Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Curses! The mother of all maledictions surfaces in the San Francisco Bay Area. Plus, Le Scandale des Flip-Flops flummoxes French flics.

 Please correctly pronounce what this Frenchman has on his feet. They are “fleep-flopes!” Long O on “flops”, s’il vous plait.

Let me right off the bat acknowledge that the situation in Oakland, CA, was anything but funny. A dance party had been held in what was evidently a firetrap of a warehouses. Thirty-six people lost their lives in an ensuing fire. Derek Almena, the impresario — if you can call him that — who’d arranged the party was brought up on trial. There was a plea deal. It appears he will be able to remain out of jail.


But that didn’t for an instant quell the rage of one grief-stricken parent who unloaded on Almena in court in a tirade that ought to go down as a classic in the history of furious courtroom maledictions. She barraged him with such world-class rage, hate, and a thirst for revenge that it ought to serve as a future model to anyone who chooses to level a curse on a malefactor. Reports the San José Mercury-News:

At one point during Monday’s sentencing hearing, the mother of Chelsea Faith Dolan, who died in the Dec. 2, 2016, fire, cursed Almena.


“May you Derick Almena take on the visions that I see each day and feel the pain of my nightmares,” Colleen Dolan said after initially struggling to speak. “My hope is that in giving these visions to you I may be free. I curse you with the intense burning heat and flames that scorch all the hair from your body and that peel the skin away from your face. I curse you with the choking smoke saturating your lungs until they bubble and blister and foam oozes from your mouth and nose. I curse you with the pain in the bones and muscles that comes from clenching in fear as you face the fury of a firestorm coming to consume you.” 

Those seeking to curse their enemies would do well to study Ms. Dolan’s speech as an example of how detailed, graphic, and vengeful a proper curse can be. After that, any curse that consists of dropping a mere F-bomb will fade into insignificance.


Flip-flops? Mais, non!

This is a police matter!


We all know that the French care very much about how you pronounce their language. Now it turns out that they care equally about what’s on your feet when you exercise.


See, the French last year had been pretty much in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But exceptions could be made. One of them was, you could leave the house to get in a bit of exercise, or “physical activity.” There were caveats of course. You had to be within a kilometer of your home. And you could only venture out for an hour. But hey, it’s a chance to raise your heartbeat a bit, send a bit of blood coursing through your veins, and feel a bit of sun on your face for a change. 


So why not try to cure that cabin fever?


Here’s why:


If your feet are not properly attired in athletic shoes you could be in big trouble with the cops, or les flics, as they’re sometimes called in France. (And it's pronounced, "lays fleeks.")


Enter a young guy named Laurick, who last year left his home for what he believed a was a perfectly legal reason — “physical activity.” Within a matter of minutes, les flics busted him and socked him with a fine of 135 Euros — very roughly $150. Since then, they’ve tacked on an addition thirty-one Euros in procedural costs. And his case may now go before a judge.


The problem? He was wearing flip-flops instead of proper sneakers. Quel horreur!


“The situation is so grotesque it’s funny,” fumed Laurick’s father, Alain. He is now in the process of trying to prove that “physical activity” can  be defined more broadly that the police interpretation of the law, which limits activity to “doing sports.”


Or perhaps walking around in flip flops is a sport. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Where do women belong? Burger King and the British rag The Mail, learn some painful lessons. Is Tucker Carlson next?


Umm, before you blow your top, find out what the rest of the ad says

Semi-literacy isn’t limited to knuckle-dragging Trumpsters. It would seem that even some of us progressives can’t read more than five words before our brains turn to mush.


A case in point: While trying to support women chefs in their careers, the Burger King Foundation tweeted out a consciousness-raising ad on International Women’s Day. It was headlined, “Women belong in the kitchen.” Those who were competent to read more than the five-word headline without developing a migraine or calling for their smelling salts would have discovered that the copy went on to say, “Fine dining kitchens, food truck kitchens, casual dining kitchens, ghost kitchens, Burger King kitchens. If there’s a professional kitchen, women belong here.”


And it then went on to say, “But can you guess who’s heading those kitchens these days? Exactly. Only 24% of chef positions in America are occupied by women. Want to talk head chefs? The number drops to fewer than 7%.”


