Yes…It’s Time For More Trump Moments

To be in the presence of the President of the United States could be an awesome thing.

To be in the military and in the presence of the President/your Commander-in-Chief could also be an awesome thing.

ellington_01Unless the President/ Commander-in-Chief is Trump.

Recently Trump was at Ellington Airport in Houston, TX.  After a Coast Guard briefing on tropical storm Imelda, he appears in a video with about a dozen Coast Guard members.

The video is not quite 15 minutes long, which is no time at all if you’re on a fabulous first date and don’t want the evening to end.

Or, 15 minutes can seem like forever, when you’re sitting in the doctor’s office doc_01 croppedwaiting for good news or bad news.

If I’d been one of those dozen Coast Guard members?

Definitely the doctor’s office.

That’s my interpretation, as are all of the following – because of course, I have no idea what the Coast Guard members were thinking.

Trump, regarding his telephone conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky:  “And, by the way, the conversation was absolutely perfect.  Absolutely appropriate.”

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Trump, on Joe Biden:  “Joe’s got a lot of problems.”

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Trump, on his visit to Texas:  “These are incredible people – the people of Texas.  That’s why I’m here today.”

Final 3 (3)

Bless their hearts, these brave Coast Guard members, for standing tall and enduring Trump’s bullshit.

And bless their hearts for volunteering to serve and protect our country, and us.

Coast Guard aircrew assists infant during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey
In a single year, the Coast Guard responded to 19,790 Search and Rescue cases, saved 3,560 lives and more than $77 million in property.  Here, a Coast Guard aircrew assists a baby during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, August 2017.

Airline Announces New Charge For Ticket Changes

“Good afternoon, SoLow Airlines, how may I help you?”

“I need to change my flight from San Diego to New York.  My trip is departing on Sunday and I have to change that to a Tuesday departure.”

“I’m happy to help you with that, sir.”

(SoLow customer service person gets his name and flight number, and then…)

“All right, I do see you scheduled for a Sunday departure, let me check the Tuesday flight, woman_02 largerSan Diego to New York, for you.  Did you want the same departure time?”

“Yes, please”

“One moment.”


“I can schedule you for that Tuesday flight, departing San Diego at 10am.”

“That’s great!  Let’s go ahead and do that.”

“Before we do, sir, I’m required by SoLow Airlines to advise there is a $550 charge to change your flight.”

“What?  Did you say $550?”

“Yes, sir.”

(Pause)man cropped

“That seems like a lot of money for a simple flight change – $550?”

“Yes, sir.  And one kidney.”

(Long pause)

“I must have misunderstood you.  Kidney?  Did you say a kidney?”

“Yes, sir.  If you wish to make that flight change the charge will be $550 and one kidney.”

(Long pause)

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this.  You’re telling me that if I fly on Tuesday instead of Sunday, you’re asking me for a kidney?”

“And $550, sir.”

“That’s outrageous!”

“Sir, your flight change involves that Monday holiday, which impacts the cost of your flight change.”

“I’m not talking about the money, I’m talking about the kidney!”woman_01

“And I should advise, sir, that SoLow requires your kidney 24 hours prior to your Tuesday departure.  Shall I go ahead and book that flight, so you can start making arrangements?”

“What in the hell – Look, this is ridiculous.  You and I both know that selling human organs is illegal.”

“On the contrary, sir, selling a kidney is perfectly legal in Iran.  The average person in Iran can sell a kidney for $4,600, all government sanctioned.”

“Wh – what kind of crap is that?”

“It’s true, sir.  I can send you links to several articles, including one by the Associated Press, if you’d like verification?”

Headline (2)

“You’re telling me that you’d take my kidney and sell it to the Iranian government?”

“SoLow Airlines doesn’t use the word ‘sell,’ sir.  We think of it as a donation, in return for a consideration.  Like all airlines, we’re constantly developing new revenue streams.”

(Long pause)

“Look.  I must change my flight.  I…I…  Oh, God.  All right.  I’ll do it.”

“Very good, sir.  Now – did you want to change your return flight as well?”

“Of course I have to change my return flight!  Instead of leaving New York on Wednesday, I need to return to San Diego on Friday.”man cropped reversed

“I’m checking that return flight on Friday…yes, I can schedule you for that change, a Friday flight, New York to San Diego.”

“All right.  Do that.”

“Again, sir, I’m required by SoLow Airlines to advise there is a $550 charge to change your flight.”

“You already told me that.”

“No, sir.  That was for your San Diego to New York flight.  There will also be a $550 charge to change your return flight.”

“Another $550?  But there’s no holiday involved, and – ”

“Yes, sir.  And a kidney.”

“What?  WHAT?”woman_02 larger

(Long pause)

“You’re telling me you want both of my kidneys to change both of my flights?”

(Long pause)

“And as advised earlier, SoLow also requires that kidney 24 hours prior to your New York to San Diego flight.”

(Long pause)

“This is insane.  But…I suppose I should be grateful this won’t cost me an arm and a leg.”

“No, sir.  SoLow only charges that for international flights.”

arm_02 cropped fixed larger

Rant:  Seriously…

Ahhhh, Downton Abbey:  I enjoyed every minute of every episode of every season.


And with six seasons – the TV mini-series ran from 2010 to 2015 – and 56 episodes, that was a lot of enjoyment.

Playing the role of Downton Abbey itself was Highclere Castle, a “stately home,” as the English like to say…

Highclere with people

Located in Hampshire, about 70 miles southwest of London, and owned by the 8th Earl of Carnarvon.

Months ago, I was delighted when I learned that the actors had gathered again, this time to create a Downton Abbey feature film that would premiere September 20.

And to get me even more enthused, the evening before the movie opened, NBC was airing a one-hour special, Return to Downton Abbey.Woman-watching-TV

So I had a date with NBC.

