Sunday, December 08, 2019

The $150,000 banana, a theory about Trump’s toilet habits, and the Social Security “increase” that’s actually an income cut for millions of retirees

You want proof that a lucky few have too much money? I mean money that would do more for this country if it were taxed away from the one percent, as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders propose — and spent instead on worthy causes, like housing, or healthcare, or education, or infrastructure, or even reduction of the national debt?

Go no further than Miami Beach. Recently, at an exhibition called Art Basel Miami Beach, they were selling — in fact sold — a banana that had been stuck to a wall with a piece of duct tape for $150,000. 

And this was after a big contretemps involving an artist named David Dutana, who ripped the banana off the wall to which it had been taped and ate it.

A banana's lesson in economics

So why was a banana worth more than a garage full of automobiles, and how could it be worth anything at all after it entered Datuna’s alimentary canal?

First things first. Evidently the star of the Art Basel Miami Beach show was the banana, and what made it special was the idea of taping it to the wall. Maybe that’s why the banana on the wall was titled Comedian. Yuck yuck.

The idea of taking an ordinary object and declaring it art isn’t even entirely original. Over a century ago, the Dadaist artist Marcel Duchamp put a urinal on a pedestal, signed it “R.Mutt” and everybody declared it art. 

It's art because Duchamp said so!

So what does that make the banana? Nothing more than a semi-conceptual copycat with an edible center.

Here it is, for all to see:

Shocking? It doesn’t matter. The exhibitor, the Perrotin Gallery, had brought along an extra banana just in case.And they taped that banana to the wall, and hocus-pocus, it was now worth $150,000. Not only that, even after the banana ripens, and then rots, and then begins attracting flies, and then gets thrown in the trash, the buyer will not only have his money’s worth, he’ll have a certificate of authenticity to prove it. 

The transubstantiated fruit

Now just stop that. I don’t want to see your eyes cross again. This is for real. Here’s what Vanity Fair magazine reports on the matter:

“Without the artist's certificate of authenticity, it reverts to being just a banana,” Perrotin said to ArtNet News prior to the unauthorized snacking, evoking a kind of readymade transubstantiation clause.”

 Maybe the buyer is going to go home, frame the certificate of authenticity, and hang that over his mantlepiece. That's a great way to avoid an every-other-day art replacement run to the supermarket produce aisle.

Vanity Fair went on to report:
Most famous, though, is America, a fully functioning 18-karat solid gold toilet. In 2016 it was installed in one of the Guggenheim's rest rooms, for anyone to use. (A security guard was posted outside as people waited in line.) When the Trump White House requested to borrow Vincent Van Gogh's Landscape With Snow in 2017, the Guggenheim offered America instead. The piece was recently stolen from Blenheim Palace in England, where it was on loan. Arrests have been made but the toilet has not been recovered.
Presumbly, if I may haul out an old joke and, uh, polish it up a bit, the mystified occupants of Blenheim Palace are looking urgently, but they have nothing to go on.

Trump’s terribly
temperamental toilet tirade

Speaking of toilets, while the rich were paying $150,000 for a duct taped banana, and God-knows-what for gold toilets, Donald Trump was ranting about how many times he has to flush. This happened during a small business round table conference. Trump went off not on why so many small businesses are being squeezed out of existence by Amazon, or about the competition of cheap goods from abroad, but on energy-saving lightbulbs that he says make him look orange, and then on plumbing, including flush toilets.

“People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So EPA is looking at that very strongly at my suggestion,” The Trumpster gushed.
Who these frequent flushers are, or how our busy and usually incurious President researched the number of times you and I flush was not explained. I suspect that “people” in this case refers to a single “people” whose name is Donald Trump. And I have no doubt that he personally sometimes needs to flush 15 times instead of once. In fact, have a very simple theory about the matter:

That’s what happens when you’re full of shit.

Now even Social Security
has stopped being secure

At the end of November, America’s geezers, among whom I number myself, received what for many of us was a go-screw-yourself letter from the Social Security Administration.

