Saturday, April 2, 2016

jimjustselling . . .


(Actually, I'm not, but the good folks at HenschelHAUS are. And they're now offering FREE SHIPPING IN THE CONTINENTAL U.S. 
https://henschelhausbooks.com/product/lol-i-gags/


The book is also available at:

CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENTS

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
--"The most fun you can have with your clothes on (but DO take a shower afterwards)."--Dick Cavett

POPCORN

By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations 
about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • You can tell it's spring in Northern Wisconsin when you see 2 inches of snow on the bags of fertilizer and potting soil in the newly reopened outdoor garden center at Wal-Mart.
  • Many experts predict this is the year the Cubs will finally win the World Series.  But longtime, long-suffering fans are still skeptical.  They think a Cubs title is as likely as . . . well . . . as Donald Trump being named Grand Marshall of the Cinco de Mayo parade in Guadalajara.
  • You're an old-timer if you remember pop machines with bottles, wooden ice-cream spoons and pay toilets. 
  • I'd pay a princely sum to see Larry King, Rush Limbaugh or Hillary Clinton on "Dancing With the Stars."
  • jimjustsaying's  Party Ice-Breaker of the Week:  "Say [actual partygoer's name here], did you know that Sweden is so efficient that only 1 % of its garbage ends up in landfills?"
  • It's Not Only A Dirty Job But Also A Dangerous Job (But Somebody's Got To Do It) Department:  With 33 fatalities per 100,000 employees a year, sanitation work is one of the America's deadliest jobs--two to three times as dangerous as being a police office and seven times as dangerous firefighting, Mental Floss magazine reports.
  • Book Rave of the Month:  "Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder," by Gloria Kolb (National Geographic, $24).  (Who knew?)
  • Shouldn't e-mail really be d-mail, as in digital?  Or c-mail, as in computer? After all, what isn't electronic these days?  
  • Ever wonder why computer models have such strange, alphabet-soup-sounding names?  It's no accident, according to PC World.  Complex names (such as 5097B-15iJ Laptop) make it almost impossible to demand that Big Box Store A match the sale price at Big Box Store B  and also makes online price comparisons virtually impossible.
  • Faded Phrases:  "Don’t touch that dial," "Give me a carbon copy," and "You sound like a broken record." 
  • Magazine renewal notices that say "Last Chance" really mean that there are five more coming.  Maybe more.
  • Ever wonder why some Red Lobsters aren't participating in whatever it is the rest of the Red Lobsters are participating in?
  • Lamest sportscaster saying (or, one of them, there are so, so many):  "He really came to play!"
  • Great!  Here all along I thought he planned to spend his day or night at the mall or the casino but he decided to come to the park after all."  I guess $10 million  or more is no longer sufficient motivation for putting forth an effort.
  • "Who discovered we could get milk from cows, and what did he think he was doing at the time?"-- Comedian Billy Connolly, quoted in The Daily Telegraph (U.K.)
  • jimjustsaying's Media Word of the Week (a word you see in news or magazine articles but never hear an actual person use in real life):  gambit.
  • One of my main problems with HLN, specifically the "Nancy Grace" and "Dr. Drew " programs: They’re decent half-hour shows that are unfortunately padded out to an hour each! So-so segments go on and on and on, with repetitious clips and commentary.
  • "When the cost of action and the cost of inaction both feel unaffordable, you have a wicked problem."--Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times on the geopolitical dilemma facing the U.S.
  • I shudder to think of how much stuff that I (and, in reality, all of us) threw away before recycling came along.  
  • What's wrong with this picture?  Women wear makeup and shave their legs and underarms and then tell their husbands or boyfriends to "get real."
  • I keep reading and hearing more and more about celebrity chefs.  So far no celebrity servers, celebrity busboys  or celebrity bartenders.  That's coming.   
  • Overheard: "I love asking kids what they want to be when they grow up because I am still looking for ideas."
  • Seventieth Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary: Lake Gogebic, Wis.. (R.I.P., David L. Van Dansel, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Oct. 25, 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,  Pella, Townsend, Vandenbroek, Coleman,  Spruce and Armstrong Creek.
  • Why do stores with double entry doors almost always have one of them locked?
  • jimjustsaying's Word of The Week That Doesn't Exist But Should: Telecrastination:  n. The act of always letting the phone ring at least twice before you pick it up, even when you're only six inches away.  (From "Sniglets," Rich Hall & Friends).
  • Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month:  Yuma.  As in Robert "Yuma" Thomas, Green Bay Press-Gazette, March 8, 2016.  R.I.P., Mr. Thomas.
  • Today's Latin Lesson: Is dico may exsisto recorded pro palaestra voluntas.   ("This call may be recorded for training purposes.")

