such as post traumatic stress disorder. Evidently, current rules do not require passengers with such companions to provide proof that they are necessary, or that the animals have had any special training. In other words, you could just pick up any stray turkey on the way to the airport, claim it’s an emotional support animal, and bring it with you on your flight to visit family in Minnesota.

I imagine this will happen even more frequently as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday. (Just make sure you’re bringing enough emotional support animal for everybody!)samuel-l-jackson-snakes-on-a-plane11

I should mention that I like most animals, except slithery ones and icky ones. I’m slightly less fond of most people, but I do recognize that for various reasons, someone in need of a service animal might not be able to use a dog.  As I dog owner, I also understand that people who are psychologically distressed can benefit from the emotional support that only the unconditional love of an animal can provide, even if that animal might otherwise be someone’s dinner.

On the other hand, we can’t allow just any creature on our airplanes, can we? Consider:

  • Do we really want pets like my nephew’s snake flying with us and inviting Samuel L. Jackson to jump into action?
  • Doesn’t an emotional support tarantula represent a security risk? (“Open the cockpit y7sgjza1door or I’ll sic my tarantula on you.”)
  • What if fellow passengers have to look at this thing for a whole flight? Who would pay for the psychotherapy bills afterward?
  • Minimally, doesn’t there need to be a size restriction? I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a seeing-eye Great Dane, but is there an actual rule against it? What if I try to board the plane with an emotional support llama?

Anyway, getting back to the fictional flight with which I began this post, I wonder who will be sitting next to the woman with the turkey all the way to California. And will that poor flyer be able to switch seats with the gentleman sitting next to the crying baby?

See you soon.

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Entry 598: VOTE LOTE

As we come down the home stretch of this year’s presidential election, it is clear that many Americans are planning to vote for L.O.T.E.–the Lesser Of Two Evils. For some people, this may mean voting for the candidate that is less likely to have committed a federal crime. For others, it may be the one who is less likely to be insane.

But what if we had additional choices?

I’m not talking about the Libertarian Party and the Green Party. Their candidates are Gary (“What is Aleppo?”) Johnson and Dr. Jill Stein (whose main issue seems to be whether or not she’s against vaccines). While possibly more honest and even-tempered than the frontrunners, this pair doesn’t appear to be any more qualified for the office.

Instead, maybe we should give more serious consideration to some of the other 1,910 hopefuls (really!) who have actually filed a Statement of Candidacy and who are delusional enough to believe they are running for president.

Yes, I know. That’s a lot to choose from. So I’ve narrowed it down a bit…to four. These are people who have made it onto at least 15% of the ballots (according to Ballotpedia.com) but do not have the financing to create commercials telling you how bad the other candidates are.

castle20161Darrell Castle, Constitution Party–Mr. Castle is from Tennessee and has been promoted from his position as the party’s vice-presidential candidate eight years ago. He operates law firms in four states. His firms specialize in bankruptcies, so Castle is very qualified to run a country that is trillions of dollars in debt. Judging from his appearances in online videos for the firm, he seems to have all the charisma necessary to run for office, if he happens to be running against an eggplant.

One of his big issues is banking policy. He advocates for “ending the Federal Reserve so lenders and borrowers could set their own interest rates, and so Americans could use any form of currency, including bitcoin.” I have sometimes ranted about bitcoin in this blog, and while it might be fun to use currency that has no basis of value whatsoever and fluctuates by large sums on a daily basis, I’m a bit put off by the phrase “any form of three-stooges-million-dollar-bill1currency.” I can’t wait to see people start trying to pay for stuff at Walmart with a goat. This prospect has me so excited, I’ve sent his campaign this genuine one million dollar bill to help fund his efforts.
Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, Reform Party–You didn’t know this, but Mr. De La Fuente was a candidate for the Democratic nomination this year.* His campaign ended when he discovered that “Roque ‘Rocky’ De La Fuente for President” didn’t fit on a rocky11button.** Rocky then tried to get the Democratic nomination for senator in Florida and lost that, too (and by only 54%). But, like his movie namesake, he keeps on fighting, even when it is obviously having an effect on brain function.

If you don’t trust either of the two main candidates, you should know that De La Fuente got his start as a car salesman.

As if he is a contestant on Jeopardy, each of his views is in the form of a question, such as “What if we divorced our federal government from the influence of lobbyists?” or “What if we viewed our federal government as if it were a private sector entity that had to compete in the global market?” or “What if colleges and universities returned to competing for students on a basis of the quality of education they deliver as opposed to the quality of facilities?”

