Thursday, October 18, 2018


What they're saying about Jim's provocative blog:

--"Джим - забавный парень, но он не Яков Смирнов!" (Jim's a funny guy, but he's no Yakof Smirnoff!  Nyet!")--Vladimir Putin
--"Я думаю, мы могли бы использовать такого парня, как Джим."  (I think we could use a guy like Jim!)--Sergey Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the United States.
--"He's from this country, Mexicans don't read him, so that's good enough for me."--Donald Trump
--"The one thing I didn't delete from my private server."--Hillary Clinton
--"Jimaschizzle!"--Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. (aka Snoop Dogg)
--"The one thing I DO read!"--Sarah Palin
--"The most fun you can have with your clothes on (but DO take a shower afterwards)."--Dick Cavett

jimjustselling . . .

(Actually, I'm not, but the good folks at HenschelHAUS are. And they're now offering FREE SHIPPING IN THE CONTINENTAL U.S.

The book is also available at:


By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • Pre-peeled hard-boiled eggs are the greatest thing since sliced bread.  
  • (Eggs have been around for eons but I guess the world of egg technology lagged several centuries behind.  I'm thinking Apple technology beat it to the punch (and is much more lucrative.)
  • I'm glad my car uses regular gas, but I was tempted to use the Premium pump the other day to get some of that Pumpkin Spice gasoline they're featuring.  (Already got my pumpkin-infused flu shot.)
  • It really is getting hard to find something that isn't labeled Pumpkin lately.  I understand the Texas Death Row prisoners are going to get pumpkinized lethal injections in October.  (I guess that would put a very macabre twist on the disclaimer "For a limited time only.")
  • Speaking of products, I'm investing in a company that's working on a new remote control:  With a push of a button,  it would administer painful electric shocks to Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and that ubiquitous Flo from Progressive.  (Also in the running: The Geico gecko, whom I am relieved to learn is not a protected species!)
  • One of the reasons I don't watch "America's Got Talent" and "Dancing With the Stars":  Half the time the camera is on the audience or the judges instead of the performers.  Wow, such sorely needed, indispensable information!  Directors: Keep the camera on the performers; if people like what they're seeing, a frown from some celebrity isn't going to change their minds, is it?
  • jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Month:  "Say [actual partygoer's name here], did you know that Florida is the flattest state in America?"  
  • In descending order of flatness: Florida, Illinois, North Dakota, Louisiana, Minnesota, Delaware, Kansas.  
  •  And if you thought Alaska, California or Colorado were the most mountainous states in the country, you'd be wrong.  Those states also contain extensive plains and relatively flat valleys. 
  • Our mountainous state?  West Virginia, although its highest peak, Spruce Mountain, is only about 4,864 feet in height.  (Thanks to WGN-TV's Tom Skilling, who IMHO stands tallest among the meteorologists of America, for that valuable information.)
  • "You can pretend to be serious; you can’t pretend to be witty."--Actor-playwright Sacha Guitry
  • Aviation question:  When has the fabled "black box" ever prevented a calamity?  It can't prevent bad weather or prevent pilot error, so what good is  it?  What went wrong is usually not that much of a mystery.  But I guess the FAA and the NTSB have to justify their existences somehow by making it look like they're doing something vital and constructive.   
  • “It’s great to see Roseanne back in the spotlight. Technically, it’s two spotlights, but you get the idea.”--Katey Sagal
  • All overrated club:  Ellen DeGeneres, Joe Buck and anyone whose name follows the label Rapper.
  • Drudging around:  "Hillary's Popularity at All-time Low," "Founder of Rehab to Celebs Accused of Sex Assault," "Study:  Dogs Get Depressed When Owners Overuse Smartphones," "Officials Disturbed By Decapitated Goats in Georgia River," "Brothel Owner Expected to Win Election Despite Death," "Students Sick with Kangaroo Meat in School Chili,"  "Traffic Accidents Rising in States That Legalized Pot," and "Parents Planning 'Pox Parties' to Immunize Kids." (Thanks to Matt Drudge and the guilty pleasure known as The Drudge Report for these titillating click-bait gems.)
  • There's all this talk about straw polls regarding the mid-term elections.   What do straws have to do with politics?  Are people throwing straw hats into the ring now?   When did that start? 
  • Speaking of elections, herewith jimjustsaying's Media Word of the Month (a word you encounter only in print or electronic media and never hear any normal person use in everyday life--unless they're reading from a news report):  Hustings.  As in: "As the campaign begins in earnest, candidates will again take to the hustings."
  • Getting old and slightly annoying:  Calling any update or revision of something 2.0 Soon to be followed, no doubt, by "3.0."  Oh so clever.
  • You Never Know What's Going On Next Door department: "Officials Find More Than 250 Snakes, Alligators And Skunks In Montgomery County (Pa.) Home."  (Yeah, the reptiles are not going to be odorific enough, so throw in some skunks for good measure!  Good plan.)
  • jimjustsaying's Word That Should Exist But Doesn't of the Month:  Squatic Diversion: (n. Any pretend activity that commands a dog owner's attention while the dog relieves itself on a neighbor's lawn.)--"More Sniglets," Rich Hall and Friends.
  • Three Things a Woman Would Never Say (per Maralee Moody):  
  • 1.  "Could our relationship be more physical?  I'm tired of being just friends."
  • 2.  "Go ahead and leave the toilet seat up.  It's easier for me that way."
  • 3.  "Do these pants make my butt look too small?"
  • Stupid Product Warning of the Month:  On Aveeno Bath Treatment:  "For external use only."
  • Actual Newspaper Correction (Lifetime Achievement Award?):  "The crossword puzzle that should have appeared in today's Tribune appeared instead in yesterday's, together with the answer to the puzzle that should have been printed yesterday.  Therefore, the puzzle that should have appeared yesterday is in today's Tribune, together with the answer to Wednesday's puzzle.  The puzzle for today and the answer to the one that should have been printed yesterday are reprinted.--Lewiston (Idaho) Tribune  (per "Still More Press Boners," Earle Tempel)
  • Today's Latin Lesson: Ego don't teneo ultum super professio tamen Ego teneo quis Ego amo. ("I don't know much about art, but I know what I like.")


