Fun with words and words for fun

Monthly Archives: February 2016

einsteinWe hear a lot in the presidential campaigns about candidates lying and each one of the candidates can be heard opening a sentence with “The fact is…” In fact, however, none of them seem to know what a fact is. Actually, the pundits, commentators and politicians supporting or opposing candidates don’t seem to know either. This is truly sad on many levels and for many reasons. Furthermore, it is unbecoming in our society, unbecoming altogether, and perhaps symptomatic of the decline of our intellect and the intellectual leadership we once so proudly asserted globally.

Every one of the candidates has lied. That is a fact. It is empirically provable, and sadly, it is generally accepted and expected. Hillary supporters say they know she is dishonest but support her because they believe she is electable. So that’s the criteria now. Harry Reid boasted that his lie about Mitt Romney’s taxes meant that Romney didn’t get elected. Or, the former leader of the Senate endorsed lying. Wow! Ted Cruz lies so much that he may not know when he is lying. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are guilty of lying too, though they are better at twisting facts for their personal benefit, which means they lie, just not as outrageously as their cronies.

Liar, liar, pants on fire. The latest distortion of facts centers on replacing Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The facts are…

Well, the process for replacing a Justice is clearly laid out. So in that regard the president and the Senate have their respective roles. This morning, when I heard a Democratic spokesperson saying that the fact was that the President had an obligation to do it quickly, the fact is that that is not a fact. it is an opinion. And the fact about Ted Cruz’s birth issue is only that he was born in Canada. What that means in terms of everything else is all opinion.

Unemployment per the latest report was 4.9%. That is a fact though it may or may not be challenged by different measurers. What that unemployment number means is not something inherent in the number itself. Whether it is good or bad, if it is a real measure or not, etc. are matters of discussion and interpretation. The point is that facts are used to build a case. Generally, facts are not the case themselves.

What you see is not always what you got. When I was playing high school football, the last three spots on the varsity squad were filled by the coach saying he was taking the next three makers of tackles, which he did. But the fact that those three guys made tackles did not mean they were good players or worthy of a spot on the varsity team. In the end, they occupied the spots but none of them ever played.

The more we dumb down our education, the less able we are to interpret facts. Personally, I believe education is purposefully being dumbed down for this reason. Like they used to say about keeping women barefoot and pregnant, I believe there is a concerted effort to dumb us down to keep us dependent and in our places.

My beliefs are not facts. But one thing is sure, the politicians and candidates should be much more careful in their presentation of facts and the untrue assertions of facts they present as facts.


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4 acesI’m not much of a gambler. I get angry when I lose and always feel as if I should have bought a pen instead of losing the money. I collect fountain pens and so that’s that. My father loved to gamble and most of his family did too. The reason I mention this is because there’s a high stakes card game going on right before our very eyes and it is a nefarious one with stakes as perilous as in James Bond’s game in Casino Royal. My father liked cards most of all.

 The first time I got a sense of this kind of thing was in a Jack Ryan movie when Ryan’s told he’s “got a chip in the big game now.” Maybe that shows how naive I am. Maybe I should have been cognizant of this a long time ago because I’m sure it’s not new for this presidential campaign. But recently on the news I heard it stated in just those terms.

 The issue being discussed was whether or not Hillary was going to be indicted. This issue, by the way, is one that is partly responsible for what is happening in the campaign on both the Democratic and Republican sides, an issue that is metaphoric for the distrust of politicians, political parties, our leaders in general and our system overall. It is by no means the only issue that could be used metaphorically, but it was the one on the table.

Everyone agreed that the FBI was building a case against her and the reporters, not the pundits, said their inside sources had told them they were ready to send the recommendation for indictment over to the justice department. In Obama’s tenure I’ve been fond of calling it the lack-of-justice department since apparently neither Obama nor Eric Holder seem to have read Martin Luther King Jr.’s writings. If they have read them, they surely haven’t learned anything about the universality of our laws and the universal application of them. Obama, and whoever is actually running him—is it really Valerie Jared?—have made a mockery of justice. They have not only broken and ignored laws, but they have only selectively enforced them. No one knows yet how Loretta Lynch will be. Maybe Hillary’s case will illuminate her true position.

The first two analysts said she wouldn’t be indicted, one because she didn’t do anything wrong, the other because it was political and as the leading Democratic candidate, they would think twice about upsetting the apple cart. The third one said that they wouldn’t indict her even with a strong FBI recommendation because no one knew what cards she was holding on Obama. She went on to state that Bill Clinton had people everywhere and the Clinton machine had enormous reach. She suggested that the Clintons might know things about Ben Ghazi or Fast and Furious that Obama would not want made public.

