I’m Concerned This Might Put Political Satirists…

The phrase “political satire” has been around for a long time.

What is political satire?  Here’s a good description:

“Political satire is a humorous, ironic, or sarcastic examination of the political arena in an attempt to expose absurdity and hypocrisy.  A combination of humor and political analysis, political satire can skew more toward bringing laughs or toward activism, depending on the content and the intent of the satirist.

“There are many different forms of political satire, including prose, editorial cartoons, and fake news.  A controversial issue, satire with a political bent may be viewed as anything from mere folly to unpatriotic or even rebellious behavior in some parts of the world.”

And as for my saying political satire has been around for a long time, some sources point back to the days of Aristophanes (c. 466 BC- c. 386 BC) in ancient Athens:

Aristophanes is also known as the “Father of Comedy,” as the inscription on the above image’s pedestal clearly states.

Since then, wherever politicians have existed, people have been satirizing them.  First with prose, then cartoons were added, like this example from 19th-century France, poking fun at King Louis XVIII, nicknamed here as “Old Bumblehead”:

These days we can also watch political satire, like Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update”:

While closer to (my) home, San Diego Union-Tribune political cartoonist Steve Breen hits them out of the park on a regular basis:

But now, I’m concerned that our current political satirists could be put out of work.

Because these days, I’m seeing politicians actively satirizing themselves

And doing it so well…

That our political satirists may have to consider a different career direction.

Take this recent headline:

Representative Mary Miller, R-IL…

…was at a Trump rally and, referring to the Roe vs. Wade decision said,

“President Trump, on behalf of all the MAGA patriots in America, I want to thank you for the historic victory for white life in the Supreme Court yesterday.”

Don’t hold back, Mary.  Tell us how you really feel.

No political satirist could have would have imagined this.

Next recent example:

Rhode Island Democratic state senate candidate Jennifer Rourke…

…was at an abortion rights rally at the State House in Providence “when my Republican opponent Jeann Lugo punched me multiple times in the face.”

Don’t hold back, Jeann.  Show us how you really feel.

No political satirist would dare to even hint at such a thing.

And why would they, when the politicians are doing the satirizing of themselves – for themselves?

But here’s the best of the recent self-satirizing stories, and no surprise, it’s…

The short clip was shared by filmmaker Alex Holder, whose documentary Unprecedented

…a three-part film about the final months of the Trump presidency, is slated to be released this summer and has been bought by Discovery Plus.

In the “bizarre clip” – filmed at “The White House, December 5, 2020” – Trump enters the set, seats himself, and looks up, fixated on the image of himself on a monitor.

At :13 seconds into the video Trump – known for his modesty – exclaims, “Beautiful!”

Trump remains mostly fixated on the monitor, and here’s what follows:

:19 I don’t think you want to have the water in the picture, right?

:21 You can take it (gestures).
:24 Yeah, put it over there, Nick.
:29 Yeah, might as well take the table (referring to the table that had held the water glass; someone briefly on camera removes both).

:32 Good, very good, thank you.

(And then, one second later:)

:33 You know what you can do, Nick?  Put the table back cause it’s missing something.  Put the table back and put the water on the table without the thing on top of it.

(Table returned, napkin returned, water glass returned “without the thing on top of it.”)

:50 OK… (Trump adjusting table and water glass) How does that look?  (Lifts glass off napkin).
:58 Go ahead, take it out (Trump pushes away napkin).

1:01 Yeah.  All right. (Trump makes more adjustments to water glass position.)

1:05 Right?  Let’s go.

At 1:11 the video clip ends.

No wonder Holder’s documentary has three parts – it took most of Part 1 to get rid of the water glass, and table, then return the water glass, and table, and…etc.

NO political satirist could EVER have made up Trump’s behavior in this video.

Because no political satirist – no sane person, period – could be so obsessive, so narcissistic, and so stupid.

So Trump, Trump Jr, Ivanka and Eric all agreed to participate in a lengthy documentary about themselves – no surprise there.

But apparently this came as a surprise:

“The Jan. 6 committee has subpoenaed documentary filmmaker Alex Holder in regard to footage and interviews Holder and his team shot while following former President Donald Trump and his inner circle throughout the 2020 presidential campaign.

“Holder’s company, AJH Films, confirmed to Rolling Stone on Tuesday that he has been subpoenaed, will sit for an interview with the panel on Thursday, and has ‘fully complied with all of the committee’s requests.’”

And I think that is…

Important Conversation Starter – Or Cheap Publicity Stunt?  What Do You Think?

Back in May I did a post where I started out by talking about Spain’s government considering a bill allowing women to take days off work if they are diagnosed by a doctor with severe menstrual pain, with the government footing the bill.

If this happens, Spain would be the first Western European country to support what’s called “menstrual leave.”  But Spain wouldn’t be the first country – a half-dozen other countries have menstrual leave.

None of which, of course, is the U.S.

There are pros and cons around menstrual leave, but as I was researching and writing that post, my attitude was in favor of anything that destigmatized menstruation.

Destigmatize:  To remove associations of shame or disgrace from.

In favor anything that would lessen, and someday eliminate, period shaming.

Period shaming:  A consequence of the social construction of menstruation as an undesirable bodily event 

Shaming by men, shaming by other women, shaming by ourselves.

Anything, I thought.

And I meant it

Until I saw this:

And this:

It’s a breakfast cereal.

The cereal creator is INTIMINA:

And INTIMINA’s website says the company is:

“…a Swedish brand that offers the first and only range of products dedicated exclusively to all aspects of women’s intimate health.  Our mission is to provide a comprehensive collection of products and information for women at every stage of life, from the first menstruation to beyond menopause.”

Here’s their Period Crunch announcement:

So, “INTIMINA Brings Period On The Kitchen Table…”

But INTIMINA does not bring Period Crunch to the kitchen table.

