Monday, November 2, 2015

jimjustselling . . .

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


What they're saying about Jim's provocative blog:
--"The one thing I didn't delete from my private server."--Hillary Clinton
--"He's from this country, Mexicans don't read him, so that's good enough for me."--Donald Trump
--"Jim is obviously making a name for himself--Mr. Irrelevant!"--Don Rickles
--"Jimaschizzle!"--Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. (aka Snoop Dogg)
--"The one thing I DO read!"--Sarah Palin
--"About what you'd expect from a dopey, sniveling piece of execrable skunk vomit from Wisconsin!"--Don Imus
--"The most fun you can have with your clothes on (but DO take a shower afterwards)."--Dick Cavett


By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric, and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life  
  • jimjustsaying's  "Word That Doesn't Exist But Should" of the Week: "Camera-maritan":  The stranger you draft into taking a picture of your group so that everyone in your group will be in it. 
  • Seems like every time I go to the grocery store I see a variety of apple I've never seen before and no one I know has ever heard of.   Believe it or not, there is variety of apple called Jazz.  (No Rhythm and Blues apple as yet, apparently.) 
  • Regarding the farmed salmon being passed off as "wild salmon" controversy:  
  • Let's face it, none of us knows what's really in our food--we're just taking someone's word for it, whether it comes in a can or out of a restaurant kitchen. Something merely being listed as this or that on a label or a menu means nothing.  Unless you grew it yourself or cooked it yourself, you're completely at the mercy of whomever.  Sobering but true.
  • Next time you sign on the proverbial "dotted line," chances are the line won't be dotted.  Very few  are.  (And chances are your name isn't John Hancock either.)
  • I'm 72, so even though I'm 70 years older than my desktop computer, we have something in common--loss of memory!  (But that's where the commonality ends.  If I have a restart button, I haven't been able to find  it yet.)
  • Let's see if I've got this right:  Republican "debaters" balked at tough questions from the media yet insisted they're THE man(oh, yes, and/or THE woman) to handle all the even tougher challenges they will face if elected.   
  • Got it.  That Putin guy will be such a pushover, and those ISIS guys. too.  I'm sure they'll lay down their beheading swords as soon as a Republican president stomps his foot.  That fearsome Ben Carson guy is sure to strike terror into their hearts, even if reporters get under his thin skin.
  • I saw Hillary Clinton on TV the other day wearing her usual attire--pantsuit and flipflops.
  • Speaking of Mrs. Clinton, I highly doubt that Republicans will be able to celebrate her jailing on the FBI e-mail inquiry.  That is unlikely to happen.  But the worst prison for HRC will be rejection by the voters in the general election. That is much more likely to happen.  (And there won't be any appeal.  There may be multiple debates and multiple hearings, but there's only one election.)
  • Trump, Jeb, Huckabee, Cruz . . . . Four men who have accomplished the impossible:  Making Newt Gingrich look good!  (Come back, Newt--all is forgiven!)
  • I'm always amused when someone (usually a celebrity) claims they "don't know how to drive."  Like driving a car is the equivalent of flying a Boeing 707 or a NASA space ship.  Perhaps I should be grateful that those folks are not on the road along with the people who really don't know how to drive but do.
  • Why is Bluetooth so-called?  Why "blue"? And what does a "tooth" have to do with whatever Bluetooth does?  If the connection is supposed to be obvious, it has surely eluded me. 
  • Turns out it really isn't obvious, so let's go to jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Week:  
  • "Say [actual partygoer's name here], did you know that Bluetooth is said to be named after King Harald Bluetooth (910–985), credited with uniting Denmark and Norway, as Bluetooth technology unifies the telecommunications and computing industries?"
  • Well, on second thought, Bluetooth is better than Brownnose. . . .
  • Finally, science backs up my contention (as stated in my "LOL-i-Gags" book) that bacon is the asbestos of the food world.
  • Bacon, ham and sausages rank alongside cigarettes as a major cause of cancer, the World Health Organisation has said, placing cured and processed meats in the same category as asbestos, alcohol, arsenic and tobacco.
  • Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month:  Skinner.  As in Muley "Skinner" French , Green Bay Press-Gazette, Sept. 15, 2015.  R.I.P., Mr. Skinner.
  • Sixty-fifth  Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary:  Townsend, Wis.. (R.I.P., Robert D. Trudell, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Aug. 6, 2015).  Previous entries: Athelstane, Walhain, Duck Creek, Breed, Anston, Sobieski, Amberg, Osseo, Angelica, Brazeau, Waukechon, Sugar Camp, Kossuth, Lessor, Kunesh, Pulcifer, Cato, Florence, Greenleaf, Eaton, Poygan, Hofa Park, Hilbert, Hollandtown, Beaufort, Glennie, Harshaw, Bessemer, Crooked Lake, Tigerton, Goodman, Readstown, Dousman, Butternut, Montpelier, Cecil, Red River, Gillet, King, Laona, Kelly Lake, Glenmore, Tonet, Stiles, Morrison, Dunbar, Askeaton, Wild Rose. Neopit, Ellisville, Pickett, Flintville,  Forest Junction, Thiry Daems, Black Creek,  Mountain, Ledgeview, Lunds, Suring, Lakewood, Beaver, Cloverleaf Lakes, Krakow and Pella.
  • "It is not enough to be busy. So are ants. The question is, What are we busy about?"--Henry David Thoreau
  • Much has been made about how Joe Maddon, manager of the surprising 2015 Chicago Cubs, "changed the culture."  Baseball has a culture?
  • "Baseball is what we were, football is what we have become."--Mary McGrory
  • jimjustsaying's Sniglet of the Month:  "Schlitzstop."  The one player in amateur softball games who always thinks he can handle his position and a can of beer at the same time."--"Unexplained Sniglets of the Universe," Rich Hall & Friends
  • "Saturday Night Live" had it right.  Have you ever seen Bernie Sanders and Larry David in the same room? 
  • jimjustsaying's assessment of the recent years (decades?) of "Saturday Night Live": The cast is very good at doing sketches that aren't remotely funny.  I guess that boils down to "A" for effort.  (Lorne Michaels, your plane is now boarding.)
  • "The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards."--Novelist Arthur Koestler
  • Whatever happened to Yakof Smirnov?
  • Today's Latin lesson:  Nusquam video vidi visum hic, populus, iustus eo. ("Nothing to see here, folks, just move along.")


