More blasts from the past

Both of the following jokes come from an anthology published in 1950, the last year of Truman’s presidency.


It was a day late in 1980, when socialized medicine had become the law of the land. A man was seized with a violent cramp in his stomach and sought relief at the modern white structure erected for the purpose in his home town. Upon entering the building, he found himself in a hall with two doors. One was marked “male,” the other “female.” Naturally, he entered the door marked “male.”

He found himself in a room with two doors. One was marked “Over 21,” the other “Under 21.” Since he was 52, he entered the door marked “Over 21.”

He found himself in a room with two doors. One was marked “Serious Illness,” the other “Minor indisposition.” Since he was doubled up with pain by this time, he staggered through the door marked “Serious illness.”

He found himself in a room with two doors. One was marked “Democrats,” the other “Republicans.” Since he had voted a straight Republican ticket all his life, he entered the door marked “Republicans” — and found himself out on the street.


Another anecdote aimed at the Democratic administration is this reputed report by a Kansas farmer: “The bugs got my berries, a hail storm ruined my garden truck, and the drought spoiled my wheat, but I’m doing mighty good on the crops the government paid me not to plant.

UPDATE: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.


Name that political party

It appears that Toledo, Ohio — or, at least, the mayor in Toledo, Ohio — is giving Berkeley a run for its money:

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner on Friday ordered some 200 members of Company A, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines from Grand Rapids, Michigan, out of Toledo just before the unit was suppose to start a weekend of urban warfare training downtown.

The mayor’s spokesperson Brian Schwartz said, “the mayor asked them to leave because they frighten people. He did not want them practicing and drilling in a highly visible area.”

Toledo police said they knew about the training and had approved the unit’s use of the Madison Building and the Promenade Park area. The training was scheduled to start Friday afternoon and last until Sunday. Police said the unit’s presence would have a minimal impact on the city. Police issued a press release earlier in the week saying the marines would be wearing green camouflage uniforms, operate military vehicles, carry rifles, perform foot patrols, and fire blank ammunitiion during the exercise.

Schwartz said there was a breakdown in communication between police and the Finkbeiner administration that led to the mayor’s action.

“The marines drilled here three times during the Ford administration and once under the Finkbeiner administration. After the last visit, the mayor told then police chief Jack Smith, that he did not want the marines back. Smith failed to inform the current police administration of the mayor’s feelings,” Schwartz said.

NBC24 spoke to Jack Smith who recalled that after the marines last visit, he and the mayor had a heated exchange about the training.

“He told me he did not want them, as he put it, “playing war in Toledo’”, Smith recalled. I told him, as a former marine, “that if one young marine’s life is saved because of training he or she received in Toledo, Ohio, then it was worth the inconvenience.”

You the rest here.

It’s a fairly long and detailed article, that describes much of the horse trading surrounding the mayor’s ultimate decision. There’s really only one pertinent piece of information you won’t find in the article — the mayor’s political affiliation. If you are wondering, he’s a Democrat. He is, apparently, also something of a kook, which makes Toledo’s loyalty to him impressive. Even his accomplishments don’t seem to set off adequately the fact that the man is a loose cannon.

UPDATE: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

The high water bill

You’ve probably received this as an email before, but I hadn’t seen it and it startled a great Saturday morning laugh out of me. Here’s the email text:

Jennifer and Jim kept getting huge water bills. They knew beyond a doubt that the bills weren’t representative of their actual usage, and no matter how they tried to conserve, the high bills continued.

Although they could see nothing wrong, they had everything checked for leaks or problems: first the water meter, then outdoor pipes, indoor pipes,underground pipes, faucets, toilets, washer, ice maker, etc. — all to no avail. One day Jim was sick and stayed home in bed, but kept hearing water running downstairs.

He finally tore himself from his sick bed to investigate, and stumbled onto the cause of such high water bills. Apparently this was happening all day long when they were not at home. Knowing that few would believe him,he taped a segment of the ‘problem’ for posterity.

Click on the link to see why they had a high water bill.

And here’s the link.

What is art?

Do you look at carrots and see hummingbirds?  Or mentally transform eggplants into penguins?  If you don’t, you’re probably like most people, including me.  But now you can discover what kind of magic happens when you do look at ordinary fruits and vegetables and see more.

More Abba *UPDATED*

I’m working, so I can’t write. I therefore thought I’d give you another old Abba video, Head over Heels. It appeals to me on three levels: I like the 80s Abba disco beat; I like how frantic it is, which seems to catch the pulse of my own life (although the only frantic shopping I do is grocery shopping, and I never drag my man around anywhere); and I love the truly hideous early 80s looks the gals are wearing (and I did own a pair of pants precisely like those Agnetha is wearing):

UPDATE:  BTW, if you’re looking for the quality, informed, intellectual reading I’m patently incapable of providing today, I can’t recommend more than that you check out this week’s offerings at the Watcher’s Council.  Some weeks are stronger than others, and this is one of the best.   Then, tomorrow, you can check out the Watcher of Weasels and see if you would have ranked the posts in the same way Council members did.