Instead of a campaign, it seems like Rocky is running a brain-storming session in which he would like us, the public, to participate. Gee, I don’t know Rocky. What if you had a clue how to actually do any of these things?
Evan McMullin, Independent–This former CIA guy (who, judging from the photo below, doesn’t seem very happy about running for president) is running on a 13-point platform, which immediately makes him suspect, because everyone knows you don’t do 13 of mcmullin1anything. It’s unlucky. That’s why he’s not likely to be elected. That, and maybe the fact that nobody’s ever heard of him.

I also think that some of the items on his platform are unrealistic. For instance, #4: “Our leaders must be honest and wise. They must put the public interest ahead of their own, acting with integrity, transparency, and good judgment.” That’s just silly.

And what about #5: “We share responsibility for service and civic duty. Every American has a responsibility to serve our communities and our nation. It is our civic duty to be informed and engaged on important issues, and seek out leaders who will uphold our rights and serve the people.” If the American people have proven anything, it’s that they have no interest in being informed or engaged in important issues, unless by “important issues” we mean the size of candidates’ genitalia.
Gloria La Riva, Party for Socialism and Liberation–Well, first, I think we can all agree that nobody from this party will win. The name of the party is just too long. Plus her gloria-dennis-vote-socialist1running mate, Dennis Banks, is a Native American, so if he ever starts talking about deporting immigrants, he could be talking about almost everybody.

Ms. La Riva describes herself as a “ labor, community and anti–war activist.” She has actually been awarded a Friendship Medal–from Cuba. This positions her very well for America’s new Cuban policies, but not very well for actually getting elected to anything…unless she’s running for mayor of Havana.

Still, La Riva is clearly more qualified than Evan McMullin because her plan only has 10 points, which is a nice, even number. However, her first point “For the earth to live, capitalism must end” will probably somewhat limit her campaign contributions. On the other hand, she may not need any because of her last proposal: “Seize the banks.”
Well, there you have it. Now, instead of voting for L.O.T.E., you can vote for the lesser of six evils.

Or L.O.S.E.

See you soon.

*This is true.
**This is not, I think.

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Entry 597: Splenda in the Grass

Back in March, my wife was headed to the store one day and asked if I needed anything. “Splenda,” I replied.

I use artificial sweetener in my coffee. I probably shouldn’t, but I do. I probably shouldn’t drink as much coffee as I do, either.

If I’m in someone else’s house, and I have a cup of coffee and they don’t have anything other than sugar, I’ll drink my caffeine unsweetened. I won’t use sugar. And here’s the chandlers_saccharin_pelletsthing: I really don’t know why. Some vague notion about calories, I guess, although going by appearances, you wouldn’t think that mattered much to me.

My parents never used sugar in their coffee. They would actually drop a small pill into their cup. This was saccharin. It was super-sweet. It’s why, even today, if something is just too, too precious, we’ll sometimes say it’s saccharin.

sanka_instant_coffee1My parents, it should be pointed out, were not gourmets. They may never have brewed a pot of coffee in their lives. They used the 1950’s version of a Keurig: dump a spoonful of instant coffee in a cup and add boiling water. Sometimes it was freeze-dried coffee. Sometimes it was Sanka®, which was what my parents called decaf. In those days, restaurants didn’t even make decaf. They’d give you a cup of hot water and a packet of Sanka. If my father was alive today and ever ventured into a Starbucks, he might actually order a Venti Sanka Latte.

Anyway, given the quality of the coffee my parents drank, it didn’t much matter what sort of sweetener they put into it.

In the late 50’s, Sweet ‘n Low came out. It came in pink packets. It was mostly saccharin, but it was powdered, so it didn’t look like your spouse was slipping you a mickey when he or she sweetened your coffee. Then, in 1960, it turned out your spouse was trying to kill you because it was announced that saccharin caused cancer in rats.

My family kept using it anyway. In the 50’s and 60’s, nobody cared about health. In my cancuhome, “fresh” referred to how long ago the can was opened. I think I was eight or nine before I realized that peas and carrots didn’t naturally grow together.  The only way I knew that carrots didn’t originate as small cubes was by watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. (I still don’t like most vegetables).

I mean, jeez, in those days, people smoked cigarettes to soothe a sore throat!*

Anyway, a few years after they announced that saccharin caused cancer in rats, scientists determined that rats were, in fact, not humans. Saccharin maybe didn’t cause cancer in people, they told us. Or maybe it did. I’m not sure we ever got a definitive answer on that. My family didn’t care either way. All that mattered was that it goldwasn’t sugar.