As I learned from reading various articles including this Australian publication:

Period Crunch is not available to buy at your grocery store.

Or online.

Or on the black market.

Or anywhere.

You can, however, send an email “to register your interest in receiving a box of Period Crunch.”

Which I did – more to come on that.

Period Crunch – as I learned from assorted websites – is wheat-based, and “colored with freeze-dried raspberry powder which gives it a fruity flavor.”

And dyes the milk “a distinctive red.”

The box includes conversation starters, and a diagram of the female reproductive system for people to identify where the uterus is located because, says the INTIMINA announcement:

“This follows research from INTIMINA that reveals 82% of people cannot correctly identify where the uterus is.”

I find that 82% hard to believe, unless the only people surveyed were men.

Anyone with a uterus who’s experienced menstrual pain – sometime excruciating, debilitating pain – knows exactly where in the body that pain is coming from…

Month after month, year in and year out.

And to emphasize INTIMINA’s point – in case you haven’t picked up on this:

“Every piece of the statement-making cereal resembles a uterus and has been released by INTIMINA as part of our campaign to encourage more dialogue about menstrual health.”

Here’s a close-up of pieces of Period Crunch side-by-side with an illustration of a human uterus:

It appears that the Period Crunch cereal pieces include some other organs besides the uterus, but I won’t quibble.

What there are no images of – from INTIMINA or elsewhere – is the cereal in a bowl with milk dyed “a distinctive red.”

I won’t quibble with that, either.

Here’s my quibble:

I know I said I was in favor of anything

But this is not it.

Because – predictably – there’s been a negative response.

Here’s a sampling from Facebook:

Here’s a sampling from Instagram:

Here’s a sampling from YouTube:

All these YouTube videos were recorded by men.

Every video is negative, with comments including “disgusting,” “make womb for breakfast” and “Rather have some Painful Rectal Itch cereal.”

These videos have gotten thousands of views.

These social media platforms do nothing to – as the INTIMINA announcement suggests:

“… increase the visibility of menstrual wellbeing across the world, normalize conversations about menstrual health, tackle stigma and bias, and raise awareness of intimate health conditions.”

Instead, these videos and posts and a number of the online articles I read contribute to the negativity around periods, and having conversations about them.

So – will I be receiving a box of that uterus-shaped, wheat-based, colored-with-freeze-dried-raspberry-powder-which-gives-it-a-fruity-flavor-and-turns-the-milk-red cereal?

INTIMINA’s emailed response said, in part:

“Thank you so much for your interest in receiving a box of Period Crunch!  A limited number of boxes have been created and due to such a high demand, we no longer have any boxes left.  However, if any become available, we will be sure to let you know. 

“We have been overwhelmed with such a positive response with requests coming in from all over the world and are thrilled with the excitement that has been created around Period Crunch.” 

First:  I’m sure INTIMINA “no longer has any boxes left.”

And that’s because there were no boxes to start with.  The cereal box and bits could be easily created with graphic design software. 

And – though I said I wouldn’t quibble about this – why, pray tell, isn’t the milk turning red in this image?

Second:  I’m sure INTIMINA will let me know “if any become available.” 

In the meantime, where all those fortunate people who created that “high demand” and did indeed receive a box of Period Crunch?  Where are their online comments?  Where are the pictures of them slurping up cereal and smiling with delight?

Third:  I’m sure INTIMINA is “thrilled.”

Thrilled – because INTIMINA got national and international attention, which no doubt led more visitors to their website, and no doubt led to more sales of their “range of products dedicated exclusively to all aspects of women’s intimate health.”

Products, which appear to be priced from around $11 to well over $100.

Thrilled – because their cheap publicity stunt worked.

And that’s what get my vote:

Is This Crazy?  Is It Absurd?  Is It – Perhaps – Machiavellian?

There’s nothing funny about an STD – sexually transmitted disease.

And there’s nothing funny about HPV – human papillomavirus, which is an STD.

So this recent news story isn’t funny.

What I’m grappling with is…is this crazy?


Or perhaps…


Here’s the story:

I’ve read many articles about this, and discovered that each contained pieces of information that the others didn’t.  Here’s what I’ve put together:

Missouri, 2017.

A woman and man have unprotected sex in his car.

In court documents she’ll be identified as “M.O.” and he as “M.B.”

M.B. is variously described as M.O.’s “then-romantic partner,” “then-significant other” and “then-beau.”

At some point, it appears the relationship ended.

In 2018 M.O. learned she had HPV – human papillomavirus.

Apparently M.O. believed that she’d contracted HPV from that encounter with that man – M.B. – in his car in 2017.

The man’s auto insurance carrier was GEICO.

You probably know GEICO from all their ads starring the GEICO gecko:

According to this article:

I learned that:

“She says the man was negligent and didn’t tell her about his health diagnosis, despite having a throat cancer tumor that was confirmed to be positive for HPV.”

She contacted GEICO.

According to the CNN article:

“In February 2021, the woman – anonymously identified in documents as M.O. – submitted a petition to GEICO directly.  She alleged that her sexual partner negligently caused or ‘contributed to cause to be infected with HPV by not taking proper precautions and neglecting to inform and/or disclose his diagnosis,’ according to court documents, and that his ‘insurance policy provided coverage for her injuries and losses.’

“She made a final settlement offer of $1 million to resolve her claims, the documents say.”

I find it curious – one of many things about this story I’ll find curious – that the woman apparently wasn’t directly suing the man she believes gave her HPV, but rather his auto insurance company.

Curious, because there’s a plethora of law firms out there who are ready, willing and eager to take on your case against the person who infected you an STD, like this law firm:

Is it possible that M.O. decide to sue GEICO because of their deep pockets, which, according to a May 2022 article I found:

“GEICO revenue in Q1 was $9.554 billion, up from $8.923 billion in 2021 Q1, according to Berkshire’s 10-Q.”