It started out with putatively good news: “Your Social Security benefits will increase by 1.6 percent in 2020 because of a rise in the cost of living.”

The cost of living in what? Here in New York, a one bedroom apartment can rent for more per month than I paid for my first new car. (Well okay, it was a Volkswagon, but even so.) A raw chicken breast in the supermarket meat case costs more than a pound of sirloin cost a few years ago. I pay more to have my shoes re-heeled than I once paid for shoes.

Anyway, 1.6 percent is at least something.  But then, payments from Social Security to my Medicare Part B medical insurance and Part D Prescription Drug Plan were increased — and subtracted from what Social Security sends me. Net net? I take a $48-and-change per month cut in Social Security income. (If you’re retired, your mileage may vary, depending on past and current income.) 

Heaven forbid the government should cut drug companies’ profits instead of old peoples’ incomes. Hey, no need to worry yet, drug companies. It won’t happen under a Trump administration. They’ll just keep redistributing income to you from the poor, the old, the marginal, and the sick.

And yet, many of my fellow geezers just love Trump. Maybe they'll love him less come their January Social Security checks. 

Or maybe they're already brain dead.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Ectopic pregnancy, abortion, and “reimplantation” for dummies. I’m talking to you, Ohio House of Representatives.

Dummy: Ohio Rep. John Becker 
(Republican) co-sponsored a bill that 
requires Ohio doctors to do the 
medically impossible or possibly
face murder charges. But medical 
science is, like, you know, his opinion.
Dummy:  Ohio Rep. Candice Keller 
(Republican) not only co-sponsored 
the ectopic pregnancy law, but also 
“drag queen advocates” and 
“recreational marijuana” for mass 
Uh oh! The Republican rocket scientists in the Ohio House of Representatives are at it again. 

It’s old news by now, but just in case you missed it…

Having banned abortions after five weeks of pregnancy — a ban that was blocked by a Federal judge whose IQ, if it’s merely normal, is probably higher than that of all the Republicans in the Ohio House combined — the House went on to something bigger and dumber.

It's legislative name is HB 182, but it ought to be called the Ohio Medical Nincompoop Act. This one involves ectopic pregnancies. An ectopic pregnancy is a mistake nature makes — okay, that God makes if you pro-life fundamentalists insist — that causes a fertilized egg to attach to the wrong place.

Usually that wrong place is a fallopian tube, where  the egg ends up fatally, instead of descending to the uterus, where the egg can grow normally and develop into a healthy fetus.

If the ectopic pregnancy isn’t terminated, not only will the baby die prior to birth, but the mother very well may bleed to death, too. So the only proper and humane way to deal with this tragedy is to abort the pregnancy. Hey, don’t take my word for it. I get this stuff from the medically renowned Mayo Clinic, which sums it up this way:
“An ectopic pregnancy can't proceed normally. The fertilized egg can't survive, and the growing tissue may cause life-threatening bleeding, if left untreated.”
 But trust those “Get the government off our backs” Republicans not only to get on women’s backs, but to crawl up into women’s private parts and begin practicing 12th Century medicine in there.

What did Representative Becker come up with? Why, a bill criminalizing abortions of ectopic pregnancies if the doctor fails to do the impossible and “reimplant” the aborted fetus in the woman’s uterus. The doctor who fails to comply with this compliance-proof law would face “abortion murder” charges.

Meanwhile, Daniel Grossman, writing in in the Ohio online journal, tells us:
While HB 182’s focus on a fictitious treatment is concerning, even more dangerous is the fact that the bill eliminates insurance coverage for the standard treatments for ectopic pregnancy unless the pregnant person’s life is in danger. This exception for life is not sufficient, since doctors may feel their hands are tied unless they are 100% certain that the patient is at death’s door. Ectopic pregnancy is the leading cause of pregnancy-related death in the first trimester, and as our nation faces a crisis of maternal mortality– particularly among African-American women – it is unconscionable to place obstacles in the way of treating ectopic pregnancy.
I assume that the next matter the Ohio House will deal with is the exorcism of witches from elementary schools. Stay tuned. 