I don’t know why.

Then aspartame was invented. And it was blue! Well, the powder wasn’t blue, just the packet. It was for boys! But we finally had a sugar substitute that didn’t cause cancer in rats. The rats were safe! All we had to worry about were eye problems and migraines. Oh, and joint pain. And sometimes stomach cramps.

But at least it wasn’t sugar.

Then we got Splenda, which was sucralose, which was supposedly made from sugar but somehow wasn’t sugar. More importantly for our times, it was a gender-neutral yellow. Somewhat less importantly, it appeared to be perfectly healthy for rodents to use in their coffee.

So we had pink, blue and yellow. Sometimes, when you were in a coffee shop, they’d even cupask you for your preference that way. “Pink, blue or yellow?” There’s a green one floating around, too, Truvia or Stevia or something, that’s made from some weird plant, but, really, we already have too many colors of sweetener. I tried Stevia once and didn’t like it. It tasted more chemical-y than the other brands. Or maybe it just tasted like different chemicals. And, besides, there was a kid in elementary school named Steve who I didn’t much care for.

Mostly I’m not very particular when it comes to which sweetener I use. When I’m in Dunkin’ Donuts, for instance, I’ll use whichever low calorie sweetener I grab first to go with my coffee and chocolate-covered donut.

And on that day last spring when my wife Barbara asked me if we needed anything at the store, I only said Splenda because that happened to be the color we were almost out of.

So off she went, as I sat down at my computer to scan the day’s headlines.


Uh, oh.

I read on…

Splenda, the artificial sweetener whose main active ingredient is sucralose, has been deemed unsafe by a new study. Apparently, the product, once considered safe, and still found in popular cold drinks, may contribute to serious health problems like leukemia and other blood cancers.

So I sent Barbara a text: “Maybe not Splenda. Get another color.”sugarsubstitutes_6121

And because she knows me, I didn’t need to add “As long as it’s not white.”

See you soon.

*For years, “A treat instead of a treatment” was Old Gold’s tagline. I have no idea what sort of treatment they were referring to. Chemotherapy? Radiation? Lobotomy?

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Entry 596: Ancient History

If you’re over 55 years old, you probably think you’re young for your age. You know, “60 is the new 40″ and all that.

Well, allow me to demonstrate how old you are.

I’ve devised the following set of questions for millennials (born 1984 or later). They probably won’t get too many of them right unless they cheat by looking stuff up online, which millennials are wont to do. However, if you’re 55 or older, you’ll do very well, unless you’re already losing your memory.

1. Which of the following bands did not play at Woodstock in 1969?
a. Sly & the Family Stone
b. Blood Sweat & Tears
c. Hootie and the Blowfish
d. Crosby Stills Nash & Young

2. In 1969, the song “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies was #1. The Archies were a unique group at the time because they were…
a. All over 30 years old
b. All born within view of the Gateway Arch in St.Louis
c. All fans of Archie Bunker
d. All cartoons

3. Archie Bunker was…
a. A politician
b. A sitcom character
c. A singer
d. The head of the Black Panthers

4. If somebody called you “fat,” you were probably…
a. Cool
b. High
c. Overweight
d. Old


5. This person was…>>>>>>>>>>>>
a. Named after part of a tree
b. David Bowie when he was young
c. Kate Moss’ mother
d. The designer of the first mini-skirt

6. In the 1960’s, you could listen to music on a small portable device. It was called a…
a. Walkman
b. Transistor radio
c. Boombox
d. Device from the future

7. “Spiro” was the name of a…
a. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria
b. Birth control device
c. Vice President
d. Dog in a comic strip

8. The Captain and Tenille were…
a. The hosts of Captain and Tenille’s Laugh-In
b. Puppets
c. Street slang for two different drugs
d. Pop stars

9. The war in Vietnam was about…
a. Working conditions in shirt factories
b. Something involving dominos
c. 20 years long
d. A bowl of pho

10. In the 1960’s, everyone wore a certain type of jeans with very wide bottoms you were constantly tripping over. These were…
a. Bell bottoms
b. Dangerous
c. In retrospect, really stupid-looking
d. Dust mop dungareeshuckleberry21

11. “Huckapoo” was…
a. A make-out session
b. A highly flammable garment
c. A TV show featuring pop music and kids dancing
d. The first name of this cartoon dog>>>>>>>>>>

12. You used “Tang” by…
a. Sniffing it
b. Injecting it into a vein
c. Mixing it with water and drinking it
d. Smoking it

13. Where would you be most likely to get S&H Green Stamps?
a. The post office
b. The supermarket
c. A government distribution center
d. In the mail

14. Which of the following codes was introduced in the 1960’s?
a. Area code
b. Zip code
c. Morse code
d. Enigma code

15. This object was used for45rpmadapter1>>>>>>>>
a. Playing records
b. Birth control
c. Clipping socks together in the laundry
d. Enhancing an LSD “trip”

If you got 12 or more right, you’re friggin’ old!

