Monday, September 27, 2021

Wade Garrett Would Roll Over in His Grave

Last week we laid waste to a bunch of factually challenged anti-vax memes that I’d gleaned over the prior weeks. But there were others as well that covered some other well-worn misconstrued subjects. Might as well air those out too.

You mean eighty million three hundred and sixty, don’t you? Or aren’t you keeping up with the headlines? Every time the Republicans try to make a case for fraud, they either get laughed out of court or add to Biden’s vote count. So why on earth Biden’s vote tally so hard to believe?

I mean, other than because you don’t want to?

I think a more accurate meme would read, “People don’t believe I’m real, but they believe the Former Guy got cheated out of the presidency.” Seriously, there is zero proof of intentional fraud in any significant number. People who are just dying to uncover election tampering schemes have rolled snake-eyes at every turn. If the Democrats are as incompetent as Republicans say they are, proof should have been as easy to find as unvaccinated COVID patients in Florida. But no one’s found jack shit.

And if the Democrats somehow WERE clever enough to shift the election without leaving a shred of proof, maybe someone can explain why they let those half-dozen Senate races and a fistful of House races they expected to win go the other way. I’d love to hear that. Yes, tell me all about how the Dems falsely put Biden in the presidency but failed to give him a Congress to work with on passing his agenda. I’ll wait.

It’s truly a tragedy when harm comes to our military personnel. I agree. But things happen to invading armies during wartime. But I’m sure these heroes knew the risks when they enlisted in the Marines, while a war or two was going on. If it was just a matter of signing up and playing video games, everyone would join the Marines.

So the question is, are the lost lives of 13 servicemen and women on par with the deliberate killing of a handcuffed Black man suspected of a minor crime, at the hands of a policeman who is sworn to serve and protect? What is the public cost of the police becoming self-appointed judges, juries, and public executioners? And this is the how many hundredth time something like this has happened in the last couple decades?

Yeah, it’s a pretty big deal because it directly affects the lives of 38 million Black people in our country. The attention isn’t cast on George Floyd as much as on the law enforcement culture that doesn’t think twice about using lethal force on our minority population. Pressure is being brought to bear in efforts to change the way law enforcement acts. And when the next unarmed, handcuffed, Black man is killed in police custody, you can expect even more publicity and outrage.

Tell me, are the Marines being called upon to change their practices or culture because they lost these 13 soldiers? Hell no. It’s a tragedy, but they move on to the next engagement. Always have and always will. It will reverberate among those who knew the victims but you won’t see any calls for institutional change.

The Floyd murder is different because it ripples across every police force in the country. Each one is being watched more closely because of what happened to George Floyd.

I’m not sure why these kinds of issues have to be “ranked” at all, but it’s not surprising that the military fetishist segment would see a “problem” if these deaths aren’t given top billing over most anything else, especially the deaths of some Black “criminals.” And that’s a problem right there.

Your Honor, we have facts assumed that are not in evidence. No one has ever said that a government needs a disarmed populace before it can govern. The US Government can and does carry on its duties regardless. It is a strawman argument and it insults the great Sam Elliot.

The issue is eliminating the senseless mass killings that are only possible because so many people have military-grade semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity clips.

The original statement about hunting is true, no respectable hunter goes hunting with this kind of firepower. Nor is this kind of weaponry needed for standard home defense, self-defense, or anything else. So the question stands, why are these armaments necessary in American society?

And I’ll answer that for you, your Honor. They’re not. They are penile stand-ins for scared white men who fear their impending reduction in power and influence. The People ask you to dismiss this meme as misleading and inaccurate. The prosecution rests.

Tales of my Father

I’m often accused of being a wise-ass and it comes to me naturally. I learned how to screw with people from the best, my father. Dad was a master. I originally posted this story in 2011. Dad always liked when I wrote about him. He felt like the star of the show. This is one of my favorite stories and one I think about every time I’m at a ballgame.

