Saturday, September 30, 2017

Cartoon Saturday

So long, September, don't let the door hit you in the backside on the way out ...

Representative Mark Walker, chair of the House Republican Study Committee, struck a blow for dignity and equality this week when he described the nine female members of the committee as "eye candy;" Donald Trump denied being preoccupied with the National Football League, even as he kept up a relentless Twitter barrage against protesting players; Saudi Arabia took a mighty leap forward into the early 20th Century when the king announced that women in the country would be allowed to drive, starting next year; the latest GOP attempt to demolish the Affordable Care Act - the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill - failed when enough Republican senators refused to support it; and Hugh "Hef" Hefner, the founder of Playboy Magazine and commanding general of the sexual revolution, passed away this week at the age of 91.

Given the kind of week it's been, I thought that a collection of cartoons featuring piñatas would be appropriate ...

You do need to worry about the weapons you might face ...

Methinks the doctor had something of a conflict of interest ...

There's a lot of that going around ...

Mosquito piñata ...

"Enhanced interrogation techniques" don't always work on piñatas ...

The advance of technology ...

Can you pick out the perpetrator? ...

Self-defense classes for piñatas ... 

I get that feeling a lot ... 

Before the Trojan Horse came the ...

And so we beat our way to the end of September, fervently hoping that October will be better but not getting our hopes up too much.

Have a good day and a great weekend. See you tomorrow for our musical answer to enhanced border controls. More thoughts then.


Friday, September 29, 2017

Great Moments in Editing and Signage

Last batch for September ...

I wonder if it was originally designed as an abacus cabinet ...

Um, I think I'll pass ...

Lean, tender, and fart free ... and only $3.99 a pound. Such a deal ...

I think a Republican has passed through the laundry room ...

No reward for the finger? ...

I wonder why ...

It looks like the Bard was quite technically advanced for his day ...

Not the brightest bulb in the felony box ...

Everybody's gotta start someplace ...

Well, they would, wouldn't they? ...

And there you have it - the last collection of great moments in editing and signage for September. Have a good day and be sure to come back tomorrow for the last Cartoon Saturday for the month - more thoughts then.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Number, Please

One of the stock scenes in movies about espionage and suspense during World War II and the Cold War (the first one) comes when the steely-eyed Gestapo agent or hostile policeman demands to "see your papers," and waits with outstretched hand while the hapless victim scrambles to provide his or her identification.

In the United States, of course, we don't have "papers" - a single national form of identification like most of the rest of the world does - no national ID, no internal passport, or whatever. The closest thing we have is a driver's license, and even those aren't necessarily accepted outside one's own home state.

But we do have Social Security Numbers.

It's virtually impossible nowadays to get credit, rent cars or apartments, go to school, or just about anything else without producing a valid Social Security Account Number (or SSAN). It's the key to your entire financial history and - along with your date of birth - is the information most prized by identity thieves and scammers. So widespread is the use of the SSAN, and so often have databases containing them been compromised, that they have become laughable - if not downright dangerous - as a form of unique and supposedly secure identification.

But what's the alternative? In an interesting and comprehensive Washington Post article, consumer technology reporter Hayley Tsukayama discussed the various alternatives that have been proposed as forms of unique identification and why each was found wanting. Biometrics (fingerprints, retinal scans, facial recognition, etc), blockchains, and a new national ID number have all been proposed, but each has faced opposition on the basis of security or privacy concerns.

Which leaves us with the original question: what's an appropriate, secure form of ID in a high-tech and supremely invasive world?

Nobody asked me, but I have a suggestion that makes use of a uniquely American trait: our love of firearms.

Why not kill a few birds with a single high-caliber stone by reinterpreting the Second Amendment to require every American to purchase and maintain a gun, and then use a combination of the manufacturer and the serial number of the personal firearm as the official ID? Instead of the traditional and badly compromised nine-digit SSAN (XXX-XX-XXXX), the average American would have an ID like "GlockABC1234," "SmithandWesson98047Z9X," or "Beretta54937Y." They might be difficult to remember at first, but that's a small price to pay for reinforcing the quintessential all-American love of guns.