Are deep pockets, indeed.

That “Berkshire’s”?

Think Berkshire Hathaway.

Think Warren Buffet.

According to this article:

“Warren Buffett has owned shares of Geico stock since 1951, and Geico became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway in 1996.”

Deeper than deep pockets.

Another curiosity for me:  None of the articles mention the fact that even as the man was having unprotected sex with her, she was having unprotected sex with him.

Where is her responsibility here?

None of the articles explained why, after the HPV diagnosis in 2018, M.O. waited until February 2021 to contact GEICO.

Yes, one article said:

“At a gynecology exam about a year after the relationship began, the woman was diagnosed with HPV, according to court records.”

So that brings us to 2018 – why the lag time between 2018 and February 2021?

And…was the car the only place M.O. and M.B. had sex?  No bedroom sex, no balcony sex, no sex anywhere else where she could have been infected?

Was M.B. the only sexual partner she had after that encounter in the car – no other sexual partners between 2017 and contacting GEICO in 2021?

None of the articles say.

So M.O. contacts GEICO and, according to this article:

“The insurance company refused the settlement offer, saying the woman’s claim did not occur because of normal use of the vehicle, according to court documents.”

Actually, people have been having sex in cars since cars were invented.  Perhaps GEICO should have said “because of intended use of the vehicle”?

Either way, her request for $1 million was denied by GEICO.

After that, all the articles agree, M.O. and M.B. went into arbitration.

But none of the articles I read detailed what was being arbitrated here.  Was the guy – M.B. – disputing that he and M.O. had sex?  Had sex in his car?  That he gave M.O. the infection?  That his auto insurance carrier should pay her?

Don’t know.

But we know what the arbitrator decided.

The Associated Press article says:

“An arbitrator eventually determined she should be awarded $5.2 million for damages and her injuries.  She then filed a motion in Jackson County Court seeking to confirm the award.”

“GEICO claimed it did not know the man and woman had entered into arbitration and, when it found out, it sought to intervene in the court case.  The company argued the arbitration award was reached through collusion and fraud, violated its rights to due process and was unenforceable.”

Is it possible…just possible…that there was collusion between M.O. and M.B., figuring they’d get a cool $1 million from GEICO and share the spoils?

Don’t know.

This, from the NPR article:

“…in April of 2021, GEICO sued both M.O. and M.B. in federal court, asking the court to rule that the insurance company isn’t liable for the woman being infected with HPV, and that it doesn’t have a duty to defend the man from her claims against him.

“GEICO says the car owner’s claims for coverage should be dismissed because they’re barred by a number of legal doctrines, including ‘fraud, collusion, illegality, laches, and unclean hands.’”

What the heck are “laches”?

“A doctrine in equity that those who delay too long in asserting an equitable right will not be entitled to bring an action.”

And “unclean hands”?

“A legal doctrine which is a defense to a complaint, which states that a party who is asking for a judgment cannot have the help of the court if he/she has done anything unethical in relation to the subject of the lawsuit.  Thus, if a defendant can show the plaintiff had ‘unclean hands,’ the plaintiff’s complaint will be dismissed or the plaintiff will be denied judgment.”

Looks like GEICO was pulling out all the stops.

Which brings us up to June 7:

“The Missouri Court of Appeals upheld a $5.2 million judgment on Tuesday involving a Jackson County, MO woman who said she unknowingly caught HPV, the human papillomavirus, during unprotected sex in the luxury sedan of a former male romantic partner in 2017.”

I have to pause here and wonder – what the hell does the car being a “luxury sedan” have to do with anything? 

Is M.O. supposed to be mollified because she was allegedly infected with HPV in, as the Washington Post went on to put it:

“…2014 Hyundai Genesis – a luxury sedan that Kelley Blue Book raved ‘leaves very little to criticize.’”

And the NPR story was just as bad – their headline included an image that was similar to the car allegedly used, as though the make and model of the car have anything to do with anything:

Early on I was speculating about this story being absurd, and this part of the reporting certainly is.

So the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the judgment against GEICO.

Now this, from the Kansas City Star:

“In a related federal court case, GEICO is contesting the idea that the claim is covered under its insurance policy.  The outcome of that case would determine whether the company has to actually pay the settlement.

“Correction:  An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that the decision by the Missouri Court of Appeals meant insurance company GEICO must pay the judgment claim.  The insurance company is still contesting the decision in federal court, arguing that the claim is not covered under the policy.”

The NPR article noted:

“The federal case is set for a jury trial, which is currently slated to begin in a Kansas City courtroom in October.  Since GEICO filed its federal suit more than a year ago, well over 100 docket entries have been made.”


M.O. is unhappy.  She has HPV and no money yet from GEICO.

M.B. is unhappy.  He has HPV and HPV-caused cancer.

GEICO is unhappy.  This pesky thing isn’t going to be resolved for months.

Guess who is happy about all this?

The lawyers.




I’m going back to my noting that M.O. apparently isn’t suing the guy she claims infected her with HPV – but rather his auto insurance company.  If the federal court finds in favor of M.O., then…

If person A goes to the home of person B, and they have sex, and A is infected with an STD, does A sue B’s homeowner’s insurance company?

If persons C and D have bathroom sex on an airplane and one of them is infected with an STD, does that person sue the airline?

If persons E and F have sex under the stars in Yosemite National Park and one of them is infected with an STD, does that person sue the National Park Service?

I know that my questioning of M.O.’s story and motives will anger some people.  That questioning any woman’s story and motives is deemed unsupportive of women, and worse – can have a negative impact on all women, as suggested by many following the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp recent court case:

But…there’s just something troubling me about M.O. suing a deep-pocketed insurance company rather than suing M.B., the alleged source of her HPV.

And waiting so long to do it.

I’m closing this with more questions than I had when I started.