So there’s a game going on, very much like a poker game, and you have to be one of the elite insiders to sit in on this game. We the people are rarely reminded that it exists or that how things in our world are decided depends upon who holds what cards in that game. After all, to the high rollers our lives aren’t about us since we are here to serve them. Given the way they play the game, the concept of us being free is just a concept. We’re not free. We work for them.

Lord have Mercy on our souls.

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hollandaise sauceIn my fist hotel job at the Sheraton On The Square in Cleveland I was the broiler cook for the Falstaff Room, the hotel’s restaurant and cocktail lounge. I’ve written about this hotel before, about the fund raiser banquet we did for Spiro Agnew in the early 1970s, a 5000-plate ballroom banquet complete with Secret Service and machine guns and snipers and all that. I had a good job there. It was easy since generally the restaurant outlet was not too busy. We had little real set up and preparation work and the cocktail waitresses, who were also the food servers, wore French Maid outfits that were more than overtly suggestive, something not unpleasant for a young cook in his early twenties to look at. I worked with Jimmy G. His aunt worked in the pantry, located in its own space behind the open hearth Jimmy and I worked in. Jimmy’s brother was the banquet chef for the hotel.

One of the prep things I had to do was make fresh Hollandaise Sauce every day since it went with one of the vegetables on the menu. I had never made it before this job and Jimmy taught me how to do it, or so I thought. Physically, this work was done in a bain-marie in the main kitchen where I went every day with a cart to pick up all the food needed for the Falstaff Room. Almost everything was made for us in the main kitchen, so I made the Hollandaise, picked up everything we needed and went off the restaurant outlet.

There I was making the sauce. I took the butter, unwrapped it and put it into a bain-marie then set the bain-marie into the steam tank so the butter would melt. While the butter melted I cracked the eggs and separated the yolks from the whites, putting the yolks into the large mixing bowl which, set in the water in the steam tank, was where I would actually make the sauce by whipping in the butter. Voila! Hollandaise Sauce after the lemon juice and the little bit of seasoning was added.

Butter melted and cream separated out of it, yolks ready, I went to work slowly pouring in the butter. As I did this, as he did almost every day, the head chef came by and watched me for a moment. He never said a word. He just watched me as I made the sauce, stood a moment and walked on to do whatever he was about.

Sometimes the sauce broke when I made it, which means that it didn’t thicken or it thickened but then actually separated or thinned; it broke. I didn’t know why, didn’t know what happened. I had to start all over again.

Here’s the point. Jimmy did not teach me the correct way to make the sauce. I doubt he knew the correct way himself. Worse, the head chef, who watched me maybe a few hundred times at different stages of making the sauce, must have known the correct way to make it, but he never took the time to teach me and never even told me I wasn’t doing it right. So what did I think? I thought I was doing it the right way. That chef was either indifferent toward me or simply didn’t care about his kitchen enough to correct me. What he did do, though, was set me up for the failure and embarrassment I was to have later in my cooking career. That was the result of his not taking the appropriate corrective actions for the methodology I was using.

Later on, at the St. Regis Hotel, the head chef told me to make Hollandaise Sauce as part of my tryout for the job. When he saw how I was going about it, he stopped me, told me I didn’t know how to cook, and only by his niceness and because I had been sent to him by someone he knew (that’s another story in itself) did he give me a job, but it was a starting-at-the-bottom-job as a roundsman, a relief cook, where I didn’t actually have to cook anything.

That chef in Cleveland set me up for failure by not teaching me properly, and fail I did, almost not getting the job I so desperately needed at the time.  The school in Stevenson (entry just before this), the NYCDOE and our liberal, politically correct, you-can-do-what-you-want leaders did the same thing to that boy with the 7 bags of pot, and I fear his consequences one day will be a lot worse than mine were.

We are letting our society go to hell in a hand basket. Political correctness and fear of hurting people’s feelings be damned. It is time to simply do the right things and teach the right things when we know what they are.

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AESStevenson Campus made the TV news a few weeks ago. The story is an interesting one for many reasons. Apparently a young male student was found to have seven bags of marijuana in his book bag. He was issued a warning card which he was to bring home and show to his parents that suggested his parents discuss this matter with him. NY Post Article

The TV show that discussed this issue brought up some points which really need to be considered. First, seven bags of pot is not what you would have for personal consumption and infers intent to sell. Selling is a lot more serious an offense than personal use, though kids using marijuana is bad enough. No matter what the liberal and free-rights advocates claim, drug use is not something good or that should in any way be encouraged. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

Encouraged, here, is the salient word. The net effect of not appropriately disciplining this child is encouraging this child to continue such behavior, and the ramifications of coddling in this issue (and the many more issues like this one) are a thousand times more serious than the actual offense itself. The conclusion that was stated on the TV show was that the system simply does not care about the kids. If it did, it would do its part to teach the child that such behavior is not tolerated inside school or out and that continued behavior would very likely lead to incarceration or worse.