I think this suggestion has a lot going for it: it honors the traditional American worship of firearms; expands the scope of the Second Amendment*; boosts the economy by greatly increasing the sale of firearms and ammunition; and produces an endless supply of possible ID numbers because of the differing numbering systems used by various manufacturers. In addition, because many Americans own large numbers of guns, the compromise of one ID number would not be a disaster because the individual could simply switch to another from his personal armory; those slackers who fail to maintain multiple guns could just buy a new one and start over. On the downside, I can see the more suspicious members of the pro-gun community objecting on the basis that this might make it easier for the government's Jackbooted Thugs™to swoop down in their black helicopters and confiscate everyone's guns ... after all, President Obama did that, right? Oh ... wait ... never mind.

That's my idea for improving national identification standards - what's yours? Leave a comment and be a ... big shot ... by offering a better idea if you have one.

Have a good day. Fire at will. More thoughts tomorrow.


* After all, the Supreme Court expanded its intent from the arming of a citizen's militia (itself a reflection of a traditional American opposition to a standing army that might suppress citizens' rights) to a guarantee of the right of weapon ownership for personal protection (see District of Columbia v Heller, 554 US 570).

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

It's Good to Be the King ... or Is It?

Back in the good old days, when Richard Nixon was president, commentators often fretted about the rise of the "imperial presidency." Indeed, all the way back to the founding of the Republic, concern over the rise of a king or queen in America - after we'd just fought a war to get rid of one - was widespread, at least among the political classes. Even George Washington was accused of wanting to be a king, although he tried (and succeeded, I would say) to disprove that accusation.

Today, in the seat once occupied by Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt, we have Donald Trump - a man with no experience in government and ill-suited by education, experience, background, or temperament to be president*. Indeed, Mr Trump's background as a businessman and CEO probably works against him, as he is used to being able to snap his fingers and make things happen ... as the chief executive of the country, he has to deal with a lot of people and institutions who, when he snaps his fingers, ignore him. He may believe himself to have kingly powers, but that nasty thing called the Constitution keeps getting in his way, much to his frustration.

Is it really good to be the king, as Mel Brooks once alleged in his film, History of the World, Part 1?

In some ways, it probably isn't, at least after a reading of this interesting article by Ruby Buddemeyer from Marie Claire: 50 Strict Rules the Royal Family Has to Follow. I won't bore you with all 50 of the occasionally onerous rules, but these few seem particularly interesting, and I sort them into two general categories - good and bad - in the view of the attitudes and behavior of the present resident of the White House. First, on the bad side:

Members of the royal family are not allowed to express political views. I don't think this is all bad, though ... I just can't see the Queen calling someone a loser.

Members of the royal family are not permitted to play Monopoly. Mr Trump likes to play it with real hotels. I wonder if they can play Risk or Scrabble?

Members of the royal family are not allowed to run for office. This limits career opportunities for lesser members of the family, but when you're already related to the King or Queen, I guess you can live with it.

Members of the royal family are expected to learn multiple languages. Well, that would pretty much disqualify most Americans, who tend to believe everyone should speak English.


Members of the royal family may not use nicknames. I don't know how Mr Trump would be able to talk to people if he couldn't call them crooked, little, lyin', or whatever.

On the plus side, though:

When the Queen stands, everybody stands. I'm sure this would appeal to Mr Trump's sense of pride and dignity.

Men must bow and women curtsey to the King or Queen. It might keep you from being called an idiot or a loser, but I wouldn't count on it.

No public displays of affection, especially while traveling. This would prevent those embarrassing moments when Melania swats away Donald's attempts to hold hands.

And finally,

There's a strict dress code. Members of the royal family are always expected to look well-dressed and dignified, and never wear casual dress in public. This would certainly appeal to Mr Trump, who invariably wears a suit** and his wife, who has a beautiful wardrobe.

So, is it good to be the king? I suppose that's a question each king must answer for himself ... although on balance, I guess it would be nice most of the time***.

Have a good day. More royal thoughts tomorrow.


* You may recall one-time Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr's, description of Franklin Roosevelt as a man with "a second-class intellect but a first-class temperament." One wonders how he would describe Mr Trump.

** Although there would probably have to be a rule requiring the bottom end of neckties to reach no lower than the knees.

