Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Donald Trump, Cuomo-Nixon, Dead Tree Parks Department Blues

Two years ago, the New York City Department of Parks cut down a
tall, leafy mature tree that stood here. Recently, they replaced it
with this obviously dead sapling. More complaints below.
If it seems I’ve been posting to this allegedly political blog at an unconscionably slow pace recently, you’re absolutely right.

I have a theory about why I feel about as incentivized to post most days as I feel a yearning to hike up to Central Park and take a long drink of water out of its algae-choked lake. Yes, you guessed the reason.

Donald Trump.

Trump not only sucks the oxygen out of the room, he also sucks it out of human brains. How long can anybody go on even thinking about that zombie, much less writing about him regularly? 

I wake up each morning wondering, “Now what the hell has he done?” I rarely have to wait until nightfall before I find out. It’s usually another dispiriting commission of horror-by-tweeting, if not by firing of somebody who sneaked into his administration despite demonstrable competency, if not yet another new diplomatic or racial contretemps.  

Whatever the news, our phony president will label it as “fake news” the minute it boomerangs back on him and whacks him in the teeth.

So I need distractions. That’s why last night, here in New York, I sat down to watch a one-time-only debate between the Democratic Party’s primary candidates for governor of New York, the incumbent Mario Cuomo and his challenger, the actor Cynthia Nixon.

The Cuomo vs. Nixon prizefight

Prior to watching, I felt that although I vastly prefer Cynthia Nixon’s political outlook to what I regard as Andrew Cuomo’s crass opportunism, she simply lacks the political and managerial chops to be a successful governor. I mean, one rank amateur in a position of considerable political power these days is more than enough.

Her inexperience was already showing before the debate. She is pitifully under-financed, inept at raising funds from small contributors the way Bernie Sanders can, and uninspiring despite her mostly spot-on political positions, her name recognition, and the fact that I’d really like to see a woman take charge in Albany. 

So it was my intention to vote for Nixon in the primary, not in hope that she’d win it (she can’t possibly) but as a way of demonstrating to Cuomo that some of us loyal Democratic voters think he’s a bit too much of a hack apparatchik and a phony. We need a better Democratic governor overseeing a vast infrastructure, most of it in a condition of decline, decay and decrepitude. And no, decline, decay and decrepitude is not a three-headed redundancy. Each word has a slightly different meaning.

Zinger for zinger
both turned out to suck

Unfortunately, the “debate” was one of those shouting matches that turn far too many TV discussions into a chaotic approximation of  a callithumpian. Instead of intelligent debating points, we got an exchange of insults, put-downs, and zingers. This all confirmed  my deepest fears, that Nixon is an unworthy featherweight, and Cuomo is a mindless weathervane whose direction can be divined by checking on which way the political wind is blowing. A plague on both of them.

Which leaves me….what? Nada, that’s what. I can simply withhold my vote in this primary. Come the actual gubernatorial election, I will not, in good conscience, vote for any Republican at this moment in American history. Perhaps I can find some weird rump party to throw my vote away to. Is there still an American Vegetarian Party? (Not that I’m at all a vegetarian.) Is the Rent Is Too Damn High Party still active in New York State? Or do I have to write in Weird Al Yankovich’s name to express my rage and frustration?

I think that I shall never see
my Parks Department plant a tree

Go to the New York City Department of Parks website and you can find a one-paragraph prose poem in honor of of trees that ought to be entered in a Most Promising Nine-Year-Old poetry contest — assuming we ever get around to having a contest in celebration of immature authors who praise the obvious. I quote:
Our street trees are living breathing parts of our communities (though they often go unnoticed). They bring us shade in the warm months, shield us from the cold in the winter, and provide fresh air for us to breath all year long. To better grow and protect our urban forest it is important to get acquainted with your NYC trees.
This is why I was surprised, in fact startled — no, in fact shocked!— when more  than two years ago, the very same Department of Parks came down our street with a truck and a chain saw and sawed down two gorgeous, leafy old trees that had provided not only shade, but also some respite from the clouds of carbon monoxide  and other noxious gasses that passing cars vomit into the faces of passing pedestrians.

No doubt the tree-killing parks department would claim that the trees were “diseased,” whatever that means. They were big, sturdy, leafy, and in no visible danger of falling that I could see. Moreover, subsequent events convinced me that this city’s Department of Parks wouldn’t know a thriving mature tree from a chewed up pencil.