I couldn’t wait to see those familiar upstairs and downstairs faces, enjoy clips from the movie, and admire the gorgeous settings and glorious scenery.

What I hadn’t counted on was having to endure the most obnoxious, inane, banal, annoying, incompetent and useless show host I’ve ever seen.

I had no idea who this guy was, but when the show opened, the first word out of his mouth was “I.”

And throughout the hour, it was all about him.

Who the hell is this guy?

The inanity began immediately.

We see him walking:

Walking (2)


We see him dancing:

Dancing 1 (2)

Why?  Why is this guy dancing, and what does his dancing have to do with this program?

We see him mugging for the camera:

Mugging (2)

Who the hell is this guy?

And:  Could we see some stars, and not this moron?

Early on, we see the guy – whom I’ll call “Host” – talking with the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.

Host:  Your grandmother is the queen, correct?duh cropped fixed

(The Earl and Countess burst out laughing.)

Host:  Is that wrong?

Yes, idiot, it is.  No, the queen is not the Earl’s grandmother.

Was this stupidity scripted?

And if not, did Host just wing it?  Did he truly neglect to do even a modicum of research about the owners of Highclere before he showed up to interview them?

Yes, Host did neglect his research.  Here’s another exchange.

The Countess had asked Host to guess how many rooms Highclere Castle has:

Host:  I’m gonna guess…40?  Thirty?duh cropped fixed

Countess:  Between 250 and 300.

Host:  Wow.  So I was way off?  OK.

I suspect Host is accustomed to being “way off.”

Research skills:  F Grade cropped darker 30 px

I can’t even begin to imagine what the creators of Return to Downton Abbey were thinking when they chose this jerk.

Host added nothing to the program – in fact, he detracted from it.

His incompetence continued.

At about half-way through, we see the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon giving Host a tour.  They pause before a large painting.

Countess:  That’s a painting by Anthony Van Dyck of Charles I on horseback.

Host:  The real king and queen have actually visited here before.  So what is that like?  What’s that preparation like?

(The countess laughed, and indicated she wasn’t alive when it happened.)

Sidebar: Charles I reigned from 1625 to 1649.duh cropped fixed

Host:  Whoops!  Put my foot in my mouth there!

I suspect Host is accustomed to having foot in mouth.

In addition to no research, was there also no script?  Was host ad-libbing all this?

Ad-libbing skills:  F Grade cropped darker 30 px

Every time this doofus spoke, I cringed.  Every time he appeared, I groaned.

If eye-rolling was an Olympic sport, I was a gold medalist, no question.

doofus croppedAnd how’s this for Host’s mastery of grammar:

“Over the next hour, myself and some of the cast members are going to indulge ourselves with the cream of high society.”

As I said – it was all about him.

Somehow, I was able to watch Return to Downton Abbey despite more Host dancing:

Dancing 2 (2)

Plus posing:

Posing (2)

And attempting – and failing – to play the Downton Abbey theme song:

Piano (2)

What does his piano playing have to do with this program?

Later, I fell sleep still wondering who bonehead Host was, so the next morning I went online and found out.

His name is Derek Hough.

His apparent claim to fame is winning Dancing With The Stars competitions.


If Return to Downton Abbey was an example of his hosting skills…

Hosting skills:  F Grade cropped darker 30 px

Memo to Derek:


No Worries, They’re Just…

The phrase “white lies” is common, and it’s been around a long time – its origin can be traced back to a 14th-century letter:

“I do assure you he is vnsusspected of any vntruithe or oder notable cryme (excepte a white lye) wiche is taken for a Small fawte in thes partes.”

Yes, that’s how people wrote and spoke English in the 1300s.

And yes, my spellcheck went bonkers with it.

“White lies” recently appeared in this headline in the The Baltimore Sun and other publications:

Headline 1 (2) fixed

Tell white lies at work?


The article was based on a survey done by, and “98% of respondents admitted to telling an untruth at work.”

Like I said:  Duh.

The Simply Hired website had several interesting graphics, and I feel compelled to share a few.  This one because some of these white lies are new to me, and I’ll be adding them to my repertoire:

Image 1 (2)

Though I don’t know if “I’m just tired” would work well in today’s workplace.

Because a lot of people are tired at work, according to an article that appeared soon after the white lies story:

Headline 2 (2)

This article suggests that “many people feel their jobs have been devalued by employers that increasingly assign a higher priority to shareholders and customers,” and notes:

  • Around one in three workers said they now face too much work to do everything well.
  • About three-quarters said they had to work extra hours beyond their usual schedule at least one day a month.
  • About one in five said they held a job other than their main one.

Are we “tired”?

You bet.

Here are some additional reasons employees feel devalued:

  • Middle-income households have less home equity.
  • Median household income, adjusted for inflation, has barely budged in two decades.
  • Businesses looking “to get out of the messy job of employing people” hire outside firms to do work formerly done in-house.  These outside companies hire people at lower pay with fewer benefits and job protections.
  • The wealthiest Americans now hold a greater share of the nation’s wealth.
  • Corporate profits have far outpaced employee compensation since the early 2000s.

Vox (2).jpg

  • The median pay of CEOs of companies in the S&P 500 index who have been in their job for at least two years jumped from $9.6 million in 2011 to $12 million last year. To earn as much as the CEO, a typical employee at most big companies in 2018 would have to work 158 years.

“158 years”?

Now I’m really tired.

The article also notes,

“Keeping workers happy is a very low priority,” said Ruth Milkman, a sociologist of labor and labor movements at the City University of New York.

So we’re not happy at work, and we lie.

Lies that aren’t just a coping mechanism, but a survival strategy.