*** Especially if you could send your political opponents to the rack when they crossed you.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Potential Benefits of Exploding Pants

It seems that juvenile schoolyard taunts are the big thing nowadays, particularly since they have lately become the coin of international diplomacy (see "Rocket Man" vs "Dotard"). The traditional chant of "Liar, liar, pants on fire!" has never seemed more appropriate, whether it's in White House press briefings or in snarky tweets, and it's even led to numerous online memes of varying degrees of cleverness, such as ...

and ...

I'm not sure if it would be better, as suggested by the second meme, because we've already had to rebuild the White House and the Capitol once after they burned down ... the British were responsible for the first one during the War of 1812, but the tremendous conflagration resulting from the spontaneous combustion of 100 pair of Senatorial and 435 pair of House pants would surely put the efforts of the Royal Army to shame.

But did you know that there are actual cases of pants - quite literally - catching fire? A recent article by Eric Grundhauser in Atlas Obscura tells the remarkable story of The Bizarre Case of New Zealand’s Exploding Pants

It seems that a large number of farmers in 1930's New Zealand were seriously injured by pants which suddenly caught fire or exploded. After some investigation, it was revealed that the cause was the use of a solution of sodium chlorate and water that was sprayed on their fields to kill a particular weed (ragwort). Unfortunately, sodium chlorate when combined with water becomes a very powerful oxidizing agent. While it was effective as a weed killer, if the solution splashed on the workers, dried on their clothing, and was subsequently exposed to heat, flame, or even shock ... the crystals of the chemical embedded in the fibers of the clothing could burst into flames or explode, whether in the presence of falsehoods or not.

With all that in mind, it occurs to me that we may have a possible solution to the proliferation of gross untruths in government, business, and the media. If we could require elected officials, media talking heads, and advertising writers to wear pants impregnated with sodium chlorate, it might be possible to actually make their pants catch fire when they are caught in a falsehood.

It certainly couldn't hurt.

Have a good day. And tell the truth. That couldn't hurt, either.

More thoughts tomorrow.


Monday, September 25, 2017

The Open Carry of Macuahuitls

As you know, in order to get elected to office in present-day America it is necessary to worship at the festooned altar of the Second Amendment. A person aspiring to high office is almost required to be photographed in camouflaged hunting clothes, toting a large-caliber weapon through the woods in search of some unwary beast or member of the opposing party. It's also pretty much mandatory to make one's obeisance at a suitably large formation of the National Rifle Association in order to establish one's credentials as a true, gun-loving American from whose cold, dead hands his guns must be pulled.

But if everybody does the same thing, takes the same picture, sings the same hosannas to the same heavily-armed choir, how does one set oneself apart from the crowd?

By packing new types of heat, of course.

Anybody can swagger into the local Starbucks with an AR-15 nonchalantly slung muzzle-down across his back ...

or take his Glock to church in a designer holster that matches his Sunday-Go-to-Meeting clothes ...

But to really set yourself apart from the open carry crowd, you need something more exotic. You need a macuahuitl.

The macuahuitl was a fearsome sword carried by the Aztec warriors of Central America. It's not a traditional forged metal blade, but a carved wooden weapon about a meter long (there were longer versions for two-handed use) with blades of razor-sharp volcanic obsidian* fastened around the edges. It was a fearsome weapon that, in the hands of a trained warrior, could take off a horse's head with a single blow.

Just think of how jealous people packing ordinary heat will be when you stride manfully through the doors of your local elementary school, bar, restaurant, or coffee shop with a genuine Aztec macuahuitl! It's clearly constitutional, since the Second Amendment simply guarantees the right to keep and bear arms ... it doesn't specify firearms, so you're cool.

Why just shoot somebody who irritates you when you can slice his head off with a single blow of a razor-sharp macuahuitl?

Be a real man ... pack a macuahuitl instead of a common firearm and stand out from the crowd.

Have a good day, one that's a ... cut above. More thoughts tomorrow.


* If you're a "Game of Thrones" fan, you know that obsidian - also known as "dragonglass" - is one of the few things that will kill White Walkers and their dead soldiers.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Poetry Sunday

I've often noted (and commented here) that my posts dealing with sex tend to cause a spike in readership and notably larger numbers of comments. And so it is that I try to wedge in a post about sex every once in a while, if only to keep my numbers up* - even on a sedate Poetry Sunday. Let's enjoy a roll in the literary hay with poet Ellen Bass ...