FARRAGO

Baseball's Ten Oddest Occurrences of 2015

April 6:  Jon Lester  is the ninth consecutive starting pitcher to make his Chicago Cubs debut on Opening Day and lose.

May 17:  After being the last staring first baseman in the majors to hit a home run, Brandon Belt of the San Francisco Giants hits a home run in three straight games.

June 13:  The Oakland A's lose 1-0, dropping 14 games under .500 despite having outscored all of their opponents for the season.

June 18:  Minor achievement?  New York Yankees prospect Wes Wilson catches the first 15 innings of a game for Tampa, works two perfect innings on the mound and then hits the game-winning home run in the 17th inning against Bradenton.

June 29-July 1: The Cleveland Indians take a perfect game into the sixth inning in three consecutive games of a series in Tampa Bay.

July 12:  After reaching the 2014 All-Star break with a 10-3 record with 108 strikeouts, Sonny Gray of the Oakland A's reaches the 2015 All-Star break with a 10-3 record and 108 strikeouts.

July 20:  Colorado Rockies first baseman Ben Paulsen, having lost track of the outs, jogs to the dugout with the ball, allowing a runner to score. then atones for his gaffe with a walk-off hit.

Aug. 9:  Bartolo Colon of the New York Mets loses to the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that didn't exist when he made his major-league debut.

Aug. 11:  Home teams go 15-0--a first in major-league history.

Sept. 27:  Chris Young of the Kansas City Royals is the first pitcher in at least a century to  be removed from a no-hitter after pitching at least five innings twice in a season.

Thanks to Athlon Sports for these Calendar of the Weird gems.

THE QUOTE RACK

Obama and ISIS
President Obama may be right to be wary of military adventurism, but he got ISIS wrong from the beginning, famously dismissing the terrorist group as al Qaida’s "JV team."  By responding with too little, too late, the president let ISIS swell into an unprecedented terrorist army that conquered large regions in Iraq and Syria.  And when ISIS began exporting its barbarity to Europe with the Paris attacks, Obama was content to stay with his policy of half-hearted, incremental warfare.  If there are  more terrorist spectaculars in coming months while Obama tangos, he might see Americans turn in desperation to Donald Trump.
--William Bradley, HuffingtonPost​.com

Look inward, working class
Donald Trump’s rise is based on a lie.  The white working class fueling his march to the nomination justifies its support for this giant pulsing humanoid middle finger by claiming it’s been victimized by outside forces. Trump’s followers whisper darkly about "globalists" and trade agreements that have pushed millions of jobs to China and Mexico, and blame the Republican establishment for abandoning poor white American communities.

But take a genuine look across hardscrabble, white upstate New York, or my own native West Texas--communities blighted by welfare dependency, addiction, and family anarchy--and you’ll realize that Beijing didn’t fail these people, nor did Washington, D.C.   They failed themselves.   Forget all your cheap Bruce Springsteen crap and your sentimentality about Rust Belt factory towns.  When the factories closed because the world was changing, Trump’s voters should have changed with it.  Instead, they sank back into passivity and despair, salving their misery with government disability checks, food stamps, alcohol, OxyContin, and heroin.

