Author Archives

Tippy Gnu

I chase unicorns and post them on my blog. I also accept donated unicorns. And when I still don’t have enough unicorns to post, I steal them from unsuspecting celebrities, in the form of stolen quotes. Then I let my followers do whatever the hell they want, with these unicorns I post. Come join the fun, and together we’ll chase unicorns!

Bipolar Bipeds

Comedy-TragedyMasks

I think mental illness is the most expensive disease a person can suffer from. And it’s not because psychiatrists charge so much. Although if you ask me, anyone who pays the kind of hourly rate they charge has to be crazy. But mental illness can also cost people their careers, their freedom, their families, and even their lives.

It cost my daughter everything but her family. We stood by her, but she was bipolar and there was nothing we could do to cure that problem.

She could not hold down a paying job for very long. She made bad choices in men. She spent a year in jail. And then she began taking Seroquel, a powerful psych medicine. A potential side effect reported for Seroquel is blood clots. A few months after taking this drug, she was hospitalized with blood clots in her legs. And then some of them broke free and traveled to her lungs, killing her at the age of 32.

About ten million Americans have bipolar disorder. That’s a lot of bipolar bipeds. And about one in five adults suffer from some sort of diagnosable mental disorder. There’s a plague of mental illness in our world, exacting immeasurable costs on many people.

If you often have a difficult time making healthy decisions for yourself, you could very well be mentally ill. Don’t live in denial. Admit your problem and seek help.

Also, if you’re mentally ill, learn to take advice from those who care about you, and are better than you at making good decisions. When our daughter started taking Seroquel she was warned to get regular checkups for blood clots. She blew that advise off. The mentally ill must accept that they need help making decisions. People with good vision read for the blind. People with good hearing listen for the deaf. And those with stable minds can help the mentally ill with their decisions.

Many people manage their mental illness successfully. If you’re mentally ill, seek the help you need. It doesn’t have to exact a high toll on your life. You can turn your life around, and stop paying such high prices.

Plasticillus

Baggus Grocerus. This common species of the wild may soon be threatened with extinction, from an emerging pandemic.

Baggus Grocerus. This common species of the wild may soon be threatened with extinction, from an emerging pandemic.

My nephew Herbert is a brilliant young man with a PhD. He spends his time in his basement conducting scientific experiments and developing cutting-edge inventions that make this world a better place.

He’s been worried about plastic for a long time. Plastic takes hundreds of years to break down in our landfills and oceans, and even after it breaks down it remains in tiny particulate form that threatens wildlife.

But a group of Yale students recently discovered a fungus in the amazon that devours polyurethane at an astonishing rate. And then there’s the Canadian high school student, Daniel Burd. Burd developed a cocktail of bacteria that can completely dissolve plastic bags in just three months.

Herbert decided to build on these recent discoveries by trying to genetically engineer a super-hungry, plastic-eating bacteria. He wanted to release this powerful microbe into the world, so it could quickly and naturally dissolve all the plastic buried in our landfills and floating in our oceans.

My nephew kept me updated on his progress. I’m not smart like him, so I really don’t know how he was able to extract the DNA from that amazonian fungus and combine it with that Canadian bacon, I mean bacteria, to engineer the new organism that he developed. All I know is that something went very, very wrong.

I got a call from him last night. He sounded panicky. “Unc-unc-unc Uncle T-tippy!” he was breathless.

“Calm down Herbert, calm down. Do a few math problems on your calculator. There that’s it. Feeling better now? Good. What’s going on?” At least I’m smarter than him when it comes to psychology.

“I won’t be able to use the calculator for very much longer, Uncle Tippy. Oh Uncle Tippy, what have I done?! The calculator keys are dissolving right before my eyes. And so is this phone. Not sure how much longer we’ll stay connected.”

“Why? What’s happening? Tell me what’s wrong? Is there anything I can do to help?” Now I was the one feeling a little panicky.

“It’s PLASTICILLUS!” he shouted.

“What the hell is that?”

“I invented it. Plasticillus, I call it. It’s a brand-new GMO bacteria that I, Dr. Herbert Veervender, invented. I should win the Nobel Prize for this. Except one thing. It’s one heck of a lot more virile than I intended it to be. It escaped my petri dishes and it’s taking over everything.”

“But isn’t that what you wanted, Herbie? Isn’t this how you’re going to save the planet from plastic?”