Ordinary Sex
by Ellen Bass

If no swan descends
in a blinding glare of plumage,
drumming the air with deafening wings,
if the earth doesn't tremble
and rivers don't tumble uphill,
if my mother's crystal
vase doesn't shatter
and no extinct species are sighted anew
and leaves of the city trees don't applaud
as you zing me to the moon, starry tesserae
cascading down my shoulders,
if we stay right here
on our aging Simmons Beautyrest,
dumped into the sag in the middle,
that's okay.
You don't need to strew rose petals
in my bath or set a band of votive candles
flickering around the rim.
You don't need to invent a thrilling
new position, two dragonflies
mating on the wing. Honey,
you don't even have to wash up after work.
A little sweat and sunscreen
won't bother me.
Take off your boots, babe,
swing your thigh over mine. I like it
when you do the same old thing
in the same old way.
And then a few kisses, easy, loose,
like the ones we've been
kissing for a hundred years.

That's truly a poem for old married couples ... you can tell from the lines

if we stay right here
on our aging Simmons Beautyrest,
dumped into the sag in the middle,
that's okay

Have a good day. Enjoy dancing the horizontal tango, if that's your thing.

More thoughts tomorrow.


* So to speak.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Cartoon Saturday

You mean September isn't over yet?!

Puerto Rico was devastated by monster hurricane Maria, after suffering a major blow from the previous hurricane Irma; Donald Trump gave his first major speech at the United Nations, the highlight of which was calling North Korean president Kim Jong-Un "Rocket Man;" in return, Kim Jong-Un made a rare, in-person statement in which he referred to Mr Trump as a "mentally-deranged U.S. dotard;" states hard-hit by this season's powerful hurricanes are facing a new and serious problem: what to do with all the garbage and rubble; and Senator John McCain has said he cannot support the GOP's latest effort to repeal Obamacare, dealing it a potentially fatal blow.

This week, in honor of the GOP crusade to demolish the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something politically rather than medically acceptable, our cartoons feature takes on how we pay for health care. And pay for health care. And pay for health care. Etc.

Decisions, decisions ...

I'm reminded of the line in the great Jimmy Buffett song Fruitcakes in which a woman tells her boyfriend "I treat my body like a temple; you treat yours like a tent" ...

A symptom most of us exhibit ...

It's a consideration ...

Wait until the GOP gets done with it ...

I suffer from that, too ...

Trumpcare reduced to its essentials ...

The dreaded "second opinion" ...

The name of the hospital can be as revealing as anything else ...

How the outcome of the procedure is really judged ...

And that's it for this penultimate Cartoon Saturday for the month. As I write this, it appears that the Graham-Cassidy attempt to scuttle the Affordable Care Act may go down to a well-deserved defeat with the refusal of Senator John McCain to support it ... it appears his opinion carries more weight in the argument than that of the entire medical community, but hey! - take the good news from wherever it comes.

We're into the official fall season now, but here in NoVa we'll be looking at high summer temperatures for the next week or so. I think it's just Mother Nature's way of softening us up for a direct transition to winter. Time to start counting snow shovels.

Have a good day and a great weekend. Come back tomorrow for Poetry Sunday - more thoughts then.


Friday, September 22, 2017

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for September, 2017

The ass clownery continues to swirl around us like the eyewall of a category 5 hurricane*; unfortunately, hurricane season will end in a another month or two, but the ass clownery will go on. And on. And on.

I wrestled with a number of worthy** potential nominees for this period's award, and finally decided to go with the ones in a position to do the largest amount of deliberate damage to the largest number of people. Ladies and gentlemen, Dear Readers,

The Left Cheek Ass Clown Award for September, 2017

is presented to

Senator Lindsey Graham (R, SC)
Senator Bill Cassidy (R, LA)

The last gasp of the frantic GOP efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the budget reconciliation sleight-of-hand has been proposed by Senators Graham and Cassidy, who are desperate to push their bill through before the reconciliation window closes on September 30th. So anxious are they to force things along that the bill will be presented for a vote without the cost assessment - required by law*** - from the Congressional Budget Office.

Leaving aside the fact that, as with all other proposed attempts to kill the ACA, millions of people will lose their health insurance, the political chicanery of using the budget reconciliation process to pass the bill without broad Congressional support makes a mockery of effective government and concern for the public welfare. There is no need to force through a bill that has been denounced by almost every professional medical group, other than insistence on fulfilling an ill-considered campaign promise. As former president Obama noted,

"[This bill has been introduced] without any demonstrable economic, actuarial, or even human rationale for pushing such a bill."

