Saturday, August 27, 2016

Cartoon Saturday

Is this month ever going to end?

Hundreds of people were killed when a remote region of Italy was struck by a powerful earthquake; twelve people were killed and injured when gunmen attacked the American University in Kabul, Afghanistan; in Japan, a truck driver was arrested by police after he struck and killed a woman while he was playing Pokemon-Go; Maine Governor Paul LePage came in for criticism after he left a profanity-laced voicemail for a Democratic state senator who'd irritated him; and a French court has suspended a local ban on "burkinis," full-body Islamic-friendly bathing suits for women which expose only the face, hands, and feet.

No matter what you choose to wear at the beach, the world's a crazy place, and we need our weekly cartoon ration to help keep ourselves sane. No running theme this week - just a random selection of good cartoons from my collection ...

Well, she gets points for honesty ...

My kind of place ...

As the rich get richer, those farther down the chain learn to make do ...

They can be aggravating ...

It may have started with banks and airlines, but it seems like everybody's getting into the extra-fee act  nowadays ...

Lemme hear you say, Hallelujah! ...

Stealing the right book ...

Safety signs, updated ...

True enough ...

And that's it for the last Cartoon Saturday in August - hope you enjoyed it.

It's going to be another hot, muggy weekend here in NoVa ... my daily power walk and the mowing of the lawn are going to be ugly. Later this morning, Agnes and I will be going to the local Home Depot to take a class in backsplash tiling - maybe we'll be able to do the fancy tilework above the stove and the sink that we've been planning since the Bronze Age.

Have a good day and a great weekend. Be safe. More thoughts tomorrow, when Poetry Sunday returns.


Friday, August 26, 2016

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for August, 2016

How quickly the time passes ... it seems like only two weeks ago we were naming our Right-Cheek Ass Clown for August, and now it's time to turn the other cheek, as it were. Tempus is fugiting, as my mother used to say.

It's never easy to single out one supreme ass clown for dishonor, there being so many contenders out there and this being an election year and all, but once again I've done it ... and have gone beyond the rich pickings of the political world to do so by designating not one, but two winners for this period!

A few days ago my old (by which I mean, "long-time and dear") friend Patty put a note on my Facebook wall that succinctly said, "(Bilbo), a few sentences on the bad boys of Rio" ... and so ...

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers, I hereby designate the first co-winner of

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for August, 2016

Ryan Lochte

Olympic swimming champion Ryan Lochte found himself in water hotter than he's used to when his tale of having been robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro turned out to be a false story intended to cover up the actions of he and several teammates, who urinated on the walls of a Rio gas station. Rather than being "robbed at gunpoint," the men were confronted by armed security guards ... a version of the story backed up by security camera footage and the statements of Mr Lochte's fellow athletes.

At a time when the nation is in dire need of people to admire and look up to, we are fortunate to have athletes like Simone Biles,  Katie Ledecky, and Michael Phelps as role models for our young people and ambassadors for the United States. 

It's sad that so many others don't live up to our hopes and expectations, but instead limbo under the low bar set by a society that doesn't value dignity, manners, or good behavior.

For his actions at the Rio Olympics that reflected poorly on himself and his country, Ryan Lochte is named a co-winner of our Left-Cheek Ass Clown for August, 2016.

But wait - there's more!

A firestorm erupted this week in the world of spiraling medical costs when the Mylan company, which manufactures the Epi-Pens that are a life-saving device carried by thousands of people*, announced that it was jacking up the price of a standard two-box set of Epi-Pens from about $100 to $600, drawing comparisons with last September's Left-Cheek Ass Clown Martin Shkreli of Turing Pharmaceuticals, who increased the price of the drug Daraprim by nearly 4000%. The CEO of Mylan, Heather Bresch**, blamed "the system" which she said needs to be "fixed," and scrambled to recover from the public relations disaster. You can read more of her double-talk here. Oh, and she assures us that "No one's more frustrated than I am."

For the latest example of corporate greed, moral cowardice, and the utter lunacy of our health care system***, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is designated as the co-awardee of the Left Cheek Ass Clown award for August 2016.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday - more thoughts then.


* Including me!

** Daughter of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.

*** Still waiting for the GOP's alternative to Obamacare. Just sayin'.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Naming Airplanes

I ran across an interesting article by Daisy Carrington the other day on CNN - How Planes Get Their Names.

You've probably never given much thought when you fly as to whether or not your airplane has a name ... all you usually care about is the size of the seat you've been painfully wedged into, or where your luggage will end up. But it seems there is a whole culture built around the naming of aircraft by the companies or nations that operate them. For instance, Israeli carrier ElAl names its airliners after cities in Israel, and Virgin America* picks names that are puns, or clever in some way, such as #Nerdbird, an aircraft that serviced various high-tech cities. Hugh Hefner, the publisher of Playboy Magazine, called his personal airplane The Big Bunny.