  1. 10 little dogs that think they're big
  2. How to tell if she grew up with brothers
  3. 6 things every dermatologist gets asked over and over again
  4. Stars' worst concert mishaps
  5. 22 celebrities with a body part you don't know about
  6. The top earning dead celebrities of 2015
  7. 20 stars who are convicted felons
  8. Do you have royal blood?  Your last name may tell you
  9. 15 dirty secrets hiding in your favorite childhood movies
  10. What I wish I'd known before I got out of prison


Democrats sleepwalking to disaster
The Democratic Party is in much greater peril than its leaders or supporters recognize.  Currently, Democrats are chortling over the Republicans’ obvious problems, including their megalomaniacal presidential front-runner and the House speakership debacle.  But Democrats shouldn’t be so smug.  Republicans control the overwhelming majority of the country’s political offices--not just the House and Senate, but also 70 percent of state legislatures and 60 percent of governorships.  Republicans control both the legislature and governor’s office in 25 states, compared with just seven for Democrats, and in those states the GOP is aggressively promoting a conservative agenda, with tax and spending cuts, anti-union laws, curbs on voting rights, and abortion restrictions. The state legislatures’ control of the redistricting process for the U.S. House of Representatives gives the GOP a lock on the House for the foreseeable future--making the Democrats’ national legislative agenda dead on arrival.  And if Republicans manage to win the presidency in a close election next year, it would give them the overwhelming preponderance of political power in the U.S.  Democrats, meanwhile, are debating how far left to go. They’d better wake up.
--Matthew Yglesias,

A politically ignorant majority
Donald Trump’s stunning lead in the GOP presidential race reveals a much deeper problem at the heart of modern democracy: widespread voter ignorance.  Polls show that 40 percent of Republicans without college degrees support Trump (as opposed to 19 percent of college graduates), and the main reason for their support is that he’s a self-assured, highly entertaining celebrity who knows how to talk on TV.  Since many of his Republican supporters don’t know much about politics, it doesn’t matter to them that Trump has a long history of liberal stances and support for Democrats. The popularity of his anti-immigration stance, too, is based on ignorance: Immigrants have a lower crime rate than native-born people, and provide little or no job competition to natives, since they take mostly menial jobs. The sobering reality is that most Americans--and not just Trump supporters--follow politics and government superficially, and don’t even know the names of their representatives or which party controls Congress. These low-information voters are "ripe for exploitation" by manipulative candidates and interest groups. That’s the "truly frightening reality revealed by The Donald."
--Ilya Somin, USA Today