“You don’t understand. It’s dissolving everything plastic in the house. My computer keyboard is flaking apart. Our polyester curtains are shredding. Our vinyl flooring is decaying beneath my feet. Even the polyester fabric in my clothes is coming apart. I’m looking out my window and can see my neighbor’s artificial lawn turning from green to splotchy brown and gray. But I can’t go outside and warn my neighbors and community about this spreading bacteria because my clothes will fall off, and that would be very embarrassing.”

“This sounds crazy, Herb. What can I do? How can I help?”

“You have to do something, Uncle Tippy! Warn everyone! Warn the world!! You have a blog don’t you? Write a post to warn people. Soon no cars will be drivable, because the plastic parts in the frames and engines will decay. Soon the water utilities of many cities will cease to function, when their PVC water mains dissolve. And the electric grid will be destroyed nationwide, then worldwide, as plasticillus devours the insulation of power lines. Civilization is coming to an end!”

“Gee, this sounds serious. Alright, I’ll write a post to warn everyone. Anything else I can do?”

“Yes, you’re in a very unique position to help. So listen very closely. This is critically important to stopping the spread of this bacteria. You have to–”

We were suddenly cut off. The plasticillus must have finished off his phone. I can’t communicate with my nephew anymore. So now I’m left trying to figure out for myself what I have to do to save the world. Any ideas, anyone?

Three Issues

"Taco Robbery" by Charles Russell

“Taco Robbery” by Charles Russell

There are three issues that matter to me in this election: Tacos, Internet Freedom, and Naps.

My favorite meal is tacos, and I want a president who will keep this delicious menu item popular and inexpensive. So I must be certain that as commander-in-chief, he/she will keep us out of war with Mexico.

I love the internet. But occasionally I accidentally Google something that brings up photos of nice young ladies who happen to have few if any clothes on. I really enjoy these mistakes, but I only ogle at these Googles for a few seconds before I quickly fix my search query. No, I wouldn’t abuse my internet privileges by slobbering over these images for hours upon end. Not me. Just the same, it always comes as a pleasant surprise whenever I make such Googling errors. I want a president who understands this, and who will not censor the internet.

Nothing feels better than a midday nap. Especially at work. But I’m retired now, so I get double the pleasure from my naps, because I don’t have to sleep with one eye open. Television is a great soporific. I like to turn on the boob tube, prop myself up in bed, and then drift off to dreamland under the quiet hum of my favorite TV show. I want a president who will keep us out of crises, so I won’t have my naps constantly disturbed by the clamant blare of breaking news.

Donald Drumpf (aka Trump) would be bad for tacos. He’s sure to get us into a war with Mexico, and then patriotic war hawks would call for a boycott on tacos. Just like they did with French fries after France criticized us for invading Iraq. Every Del Taco in our country would be forced to close. But the Donald wouldn’t censor the internet. He always says he LOVES women. As for naps, I’d never get one again with all the trouble he’d stir up in this world. So Donald, you would only be good for one issue. Thus, I give you only 1 point, in my scoring system for choosing who to vote for.

Cruz and Rubio would protect tacos. They’re Hispanic, so I’m sure they’d do their very best to preserve this fine form of tortilla-sandwich dining. But Cruz is evangelical, and Rubio is part of the Republican establishment. Both groups have a history of Comstockery, so they’ll censor the internet. Thus, no more skin for dirty old men. As for naps, I think I’d get a lot of them under their leadership. They are both boring as hell. So I give them 2 points each.

Hillary would be great for tacos. She appeals to Hispanics, and has even hinted she may choose a Hispanic running-mate. Democrats never censor the internet, so my Googling errors would be safe under her tutelage. And I’ve found it very easy to take a nap in the middle of her speeches. Hillary’s a 3 in my book.

But what about Bernie? Well, he’s from Vermont. I’ve been to Vermont. Do you know how hard it is to find a taco in Vermont? So Bernie-from-Vermont probably knows nothing about tacos. This lack of range in his qualifications costs him a point in my book. He wouldn’t censor the internet, but he has called for revolution. A revolution means lots of breaking news. No naps under Bernie. Bernie gets just 1 point.

And so the winner is, Hillary Rodham Clinton. There, I’ve made my decision. Now it’s time for a taco and nap. But not before I do a little internet browsing.

Rapping It Up

Where rappers rap it up.

Where rappers rap it up.

