Tuesday, June 6, 2017


By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • Morning in America:   Maniacs are driving into crowded sidewalks, the prison population is way up, church attendance is way down . . . and people are still sneaking into the express lane of the supermarket with more than 12 items.  (Which of these problems is easiest to eradicate?  Not so sure it would be the third one.)
  • I was talking to an African-American friend recently, and I used the most explosive word  in the English language these days:  "Pre-existing."
  • jimjustsaying's advice to all 2017 graduates:  Work hard, be honest, and never let failure go to your head!
  • (And if you still have your high school graduation tassels hanging from your rear-view mirror, you are most likely a danger to yourself and others.  Counselors are standing by.)
  • I'm always amused by people--and we all know some--whose most ultimate expression of  praise, delight or satisfaction--whether they've just sampled a wine that they instantly love, or tasted a dish they're going to order again, or sampled a snack food they're going to be addicted to--is . . . "Hey, that's not bad."  Or its slight variant:  "Hey, that's not too bad . . . ."  (Hey, folks, try to curb your enthusiasm.  Control yourselves!)
  • Sad commentary on our society:  How do we describe a person who has achieved great fame, achievement or prominence?  As a statesman?  A great humanitarian?  An upstanding public servant?  No--as a rock star!  As in, "Bill Clinton achieved rock-star status. . . ."  (I know he did the sex part of it, but trashing hotel rooms?  Not so sure.)
  • "You can either grow old gracefully or begrudgingly.  I chose both."--Roger Moore
  • Why are prosecutors' feet rarely held to the fire when DNA exonerates a wrongfully imprisoned man, as has happened quite often in the recent past?
  • According to the Wall St. Journal, they enjoy broad immunity from civil suits and a measure of professional courtesy that discourages defense lawyers and judges from filing complaints,  attorneys say.
  • "That is as it should be," according to Scott Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association.  "If prosecutors could easily be sued or sanctioned in the rare instance of a mistake, they may then err on the side of caution in bringing charges, to the detriment of society." 
  • (Does that sound as self-serving to you as it does to me?)
  • Smoking is a leading cause of statistics.
  • According to "The end of sand," a recent story in the New Yorker,  not only is sand in shorter supply than previously thought, but there are other factors involved as well.
  • Ordinary beach sand, the article says, tends to be too firm for [professional] beach volleyball; it would cause players who dive into it to break fingers, tear hamstrings and suffer other impact injuries.
  • Thus, for the final event of last year's world tour in Toronto, special sand had to be trucked in, because the sand at a nearby public Toronto beach didn't meet the Federation Internationale de Volleyball's strict standards.  Thirteen hundred and sixty tons from a nearby quarry, housed in 35 tractor-trailer loads, provided the sandy surface at a temporary stadium that was erected for the event.
  • More sand:  Think the biggest challenge in building a golf course in Dubai would be creating fairways and greens in a desert environment?  Actually, the New Yorker piece by David Owen informs us, the hard parts are the areas that are supposed to be sandy, because, it turns out, deserts make lousy sand traps.  "The wind-blown grains are so rounded that golf balls sink into them, so the sand in the bunkers on Dubai's many golf courses is imported."
  • Whatever happened to Martin Mull?
  • One difference between Walmart and Target:  No motorized wheel chairs (or motorized shopping carts, or whatever they're called) at the latter.  At least I've never seen one there.
  • You didn't hear it from me, but I've heard that mountain-climbing is going to be banned before long because mountains don't conform to the Americans With Disabilities Act.
  • You can tell a lot about a guy the way he plays poker, eats his soup and how often he checks his cellphone or his tire inflation.  
  • What if:  An endangered animal was eating all the endangered plants?  A dairy cow was lactose intolerant?  A baby eagle was afraid of heights?
  • Good word, long overdue.   Merriam-Webster announced it is adding “sheeple” to its official dictionary.  A combination of “sheep” and “people,” the derogatory term is used to describe "people who are docile, compliant, or easily influenced."
  • jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Week:  "Say [actual partygoer's name here], did you know that researchers in the U.K. found that shouting expletives during physical exertion can boost strength, especially during tasks that require short, intense bursts of power like opening a tight-lidded jar?" 
  • ( “We have yet to understand the power of swearing,” one researcher concluded.)
  • Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month:  "Happy Bob." As in Robert "Happy Bob" Madoche,  Door County (Wis.) Advocate, May 27, 2017.
  • jimjustsaying's Word That Should Exist But Doesn't:  "Gladhandling:  v. To attempt with frustrating results to find and separate the ends of a plastic sandwich or trash bag."--from "Sniglets," Rich Hall & Friends.
  • Today's Latin Lesson:  A calida pulmentum.   ("A hot mess.")