Monday, November 25, 2019

Michael Bloomberg’s gamble with opprobrium

Michael Bloomberg's 6,000-or-so square foot beach shack in Bermuda.
He escapes there frequently via private jet, usually to play golf. Sound familiar?
In quite a few ways, Michael Bloomberg is simply Donald Trump Lite.

Trump has Mar e Lago. Bloomberg has a waterfront estate called Stokes Bay, in Bermuda.

Trump, when he’s not tweeting obsessively, plays golf obsessively. Ditto Bloomberg when he’s in Bermuda. In fact, “obsessively” is just the word the New York Times used to describe Bloomberg’s golfing behavior there.

Perhaps more pertinently, neither man has demonstrated much respect for established law. With Trump I wouldn’t know where to begin. With Bloomberg, I know where it all might end. After New York City’s voters approved mayoral term limits by referendum, Bloomberg overrode the referendum by a tricky political maneuver. He essentially bribed New York City Council members by granting them an extra term as well. 

Bloomberg's excuse for flipping his own city's inhabitants the bird was that he needed a third term to fix the city's financial crisis. He alone could do it! Does that sound familiar? 

The 120-year-old President?

So much for the will of the people, and possibly for presidential term limits. If Bloomberg, now 77 years old, lives to be 120, we could have a 120-year-old President of the United States.

Would Bloomberg be a better president than Trump? Absolutely yes, for the same reason that getting bitten on the ankle by a rabid pig would be better than getting crushed to death and then swallowed by a boa constrictor. 

Bloomberg has already placed “at least” $37 million worth of advertising, CNN reported recently. Even billionaires don’t throw that kind of money around just to hear the sound of money bags knocking network advertising sales managers off their feet.

That’s also why, just for starters, Los Angelinos who watch the local news on NBC in the afternoon or evening could be seeing nine ads for Michael Bloomberg every day, according a tweet from Shane Goldmacher, a New York Times political reporter.

Moreover, Bloomberg’s sudden apology to the African-American community, for 12 years of stop-and-frisking black people for the offense of being outdoors while black, rang loud with almost the same total lack of sincerity that marks Donald Trump when he reads a prepared speech written by some political consultant.

An apology of convenience

“I see now that I was wrong,” Bloomberg said to a black church congregation that he had chosen for his mea culpa

How come now rather than a dozen weeks ago, or when you were mayor for twelve years and could do something about it, Mike? You didn’t notice all the lives needlessly ruined, all the jobs lost, all the loss of civic comity created by needlessly harassing African-Americans for twelve years? Of course you didn't. Or perhaps you just didn't care.

For Mr. Bloomberg’s sake, if God forbid he wins the Democratic primary, I sincerely hope he also wins the Presidential election.  Because if he jumps in and spoils it for strong Democratic candidates, and then the election goes to Trump, the cloud of opprobrium that follows Bloomberg for the rest of his life will be so thick you’ll be able to cut it with a crowd of waving pitchforks. And my guess is, he'll want to spend even rainy weekends in Bermuda. Not to mention midweeks.

If he gains the Democratic nomination, Bloomberg will either make himself President … or the Democratic Party’s biggest pariah in history.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Crazy Joe Gallo and the White House that couldn’t shoot straight

Crazy Joe the Blond
Crazy Don the Orange

Back in the 1960s, a small potatoes Brooklyn thug who had two street names, “Joey the Blond” and “Crazy Joe Gallo” got a crew together and tried to shoot his way into the big time Mafia.

Owing to his gang’s formidable level of incompetence, he didn’t last, although stunts like keeping a pet lion in his basement, and various murder attempts (and at least one notoriously successful one) drew a lot of press attention. This included attention from the late newspaper feature writer and columnist Jimmy Breslin, who dined off Gallo for years.

Breslin wrote a book about the Gallo gang, that became a movie, called “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.” 