We lie, and lie often, says Simply Hired:

Image 2 (2).jpg

And a lot of this is in proportion to job satisfaction:

Image 3 (2)

And the biggest days for lying are Mondays and Fridays:

Image 4 (2)

And sadly, many workers have multiple circumstances to lie, because they’re working multiple jobs:

Image 5 (2)

So, before I apply for a job I’d better update my resume “Skillset” list:

Extensive experience telling white lies to direct reports, colleagues and supervisors.  Lying reasons include:

  • To avoid hurting a colleague’s feelings (though her new haircut really is ugly).
  • To secretly attend a job interview (hey – their HR told me to lie).
  • To take a day off without using vacation or sick days (and make up for all the unpaid time I’ve worked).
  • To improve my chances of receiving a raise or promotion (I’ve been here five years without either).
  • To avoid being reprimanded for a mistake (not that I make any).
  • To take credit for someone else’s work (my manager does this, therefore I can, too).

If this doesn’t help, then I guess I’ll just settle down and plan on working those 158 years.

And end up like this woman…

Woman Dies (2)

But wait!

This just in cropped

In mid-August the Business Roundtable made a huge announcement:

hang on cropped larger FINAL

Well, they sort of said this.

The Business Roundtable – a group of 181 corporate CEOs – announced a new approach to the way corporations are going to do business.  They said…

kiss it cropped

That’s right!

Here are a few of those Roundtable CEOs, and their total annual compensation (TAC) as of April 19, 2019:

bezos cropped 500 gorsky 500 Moynihan 500
Jeff Bezos
CEO, Amazon
TAC:  Richest person in the world
Alex Gorsky
CEO, Johnson & Johnson
TAC:  $20,097,572
Brian Moynihan
CEO, Bank of America
TAC:  $22,434,351
muilenburg cropped 500 stephenson 500 corbat cropped 500
Dennis Muilenburg
CEO, Boeing
TAC:  $23,392,187
Randall Stephenson
TAC:  $25,600,312
Michael Corbat
CEO, Citigroup
TAC:  $24,179,166

They said, “We feel your pain,” and when you look at their total annual compensation, you know that’s true!

They said, “So we’re going to change the way business does business!”

You know that’s true!

According to this article in The New York Times:

NY Times (2)

The article says that,

“…the Business Roundtable issued a statement on ‘the purpose of a corporation,’ arguing that companies should no longer advance only the interests of shareholders.  Instead, the group said, they must also invest in their employees, protect the environment and deal fairly and ethically with their suppliers.”

And Brian Moynihan (pictured above), Bank of America CEO said,

“You can provide great returns for your shareholders and great benefits for your employees and run your business in a responsible way.”

what larger cropped fixed

But…how will they do that?

They didn’t say.

What else didn’t they say?  As the Times article noted,

“There was no mention at the Roundtable of curbing executive compensation, a lightning-rod topic when the highest-paid 100 chief executives make 254 times the salary of an employee receiving the median pay at their company.”

So even though, for the past 20 years, the Business Roundtable’s published principles have stated that “corporations exist principally to serve their shareholders…”

Suddenly, that’s all changed!

Or it will, “soon”:

“Several of the executives…said the group would soon offer more detailed proposals on how corporations can live up to the ideals it outlined, rather than focusing purely on economic policies.”

The Business Roundtable hasn’t told us how, or when, they’ll “invest in their employees, protect the environment and deal fairly and ethically with their suppliers.”

I do hope this isn’t more…

white lies_04 cropped larger

And until we learn more, this is me, waiting…

worker_03 cropped

Book Review:  Let Us Buyers Beware

Review, short version:  Four skunks out of four for typos, punctuation errors and more.

Review, long version:

“The greatest knight that ever lived.”  Sir William Marshal, first Earl Pembroke, is buried in the Temple Church, London.

I’m a nut for English royal history, and when I encounter a book by an author I’ve never heard of, I want to know more.

I appreciate a new point of view, or a fresh take on familiar information.

The author was Juliet Dymoke and the book, A Pride of Kings.  It’s a novel about William Marshal, a fascinating man who was born in 1146 or 1147 and died in 1219 – and he saw, and did, amazing things in his 70+ years.

I’d read other books about Marshal, and looked forward to Dymoke’s perspective.

MAJOR disappointment.

I’d like to tell you where I stopped reading.

But the book’s pages weren’t numbered.

Seriously!  Have you ever read a book with no page numbers?

(Kindle doesn’t count.)

This was my first clue that the book had proofreader/editor/publishing problems.

Other clues quickly followed, so many that they became a real distraction from reading:  typos, missing or incorrect punctuation, run-on sentences.  Here’s an example of the Red-Pen-300x300 croppedlatter on page seven (which I know only because I numbered the pages myself):

“William Marshal was to his mind everything a man should be – well-made and strong with a face not handsome but with even pleasing features and a skin turned brown from the outdoor life he lived and with eyes that were blue, steady, and unflinching, and a mouth that could smile suddenly when one least expected it.”

Is your hand itching to reach for that red marking pen?

You can use it on this one, too:

“The song was catchy, the tune such that every page would be whistling it on thered pen morrow, and the words a clever mixture of fairy tale and fact William, though he had little interest in music except for dancing which he had grown to enjoy – one moved about in the dance and he preferred that to merely listening to tedious readings or poems – nevertheless found himself startled by the words.”

Here’s just one of the typos:  “…torn by loyalty to a stem master.”

“Stem master”?  Should that be stern master?

Then there’s the page where some of the text was justified – and some wasn’t.

Sloppy.  Amateurish.  Distracting.

Disgruntled, I went online to read about Juliet Dymoke.  She was born in 1919, died in 2001, and published more than 30 books, including a six-book series that included A Pride of Kings.

editor croppedIn the front of the book I learned that A Pride of Kings was “first published in Great Britain in 1978 by Nel Books,” but my version had been published in 2017 by Three Castles Media Ltd.

The Internet didn’t have much to offer about Three Castles Media Ltd., and the company doesn’t appear to have a website.  I did find something on that listed two employees and a street address in London for Three Castles Media.