Back in the 70s, when Dad was traveling a lot, he was out in New Jersey on business.  His friend Lou worked in the plant he was visiting so while he was there, they decided to catch a Phillies baseball game at Veterans’ Stadium in Philadelphia.  (Wherever possible, Dad always went to games when he was traveling; baseball, football, hockey... whatever was in season.)

At one point during the later innings, Dad wrote a number down in his program: 45,173.*

Louie saw that and asked, “What’s that for?

Dad said, “That’s what I think the attendance is.”

Lou said, “How the hell do you know that?

Dad said, “Well, I’ve been looking up and down the sections and doing a little math in my head and this is what I came up with.”

Lou let it drop and the game went on.

Then shortly afterward, between innings, the scoreboard lit up with a “Guess the Attendance” game and put up four answers from which to choose.

Lou said, “Hey, there’s your number up on the board!

Some other people around overheard and wondered what was going on. Louie explained to everyone how Dad had made some calculations and came up with one of those exact numbers.

On the scoreboard, they slowly eliminated one figure and then another, until there was nothing left but two numbers: my dad’s and another one. Then the other one disappeared.  Dad totally nailed the attendance figure, right down to the last person.

Everyone around him made a big fuss about it and gave Dad high fives and congratulations.

What no one there noticed was that a guy behind Dad was listening to the game on a transistor radio.  Earlier, Dad had overheard the announcer give the attendance figure and he jotted it down. When Lou asked about it, he just pulled that calculations story out of his ass. He didn’t know it was going to end up being a big scoreboard thing, but when it did, he just went with it. Like I said, something in nature must love a good joke.

I don’t think he ever told Louie where he really got the number; he just let everyone think he was a mathematical genius.

Naturally, that was the wisest course of action.  Remember, they were in Philly. The fans there are not usually known for their consideration or understanding.

Thanks, Dad, for showing your impressionable sons how much fun it is to screw with people. Life lessons don’t come any better than that.

*Director’s DVD Commentary: I have no idea what the actual attendance figure was; in the scheme of the story, it doesn't really matter. I used this particular number because it matched the one in the picture.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Take the Money and Run

With the tragic family events of this month still lingering, I’ve been feeling quite like an exposed nerve, and never so much as when I see people trying to be clever about masks and vaccinations on Facebook. The stupidity is pervasive and insulting. All week I’ve been socking away memes for dissection, for your edification and entertainment.

On the contrary, it is exactly the government’s job to protect the health of its citizens. What do you think the whole notion of national defense is? Defense from outside forces who would do you harm. Not to mention the US government has been in the “health” business since the advent of modern medicine. Vaccination mandates by state and federal governments are why we don’t have smallpox and polio right now. And the only reason measles is still on the board is because of the numbskulls who ducked getting the shot.

So the very premise of this argument is flawed from the outset, long before they tacked on a misinterpreted quote from Ben Franklin that’s been trotted out regularly by so many Freedumb lovers. Franklin was actually describing effective self-government in the service of security as the very liberty it would be contemptible to trade.

Say hello to Mr. False Equivalency! While they probably should ban cigarettes and remove toxins from any and all products, they get away with not doing so because cancer isn’t contagious! That changes the whole equation right there.

We are not a country in which one person’s “liberty” is allowed to cause real physical harm to another. There are laws against that. (At least in theory. In Texas, not so much.) So as the two scenarios being compared are nowhere near equitable, this is a completely invalid comparison.

As it is, this writer is pretending there’s no such thing as a transsexual. Transsexuals have been around for as long as mankind. It’s a real thing in some people’s psychological makeup and not just “pretending.” (Aside from the stray pervs who dress as women just to get a look in in the women’s locker room.)

And again, they’re comparing a personal, psychological issue that only affects the person having it, as opposed to a fatal, highly contagious virus. In other words, just word games mean to “own the libs.” People are dying alone because of ignorance like this being pushed. If they want to own the libs, own that.

From this morning’s paper. The timing was impeccable.