Why do people keep killing rappers? I’m no fan of the genre. And I can certainly understand why someone would want to shoot those who play this music so loud, every house in the neighborhood vibrates. But why kill the rappers, themselves? It’s just music, everyone.

Country stars drink themselves to death. Rockers overdose. But rappers–they die of lead poisoning.

The latest rapper to bite the dust was a rising star from Atlanta, named Bankroll Fresh. Last Friday night he was standing outside his recording studio, when blangdiddy, blam, blang, bang, a hail of bullets cuts him down. He was only 28 years old. No arrests have been made.

Here’s a list of other rappers that have been murdered:

Big Hawk: 1969-2006. Shot dead by an unknown suspect, when he went to a friend’s house to play dominoes. No arrests have been made.

Big L: 1974-1999. Shot in a drive-by shooting in Harlem. The murder is still unsolved.

Bad News Brown: 1977-2011. Found dead in an alley, apparently the victim of violence. The case is still unsolved.

Blade Icewood: 1977-2005. Shot at a car wash in Detroit by an unknown gunman.

Camoflauge: 1981-2003. Gunned down outside of Pure Pain recording studio, while walking his toddler son. Whodunnit? Not me! Nobody knows, who’s willing to talk.

Charizma: 1973-1993. Shot dead in a mugging. His killer was arrested the same day.

Chinx: 1983-2015. Shot in a double-homicide in Queens, New York. The murder has not yet been solved.

Doe B: 1991-2013. Shot at the Centennial Bar and Grill in Montgomery Alabama. His killer, who had been in an ongoing dispute with him, later turned himself in.

Dolla: 1987-2009. Shot in L.A. by Aubrey Louis Berry. Berry claimed self-defense and was acquitted by a jury in 2010.

Fat Pat: 1970-1998. Brother of Big Hawk (see above). Shot in Texas by, who knows, while collecting an appearance fee.

Freaky Tah: 1971-1999. Shot at the Sheraton in Queens, New York, by Kelvin Jones, who plead guilty to murder.

Half a Mill: 1973-2003. Shot in his apartment in Albany, New York. Details about the shooting are sketchy.

Jam Master Jay: 1965-2002. Shot execution-style in a recording studio in Queens, New York. Suspects exist, but no one has been convicted.

Lil Phat: 1992-2012. Shot outside a hospital in Sandy Springs, Georgia, while awaiting the birth of his daughter. Three men were convicted of this murder in 2014.

Mac Dre: 1970-2004. Shot while a passenger in a van, in Kansas City, Missouri. There have been no leads or arrests in this case.

Magnolia Shorty: 1982-2010. This female rapper was shot 26 times, in New Orleans, in a double-homicide that also took the life of Jerome Hampton. In 2014, Gregory Stewart confessed to being one of four men who participated in this gang-related shooting. This was part of a plea agreement that resulted in no prosecution for the murders.

Pavlos Fyssas: 1979-2013. This Greek anti-fascist rapper was stabbed to death in Athens by a member of the neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn.

Proof: 1973-2006. Shot four times while playing a game of pool that turned into a heated argument. Proof first shot and killed Keith Bender. Then Bender’s cousin, Mario Etheridge, shot Proof twice in the head and twice in the chest. Authorities determined that Etheridge was acting lawfully, in defense of another. Even if he did shoot him four times.

Sabotage: 1973-2003. This Brazilian rapper was shot four times in the head and chest. No arrests have been made.

Seagram: 1970-1996. Shot in a violent neighborhood of Oakland, while exiting a van. It’s still an unsolved mystery.

Soulja Slim: 1977-2003. Shot four times on the front lawn of his mother and stepfather’s home, in New Orleans, by an unknown gunman.

Stretch: 1968-1995. Shot four times in the back while driving his minivan, in Queens, New York. The murder is unsolved, but many believe Tupac Shakur was behind it.

The Jacka: 1977-2015. Shot in Oakland, while rapping with friends in a van. No arrests have been made.

The Notorious B.I.G: 1972-1997. Considered one of the most influential rappers of all time. But it’s rumored he was behind the shooting of Tupac Shakur in 1996. This young man was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles, while stopped at a red light. His killer has never been arrested.

Tupac Shakur: 1971-1996. Got into a brawl with Crips gang member Orlando “Bobby Lane” Anderson, in Las Vegas. A few hours later he was murdered in a drive-by shooting. Fellow rapper, Suge Knight, was with him, and received a head wound. Las Vegas police discounted Anderson as a suspect, and only interviewed him once. The murder remains unsolved.