Trump Wants “Equal Time” And I Want Him To Have It:

For the first time EVER, I agree with Donald Trump.

I want him to have “equal time.”

Equal time with Al Capone:

In October 1931, gangster Al Capone was sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion.  

Equal time with Harvey Weinstein:

In March 2020, movie producer Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for sex crimes against women.

Equal time with Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman (“the blind sheikh”):

In October 1995, Abdel-Rahman was convicted of seditious conspiracy and sentenced to life in solitary confinement.  He died in federal prison in 2017.

Yes, I want Trump to have equal time:

11 years in prison.
23 years in prison.
Life in prison.

Served consecutively.

Father’s Day:  A Brief But Heartfelt Tribute

Father’s Day is Sunday, June 19, and I use this opportunity to take special note of a family member who’s the father of two, and a man who’s clearly interested in being a good role model for his children:

Doesn’t this image just warm your heart?

Father and sons together, bonding, sharing the fun of killing.

With a gun.

Or perhaps it was “guns” – I expect by this age, Dad has bought his boys their own guns.

That’s what a loving father does, right?

I can envision the three of them together, moving quietly and carefully through the woods on a crisp fall day – and then…

Spotting their prey!

Dad shouts, “Kill it!  Hurry up!  Kill it!”

And one son, or the other, or maybe both, take aim and shoot and kill.

Dad is proud.

The boys are proud.

And America’s love affair with guns
Is passed from a father to his sons.

Welcome To The Emperor’s New Clothes, 21st-Century Style

(I’m using the words “con man” as an all-purpose term instead of specifying “con woman” or “con person” or “con whatever.”)

The Emperor’s New Clothes, an 1837 folktale by Hans Christian Anderson, is in part a story that’s been around as long as humans have:

The con man.

And the phrase “Emperor’s New Clothes” has, according to scholars, become “a standard metaphor for anything that smacks of pretentiousness, pomposity, social hypocrisy, collective denial, or hollow ostentatiousness.”

Read on to see why I’ve referenced it.


If you were among the nearly 40,000 victims of con man Bernie Madoff who were swindled out of billions of dollars, you were feeling some sense of relief back in 2009 when he was convicted and sentenced to 150 years in prison:

If you’re someone who’s been conned in this scam:

You’re hurt and angry, and you’ve got plenty of company:

“A shocking number of Americans will spend Valentine’s Day not only broken-hearted – but dead broke – after being swindled by digital-dating deceivers.

“The lovelorn were grifted out of $547 million by dating-app scammers last year, a shocking 78% increase over the previous record $307 million in losses in 2020, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

“The number of reported cases climbed from 33,000 to 56,000, or 70%, over the same year.”

Oh, sure – there are lovable con men, like these guys…

But that was a movie, and nobody actually got stung.

Here – in my opinion – is another real-life, contemporary con man.  He’s been conning people, and some are falling for his bullshit.  Some have even bought his bullshit “art.”

He was making plenty of headlines a year ago, though I learned about him only recently:

Meet Salvatore Garau, born in 1953, from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.  According to this website:

“Salvatore Garau’s work has been offered at auction multiple times, with realized prices ranging from $34 to $26,636, depending on the size and medium of the artwork.”

Here’s a sampling of what I assume is Garau’s work, from his Facebook page:

Or…maybe they go this way?

Or…maybe it doesn’t matter?

Garau’s been around for awhile, creating his works and occasionally selling them.

And – again, from his Facebook page – he occasionally makes headlines:

The headline translates to, “Today’s altarpieces Garau’s gaze towards the sky.”

It maybe lost something in the translation.

So Garau is selling some artwork, and making some headlines.  Seems like an OK life for an artist, sì?

Maybe, but in 2021 it will…

Diventare molto meglio!

Become much better!

Let’s go back to those headlines from a year ago.  There were plenty of them, national and international, like this one:

I’m quoting directly from the article because it’ so absurd that even I – who loves the absurd – could not make this up:

“…artist Salvatore Garau sold an ‘immaterial sculpture’ – which is to say that it doesn’t exist.

“To be fair, the artist might disagree on conceptual grounds.  For Garau, the artwork, titled Lo Sono (which translates to ‘I am’), finds form in its own nothingness.  ‘The vacuum is nothing more than a space full of energy, and even if we empty it and there is nothing left, according to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, that nothing has a weight,’ he told the Spanish news outlet Diario AS.  ‘Therefore, it has energy that is condensed and transformed into particles, that is, into us.’

“Lo Sono went up for sale in May at the Italian auction house Art-Rite.  The pre-sale estimate valued the piece between €6,000-9,000, according to AS, but competing bidders pushed the price tag to €15,000.”

“Competing bidders.”

It wasn’t just one idiot – multiple idiots were competing to buy nothing.

And one of those idiots paid €15,000 – $18,300 – for it.

“The lucky buyer went home with a certificate of authenticity and a set of instructions:  the work, per Garau, must be exhibited in a private house in a roughly five-by-five-foot space free of obstruction.”

I can’t show you a picture of Lo Sono – nor can anyone else – but I can show you an image from the “Italian auction house Art-Rite” showing the sale of another of Garau’s…um…whatevers:

The name of this…um…whatever is Davanti a te, or In Front of You.  The website notes:

Intangible sculpture to be placed in a place free of encumbrances
Variable dimensions, 200 x 200 cm circa
Work accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the artist

Selling price:  $28,887.

Another idiot!

Has Garau got a con going?

Can you doubt it?

He created nothing – twice – and was paid more than $47,000 for it.

Incurring practically no costs to himself at all:  for art supplies, for crating and shipping and insuring artwork, for publicity. 

Would you like to not see more of his…um…whatevers?

Here’s Buddha in Contemplazione, meaning Buddha in Contemplation, installed in February 2021 at the Piazza Della Scala in Milan:

Cost to artist:  One roll of white tape from Lowe’s, $4.78.