While watching the House hearings on the Ukraine mess today, it finally occurred to me that history is rhyming again. A new gang that can’t shoot straight is in the White House, and instead of Crazy Joe building a career for Jimmy Breslin, Donald Trump is building ratings for Stephen Colbert. (And yes, Gallo was even called to Washington to testify, although it was at a Senate investigation, rather than a House investigation.)

Joey the Blond/Crazy Joe did prison time and was eventually done in by a rival gang at Umberto's Clam House in New York's Little Italy.

Take two minutes to watch the trailer for The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, below. Of course, there are marked differences between Crazy Don and his gang, and Crazy Joe and his gang. But there’s also something that really does rhyme with the White House Capers. 

Friday, November 15, 2019

Who will win the Presidential election? (Predictions straight from Mme. Galzogorist’s crystal ball.) Plus: foie-not-so-gras and a law to save that wascally wabbit.

Mme. Galzogorist sees all, hears all, knows all, tells all, dings all
It’s been three years since I’ve gone to see Madame Galzogorist, the political fortune-telling seer of the garment district with the partially blown out neon sign.

The last time I spoke with her, Donald Trump has just won an election, and I asked her to predict what his first week in the White House would be like. Her predictions, although incorrect as to most specifics, had a certain qualitative accuracy, especially as they pertained to Rudy Giuliani. 

Also qualitatively, one might argue that Mme. Galzogorist’s Day Six predictions about stinging jellyfish transported to the Rio Grande to deter immigrant swimmers is not so far from The Trumpster’s recent proposal to deter immigration by digging a moat at the border and filling it with alligators and poisonous snakes.

And the next President is.....?

This time I asked Mme. Galzogorist to predict who would run for President on both the Republican and Democratic tickets, and who would win. I should note for the record that Mme. Galzogorist vehemently denies that her name is an anagram of the names of the Gallup, Zogby and Marist polls. 

On the contrary, "Galzogorist is the ancient and revered name of a long and noble familial line of distinguished cutpurses and con artists,” Mme Galzogorist insisted. "We consider ourselves to be the Trumps of the futurism profession."


Anyway, here’s how the interview went:

CRANK: So first of all, who will the Democratic nominee be?

MME. GALZOGORIST: Elizabeth Warren will be the nominee, with Senator Cory Booker as her Vice-Presidential candidate. You heard it straight from my crystal ball, via my lips.

CRANK: I take it Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate? Even if he’s impeached?

MME. GALZOGORIST: He’ll be running even if he has to do it from behind the walls of Leavenworth Prison. And if he gets thrown into the slammer, don’t stand too close to the walls outside. Once they take away his cell phone, he’ll be tweeting by throwing messages in bottles over the wall.

CRANK: What will Trump do if he’s elected?

 MME. GALZOGORIST: If elected, he will not serve, at least not when it interferes with golf or sitting on his bed in the middle of the night and tweeting. Same as in his first term when he was elected.  

CRANK: And if he’s not elected?

MME: GALZOGORIST: If not elected, he will have such a meltdown you’re not going to believe it.

CRANK: Will he be elected or not?

MME. GALZOGORIST: Situation is murky. Ask again later.

CRANK: Hey, that sounds like what one of those novelty shop crystal ball toys would say.

MME GALZOGORIST: Where do you think I get my information?

New York, we have a
goose liver problem

Since all politics is local, I take you now to New York City where City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, despite the growing problem of homelessness, hopelessly gridlocked streets, high piles of garbage awaiting pickup that all but block some sidewalks on certain days, the underfunded transportation system, and the growing desertification of some shopping streets as more and more retail shops are forced to close thanks to changing lifestyles and high rents….despite all that, Johnson is focused on what really matters.

First and foremost, I’m talking about the plight of rural geese, many of them in France. These geese are force-fed to give them fatty livers so that they’ll yield richer fois gras. Now a proposed New York City local law, Number 1378-A, “prohibits retail food establishments or food service establishments from storing, maintaining, selling, or offering to sell force-fed products or food containing a force-fed product. The bill creates a rebuttable presumption that any item with a label or listed on the menu as ‘foie gras’ is the product of force-feeding. Violators will be subject to a civil penalty between $500 and $2,000 per offense."