The ad went on to talk about a “commitment from one of the biggest restaurants in the world to help aspiring female chefs” with scholarships, “Because every woman with a passion deserves the choice to advance, whether it’s in culinary school, a Burger King Kitchen, or any other kitchen in the world.”


I say hurrah! But some of my fellow progressives, who evidently develop muscle cramps in their lips after struggling through a five-word headline in big type, had such furious meltdowns that Burger King folded, apologized, and declared that the tweet was “wrong.”


So I guess there is no place for women chefs after all, eh Burger King?


Now the advertising community is getting its knickers in a twist, cautioning against what boils down to the use of clever attention-getting headlines. They may have discovered, alas, that while idiots generally makes more noise on the right, ultimately the entire human race is a race of nincompoops.


Freedom to distress. My first four grownup jobs involved reporting for newspapers —a chain of suburban weeklies, a small town daily, a big city daily, and the weeklies again, that last time as their editor — before deciding that I needed to make a living. That led me to a frivolous but much-better-paid life in advertising. However, I’ve always strongly favored unfettered freedom of the press. Leave it to the Brits to sour me on my own cause.


I’m talking about the distress inflicted on Meghan Markle — and no, this is not about the Oprah interview. Well before that, the Mail On Sunday (that’s the name of a British tabloid) published a private letter Meghan wrote to her father. And then milked, and milked, and milked the contents of the letter and commentary about it to sell newspapers. 


Now the judge in a British High Court (whatever that is) has ordered the Mother Of All Confessions. It’s a statement that The Mail On Sunday infringed Meghan Markle’s copyright on a letter than the court said was, “personal and private”. The statement must appear on the front page. And on page 3, “for a period of one week.” 


Wait, there’s more! The online version of the newspaper must also publish the statement for a week, with a link to the court’s “full judgment.”


The judge’s ruling in part said:

"The defendant devoted a very considerable amount of space to the infringing articles, which it continued to publish for over two years."


"It has devoted a very considerable number of further column inches, and many hundreds if not thousands of words, to coverage of earlier stages of this litigation and commentary upon them.


"The wording sought is modest by comparison and factual in nature."

To which I might add, let’s remember what freedom of the press is for. It’s for conveying information and opinions in pursuit of a civil society and good government. It’s not for prying into and often ruining private lives so you can up your circulation and charge more for your advertising.


A pregnant thought for Tucker Carlson. Over at No More Mister Nice Blog, Steve M. reports on Tucker Carlson’s Fox-y outrage machine all but bursting into flames about a report concerning the Air Force and pregnant women in its ranks.


“Pregnant women are going to fight our wars,” fumes Carlson. “It’s a mockery of the U.S. Military.” And he blames it on Joe Biden. 


Of course he does. Even though it’s a lie.


No More Mister Nice Blog points out that the “maternity flight suits” that are getting Tucker’s knickers in a twist were all announced under the Trump administration. And “VileWhig,” who commented on the No More Mister post added, “Anyone who thinks flight suits are for dropping into enemy territory doesn’t know the difference between flight crews and paratroopers.”


Another comment, from “brucej” noted that the change applied to remotely piloted aircrew, missile operations duty crews,” which are desk jobs.


“We’re back into the days of poutrage over tan suits, Dijon mustard and arugla lettuce again, aren’t we,” asks brucej.


Ya think? Wait, I’ll ask Mr. Potato Head.

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Trump hacked! Pizza Guy smacked! Big bank rats out wreckers and rioters! So who says there’s nothing but bad news these days?

 What do you get when you combine a story about an irate Pizza CEO with one about a bank ratting out its customers?


I’m writing this on Thursday, March 4th. This is the day Q-Anoners believe that He is risen — “He” being Donald Trump, of course.


Today, they say, He will somehow transmogrify from a bitter presidential has-been in Margo Fargo or Wherever-the-hell-it's-called in Florida, to a bitter political has-been who will be miraculously transported to Washington D.C. and reinstalled as President of the United States while Joe Biden walks the plank.