More than two years after they cut down the leafy trees, after constant badgering and pleading by individuals, and at least one building’s co-op board, and my City Councilman, the city came by last spring and planted two frail-looking saplings. One may yet make it, and twenty years from now — far beyond the time I am even vaguely likely to be alive according to  the actuarial tables — we may yet have a full-fledged adolescent tree growing in that spot. 

The other? That little toothpick of a disheveled sapling looked dead when they planted it. I didn’t say anything because, hey, what do I know about trees? But despite all kinds of rainfall, and sunshine, and summer warmth, its pathetic leaves have not un-shriveled. They just limply hang there, brown, brittle and lifeless. I am finally coming to terms with the fact that the parks people spent God-knows-how-many dollars to cut down a living tree and replace it, more than two years later, with a dead tree.

I suppose I could get my City Councilman back on the case. Maybe  if I did, a year or two from now somebody would come by again and cut down the dead sapling. And then, with continued badgering, they’d come by two years after that, and plant another sapling.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if that one turns out to be dead, too.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Random thoughts about Paul, Donald, Melania, George, (George? Yes, George!) lawyers, pardons, and raincoats — not necessarily in that order

Raincoat Exegesis may become a whole new a field 
for scholars of psychiatry, fashion arts history, and 
anthropological symbolism

But first, let’s talk about Paul. 

Paul Manafort, that is. This week he won the praises of Donald Trump for not ratting out — what a surprise! — Donald Trump.
“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family,” the increasingly panicky president tweeted on August 22. “‘Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ - make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!”
If I were an Old Testament Daniel, I’d translate this tweet as handwriting on the wall, quite literally another “Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin.” If I read the Google and Quora explanations correctly, and I’m too lazy to check this out more deeply right now, this all has to do with “Aramaic names of measures of currency.”  The root “Mene” goes back to the verb meaning “to count.” “Tekel” pertains to shekels,  and somehow or other the last word seems to indicate “Thy kingdom is divided.”

In other words, this is a clear signal from Donald to Paul that if he keeps his mouth shut he will be richly rewarded. Theoretically this could be in currency. However, given how tight-fisted Donald appears to be with his own personal shekels, my guess is that at best he’d deposit twenty bucks in Manfort’s prison canteen account, and at that, twenty bucks illegally borrowed from his re-election campaign.

So instead I’ll interpret the reward as a full presidential pardon. “Keep it zipped and I’ll spring you,” seems to be the Trumpster’s coded promise. As for the divided kingdom, that one’s easy. In my opinion it almost certainly means, “And if pardoning you means ripping the United States apart, too damn bad.”

However,  if I were Paul Manafort, I would remember that The Trumpster doesn’t always pay his debts. Or keep his promises. Manafort may be weighing the rest of his life behind bars against Donald Trump’s word. I know which side of the scale I’d put my money on. Do I need to spell out the rest? Okay, I will. If I were Paul Manafort, I’d take a deep breath and then sing a lengthy aria. We’ll have to wait to see whether Paul comes to his senses. 

  *   *

Political raincoats?

Until very recently, a raincoat was pretty much a raincoat. It could be cheap. It could be expensive. It could be fancy. It could be plain. But the one thing it wasn’t likely ever to be was political.

No more, thanks to Melania Trump. Back in June, on her way to visit a Texas detention center for small children ripped from their parents arms and imprisoned in cages by her husband’s administration, she wore a $39 hooded rain jacket from the designer Zara, the modestly priced Spanish fashion designer.

“I DON’T CARE DO U” was written in what appears to be white paint on the back of the jacket. 

The chatterati of course went haywire, reading her rain coat like a sloppy mess of tea leaves in a fortune teller's parlor. Did it mean she didn’t care about the government-abused kids she was visiting? Did it mean she was doing this only because she was forced to by her husband? Was it an act of defiance equivalent to flipping Donald the bird? Was it simple mindlessness? Was it a well-thought-out distraction from the plight of the children? And where did she get the jacket?

Most of the papers I read failed to credit Zara. It took a reporter from NPR to follow up on that, which in and of itself is a reason to whip out your check book right now and send a little something, or maybe a big something, to that non-profit radio network. 