I’m guessing that to avoid the problem, the vast International Goose Liver Conspiracy will have to drop “fois gras” from its labels and call its stuff “chopped liver.” 

Or they may have to stop selling goose liver entirely and instead sell pork paté. Nobody force feeds pigs. The poor critters just lead miserable lives, crammed together in foul conditions, until they’re taken to the slaughterhouse where they get beaten or stabbed or stunned to death. 

There! I’m so glad we’ve solved the humanity problem.

Arf arf! Meow! What's up doc?

While we’re on the subject of New York animals, let’s talk about puppies. There are several pet stores in New York that sell them. But a resolution before the City Council, Number 798, would call upon the governor to amend a state law so that it would, among other things, prohibit the sale of dogs, cats, or rabbits by retail pet stores. However, the law would allow the pet stores to “showcase” rescue dogs, cats and rabbits that are up for adoption. 

Questions waiting to be answered:

• How the pet shops will stay in business if they can't sell the pets? 

• A quick perusal of local New York City adoption websites revealed that among the rescue dogs, there is a preponderance of pit bulls and a significant shortage of purebreds and custom-breds. If everybody in New York has to get a pit bull, what happens to the Poodles, Labradoodles, Cockerdoodles, Goldendoodles, and  oodles of other more cuddly and hypoallergenic varieties of dog? In a city where people are living in close quarters and in small spaces where tempers flare, are we sure we want pit bulls to be the predominant pooch?

• Rabbits? Since when has New York City had a rabbit rescue problem? I suspect that somebody on the City Council has been watching too many old Bugs Bunny movies. Gwab that wascally wabbit, but do it vewy, vewy quietly. Ssh! It’s a wescue wabbit! 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

News designed to make you puke: Food porn maker goes for sex porn. Lindsay Graham invents the Stupidity Defense. Joe Biden forgets to batten down his Internet hatches. And an iguana sleeps with cats.

Having looked into the future and seen the Era of Trump,
a Renaissance Man tosses his cookies
So  Kraft Heinz, in addition to selling pickles and ketchup and Velveeta, has been hankering to become a leading manufacturer of frozen foods. 


Why "again?" It's complicated.

In the past, a now-defunct corporate entity called General Foods, one of the companies that Kraft Heinz merged with, owned the Birds Eye frozen foods brand. But Birds Eye (if I’ve got all this straight) got spun off, or spit out, or shunted over to a company called Pinnacle Foods. So did Swanson, the company that introduced America to TV dinners and that in some other incarnation was owned by the Campbell Soup company. 

Anyway, having sold off their frozen food operation, Kraft Heinz decided that it needed a frozen food operation. Because why should the processed food business be any less disorganized and irrational than, say, the White House?

Who's Devour for?
Hungry pervs?

So Kraft Heinz came up with a new line of frozen foods called Devour. And where did the geniuses at Kraft Heinz decide to advertise it?

Why, on an XXX-rated site called Pornhub, to which I shall not supply a link, since it’s not only NSFW, but might, for all I know, get me tossed off Blogger. Why chance it? 

Pornhub is the kind of website that has been known to depict sex with minors, threesomes, or for that matter, thirty-five-or-moresomes, not to mention other horny-porny-raunchy stuff. (Okay, I confess. I peeked. Strictly for the sake of fact checking, of course.)

What was Kraft Heinz thinking?

Well, the Devour frozen food ad campaign was smirky-jokey advertising about “food porn.” So advertising on a porn site was, I assume, supposed to be a joke on top of a joke that would surely entice people who were thinking real hard about sex to stop watching porn and run out to buy frozen food instead, because umm, well, umm, on account of, umm...never mind.

I assume that by now that some marketing officers and ad agency people are getting their resumés into circulation as rapidly as they possibly can. Fortunately, a Kraft Heinz spokesflack has reassured us that “Kraft Heinz has pledged not to advertise or promote any of  its brands on this site or other similar sites.”  She forgot to use the word “again,” but even so, I feel better already.