I suspect this is scheduled for very late in the day, and might even get, umm, temporarily postponed. Since we will likely have a rather long wait for the sacred moment, during which your stomach may begin to rumble, here are a few tidbits to nibble on in the interim.


Trump account gets painful thump

in 70-gigabite data dump!


It happened to Gab. That’s a social media platform where right-wing loonies are finding a haven, now that they’ve been effectively rousted from Twitter and Facebook. A massive 70 gigabites of data — 70 gigs! — including user data, private posts, secret messages, profiles, passwords, the whole ball of wax got, umm, copied from Gab’s inner innards and handed over to something called Distribute Denial of Secrets, the heir-apparent to WikiLeaks.


Trump signed up for a Gab account after he was suspended from Twitter back in January.


I found this news at an online publication called Coindesk which usually concerns itself with techno-financial news about Bitcoin and Ethereum and other “digital currencies.” But I guess this story was too good for reporter Jamie Crawley to pass up. Including this tidbit:


“Data of former U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s account is included in the data hoard, according to and archived post by [Gab] CEO Andrew Torba. (WARNING: Contains offensive language.)” 


You wouldn’t want to be offended by Torba’s language, which concerns what appears to me to be an unflattering reference to transsexuals, so out of tender concern for your sensibilities, I won’t give you this link.


Pizza Pie King cruelly crushed

(he sez) by marauding Mad man


Before I lay this one out, allow me to express my personal ire at the way people are naming advertising agencies these days. Back when I drifted from newspaper city rooms (as news rooms were then called) to ad agencies, it was pretty easy to know who was running the candy store. Ogilvy was run by a guy named David Ogilvy. Burnett was run by a guy named Leo Burnett. Batten Barton Durstine and Osborne was…well, you get the idea.


But now? Evidently the more opaquely smartass an ad agency name is, the better. There is, or was, one called Razorfish. And no, there’s no Mr. or Ms. Razorfish. In London there’s Mad Dogs and Englishman. And now there’s an ad agency somewhere in the U.S.A. called Laundry Service. (Get it, get it, nudge nudge? I don’t.)


Anyway, Laundry Service is or was the ad agency for the Papa John’s Pizza chain. The founder of Papa John’s was a dude named John Schnatter, who had a possibly racist meltdown (ya think?) over NFL players taking a knee during the National Anthem. 


The Chicago Tribune reported back in 2017 that Schnater blamed puny pizza sales on the kneeling NFL players. (Papa John’s was a major advertiser of NFL games). The protests “should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” the Trib had Schnatter ranting.


Next thing you know, Schnatter gets booted (or “resigns” take your pick) from the company he founded. Now he’s suing Laundry Service, claiming, in essence that they plotted against him. In a complaint that is either completely ridiculous, or living proof that truth is stranger than paranoia, Schnatter alleges that Laundry Service employees came up with some kind of malicious plan for Schnatter “to have an hourlong live interview with a hostile media personality and prompt Mr. Schnatter to make damaging statements which need ‘to be viral.’”


This comes from Ad Age (sometimes the best news is in industry trade journals.) Ad Age reports in part:


Laundry Service immediately began to discuss how Mr. Schnatter’s statements on the call could be used against him to damage his image so ‘he gets fucking sent out to pasture on this shit’ (in Stein’s words),” the complaint reads.




“The chilling details from this taped conversation make clear the intent of Laundry Service to destroy my reputation, as well as the Papa John’s brand, harming our employees and franchisees in the process,” Schnatter said in the statement. 

Because, of course, that’s exactly what advertising agencies clients hire them to do.There’s more, and I think the Ad Age pay wall will let you past once or twice, if you are intelligent enough to peruse the rest of this tale. 

Got feds combing through your dirty underwear? Thank the bank.

Back to Coindesk again, which ran an article about Bank of America with a “trigger warning” that, “This column has something nice to say about Tucker Carlson.”


Seems that the motherTucker broke a story saying that since the January 6th insurrection on Capitol Hill, the Bank of America has been “helping federal investigators search for extremists by combing through its transaction records.”