This is another faulty comparison because the effects of a group gathering outside one time for a few hours versus a group gathering indoors for 6 hours a day, five days a week, are quite different. If one person brings the ‘Rona into a classroom, the whole shebang will need to be quarantined and many could get seriously ill. Plus, they’re freaking kids, who are required to be there. Every adult at the US Open or a college football game knows the risks and chooses to be there. They can also wear masks as well, although I can see by the crowd shots that few do.

Also consider that masking and proximity rules are made by state and local governments, most of which are using business considerations to establish guidelines, not medical ones, or else everything would still be shut down. The Powers That Be want the money flowing again and that takes precedence over public safety.

So yes, by all means, wake the hell up. Wear your mask and social distance. There are no bravery points for flouting the rules and getting sick. It’s getting old.

Why not just call this one, “I Don’t Know How Science Works.” I don’t even have to parse this one. The following graphic is all that’s necessary.

Science, by definition, changes as it goes, always seeking more data and refining its conclusions. It’s not bound by modern conservative politics, where grabbing onto an opinion and holding on for dear life despite evidence to the contrary, is revered.

Bluz Life

I spent last week down in Florida with my mom, helping prepare for her to come back to Maryland and stay with her sons. There were doctors to see, neighbors to ask for help, arrangements to make, boxes to ship, and bags to pack.

But on the bright side, we had to do our best to get rid of all the perishable food on hand, the meat, fish, fruit, bread, and sandwich fixin’s. It was a job for which I was eminently qualified. It’s my “particular set of skills,” if you will.

One of the things I learned I’d have to transport back up north was my parents’ hurricane “getaway” bag, which not only contained all their important documents, (insurance, pension, investment, tax info, marriage licenses, deeds, etc.) but also around $22,000 in cold hard cash. I almost choked.

Now, I’ve always agreed that having emergency cash on hand is a good idea, especially in a hurricane zone, but I think my dad might have gone a bit overboard. But he was concerned about banks losing power or getting hacked, preventing him from accessing his savings in an emergency. And if his car broke down on the road, he’d be able to buy another one with cash in hand.

I did some research and found that there is no top-end limit to the amount of cash you can bring on a domestic flight, although they recommended you give the TSA a heads-up before the bag goes in the scanner. (No way were we going to trust putting that kind of dough in a checked bag.)

I wondered what kind of hassles might ensue with the cash, even if it’s legal. I know they’re always on the lookout for drug mules and money launderers, so I prepared the story I’d tell:

My father passed away last week and I’m taking my mom home with me. This was their emergency hurricane fund. Here’s my dad’s obit from the paper. Here are our driver’s licenses. Here’s HIS driver’s license. His picture matches the one in the obit. See? We’re all family. Hey, put that Taser down. What are you doing with that duct tape?”

Basically, I wanted to show I had a legit story and could prove it.

When I informed the young guy facilitating getting the bags put through the screener, that I was carrying a considerable amount of money, he didn’t really seem to care. He was like, “Uh yeah, take your shoes out of the tray and put them on the belt.”

Now the scanning agents? They noticed. I found that once I got through the body scanner, they were giving my bag a real good looking over on the screen. Then when they sent it down, an attendant took it and said, “Come down here so we can have a look.”

She went right to the cash pouches, unzipped one, and then said, “Can I get a Lead down here?

A manager dude came down and they both started poking through the wrapped bundles. I chimed in that it was my parents’ hurricane money but they weren’t listening at all. Then they stopped the poking, zipped up the bag, and gave it back to me without fanfare, further ado, or a tasing. I don’t know what they were looking for, maybe dye packs. Maybe they thought we were a couple of geriatric bank robbers. Anyway, we got on the plane and home without further incident.

And no, the money is no longer on the premises. We moved it on, right away, to a place whose security system can't be defeated with a biscuit.

In the last posts, I promised to tell some Dad stories. I figured I’d start by letting him tell one himself. The audio comes from 1992 when I decided to record a conversation with my parents, to keep for posterity. You can find the whole story about that here.