Of Buddha, Garau said,

“Now it exists and will remain in this space forever.  You do not see it but it exists.  It is made of air and spirit.”


And again from 2021, here’s Afrodite Piange or Aphrodite Crying in New York, a few steps from Wall Street:

Cost to artist:  One hula hoop from Target, $6

Of Aphrodite Garau said,

“You don’t see me but I exist, right above this white round shape.
“I am Aphrodite, an intangible sculpture made of air and spirit.
“Still don’t see me?  And yet I am here, in front of you.
“And I cry because I am beauty and love which is disappearing.”


And not only are idiots throwing money at Garau, the Italian Cultural Institute in New York…

…bought into this nonsense!  Their website says (I’m assuming from 2021):

“From Saturday, May 29, therefore, the digital platform ‘Stanze italiane’ of the Italian Cultural Institute of New York – which represents a new way to show Italy as a country going beyond traditional styles and open to the new, the unprecedented, the unexpected – will offer a preview of the video documenting the positioning in New York of the new immaterial sculpture by Salvatore Garau Afrodite Piange:  a white circle with a red dot at its center, on the notes of an intense soundtrack that is almost endowed with a co-protagonist role, featuring Anna Tifu’s violin, Andrea Cutri’s guitar and the drums played by Garau himself, a member of Stormy Six in the 1970s and 1980s.”

Gosh, I overlooked the cost to the artist of that “red dot”:  ½¢ also from Target.

An article dated May 2021 said that Aphrodite Crying is “the third in a cycle of seven ‘immaterial’ works that will be installed in as many cities around the world.”

I’ve been unable to find any information that indicates Garau has graced our lives with any further installations.

In fact, I’ve been unable to find anything online about Garau beyond that flurry of interest in spring/summer 2021.

Perhaps Garau – like his “art” – has become invisible.

Or “intangible,” as in his Aphrodite Crying:  “an intangible…made of air and spirit.”

And perhaps that’s just as well, because Garau is being sued:

“A Gainesville artist who created an invisible sculpture is suing an Italian artist for profiting off his idea.”

“Tom Miller, a multidisciplinary performance artist, installed his sculpture called Nothing at Bo Diddley Plaza in 2016.”

Tom Miller at Bo Diddley Plaza, with his invisible sculpture. Or, maybe not.

“Now, he said an Italian artist is trying to sell a different ‘nothing’ for $18,000.

“‘The space in our world is legitimate to work with as an artistic product.  So the idea is fashioning nothing into a sculpture, and that’s what the lawsuit is all about,’ said Miller.”

If Miller wins his lawsuit, I wonder if Garau will pay him with…

Invisible money?

My takeaway?

I am sincerely sorry for many of the nearly 40,000 victims who were conned by Bernie Madoff.  Sure, some of them were just plain greedy, but many more of them were hardworking people who trusted Madoff with their life savings, and lost it.

I am sincerely sorry for the thousands of people who went looking for love in all the wrong online places, and were conned out of $547 million last year, and those who are being conned as we speak.

But I am not, and never will be, sorry for the idiots have been – and may well continue to be – taken in by Garau’s con game.

Garau personifies not only the Emperor’s New Clothes, but also an old saying from arguably the world’s greatest con man, P.T. Barnum:

Let’s Look At Some “Let’s” Headlines:

My Sunday newspaper devotes a full page entitled The (almost) Back Page to stories that may not make big headlines but nonetheless may be interesting. 

Now and then some of the stories make me curious enough to learn more, like a recent Sunday’s collection.

And sometimes, when I learn more, I like to share.


Let’s Hand An Eight-Year-Old The Car Keys

Gastonia, NC – population around 77,000 people – is located about a half-hour east of Charlotte, NC:

TripAdvisor’s Things To Do In Gastonia, NC list includes Carothers Funeral Home at #10 out of 38, which may tell us something about Gastonia, though I’m not sure what.

Fortunately, the funeral home’s services were not required for consequences of this event:

A mother and her eight-year-old son were visiting relatives in Gastonia one evening in late May.  For reasons unexplained, Mom handed the kid her car keys and told him to go start the car.

Now, based on my observations, most parents are reluctant to hand over their car keys to kids twice that age – 16-year-olds – even when they’ve completed driver training and gotten their driver license. 

But here’s Mom, willingly handing her keys to and eight-year-old and telling him to start the car?

So he did.

And he drove away.

With his one-year-old sibling in the back seat, whom Mom had left in the car while she was visiting the relatives.

The eight-year-old drove the car two miles home, and apparently decided, “Nah, let’s keep going.”

And he did. 

In the meantime, Mom (who didn’t want to be identified) discovered the missing car and children and had called 911.  Deputies spotted the car and got the eight-year-old to stop.  They gave him a roadside sobriety test, cuffed him and read him his rights.

OK, I’m kidding about the last part. 

It should have been Mom who was cuffed and charged, and according to the WSOC-TV story, perhaps she will be:

“Police said the 8-year-old isn’t facing charges, but that his mother could be investigated by the Department of Social Services for possible neglect.”

Gosh, tell an eight-year-old to start the car?  Leave the one-year-old in the car while you’re in the relatives’ house?  What did she do with her five-year-old?

Drop her off at Cavendish Brewing Company, which is #16 on the TripAdvisor List? 

“Here’s $10, sweetie, you have a couple of brewskies while Mommy visits with Aunt Erna.”

Let’s Get Within 10 Feet Of A Bison

Ahhh…Yellowstone National Park:

So beautiful, and so many great things to do:  Hiking, biking, riding horses…

…photography, camping, picnicking, touring…

And some things not to do – including this:

Let’s talk logistics here.

Like the woman in the first story, this event also happened at the end of May and this woman is also unidentified, except as age 25 and from Ohio.