So, Insurrection Dude, if you were in Washington D.C. on January 5th and 6th and whipped out your B of A credit card, paid for a hotel or Air BnB reservation, “bought weapons anything else” (including T-shirts) from a “weapons-related merchant” between January 7th and January 20th, or made “airline-related purchases” after January 6th not only to Washington but to anywhere from Omaha to Thailand….you are so screwed!


For details on how you can’t even get away with a little bitty thing like smashing down the Capitol doors and trying to lynch your congressman, see the Coindesk article here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Bing! Bang! Boom! You’re dead! He’s dead! She’s dead! Everybody’s dead! (But it’s worth it for the great swag I got from the NRA!)

            I mean, isn’t this cool stuff worth a few measly lives?


News from all over!


In France, a 25 year old Brit who had been living in France got to die in France near his home there, when a hunter “mistook him for a boar.” The English guy was chopping wood in front of his house when the hunter’s bullet whacked him. Hey, I totally get it. A guy with an axe chopping logs looks exactly like a tusked pig with four legs digging for truffles. No need to explain any further.


Near Metairie, LA, at a place called the Jefferson Gun Outlet, some dude with a gun entered, which seems logical to me. But then, according to news reports, the dude started squeezing the trigger, and it would seem that he was shooting at live people, not targets. Whereupon, the armed staff and customers began shooting back at the dude. Holy flying bullets, Batman! In the end, two men and a woman were dead, two of them customers. Well, three of them customers if you count the dude who allegedly started shooting first. 


Back to France, somewhere else in France where — whee! — a shooter nailed another Englishman. Well, a Welshman, but even so. See, the Welshman was riding his bicycle on a popular route in the French Alps, when the hunter nailed him. And you’ll never guess what this Frenchmen said. You ready for it?


Right! You’re right! He said that when he plugged the biking Welshman, he thought he was shooting a boar. Whoever the guy is in France who’s been training boars to chop wood and ride ten speeds, he must be a genius.


Back to the USA,  stats last year revealed that 92 people were killed unintentionally by kids as of October,  2020. 


Of course, that’s a piffle compared to the total number of gun-related deaths in the USA in 2018. (39,740 of them.) I have been unable to determine how many of those people killed by guns were mistaken for boars. Or how many were riding bicycles.


Which brings me to a letter from the NRA. It popped up in my e-mail this week. It’s way too long to quote in full. Take my word that most of it seems intended to convince you that mild-mannered Joe Biden is secretly Satan incarnate, complete with horns, a tail, and claws that have specially evolved to grab guns from Second Amendment true believers. But here are some of the juicy bits, in italics:

Dear Crank,


No matter what kind of firearm you own, Joe Biden’s anti-gun agenda is aimed squarely at YOU.


Who? Moi?


Joe Biden has said flat-out that he wants to LICENSE you, REGISTER your guns, punish you with huge gun and ammo TAXES, and RATION the number of firearms you’re allowed to buy.


Well, no wonder people are taking umbrage! All those SCREAMING CAPITAL LETTERS! They turn the NRA into a howling ringer for Kimberly Guilfoyle!


Besides, what’s the point of standing next to a nuclear reactor until my DNA mutates, and then growing 25 arms, if I can’t have a gun in each arm? See what I mean?


Crank, Joe Biden is coming for the guns in your gun safe right now.


Well, NRA, they’re sure as hell not going to get any guns from my safe. I leave all my weaponry out on the coffee table so the kids can play with them. Not to mention that they're handier there for shooting wild boar from the living room window whenever the boars bike by.


And hey, the NRA's letter told me that if I start my membership before a deadline, I’ll get my "CHOICE" of an NRA pocketknife with a handle made out of exactly the same kind of wood they make gun stocks from. Wow, wow, wow!

Or if the wood-handled pocket knife doesn’t float my boat, I can choose instead  a "3-in-1 Rechargeable NRA flashlight," an NRA Insignia Cap, or an NRA “Camo Duffel Bag,” possibly so I can go unseen to the next insurrection in Washington.


I’m sold, NRA. But you’ll have to excuse me now. A friend just called and told me that any minute, a whole bunch of boars wearing bicycle jerseys are going to come pedaling past my window. So lock and load!


Friday, February 19, 2021

Where are they now? A peek into the future of the former Trump administration.