The white working class doesn’t need pity or handouts; these people need  real opportunity,  which means they need to rent a U-Haul and escape dysfunctional, morally bankrupt communities that deserve to die.
--Kevin Williamson,  NationalReview.com

--These failing communities deserve our compassion.  But Williamson is right:  The white working class didn’t have to react to economic woes by abandoning all personal responsibility.  Life expectancies have plummeted among non-college-educated white Americans--Trump’s core support base--because of drug and alcohol abuse and suicide.  The economy isn’t putting a bottle in their hand or forcing them to make babies out of wedlock or get divorced.  Put simply, millions of Americans living in the world’s most prosperous nation aren’t doing their best--and are looking to Trump to make them feel better about their own poor choices.
--David French in National Review, com.

The Supreme scuffle
Both President Obama and the Republicans are playing a risky game.   By choosing to nominate a centrist white man over a minority woman, Obama missed an opportunity to energize the Democratic base. Yet with a Hillary Clinton--Donald Trump matchup looking increasingly likely in the fall, Republicans could soon wish they’d confirmed [Merrick] Garland. Because if Clinton wins an electoral landslide, she  will be in no mood to send up a compromise candidate.
--Pat Garofalo, USNews.com

Bring back the party bosses
As a tool for selecting presidential nominees, democracy may be highly overrated.  Until 1968, party "bosses" and their political machines dominated the process of selecting candidates for the White House and Congress. Presidential nominees were actually chosen, not merely confirmed, at conventions; Abraham Lincoln became the nominee on the third ballot in 1860, and Franklin Roosevelt needed four ballots in 1932. But starting in the late 1960s, the Democrats and Republicans adopted rules requiring "open" primaries and caucuses, to make the process more democratic.

In theory, that’s great--but relying entirely on the popular vote favors campaigning skills over governing skills and personality over substance. It has made presidents of relatively inexperienced, outsider figures such as Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, and helped intensely partisan candidates such as Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz push aside political professionals with records of compromise.  The intense competition of open primaries also leads candidates to make extravagant and unrealistic promises, which they can’t fulfill--feeding a cycle of disillusion.  It all makes you wonder whether the old-time bosses were really so bad after all.
--Robert Samuelson, Washington Post

Obama off base:  Media has pilloried Trump
Presidents are notoriously thin-skinned and myopic press critics.  Even John Kennedy canceled his White House subscription to the GOP-leaning New York Herald-Tribune in a moment of pique. Barack Obama is no exception.  His underlying theme, that the press helped enable Trump by not fact-checking his ludicrous claims and that it gave a free pass to Bernie Sanders (whose name went unmentioned) by not doing a reality-check on his policy wish lists, is false.

As press critic Jack Shafer pointed out in Politico, the continuing drum beat that the media empowered Trump, a thesis particularly prevalent among liberal commentators echoed by the president, just isn’t borne out by the facts.  If anything, as Shafer writes, the media all but "unified in an attempt to destroy him." All the major newspapers, including Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, have been doing major investigations of Trump’s business interests and practices for months now.  Fox News, in the on-air form of Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace, has been tough on Trump.  National Review devoted an entire issue to pillorying him; most major conservative pundits rail against him as much as their liberal counterparts.

And while much is made of Trump’s $2 billion bounty of free media, the truth is that he gets a lion’s share of television time and other so-called "earned media" because he earns it:  Unlike Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, he never limited his exposure to the press but seized virtually every invitation handed him to go on the air and mouth off unscripted.  Unlike most of his opponents, he was also canny enough to make news at his rallies --even if the news was appalling.  As Shafer says, Trump is "the most charismatic and controversial candidate" in the field:  "The idea that a hard-hitting cable news host can take down a demagogue is a fantasy that exists only in the dramatic works of Aaron Sorkin."