Why people don’t have hobbies
More and more Americans say they have no hobbies.  Part of the reason is that we are all so very busy, but the deeper reason is the growing expectation that we must be skilled at what we do in our free time--that everything in this intensely public, performative age reflects on your identity. If you’re a jogger, it is no longer enough to cruise around the block; you’re training for the marathon. If you paint or write or play the guitar or do carpentry, you better be good enough at it to display your skills publicly.  This is a terrible shame. There is a pure, childlike delight in learning something new, without the burden of excellence or self-judgment.  What if you decide in your 40s, as I have, that you want to learn to surf?  Or to learn to speak Italian in your 60s? Even becoming minimally competent is highly rewarding. Our affluent, technological era is supposed to free us from the struggle just to survive, so that we have time to pursue purpose, joy and contentment. Why cheat ourselves of one of life’s greatest rewards--doing something that you merely, but truly, enjoy?
--Tim Wu, New York Times
Where’s the digital-age TV Guide?
We may be living in the golden age of television, but it’s almost impossible to find all the good shows out there.  TV used to be simple: You turned on the set and flipped channels and settled on the best option. It wasn’t always great, but finding it was easy.  Now you have to trawl the vast libraries of Hulu, Netflix, and HBO Go, and there’s no TV Guide to help you navigate this sea of content.  Presented with so many options, I usually give up and watch "The Office" for the umpteenth time.  Determined to end this paralysis, I recently went in search of a service that would tell me what to watch. I tried aggregators like Apple’s TV app, which puts a number of content providers in the same place and offers viewing suggestions, and Reelgood, a useful app that offers recommendations based on Rotten Tomatoes reviews and viewer data.  But none of these services are comprehensive: Reelgood doesn’t track some of the content providers I use the most, such as YouTube TV and Sling.  Until we get a real TV Guide for the digital age, this so-called future of TV feels a lot like wandering through the Blockbuster shelves back in the day, always searching for the perfect thing but never quite finding it.
--David Pierce, Wall Street Journal

The Fed won’t be able to save us
Another recession is looming.  And this time the Federal Reserve doesn’t have the tools to turn the economy around.  The next crisis won’t be an exact replay of the last one.  Homes are not as overvalued as they were in 2006, the peak of the housing bubble.  But stocks are at an inflated level, just as house prices were in the mid-2000s.  In both cases, the cause is the same:  Ultralow interest rates encouraged investors to borrow and spend, sending asset prices rocketing.  Just as the housing bubble burst two years after the Fed started hiking interest rates in 2004, rising rates now will push down the stock market.  If share prices go back to their historical average relative to corporate profits--about 40 percent below today’s level--$10 trillion of household wealth will be wiped out.  And as household wealth drops, consumer spending and economic activity will fall with it.  When that happens, the Fed won’t have much room to cut rates.  And with federal deficits already rising to $1 trillion a year, Congress won’t be able to spend money to stimulate the economy.  The next recession will likely be deep and long, and there’s nothing the government can do to prevent that from happening.
--Martin Feldstein, Wall Street Journal