                                    "I see the future and it tickles."

 The following is an excerpt from a soon-to-be-founded magazine, Popular Politics, July 2025 edition, that we’ve obtained through astral projection. The New York Crank makes no warranty as to the reliability of that magazine’s reporting.


Melania Trump is working as a chambermaid in a run down tourist hotel in Slovenia after a well-publicized attempt to become an interior decorator didn’t pan out. She is rumored to be working with a ghostwriter on a book entitled Never Sign A Pre-Nup.


Donald Trump will be eligible for parole in another 32 months. He has occasionally been seen exchanging ideas in the exercise yard with Bernie Madoff.


Steve Miller is working as a transvestite dominatrix in a Virginia bordello.


Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Stephanie Grisham, Kayleigh McEnanany, and Kellyanne Conway  are partners in a struggling PR firm located in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. (Yes, there really is a Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.)


Kimberley Guilfoyle is a traveling carnival barker.


Steve Bannon runs a resort and fat farm for the well-to-do in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. He is often seen jogging on Route 7, followed by a slow-moving truck equipped with an oxygen tank and a defibrillator. 


Peter Navarro is now a country and western singer, known for his yodeling.


Donald Jr. and Eric Trump work as decoys at a paintball firing range. Junior was recently detained by police for six hours when they mistook him for a stolen Jackson Pollock painting.


Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have sold their real estate holdings to raise money for what they predict will be a blockbuster movie entitled, “War and Peace: The Musical!” College friends of Jared’s wrote the book and the lyrics, including one called “Everybody here has the hots for Natasha,:The prettiest girl who ever climbed the Steppes,” as well as the theme song: “War and Peace.” Somebody was kind enough to slip us the lyrics:

War and Peace

Will it never cease?

First there’s peace

And then there’s war

And then we have some 

Peace some more

And then again another war

And then...

And then...

And then... 

And then there’s peace.” 

In addition to co-producing the film with Jared, Ivanka plans to direct the movie herself and will also star as Natasha.


Louis DeJoy is still Postmaster General of the United States. There’s some stuff you just can’t make up.


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Modest proposals concerning statues, the weather, Tom Friedman, and Wyoming — plus an honorable mention for the Texas power grid

License plate recently seen in New York City. On a Beamer, of course. It has nothing to do with anything else here. Just sayin'.

A modestly proposed solution to the statue problem: You know the statue problem. Although I’m not aware of any statue census, I’m willing to bet that half the statuary (museums excluded) in the United States are either of Confederate generals or people who in some way were racist. And the list keeps expanding. And every time you tear a statue down, there’s a roar of bleating and protest. 

So I have a thought. Instead of tearing down Confederate statues, erect statues of Satan next to each of them. Hey, you have your statues, Satanists have their statues, everybody’s got a hero to worship, and we can all go home. 

What’s that? People are going to get tired of looking at all the Satan statues next to all the Robert E. Lee statues? Tell you what. Here and there, put up a statue of Priapus instead. 

 The Crank’s Theory of Planetary Instability. It's freezing and snowing in Texas, where with the juice turned off (more about that further on) it’s colder than in parts of Alaska.

How can that be?

I’m not willing to say the magic words “climate change” and leave it at that. I have a theory that if near the Arctic Circle summer temperatures now can reach a scorching 99 degrees, while Texas feels and looks like Alaska, something else is going on. Nope, not a secret plot. An unintended consequence of….

Effing fracking! 

Wait a damn second! Don’t turn your back and snicker! Listen up! Just suppose that all those repeated underground explosions knocked the earth off its axis. Remember, it’s not just a little bang here and a little bang there. It’s a bunch of big booming bangs, week after week, year after year, place after place down below.

So the shaken earth rotates in some crazy manner and the next thing you know, Texas is at a latitude where Alaska used to be, and Alaska’s where the Equator used to be. I don’t know about you, but some people may be buying beachfront property in Nome.

Why oh why Wyoming?  When is the world (or at least The New York Times) going to do something about Tom Friedman of The New York Times? From as far back as I can remember reading him, he’s been saying things that, while not obnoxious, and not fearsomely objectionable, are just the slightest bit off-kilter.