The press is hardly flawless in its coverage of this campaign. It has consistently underestimated Trump’s appeal and success.  But for Nicholas Kristof to piously claim, as he did in a Times column last weekend, that everyone in journalism should share in the "shame" of Trump’s rise is offensive.  Though certainly Kristof deserves his share: Early this month, he wrote a column in which he interviewed an "imaginary" Trump voter rather than deigning to interview a real one. Had he talked to an actual Trump voter, he might have learned that investigative pieces about Trump University, fact-checking, and op-ed attacks are not going to deter any of them from rallying behind their man. As Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post put it in a column implicitly rebuking Kristof’s:  "Blaming ourselves for Trump’s rise is just another way to ignore the voters who have made him a favorite for the GOP nomination."
--Frank Rich, New York.com

Blocking Trump's nomination would be unfair
If the Republican establishment does not like Trump’s ideas, it should try to beat him fair and square, by capturing the hearts and imaginations of the voters, as Trump has done over the past six months.   If it can beat him fair and square, with a majority of votes and a majority of delegates, then the party--including those of us who support Trump--will come together behind the eventual nominee.   But if the nomination is stolen from Trump through shadowy billionaire super-PAC money and "brokered convention" chicanery, I sadly predict that the party that I love and have helped to build for more than half a century will suffer a massive schism that may send it the way of the Whigs.
--Helen Delich Bentley, R-MD., was a member of the House of Representatives from 1985 to 1995.

Why it’s hard to convict executives
Two high-profile cases show just how challenging it is to hold individuals responsible for corporate misconduct.  The circumstances surrounding the two cases could not be more different:  The 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig caused 11 deaths, and the 2012 collapse of New York law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf was the result of a massive accounting scandal.  What links them is that prosecutors’ efforts to hold executives responsible have almost completely failed.

While the government has secured big fines from companies involved in the Deepwater spill, its criminal cases against executives have ended either in acquittals or dismissals.  With Dewey & LeBoeuf, the grand larceny and fraud case against three executives ended in a mistrial.  The Manhattan DA is now retrying the case on "whittled down" charges that amount to "a shell of the blockbuster scheme" once described.  Part of prosecutors’ challenge is proving culpability for corporate misdeeds when there is diffuse responsibility; without cooperating witnesses from inside the company, executives can maintain deniability.  The Justice Department, stung by criticism that it was too soft on bank CEOs after the crisis, has vowed to go after more white-collar criminals.  But it is easy to proclaim a policy and far harder to follow through.
--Peter J. Henning, New York Times

THE LINK TANK

Trump puts the mess in message
Supporters  getting embarrassed by his sheer dumb grossness
http://www.wsj.com/articles/trumps-mess-has-become-his-message-1459466943

On invincible ignorance
GOP keeps trotting out tax-cut canards
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/21/opinion/on-invincible-ignorance.html

Clintons can't ride a populist wave
They can't have it both ways on 'a Obama third term'
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/433522/hillary-clinton-populist-election-2016?target=author&tid=897

How Trump and Sanders err on trade
More bloom than gloom in deficits
http://eedition.chicagotribune.com/Olive/ODE/ChicagoTribune2/LandingPage/LandingPage.aspx?href=Q1RDLzIwMTYvMDQvMDM.&pageno=MjE.&entity=QXIwMjEwMA..&view=ZW50aXR5

The four foreign policies
Candidates offer an array of bad choices
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-four-foreign-policies/2016/03/31/bf28a7e6-f764-11e5-a3ce-f06b5ba21f33_story.html