The roots of the press’ liberal bias
The press used to be one of America’s most respected institutions.  Now it’s among the least, particularly among conservatives.  What happened? Until the 1960s, the daily newspaper consisted primarily of official statements and speeches by government officials, all of which were automatically considered newsworthy.  The press deferred to power and the status quo, and mostly eschewed reporting on controversial issues and criticism of elected officials.  Vietnam, the civil rights movement and Watergate changed that paradigm.  As television took over the basic role of telling people the breaking news, newspapers began to analyze the news--and to challenge the elites in power. Journalism awards were handed out to reporters who dug into official wrongdoing, social injustice, and the inequality of the races and sexes.  It’s this evolution of the press into an adversarial sometimes activist institution" that has eroded trust in the media among conservatives.  Their anger over the perceived liberal slant in journalism is, in essence, a rejection of journalism’s routine rejection of authority.  But there’s virtually no chance the media will ever revert to its stenographic and pliant ways. That means distrust in the media is as much a feature as it is a bug.
--Jack Shafer,
Goodbye, planned obsolescence
There may be plenty of life left in your old iPhone.  Apple made two recent decisions that could dramatically extend the life of your phone.  One was introducing a battery replacement service, charging $79 to put a new battery in the old phone.  The other was making sure the new operating system, iOS 12, would work on old phones as well as it does on new ones.  This is the opposite of what we’ve come to expect:  With previous updates, older phones would get slower.  Not so now. With iOS 12, an older phone such as an iPhone 6 can open the camera app 70 percent faster and will run twice as fast under a heavy workload.  My old phone, which cost $649 new, seems like a much better deal now, considering all the use I’m getting out of it.
--Jeff Sommer, New York Times
The (mostly) men in black
Since its creation, the Supreme Court has had 113 justices, and all but six have been white men.   Today’s court is the most diverse in history, with three women and two people of color.  But in other ways it’s incredibly uniform.  While just over half of all former justices went to an Ivy League school, all of today’s current justices have a degree from either Harvard or Yale.  With the exception of Justice Elena Kagan, all of the current justices served on federal appeals courts.  Kagan was the dean of Harvard Law School before becoming solicitor general.  In the past, 58 justices were elected officials--including William Howard Taft, who became chief justice a decade after serving as president but none of today’s justices has held elected office and answered to voters.  "I, for one, do think there is a disadvantage from having (five) Catholics, three Jews, everyone from an Ivy League school," said Justice Sonia Sotomayor in 2016, arguing that judges should be from more varied backgrounds. "We understand things from experience."
--The Week


America vs. the world
It's a losing game the U.S. won't stop playing 

About that Supreme decision
Women aren't monolithic about  'women issues'

The  Woodward 'Fear' factor . . .
 . . . is that his White House tell-all  tells disturbingly little

Radicalized America
Everything from schootings to hurricanes sends people to their partisan battle zones

8 new diseases to worry about
A scary group of ailments are lurking--and apparently unstoppable