The Air Force names some of its airplanes, too. During World War II, almost every airplane had a name and accompanying nose art** painted on it - for instance, the Enola Gay which dropped the first atomic bomb, or The Ruptured Duck, which was one of the B-25 bombers that participated in the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. Today's B-2 "Spirit" bombers are named after states, as in Spirit of Ohio, Spirit of Washington, and so on. We are unlikely to run out of names for B-2s, as they're so expensive that we'll run out of money to build them before we run out of state names to give them.

This leads me to wonder if we shouldn't have appropriate names for the campaign aircraft of our presidential wannabes.

Hillary Clinton's campaign aircraft could reflect her penchant for secrecy, be painted in camouflage tones, and have a name like Nothing to See Here.

Donald Trump likes to name everything after himself, but his campaign aircraft should have a catchier name ... like No Returns, in honor of his refusal to release his tax information. Or perhaps Comrade One, in honor of his bromance with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Any other ideas? Leave a comment.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow, when we'll name our Left-Cheek Ass Clown for August. More thoughts then.


* Happily, virginity is not a prerequisite for flying on this airline, although there's no telling how that might change if the GOP wins the election.

** Most of which would result in howls of outrage today for its "sexist" nature.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Term Limits

Among the many remedies often suggested to help solve the problem of inept and unresponsive government is the imposition of term limits for members of Congress - restrictions on the number of consecutive years or terms of office an individual can serve before being forced to retire. Many people strongly favor amending the Constitution to provide for term limits ... a 2013 Gallup Poll showed that an astounding 75% of Americans favored them. Those who favor such limits point to the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1951, which limits the presidency to two terms, and ask why such limits should not apply to lawmakers as well.

I've gotten into any number of online arguments on this topic because I don't believe term limits - for the presidency or for Congress - ought to be part of the Constitution.

The aforementioned poll showed that 75% of Americans favor term limits for both houses of Congress ... but those same Americans keep reelecting the same people to more terms. The average voter seems to believe that term limits in principle are a good thing, but should apply only to all those other crooked, useless politicians and not to the hard-working, principled statesmen who represent their own district or state.

I look at proposals for term limits the same way I look at proposals for a balanced budget amendment ... not a bad idea in theory, but not something that belongs in the Constitution. We all know that laws mean whatever lawyers say they mean - for example, the Second Amendment* established the foundation for state militias as a defense against federal encroachment on the rights of the sovereign states, but it's been lawyered over the years into granting citizens the right to own deadly weapons for any reason. As much as "strict constructionists" may wish it differently, the Constitution means exactly what Congress and the courts interpret it to mean.

If you're serious about wanting term limits, do your civic duty and vote out the people you're displeased with ... don't foist your responsibility off on the Constitution.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* What it says is, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The first four words have been both ignored and litigated out of existence.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Guidelines for Political Party Representatives Arriving at Bilbo's Door

We are now into the season when vast armies of political drones fan out and go door-to-door in our neighborhoods, trying to convince us to vote for their desired candidates. I don't mind this ... I actually enjoy talking to someone, as opposed to hanging up on stupid and time-wasting robo-calls which invariably attack one candidate without shedding any light on the positions of the other.

Yes, I enjoy the opportunity to exchange views with campaign workers, although I find that they usually arrive with their minds made up, and are interested only in changing my mind rather than allowing new or contradictory information into their own. With this in mind, here are a few guidelines for vote scavengers who come to my door ... who should know up front that I do not suffer fools gladly:

1. I get one vote. Your job is to convince me to give it to your candidate. It is not your job to convince me to vote against anyone else. See #3 below.

2. All I want to hear from you is specific information on your candidate's policy proposals and stands on issues. If you can't answer detailed questions about them, go away and send someone who can. Don't waste my time.

3. Don't say anything about the other candidate ... I do not care in the least about your opinion. The other candidate's representative can tell me about him or her ... all I want to hear from you is what I specified in #2 above. I am perfectly capable of comparing information I get from the two of you and making decisions on my own.

4. Don't get mad at me when I ask you detailed questions and try to pin down evasive answers. My experience shows that you will probably interpret probing questions as attacks on your candidate, rather than as attempts to gain information you should have at your fingertips. If that's your attitude, go away and waste someone else's time.

5. With respect to #4 above: detailed questions about your candidate do not equate to support for the other candidate. You should be prepared to answer such questions. If you accuse me of being stupid* or supporting the other candidate just because I want better information about yours, be sure your nose is far enough away from the door to avoid being hurt when I slam it shut.

There's more, but these will do for now. Be sure to observe them if you show up at my door in search of support.

Have a good day. Ask good questions and expect good answers when the scavengers come to your door ... but don't get your hopes up. More thoughts tomorrow.


* This actually happened in the last election, when two ladies representing Mitt Romney got very upset when I kept asking them policy questions they couldn't answer. The older of the two said I was clearly dumb enough to be voting for Obama ... which was the end of the discussion.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Answers to Your "Ask Bilbo" Questions

Last Monday, lacking any better ideas for a post, I decided to dust off a topic I used back in 2011. At that time, I offered to answer any reasonable question anyone sent in, and ended up getting enough questions for two more posts.