Examples? Quite a few years ago, before a certain Israeli Prime Minister fell into a pit of corruption, Friedman was more or less regularly addressing his columns to “Bibi.” As if Benjamin Netanyahu woke up every morning and looked for Friedman’s column in the Times before he even went to pee. Some time after that, Friedman wrote a book called “The World Is Flat,” (which meant, I think, that people communicate faster these days — which Friedman evidently thoughtwas a huge discovery) and he seemed to use the phrase in every last damn self-promotional column until I wanted to vomit.

Now Friedman’s making pronouncements about cancer that ain’t necessarily so. Specifically? 

The fact that one of our two national parties would stick with a leader who dispatched a mob to ransack the Capitol in hopes of overturning our last election is an acute national problem — a cancer, in fact. And like any cancer, the required treatment is going to be painful for the patient,” he writes. 

Oh yeah, Mister Know-It-All? Well, I happen to have a form of cancer called Leukemia, and the treatment thus far consists of painlessly swallowing two pills a day. I’m not saying that many cancer patients aren’t in pain. I’m just saying that once again, you’ve made a pompous universal declaration that is four-tenths bonafide baloney. Nor would your proposals to “cure” this cancer be particularly “painful” to me. In fact, I’d be delighted by your proposed act that would get rid of the Senate filibuster, grant the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico statehood, and “forbids voter suppression.”

While I find all three prospect pleasurable, not painful, I confess it’s a neat trick if you can do it. But about Wyoming….

Friedman correctly states that D.C. and Puerto Rico each have more U.S. citizens than Wyoming. Sheesh! So does Brooklyn.  So does Queens. Should they each be their own state?

I have a better idea. Eliminate Wyoming’s statehood. Now there’s a proposal that’ll cause some real pain. Give part of Wyoming to Colorado, part to Montana, and part to Idaho. That’ll bring the population of those states closer into line with those of California and New York, which also only have two Senators each. Or rewrite the U.S. Constitution. I imagine that would cause some pain, too.

And speaking of Texas…Well, I did mention Texas a bit earlier when I was talking about Wobbly Fracked Earth Climate Change. But also, Texas is the state that refused to have anything to do with the other two major power systems in the United States because Free Enterprise. As for tight Texas government regulation of the utilities…what? You mean socialism?

So you had a bunch of utility companies that didn’t do what it takes to protect the Texas power supply from nature because, hell, nature’s probably some kind of socialism, too. And now most Texans are freezing their butts off, while others are paying dearly to stay warm.

According to the Washington Post, “the temporary train wreck of that [Texas electrical] market Monday and Tuesday has seen the wholesale price of electricity in Houston go from $22 a megawatt-hour to about $9,000.”

Now I’m going to do some back-of-the-envelope figuring here. That about a 409 times increase in prices, wholesale. Let’s assume retail follows suit. So if you typically pay, say, sixty bucks a month to keep your lights, and your heat, and your electric refrigerator, and your phone recharger on in Texas, you’re now going to have to pay over $24,500. Now there’s an electric bill that’s as BIG as Texas!

The good news is, that a heck of a lot of Texans will probably pay a lot less than that because they don’t have any electricity to pay for.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A name by any other name would smell as nomenclatural

Who’s the pearl of a genius who thought up this name?

As I sit writing this, the Senate of the United States (I assume this since I’m not watching at the moment) is effectively deliberating how to label the events of January 6th. They will listen to evidence. Then they will decide whether by telling his followers to march on the Capitol,  “take back America” and “fight like hell” for Donald Trump’s right to overturn a legitimate election, Trump should be labeled as having a) incited a riot or b) merely exercised his First Amendment rights to free speech.


Right, and all those rioting people bent on lynching legislators and other acts of violence merely transmogrified out of dandruff and horse hairs floating in the Washington Monument reflecting pool.


But no further comment from me on that today. Not that you need any. Instead, let me  delve into a few other exercises in the fine art of abusing nomenclature.


“Aunt Jemima” was clearly a racist brand name. But the new name’s just dumb. Whether because racist intention or more likely mere stupidity, the image of “Aunt Jemima” the overweight house slave in the kitchen that appeared on a leading brand of pancake flour and syrup, perpetrated an awful racial stereotype. Such stereotyping has no place in American commerce. 