This woman was within 10 feet of the bison when she was gored and then tossed 10 feet.  She sustained a puncture would and other injuries, and park emergency medical providers responded and transported her via ambulance to a hospital in Idaho.

As of May 31, “The incident remains under investigation, and there is no additional information to share.”

Well, there is this one piece of information:

I’m sure the woman was relieved to hear this.

Let’s talk more logistics.

First, it’s not like staying away from Yellowstone’s wild animals is a big secret – signs abound throughout the park.  This one includes a picture of the very same animal the gored woman should have avoided:

Second, park regulations require visitors to “Stay more than 25 yards (23 m) away from all large animals – bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes, and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves.” 

Third, why would anyone with any sense approach a bison?

For an opportunity like this?

This incident happened a few years ago. The woman taking the selfie had a child with her and, according to the National Park Service,

“They heard the bison’s footsteps moving toward them and started to run, but the bison caught the mother on the right side, lifted her up and tossed her with its head.” 

“The family said they read the warnings in both the park literature and the signage, but saw other people close to the bison, so they thought it would be OK.” 

“OK” – like handing your car keys to an eight-year-old.

Well, here’s hoping the Ohio woman will put her photo op to good use:

Let’s See If These Robots Work Better
Than Elon Musk’s Self-Driving Cars

Again, from late May.

This story isn’t about dumb people, but about what may be a dumb idea:

I read “robots” and I think this:

C-P3O from Star Wars, right?

Heck, I don’t want to wait until I’m “elderly” – I want a C-P3O right now!


Instead, the robots look like this:

I’m pretty sure this thing isn’t going to bring me wine.

According to The Verge:

“The state of New York will distribute robot companions to the homes of more than 800 older adults.”

“The scheme is being organized by the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), and is intended to help address the growing problem of social isolation among the elderly.”

The article goes on to clarify that “growing problem”:

“An estimated 14 million Americans over the age of 65 currently live alone, and this figure is projected to increase over the next decade as the boomer generation ages.  Studies have suggested that long-term loneliness is as damaging to an individual’s health as smoking.” 

The robot, called ElliQ, was built by Israeli firm Intuition Robotics and, says this article:

“…will remind [seniors] to take their medication, help contact loved ones, book an Uber ride and even engage in small talk and crack jokes.”

That all sounds great, though I can see it possibly going south in some situations:

ElliQ:  Good morning, Sam.  How are you today?
Sam:  Oh, I’m fine.  Hey, ElliQ – knock, knock.
ElliQ:  Did you say…“Knock, knock”?
Sam:  Yeah!  It’s a joke.  I say, “Knock, knock” and you say, “Who’s there?”  OK?  So, knock, knock.


Sam:  ElliQ?  Knock, knock?
ElliQ:  Who’s there?
Sam:  Nobel.


ElliQ:  The Nobel Prize was awarded in 2015 to two researchers for the drug ivermectin.  Sam, have you taken your drugs this morning?

I’m not saying companion robots for the elderly aren’t a good idea – perhaps they are.

What I’m questioning is the New York State Office for the Aging distributing more than 800 of the robots, an investment of “$700,000 in the pilot program,” according to the New York Post

“Pilot program.”

By definition, a pilot program is “a small-scale preliminary study conducted to evaluate feasibility, duration, cost, adverse events, and improve upon the study design prior to performance of a full-scale research project.”

Distributing more than 800 ElliQ doesn’t sound “small-scale” to me.

Nor does $700,000.

For what is, after all, an experiment.

Maybe before New York spent $700,000 taxpayer dollars – state and possibly federal tax dollars – couldn’t they have experimented with giving just one or two or a half-dozen ElliQ to the elderly, to ascertain that these things actually work?

Work better than, say…Elon Musk’s self-driving Teslas?

Book Review:  I Liked Another Book!  I Really Liked It!

(I posted a book review last Friday, and normally wouldn’t do another so soon.  I guess I lost my head after reading two books so close together that I liked so much.  Unheard of!)

Publication date:  May 2022

Category:  Contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy.

Review, short version:  Four roses out of four.

Review, long version:

I’ve read many book-related books:  books about book clubs, books about bookstore owners, books about book writers, books about book editors.

The lead character in Emily Henry’s Book Lovers was a first for me:  a book agent.

More correctly, a literary agent.

According to this article:

“What is a literary agent?  In short, they’re the person whose job it is to sell your book to a publisher.  Literary agents work to present great manuscripts to potential publishers, and while the agent’s primary role is to sell books and negotiate contracts, your agent can also be your motivation, your first editor, and your biggest supporter.”

Henry’s lead character, Nora Stephens, is described on the Book Lovers dust jacket as…

“…a heroine for her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent…” 

Nora, single and 32, has a sister, Libby, 28, who’s married and a mother of two with a third on the way.  Both live in New York City, and even more important – both are New Yorkers.

The sisters’ relationship is complicated, and so are they.  Their father abandoned them when Libby was still in the womb, and since then Nora has seen her role as her sister’s protector – from their loving but flaky mother, from things that go bump in the night, from the world in general.

But does Libby need Nora’s protecting?

Libby does need some time away from her overly busy life and two small daughters before the third arrives, and she convinces Nora to join her for a three-week vacation in Sunshine Falls, a small North Carolina town.  Libby chose Sunshine Falls because it was the setting for a novel she’d read and loved.

But does Libby have ulterior motives?

Nora needs a vacation, but Nora doesn’t take vacations.  Her work, and protecting Libby, are her life.  When she dates, the relationship is brief and ends badly.  When she cries – well, she doesn’t cry.  Period.

Nora hasn’t cried in 10 years.

Now let’s meet Charlie Lastra, “a bookish, brooding editor,” also from New York.  Nora considers Charlie her “professional nemesis,” and you know they’re going to mix like oil and water.  Their exchanges are snarky and entertaining.  Their attraction is growing.  But Charlie…

Is also complicated.