This time, I only got four questions back ... I guess many of you were afraid of what I might say. Here are the questions and my responses:

Mike had two questions. The first was, "What would it take to get you to vote for Trump? My answer: a lobotomy*. The second was, "Should Bilbo go back to work?" The answer to that one is: only if our savings run out or if the Republicans win the election and destroy Social Security.

Goodstuff asked, "Does my blog make me look weird?" In order to answer his question, I had to check out his blog - Goodstuff's Cyber World. My answer: yes. But it's a good weird.

My friend Mary in Germany sent an e-mail in which she asked, "You're good with words. What is the Indian tourist office trying to say?" Attached to the e-mail was this jpg:

Well, Mary, all I can say is that I assume they want us to visit Varanasi**, and that Donald Trump is writing their advertising copy.

If anyone has any more "Ask Bilbo" questions, go ahead and send them in; I'll answer them as they arrive.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Angel didn't ask a question of her own, but left a comment in which she answered Mike's question with "extreme duress." 

** A city also known as Benares, located on the Ganges River in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It contains more than 2,000 Hindu temples and is considered to be the spiritual capital of India.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Musical Sunday

You've probably never heard a pop song in Hungarian, have you? This is a great tune about the importance we put on appearances, and a fascinating video from a Hungarian pop star named Boglárka Csemer, better known by her stage name of Boggie ...

I thought she looked good at the beginning.

In case the Hungarian is beyond you*, there's another version of the song in French called "Noveau Parfum" ("New Perfume"), with an identical video**. You can watch it here.

Have a good day. See you tomorrow for the responses to "Ask Bilbo." More thoughts then.


* Don't worry, it was beyond me, too.

** The French was beyond me as well, but I still liked the tune and the video.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Cartoon Saturday

August drags on ...

The tremendous earthquake you thought you felt was Donald Trump apologizing ... sort of ... for some (unspecified) of his disgusting rhetoric; massive floods in Louisiana are being called the worst natural disaster in the US since hurricane Sandy; the Department of Justice has announced it will phase out the use of privately-operated Federal prisons; shock rock star Alice Cooper has announced his latest run for the presidency, under the campaign slogan "I can do nothing as well as they can do nothing"*; and the State Department claims that a $400 million payment to Iran was used as "leverage" to ensure the release of American hostages, and was not a "ransom"**.

I'm sick of the whole political circus, too. Let's get to the cartoons - this week, we'll get musical with cartoons taking off on the lyrics to popular songs.

Fifty ways to ... uh ... never mind ...

They're blinding you with science ...

Where to go when the pharmacist doesn't know the answer ...

The clowns are all in Congress, so ...

Smart kid ...

And when he grows up ...

She seems to have entered the wrong shop ...

It's a clue ...

Ah, WOOOO ...

When your resume is all over the place ...

And so goes this week's edition of Cartoon Saturday. I hope it helped you take your mind off of whatever your mind has been on.

It's going to be another hot weekend here in NoVa, but not quite as horrendously steamy as the last few days. Perhaps I'll even be able to go outside without a snorkel to get away from the TV, the radio, and the newspapers for a while.

Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts tomorrow, on Musical Sunday.


* True.

** You say "tomato," I say "to-mah-to."

Friday, August 19, 2016

Great Moments in Editing and Signage

He's back!!

Yes, Agnes and I are back from our little vacation ... we drove down to Chincoteague Island to spend some time splashing in the ocean with our grandchildren, eating seafood, and watching the wild ponies. In an election year, it's nice to be able to see a whole horse once in a while.

But now we're back and ready to get back into the swing of things. The "Ask Bilbo" questions are trickling in and will be answered on Monday; in the meantime, let's get ready for the weekend with more Great Moments in Editing and Signage ...

There are some odd thieves out there ...

Be sure to get there early to get the best pieces ...

We're sorry, too ...

Say that again, please ...

I'd suspect it, too ...

I'm shocked ... shocked, I tell you! ...

I think this sums up the level of understanding of much of the electorate ...

It's about time we honored our wait staffs ...

This office really needs an assistant ...

I think this should be the official wine of Congress ...

Great moments in editing and signage ... because not all the stupidity is coming out of Washington.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow, when Cartoon Saturday returns. Be here.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Taking a Break

I'll be taking a break from blogging until Friday, when Great Moments in Editing and Signage returns. Agnes and I are going to do some fun stuff for the next few days, and I'll be concentrating on recharging my creative batteries, coming up with some new ideas to keep this blog fresh and interesting for you.

In the meantime, send in your "Ask Bilbo" questions and I'll answer them on Monday.

Have a good day and stay cool over the next few days ... limit your outdoor activity, drink plenty of water, take lots of breaks in the shade or the AC, and I'll see you on Friday.

More thoughts then.