See you soon.

1-C (The fish at Woodstock were with Country Joe)
5-A (Twiggy)
8. D
11-B (The dog was Huckleberry Hound; the TV show was “Hullabaloo”)21867914_21


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Entry 595: Watch Your Mailbox

So NBC canceled a sitcom last week. That in and of itself isn’t unusual. After all, NBC is always canceling shows. What’s unique here is the speed with which this show was canceled. It was canceled before it even aired. Actually, it was canceled before a pilot episode was even filmed. Well, no, it was canceled even before a script for a pilot episode was written.

In fact, the show was canceled only two days after it was announced!

That’s a quick hook, all right. But it’s not the alacrity of the cancellation that caught my attention. Here is part of the show’s pitch:

Mail Order Family, from Superstore writer-producer Jackie Clarke and executive producers Ruben Fleischer and David Bernad was to tell the story of a widower who orders a bride from the Philippines to raise his two young daughters.”

Hell, that sounds hilarious! But evidently, NBC bowed to negative feedback concerning the show’s premise. Here’s an example, from change.org:

“The mail order bride industry exploits and trafficks women who are economically disadvantaged and living in poverty. Filipino women make up one of the largest segments of mail-order brides in the world.”

Well, okay, I guess I can see that point. Although, in NBC’s defense, if you were going to do nbc_mail_order_familya show to appeal to mail order brides, it was a good idea to appeal to the largest segment of them.

But none of that is what got my attention. You see, I’m just a little tired of not seeing my profession represented in the media, and when I heard about this show, I thought “Finally! A show about direct marketing!”

As regular readers of this blog know, my income-generating day job (as opposed to this blog) is writing for the direct marketing industry. So I was looking forward (for the two days between the announcement and the cancellation of Mail Order Family) to seeing a show that depicted my kind on TV.

04832beb11b642a5623edb2d24275a951I mean, over the years, there have been TV shows about spies, politicians, lawyers, cops, doctors, cowboys, astronauts, witches, superheroes, vampire-slayers, oil barons, reporters, FBI agents, killers, mobsters, presidents, soldiers, hackers, Martians, teachers, scientists, athletes, bar owners, cab drivers, bus drivers, night club performers, and fairy tale characters (to name a few off the top of my head).

But there have been more people on TV possessed by various demons than there have who were involved in the direct marketing industry. I mean, the closest TV has ever come to a mail order character was Doug Heffernan, the UPS-like delivery guy on King of Queens and Cliff the mailman on Cheers.

Now, you could argue that there are entire channels devoted to mail order. But I’m talkingfence about dramatic or comedic shows with episodes that are longer than it takes to sell the Compass Home Expandable Faux Ivy Privacy Fence with Lights ($59.96) on QVC. Why isn’t JJ Abrams producing an anthology series about the eerie connection between people who receive those oversized Publishers Clearing House checks*? Why doesn’t Aaron Sorkin do a show called A Letter from the President about the people who write fundraising packages for political candidates? Where is Shonda Rhimes’ soap opera about infomercials called Wait, There’s More? Or Chuck Lorre’s sitcom about romance in a abramsdirect marketing ad agency, Mail and Femail?

I’m tired of having my people underrepresented in the media.

In Other News About My Profession…

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have announced an ambitious project—to “invest in basic science research with the goal of curing disease.”

Which diseases, you ask? All of them.

While this is not likely to occur during my lifetime (unless one of the first diseases they cure is the one that would have killed me), a headline in Popular Science informs us that “We are closer to curing all diseases than we think.”

That may sound like good news, but let’s not forget about me. A lot of my work is writing fundraising letters for institutions researching various diseases. If they cure everything, where does that leave me?

I think Mark Zuckerberg should keep his nose (and the rest of his facebook) out of my business. If he and his wife have a few billion to spare, they should donate it toward Filipino women. That would be fine with me because I am very much against the exploitation of economically-disadvantaged women.

Also I do not currently have any mail order bride companies among my clients.

See you soon.