But I don’t know how reliable that is, since that website has a disclaimer, “Companies House does not verify the accuracy of the information filed.”

So here’s what I suspect:  Three Castles is a two-person, two-bit publisher that somehow got permission to reproduce Dymoke’s six-book series.  That meant a new printing, but they failed to have a proofreader and editor check the galley proofs.

If Three Castles even got galley proofs.proofreader cropped

Or have a proofreader.

Or have an editor.

Three Castles put the Kindle edition of the series on Amazon, and printed the first two – A Pride of Kings and The Royal Griffin.

They saved money with look-alike covers:

Pride of Kings No. 1 Royal Griffin No. 2 cover Lion of Mortimer No. 3 cropped larger.jpg
Lady of the Garter No. 4 cropped larger.jpg Lord of Greenwich No. 5 cropped larger.jpg Sun in Splendour No. 6 cropped larger

But the hard copies of the first two bombed – the books were #2,363,763 and #3,475,715 on Amazon the last time I checked.

So, yeah – I’m disgruntled.

Because I paid for this mess.

True confession time:  I know my blog posts aren’t perfect, either.  And it’s not due to a lack of proofreading/editing on my part.

Writers are notoriously bad at editing and proofreading their own writing.

My blogs aren’t perfect because I’m not perfect.

But…no one is paying to read my blog.

My takeaway?

The next time I’m buying a book, I’ll check to make sure it isn’t from Three Castles Media Ltd.

book in trash

Skip And Ping, And Skipping – Soon?

See Skip.

See Ping.

Skip and Ping are adult king penguins who live at the zoo in Berlin, Germany.

King penguins are the second largest species of penguin, and can grow up to three feet tall and weigh about 25 pounds.

That’s a big bird!

“How ya doing, kiddo?”

Skip and Ping are doing what penguin couples do – caring for an egg they hope will hatch into a beautiful baby penguin.

They take turns caring for the egg, balancing it on their feet and covering it with a flap of skin called a “brood pouch.”  That keeps the egg nice and safe and warm until it’s hatched.

In fact, Skip and Ping practiced hatching an egg by trying to hatch a stone – and a dead fish!  So the zookeepers knew the birds were ready for the real deal.

When the baby is born, let’s name it after both parents and call it “Skipping”!

penguin baby
This baby penguin was born at the Kansas City Zoo in February 2019.  Hope to see Skipping in September!

Neither Skip nor Ping gave birth to this egg – they’re male penguins – but instead they adopted it from a female who laid the egg in July but wasn’t able to care for it.

Skip and Ping aren’t the only same-sex penguin couple in a zoo – there have been same-sex penguin couples at many zoos, including the Central Park Zoo in New York, Sea Life Sydney Aquarium in Australia, and regional zoos or aquariums in Denmark and Ireland.

And penguins aren’t the only same-sex couples in the animal kingdom – male and female homosexual behavior has been documented in over 450 different animal species worldwide.

penguin chick molting
This penguin chick is molting from its baby feathers into its adult “tuxedo.”

“Homosexual” means being sexually attracted to people of the same sex or in this case, penguins of the same sex.

Skip and Ping’s egg is due to hatch sometime in September.

Let’s tell Skip and Ping we wish them a safe hatching and a happy, healthy baby!

Let’s also tell Skip and Ping not to move to the United States, because while Germany has one of the world’s highest acceptance rates for homosexuality, the U. S. sometimes isn’t so accepting.

You see, in the U.S. there are no federal law outlawing discrimination nationwide.  This leaves residents of some states unprotected against discrimination in employment, housing, and private or public services.

For example, if Skip and Ping and Skipping moved to Ohio and wanted to buy a house, they might be discriminated against because Skip and Ping are both male.

Discrimination-Definition croppedAnd Ohio does not prohibit housing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Do you know what “discriminate” means?

It means unfair treatment because of someone’s race or age or sexual orientation.

If the family lived in Idaho and Skip and Ping wanted to get jobs, they might be discriminated against there, too.

Because Idaho does not prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

And if the family lived in Florida and decided to go out to dinner, they might go hungry, instead.

Because Florida does not prohibit discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation.

In fact, Skip and Ping could legally get married in all 50 states, but discrimination based on sexual orientation “is still legal in 31 states.”

EqualityActPassesTWYou’re wondering, “But in the U.S., why isn’t everywhere the same and nobody can discriminate because of race or age or sexual orientation?”

Well, to help make that happen, on May 17, 2019 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the H. R. 5 Equality Act.

This act would “…prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes” in every state.

The U.S. Senate received the bill for consideration on May 20, 2019.

It’s currently – as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it – in “McConnell’s Graveyard.”

“McConnell” being Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Mitch McConnell, who has gleefully embraced the title of “Grim Reaper” in the Senate, a title he said he gave himself:

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At a weekly news conference in June, Pelosi presented this McConnell Graveyard poster covered with headstones representing only a few of the bills and pieces of legislation that have become stalled in the Senate:

mcconnell_03 cropped

The H. R. 5 Equality Act, passed by the House May, is in the middle of the top row.

In the meantime, the U.S. Senate had their own Equality Act:  S-788, introduced on March 13, 2019.

It was “read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.”

The head of the Committee on the Judiciary is Senator Lindsey Graham.

Back in March,, an American news website, described McConnell and Graham as “the two biggest congressional obstacles to the Equality Act’s passage” and went on to say,

“Graham and McConnell are likely to ensure the proposal never gets to a vote.

Graham McConnell
The Unholy Trinity:  Graham (left), McConnell (right) and what’s-his-name.

“McConnell, a long-time foe of LGBTQ equality, controls whether bills come up for debate in the full Senate.  Graham, who has a similarly anti-equality record, determines what legislation gets a hearing in Judiciary, the committee to which the bill has already been referred.”