So hurrah that the Quaker Oats Company, the maker of the product, finally got its guano together and changed the name.


But what marketing genius came up with "Pearl Milling Company" as the replacement? It's racism-free  — except that they mention on the new label that it's still "Aunt Jemima," just in case you're not sure. And it's also personality-free.

How about Quaker pancake flour? Or if that sullies either the company’s image or the Society of Friends, how about anything else? Dan’s Dandy Pancake Flour. Pancake Pete’s Fluffy Flour. Power Flour for Pancakes. Or even — what the hell!— steal or license a brand name from Wylie Coyote and make it Acme Pancake Flour. At least I can remember that.


What’s sad is, if the brand with a now totally forgettable mouthful of a name flops after all these years, some right-wing yoyos are going to blame it on “cancel culture” having forced the name change. And that will aid and abet, not neutralize, the advocates of racism. 


But speaking of cancel culture…


Sorry, Abe, and George, and Tom and Jim and Diane. You’re cancelled! 

Alas, I regret to say that members of my own progressive crowd have  gone off the deep end without their water wings.


A report out of San Francisco tells me that forty-four schools throughout the city will be renamed, by order of the local school board, because they are named after historical figures who “engaged in the subjugation and enslavement of human beings; or who oppressed women, inhibiting social progress; or whose actions led to genocide; or who otherwise significantly diminished the opportunities of those amongst us to the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."


Holy cow! You mean San Francisco had schools named after Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee? Or was there an Attila the Hun School, a Simon Legree Vocational High School of Slave Abuse, a Jeffrey Dahmer Mass Murder Preparatory School, and an Adolph Hitler High?


Nope. The San Francisco school board is now horrified that its schools are named after Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Senator Diane Feinstein, among others.


Abe Lincoln? Well, yeah, because he backed policies that harmed Native American Tribes. And George Washington owned slaves. And Diane Feinstein — get this — “has been accused (accused!) of ordering a Confederate flag to be replaced after it was torn down, when she was Mayor of San Francisco back in the 1980s.”


The Roosevelt Middle School will also be renamed, even though the school board isn’t certain which Roosevelt the school was named for, Teddy or Franklin. (Or maybe Eleanor?) Paul Revere is about to ride off into San Francisco-imposed oblivion. And on and on goes the purge.


Listen, it’s one thing to avoid naming schools or monuments after traitors to the United States such as Jefferson Davis, who betrayed his country to preserve human slavery. Or to eschew monuments to rabble rousers, race baiters and thugs. But there’s no such thing as a perfect human being. Was Lincoln wrong to allow conquest of Native American lands, if he did so? 

You bet he was. Damn wrong. But he also kept the union together and ended the abomination of slavery, and in the end that has to count for something worth memorializing, one supposes. 


What did Paul Revere do wrong? I duno. According to, he had kind of a spotty military record. He commanded American soldiers against some British forces in Maine, but his forces “failed to attack in time” and British reinforcements arrived, forcing an American retreat. Revere was charged with cowardice and insubordination and booted out of the militia. (But he was acquitted in 1782. So go figure.)


“It’s not just symbolic. It’s a moral message,” said Mark Sanchez, a member of the school board. 


But perhaps that’s exactly the problem.


Flat out, clear cut, deliberate evil should deservedly get purged from places of honor. Morality, on the other hand, is a a fluid and tricky concept. There are some things we can all agree are immoral, like murder, or rape, or deliberate genocide. But there are other things where someone with a liberal turn-of-mind might allow for shades of gray.


It’s only a few decades ago that being gay was immoral. There were people who were raised thinking masturbation was immoral. Or failing to attend church.


Your immorality may be my right to self-expression. Is San Francisco’s own Margo St. James, recently deceased, (and called "San Francisco's Joan of Arc") a saint who started a movement to protect and liberate sex workers? Or is “sex work” by definition immoral and its organizers like St. James worthy of nothing but opprobrium? 