Will Obama’s weakness kill Keystone?
Having failed at everything else, President Obama is now trying to secure a legacy as an environmentalist--at Canada’s expense, said the National Post. The word in Washington is that Obama is going to refuse approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run from Alberta oil sands through Montana to Nebraska and then connect with a pipeline to the Texas coast. The seven years and billions of dollars TransCanada Corp. has invested in the project, as well as the "countless hours explaining, lobbying, and debating the merits" of the pipeline, will all have been for nothing. And why? Killing Keystone will not transform Obama into some green hero. Alberta’s oil sands fields will simply find some other means of export--and in any case, they are not particularly polluting, emitting only as much carbon dioxide as the coal-fired electricity plants in the state of Wyoming. Obama will still have the legacy he has earned: A foreign policy failure whose early pullout from Iraq caused that nation’s collapse and whose inaction on Syria has fueled the greatest refugee crisis of our time. Should he cancel this pipeline, it won’t be an act of statecraft. It will be "a small and petty parting shot from a weak and weakened president."
--Editorial, National Post

Trade-deal drivel
--It’s nonsensical for people like [Vermont Sen.] Bernie Sanders and Orrin Hatch [Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee] to pass instant judgment on a complex, book-length trade agreement they haven’t even read yet.   Like all trade deals, the TPP will have winners and losers.   Some U.S. workers will lose their jobs as companies shift their activities abroad; others will benefit as their employers prosper from having greater access to foreign markets.   But spare us the suggestion that every concession is a triumph of big business over average Americans.   Average Americans benefit, too, when new jobs are created and cheaper imports become available.
--Baltimore Sun editorial

--What both sides are missing is what a trivial issue they are fighting over.   The U.S. already has free or very close to free trade with most of the largest nations in the TPP--Canada, Mexico, and Australia--and even pro-trade groups admit the TPP would boost the U.S. economy by 0.4 percent of GDP at most.   Yes, there will be winners and losers, but on a scale that pales in comparison with  the ordinary fluctuations in the job market.  But in the hyperpartisan climate gripping Washington, lawmakers will turn the TPP into another theatrical struggle.   So prepare for a really big fight over really tiny impacts.
--Jeffrey Dorfman,

Is recycling largely an illusion?
Recycling may make people feel the warm glow of virtue, but it’s largely a waste of time and money.  After two decades of strenuous efforts to get Americans to recycle, prices for recyclable materials have plummeted, and it’s generally more expensive for communities to recycle household waste than to send it to a landfill.  Ah, but we’re saving the environment! you say. 
Not really. Studies show that recycling cardboard, paper, and aluminum cans does make environmental sense, but sorting and recycling glass, food scraps, and all kinds of plastic achieves little or no net environmental gain.  When all the impacts are added up, shipping garbage to modern incinerators equipped with effective air scrubbers or to well-insulated landfills causes no more environmental damage than collecting, sorting, shipping, and processing recyclables. Many rural communities welcome landfills as a source of revenue, and all the trash generated by Americans for the next 1,000 years would fit in 0.1 percent of available land.  These facts are heresy to green activists, who’ve turned recycling into a "religious ritual" and are pushing for 100 percent of waste to be recycled.  But it’s a ritual of increasingly dubious value.
--John Tierney, New York Times

Ending the corporate tax charade
Here’s a modest proposal, let’s just give up trying to tax the biggest corporations altogether.  Fortune 500 companies have more than $2 trillion stashed in overseas tax havens.  If the U.S. taxed these profits at a mere 6 percent, it would collect enough to pay for all of the federal government’s education spending for the next five years.  Yet for some reason, taxing overseas profits is a political nonstarter.  So why not just do away with the whole hypocritical charade and reduce the corporate tax rate to zero? You could, after all, argue that these companies provide products and services we can’t do without.  They create millions of jobs.  Perhaps they could dedicate more of their profits to employee raises and life-changing innovations if they didn’t have to set up embarrassingly obvious tax avoidance strategies, like Pfizer’s 151 tax haven subsidiaries, or spend millions lobbying lawmakers for special treatment.  Sure, it seems unfair that large corporations should escape taxes while citizens and small businesses pay their fair share.  Yet that is already how the current system works, more or less.  For some reason, there is little outrage that average people pay more taxes than Apple or Coca-Cola does. If corporations are going to get a huge tax exemption, let’s make it official.
--Leonid Bershidsky,