As for What She Meant By That, I’m going with the flipping-Donald-the-bird crowd. We know she already has her own bed. And her own bedroom. Where she gets her own sex is a question that I’d just as soon leave for another day. 

But then why does she stay married to the man? Can you spell p-r-e-n-u-p-t-i-a-l? My guess is she'd get zilch, or at least zilch in comparison to the Trumpster’s wealth, if she leaves him. On the other hand, he’s seventy-plus years old, overweight, and ingests enough cholesterol each day to gridlock in a horse’s aorta. 

I suspect, that she suspects (and I suspect it, too), that one morning, like Rumpstileskin, Trump will stamp his foot in a wild rage, blow a cardiovascular gasket, or maybe a dozen, and then disappear through the floor of the oval office.  In which case (assuming the law of their home state of New York rules) she is entitled to a third of however many, or few, millions he has. Plus the "marital abode." Or perhaps several of them.

I’d suggest hanging in there, Melania. Wouldn’t U?


George and me and Donald and Equinunk.

Okay, a bit of history is in order here. Personal history.

Back when I was a ‘tween, my parents sent me to a boys summer camp called Camp Equinunk. I just checked, and to my amazement, it’s still in business

There were eight, or was it ten of us kids in each “bunk,” along with two counselors. There was an older, mature counsellor named “George” and a younger less mature one (name since forgotten) who was hardly older than we were.

George, the older more mature one, was 24 years old. He had just graduated from law school. He was casting about for a career. He was considering interviewing for the FBI, but not sure he wanted to join an organization where the induction rigamarole included carrying a pocket handkerchief so  that just before you entered the Director’s office to shake hands with J. Edgar Hoover, you could wipe your hand dry. (Hoover, like the Trumpster, had a horror of germs and of shaking clammy hands.)

George also had a new wife, a cute, petite woman named Billie, who worked across the lake at Equinunk’s sister camp, Camp Blue Ridge. The camp was even kind enough to provide a room where they could shack up on their days off, which left the junior counselor alone with us, free to tell us stories about his sexual exploits that would have horrified our parents (and today's feminists.) 

I lost track of George after that. And since I never really watched The Apprentice,  I wasn’t aware, until an idle evening of Internet surfing, that George's career led him not to the FBI, but to Donald Trump.

Two years ago, at the age of 88, George Ross was still a die-hard Trump loyalist.

All the same, I do wish somebody from Robert Mueller’s team  would invite George Ross in for a chat. I do suspect that this 90-year-old knows something useful. And, if he were to weigh loyalty to his former boss against loyalty to his nation, who knows what an honorable man like George Ross might say? Moreover, imagine a trial where some of the evidence is not gleaned from somebody found guilty of a felony. Go for it, Bob!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

“I’m willing to stick anything up there,” declares Air Force General. Really? Is he talking about outer space, or Trump’s anatomy?

General Carlton Everhart, USAF. Does this look 
like an old publicity photo from Dr. Strangelove, or what?

Remember Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars Initiative? Back in the day, it drove the scientists at Lawerence Livermore Laboratories crazy.

An old friend who worked there at the time, complained to me that “every college professor in America who was out looking for a grant for himself would scribble something on the back of an envelope and send it to us as a proposal.” 

It then befell the folks at the labs to put aside their own national defense projects to do Professor Back-Of-The-Envelope’s physics for him and explain why it would be a multi-billion dollar flop. 

Sometimes, the profs would get political and send along an endorsement from an eager friend in the military. This would force the lab people to initiate contact with the military and inform the brass, as gently as they could, that, “You realize, General, that if you blow up an enemy rocket armed with this kind of plutonium bomb over the United States, you’ll be scattering enough carcinogenic radioactive dust to make an area stretching from Chicago to St. Louis uninhabitable….”

There would be a soft harrumphing and the brass hats would move along to some project a little more suitable to their pay grade.

