Thursday, July 26, 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
  • I think Stormy could refer to both the porno actress in Donald Trump’s past and the state of his relationship with his wife.
  • And now there’s a former Playboy model in the picture.  Somehow I can almost hear Hillary cackling up a storm in the background.
  • I can't help myself.  I'm always drawn to the As Seen On TV product sections in any store that has one.  I mean, how can you pass up a Red Copper 5-Minute Chef or the Billy-Bob Instant Smile Comfort Fit Flex Cosmetic Teeth (One Size Fits Most, Comfortable Upper Veneer) or the the Spatty & Spatty Daddy Last Drop Spatula, two piece Set (6" and 12"), as seen on "Shark Tank"?  There's some stuff you simply can't pass up!                        
  • I don't care what anyone says:  We didn’t have school massacres every other week when Mister Rogers was alive.
  • “It is always a risk to speak to the press: They are likely to report what you say.”--Former Vice President Hubert Humphrey
  • Memo to TV weathercasters:  Why do you call rain “a rain event”?  Do I need a ticket? Will refreshments be served?  Are there guest speakers?  
  • Headline:  "Google to bring Dead Sea Scrolls to computer screens."  Reaction:  The scrolls will get about a thousandth as many "hits"--if that--as the next celebrity sex scandal.  (Odds of the Scrolls "going viral"?  Not good!)
  • jimjustsaying's Lifestyle Tip of the Week:  Never enter a relationship with someone who's just out of (or just going into!) the Federal Witness Protection Program!
  • Why do freight trains that derail always seem to be carrying deadly cyanide gas?  Doesn't the popcorn train ever derail? The paper towels train?  A blind man could be at the throttle of one of those trains, and nothing would ever happen! But put an ace conductor at the helm of the cyanide train and, five miles out, boom! It's uncanny.
  • You can tell you're an old-timer if you sometimes refer to a train as "the iron horse."
  • You know you’ve had too much to drink when you twist the cap off that last bottle of beer . . . and discover it wasn’t a twist-off-cap bottle of beer! 
  • I blindsided my dentist.  I saw her at the grocery store and asked, "Have we been flossing regularly?"
  • Sign on store counter: “Gift cards available—all denominations.”  Wow, how ecumenical!  Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, whatever . . . they will accommodate you.
  • Redundancy patrol:  "Continue on," "convicted felon," "pre-order."
  • Ever wonder how some of the “classic” TV shows of the past would have fared if remote controls had been around and there had been more than a hundred channel options back then?  (“ ‘Gilligan’s What’?  Never heard of it.”)
  • Being the coolest guy at the Senior Center is a lot like being the tallest midget in the circus  . . . or the skinniest kid at Fat Camp!
  • Every day I pray at least once to the Patron Saint of Comedy--Saint Shecky.  (Hallowed be his name.)
  • Recent fortune cookie message:  "A new pair of shoes will do you a world of good!" (Whew!  I'm glad my underwear passed muster!)
  • My favorite T-shirt message from the What on Earth catalog:
  • "I only do what the voices in my wife's head tell her to tell me to do."
  • How come you never see anyone with a pencil behind his ear anymore?
  • If speed bumps are so effective in mall parking lots, why not put them on the highways?  That's where speed kills, not in front of the Wal-Mart!
  • (Speed limit signs don't slow down those idiots who pass you like you're standing still when you're doing 65, so we have to move on to Plan B--as in Bumps.  (As Larry King would say, you'll thank me later.)
  • Memo to lazy drivers in all kinds of weather:  Activating your turn signal halfway through a turn doesn't really help.  What's the point?  We already know you're turning!
  • Has anyone ever seen Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow in the same room?
  • There are two kinds of stores in America:  Those who hand you your coins and those who slide them down to you in a metal chute. 
  • (And clerks who hand you your coins, bills, receipt and coupons in one mishmashed tangled lump should be beaten over the head with one of those This Counter Closed signs!) Whatever happened to counting out change, coins and bill separately?  Do these people enjoy this treatment when they are on the other side of the counter? Do they do this in Japan?
  • Did you know that crossword puzzles are not found in Chinese or Japanese publications?  The nature of their languages makes such construction impossible. 
  • jimjustsaying's Translation Service:  Trattoria--the code word for "overpriced Italian restaurant."
  •  "Give me chastity and continence, but not yet."--St. Augustine
  • Today’s Latin Lesson: Fines finium may adicio. ("Restrictions may apply.")

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


The perils of high-tech policing

Breakthroughs in policing technology are slowly chiseling away at our civil rights and liberties.  The Supreme Court took a small step to halt that erosion last week, ruling that before the government can seize more than six days of your cellphone location history, it must have probable cause to show you did something wrong, and a warrant.

Yet this narrow judgment should give you little comfort.  The use of surveillance and tracking technology by law enforcement agencies is expanding at a head-spinning speed, and the courts can’t keep up with the pace of change.  Drones will soon follow us from the sky; facial recognition technology will watch us on the ground; algorithms will pinpoint where crimes will supposedly occur next. This technology has promise—drones could help locate missing children, for example—but it could also do unfathomable damage.  