I taught at Stevenson for more than sixteen years. Do I need to tell the story about the student of mine who was shot point blank in the back of the head behind the apartment building across the street from the school because of “a beef?”

This kid could run into rival drug dealers. Consequences from them would be a lot worse than anything the school people or even the police could inflict. This kid could have been robbed, encountered a disgruntled client, you name it, you follow the thread to the end results of any ideas that might pop into your mind for what might happen to this child if efforts are not made to discourage him from continuing in his drug-dealing enterprise.

Clearly several factors are at work here for why the child was not disciplined. One factor is the over-reach of liberalism and the misguided notion that we are all entitled to do whatever we want, the Occupy Wall Street stuff, which when examined for what really occurred gets pretty ugly. A second factor is political correctness, these days in large part illustrated by Eric Holder’s lack-of-Justice Department’s purposefully not enforcing laws against minorities. Follow this thread to its conclusion. Not doing anything in this case is tantamount to not caring about this child and minorities in general, for what is really being done to this child is setting him up for future problems that will affect his life much more negatively than this incident, and that is putting it so mildly that it approaches understatement.

Somewhere down the line everyone has to pay the piper, or we all have to learn that you can’t really do whatever you want to do with disregard for the rules of society. If we aren’t properly taught these lessons in school, what is the purpose of education? Isn’t education supposed to be about preparing us to be productive people who can fare well in our society?

Perhaps, in this particular case, the school, which is not identified, the parents and the police should have had a conference regarding the consequences of such actions in real life, not school life, and surely the student should have been made to do community service. Perhaps he should have been made to do that service in a hospital treating drug addicts.

footprintsIt’s just by the grace of God. It’s always been by the grace of God.

Long ago in my first kitchen, Mary, the prep cook, used to say “Lord have mercy,” over and over, or just “Mercy,” for short. Robert, the broiler cook, sang in the church choir, and there was never concern about who was a believer and who was not. Everyone was a believer.

Back then there were agnostics and atheists, but they stayed in the background and stayed quiet. It wasn’t cool to be a not believer. We didn’t have cable TV, and on regular TV they only had religious shows which if you didn’t want to watch you didn’t watch. That’s still true today—you don’t have to watch—but I can’t ever remember a show that mocked believers and scoffed at God, shows which exist today and would have you feel stupid for putting your faith in something we can’t empirically verify.

Stupid?  Silly? Foolish? Why?

In my time I’ve been through atheist and agnostic periods. Those happened in college. I’ve also been through very religious times, formal religious times. Through everything, though, when push came to shove, the prayers always included help from God. Or, like the Footprints poem, Footprints In The Sand, God  was there always, right with me and standing by me, whether I wanted to acknowledge Him or not.

So I’ve been visiting someone in the hospital since Friday and the woman in the next bed, I learned, was outside feeding the birds and when she came in there was a nail sticking up on her deck and it caught on her slipper and she fell, fell down the deck stairs and broke her hip and a couple of ribs. She lay in the snow for several hours before she was found and taken to the hospital.

There but for the grace of God… And, “Lord have mercy.”

They did a hip replacement and she was okay the first two days but then something happened. Last we heard they were doing a cat scan and then sending her to ICU.

How much we take for granted! It’s all by the grace of God.

Light Cover page working_new2I’ll have a novel coming out on Amazon soon, maybe within a couple of weeks. One of the essential questions it considers is why one dog in a shelter gets a great home when the one next to it gets euthanized. Or, why was my father not shot by the Nazis when the two prisoners in front of him were? Or why did I get busted at that protest at OSU when actually I’d gone to see a professor about my writing? Or why did the dorm tough leave me alone when he confronted me? Or why was I in the workhouse when Newman King was there? He was in for drunk driving and his family wouldn’t pay the fine, so he had to work it off. My wife and I paid it off for him so he could get out. It took every last penny we had. He paid us back too.

Lord Have Mercy. Robert used to sing that out often. Weepy-eyed Robert, dressed in workhouse blues, was sweeping out the City Hall Annex when I went to see my probation officer. I offered him a cigarette. He said, “No thank you baby. I don’t smoke.” A month later, he was the one who got me a job in the restaurant where he was the broiler cook. He was doing a favor for the probation officer and didn’t know it was me until he saw me and remembered our little encounter.

There’s a lot to say on this subject. I think it’s much cooler to believe than not. I don’t see how all that  exists could be without some grand plan. I don’t see how control, for us is anything more than an illusion.

And there but for the grace of God…


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