“Once There Was A Way To Get Back Homeward…”

Monday morning McCartney with a smashing live rendition of “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End.” Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits and Eric Clapton on guitars, an absolutely amazing Phil Collins on drums, and the orchestra and choir led by none other than George Martin at the Royal Albert Hall for a 1997 charity benefit.

Thanks to YouTuber Elton John EltoNico

Advice For The Ethically Challenged

Wherein our Dear Ethicist columnist commits himself to audio and answers your knotty moral dilemmas.

We’ll take a moment to note here that we were ahead of the current New Yorker‘s take on the same theme by more than two weeks in our print version of February 5th. (Modesty forbids that we mention who we thought executed the theme better.)

Click on the gray triangle or mp3 link above to hear the Dear Ethicist satire as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

We’re Not in Kansas, Toto…

Monday morning, we’re in Norway to be exact. A head-banging get-out-of-bed heavy metal cover of Toto’s song “Africa” by the excellent Norwegian guitarist Leo Moracchioli and friends Rabbea Massad and Hannah Boulton.

For those who like to compare and contrast, here’s the considerably more mellow cover by the MonaLisa Twins and Mike Massé

The Automat

When I was a child, my father took me to a Shangri-la. A beautiful high-ceiling building filled with people sitting at tables; the walls were made up of scores of little windowed cabinets filled with slices of lemon meringue pie, or coconut crème pie, or bean soup or dozens of other treats. And if you put your nickels into the magic slot, the window popped open and it all could be yours. Of course, I’m talking about the Automat. I was happy to speak with Lisa Hurwitz who has made a nostalgia-filled film documentary called The Automat.

Click on the gray triangle or mp3 link above to hear the discussion of The Automat with director Lisa Hurwitz, as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

That Was The Week That Was 2/18/22

And now another weekly round-up of news items that attracted my attention, along with my comments. All news items are guaranteed truly to be items reported this week from various online sources (though not the comments…)

Jurassic-Parking-Lot -Dept.

DINOSAURS survived a flu pandemic 150 million years ago, researchers have found. It would have spread rapidly among the beasts, leaving them coughing, sneezing and shivering, scientists believe, but it did not kill them off as they lasted for another 100 million years. No explanation was given for their survival.

Comment: Though the dinosaurs thus may have been walking around with a flu for 50 million years, some archeologists believe that scientists may have overlooked the nearby fossilized bottles of Nyquil and containers of Tropicana Orange Juice.


Into-The-Mouths-of-Babes Dept.

The Food and Drug Administration announced that a meeting to discuss vaccines for children under the age of 5 is now postponed. It’s been delayed as health officials say new data recently emerged on Pfizer’s Emergency Use Authorization request.

Comment: No word when Pfizer will start recommending vaccines for fetuses and sperm cells.


One-Plus-One-Equals-Three Dept

The accounting firm, Mazars USA, said in a letter that they have retracted their financial statements of Donald Trump, which are central to an investigation by the New York attorney general. In a statement, the accounting firm said that “under our standards of professional ethics, we cannot comment on any client services or relationships.”

Comment: Later, the president of Mazar’s reportedly declared that “under our standards of professional accounting ethics, I was double crossing the fingers on both of my hands when I signed the statements, so it doesn’t count.”


Snap-Crackle-Pop Dept.

A trial continues for a retired Tampa police captain who shot and killed a man in a Wesley Chapel movie theater eight years ago. The ex-cop had been arguing with the man over his use of a cellphone in the theater. After the man threw popcorn in his face, the ex-cop pulled out a handgun and opened fire, killing him. Defense attorneys claim their client felt threatened enough to fire in self-defense, citing the stand-your-ground law.

Comment: Some say the shooter’s lawyer also argued his client was on a low-salt diet, and inhaling the fumes from the movie house popcorn projectiles raised his blood pressure, exacerbating the threat.


Declension Intention Suspension Dept

A priest in Arizona resigned after he incorrectly performed baptisms for decades, using the words “We baptize you in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit,” instead of the correct phrase “I baptize you in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit.”  Shrugging off the invalid baptisms isn’t an option for many worshippers, because it affects sacred practices such as confirmation, communion and marriages, derailing the rites for thousands of people.