Privacy rights will wither if we can’t escape the government’s watchful gaze. And because so much street policing in recent years has focused on minority communities—think stop-and-frisk—algorithms that factor in past offenses will inevitably send officers to these places again and again. Lawmakers urgently need to regulate this brave new world of policing, because the technology is getting away from us, fast.
--Barry Friedman, New York Times

Credit card perks disappear

Credit card account holders are accustomed to being showered with an ever-expanding menu of perks.  But card companies have begun reeling back the buffet of free benefits, owing to what they describe as the low usage of the perks.

Discover, for example, began trimming its perks in February, getting rid of return guarantees, purchase protections, extended warranty protection, auto rental insurance, and flight accident insurance.   This month, Chase will also remove price and return protection from its cards, along with a handful of travel-related perks on selected cards. Citi is also pruning its travel-related perks on some cards as well as its return-protection scheme. Visit your card company’s website to check whether your individual card is affected.
-- Herb Weisbaum,

Health notes: The health benefits of ‘forest bathing’ . . .

The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing”—using the senses to soak up the sights, smells, and sounds of the natural world—really does provide health benefits, new research suggests.  Scientists at the University of East Anglia analyzed the findings of more than 140 studies involving nearly 300 million people from 20 different countries, including the U.S., Spain, Australia, and Japan.  They found that spending more time outside in nature or living near green spaces, including urban parks, is associated with a lower risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, early death, and high blood pressure, as well as with better sleep and stronger feelings of well-being, reports.  

“Forest bathing is already really popular as a therapy in Japan,” says the study’s author, Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett.  Our study shows that perhaps they have the right idea.”  That might be partly because time spent in green spaces promotes physical activity, exposure to sunlight and reduced pollution.  Breathing in phytoncides, which are organized compounds emitted by trees, may stimulate our immune systems and reduce inflammation.  Twohig-Bennett says the study found concrete evidence that green space significantly reduces people’s levels of salivary cortisol—a physiological marker of stress.

 . . . the ‘value’ of multi-vitamins . . .

People who take multivitamins to protect their heart health are wasting their money, new research has found. A review of 18 studies involving 2 million people followed for an average of roughly 12 years found no scientific evidence that these products help prevent heart attacks, strokes or death from heart disease regardless of people’s age, gender and level of physical activity.

These findings echo guidelines from the American Heart Association, which discourages the use of multivitamins for the prevention of heart disease. Nevertheless, dietary supplement sales are on the rise, and nearly 30 percent of Americans take multivitamins on a daily basis, assuming they’ll be healthier for it.  Some people even hope vitamins can make up for a poor diet or lack of exercise.  “I hope our study findings help decrease the hype around multivitamin and mineral supplements,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Joonseok Kim, tells The researchers say you can promote heart health by eating a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly and not smoking.
--The Week

 . . . and Vitamin D vs. colorectal cancer

Scientists have long known that vitamin D can strengthen teeth and bones by helping the body absorb calcium.  Now researchers believe that high concentrations of this key micronutrient could also help prevent colorectal cancer—the third most common cancer in the U.S., killing more than 50,000 people a year.  Dietary guidelines currently recommend that most adults get at least 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day for bone health, which can be done by eating fatty fish like salmon or trout and taking supplements or getting a judicious amount of sun exposure.  

But after analyzing data on more than 12,000 people in the U.S., Asia, and Europe, scientists at the American Cancer Society and other groups found that people with higher-than-recommended blood levels of vitamin D had a 22 percent lower risk of developing colorectal cancer.  Those with lower-than-recommended levels, meanwhile, had a 30 percent higher risk for the disease.  Study co-author Marji McCullough tells that people over age 70 should increase their vitamin D uptake to 800 IUs daily, noting that what’s optimal for bone health may not be optimal for colorectal risk reduction.

--The Week

The stock market's irrelevance

The stock market index is becoming meaningless. , GE, which has been a part of the Dow Jones industrial average since 1907, was replaced recently in the index’s basket of 30 stocks by Walgreens.  GE’s removal probably has to do with its sagging profits or the relative decline of industrial companies.  But it bears asking: What are the fortunes of 30 of country’s companies—out of 3,500 publicly listed corporations—supposed to tell us about our massively complex, globalized economy anyway?  

In truth, the Dow was made for another era, when people didn’t have nearly as much access to different kinds of information.  An index of a few dozen stocks is helpful for historical comparisons, but it no longer reflects our primary economic forces. As a matter of design, the Dow can’t include extremely high-priced stocks such as Google and Amazon because their values would wildly distort the average.  Share prices are also becoming detached  from traditional measures of a company’s worth, because digital firms are valued so differently. Costco had earnings per share of $6.08 last year, while Amazon had $6.15.
But Costco’s market value is $91 billion, while Amazon’s is $844 billion. If we want a snapshot of the economy, the real one that you and I live and work in, the Dow is not the best indicator.
--Alexis Madrigal, The Atlantic