VL Mike: 1976-2008. Shot in New Orleans while exiting his vehicle. An unknown assailant escaped on foot.

Yaki Kadafi: 1977-1996. This friend of Tupac Shakur was accidentally shot in the head two months after Shakur was killed. His killer served 10 years in prison.

That’s 26 murdered rappers, not counting our most recent, Bankroll Fresh. 18 of these murders, or 69%, remain unsolved. That seems like a hell of a high rate of unsolved murders. By the way, what is this about shooting rappers four times? What’s with the number four?

I guess if you want to get away with murder, shoot a rapper. You have about a 69% chance of never being caught. And if you do get caught, there’s a good chance you’ll beat the rap, so to speak.

And that about raps it up.

Dogtoothed Dogfight

In this corner, Mona "Don't Mess With My Teeth" Lisa

In this corner, Mona “Don’t Mess With My Smile” Lisa

And in this corner, Peone "The Alpha Hygienist"

And in this corner, Peone “The Alpha Hygienist”

Yesterday two of our wiener dogs, Mona Lisa and Peone, got into a fight. Mona Lisa is a 13-year-old cranky Tasmanian Devil. Peone is a 5-year-old hyperactive ball of energy, and the alpha female of the house. Although she’s small and the youngest, her unsuppressible energy makes her the leader of our pack of four dogs.

Peone loves to clean Mona Lisa’s dirty, stinking, rotting teeth. Usually Mona Lisa tolerates this intrusive activity, much as we humans tolerate the dental hygienist who picks, scrapes and grinds away at our ivories, every six months, as we dig our fingernails into the naugahyde arms of the chair.

But yesterday Mona Lisa had enough, and she bit Peone’s tongue. The fight was on. My wife broke it up and gave Peone a severe scolding.

Was my wife in the wrong? After all, Mona Lisa’s old teeth truly are rotting out of her head, and perhaps it’s for her own good to have her teeth cleaned regularly by her sister, whether she likes it or not.

What Makes Them Bloom?

A Joshua tree forest. As you can see, Joshua trees are not fit for climbing, unless you're wearing a full-leather suit.

A Joshua tree forest. As you can see, Joshua trees are not fit for climbing, unless you’re wearing a full-leather suit.

Joshua trees are in mass bloom in the Mojave desert this year. What makes these crazy trees bloom? Your smartass answers are always welcome, and would be as good a guess as anyone’s. But conventional wisdom, and Wikipedia, claim that rainfall and a hard freeze is required.

Joshua trees bloom in late-Winter, with most blooms gone by the first day of Spring.

Joshua trees bloom in late-Winter, with most blooms gone by the first day of Spring.

It seems the wise, Wikipedia-types weren’t around eight years ago. That’s when a drought brought zero rain to our desert over the winter. And yet nearly all the Joshua trees bloomed. During normal years you’ll see a smattering of blooms–a tree here, a tree there, but with most barren of blooms. And some years, hardly no trees bloom at all.

Some blooms take on a dark pink hue.

Some blooms take on a dark pink hue.

However in 2008, botanists were baffled to see almost every Joshua tree in rare, full bloom. And this during one of our driest winters on record. So what caused the mass bloom? Scientists came out from all over to study the phenomenon, but never figured it out. They’re still scratching their heads.

An early bud.

An early bud.

A bud just beginning to open. Looks kind of like an artichoke.

A bud just beginning to open. Looks kind of like an artichoke.

Many blooms are creamy white, without the pink.

Many blooms are creamy white, without the pink.

The Joshua tree got its name from Mormon settlers who thought it resembled the biblical Joshua lifting his arms in the air in praise of God. I think they should be renamed the “Seuss Tree” since they look kind of like trees found in Dr. Seuss books. The botanical name is Yucca brevifolia. This means yucca with short foliage. Joshua trees have short, spiky leaves, as opposed to most yuccas with much longer spikes. Yep, those spikes are technically leaves.

I wonder if Dr. Seuss saw these trees before illustrating his famous books?

I wonder if Dr. Seuss saw these trees before illustrating his famous books?

Joshua trees can live up to a thousand years. They only grow in the Mojave desert of California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. Some say they also grow in Israel, but this is a myth. The only Joshua that grew in Israel was the biblical Joshua, who never saw a Joshua tree in his life.

This looks a bit like an ice cream cone.

This looks a bit like an ice cream cone.

