Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Speech is not Money (and vice versa)

“Speech is not money.” Most of us can at least agree on that much, so you'd think it would be enough to simply say, "Therefore money is not speech." But in our logic-starved world, that just isn’t enough anymore. I must convince you further that money is not speech or you might falsely believe, as our corporate sponsored Supreme Court declared again today, that it IS. In an attempt to clear up this confusion about what is and is not “speech” I’ll make an argument to support my view that money is NOT speech, followed by the only logical argument I can think of to support the opposing view (i.e. the Court’s view).

ARGUMENT FOR: Speech is the use of words, written or spoken, to convey a message. If a message is intended to cause an action or influence an opinion, a message must contain relevant information to that end. In addition, that information must make sense to the listener in order to elicit some sort of logical response. Now depending on the predisposition of the listener and the quality of the message, the response may vary from: A.) Total agreement and support, up to and including the smooth completion of a task or action, to B.) Complete disagreement and refusal to cooperate, up to and including a punch in the nose. Other influences that may affect the impact of the message, such as: Which way the wind is blowing? Are the listener’s shoes comfortable? Is there a duck in the room? etc. are not considered speech, even though they may in fact alter the response of the person being addressed. Can you think of anything else that might affect the impact of a message, or alter a listener’s response? …BINGO! You guessed it. A fistful of cash. Of course cash isn’t speech any more than a duck in the room, or a gun to the head is, but it sure gets results when words (i.e. speech) fails. Now here’s why it matters. In some countries guns and intimidation equal power over the masses and in other countries extreme wealth equals power… and in both cases that power is all too often used (after speech fails) to thwart the will of the people. Thank you for listening. I hope you will agree with me that money is NOT free speech.

ARGUMENT AGAINST: Don’t listen to that idiot up there. If you agree with me I'll give you $100.00... Okay, you drive a hard bargain... $200, but you owe me.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

America the Ugly vs. "America the Beautiful”

Thank you Coca-Cola, for luring so many bigots out of the shadows with your recent Super Bowl commercial titled, “It’s Beautiful”. By registering their disgust that a handful of fellow Americans would have the audacity to sing “America the Beautiful” in any language other than English during “their football game,” these bigots showed a nation just how intolerant many of its citizens actually are. They revealed to all of us their ugly hatred of “other” people. They revealed their irrational fear of the very world they live in. Most of all, by registering their disgust that a song written by a lesbian woman about a diverse nation of emigrants was being sung in languages brought here from foreign lands like, umm, let’s see… “ENGLAND!” they revealed their extreme ignorance of our shared history. But best of all, by registering their disgust on twitter, they showed America and the world just who “they” are.

And while I’m thanking big corporations (something I rarely do) thank you Cheerios for doubling down against your own batch of bigots with a sequel to last year’s ad featuring that adorable biracial family. I don’t even eat cheerios, but I bought a few boxes last year just to support the ad. Well, I guess now I should go to the store again and put my money where my mouth is.


If you missed the anti-Coke tweets, you can click here for a sample.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Dear Republicans, Tea Party sympathizers, and European bashers:

Capitalism lovers, especially Libertarians, and even more importantly Ayn Rand fans (who for the most part have absolutely no idea what her core
philosophy, “Objectivism” actually is) need to understand that the United States of America since its very inception has always been a semi-balanced blend of capitalism and democratic socialism. They need to understand this little fact before they put all of their ideological eggs into the mythological unregulated free market basket and join in the chant, “We want our country back!” because failure to understand this will… well frankly, it will make them look a little dumb when someone asks them the question, ”Back from what?”

Now to those people whose reaction to this historical truth is that socialism is evil, I ask them to look at it this way:

Being a purely capitalist society would be a lot like being a nation of absolute carnivores. Now while I’m sure that sounds great to a lot of folks (very macho and American,) it wouldn’t be very healthy for our citizens, and it would no doubt lead to an early death for most of us (not to mention the years of gout we’d have to suffer through.)

On the other hand, being a purely socialist society would be a lot like becoming a nation of complete herbivores. Now while this might appeal to our strict vegetarian friends, it would be unacceptable to the vast majority of us, many of whom would probably stage a revolution after a just few weeks without bacon.