Comment: The priest allegedly confessed humbly that, “We will strive to do better.—Umm—er, that is–I mean–I will strive to do better.”


Bye-Bye-Blackbird Dept.

Hundreds of blackbirds were seen on video falling from the sky in Mexico and hitting the pavement. Some died on impact. The circumstances surrounding the event led some to question whether it was pollution or 5G on social media. Residents in the community saw hundreds of blackbirds dead on the streets and sidewalks and called police. 

Comment: There is no truth to the rumor that Tippi Hedren was seen with a rifle lurking behind trees.


Save-the-Date Dept.

Russia denied reports that it was planning to attack Ukraine imminently, telling the German Newspaper Die Welt,Wars in Europe rarely start on a Wednesday. There will be no escalation in the coming week either, or in the week after that, or in the coming month.”

Comment: Sources say when asked by a Biden administration undersecretary when would be a good time for you, the Russian pulled out his cellphone calendar and asked, “How about never? Is never good for you?” (hat tip to Robert Mankoff’s famous New Yorker cartoon)

The Swan Whisperer

(Click to enlarge)

The young girl was extraordinarily patient with the swan, gently cooing and making slight flapping movements of her arms as if she, too, were a bird. She continued to make little gestures to welcome the swan who, in a trusting manner, gradually approached more and more closely. The girl and the swan were in direct communication with each other. All of the other strangers watching this close encounter, including myself, were mesmerized. When eventually the young girl walked off with her mother, her mother turned to her and said with amazement, “I didn’t know you could talk Swan.”

Marine Park Salt Marsh

Brooklyn, New York

A Valentine from REO Brothers and The Beatles

Monday morning, some excellent Beatles covers by the Filipino band REO brothers–who are, in fact, really brothers, and have a really inspiring story about the hardships they faced in their lives and the people who helped them. To give you an idea, In 2005, lead vocalist Ronjoseph Otic made drums from tin cans covered with potato-chip bags and started teaching himself to play. He then mastered playing the guitar and taught these skills to his three siblings.

More at REO Brothers

War Is A Racket

Wherein your correspondent reads from the classic anti-war book by America’s most decorated soldier, US Marine Major General Smedley Butler.

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer; a gangster for capitalism…”

Click on the gray triangle or mp3 link above to hear War is A Racket as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

That Was The Week That Was: 2/11/22

Back in the sunny days of 2014 and 2015, I was writing little satirical one-liners a few times a week for a local radio personality. I’d set up the premise with a true news story from the day, and then add a comment punchline. Well, the good folks at Shalblog® Industries (a division of Axolotls ‘R’ Us International) have given me encouragement to do the same here, on a weekly basis. So let’s see how long I can sustain this as a steady Friday feature. All news items are true (though not necessarily the comments…)


But-Not-a-Drop-to-Drink Dept.

Roughly one million people in Austin have had to boil their water Saturday after officials said “errors” at a treatment plant resulted in potentially unsafe water flowing into homes. Last February, in addition, the collapse of the state’s electricity grid resulted in power failures at Austin’s largest water treatment plant.

Comment: Unnamed officials assured the public that the mishaps were now all water under the bridge and that in the future, the city would be the recipient of a tidal wave of sewage treatment.


I’m-Looking-Through-You Dept

NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance firm, has faced widespread allegations that its hacking software Pegasus has been sold to and misused by authoritarian governments across the world. The company has insisted that it could not be used to track Israeli citizens.

Comment: A company spokesman elaborated, “We absolutely do not track Israeli citizens. We are sure of that. We know who Israeli citizens are and non-Israeli citizens are by the contents of their wallets and their phone conversations and Internet browser histories and credit card histories and our satellite imagery of their houses, and data extracted from their birth records, passports, immigration and emigration records; so rest assured, we have identified who not to track. We only track all the other poor fools.”


You’ve-Got-to-Carry-That-Weight Dept.