I thought this news story was about Obama and Hillary

I saw this headline: “New material pushes the boundary of blackness.” Was it naive for me to assume that it was yet another story about which candidate on the Democratic side has better black bona fides, the one who is half black or the one married to the first white/black president?

As to that last, I like James Taranto’s take on the matter:

A reader calls our attention to an old story from October 2001, which seems oddly relevant today:

Former President Bill Clinton was honored as the nation’s first black president Saturday at the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Annual Awards Dinner on in Washington, DC.

The chair of the all-Democratic caucus, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.), told the crowd that Clinton “took so many initiatives he made us think for a while we had elected the first black president.” . . .

Clinton told he was honored to be considered America’s “first black president.”

“I think it’s a function of the work I have done, not just as president, but my whole public life to try to bridge the racial divide and the fact that even when I was a little boy I had friends who were African-American,” he explained.

It seems the only way the Democrats can unite the disparate identity groups that make up their party is by choosing a leader who is a white man.

Political satire, liberal style

You remember Robert Reich, don’t you? He was Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor, serving during the first administration. He’s now a Berkeley prof and a blogger. Turns out he’s also a playwright, and his play “Public Exposure: An Indecent Political Farce,” is being performed in Santa Rosa, about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco.

Before I describe the play, let me remind you that Reich served a liberal president who almost fell out of office because he couldn’t keep his distinguished (that is bent) organ of reproduction tightly zipped. Do you have that thought well in mind? Also, are you familiar with the psychiatric disorder called “projection”? “Projection” is defined as “A defense mechanism, operating unconsciously, in which what is emotionally unacceptable in the self is unconsciously rejected and attributed (projected) to others.” 

Okay, now that you’ve placed in the forefront of your mind both the nature of the Presidency in which Reich served and the meaning of projection, you should enjoy the plot summary our local paper gives of Reich’s play:

Dodds Delzell, an outstanding actor at the College of Marin during its Golden Era who has since performed with many Bay Area companies, is perfectly cast as Bill Humphrey, a TV talk show host whose world view is somewhere to the right of Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. The opening minutes are a minor masterpiece of timing and discipline. Hands clasped on a curved desk, an expressionless Delzell sits zombielike as he waits for the cameras to roll. The only sign he is alive is a series of carefully spaced throat clearings. Then, as the on-air light flashes, he breaks into a maniacal grin and begins to skewer his guests. Each verbal homicide is accompanied by the thumbs up gesture that symbolizes the show’s slogan, “We expose, you watch.” It’s simultaneously chilling and fascinating.

Citing his enormous popularity, Humphrey’s ex-wife, producer and associate host, Irma Sunquist (energetically interpreted by Sheri Lee Miller), proposes that he make himself available as a candidate for president. If he wins, she intends to be his administration’s Karl Rove.

“You’ll have all the attention,” she tells him, “I’ll have the power.”

At first, Humphrey resists because he has a secret. For some time he has been seeing the head of the Langwell Clinic, a practice famous for its celebrity makeovers, seeking help in correcting an embarrassing physical defect. The problem is with (here’s where the need for delicacy enters) his “member.” Specifically, it’s bent. To the left. As Irma drily observes when she learns about it: “Who would have imagined? Bill Humphrey … a lefty!”

Ray Langwell, the clinic’s head (played with droll authority by Tim Kniffen), is eager to effect a cure. His dream is to straighten the millions of other bent members in the world, using the marketing slogan, “Hang well with Langwell.” Happily for both, success finally comes, which Humphrey takes as a sign that he can win the presidential race against liberal Gov. Louise Hutton (company veteran mollie boice, who likes to keep her names lower-cased) by exposing his restored symmetry as a way of demonstrating to the voters that he has nothing to hide.

You can imagine what happens next, although Reich’s plot ultimately takes a surprising and somewhat unconvincing turn. Have no fear, however, that what you see will be particularly shocking. It’s all in the spirit of good fun, neatly timed to complement the other absurdities of this election year.

So, Reich who served a liberal President with a bent penis that he figuratively flashed throughout the entire world, has written a play in which it is a conservative talk show host who has the bent penis that he flashes to the entire world.  Projection, anyone?

Another point I feel compelled to make here is the fact that Clinton’s escapades so degraded the tone of the Presidency that nobody thinks there’s anything untoward in a former Labor Secretary of the United States of America writing what amounts to a pretty tawdry political farce.  One of the things that I’ve really appreciated about the Bush White House is the complete absence of sex scandals.  I have enough problems explaining to my elementary school children why Vanessa Hudgens is naked in pictures splashed across magazines and the internet or why Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant at 16 by a teenager to whom she’s not married.  I can’t imagine what parents of the late 1990s went through trying to explain sordid Presidential oral sex and cigars to their young ‘uns.