This is a story about a train trip Dad took with his best friend, Frank, AKA, “The Lob.”

Director’s DVD Commentary:  “The Lob” is an old-time term for one’s junk.  I have no idea how the guy came by the nickname, (I suspect it was self-appointed), but I’m sure there are quite a number of people that know him by that name only.

The Lob was afraid to fly so when he and Dad traveled together, they took an Amtrak train The Lob always called “The Rattler.” This is what happened on one such overnight trip. Running time is 4:41.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Coping With Loss

You may have seen from my last post that my father passed away last week after suffering a stroke. If you saw that, you'll know how angry I was and remain at the COVIDiots here on the Panhandle, whose selfishness and self-delusion caused my Dad to spend his last conscious days in the company of strangers and not his family. 

As of this writing, I'm down in Florida tending to my mother. We're trying to tidy things up here so she can come back to Baltimore with me at the end of the week. There is no scenario where she can remain in their Florida house by herself.

As such, I'm not really equipped to whip up a post on national current events today. But some of you have asked to hear more about my dad, who was truly a character. I plan to rerun some favorite stories, but probably on off-schedule days and not until I get resettled back home.

Today, I thought I'd show you the notification I put up on Facebook last week, informing our friends and family of his passing. It was a bit of a tightrope to write... I didn't want it to read like an IBM quarterly statement but also didn't want to go full-on clown-shoes. 


Jim's family regrets having to tell you today that he passed away this morning, (9/7/21) several days after suffering a severe stroke. It was sudden, surprising, and devastating. We are all heartbroken at his passing, which was far too soon.
He will be remembered as generous, open-armed, and quick to dispense wise advice over drinks, whether it was how to invest your money or respond to a prank. He had a range of friends spanning his 80+ years, from his own school days to the school friends of his children, many of whom considered him a backup, auxiliary dad.
He was the patriarch of a broad family who enjoyed his visits to Pittsburgh or visiting his Florida home to float in the pool and receive his peerless cabana services.
He will be remembered as a man of simple pleasures, like a stadium seat, a fish sandwich, or a cold drink on a hot day. His passion for Pittsburgh sports was passed on to not only his kids, but to others who seemed to have picked up a Terrible Towel out of sheer osmosis.
Jim and Mary Ann together condoned and chaperoned “The Barn,” where a great many 80s kids in NW Ohio came to party and dance or just listen to music, rather than going out driving around and getting into trouble. Many of us had our first encounters with Mr. Jack Daniels, under his close supervision.
Later tonight, if you can, please pour a drink and raise a toast to our father, grandfather, father-in-law, uncle, cousin, and old or new friend, Jim, and let him know he’ll be in our hearts forever.

Pouring the good stuff.

Monday, September 6, 2021

A Death Wish

This post is not going to be pretty, or fun, or at all light-hearted.

Tonight, my father is dying, alone in a hospital room in Florida. My mom may be able to get to him but we’re not sure. No, wasn’t COVID, it was a stroke. He had to stay in the ER because the hospital is so full of COVID patients, there are no more rooms available.

When I called my folks on Sunday, Dad didn’t feel well enough to talk. He’s been feeling excessively tired, and intermittently cold.

Then he took a fall Monday morning and had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance. They said he had a brain bleed, but were unsure if it was from the fall or he had it long before that.

Yesterday they learned he had a “venous angioma,” a tangle of malformed veins, which might have been there from birth. The doctors said the blood thinners he was on might have caused a leak. With treatment, they thought he might be able to leave the next day. He talked to my brother on the phone, who said he sounded confused and wasn’t making a lot of sense.

Then overnight, he had a stroke. The subsequent MRI showed there were at least five places in the brain that were affected, including the brain stem, which affects breathing. His condition is grave. The neurologist said she’d never seen a post-stroke MRI that was this bad.