And Charlie – another diehard New Yorker – is, inexplicably, also in Sunshine Falls.

Will Nora and Charlie stop snarking and start kissing?  Will Libby liberate herself from Nora’s well-intentioned but overdone helicoptering? 

Will Nora cry?

And if so, why?

I didn’t like Henry’s last book, People We Meet on Vacation, and I was iffy about Book Lovers.  I’m glad I took a chance and read the book, because this time around I enjoyed the story, the writing, the characters and changes they went through.  And I enjoyed the surprises.

I liked another book.

I really liked it!

When It Comes To The Kardashians I’m…

The above image, known as Three Wise Monkeys, has long represented an old proverb:

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.

I’m using the image to describe how I feel about anything Kardashian-related:

Don’t make me hear it, don’t make me see it, or it will make me vomit.

The Kardashians, about whom I know enough to know that they’re famous for being famous…

…and that’s more than I want to know.

For years I have studiously avoided everything Kardashian-related.

Until a recent article caught my eye in – of all things – the Health section of my newspaper.

Something Kardashian-related – in a newspaper’s Health section?

Dared I hope that all the Kardashians decided to be cryogenically frozen – kind of like popsicles – and be thawed out maybe…a thousand years from now?

This required investigating.

The article I read in the San Diego Union-Tribune originally appeared in the Washington Post, on May 10:

The story says that on May 2, Kim Kardashian attended the Met Gala, which goes by several names:

“The Met Gala, or Met Ball, formally called the Costume Institute Gala or the Costume Institute Benefit…”

And its purpose:

“…is an annual fundraising gala held for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City.”

Kardashian, who clearly hates having her picture taken…

…garnered plenty of attention, though much of it was not favorable, for several reasons.

Reason #1:  Kardashian was wearing a very famous – even iconic – 60-year-old gown, originally worn by Marilyn Monroe in 1962, when she attended a birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden for President John Kennedy and sang Happy Birthday to him:

The dress was designed for Monroe, and no one has worn the dress since Monroe’s 1962 appearance.  According to this article:

“Kardashian borrowed the dress from Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando, not an accredited museum.  The novelty museum bought the work at auction in 2016 for $4.8 million.”

I love how the writer snarkily noted that Ripley’s is “not an accredited museum.”

Here’s the dress in Ripley’s Believe It or Not:

The artnet article continues,

“Textile conservators, including the former head of the Met’s fashion conservation department, Sarah Scarturro, blasted the socialite.”

The article linked to Scarturro’s Instagram account, where she went on at length, including this:

“‘When I was the head of the Costume Institute’s conservation lab, I had to swat off requests by people…to have irreplaceable objects in the collection be worn by models and celebrities.’”

So, huge pushback from people knowledgeable about the fragility of old textiles.

Though I can’t help but wonder how Monroe’s dress – a one-of-a-kind, worn-once, “irreplaceable object” – ended up in a tacky roadside attraction like this:

Side-by-side with stuff like Ripley’s Lizard Man?

Why weren’t Scarturro and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute front and center in 2016 when they could have been the high bidders for Monroe’s gown, instead of Ripley’s?

Here’s the second reason the Kardashian-in-Monroe-dress story garnered so much bad press:

Reason #2:  Scarturro was also among the many who bemoaned Kardashian’s besmirching both Marilyn’s dress and her legend, saying:

“…in the end Kim Kardashian is no Marilyn Monroe.”

Other social media storm comments included:

“Marilyn’s image being bastardized and boiled down to ‘sex symbol’ like she wasn’t a woman who was unfortunately exploited her entire life by all the men that have come and gone and even after death she couldn’t even rest in peace.”

“A wealthy woman lifting her own celebrity off of a woman who was once poor and continued to be exploited her whole life just isn’t sitting right.”

And a quote from this article:

Was especially interesting:

“Another person who didn’t love Kardashian’s choices?  Fashion designer Bob Mackie, who drew the sketch for the original gown in his early career working as an assistant to Jean Louis.  ‘I thought it was a big mistake.  [Marilyn] was a goddess.  A crazy goddess, but a goddess.  She was just fabulous.  Nobody photographs like that.  And it was done for her.  It was designed for her.  Nobody else should be seen in that dress.’”

Let’s move on to the third reason Kardashian came in for criticism…

Reason #3 – and for that, we’ll revisit the Washington Post story:

Ahh.  That’s why the Kardashian story was in the Health section of my newspaper.

But “potentially harmful”?  What’s that all about?

It seems that in an interview, Kardashian shared “the extreme three-week 16-pound weight-loss regimen she undertook to squeeze into” Marilyn’s dress.

“The reality TV star was excoriated on social media not only for publicizing her potentially harmful crash diet…”

“Potentially harmful”?

Many online articles I checked (from sources I felt were credible) say a weight loss of one to two pounds per week is considered healthy.

Kardashian claims she lost 16 pounds in three weeks.

The articles suggested consequences of losing weight too quickly, including losing muscle instead of fat; becoming malnourished and/or dehydrated; digestive problems; tiredness; a slowed metabolism; and a painful condition known as gallstones.

Actress Lili Reinhart weighed in on Kardashian’s crash diet on Instagram, as quoted in this article:

“To walk on a red carpet and do an interview where you say how starving you are…because you haven’t eaten carbs in the last month…all to fit in a fucking dress?”

“So wrong.  So fucked on 100s of levels.  To openly admit to starving yourself for the sake of the Met Gala.  When you know very well that millions of young men and women are looking up to you and listening to your every word.  The ignorance is other-worldly and disgusting.  Please stop supporting these stupid, harmful celebrities whose entire image revolves around their bodies.”

Whoa, Lili! Don’t mince words!

But it wasn’t just Kardashian’s crash diet – she was also “excoriated” for…

“…advocating unhealthy slimming strategies in the past – including endorsing and selling a popular shapewear product that persists against the best medical advice:  the waist trainer.”