The H. R. 5 Equality Act is in the McConnell Graveyard, and the S-788 Equality Act is languishing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

So for now, tell Skip and Ping – and, hopefully, Skipping – that while the United States may be a nice place to visit…

If they want to be treated fairly in terms of housing, employment, public accommodations and lots of other areas…

Best the family stay in Germany.

mcconnell_01 FINAL

WASHINGTON – Trump has announced his plan to revamp the housing market and address the national housing crisis, the White House said.

“If people have trouble finding housing,” he said, “I have a lot of hotels all over the place and people use them because they’re the best and it’s like, you know, I told Pence he should stay at my resort in Ireland.

“People like my product, what can I tell you, can’t help it.

“The bathrooms at my hotels have these little soaps – they’re really nice soaps, best soaps in the world – and these people say they can’t find housing,  you know they also have trouble with personal hygiene, but they can use those nice soaps.

“Hey – if my place in Scotland is good enough for the Air Force, and my Doral resort is good enough for next year’s G7, although we should change that to G8 because I’m inviting Putin, did I tell you that?  Great guy, Putin.”

The Trump administration had no further details at this time.

“Give me your tired, your poor…”  Well, not TOO poor, right?  I charged the taxpayers – I mean, Pence – a thousand bucks a night!


A New Low For The News Vultures

That the September 2 fire on the dive boat Conception is a tragedy – is not in doubt.

That the news media should be telling the story – is not in doubt.

What is in doubt is the value of the story broadcast on CBS This Morning and the CBS Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) perched on a rock, side viewEvening News on September 4.

CBS correspondent Meg Oliver was in Stockton, CA to meet with Domenic Selga, who lost five family members in the Conception tragedy.

We’ll never know why Selga agreed to speak with Oliver.

But it’s very clear why Oliver wanted to speak with Selga.

I can imagine her pitching her story angle to her news director:

Oliver:  This is the guy who lost five family members!  FIVE!  He’s agreed to talk to me!  I’m gonna dig in and dig deep, and I bet I can make him cry!

News Director:  OK!  But – if he doesn’t cry, it doesn’t fly.

Now, everything is in place.  The vulture is ready.

(The news segment opens with Oliver’s intro, and then comes her lead-in to the interview:)

Oliver:  Yesterday we talked to Dominic Selga.  His family was on board, and they took a trip on the boat every year.

(She’s obviously just asked him one of those typically insensitive news reporter questions like, “Five members of your family are dead, whaddaya think of that?”)

Image 1 (2)

Selga:  You don’t want to believe.  You want to hold on to that one percent.

(Cut to Oliver as he’s speaking. Notice her pursed lips and phony-sincere frown.  Does she practice that look in a mirror?)

Image 2 (2)

(She does a head nod, all sympathy – as though she could in any way understand Selga’s unimaginable loss.)

(And then:)

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Selga:  But at this point – my heart knows.

(Oliver tells the cameraman to get a longer shot.  She wants us to see that Selga is a strong, muscular guy – and she’s going to make him cry!)

Image 3 (2)

Oliver voiceover:  Dominic Selga says his mother, stepfather and three stepsisters…

Image 4 (2)

(This image is followed by several shots of the burning boat, and then:)

Oliver:  …were among the 34 presumed dead above the dive boat Conception.  It burst into flames and sank off the Santa Barbara coast early Monday morning.

(Back to interview.  In case Selga isn’t suffering enough, Oliver wants his mind on that boat, down in that crowded bunk room, focused on his family’s terror and how they suffered.)

(She continues with her phony-sincere frown in place.)

Image 5 (2)

Oliver:  People on nearby boats described it as… [dramatic pause] “pure horror” [dramatic hand gesture] to watch helplessly – watching those flames.

Image 6 (2)

Selga:  They were down there in those bunks, they’re really small bunks.  To have no escape…

(Cut to Oliver as he’s speaking.  She’s still maintaining her phony-sincere frown and pursed lips, but inside she’s happy.  She threw out the hook and Selga went for it!)

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(Cut back to Selga.)

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Selga:  …is was something that was just playing in my head.  It’s a complete nightmare.

(Oliver, to herself:  We’re getting there…just one more push and he’s over the edge!)

(Cut to Oliver’s voiceover of various shots and a 60-second story recap.  She winds down with:)

Oliver:  …For Selga, he just wants answers for his mother.

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(Oozing fake sympathy, smiling slightly, Oliver goes in for the kill.)

(She asks the one question she knows will churn up Selga’s pain and make him cry:)

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Oliver:  If there was one thing you could say to your Mom, what would it be?

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Selga:  If there was one thing I could say to my Mom, I…

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Selga:  I love you…that’s it.


End of interview.

Oliver makes a mental note to include the interview in her submission for the next News awards_03 FINAL& Documentary Emmy Awards.  “For sure,” she thinks, “I’m good for an ‘Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story’ and ‘Outstanding Achievement of Making a Man Cry.’”


News reporters are notorious for asking grieving people horribly insensitive questions like, “Your home burned down and your husband was killed – how does that make you feel?”

And not a day goes by without a newscast showing a crying, grief-stricken spouse or parent or sibling, overwhelmed by their loss.

So horrible questions and people crying on the news are nothing new.

But Oliver’s approach – her obvious intention
and the deliberate cruelty of her questions – just sickened me.

Memo to Meg Oliver and CBS:

you suck larger

When It Comes To Our Honeybees, Trump Is…

There are some things you just don’t screw with.

And my food is one of them.

The Trump administration is screwing with my food.  And…

i'm pissed_01 cropped fixed

And you should be, too – because he’s screwing with your food, as well.

How is Trump screwing with our food?

He’s screwing with our bees.

So he’s screwing with our food.

What’s the connection?

honeybee on almond cropped
A honeybee on an almond blossom.