The only rationale is hatred for legislation passed by a former president detested by those now in power; it shows total disregard for the needs of Real People.

Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy are the joint recipients of designation of the Left-Cheek Ass Clown Award for September, 2017. If you need medical help, get it fast, before the GOP pulls the rug out from under you.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow, when Cartoon Saturday pulls into the digital station.


* I'm sure there will be some who will call me insensitive for using that comparison, but they're as welcome to their opinion as I am to mine.

** I hate to use that word, but it more-or-less fits.

***  2 U.S.C. § 661b.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

No Blog Today

I'm just not in the mood to write anything today.

But please come back tomorrow for the announcement of the Left-Cheek Ass Clown for September. More thoughts then.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Acknowledging the American Aristocracy

We all know there's no such thing as an American aristocracy, right? Unlike, say, England, we do not have kings, queens, dukes, earls*, counts, barons, viscounts, lords, ladies, princes, or whatever. Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution spells it out pretty clearly -

"No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States..."

Less clear is the rest of that section, the much-cited and disputed "emoluments clause," which goes on to state that -

"... no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State."

We won't talk about the emoluments issue here ... that's a topic for another post. For the time being, let's just talk about whether or not we have an American aristocracy.

Hint: the answer is yes.

Of course, we don't call our betters by hifalutin' titles like people with official aristocracies do. We have a president, not a king, although Donald Trump seems not to comprehend the difference. The American aristocracy is based not on a happy accident of birth, but on a combination of wealth, success in business, and political influence (which is often an outgrowth of the first two). American aristocratic families, albeit without formal titles, include the Rockefellers, the Astors, the Kennedys, the Clintons, and the Roosevelts. We even have an American court jester, although at the moment he doubles as the president, and not everyone thinks he's funny.

But let's consider this: why don't we just go ahead and acknowledge that there really is an American aristocracy? After all, it seems to work for our British cousins and, Constitutional restrictions notwithstanding, it seems as if we might as well go ahead and accept reality. I propose the following Constitutional amendment to rectify the problem:

Amendment XXVIII

Section 1.
Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution is deleted and replaced with the following: "Titles of Nobility may be granted by the United States or by the several States as acknowledgement of achievement in business or finance, significant accumulation of wealth, or great political influence from whatever source derived. Persons bearing titles of nobility shall be exempt from laws governing taxation, conflict of interest in government service, and transparency of records and actions in public service.**"

Section 2.
The following officers of the federal government shall hold the indicated Titles of Nobility:

The President of the United States shall henceforth hold the title “King” or “Queen,” and be addressed as “Your Majesty.”***

The Vice President of the United States shall henceforth hold the title “Grand Duke” or “Grand Duchess,” and be addressed as, “Your Highness.”

Senators and Members of the House of Representatives shall henceforth hold the title “Lord” or “Lady,” and be addressed as “Your Lordship” or “Your Ladyship.” In writing, they shall be addressed as “The Right Honorable _____” (for Republicans), “The Left Honorable _____” (for Democrats), and “The Halfway Honorable” (for Independents).

Cabinet Members other than the Secretary of the Treasury shall henceforth hold the title “Lord” or "Lady," and be addressed as “Your Lordship/Ladyship.”

Justices of the Supreme Court shall have the title of “Lord” or "Lady," and be addressed as “The High and Honorable Justice _____”. The Chief Justice shall be addressed as “The Most High and Honorable Justice _____.”

Section 3.
Other titles of nobility to be applied to lesser positions in the federal government shall be decided and bestowed by the incumbent President, except for the Director of the Bureau of the Census, who shall henceforth hold the title "Count" or "Countess," and be addressed as "Your Lordship/Ladyship the Most High Enumerator."

Section 4.
Family members of individuals bearing titles of nobility, who have been appointed by their parents or siblings to government positions, shall henceforth hold a title appropriate to the position. If they are appointed to a position for which no title has been established, the family member who appointed them shall select an appropriate title.

Section 5.
Individual States, Cities, Counties, Parishes, or other political subdivisions of the United States may establish their own Titles of Nobility.