Or I did, until I realized that Unilever’s Dollar Shave club also got caught with its pants down, advertising on Pornhub.

See, and you thought all the stupid stuff was only happening in politics.

Speaking of stupid stuff…
We now have the Stupidity Defense

I’ve heard of people accused of terrible crimes pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. But by reason of stupidity?

Lindsay Graham’s latest defense of Donald Trump and the White House in regard to the Ukraine, quid pro quo and all of that, is that they’re all “too incoherent” to be guilty of selling America’s reputation and allies down the river. I think "incoherent" is used as a synonym for stupid in this case.

Sorry Lindsay. You too, Trumpster. Stupidity is not a legal defense against any crime or misdemeanor, high, low, or in-between.

However, if Donald Trump should ever go out and actually shoot somebody, he should be advised to skip Fifth Avenue and instead commit his murder on his estate in Bedminster, New Jersey. 

In New Jersey, The Trumpster will be happy to learn, mental retardation is a valid defense against imposition of the death penalty. So he can seek immunity from lethal injection on the grounds that even though he’s a very stable genius, he’s actually a very stable retarded genius.  

Oh no! Oh woe!
Say it ain’t so, Joe!

New topic again: In an attempt to reach voters in the Latino community, the Biden campaign created a web domain called Cool. But then they forgot to renew the domain name. When perhaps the only hip person in the entire Trump universe realized this deficiency, the Trump campaign bought the domain.

So now, when a Hispanic voter clicks on, what comes up is a photograph of a dejected looking Joe, standing all alone on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, and headlines that tell you in both English and Spanish, “Oops, Joe forgot about Latinos. Joe is all talk.” There are two buttons you can click. Both will take you to a website called Latinos for Trump.

A cat-humping iguana. You can't
make this stuff up.
Look, I’m older than Joe Biden. So I don’t hold his age against him. Rather, it’s the endless stream of his gaffes. And make no mistake, in the age of the Internet, failing to hire a web team that knows enough to secure your own domain is a gaffe. True, I’d would rather have Joe Biden in the White House than Donald Trump. For that matter, I would rather have a cat-humping iguana in the White House than Trump.

But I’d still most rather have Elizabeth Warren.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Department store. Dressing room. Trump. Rape. Plus: why your undies may be causing forest fires and what to do about it. (But you won’t like hearing it.)

"When the dike breaks, fingers are of no use."
(Quotation from the sayings of Hope Loewenstein."
Good for you, E. Jean Carroll, for suing Donald Trump for rape.

But lotsa luck collecting.

According to the New York Times, Carroll — a journalist who these days writes for Elle Magazine — me-tooed The Trumpster this past June, saying that over 20 years ago, he raped her. 

The deed, she says, happened in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman, a posh department store within spitting distance of the Trump Tower where The Trumpster lives. Pardon, where he used to live, now that he claims he has given up his New York residency. (But note, he hasn’t given up the apartment.)

If you want all the alleged sordid details, suggesting that if you’re a woman alone in a department store and you see Donald Trump, you want to run like hell in the opposite direction, just go here. I’ll only quote one paragraph to you. (The “she” referred to is E. Jean Carroll.)

The sex scene in Bergdorf’s
He suddenly lunged at her, pushed her against a wall and kissed her, she said in the lawsuit. She pushed him away and he then pinned her against the wall, pulled down her tights and raped her. The attack she said lasted up to three minutes. 
Sounds consistent with the now-famous “Grab ‘em by the pussy tape,” but what do I know? More interesting to me is that the entire act lasted “up to three minutes.” Which brings to mind the old joke involving the ditched boyfriend’s furious complaint:

“She said I was a lousy lover. How could she possibly know after only three minutes?

I will not linger on this matter long enough to speculate on Melania Trump’s sex life with The Trumpster. So let’s wrap up this matter in the next paragraph.