Bees aren’t something we think about all that much.  When they’re around we hope they don’t sting us, and otherwise, they’re just doing their bee thing.

For some bees, that “bee thing” is pollinating agricultural crops – about 90 of them.

But – a bee doesn’t get up in the morning and think, “I wonder how many crops I can pollinate today?”

Pollination is the wonderful side effect of a bee’s quest for food.

There are about 20,000 species of bees, but the hardworking honeybee is our big-time pollinator, and that’s the one I’m focusing on.

A few honeybee facts:

  • Honeybees also don’t get up in the morning and think, “I wonder who I can sting today?”  They really don’t want anything to do with us, especially since the bee dies after it stings you.  Only the females – the worker bees – sting, and mainly when the hive is threatened, or when you act aggressively toward it.  Best to give all bees a wide berth.
  • A healthy honeybee hive consists of one queen, and her job is to lay the eggs thatbusy_02 cropped will spawn the hive’s next generation of bees.  Drones are males, and their purpose is to mate with the new queen.  The honeybees we see are outside the hive are females, and their roles are to forage for food (pollen and nectar from flowers), build and protect the hive, and clean and circulate air by beating their wings.
  • The females – “worker bees” – visit 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip, hence the phrase, “Busy as a bee.”

During that collection trip, a honeybee lands on an agricultural plant or tree’s flower, and collects nectar and pollen to bring back as food for the colony.  Some pollen gets stuck on the bee’s body, and as it travels from plant to plant, pollen rubs off onto the female reproductive organs of new plants.  This transfer of pollen allows for fertilization.

It’s a beautiful thing, and it’s been going on for millions of years.

And it’s a sweet thing, because the bees go back to the hive and make the honey we love to spread on toast, mix into cookies and cakes, and drizzle into our hot toddies.

And it’s a critical thing, because the pollinating process provides – according to the sources I’m reading – one of every three bites of our food.

Stop and think about that.

Like these?  Thank honeybees.

One-third of our food is pollinated by bees.

Imagine one-third of your food going away.

No more onions, celery, cucumber, broccoli, chili peppers, bell peppers, green beans, carrots, avocados…

Or watermelon, cantaloupe, oranges, lemons, limes, strawberries, apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, blueberries, cranberries…

Or cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts…

And grapes?  As in – wine?  Grapes don’t need bees for pollination, but you’ll often see beehives in vineyards because the bees pollinate other plants that help keep grapevines healthy.

And alfalfa and clover.  We don’t eat them, but beef and dairy cattle do – and that means burgers, steaks, milk, cheese and butter.

See how we rely on honeybees?

Commercial honeybees ready to get to work.

Many of these crops are pollinated by commercial beekeepers, who travel from state to state serving the many fruit, vegetable, and nut farms in need of honeybee pollination.  Depending on the crop, a farmer will order a certain number of hives for each acre.

Honeybees have natural enemies, both small and large – parasites, mites, spiders, birds.  Honeybees – like us – are also susceptible to viruses.

Honeybees – again, like us – can also suffer from stress, sometimes due to transportation to multiple locations across the country for providing pollination services.

Add in loss of habitat and the possible effects of climate change, and honeybees, to say the least, are vulnerable.

And that means – so is our food.

The alarms really started going off in 2006 when something that came to be known as Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, was first reported.

CCD occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear – hives can’t sustain themselves without worker bees.

Commercial beekeepers were seeing a dramatic drop in their honeybee colonies:

graph cropped

And much of that loss was attributed to CCD.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cited a number of factors as causes for CCD, and one of those was…

Pesticide poisoning.

A response came during the Bush administration 2007, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) leading the federal government response to CCD.

USDA established a CCD Steering Committee with representatives from other government agencies and academia.  The Steering Committee developed a Colony Collapse Disorder Action Plan which acknowledged,

“Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a significant disappearance of honeybee colonies that may be affecting bees in more than 22 states, threatens the production of crops dependent on bees for pollination as well as honey production.”

In 2015 during the Obama administration, the EPA issued a moratorium on approving any new use permits for neonicotinoid pesticides, a class of insecticides tiedCoverPage Obama Bees cropped darker by research to declining populations of bees and other pollinating insects around the world.

The EPA also imposed new restrictions on what pesticides farmers can use when commercial honeybees are pollinating their crops.

In 2015, the Obama administration also rolled out the first “National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honeybees and Other Pollinators,” a plan to save the bee, other small winged animals and their breeding grounds.

Again, in 2015, the USDA began collecting data tracking bees and their rapid decline, in a process called the Honey Bee Colonies report.

And in 2016, Congress passed the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act.  “For the first time in a generation, we are able to restrict chemicals already in commerce that pose risks to public health and the environment,” said Jim Jones, then the assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

If it was good for our environment, it was good for our bees.

In June 2019, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue proclaimed June 17-23 “National Pollinator Week:”

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Perdue’s proclamation said, in part,

“Pollinator species such as birds and insects are essential partners of farmers and ranchers in producing much of our food supply, and healthy pollinator populations are critical to the continued economic well-being of agricultural producers.”

Pollinators had friends in high places.

The operative word being “had.”

Because Trump is screwing with all of this.

Which means he’s screwing with bees and hence – our food.

And he couldn’t have picked a worse time.

Last year beekeepers lost over 40% of their colonies, the worst winter losses on record:

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But now – when the honeybee population is threatened more than ever – the Trump administration has been cutting back on critical research about honeybee populations and production, and stepping the use of pesticides that are known to kill honeybees:

 August 2018:  The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service announced the reversal of the Obama-era rule that banned the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in national wildlife refuges:

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Fish and Wildlife Service deputy director Greg Sheehan said the move was needed to ensure adequate forage for migratory birds, including ducks and geese favored and hunted by sportsmen on many of the nation’s wildlife refuges.