Section 6.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

This takes care of the issue of aristocracy in government, but what about the need for an aristocracy that recognizes the political and economic disparities among other Americans? This one's a little harder, but I have (as you would suspect) a few suggestions:

CEOs of major corporations would hold titles based on the economic worth of their holdings, with "Lord" or "Lady" being the top tier.

Heads, presidents, or directors of major political and national special interest organizations would hold the rank of Lord. The heads of the Republican and Democratic National Committees would be addressed, like Senators and Representatives, as "His/Her Lordship/Ladyship the Right/Left Honorable _____" (depending on the party to which they belong). Heads of national special interest organizations would be addressed according to the focus of their organization. For example, the head of the National Rifle Organization might hold the title Lord High Master of Arms, and be addressed as "Lord/Lady the Most High Caliber _____."

I think it's time we recognized and accepted the existence of an American aristocracy, and I believe my suggestions are a good start toward that recognition and acceptance. What do you think? Should we use the same aristocratic titles as other countries (kings, queens, lords, etc) or come up with some that are uniquely American, particularly at the state level? Leave a comment and let's get your ideas.

Have a good day, and be comfortable with the title you will always hold under any system - "serf."

More thoughts tomorrow.


* Although we do, of course, have a Duke of Earl, a King of the Road, and a Queen of the Silver Dollar.

** Mr Trump has already made this a fait accompli, so we might as well live with it.

*** A transgendered incumbent would be permitted to choose his or her title.

† It just seems more appropriate.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

When "Weird" Doesn't Quite Express What You Want to Say

One of the nice things about loving language is knowing other people who share your fascination. My friend Mary sent me a link the other day to this wonderful article from Oxford Dictionaries: 17 Synonyms for Weird.

In a world that is getting more and more weird every day, we need to avoid linguistic fatigue when we try to describe what's going on. The article provides a great list, but my favorite is:


It means, "Slightly risqué or indecent, [and is] also applied arbitrarily to things which are bizarre, interesting, or unusual in some other way." I think this is an absolutely wonderful word that rolls off the tongue in a W.C. Fields-ian sort of way.

I have often been described as eccentric (a word that did not make the list of 17, except as part of the explanation of other words), an adjective I wear with pride, and one of my oldest friends blogs as Gonzo Dave ("gonzo" did make the list).

You can read the full list of synonyms on your own and decide which ones speak to you. And what words do you use that aren't on the list? Leave a comment and help us all improve our vocabularies.

Have a good day. More offbeat, wacky, and madcap thoughts coming.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Something is Rotten in the State of Denmark. Not.

In Act 1, Scene 4 of Shakespeare's play "Hamlet," a palace guard named Marcellus sees the ghost of the dead king appear on the palace walls and suggests to his friend Horatio that "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

Well, there may be something rotten in Denmark, but it's apparently not rotten enough to make the Danes miserable. According to this article in HowStuffWorks, Denmark is noted for being one of the happiest countries in the world, and there are five reasons they're happier than the rest of us ... the first two of which I think are of particular interest to present-day Americans:

#1. They Trust Each Other. Wow! Trust ... what a novel concept! According to an author who has written on the issue of Danish happiness, trust in one's fellow citizens is "taught in schools and learned through everyday interactions with trustworthy and responsive institutions." I suppose there was a time in America when we trusted each other, but - except for our closest friends and family members - that time is long gone. We've fake-news'ed and insulted ourselves right out of the ability to trust our fellow Americans ... which is bad news for our civic culture and democratic institutions.

2. Their Welfare State Works. To the average American, the term "welfare state" conjures up the horror of hard-working, upright citizens forced to support a vast underclass of lazy, worthless people happy to do nothing at their expense, and a visceral hatred for taxes is encoded in the DNA of every American. But contrary to the assertion by Donald Trump and the unshakeable belief of most conservatives that Americans are the most heavily-taxed people in the world, Danes pay as much as 52% of their income in taxes. As the author of the article notes:

"... in exchange for forking over half their earnings, every Dane gets free health care, free K-college education (students are actually paid $900 a month), highly subsidized child care and generous unemployment benefits."

The article goes on to note that surveys reveal that nine out of 10 Danes say they pay these huge taxes gladly, because they see that they're getting something for it.

As my father would have said, can ya manganese that?

