Monthly Archives: March 2018


Publishing mistake. A draft version of a post went live, as a result of (my) human error. Thank God I don’t work for the New York Times, otherwise I would be fired and never make another dime from anything I write.

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• Who makes up the names of groups of animals? Is there some organization that decides what a group of this or that is called? I say that a group of penguins should be called a penitentiary, a group of bats should be called a battery and a group of sharks should be called a charcuterie.

• I think it is only fitting here to share a recipe. The recipe is not my own but one that I stumbled across at Let’s start with the ingredients:

85 large crickets (place in freezer 1 hr before blending)
25 wax worms
10 butter worms
2 dozen night crawlers
2 dozen red wigglers
1 package frozen blood worms (defrosted)
1 package frozen tubifex worms (defrosted)
2 cups frozen “salad shrimp” (defrosted, rinsed and soaked in dechlorinated water for about 2 hours)
1 tbsp calcium powder
2 unflavoured gelatin packets (dissolved in 2 cups of dechlorinated water, and heated to a boil)

Next, said the recipe, one should “blend all ingredients in electric blender until mixture has the consistency of thick gravy.” This was where I pulled the cord and got off the bus.

• When a player or team wins an important game and credits the victory to God, wouldn’t it be good journalism for reporters to turn to the losing team and question them about the inadequacy of their prayers? I would like to hear how the losers would respond but, sadly, it seems that we cannot count on the news media to do their jobs.

• “No man is without honor save in his own country,” so supposedly said Jesus. I offer the obverse observation: “Everyone’s dog is sweet before it bites the neighbor.”

• My wife was making a grocery run, so I asked her to pick up a box of cereal. What kind? Well, since I no longer eat Cheerios (or any oat cereal), I suggested Crispix (corn and rice) or the generic version if available. So she returned with a box of Laura Lynn Hexa Crisp. Hexa Crisp sounds like the kind of foodstuff one would stock in your family fallout shelter. But I am eating it anyway and hoping that I don’t have to build one before Trump is gone.

• Whenever I see a little child being scolded (or worse) by an out-of-control parent, I want to go over and hug the child and give her a kiss and tell her it is not her fault — mommy is just having a bad life.

• And what I really want to do is go over and lecture the parent about being mean. But I know that this would be unproductive and possibly counterproductive. Fred Rogers must have witnessed such scenes many times — I wonder how he reacted and acted.

Ayn Rand -- Libertarians Giving Freedom a Bad NameWhat is it that Libertarians want? What kind of country would this be if Libertarians were granted their wishes and had the freedom to revoke our laws and reshape our society? Give me the liberty to speculate: life would be near-idyllic for a man absorbed by principle, whose happiness is “the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” (Or so said Ayn Rand.) Libertarians figure the world would be a better place — and humans a better race — if everyone had to fend for themselves. Actually, Libertarians are lucky to live in a nation where this isn’t true. It isn’t Fred Rogers’ world that is the Neighborhood of Make-Believe — it’s Rand’s.

• If physical items such as telephones, microphones, typewriters, magnifying glasses, maps and paintbrushes had never existed, what images would software applications use as icons to represent the corresponding functions? In this way, iPhones are still 1890’s tech.

• Old liberals begin to realize that they have lost their edge when they gather ’round to sing protest songs, and they find they have forgotten the tune to “This Land is Your Land” and so they just hum the theme from “Antiques Road Show” instead.

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I have been struggling with an issue for several years now and it is time to put it to rest.

I enjoyed watching football over the past decade, and the Pittsburgh Steelers in particular, because (a) I grew up in Western Pennsylvania and (b) my relatives were fans.  It is a tribal behavior, rooting for the hometown team, no matter who the players are, how they behave, how they perform or what befalls them.

In the 1990s, I was not just ho-hum but openly antagonstic toward NFL football.  I recall Christmas holidays when my relatives gathered around the TV screen to watch the Steelers and I would retreat to the bedroom to read a book.  (I was still a baseball guy back then.  The Pittsburgh Pirates were only a few years into their record-setting twenty consescutive losing seasons.)  Football seemed violent and chaotic and I didn’t understand the rules or the penalties or the lack thereof.

But over time, without knowing it, I got turned around.  Maybe it was seeing Jerome Bettis charge into goal-line defenses to make one brute-force touchdown after another.  Maybe it was watching Antwaan Randle El throw the touchdown pass to Hines Ward on a trick play in the final minutes to win Super Bowl XL.  Admiring such plays and the players who make them led to me admiring the sport, and that is when I crossed over to the dark side, where I remained for many years.

I now view the NFL as a cockfight, a contest staged by the owners and their players to see who is most willing to bloody themselves (or cripple themselves, as it were) for the cause.  The cause of the players is a silvery trophy held high into some colorful confetti during a glittery finale, after which life goes on, another contract is negotiated, shoulder and knee surgeries are performed and brain concussions do or do not heal.  The cause of the owners is — what else — money: every year their team reaches the playoffs translates to hundreds of millions of dollars in the value of the franchise when it is sold.  And all sports teams are eventually sold or inherited.

I have given up smoking.  I have sworn off potato chips.  I have forsaken Cheerios and Glaceau vitamin water.  I can certainly do without passively promoting the body damage that defines the NFL.  And the players, present and future, will be better off without me.  I’m done.

P.S.  Dear Ryan Shazier:  Your spirit is inspiring.  I hope you make a full recovery — and never return to the football field.  There is nothing more you need to prove there.  It would be better for you to be done too.

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