Thursday, September 20, 2018


By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • Political strategist and forensic blood-spatter expert:  Two occupations that no kid ever fantasizes about!
  • If Norman Rockwell came back to life today, do you think there's anything he'd want to paint?
  • Does Anderson Cooper have two first names . . . or two last names?  Discuss!
  • To the lady who wrote in:  Yes, there is a reason why surgeons wear light blue scrubs.  It seems that when scrubs were first introduced, they were often white--but soon fell out of favor because they gave off a bright glare under bright operating theater lights. A lot of manufacturers switched to blue or green after that.--Quora Digest
  • Three bad ideas for a business:  Just Cufflinks.  Just Umbrellas. Just Shoelaces.
  • I noticed, ahead of me at a stoplight, a Chevy Avalanche.  Now, how is that a good name for a vehicle?  Who signed off on that?  Has anyone ever benefited from an avalanche?  What's next, a Toyota Typhoid?  A Honda STD?  
  • I wonder how many people have text-messaged while having surgery under local anesthetic?  Don’t laugh;  somebody’s probably doing it at this very moment.   (Send me a Tweet from the surgical suite?)
  • Headline of the Week:  "Amazon to sell Christmas trees. "  (Still on the drawing board, I'm thinking:  Curbside pickup on Jan. 2???)
  • “When it’s 100 in New York, it’s 72 in Los Angeles. When it’s 30 degrees in New York, in Los Angeles it’s still 72. However, there are 2 million interesting people in New York—and 72 in Los Angeles.”--Neil Simon
  • You're an old-timer if you can remember taking glass soda bottles back to the store for the deposit money.   (You're a young person if you have never seen a glass soda pop bottle.)
  • I don't care what anyone says:  We didn't have erectile dysfunction ads in prime time when Mr. Rogers was alive.
  • Let's see if I've got this right:  "KIds under 3 eat free."  Senior sodas, senior coffee.  Where's the middle-age break?  No wonder the middle class can't get ahead--they're locked out of the discount loop.
  • Quiet as its kept, my wife and I are in the running for heavy TV exposure next spring:  "Naked and Afraid, Senior Division."   (Always wanted to get naked in the steaming jungles of Botswana!  I'm sure there's an all-but-invisible but heavily poisonous insect with my name on it.)
  • Why is the Mute button the hardest one to find on any remote control?  It's in a different place on every model.
  • Obituary headline:  "Pharmacist and master cribbage player."   Cribbage.  Now there's a game for the Facebook/Twitter/Buzzfeed Generation!
  •  "Death and taxes and childbirth.  There’s never a convenient time for any of them."--Novelist Margaret Mitchell
  • Combine  hydrogen peroxide, oxalate estes, butyl benzoate, dimethy phthalate and fluorescent dyes (anthracene derivatives, lumongen Red 300), and what have you got?  Glow sticks, of course.   (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it.)
  • When researchers at Bell Labs and Hughes Aircraft actually began producing laser light in the 1960s, they never imagined that its first mainstream use would be scanning bar codes at checkout counters.
  • "He who is not contented with what he has would not be contented with what he would like to have."--Socrates 
  • Three TV shows I never watch:  "Project Runway," "Total Divas," and "Babe Winkelman's Outdoor Secrets."
  • jimjustsaying's Word That Should Exist But Doesn't of the Month:  Buyercade.  n.  That plastic or rubber bar that separates your items at the checkout from the others.
  • Political speech I'd love to (but probably never will) hear:  "Win or lose, I promise to have all of my campaign signs and posters taken down the day after the election."
  • Drudge Report headline:  "People have sex in airports to pass time."  Comment:  Well, you've already got your shoes off . . . .
  • Memo to anyone who purchased the "Leave it to Beaver" boxed DVD set:  You either have too much time on your hands or too much money or very questionable taste in pop culture.   (Not my Guilty Pleasure, either.)
  • Today's Latin Lesson:  Et vectigalia solvere singulis tractandis justo.  ("Just pay separate postage and handling.")