December 2018:  The USDA’s “Newsroom” website page announced that NASS – their National Agricultural Statistics Service – was suspending the “Cost of Pollination” report which was slated for release on December 21:

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The stated goal of the USDA is “to build an even more robust scientific body of knowledge on honey bees at USDA,” so how does not providing this report do that?

Make a note of the underlined “was not made lightly” – you’ll be seeing that USDA  language again.

May 2019:  On the USDA’s “Surveys” website page for “Honey Bee Surveys and Reports,” last updated July 8, 2019, it states “in the past we only surveyed honey bee operations with five colonies or more.  Now we collect the following data from operations fewer than five colonies”:

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However, on May 16, 2019 the USDA website also stated, “Data for Operations with Less than Five Colonies” had been suspended:

Honey Report No More Five colonies (2) with arrow

Again, the stated goal of the USDA is “to build an even more robust scientific body of knowledge on honey bees at USDA,” so how does suspending data collection do that?

June 2019:  The Environmental Protection Agency announced so-called “emergency” approvals to spray sulfoxaflor – an insecticide it considers “very highly toxic” to bees – on nearly 14 million acres of crops known to attract bees:

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The approval includes 2019-grown crops in 11 states, 10 of which have been granted the approvals for at least four consecutive years for the same “emergency.”  Five have been given approvals for at least six consecutive years.

Sulfoxaflor was banned in 2015 after a lawsuit by beekeepers and farmers, but the administration used a loophole in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to grant the exemptions.

July 2019:  The USDA – which is headed by that same Sonny Perdue who had just proclaimed “National Pollinator Week” in June – said that it would indefinitely suspend data collection for its “Honey Bee Colonies” survey, which has been compiled every year since 2015:

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I repeat – the stated goal of the USDA is “to build an even more robust scientific body of knowledge on honey bees at USDA,” so how does suspending data collection do that?

Note the red underline – another “was not taken lightly.”

This is the same USDA that, just two years ago, touted its work on honeybees, pointing out that managed colonies were responsible for increasing crop yield and quality by $15 billion:

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The USDA said in a statement back then:

“Honey bees may be some of the hardest workers you’ll ever see, but they need our help.  At USDA, we are making sure that they get it.”

Well, they might have been then, but they sure as hell aren’t now.

And I mean right now – apparently the EPA’s permitting the “emergency” use of sulfoxaflor in June 2019 wasn’t enough for the Trump administration:

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Friday, July 12, 2019:   The EPA has approved broad new applications of sulfoxaflor for use on some crops for the first time including “alfalfa, cacao, citrus, corn, cotton, cucurbits [such as squash and cucumbers], grains, pineapple, sorghum, soybeans and strawberries.

And this time around, the EPA isn’t even pretending that this is an “emergency”:

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Let’s do a recap:

  • June 2018:  The Department of the Interior reversed the ban on the use of neonicotinoids in wildlife refuges.
  • December 2018:  The USDA suspended the “Cost of Pollination” report.
  • May 2019:  The USDA suspended collecting data for operations with less than five colonies.
  • June 2019:  The EPA announced “emergency” approvals to spray sulfoxaflor on nearly 14 million acres of crops known to attract bees.
  • July 2019:  The USDA suspended data collection for its Honey Bee Colonies survey.
  • July 2019:  The EPA approved broad new applications of sulfoxaflor.

Why did the government approve the use of neonicotinoids in our wildlife refuges in August 2018?

One article suggested:

“US interior secretary Ryan Zinke, whose department oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service, has made expansion of hunting on public lands a priority for his agency.”

honey bee dead cropped
No more work for this dead worker bee.

Why did the EPA approve the “emergency” use of sulfoxaflor in June 2019?

Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said:

“The only emergency here is the Trump EPA’s reckless approval of this dangerous bee-killing pesticide.  It’s sickening that even amid the current insect apocalypse, the EPA’s priority is protecting pesticide industry profits.”

Why did the EPA expand the use of sulfoxaflor in July 2019?

Again, from Lori Ann Burd:

“The Trump EPA’s reckless approval of this bee-killing pesticide across 200 million U.S. acres of crops like strawberries and watermelon without any public process is a terrible blow to imperiled pollinators.  With no opportunity for independent oversight or review, this autocratic administration’s appalling decision to bow to industry and grant broad approval for this highly toxic insecticide leaves us with no choice but to take legal action.”

And these rollbacks are only part of the Trump administration’s big picture:

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Now, back to the USDA.

Why did the USDA suspend honeybee data collecting?

A budget shortfall, they said.

A budget shortfall?

A shortfall in the same government that just spent as-yet unknown millions on Trump’s July 4 salute to himself?

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The same government that, after spending $745 million on upgrading the Air Force’s Air Operations Center, canceled the uncompleted project?

Headline Air Force (2)

The same government whose Drug Enforcement Agency and Department of Defense spent $64 million on an ATR-42-500 counter-narcotics aircraft that never flew?

Headline 64 million (2).jpg

This same government is claiming a budget shortfall?

We’re talking about our food supply.

And here’s an irony.

This is the same USDA that’s talked about its “food pyramid” for years, recommending 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit per day:

food pyramid cropped

Where are all those fruits and vegetables going to come from, if the government doesn’t do better by our bees?

empty produce shelves

Well, at least we know that these government decisions were “not taken lightly.”

Which is of no comfort to you – or me –

Or our dead honeybees.

CCD before and after larger
Before and after:  A honeybee hive affected by Colony Collapse Disorder.

Update:  August 20, 2019

The Center for Food Safety and the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals against the Trump administration over the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent approval of expanded use of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor across 200 million acres in 12 states.

Lori Ann Burd, director of the environmental health program at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement that the approval of the pesticide was a terrible mistake, “even for Trump’s EPA.