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

POPCORN

By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric, and whimsical observations
 about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • I've found a strange omission in all of Donald Trump's books:  No Chapter 11!
  • Which Jackie Gleason character does Donald Trump most resemble?
  • (a) Ralph Kramden
  • (b) Reggie Van Gleason
  • (c) Charlie the Loudmouth 
  • (d) An amalgam of all of the above!
  • The just-completed sturgeon spearing season in northern Wisconsin ended with about one third of last year's catch (blamed on murky water).   But if Donald Trump is elected, I'm sure he'd say, "Everybody's gonna get one"  (unless you're Mexican, of course, in which case you won't be here.)
  • Googling the sturgeon:  I found it described as “spectacularly unattractive” and “butt-ugly” . . . as well as “flat-out mean.”  So in addition to not winning any beauty pageants, I guess it won’t win any Fish Congeniality Awards, either.
  • Enough with the political "debates" already?   They don't debate the issues so much as trade insults or sling allegations of past misbehavior at each other in addition to launching into rote recitations of pet talking points.  Given a choice between having to watch a debate and having a root canal, I'm going to the dentist.  At least there you've got the anesthetic!
  • Have you been following the exploits of the so-called "Affluenza Teen"?  Affluenza.  There apparently is a vaccine to prevent affluence, and, if I in fact have received it, can attest that it's very effective!
  • The Food Report:  
  • This  just  in:  Researchers in Germany found that eating while blindfolded caused people to eat less and feel full faster than those who could see their food. Visual deprivation apparently reduces the pleasure of eating and triggers innate fears that food may be rotten.  (Maybe Jenny Craig will change its name to Helen Keller.  You know, whatever works!)
  • Newspaper ad:  "You're invited to a Free Gourmet Dinner--Exclusively for Women with Low Thyroid."   (Let's see:  Tuesday--Mexican night; Wednesday--Stir-Fry Night; and Thursday--Low-Thyroid Gals Night Out!  Got it.)
  • jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Week:  "Say [actual partygoer's name here], did you know that when bananas ripen, the small, round black spots that cover their skin is caused by an enzyme known as tyrosinase?"
  • How 'bout them apples?  I seem to encounter a new variety of apple every time I'm in a grocery store, and the last time was no exception:  In fact, I found three such specimens--Lady Alice, Pinata and Tentation (sic)--that neither I nor my wife had ever seen before.  Send your strange apple sightings to jbixsz@gmail.com and win valuable prizes!
  •  "Fame simply means millions of people have the wrong idea of who you are."-- Erica Jong
  • Three things I've never cleaned:  A rifle, a fish, an oven.
  • TV irritant:   Talk-show hosts guesting on other talk shows!  Does Jimmy Kimmel so really need the exposure, after being on the air 5 hours a week on his own show, that Jimmy Fallon has to have him on?  Or vice versa.  And what would Fallon and Seth Meyer and their brethren do for guests if they couldn't parade all of their former "Saturday Night Live" compatriots before us week after week?  Too clubby, too clannish, too inside-jokey.  
  • I can't remember the last time I saw someone wearing cufflinks, spats or a pocket watch.
  • Comments on the typecasting trap from Francis Ford Coppola, himself a "victim" because of his "Godfather" success:  "George [Lucas] is a kind of a genius, but I think it's a pity he got so absorbed in that ["Star Wars"] franchise.   . . .  "Star Wars" cost us 10 new George Lucas films that would have been wonderful." (From a recent Vanity Fair interview.)
  • Redundancy Patrol:  "each and every," "welcome in" and "price point."
  • "We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10."--Bill Gates
  • jimjustsaying's Word of the Week That Doesn't Exist But Should:  "Cheeriomagnetization." The tendency of the last four or five Cheerios in the bowl to cling together for survival.
  • Runnerup:  "Vegeludes":  Individual peas or kernels of corn that you end up chasing all over the plate.  (Both from "More Sniglets," Rich Hall and Friends.)
  • Today’s Word Never Uttered Outside the Context of a Nursery Rhyme: “porridge.”  As in, “Who’s been eating my porridge?” asked the bear. 
  • Few things in life are more satisfying than an easily peeled hard-boiled egg or plugging the charger into your device the right way the first time.
  • Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month:  "Baldy."  As in Gerald K. "Baldy" Lois, Kenosha (Wis.) News, Dec. 3, 2015.  R.I.P., Mr. Lois.
  • Sixty-ninth Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary:  Armstrong Creek, Wis.. (R.I.P., Lee Austin Destache, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Nov. 11, 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,  Pella, Townsend, Vandenbroek, Coleman and Spruce.
  • Today's Latin Lesson:  Totus res in temperantia--omprehendo temperantia.  ("All things in moderation--including moderation!")