We Americans have so thoroughly drunk the Kool Aid of belief that government is always the enemy and taxes are always bad that we cannot conceive a situation in which that's not the case, in which we might actually be happier under a different approach to taxation and overall social welfare.

It may be that the Danish model wouldn't work on an American scale ... but wouldn't it be interesting to try?

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Musical Sunday

Yesterday, in honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day coming up on Tuesday, Cartoon Saturday featured cartoons about pirates. Today, we continue the pirate theme with one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite singers - Jimmy Buffett's "A Pirate Looks at 40." It's a great song that has one of my all-time favorite lines in it:

Yes, I am a pirate - two hundred years too late;
The cannons don't thunder, there's nothing to plunder, 
I'm an over-forty victim of fate
Arriving too late, arriving too late.

There's a pretty long introduction in this video, in which Jimmy Buffett talks about the story behind the song. I set the video to start at 2:35 (the beginning of the actual song); if you want to hear the whole history, go to YouTube and watch the whole thing. For now, take yourself to the bounding main and join all the other over-the-hill pirates ...

Aaaarrrr, mateys!

Have a good day, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts tomorrow.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Cartoon Saturday

Halfway through September ...

Credit monitoring firm Equifax suffered a huge security breach that may have exposed the personal data of up to 143 million Americans; North Korea continued poking military fingers in the world's collective eye, launching another medium-range ballistic missile over Japan; a bomb exploded on a commuter train in London on Friday, injuring nearly 30 people and leading the UK to raise its terror threat level to "critical;" after an amazing 20-year mission to Saturn that returned vast amounts of scientific data and thousands of beautiful photos of the ringed planet, NASA destroyed the Cassini spacecraft by plunging it into Saturn's atmosphere to burn up; and protests broke out in downtown St. Louis on Friday afternoon hours after a judge found a former police officer not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of a black motorist.

Because this coming Tuesday (the 19th) is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I thought we'd feature cartoons about pirates today ...

You have to look closely, but it's really funny ...

This is what happens when you hire the low bidder to design your jolly roger ...

It's an understandable mistake ...

When careers clash ...

Eh??? ...

Google Glass for pirates ...

It's kind of obvious, but still funny ...

Oops ... wrong eyepatch ...

When GPS replaces the traditional treasure map ...

Pirates in Ikea ... I imagine the peg legs would have names like "Peggo" or "Stomp," and the hooks would have names like "Haken" or "Gancho." 

Aaaarrrrr, mateys! We be done with Cartoon Saturday for this week. If ye didn't enjoy it, ye can walk the plank.

It should be a nice, if warm and sticky weekend here in NoVa ... just in time for me to catch up on the yard work that didn't get done while we were in Ohio and while it was too wet to mow when we got back. Oy. 

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


Friday, September 15, 2017

Great Moments in Editing and Signage

As you know, last weekend Agnes and I traveled to Ohio to visit our son and his family (four of the six grandchildren). The two older children go to Beavercreek High School, the mascot of which is - as you might suspect - the beaver.

Now, I cheer for the battling Beavers of Beavercreek as loudly as anyone else, but you have to admit that the choice of mascot has some unfortunate connotations ... "beaver" being a somewhat crude nickname for ... um ... private parts of the female anatomy. All of which brings me to the first group of entries for this week's Great Moments in Editing and Signage, which feature playful editorial references to the humble beaver ...

You will note that I didn't offer any commentary on those. I figured that anything I said would only get me in trouble.

Here are a few more gems to round out this week's collection ...

Perhaps they should have used aliases ...

Why am I not surprised? ...

This street must be in an older part of town ...

Finally, I hope this poor fellow got reunited with Amber ...

And so you have it ... the second collection of Great Moments in Editing and Signage for the month. I hope you enjoyed beavering through them, ha, ha.

Remember - I'm always happy to accept your inputs for "great moments." Snap a photo or scan a newspaper or magazine item and e-mail it to me at der(underscore)blogmeister(at)yahoo(dot)com, and I'll give you a shout when I use it.

Have a good day, and come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday. More thoughts then.


P.S. - My mission to meet my fellow bloggers continues! Yesterday afternoon, John Hill and I had dinner together when he passed through NoVa on his epic motorcycle road trip. We had a great time getting to know each other, and I for one am looking forward to our next meeting. Sadly, he did not bring any good Ted Drewes custard packed in dry ice ...