Now an Air Force General named Carlton Everhart, has come up with a back-of-the-envelope idea of his very own. He’s head of the Air Mobility Command, and according to a publication called Defense News, he wants to ship military cargo to far-flung battlefields via outer space. And I guess, what with President Trump pumping for a Space Force, this might bring Everhart to the Trumpster’s favorable attention. It might even speed Everhart’s butt to a seat at the Joint Chiefs conference table.
SpaceX executives “tell me that they can go around the globe in 30 minutes with a BFR,” Everhart said, referencing the next-generation, reusable rocket under development by the company. 
“Think about this. Thirty minutes, 150 metric tons, [and] less than the cost of a C-5,” he continued. In comparison, it would take the service’s cargo aircraft take anywhere from eight to 10 hours to get to the other side of the world.
Uh, General? Small problem. Where do you get your figures for “less than the cost of a C-5?” You first have to develop the technology, right?

For which Everhart has an answer: 
“The concept of how this works? I want industry to do it,” he said. “They will come up with innovative ways and they won’t be encumbered with a long acquisition process. They’ll do it in the speed of war that I need. The question is, how do I incentivize them? I incentivize them by [contracts for] carrying the DoD cargo [during peacetime].” 
So, what kinds of things could the Air Force preposition in space, and where would it go? 
“I’m willing to stick anything up there,” he said, although hardware and materiel that could survive in space are the most obvious options.
And furthermore….
And the logistics of how the Air Force would guard its cargo in space, or how its terrestrial bases would accept it? Well, Everhart said that hasn’t been figured out yet. 
“The technology is there, now we need to experiment with it,” he said. “What kinds of fuel does it need? What parts do you have to have? Does it go offshore? Does it go onshore? What kind of a footprint does it take? All the logistical things that go with it from the logistical side, that’s what I’m working [on] with industry.”
In other words, write a blank check to private enterprise and costs be damned. No wonder the private industry folks love it. Who needs an IPO when you can finance a massive boondoggle with taxpayer money instead? The Federal deficit? Hell, we can always cut Social Security.

Defense News also reported:
Everhart has a reputation in the Air Force community for talking about big — and some critics would say ill-advised — technological leaps such as autonomous or stealthy aerial refueling tankers.
Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog

Monday, August 13, 2018

Symbols, things, fetishes, logic, idol worship, perverts, Hayakawa, Korzybsky, Kaepernick, and Trump

Remember S.I. Hayakawa? 

I didn’t think so. 

Back in the 1960s, Hayakawa was acting president of an institution called, at the time, San Francisco State College. (It has since evolved into a research university.) 

A temper tantrum on
a sound truck

Hayakawa briefly made it into the national headlines, and onto network TV news, when he climbed to the top of a sound truck and ripped out the loudspeaker wires while the truck was amplifying black liberation messages on his campus. To be fair to Hayakawa, he was trying to keep the college open while the people responsible for the sound truck wanted it to shut down. But Hayakawa, of all people, should have understood the symbolic impact of his act.

I imagine that the handful of individuals who knew what Hayakawa had achieved in academia before the San Francisco State incident, and who also respected the ultimate aims of the black liberation movement, felt shocked and mortified. It was as if Dr. Jekyll had suddenly turned into Mr. Hyde. Almost equally bad, when he appeared on television to explain himself, he came off as a kind of well-meaning but wimpy putz. If you have the time to spare you can see it here:

Prior to that incident, Hayakawa was known as an academic who taught a form of thinking that should, if anything, have prevented his tantrum on a sound truck. So it was disappointing, to say the least, that Hayakawa had briefly morphed into an out-of-control bully — resorting to a kind of vandalism to show his displeasure with people who were advocating a point-of-view in a manner that he felt was inappropriate.

But let’s go way back to a little over a decade before that. And yes, yes, this ultimately has to do with with Colin Kaepernick and other athletes taking a knee during the Star Spangled Banner, and with Donald Trump harassing them for it. Just bear with me for a while. 

Logic, as you surely know if you took either the kind of college course for humanities majors that is generally nicknamed “Moron Math,” or perhaps a very elementary philosophy course, is kind of a mashup between philosophy and mathematics. It is designed so you can diagram and presumably straighten out screwed up reasoning like this:

Are all redheads plumbers?

“Joe is a redhead. Joe is a plumber. Therefore all redheads are plumbers.” Or, with equally erroneous thinking, some numbskull might conclude that all plumbers are redheads.

Various exercises, done with overlapping, partially overlapping, and completely separated circles helped students diagram both erroneous and logical thought processes. Their use is to help people avoid jumping to nonsensical conclusions from insufficient data. 