Monday, August 20, 2018


By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • Little-known biographical fact about me: I was a herpetologist for the CIA.
  • They're saying it's looking like "The Year of the Woman" in politics.  In the Catholic Church . . . not so much.   I mean, what's the hurry?  No problems whatsoever with the status quo.  Total transparency and not a scintilla of scandalous or criminal behavior.  So therefore, by all means keep the men in charge.  What could go wrong?  Women can wait a few centuries longer.
  • Speaking of politics: Has anyone leading in a political poll ever said, "I don't believe in polls, and the only poll that counts is on Election Day"?  No!  Only the also-rans say that.  If they magically bounce up in the polls, suddenly the refrain is revised.  
  • Someone asked me what I thought about Russian oligarchs, and I said:  "If they're endangered,  they should be protected, and poachers should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law!"
  • When in doubt, attritute any impressive-sounding quotation you just uttered to Benjamin Franklin, George Bernard Shaw or H.L. Mencken.  (In a pinch, you could also use Will Rogers or Sir Winston Churchill.)
  • I think our new neighbor has a giant inferiority complex.  She subscribes to Mediocre Homes and Gardens.
  • Sight never seen:  A white bellhop in an old black-and-white movie.  (Jerry Lewis doesn't count!)
  • "They say the universe is expanding. That should help with the traffic.” Comedian Steven Wright.
  • Summer is so almost over that all of the newspaper columnists have already written their annual "Don't let the summer slip away" columns.
  • Sudden thought:  I can't remember ever seeing a Starbucks commercial on TV (or heard one on radio).   I guess they're so busy printing money that they don't have the need to do one (or the time to produce one).
  • Speaking of Starbucks, they have more "laptop hobos" than McDonald's.  Something tells me these hobos aren't hopping freight trains . . . at least not on a regular basis.    (One possible reason:  No Wi-Fi service in a boxcar!)
  • Redundancy Patrol:  "False pretenses,"  "protest against," "final outcome."
  • jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Week:  "Say [actual partygoer's name here], did you know that Robert M. Pirsig, author of the best-selling and influential "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values," once wrote technical manuals and ads for the mortuary cosmetics industry?" 
  • "A neurosis is a secret you don't know you're keeping."--Critic Kenneth Tynan
  • jimjustsaying's Word That Doesn't Exist But Should of the Month:  Tabalongs:   Those plastic mini-barrels or paper packets you find in pill bottles, ostensibly to absorb moisture.  
  • Overheard: "In a few weeks my 4-year-old grandson will be starting preschool."
  • No, he won't.  He'll be in school, but there's nothing "pre" about it.  He  will be in a room with a teacher, other kids, a blackboard, has to raise his hand to go to the bathroom and won't be able to leave until a bell rings, so that's School, whether it's Totland, the Sorbonne or the Massachusetts of Technology.  The only "pre" part is when he rubs the sleep out of his eyes and wolfs down the Pop-Tart.  Because when he clambers out of the minivan and disappears into that building, he's in School.  The only difference between that place and Harvard is the curriculum.  (Show-and-tell/oral exams.  Finger painting/spreadsheets.  Etc.)
  • Do people still hang wallpaper?  Do they still make it?
  • People with Ph.D. degrees who list it after their names at all times whether relevant or not are truly odd human beings.  How many of them of the proverbial certain age were basically "professional students" who stayed at school just to avoid the draft?  I'm just emphatically sayin'.  I can play the clarinet, saxophone and flute,, but I don't list "clarinetist-saxophonist-flautist" after my signature.  I held the rank of staff sergeant in the Air Force but don't list Staff Sergeant (Ret.) after my name.  
  • And why do we call those people "doctors" anyway, when most people think of that title as that of an M.D.?  Why not Academics?  Yet another quirk of the language.
  • jimjustsaying's Top 10 Signs That the Population is Aging More Than We Thought:
  • 10.  New fed stimulus plan--Senior Discounts out; Senior Surcharge In!
  •   9.  Disney breaking ground on new GeezerLand theme park.
  •   8.  Nursing Home Triathlons (1 lap around the lobby, 10 seconds on the exercise bike, 30 minutes in the bathtub)
  •  7.  Newest must-have Apple product:  iDefribillators! 
  •  6.  Can you say Viagra Gummy Tabs?
  •  5.  Playboy's Playmate of the Century:  Betty White
  •  4.  Angelina Jolie does a commercial for Depends
  •  3.  Folks over 110 eat free at all participating Red Lobsters!  (Void where prohibited.)
  •  2.  Coming soon to a mall near you:  Gap For Granny.
  •  1.  Your oldest son comes to you on Saturday afternoon and says:  "Dad, can I have the walker tonight?"
  • Quote for the ages:  New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet wants this quote he once got included in his obituary.  Baquet was a kid reporter in his hometown of New Orleans when he met up with Edwin "The Silver Zipper" Edwards and asked the Louisiana gubernatorial candidate's reaction to a poll that said he had a healthy lead.  "The only way I lose this election," Edwards told him, "is if I'm caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy."--The Poynter Morning MediaWire
  • Speaking of media, here's a memo (to print media, especially):  Just say "bar" or "tavern." "Watering hole" wasn't all that clever to begin with and has been overused to a nauseating extent.  And not that many people order a round of water!  
  • Poker has become so popular, young people are even getting into it.  What's next? The Little League World Series of Poker?  ("I'll see your Skittles and raise you three M&M two-packs.")
  • jimjustsaying's Word That Doesn't Exist But Should of the Week:  Tacangle: n. The position of one's head while biting into a taco.--"Unexplained Sniglets of the Universe," Rich Hall and Friends.
  • Today's Latin Lesson:  It's nostrum parum specialis.  ("It's our little secret!")