Income inequality will fix itself
You probably haven’t heard the most important economic story of the decade, even though it means we can all stop wittering away about inequality.  Allow me: Demographics are going to do more to ease the wealth gap than taxing the rich, propping up trade unions, or any other half-baked left-wing policy ever could.  You’ll find proof in a single line in a recent World Bank/IMF report: "The [world’s] working-age share of the population peaked in 2012 and is now on the decline."  Why is that important? In recent decades, as China and other developing countries joined the global market economy, billions of people entered the global workforce.  With labor in broad supply, inequality rose in richer countries, as wages for low-skilled workers were held down by overseas competition.  In fact, in-country inequality increased in pretty much every developed economy, regardless of that country’s tax rates, unionization, or welfare policies.  Unless we’re going to believe in excessive coincidence, the cause was all those new global workers. But now, the process is going into reverse.  As the working-age population falls, the labor glut will ease.  And as low-skill labor becomes comparatively rare, its price will rise. Inequality is simply going to fall all on its ownsome.
--Tom Worstall,

Pros, cons of U.S. in Afghanistan
--Remind me:  Why are we in Afghanistan, again?  Everyone knows the Taliban is just waiting for the U.S. to leave  before truly challenging the Kabul government.  And unlike when it was allied with Osama bin Laden, the militant group  poses little threat to the West  today. Obama may simply be trying to save presidential face [by] delaying the collapse of Afghanistan until somebody else moves into the White House.
--Tobin Harshaw in

--The next president should keep the troops there indefinitely.  Eight out of 10 Afghans want the U.S. to stay, rather than see their country fall back under the Taliban’s medieval rule.  Besides, history shows that long-term American military presences overseas can pay off well.  We still have tens of thousands of troops stationed in South Korea, 62 years after the end of the Korean War. They’ve brought stability to the region, enabling South Korea to develop into a wealthy nation and a key U.S. trading partner. Maintaining a small presence in Afghanistan is a low-risk, high-reward strategy.
--Peter Bergen,

--If this latest reversal proves anything, it’s the folly of imposing arbitrary timelines or conditions on U.S. involvement abroad.  Foreign policy is an exercise in uncertainty, and a wise approach prepares for a range of potential futures.  Accepting uncertainty may feel un-American, because the U.S. and its military are  conditioned to play to win.  But it’s the  pragmatic alternative to the failed hubris of thinking that the U.S. can simply bend the world to its will.
--Jeff Eggers,  Politico​.com


How the GOP is cracking up
With Jeb Bush looking tired and Marco Rubio not gaining traction, prospects look dim

An inglorious burden
Why would any sane person want the presidency? 

Dump the debt ceiling
A once-useful device is now too political and too perilous

Death toll rising for middle-class whites
Addiction, mental-health issues  reverse decades of longevity gains

Everything doesn't happen for a reason
That's the kind of nonsense that destroys lives--and it is categorically untrue

NFL's declining level of play
Sport's quality takes a hit while fans yawn

Uncle Sam wants in on fantasy sports
Real revenue opportunities are the game plan

How too much choice is stressing us out
The idea that choice is bad flies in the face of what we’ve been told for decades

