Thursday, May 31, 2018


The old maxim “Don't ever lose your sense of humor” is solid gold. I have no idea who first said it, but credit that him or her with saving the sanity of many, me included. Let's look at a current challenge to peace of mind.

At one time things were simple. I lived through such days. Bet you did too, although probably not as far back as this writer. Then along came innovations, one after the other. Telephones, for example. Picture Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the phone, urgently speaking into his end of the contraption to his able assistant: “Mr. Watson....come here…I want to see you.” In came Watson and the rest is history. If Bell were here today and saw million and millions of men and women standing around and seemingly talking into the palms of their hands, he might wonder why he ever made that first telephone call. Who knows?

No question civilization benefited immensely from the invention of the telephone. Routine matters and emergencies alike. General Custer up there on that small hill at the Little Big Horn could have found it a lifesaver if he had phoned for immediate assistance.

Along with positive benefits comes the Devil's work. We all know the agony of endless “prompts” and recorded messages. But none can top the one saying “your call is very important to us.” Really? Then why, Ms. Recording, do you have to repeat it again and again even as we wait and wait?  Recently I hung on with a hope I could actually speak to one of those representatives “currently assisting another customer.” I wanted to ask this very question. No luck. My supply of patience went down the drain after eight repetitions of “your call is VERY important to us.” Is it? I don't think so.

Sometimes having a sense of humor just isn't enough.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

John McCain

A White House aide has been widely quoted for her remark that Senator John McCain's voice on a political nominee's eligibility “doesn't matter, he's dying anyway.”

Saying she is widely quoted misreads the situation for “widely condemned” is far more on target. Even a little awareness of McCain's service to this nation should put him above such disrespect. “Sad” is another word that immediately comes to mind.

Any group of people anywhere contains its share of incompetents. And yes, we expect more from certain professions, communications is one, than others. Yes again, the names of the groups represented by a spokesperson call for extra research and more careful wording before going public with any pronouncements, large or small. Let alone one that is moronic in the eyes of people everywhere.

So now we come to this – a genuine hero, a national treasure, being belittled by “a White House communications staffer”. Previously unknown to virtually all of us, now known not only to God, but to honorable people around the world. Can it get any worse? Yes, it can. There is no public apology from the sinner, Ms. Kelly Sadler, or from the White House where she receives her paycheck.  Can we expect contrition from President Donald Trump for what happened on his watch?

No. Not in this age of deteriorating ethics and a general dishonoring of our cherished values. We will continue to reap what we have been sowing.

Friday, May 11, 2018


An acquaintance with several academic degrees proposed to us with straight face that women have a genetic trait that makes them talk, talk and talk. They cannot control it. At first, I thought he was kidding, but no. I suggested to him that “modern young women, and some not so young, are not the deferring damsels of past generations. Pick your audiences carefully when you expound on this theory, pal, or you might suffer severe consequences. Perhaps ending up speaking with a far higher pitch to your voice.”

I know a broadcaster, poised and smart, succumbed to impatience with a woman driver swerving on the highway in front of him while talking on her cell phone. Lowering a window he bellowed: “Get off the (bleep) phone, lady!” This time the woman did not talk but replied with the universal one finger salute.

My wife reminds me that men and women communicate in different ways. Men in general talk to the point, few words, key substance. Women, on the other hand, add detail at every turn of phrase. Is one better than the other? Not necessarily. The period of time involved defines the best approach. If the building is on fire we don't need to know the make-up of combustible materials in the rooms, nor what color they were, or when they were purchased. The priority, in this case, is spreading the word to one and all about immediate danger. Later on though we do need to have detail after detail in order to set the cause, fix blame and establish procedures to avoid repetition of disaster.

It's not just women who are doing the talking. Men are into the act as well as teenagers who have turned it into an art form.

Maybe Watson shouldn't have answered the call.