Early in the 20th Century a Polish-American scholar named Alfred Korzaybski, began expanding our understanding of how false conclusions get made. I don’t pretend to be a student of Korzybski or even to be able to follow him much of the time. However, he spawned an academic discipline called General Semantics. It was S.I. Hayakawa who explained Korzybski's theories in a book dumbed down enough so that even the incipiently cranky 17-years-old college student that I was in 1956 was could get it. 

The book was called Language In Thought And Action. It was required reading in my college freshman English course, in part, I suspect, because the head of my college’s English Department, a man named Basil Pillard, was one of Hayakawa’s collaborators.

Whoopee! Here comes
a sex fetish!

One of the principles that the book taught was how to differentiate between things and symbols, which are abstractions, of things. Take one of the ultimate abstractions — the sexual fetish. At the time, one could find, say in New York’s Times Square, book stores that sold pornography and sex fetishes under the counter.

Sex fetishes? They might have included a shiny patent leather woman’s shoe (just one) with a very high heel. You couldn’t have sex with it, at least not as most of us understand sex. It had no erogenous parts. It had no warmth. It had no voice. It had no brain. It had no tenderness. It had no passion. It had no moving parts.

And yet creepy little men would buy it and take it home to kiss, lick, suck and whatever else, all in the course of masturbation. For them, that shiny high heeled shoe wasn’t a shoe. It was sex itself. It may have begun as a symbol of a sexy woman in high heeled shoes, but somehow it had morphed, in the minds of the fetishists, from a symbol into the real thing.

The Bible backs me
up on this, if you care

Fetishising symbols is a practice that goes back at least to biblical times, and that gave rise to one of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them…”

So idol worshipping is just another form of masturbating while sucking on the heel of a patent leather shoe. It is a demonstration of people confusing the symbol of God with the real thing, assuming you believe there is a God.

Hold all that for a moment and tell me — or tell yourself — what the American flag is.

Basically, it’s a piece of cloth consisting either of other pieces of red, white and blue cloth, sewn together in a certain manner, or it is a piece of cloth with a certain number of red white and blue stars and stripes printed on it. Most people would recognize either form as “the American flag.” But it’s still just a piece of cloth.

The American flag is also a legitimate symbol of the United States and of American liberty. But that is all it is, a symbol. Some people, Donald Trump among them, have confused the symbol with the thing, same as ancient idol worshippers, and same as creeps masturbating over a woman’s shoe.

You cannot burn up or burn down the United States of America by setting fire to a flag, because the flag is only a symbol, not the real thing. You cannot destroy freedom by failing to salute the flag in a prescribed way, for the same reason. 

Similarly, you cannot destroy the United States of America by refusing to stand with your hand on your heart when the Star Spangled Banner is played. Our national anthem is another symbol. Or rather, it is a song celebrating a symbol.

Maybe "taking a knee" 
is a form of respect

As for saluting the flag in a manner that Donald Trump favors, consider this. In a more authoritarian state than perhaps even Donald Trump has envisioned, we might all be ordered to get down on one or both knees as a symbol of respect, just as some people do while praying. It certainly seems to be more humble and respectful than standing while feeling for our own heartbeats.

By insisting on taking a knee Colin Kaepernick and other football players are not, as Trump insists, disrespecting the flag They are instead disrespecting the perverted fetishization of the flag by people whose behavior is opposite what the flag stands for — liberty and justice for all. The football players are saying that freedom and justice fail to exist when people are shot dead by a police officer for driving, walking, standing, or merely breathing while black.

It is Trump who disrespects America, and the American ideal, by insisting not only on flag worship, but also flag worship according to the specific ritual he fetishizes.

In doing so, he has committed almost precisely the same perversion as the biblical idol worshipper and the pervert who sits behind locked doors sucking on a stiletto-heeled shoe. Or, for that matter, a pervert who allegedly pays hookers to pee on him. He has gotten his own wires crossed, and confused a symbol of a thing with the thing itself.

If this is a free nation, anyone who so wishes may take a knee, most especially when the knee is taken in protest. The right to protest is precisely what the flag is all about.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Three things that really get my goat but that aren’t Donald Trump. (One is worthy of capital punishment. Or worse.)

Look, I’m suffering from Trump burnout. Maybe that’s why I haven’t posted here for over a week. He may be the gift that keeps on giving to comedians, but for me, Trump….