Now we come to the “waist trainer” in the Washington Post headline.

What the hell is a “waist trainer”?

The Washington Post enlightened me:

“Waist trainers, for those not in the know, are undergarments that create an hourglass figure by tightly compressing the waist.  They gained popularity during the 2010s thanks to praise from celebrities and Instagram influencers including the Kardashian family, and remain so despite being roundly panned by health experts.”

“If the concept sounds familiar, that’s because it is.  ‘They’re basically glorified corsets,’ said Stephanie Faubion, the director of Mayo Clinic Women’s Health in Jacksonville, FL.  ‘I’m sorry to see that we’ve reverted to the 1800s.’”

“Glorified corsets”?

Let’s have a look.

The image on the left is from 1899; the image on the right is online:

I’d agree with the corset comparison.  And I’d agree with Stephanie Faubion’s “reverted to the 1800s.” 

But “glorified”?  I think not:

“Those who endorse waist trainers on social media claim that wearing them regularly, for a period of months, trains their waist into an hourglass shape…”

“But health experts say the alleged benefits are all hype.  In fact, ‘the name waist trainer is a misnomer,’ said Faubion.  ‘It’s not training your waist to do anything different.  It’s not going to change your shape.  It’s your waist – it’s not a dog.’”

The article goes on to detail possible waist trainer side effects, including:

  • Restricting your breathing.  “Kardashian wore a waist trainer to the 2019 Met Gala and revealed that she had to take corset-breathing lessons.”
  • Affecting your internal organs:  “Long-term use can shift your organs – like your kidneys – into unnatural positions, and even cut off the blood flow that allows them to function properly.”
  • Causing digestive issues:  “Waist trainers squish your digestive system, which could lead to constipation by ‘blocking the normal motility and flow of materials through the intestines.’”
  • Weakening your musculoskeletal system.  “Sleeping in one or wearing one all day, week after week, will dissipate core strength.”

Kardashian is encouraging females to wear body-distorting undergarments like 19th-century women did – We’ve come a long way, baby!  NOT! 

And to the probable detriment of females’ health.

Good ole Kimmy is not only endorsing waist trainers – she’s selling them at her shapewear company, SKIMS.

Here’s Kardashian, from the Washington Post article :

In the Washington Post article, Kardashian was described as “at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute benefit gala in 2019, wearing a waist trainer that required breathing lessons.” 

I’m guessing Kardashian wasn’t wearing one of her body-distorting undergarments under the Marilyn Monroe dress at the 2022 Met Gala since, according to this article:

The article states that resolution was reached:

“After some serious teamwork, the group managed to get the dress over her butt, but were unable to actually fasten the zip, instead securing the opening with a piece of string.”

Hence, I guess, the strategically placed fur thing:

According to the various stories, after her appearance on the red carpet in the Monroe dress, Kardashian changed into a different dress.

Presumably this dress that did not require the string solution.


I’ve now gone from this about anything Kardashian-related…

Don’t make me hear it, don’t make me see it, or it will make me vomit.

To spending an inordinate amount of time hearing, seeing – and talking – about something Kardashian-related.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go wash out my ears, eyes and mouth with soap…

Book Review: I Liked It! I Really Liked It!

Publication date:  March 2022

Category:  Family saga fiction, mother’s and children fiction

Review, short version:  Four roses out of four

Review, long version:

After I finished Jennifer Smith’s The Unsinkable Greta James, I didn’t immediately start another book, as I usually would.

I didn’t want to change my focus just yet.

I wanted to linger for awhile in what I’ll call Greta Glow.

The glow that I get when I thoroughly enjoy a book.

Unsinkable held my attention throughout, and ended in a way I found satisfying.  I liked Smith’s writing and storytelling, and I enjoyed being part of her characters’ challenges and changes.

Greta is a single, 36-year-old Indie music writer/singer/guitarist.  Over the past 10 years her career has grown:  She now plays to large crowds, her songs are on the radio, her second album will soon be released, and she’s recognized and asked for autographs on the street. 

Greta seemed to be living exactly the life she’d dreamed of.

“Seemed,” as in – past tense.

One night while on stage, soon after the sudden death of her mother, Greta has a meltdown.  The video goes viral, and Greta goes into hiding.

A year earlier, Greta’s mother had started planning an Alaskan cruise that she and Greta’s father would take to celebrate their 40th anniversary.  Two couples that Greta’s parents are close to would join them on the cruise.

Then Greta’s mother dies, and Greta’s brother suggests that – since Greta isn’t doing anything, anyway – she should take her mother’s place on the cruise.

It’s a situation that’s full of potential – including potential landmines.  Greta and her father have been at war for years, and now a week, trapped on a cruise ship with him? 

And since her meltdown, Greta is also questioning her own life choices:

“Greta finds it almost painful sometimes to think about all the different lives she could be leading, to know that every choice she’s made has meant the loss of so many other possibilities.  Every day, more doors close.  Without even trying, simply by moving forward, you end up doubling down on the life you’ve chosen.  And the only way to survive is to commit to it fully, to tell yourself it’s the right one.  But what if that’s not true?”

If you enjoy characters’ challenges and changes, I recommend Unsinkable.

I very often find myself at odds with Amazon reviewers.  For example, I did a post back in March about The Midnight Library, which I strongly disliked.  At the time, the book had more than 140,000 Amazon reviewers, 4.3 stars, and had been on the New York Times best sellers list for 64 weeks.

As I write this, Midnight Library just chalked up its 77th week on the New York Times list, showing how out-of-step with the majority I was and continue to be.

But not this time.

This time I found myself in accord with 83 percent of Smith’s 1200+ reviewers and Unsinkable’s 4.2 stars rating.

They liked it, I liked it, and I hope Jennifer Smith is working on another novel.