It's a long, hard slog if you search for high achievers who are perfectly moral by everybody's standards. With few exceptions the only morally perfect people are nonentities. And after a while the exceptions will run out. Sadly, it's likely that after that, some of the exceptions will be discovered to have had some unexceptional flaws. I can’t imagine what they might be — anything from cheating on exams, to hidden cases of child abuse, to nose picking.


The problem with naming schools only after morally perfect people is that it’s a perfect way to begin naming schools after mediocrities. 


Not that I’d have anything against a Hermione J. Nebbish High School. Or a Morton J. Schlub Middle School.  


Right, Mr., uh….what’s the name of that guy on the San Francisco School Board again?

Sunday, February 07, 2021

“Vax THIS!” or, You Can’t Be Too Vulnernable to COVID-19. Or Too Stupid.

 Image lifted from my favorite photography website,

And so the insanity continues. Back on January 15th, I posted here about the infuriating difficulties I faced, as an immune-compromised 81-year-old, trying to get a COVID 19 immunization in New York. This despite the fact that I’m in a high priority group.


It’s now February 7th, and although I make almost daily attempts to get on a vaccine reservation list somewhere in New York, still no luck. Yes, a few of my peers have gotten their shots in out-of-the-way locations. But no matter how eligible you might be, catching an immunization in New York City is like going fishing with an un-baited hook and hoping a fish will accidently collide with it and somehow get stuck to the sharp part.


I’ve written to Governor Cuomo, explaining my plight. Almost immediately I got an auto-reply telling me my letter would be read with great interest by members of his staff. But thus far, no live human  from the Governor’s staff has been in touch to signal someone with a heartbeat is aware of the problem and working to help senior citizens get immunized before the virus kills us off. Or perhaps the computer “forgot” to pass my letter along. 


But I did land on the governor’s junk mail list. Now I receive almost daily e-mails from Cuomo telling me what a great, superb, super-duper job he’s doing handling the pandemic. 


In other words, “Screw you, Crank — and all the senior citizens you rode in with.”


On top of that, every time the pool of eligible vaccine candidates creeps even a millimeter towards shrinking toward a manageable size, somebody expands the crowd. Here in New York City, they’ve now added taxi drivers as a category to compete for the horribly limited supply of vaccine with us old, frail, and therefore highly vulenerable types.


To vax? Or anti-vax? That is the question. While vulernable people futilely searching for vaccines tremble in fear, the New York Times this Sunday morning ran an article about anti-vaxxers, whose numbers in California evidently include people presumably educated enough to know better, in affluent communities like Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. Some random quotes from the Times piece (and please forgive the weird line spacing and undulating paragraph widths, courtesy of Google's buggy new "improvements" to Blogger):

But in the past two years, and in the months of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been an uptick in confrontational and threatening tactics.

They assaulted a lawmaker in Sacramento and threw menstrual blood onto legislators in the Senate chambers at the State Capitol in 2019, and last spring helped pressure the chief health officer in Orange County to resign by publicly revealing the official’s home address. Last month, two weeks before the stadium vaccination protest, a group of women threatened lawmakers at a budget hearing at the Capitol, telling senators that they were “not taking your shot” and that they “didn’t buy guns for nothing.”

“I think the thing that’s most concerning is that they’re escalating,” said State Senator Richard Pan, a pediatrician and Democrat who wrote vaccination legislation. Mr. Pan was struck in the back in 2019 by an anti-vaccine activist and was the likely target of the blood-throwing incident in the Senate chambers that year.

“This movement not only puts out mis- or disinformation about vaccines or lies about vaccines, which in itself can be harmful, but they are also aggressively bullying, threatening and intimidating people who are trying to share accurate information about vaccines,” he said.

Why is it that the most appropriate quote that comes to mind comes from Bubba Gump? “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Best bon mot of the week also comes from the New York Times.America’s political and media classes today could turn a bologna sandwich into a culture war issue.”

Unfortunately, aphorisms about transmogrifying fatty meats into tangible action don’t always work. A grand jury might indict a ham sandwich, but no New York grand jury has yet to indict Donald Trump for the financial crimes he is alleged to have committed.

Well, I guess that if government was populated entirely by people with brilliant minds, we wouldn’t have had Donald Trump in the White House in the first place.