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine on Feb. 7 finds that getting more sleep each night may help facilitate weight loss. An extra 1-2 hours of sleep may help you eat fewer calories.

Comment: The exact mechanism is unknown, but one doctor ventured, “We suspect it has something to do with not being able to stuff your face the longer you’re asleep. In fact, we find that our patients who are dead actually have managed to cease weight gain all together.”


What’s-In-A-Name Dept.

Queen Elizabeth has announced her royal successors: Prince Charles will take over as monarch (no surprises there) while Camilla Parker Bowles’s new title will become Queen Consort.

Comment: The soon-to-be Queen Consort, whose affair with Prince Charles was widely reported, previously had the official title at Buckingham Palace of Royal Skank.


Water-Under-the Bridge Dept.

Rotterdam has agreed to temporarily dismantle part of its historic Koningshaven Bridge so that Jeff Bezos’s 417 foot long, three-mast yacht can pass through the waterway sometime this summer, according to a spokeswoman for the city.

Comment: Bezos reportedly replied, “I figured it was an easy ask, since I’d already paid to dismantle democracy.”


That’s-A-Rap Dept.

In a record-breaking scheme, Heather Morgan, 31, was taken into custody for conspiracy to launder $3.6 billion of stolen Bitcoin. Morgan, in a bizarre 2019 music video rapped of her status as the “mother-fucking crocodile of Wall Street,” and explained she was “a badass CEO and female rapper.”

Comment: Proving you can take the criminal out of the street, but you can’t take the Wall Street out of the criminal.


All-In-Favor-Say-Eyes Dept

On his first day on the job, a bored security guard drew two pairs of eyes with a ballpoint pen onto artist Anna Leporskaya’s ‘Three Figures’ painting. The painting, which is insured for $1 million, ended up requiring $3,360 of restoration services.

Comment: The guard allegedly expressed sorrow for his actions. “If I had known that defacing a million dollar painting only required $3000 worth of restoration, I would have added mustaches and my ex-boss’s home phone number to the paintings as well.”


This-Land-Is-My-Land Dept.

NASA has raised concerns that Elon Musk’s plan to send another 30,000 Starlink satellites into orbit could lead to “substantial congestion,” increase the potential for collisions, and interfere with the agency’s activities.

Comment: Sources say Musk has plans to alleviate the congestion with a temporary force of retired elementary school crossing guards named Irma and Vera on alternate weekends.

Truly Tule

(Click to enlarge)

Tule Elk

Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Wikipedia says the Tule (Too-Lee) elk is only found in California, and there used to be a half a million of them, but by 1870 they were thought to have been exterminated. A single breeding pair was found in 1875 at the marshes of Buena Vista Lake and steps were taken to breed them; now the number of Tule Elk stands at more than 4000. This guy was part of a herd that roamed through Point Reyes National Seashore Park.

Where Is My Mind?

Monday morning, Allison Young asks the question that is perpetually on my inner tape loop. The song was originally done by The Pixies in the 80s in a very different way.

I lost it at the whistling.

Thanks to YouTuber PostmodernJukebox

Dear Ethicist

Shalblog® Industries recently acquired from a deep source, a document which purports to be from an upcoming New York Crimes Sunday Magazine issue. The manuscript pages seem to be an impending edition of the popular Dear Ethicist column, wherein the award-winning NY Crimes ethics columnist answers his readers’ knotty moral dilemmas.

Dear Ethicist,

I recently evicted a score of tenants from a building I own. It is obviously unfortunate, but do you think that as a homeowner I am ethically obligated to file a change of address form with the Postal Service for each former tenant?

The Ethicist replies: You’re under no obligation to fill out the postal forms yourself; however, if some of the tenants were disabled, or became disabled as a result of the eviction proceedings, then it would be a gracious gesture, though not a legal one, to perhaps provide the forms and pens to those still camped out on your doorsteps.

Dear Ethicist,

A colleague recently uncovered massive fraud and deception at work while updating the department’s computer operating system. Should I report my colleague directly to my boss, or would it be better simply to send an anonymous letter so that no one’s feelings are hurt?