Therefore, just as we humans are naturally omnivores, I suggest that we should accept omni-ism as an economic model as well. A nice juicy capitalistic steak (USDA approved of course) along with a crispy green socialistic salad makes for a balanced meal, and a historically sustainable society. Yes, yes I know we Americans will keep arguing about how much meat we should eat and how many vegetables we need… and Texans will keep gorging on giant steaks while refusing to finish their peas… and Californians will continue nibbling on carrots and greens while exporting almonds to the rest of us, but in the end the value of private (for profit) enterprise, and the sensible benefits of social (share the risk, share the wealth) contracts will serve us all well... just as our founding fathers intended

Monday, September 30, 2013

Life is like a bag of Bridge Mix:

The other day I ate a bag of Bridge Mix. Now I’m not much of a candy consumer, and I’ve never walked into a store mumbling to myself, “Man, I’ve got to get me some Bridge Mix!” In fact Bridge Mix has never been on my shopping list (not even once) and until recently I’d have been hard pressed to tell you what the stuff was. But the other day I found a bag of it lurking in a coffee themed gift basket that I bought at a charity auction. It was a small bag among a variety of other small bags of snacks and coffee blends stuffed into a wicker basket along with a pair of Starbucks mugs arranged in a nest of mocha colored shredded paper, and shrouded in light blue cellophane.

I read the label, “Bridge Mix, hmmm.” I opened it up thinking of old people playing an old card game at an old wood table in a black and white movie. Hoping that the candy was fresher than the image it inspired, I popped a piece of the mix into my mouth. Mmmm, a malt ball. I liked Bridge Mix already. Malt balls were always one of my favorites as a kid. I grabbed a few more pieces off the top. Another malt ball, and maybe a macadamia nut or something like that all covered in chocolate. Everything was covered in chocolate. “If this is what they serve at Bridge tournaments,” I said to myself, “I might just take up the game.”

Then I gulped up another little scoop, peanuts mostly. Well, a peanut can’t hold a candle to a malt ball, but there’s nothing wrong with a good ol’ peanut now and then. Besides, peanuts make good filler. Plus, they serve to cleanse the palate in between bites of more tasty tidbits.

Undeterred, and with my palate duly cleansed, I grabbed a few more pieces of the Bridge Mix and tossed them to my eager taste buds. “Peanut, peanut, peanut,” my taste buds reported back to me. I peered into the bag searching for another malt ball. I shook the bag looking for a possible macadamia nut, or a hazelnut or anything more exotic than the common Arachis hypogaea.  But the variety of sizes was gone. The chocolate lumps were all small and nearly uniform in shape. There would be no more malt balls, or macadamia nuts. My chances of encountering a cashew just plummeted to zero. The Bridge Mix had given me false hope, and the Bridge Mix had let me down. It appeared now, that I was stuck with a bag of chocolate covered peanuts.

Now I wish I could report that that was the end of the story, but as they say, “Just when you think things can’t get worse, they do.” I dumped some more Bridge Mix into my mouth: peanut, peanut, peanut, raisin. What the… raisin?! I could have gotten: peanut, peanut, peanut, grasshopper, and I don’t think I would have been more upset. From that first raisin to the bottom of the bag, raisins ruled. Like tangerines in the toe of my childhood Christmas stocking, they were 50% of the weight, and 0% of the enjoyment. Worst of all, they were the final impression of an experience that began with so much promise.

Now this leads me to my point: You may have heard that, “life is like a box of chocolates,” and I hate to ruin that Gumpish imagery as you await some nougat filled dreamy confection that we all hope tomorrow will bring you, but realistically life is more like a bag of Bridge Mix. Yes, Bridge Mix. So live for today. Don’t lament that yesterday’s choices may no longer be an option, and don’t grab too quickly at tomorrow. Instead, join the tournament, pick up your cards, and enjoy the game…and if at all possible, learn to like raisins.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

In Praise of Mr. Hibbs

Today I attended my youngest son’s wedding, outdoors among the autumn oak and chestnut trees at a nice little park in Auburn, Washington. Everything went off without a hitch. Even the weather cooperated from beginning to end, and don’t even get me started on how good the minister was…


4 Days ago:  With the final countdown to the wedding well under way, the person scheduled to perform the ceremony suddenly became unavailable. To put it mildly, this was a wee bit stressful on the Bride and Groom to be.

“Dad?” my son asked on the phone, “Remember that friend of yours who does weddings? Do you think he might be able to help?”

I was thinking “This close to the wedding? Ain’t no way!” but my answer contained more hopeful phrases like, “I doubt it,” “Don’t get your hopes up,” and, “but I’ll call him.”