“While leading scientists and countries across the globe are calling for eliminating harmful neonicotinoid pesticides like sulfoxaflor, Team Trump is cheerfully promoting its use like a corporate PR firm,” said Burd.  “It’s nauseating.”

Gandhi Lived It – So Did Akash

In 1773 a group of American colonists calling themselves the “Sons of Liberty” got together to protest the tyranny of their oppressors, the British government.

One night they boarded three enemy ships in Boston Harbor and dumped all the chests of tea overboard.

Boston Tea Party

The event came to be known as the Boston Tea Party, and it sent a message that would later be immortalized with “Give me liberty or give me death!”

In 2019 an equally determined man took a dramatic step to protest the tyranny of his parents.

His protest also involved dumping something into the water.

In this case, a BMW.

And his sentiment, too, was heard around the world:


BMW cropped

Akash, a 22-year-old man from Yamunanagar, Haryana state in Northern India, had told his parents numerous times that he wanted a Jaguar for his birthday.

But his parents claimed they could only afford the brand-new $49,000 BMW 3 Series, which, when not submerged in water, looks like this:

BMW new cropped

Which led to Akash’s protest, covered by local, national and international media:

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As with all important events, there are conflicting stories.  One source reported that Akash told police the BMW was “a little small for him and his friends inside.”

Of course Akash had to protest!  Wouldn’t you?

But The Times of India said, “Akash’s father, Sanjeev Kumar, denied that his son ever demanded a Jaguar.”  And there was no dumping the BMW into the canal, Mr. Kumar insisted.  The car, he said, fell into the canal when Akash swerved in the road, trying to avoid an antelope.

But another quote from Mr. Kumar contradicted that:  “We never imagined he would do anything like this,” which suggests a deliberate act, rather than accidental.

And according to Newsweek, Akash made a video of himself pushing the car into the canal and forwarded it to his parents.

ABC news reported that Mr. Kumar is a “wealthy landlord” and that Akash “already owned several SUVs.”  Apparently he also owns a motorcycle, on which he posed for this, along with the loathsome BMW:

Akash, BMW and motorcycle

As local residents assisted in the retrieval of the BMW from the Western Yamuna Canal, they marveled at the evidence of Akash’s creativity and courage:

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The retrieval drew a large crowd:

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And large equipment:

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Back in 1773, England was not amused by our forefathers tossing tea into Boston Harbor.  They punished the colonists by passing the “Intolerable Acts” in 1774 which, among other things, closed the port of Boston until the drowned tea was paid for.

For Akash, however, it appears there will be no punishment; police are investigating but probably will not press charges.

For his next birthday, if Akash asks for a Boeing 747, here’s hoping his dad doesn’t give him a…

plane_01 cropped smaller

Why You Absolutely Must Visit Japan:

Japan is often described as being far ahead of the rest of the world, and it’s easy to go online and see why:

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Here are just a few of those reasons:

bullet trainTransportation:  Japan is famous for its ultra-fast bullet trains and immaculate metro systems.  And, Japanese trains are almost never late.

Convenience:  Japan has over 5.5 million vending machines, a staggering number second to none in the world, offering drinks, sushi, excellent meals, clothes, weird toys, books, comics, and much more.

Braille on Beer Cans:  If you buy a can of beer in Japan, you may encounter small raised bumps on the top.  It’s Braille letters for “alcohol,” to help blind people distinguish a beer from a can of cropped

Manners:  Politeness is a cultural prerequisite in Japan – nothing goes without polite greetings, bows, or expressions.  Even if someone doesn’t agree with you or doesn’t particularly like foreigners, he will treat you in a polite way.

The Unko Museum:  Located in Asobuild (image above) in Yokohama, about 25 miles south of Tokyo, this pop-up museum is dedicated to the proposition that everyone should have an equal opportunity to touch, feel, hear, play with, and take home poop.

wait what

That’s right.

Japan is leading the way – again!

Welcome to the Unko Museum – “unko” being the Japanese word for “shit” – where the shit is fake and the opportunities for social media posts are endless.

And where actual travel magazines encourage you to visit, like this:

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And where websites describe the museum with language like this:

“…provides a new experience through one of the things, regardless of sex, nationality or age, that thoroughly unifies humanity.”

Poop.  I’d never thought of it as the great humanity unifier.

According to, the Unko Museum “aims to redefine how poop is viewed in popular culture,” and promises poop “the likes of which would surely require an extra setting on the Bristol stool scale.”

The Bristol stool scale, in case you’re wondering, is “a diagnostic medical tool designed to classify the form of human feces into seven categories.”

And if you want to know more about that, you’re on your own.

Moving right along…

For a mere $16/adults $9/children, here are some of the activities you can take pictures of yourself doing at the Unko Museum:

Giving us your best constipation face, sitting on one of seven colorful, non-functional toilets lined up against the wall… toilet cropped
…Then collecting the brightly colored souvenir poop to put on a stick and take home. souviner
Marveling at a ceiling-high feces sculpture in the main hall that erupts every 30 minutes, spitting out little foam poops. poop erupts
Learning from a neon sign with the word “poop” written in different languages. neon
Kicking a turd into a goal via a soccer video game. soccer
Riding a slide down in a giant toilet to…um…I’m not sure where. giant toilet
Drawing your own unko interpretation inside a mini toilet seat frame. Unko-painting-at-the-Yokohama-poop-museum
Buying poop-themed souvenirs at the museum’s gift shop. Poop-coffee-at-the-poop-museum.jpg

And don’t forget to compete to make the biggest shit by shouting “unko” as loudly as possible.  You’ll be so excited, you may get…

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The Unko Museum was scheduled to close July 15 – but, good news:

Due to popular demand, the museum’s open hours have been extended to September 30, 2019!

So, for all things scatology-related, pack your bags, head to Japan, and see for yourself why it continues to be the world leader.

Especially when it comes to…

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