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric, and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life  
  • Rumors that I've been selected for the lead role in "Deuce Bigalow, Geriatric Gigolo" are just that--rumors!  How do these things get started anyway?
  • Memo to the increasing number of females (and a few males) with pink, blue, green or purple hair:   Bring something to read when you go to the unemployment office.
  • How great are my new eyeglasses?  I'm getting a bumper sticker made that will say "I Brake for Ants!"  
  • Can't remember the last time I saw something we all used to see fairly often: A hitchiker.  Seen one lately?  
  • "One definition of a philosopher is someone who thinks that what goes without saying goes even better with saying."---Kwame Anthony Appiah, author of “Cosmopolitanism” and “The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen.”
  • At the risk of eliciting uberumbrage:  I can't get used to hearing female voices giving sports reports (and sideline "updates"), just as I'd do a double-take if I saw an all-male nurse team tending to newborns in the maternity ward.  Some things are just plain out of place even if they aren't "wrong."
  • I don't have a so-called "bucket list." But buckets are useful, and so are lists, for that matter.  Come to think of it, we  have one bucket but could probably use another one.  So it's on the list.  
  • Don't know about you, but movies that are about the making of a movie hold no appeal for me.  
  • You heard it here first:  Radio serials are going to make a big comeback.  
  • Where is this country going?   Larry King is doing infomercials,  Burt Reynolds is wasting away and reportedly broke, and John Travolta has been gay for a long time, according to supermarket tabloids.  Donald Trump for president?  Fits right in!
  • jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Week:  "Say [actual partygoer's name here], did you know that  Dutch researchers found that using "huh?" to indicate a lack of understanding is common to 31 vastly different languages, including Murriny Patha, spoken by Aboriginal Australians, Icelandic, Hungarian, and Japanese."
  • Toothbrush manufacturers amuse me no end.  They're always coming up with new angles (almost literally), new selling points.  The latest one I bought proclaimed "90% Deeper Reach/removes plaque between teeth."  
  • Why now, at this late date?  What part of "deeper" wasn't possible or advisable 100 years ago?  What led to the "breakthrough"? Have teeth changed that much--if at all--over time? Is it that hard to make THE perfect brush, once and for all?  Help me out here.
  • "When you give [ to politicians], they do whatever the hell you want them to do. As a businessman, I need that. An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought."--Donald Trump in the Wall St. Journal.
  • Seasonal note:  The end of summer isn't necessarily the Labor Day weekend or the start of school but rather the arrival of pocket hand-warmer packets in the $1 bin near the Target entrance.
  • Why do we say "hot and humid" but "cold and damp"?   Starting now, I'm going with "hot and damp" and "cold and humid."   Aren't we talking about the same thing--moisture content in the air?  So why the seasonal nomenclature divergence?  What's the cutoff point for humid vs. damp?  60 and warmer, humid?  59 and colder, damp?  Help me out here.
  • jimjustsaying's "Word That Doesn't Exist But Should" of the Week:  Molotov Cartail, n., Any service station towel used in place of a gas cap.--"Unexplained Sniglets of the Universe," Rich Hall & Friends.
  • jimjustsaying's Foreign Word With No English Equivalent of the Month:  Zeg (Georgian). It means "the day after tomorrow." Seriously, why don't we have a word for that in English?  (I'd like to credit this item but can't remember the source.  Should be an English word for that too!)
  • jimjustsaying's Faded Phrase of the Month:  "Knee high to a grasshopper."
  • "There are three stages of scientific discovery:  First, people deny that it is true;  then, they deny that it is important; finally, they credit [or blame?] the wrong person."--Alexander von Humboldt, 19th Century naturalist 
  • Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Week:  "Iron Mike."  As in, Michael "Iron Mike" Blindhauer (Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Sept. 24, 2015).  R.I.P, Mr. Blindhauer.
  • Sixty-fourth  Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary:  Pella, Wis.. (R.I.P., Patricia Thomas, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, July 15, 2015).  Previous entries: Athelstane, Walhain, Duck Creek, Breed, Anston, Sobieski, Amberg, Osseo, Angelica, Brazeau, Waukechon, Sugar Camp, Kossuth, Lessor, Kunesh, Pulcifer, Cato, Florence, Greenleaf, Eaton, Poygan, Hofa Park, Hilbert, Hollandtown, Beaufort, Glennie, Harshaw, Bessemer, Crooked Lake, Tigerton, Goodman, Readstown, Dousman, Butternut, Montpelier, Cecil, Red River, Gillet, King, Laona, Kelly Lake, Glenmore, Tonet, Stiles, Morrison, Dunbar, Askeaton, Wild Rose. Neopit, Ellisville, Pickett, Flintville,  Forest Junction, Thiry Daems, Black Creek,  Mountain, Ledgeview, Lunds, Suring, Lakewood, Beaver, Cloverleaf Lakes and Krakow.
  • One could easily think that GOP now stands for Goofballs on Parade.  Or, perhaps, Grand Old (accent on the Old!) Pariahs.
  • Speaking of which, the name "Jeb" had a Baby Name Ranking of 954 in 1978.--Bill Griffith in "Zippy" 
  • Funny, but you don't hear much about the Mayan Calendar these days.  (And I'll bet there are more than a few people who wish the world had ended on Dec. 21, 2012.   Bill Cosby, maybe?  Bernie Madoff?  Most financial advisers?  Hillary?)
  • Today's Latin Lesson: Umo unus, adepto unus solvo. ("Buy one, get one free.")