As you know, Florida is ground zero for COVIDiocy and the epicenter of vax and mask rejection. The state-wide vax rate is over 61% with at least one shot. But that’s propped up by Miami. In my parents’ county, on the end of the panhandle, it’s 34-43%. Hence the full hospitals. Hence my dad spending his last hours far away from all who love him.

I am beyond enraged that the head-in-the-sand bullshit of the Florida COVID enablers forced my father to spend his last conscious hours in a nightmare, all because their “tribe” decided this was the best way to “own the libs.” So this is what I have to say to these redneck fucktards:


I don’t care about your anti-vax bullshit. You’re wrong and science is right.

I don’t care about your anti-mask bullshit either. Maybe if you pulled your head out of your ass, your mask would fit better. There is no clever semantics that makes wearing a mask a detriment to health or an assault on your liberty. People are dying alone because you don’t want to be inconvenienced.

I don’t care about your “freedom” bullshit. What good is freedom if society perishes in a cloud of ventilator exhaust? Your freedom stops at the point of infecting other people. If you don’t like it, tough shit.

I don’t care about your “research.” Quoting other idiots who don’t know a viral load from their own commode doesn’t make your “research” valid. You know who’s putting a lot of anti-mask, anti-vax material out there? Russian troll farms. This is even more effective at creating societal unrest than their election trolling and people are literally dying because they believe this bullshit.

I don’t care about the inconvenience of mask mandates indoors. Closed rooms are where airborne particles circulate most efficiently, especially the new variant. Why are you so invested in spreading a deadly virus? Because your overlords at Fox “News” told you to? Do you not realize that their only goal is to prop up rich people and the businesses they run? They don’t care how many die as long as Wall St. has a good third quarter. Your ignorance, as ensured by Fox “News” and the like, knows no bounds.

I don’t care about how strong you think your immune system is. Immune systems are only as strong as they’re trained to be, by limited exposure to pathogens, via vaccine or life experience. The ‘Rona is novel; it’s never been here before and your immune system is completely unprepared for it. Believing otherwise is a death wish; either yours or someone you infect.

Look, at this point, I don’t care if you live or die anymore, I just worry about all the people you take with you and the people who can’t get proper help because the hospitals are filled up with self-destructive morons. You disregard the nearly 665,000 American deaths from COVID but I bet you can’t wait to roll around in all that 9/11 anniversary grief next week and gin up your outrage over the deaths of a mere 3000. Maybe it’s different when you have foreigners to blame.

My father spent his last days alone, weak and scared. I hope you do too. Is that's too un-Christian for you? So is leaving people to die this way.

And if you’re one of the people who also deny the efficacy of vaccinations and masks, but live somewhere other than Florida? Screw you too. How many parents and other family members died the same way in some other hospital because you were too wrapped up in ignorance and meritless bullshit to ensure the safety of those around you? The blood of lost loved ones is on your hands too. Maybe the survivors of the souls you robbed of a dignified death will forgive you. But I won’t. Ever.


Director’s DVD Commentary: I wrote this last Wednesday, 9/1/2021, the day my father had the stroke. Since then he was moved to the ICU, then his own room, where my mother and brother could visit, and tomorrow to hospice care. He has remained unresponsive and there is zero chance of recovery. We’re just trying to keep him comfortable and waiting for the end. But that doesn’t change the nightmare that was his last conscious days, a nightmare that was completely preventable.

No, nothing would have prevented the medical outcome, but his last days could have been spent with his wife holding his hand rather than being surrounded by teams of unfamiliar doctors and nurses in hazmat suits.

I’ll have more to say about my father in future posts. He was an amazing man who taught his kids how to be responsible, caring adults. He only had three offspring, but he’s got dozens of kids around the country who look at him as another dad. His loss will reverberate among the hundreds who knew him.

This is the last pic I took of my dad: wearing the uniform of his favorite job.

Post update: My father passed this morning, Tuesday 9/7. His ordeal is over, while we begin ours.