I sorely, deeply, passionately hope that Ms. Carroll prevails in court, but I suspect the same dabblers in legal alchemy who insist that the President of the United States cannot be arrested for a crime will claim he also cannot be sued for a civil offense. (The criminally-prosecutable part of the alleged offense has passed into the Never-Never Land of the Statute of Limitations.) And now on to the terribly depressing fashion news.

If you ain’t always nekkid,
you’re polluting the atmosphere

Hey, that’s not my opinion. This comes from an author named Elizabeth L. Cline, writing in the Op-Ed Section of the Times. “Making, washing and tossing apparel has a big environmental cost,” said says the subhead over Cline’s article, summing up her thesis. 

Alas, when you think about it for a bit, it’s pretty hard to disagree. Are you wearing wool? All those sheep that grow it for you are farting tons of methane. And then there’s the energy you need to burn when you truck the wool, and card the wool, and clean the wool, and weave the wool, and sew the wool, and truck it off to the store, and keep the store’s lights on so that Donald Trump has less of a chance of grabbing you in the dressing room, and…well, you get the idea.

Nylon? Rayon? Sooner or later when you throw it out, or you give it away to somebody, who gives it away to somebody else, who then throws it out…Plastic in the ocean! And before that, says the Times piece, some of those synthetic fibers were trees in the Amazon. 

Cotton? You know how much water it takes to grow a T-shirt? Thousands of gallons, Cline reports. So much for organic clothing.

And when you wash your stuff — well, there’s the electricity for the washing machine. The water drained from the water table. And then the polluting detergents put back in the water table or a common waterway, and…well, it's all just too depressing.

So what’s a person to do? Winter’s coming. You can’t walk around in the raw, even if the cops would let you. And summer? The sun would turn your skin to cancerous crepe paper.

Here’s where I come out on that. 

All we have to do is
get rid of people

None of this would be a problem of any significance if the human population of the planet were, say, 10 million. We, and our cows, and our sheep, could fart our heads off and nature would cover for us. We could drive gas guzzlers that get 15 miles to the gallon, and the trees in the no-longer raped Amazon would suck up and sink the carbon. We could pee in our local streams, smoke up the skies, and warm ourselves around roaring fires, and the Arctic ice shelf wouldn’t give a diddley-damn. Not if there were only 10 million people.

So all we have to do is reduce the human population of the planet by, oh, 90 percent or so, by lowering the birth rate. But of course, we won’t. So how can the problem be solved?

Trust Mother Nature. She’ll either unleash a massive plague, the Mother of All Ebolas, the Bubonic of all Bubonics, so rapidly, so unexpectedly, and so horribly murderous that we’ll all dissolve into a great mass of suppurating protoplasm before we can ask, “Which way to the disinfectant hose?"

Or she’ll keep unleashing Donald Trumps on us until half the Trumpsters fire nuclear weapons at the other half, and then vice-versa, resulting in the rapid depopulation of humanity.

It’s coming, because we humans can’t help doing what we do. And I’m not saying this just because the latest polls indicated that, even with declining support, The Trumpster could still win the Electoral College. 

In fact, Donald Trump may be nature’s plan to destroy humanity. Just sayin.'

Monday, October 28, 2019

Sperm bikes. Un-sexy Millennials. The Circleville Pumpkin Show. Plus other stuff the cat dragged in.

This is either a weird solution for low sperm motility or a really
stupid bicycle. I have nothing more to say about this.

Is it possible that Republicans have ruined everybody’s sex life? Or at least the sex life of millennials? Turns out that America is suffering from a sexual recession.  Millennials, who by virtue of their age ought to be the most randy among us, just don’t feel like it tonight, honey. And if you trace the problem to its root cause, it’s economic insecurity, brought about by numerous factors.

These might include the mortgage meltdown of 2009, which was the offspring of Republican-cheered deregulation. Or it might be because of student loans that will never get paid off, and that Republicans oppose letting the government pay off because, you know, socialism. Or, who knows, maybe, the story continues, it’s social media.