*I’m thinking it would run for seven seasons until the series finale reveals the connection between the people was that these were the only ones left on Earth who still subscribed to magazines,** and that the show never would explain why a friggin’ polar bear was riding around in the Publisher’s Clearing House van.***

**Even though no purchase is necessary.

***You have no idea what I’m talking about here if you didn’t watch Lost.

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Entry 594: What’s the Matter?

Well, the Nobel Prize for Physics has been announced, and the winner is Vladimir Putin.

Just kidding. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.* (He didn’t win, but I’m sure he thought it was an honor just to be nominated.)

The winners of this year’s prize for physics were were David Thouless, Duncan Haldane nobel_day2_phys_31and Michael Kosterlitz for their “studies of unusual states of matter, which may open up new applications in electronics.”

Before I go on, I would like to say that, considering physicists tend to play around with stuff that is highly volatile and potentially world-ending, it’s somewhat 103447-crosby-stills-nash-2008-6171unnerving to recognize that, in the illustration above right, Thouless, Haldane and Kosterlitz look disturbingly like Crosby, Stills and Nash.

But I digress.

In a statement about the award-winners, the Nobel Committee said, “Thanks to their pioneering work, the hunt is now on for new and exotic phases of matter.”

Evidently, scientists all over the world are now researching something called “condensed matter physics” in the hopes of developing “new generations of electronics and superconductors or future quantum computers.”

Well, first, allow me to congratulate Thouless, Haldane and Kosterlitz. I sincerely hope they enjoy their $937,000.00 prize. And second, about their work, let me just say…


graphicWe do not need any new kinds of matter. We have all the matter we need, thank you very much. And we certainly don’t want our matter going through phases. My daughter went through phases growing up, and while I’m not sure any of them could be described as “exotic,” a few of them were not very pleasant.

Also, I have no idea how to operate my current electronics (not to mention my electronic currents) without having to worry about Smart TVs: The Next Generation. And look what we’ve done with this generation of computers. You have people walking off cliffs while chasing fictional characters; presidential candidates sending incoherent tweets at three in the morning; and idiots sending me emails telling me to discover natural and affordable treatment options for my overactive bladder. What the hell are these lunatics going to do with quantum computers?  (As an aside, are certain candidates up at 3 am because they have overactive bladders?)

The winning project in this year’s Nobel science fair follows in the footsteps of every other one this century, in that no normal person could possibly know what the heck they are. Since 2001, the Nobel committee has recognized such discoveries as neutrino oscillations; blue light-emitting diodes; experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems; two-dimensional material graphene; spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics; Giant Magnetoresistance; blackbody form; the quantum theory of optical coherence; the optical frequency comb technique; asymptotic freedom; and superfluids.

I will admit that Giant Magnetoresistance sounds cool and should definitely be the villain in the next X-Men movie, but otherwise, all of the above “accomplishments” sound like clusters of nonsense words thrown together randomly. I’m also pretty sure that none of those major advancements has affected my life in the slightest, although I think my neutrinos may have oscillated last week after some bad Mexican food.

I know, I know–you’re going to tell me that blackbodies matter. Maybe so, but I can tell you that I haven’t needed any sort of comb, much less an optical frequency comb, for decades.

Compare the science projects above with winners from last century. In 1971, for example, Dennis Gabor won for inventing holographs. See? That’s something useful. Half the science fiction movies released in the last 40 years couldn’t have been made without that. Philipp Eduard Anton von Lenard won in 1905 for his work in cathode rays, which led to television, although if Lenard was alive for shows like Bridezillas, he might have worked on something else.

And what about Johannes Stark, the winner in 1919 for something involving the Doppler traineffect, without which we wouldn’t be able to hear trains coming (and going) or inaccurately predict the weather. Plus, it’s possible that Johannes Stark was Howard Stark’s father, in which case his work in the bedroom led directly to Iron Man.**

I think the Nobel Prize should be awarded for more immediately practical discoveries like those. For instance, they should be incentivizing these geniuses to invent ways to permanently keep our eyeglasses clean. That’s something that would be worth $937,000.00.

Give us kale that tastes like chocolate. Give us a weapon that allows us to remotely kill annoying people on TV. Give us a way to get all the benefits of exercise while sitting on the couch eating popcorn.

We’re tired of subatomic, theoretical, quantum stuff. Give us something useful, dammit!

Although I would like to know if those superfluids come in root beer flavor.

See you soon.

P.S. Happy anniversary Casey & Alex.