I was about to use the old cliché that Trump sucks the oxygen out of the room, but that’s not really what he does. He’s one of those noxious people who instead noisily blows methane into the room. He not only makes it hard to breathe. He makes it stinky and explosive.

If you’re a fan of that kind of thing, be sure to go here. Meanwhile stop complaining that today’s piece isn’t political. It’s not supposed to be political. Or at least it’s not that kind of political. Without further ado, here are the three things that truly deserve a fair share of outrage.

And the rotten tomato you rode in on.  Normally, I am opposed to capital punishment. But I make several exceptions to the no capital punishment rule. For example, I strongly support the death penalty for the people responsible for making sure that tiny paper stickers get glued on fruit and tomatoes. Hey wait! Where do you think you’re going? Stay right here and hear me out.

The purpose of the stickers is to let the people at the cash register know what it is you want to buy, so that he or she can charge you for it. As if the poor nincompoop wouldn’t know a lemon from a watermelon on his or her own. Or a little yellow grape tomato from a great big beefsteak tomato. Or a plum from a pomegranate. 

The problem is, when you get home you have to peel the damn stickers off. It’s not so bad if you’ve got longer fingernails and you’re trying to get a sticker off a leathery avocado. But try it with a soft, thin-skinned fruit like a plum or a tomato. You end up picking, and picking, and picking until you finally tear off the fruit’s skin with the sticker. Then the fruit begins to bleed, its juices making a sticky mess of  your hands, your shirt, the table you’re working at, and the fruit itself.

These accursed Sticker People should not only be executed, they should be executed by having their skin slowly peeled off by sadists with very long fingernails, until they bleed out like an overripe plum.

The “vocal fry.” It’s grounds for a very special form of physical punishment. Vocal fry? If I ended every declarative sentence with a question mark you’d know what I’m saying? No? Well, then watch this explanation, then come back?

Okay, vocal frying drives me up a tree? Something about it tells me, “This person is a little snot who ought to be separated from society?” But no, I don’t really advocate capital punishment for this bunch. Instead, I think the courts should hire board-certified surgeons to humanely remove the vocal cords of every vocal fryer in America. And humanely sew up their lips while the surgeons are at it. Got it? (No that last sentence wasn’t a vocal fry, it was a question.)

Patronizing physicians’ assistants. This is a particularly powerful pet peeve of mine (say that three times fast) because I’m at an age when body parts start to break down, rust out, wear out, or fall apart, just like very old cars. I’ve heard all the loud sloshing noises that my heart, with all its leaky valves, generates during a sonogram. It sounds like a big plunger having a go at a badly stuffed toilet. But I’ll take a heart attack, please, in preference to several other pernicious ailments that are gnawing away at my body. 

I get that I’m a hell of a lot closer to the end of the road than the beginning. I’ve been on this doomed planet for almost 79 years and as the old saying goes, nobody’s getting outta here alive.

But we’re all going to get killed a lot faster by those accursed Physicians’ Assistants, or PAs, with their overly-sweet, patronizing explanations, a jarring mixture of baby talk and technical jargon, delivered in a cooing voice, about why you’re dead meat (but let’s pretend you’re not.) 

Their tone of voice is the same one you might use when house training a puppy, with lots of high pitched sing-song praise if you say anything at all that indicates you’re not brain-dead. It’s a good thing they phone it in, because if  you were  in the same room with one of them, they’d probably pat you on the head and toss a strip of bacon at you.

The last, of many similar calls, went something like the two paragraphs that follow. (Note: add a touch of vocal fry for maximum effect, and make absolutely certain that the PA has no last name): 
“Hello, Mr. Crank? This is Jessica? Jessica who? I’m the PA from Doctor Poshmanoogarly’s office? I have such good news for you, Mr. Crank! Your biopsy came out negative! (BRIEF PAUSE)  
“How-everrrr, Doctor Poshmanoogarly did notice on your most recent cat scan a bit of atypical osseous calcification on the left suborbital nodule of the right anterior lobe. So he’d like you to come in next Wednesday to discuss surgery. What’s a suborbital lobe? Oh, Mr. Crank, you’re soooo sharp!”
Okay, I’ll come in. But there had better be a strip of bacon, or at least a Milk-Bone, waiting for me when I get there.