Monthly Archives: January 2019

• On a recent edition of CBS Sunday Morning, host Jane Pauley interviewed cartoonist Garry Trudeau.  My spouse remarked how odd it must be to interview one’s own husband.  “Trudeau is Jane Pauley’s husband?” I said.  “Yes, how could you not know that?” she said. In my defense, I do know who was the first to verify Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity (namely, astronomer Arthur Eddington, in 1919).  But how could anyone not know that?

• Speaking of Einstein: Alan Lightman, author of the 1993 novel Einstein’s Dreams, made a seemingly innocuous observation in the third paragraph of his prologue as he described “… the young man’s desk … cluttered with half-opened books …”  I had nearly finished the paragraph when I stopped to ask myself, what exactly is a half-opened book?

• Life is like calculus: a lot of unnoticeable differences make a difference.

• Rank these Nabisco snack products from highest to lowest fat content: Oreos cookies, Cheese Nips crackers, Chicken in a Biskit crackers, Ritz crackers, Nutter Butter cookies.  Answers below (and no fair looking at their so-called “Nutrition Facts” labels).

• The actor Meryl Streep has appeared in over 55 films and has won three Oscars and eight Golden Globes.  Netflix streams only three of her films, Julie and Julia, Mamma Mia! and The River Wild.  These may have been very good films, but they clearly do not measure up to Happy Gilmore or The Ridiculous 6 — just two of the thirteen films on Netflix starring zero-time Oscar or Golden Globe winner Adam Sandler.

Ritz wins with 28% fat, followed by Chicken in a Biskit at 26%, Nutter Butter at 21.4%, Oreos at 20.5% and Cheese Nips at 20.0%.  See, Oreos aren’t as bad as you thought.

• Saying “oops” when you accidentally honk your horn and no one is around.  Closing the bathroom door for privacy when you are alone in the house.  Reaching for the light switch when you enter a room during a power outage.  These are a few of my behavioral things.

• A guy with an identity crisis answers the phone and says, “Hello, is this me?”

• In early 2017, I wrote here about the so-called Trump Rally in the U.S. stock market and pointed out how the rise in stock prices after his election was nothing unusual, despite all the chest-thumping by Trump and his shills.  Now, as Trump enters his third year, there is not even a mirage of a rally for him to take undeserved credit for — the S&P 500 index is exactly where one would expect it to be based on its long-term trend (7.1% per year).

• I like to think of myself as an evidence-based person — I am skeptical of product (and political) claims, I never buy extended warranties (companies would not sell them if they didn’t make money) and I don’t pray.  Yet I harbor my own superstitions.  I take lutein every day on the off-chance it will preserve my eye health.  I don’t root for athletes to fail (except for Tom Brady) because of the what-goes-around-comes-around principle.  And I always tip well, in the belief that those extra couple of dollars will matter to someone.

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The Bird Box Challenge - Comic by CHCollins

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One federal agency that remained open during the ongoing government shutdown is the U.S. Bureau of Thumb Direction Assignment, or USBTDA.  For those unfamiliar with the USBTDA, these are the people who determine whether a given event represents good news (thumbs up) or bad news (thumbs down).  One can visit the USBTDA website and type in any item of personal news — within seconds, bureau experts will analyze your item and assign a Thumb Direction to it: Up or Down.  This service is free, fast and confidential.

I was able to access the USBTDA site a few hours ago and decided to submit a couple of items of my own, to see if the experts were still at work.  Indeed they were, and here are the results:

(1) I haven’t talked with my cardiologist yet, but I did read the report from my cardiac MRI last month, and all the tests were marked NORMAL.  I was happy and relieved when the USBTDA assigned Thumbs Up to this item.  Now I can sleep a little better, knowing that invasive procedures are not part of my immediate future.  Thank you, USBTDA.

(2) I received a response yesterday from the editor of the MDPI Games Journal about the 24-page article on The Price is Right showcase round that I submitted a few weeks ago.  The editor “encouraged” me to resubmit it after “extensive revisions” but mentioned that one of the reviewers thought my article should be rejected outright.  The reviewers made mostly constructive comments but I doubt I will be able to address all of their criticisms.  The experts at USBTDA assigned Thumbs Down to this news item (as expected).  I am not yet sure how I will respond to the editor but I don’t think I will mention the USBTDA.

• • • •

This story has a rather strange conclusion.  Not content to leave matters be, I decided to submit one more piece of news to the USBTDA, namely, that the USBTDA was a figment of my imagination.  When I clicked enter, the site seemed to freeze for a few seconds, then displayed an error message — something like RQ_TIMEOUT — and finally a blank page.  I think what happened is that the experts could not decide whether to say Thumbs Up (thus affirming their own fictional status) or Thumbs Down (viewing their non-existence as bad news).  Faced with this logical impasse, the USBTDA simply vanished.  Either that, or Trump shut them down.  We may never find out.

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