*True, in 2014. And Stalin was nominated twice. And Hitler once.
**Howard Stark, father of Tony Stark, aka Robert Downey Jr.

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Entry 593: Headlines That Caught My Eye

Here are a few of the headlines that have grabbed my attention recently and do not involve Donald Trump.


>Truman Capote’s Ashes Sold at Auction for $45,000.00. They had been owned carnac-259x3001by Joanne Carson, Johnny Carson’s ex-wife (especially now that she’s dead), who would take the ashes to movies and plays in keeping with the author’s wishes not to “be put on a shelf.” It is unclear whether Capote’s ashes ever made an appearance on The Tonight Show.

CARNAC THE MAGNIFICENT (holding envelope up to his head): Powdered Capote. (opens envelope and reads): What did your ex-wife sprinkle on your pizza?

The guy who ran the auction said, “The people who bought Capote’s ashes will continue his adventures.” In other words, Capote has a more active social life dead than I do alive.
>Study Reveals That People Who Curse Have Higher Intelligence. Don’t get too excited yet, potty-mouth. It’s not the frequency that means you’re smart, it’s the variety. Psychologists at Marist College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts have determined that people who have a large vocabulary of curses tend to have a larger vocabulary in general. I don’t know what’s dumber, that somebody thought to do this study in the first place or that it took two colleges to do it.

In any case, the researchers found that people who knew the names of the most different animals also knew the most curses. Really. That was the methodology. Which means that, when we say “Oh, he curses like a sailor,” we really should be saying, “Oh, he curses like a zoologist.”

Also, the study only used people aged 18-22, so the subjects hadn’t lived long enough to learn all the really good curses.

I think the truly amazing find is that the participants generated a total of 533 curse words and slurs. That’s only 5.79 epithets per individual which doesn’t sound like such a great friggin’ vocabulary to me. Particularly since the curses they came up with included “cum dumpster” and “ass pirate,” which are clearly made up (so, okay, points for creativity). And finally, the most disappointing part of this study is that the actual published scientific article didn’t even include an appendix with the 533 curses.
>Child Born with Three Biological Parents. This is a new technique, not yet legal in the U.S., that is used to bypass defective genes. In this case, the wife carried the gene for Leigh Syndrome, a fatal disorder that had caused four previous miscarriages. So scientists took a nucleus from one of her eggs and combined it with the disease-free mitochondrial DNA from a donor’s egg, then took the resulting egg and fertilized it with sperm from the father. The boy who was born shows no sign of Leigh Syndrome. He has two biological mothers and one father.

Of course, this technique is raising a lot of ethical questions, such as, “If a girl is born in this way, how will she know which mother to turn into?”


>New Study Shows Dogs Ignore Bad Human Advice.  In research from psychologists at Yale’s Canine Cognition Center, a treat was placed inside a puzzle, and researchers showed dogs how to get it out by lifting the lid of the box. They tried to mislead the dogs by commanding them to push a lever attached to the box. The lever didn’t actually do anything. When researchers left the room, it didn’t take long for the pups to ignore the command of using the lever and head straight for the treat.

An almost identical study was done in 2005 using children, but they kept pressing the useless lever.

This may prove that dogs are smarter than children (especially if the pups have a large vocabulary of curse words), but I don’t think you can extrapolate balloon2anything about ignoring advice. While it’s true that our dog, Riley, ignored my bad advice about investing in the company my son-in-law worked for, he often also ignores my good advice, like not dissembling mommy’s sandals and actually consuming the leather straps, or not going into that bush with all the burrs.

So I think what this study really shows is that dogs have a lower tolerance for nonsense than humans.

Now if we can just get one to run for office.
>Superheroes Defeat Princesses. For the first time in over a decade, princess costumes are not the top-sellers for Halloween. They have been dethroned by superhero costumes. I have two things to say about this. First, this report came out on September 28, so there’s still plenty of time for princesses to catch up. And second, I bet there are a lot of fathers of sons who are breathing a sigh of relief.
>Carrie Underwood’s Knee Looks Like Prince George. Well, okay, there is some kneeresemblance, but I think it’s more due to the power of suggestion, like when somebody sees Jesus in some bathtub schmutz and then everyone else goes, “Oh, yeah, there he is!” and then people are lined up around the block to be blessed by the miracle mold. But you have to admit it takes a special kind of person to go to a Carrie Underwood concert and, first of all, put her knee under close scrutiny and, second of all, be that familiar with Prince George’s face to notice the similarity.

I believe they have places for those specials kinds of people.

See you soon.

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