The Ethicist replies: It’s certainly thoughtful of you not to want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but it may be the situation calls for honesty among friends. Your co-worker deserves to know of your loyalty to your company, so that after his release from prison he might model himself on someone who gives 100% to the job. As they say, a good example is the best teacher.

Dear Ethicist

Last week, while at my home computer supervising the remote drone bombing of a Syrian village, a friendly colleague who I hadn’t seen in a number of months came by to help me out.  My wife says that after such a long absence the colleague should have brought over a little gift of some kind to acknowledge the long absence. I feel if we’re friends, then we shouldn’t have to rest on formality. Who is right?

The Ethicist replies: Unannounced visits can be startling to one’s partner, even if you yourself welcome the visit. Perhaps your wife felt that she should be compensated in some way for the inconvenience a sudden “drop-in” might cause. Or, and this is something you might take up with your spouse privately at a quiet time, perhaps your loved one feels shut out when you and your colleague conduct bombing raids and leave her out. Nobody likes feeling left out, and in the future, you might invite her to try her hand at the controls, even if it’s just a small hut or two and not a major population center.

Dear Ethicist

My grandmother, whose Medicare does not pay for dental care, has taken to losing teeth whenever she eats her favorite apple crumb pie. We hate to ban the pie from her diet, but we never know whether a tooth should go into the compost heap, the plastics and metals, or just the regular trash, so now they are just piling up. Which would be the more environmentally correct way to dispose of them?

The Ethicist replies: It’s one of the truisms of modern life that as we try to treat the planet better, things can get more confusing. It depends whether Granny’s teeth are her own or some kind of replacement. If they were her own, they are organic and should go in the compost heap; if they are replacements, then they are probably an amalgam of plastic and metal and should go in the re-cycling bin, assuming your town or city has separate streams for such. The good news is that even under the worst possible scenario, you will only have to make the decision 32 times, since Grandma has no insurance to replace the teeth.

Dear Ethicist

As head of a medical supply company, in a recent merger, I acquired the patent of a new life-saving drug. Based on supply and demand and what the market will bear, I tripled the consumer price. My investors have congratulated me over how the company’s stock price has soared. However, some patients can no longer afford the medication. Would it be all right to organize a picnic for those poorer patients in order to make their final days more pleasant? And do you think it should be on a weekday or on a weekend? And would it be okay to institute a no pets policy for those who may be allergic?

The Ethicist replies: When I last taught my Ethics 101 class at Harvard University, we had a similar situation come up in the very classroom itself. There was one student who could no longer pay tuition after the most recent tuition hike, and though we didn’t arrange a picnic as you are considering, we did take up a collection to present the student with a 10% off coupon for the Red Lobster restaurant of his choice. It turned out the boy was an observant Jew, and so couldn’t use the coupons, but it’s always important to remember that it is the gesture that is remembered. As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Dear Ethicist

I am in a rather powerful political position. It is not easy, especially as a woman, to handle the volume of complaints I must deal with. The number of emails in my inbox from constituents who carp about not having enough bread to eat has gotten to the point where I spend more time answering their emails than all my other work combined. Should I just direct their complaints to the SPAM folder, or would it be more efficient to remind them through autoreply that in a pinch they could just eat cake? I don’t want to impugn the intelligence of my unimaginative constituents, but it’s not rocket science.

The Ethicist replies: The stresses of a responsible job can make us all a little bit cranky at times, it comes with the territory. While it was considerate of you to offer an alternative to bread, it may be wise to remember that not everybody can digest gluten-based products. There are some cake mixes on the market today that offer a healthier choice. Perhaps replying with a photo or two of some oat-based or quinoa-based bakery goods might stimulate the imaginations—and palates!—of your more idea-challenged constituents.

Dear Ethicist

Is it ethical to write a column that focuses on everyday trivial matters of etiquette and ethics while ignoring and thus implicitly excusing the larger breaches of ethics and morality that your newspaper supports every single day?

(Unfortunately, the document ends here. You will have to supply your own answers.)