Now to bring you readers up to speed, “my friend who does weddings” is Jonathan Hibbs; recently ordained minister, longtime friend, and the co-conspirator in many of my most ill-conceived, and therefore coolest and funniest childhood (and teen) adventures. Though our communications were infrequent for a few decades there after high school, we’ve done a better job at staying in touch recently, and despite the years I still consider Jon to be one of my closest friends.

So I called Jon, explained my son’s situation, and asked for his advice on how to go about finding a minister that could do a wedding on 4 days’ notice. It seemed unreasonable to ask Jon to do it, so I hemmed and hawed, hoping that maybe he knew of some kind of ordained guy network, or secret call center where wedding officiants waited around like day-laborers at Home Depot ready to jump in your truck, and go conduct a wedding. Well I guess that network doesn’t exist, but before I could think of how to give my son the bad news Jon said, “I’ll do it.”

Slam, bam thank you Jon! On ridiculously short notice, without an opportunity to even meet the couple-to-be, Jon reviewed the planned wedding vows and ceremony script via email, complete with Scottish handfasting tradition, and…

Fast Forward ►►

Today I attended my youngest son’s wedding, outdoors among the autumn oak and chestnut trees at a nice little park in Auburn, Washington. Everything went off without a hitch. Minister Jon, though it was only his third wedding, did a phenomenal job. The ceremony was reverent, entertaining, sweet, and funny in all the right places.

My dear old friend, Mr. Hibbs, did more than just save a wedding for my youngest son, and new daughter-in-law today. He, and a well-timed window of September sunshine conspired to make it perfect. And that will be long remembered.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Free Calendar Offer

If you buy a calendar from one of those kiosks at the mall, or from your local office supply store, or even from a plaid suited door to door calendar salesman it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll be able to start using your new calendar right away, or at least very soon. But if instead of acquiring your calendar the tried and true old fashioned way you dare to print up your next calendar from one of those new-fangled printable calendar websites, well let me warn you right here and now that that might not be the case.

“Why?” you may ask, “might that not be the case?”
“What?” you may ponder, “could possibly keep me from using my shiny new calendar festooned with improbably posed adorable kittens (or similarly posed scantily clad women) in a timely manner?”
Well, to cut to the chase as they say, I’ll tell you about my experience, and explain exactly why I’m typing this warning (and free calendar offer) instead of circling birthdates and putting stars on anniversaries on my new calendar from The reason I’m not drawing circles and stars is because the stupid 3 key on my computer is right next to the darn 2 key! …Wait, I hate to interrupt here right in the middle of cutting to the chase, but thank goodness they didn’t make that same mistake with the letter keys. Can you imagine all the things that could go wrong if the A key was right next to the B key?!  But I digress.
Because the stupid 3 key on my computer is right next to the darn 2 key, I’m now sitting here with a 3013 calendar on my desk. Yes, you read that right “3013,” and considering my age I’m probably not going to need it.  Even if I do, a millennium from now I won’t be able to remember where the hell I put it, and extending my file system out that far just doesn’t seem very practical, or affordable (even with my Staples discount card) so if anyone wants this thing, it’s yours… FREE!
On the other hand, you could just print one up yourself. But be careful not to mix up the 2 and the 3 key, or you’ll just end up with another 2013 calendar that you probably have no use for!!
Oh look! ...missing 3013 won’t be such a big deal anyway. My birthday falls on a Monday.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Old Jack

“Jack be nimble. Jack be quick,” and Jack was very nimble and extremely quick... nimble and quick enough in fact to make it to the top of the Nursery Rhyme Pop Charts season after season, but today Jack finds himself reduced to jumping over candlesticks at PartyLite® Candle Parties in and around Plymouth, Massachusetts on weekends just to make ends meet. You see kids, superstars like Jack didn’t make the kind of coin that celebrities make these days. Even in his prime, when Jack wasn’t jumping candlesticks before an adoring public, he was working the swing-shift at a local candle factory to support his family. This was back when professional baseball players had to take up side jobs during the offseason to pay the rent. Your grandfather can tell you all about it. But back to Jack: As poor ol’ Jack performs today at candle parties for ladies yelling “jump over the peach one Jack, jump over the peach one!" all I can say is that life isn’t fair, especially as we grow older. Some of us who were great in our prime don’t look like much in our later years, so as you see Jack jump (and sometimes miss) and as you walk past that old person on the street, give them a smile and a little extra respect, because once upon a time they were great too… and truth be told, they probably still are.