In any case, a lower birth rate portends bad news for businesses ranging from the real estate business, to the clothing business, to the condom business. But understanding that would force Republicans, who support Donald Trump, to equate two conceptually different things — sex and the impact of its absence on the economy. So forget about it.

And speaking of birth rates….

Murdered by Mickey Mouse
Lemmings, say it ain’t so! I grew up believing that lemmings committed mass suicide, as part of that species’ compulsion to prevent overpopulation. Somebody just had to go and ruin that for me. Worse, it turns out that the image we all have of lemmings jumping by the thousands off a cliff into the ocean is a Disney concoction. The little rodents suffered a horrible death for the sake of a movie, but hey, that’s show biz. I’ve never seen the movie, which dates back to the 1950s, but I’m pretty sure that it didn’t contain a disclaimer saying, “No rodents were harmed during the making of this film.” 

My Cranky Vlad the Impaler Award, given at irregular intervals, starting now, to the person who makes the most money doing the most damage goes to…Adam Neumann, who tanked his company, WeWork, and got paid $1.7 billion — that’s billion — dollars for the effort. Why could I never get fired like that?

When I became too old to be employable (in the ad biz, that's 50-something) I rented a cubicle for my one-person free lance writing operation in New York’s garment district. My rent included the cubicle space, occasional use of a conference room, a phone number, a lockable file cabinet, a receptionist, a business mailing address, and a high speed Internet connection for $350 a month. When they raised my rent, without warning, to $475, I went snooping around for new space and stumbled into a WeWork suite. But I stumbled out of it again very quickly.

At the time, if I remember correctly, WeWork accommodations started at $500. For that you got no phone (“Just use your cell phone, Crank”) no file cabinet ("Paper is so yesterday") not even a cubicle. Instead, for five hundred bucks every month, you could sit at a kind of refectory table where other renters of table space could look over your shoulder, watch what you were typing on your laptop, overhear your cell phone conversations, and create all manner of distractions. 

“There’s no privacy here,” I complained.

“But it’s so collaborative!” the manager parried. “You don’t want to be a lone wolf, do you?”

Yes I do.  I’m a free lance writer. Like the guys on Wall Street, I only get to eat what I kill, and have no intention of sharing it with a pack of strange predators who might have an unnatural thirst either for plagiarism or client poaching.

Meanwhile Adam Neumann reportedly also hopes to live “forever” and to become the world’s first trillionaire. Because what’s the point of having more money than you can ever spend, if somebody else has even more than that?

Pumpkins, pumpkins, Tumpkins, Trumpkins! For the 62nd consecutive year I missed the Circleville (Ohio) Pumpkin Show, which I visited only one time in my life, when I was a college student, back in 1957. Once again this year, there were two beauty contests. One was for high school students, with the winner getting declared Miss Pumpkin Show. The other was for, I suspect, kindergarteners, vying for the title of Little Miss Pumpkin. (It gives me the chills to think that Little Miss Pumpkin of 1957 is likely somebody’s grandmother today. ) 
This year's winning 1,421-lb. pumpkin

Every year there’s also a prize for the biggest pumpkin, which this year weighed in at 1,421 pounds. Do you think Donald Trump could be entered as a pumpkin next year? His skin tone is more orange than this year’s winner. And I suspect he already weighs enough.

Elizabeth, Bernie, even more lemmings. As of when I’m writing this (Monday night) Elizabeth Warren has still not released her promised Medicare for All Plan. Hey, I am, or was, a Warren booster. I even sent her a campaign contribution. But having a plan for everything, and then not releasing a plan for Medicare, is more suicidal than a Disney portrayal of a legendary lemming population control campaign. 

On the other hand, Bernie Sanders has released a legalize marijuana plan. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it’s crazy to imprison people for 30 years, or even 30 days, for smoking, or maybe even for selling a little boo. On the other hand, Bernie may be handing the right-wing crazies even more ammo to discourage conservative-but-wavering swing voters. 

It’s one thing to say, “My plan will help to keep you healthy.” It’s another to run for president singing One Toke Over The Line. 

Pumpkin-cannabis pie, anyone?