Today you can find tens of thousands of these trees growing in Joshua Tree National Park, California. But global warming is causing it to depopulate its southern range. Botanists fear that by the end of this century it will no longer be found in its eponymous park.

Looks almost good enough to eat. But the taste is bitter and soapy.

Looks almost good enough to eat. But the taste is bitter and soapy.

The Joshua is a strange, grand, majestic tree to behold. I feel kind of sorry for those who’ll live here a century from now. This desert will look rather bland without them.

Close-up of the flower petals.

Close-up of the flower petals.

Harry Browne

My thumbworn copy. Could be a collector's item, since it's out-of-print. But no, I'm not selling it.

My thumbworn copy. Could be a collector’s item, since it’s out-of-print. But no, I’m not selling it.

Harry Browne died ten years ago today. Harry who, what the heck? Harry Browne. He was a candidate for U.S. President, you know.

I was in my 20’s. I was depressed and suicidal. I was broke and my life was going nowhere. Then I picked up the book How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, by Harry Browne. This great book is now out of print, and that’s a shame. It applies libertarian philosophies to the traps we find ourselves in life, and shows you how to free yourself from those traps. Browne describes traps such as, The Morality Trap, The Group Trap, The Government Trap, The Despair Trap, and so forth.

Harry Browne was a disciple of Ludwig von Mises, who had a heavy influence on the libertarian movement in the mid-20th century. I, myself, became a disciple of Harry Browne. I applied his teachings to my life, and really did turn things around. I shook off my dependence on others and embarked on a path of self-determination. I pursued the things in life that truly made me happy. I found a successful career. I met my current wife, and we’ve had a close, loving relationship for nearly a quarter century now.

I owe a lot to Harry Browne.

In the early days of this freedom path, I was a perfervid proselyte of libertarianism. I crafted my own moral code, avoided group efforts, and regarded government with great skepticism. Harry Browne’s advice was that government does not solve any problems, and I took that to heart.

You can mine a lot of valuable gold from the libertarian philosophy. But beware of the fool’s gold. No one can be completely independent, as wonderful as that sounds in theory. Reality checks have moderated my passion. Apparently they moderated Browne, also.

Harry augured against being caught up in the Group Trap and the Government Trap. But he also gave investment advice, which included investing in stocks. Stocks are issued by corporations, and corporations are group efforts. Also, corporations cannot exist without government laws and charters. So we must fall into the Government Trap if we want to follow his advice and invest in stocks.

Harry Browne even ran for president, winning the Libertarian Party’s nomination in 1996 and 2000. In 1996 he garnered 485,798 votes. One of those votes was mine. So he and I were both kind of caught in the Government Trap, he by running for office, and me by voting for him.

He was an investment analyst for most of his life, and developed the permanent portfolio investment strategy. It’s designed to protect your assets from large losses. However it also make spectacular gains virtually impossible.

In 1970, he authored the book How You Can Profit from the Coming Devaluation, where he accurately predicted the devaluation of the dollar, and a sharp rise in gold prices. Had you abandoned the permanent portfolio strategy and followed his advice in that particular book, you would have made a fortune.

In 1989, he authored the book The Economic Time Bomb: How You Can Profit from the Emerging Crises, where he inaccurately predicted a global economic apocalypse. Had you followed his advice in that book, you would have missed out on the skyrocketing stock market during the 1990s.

But in most of his books on investing, Browne warned about following the advice of anyone who predicts an economic downturn or upturn. He claimed that no one can consistently predict the future of any investment with accuracy, and you should calibrate your investment strategy accordingly, by diversifying.

So he fell into the very traps he warned against. And he made predictions, while advising us to beware of predictions. He was a man of contradictions, faltering on the very philosophical paths he advocated. But don’t we all?

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Harry Browne shocked many of his followers when he wrote a column entitled When Will We Learn. It criticized our nation’s foreign policies as being a catalyst for the 9/11 attacks. He lost some of his followers over this, including the conservative radio and television personality, Larry Elder, who quit the Libertarian Party and became a Republican. Nonetheless, it became his most widely-read column.

Harry Browne succumbed to Lou Gehrig’s disease on March 1st, 2006. He was 72. He was eulogized by Congressman Ron Paul.

My life has been guided by many philosophers, but he is one of the foremost. So on this day I remember him. Keep resting in peace, Harry Browne.

Saving Egan

Don't flush your life away. Call We Care Line!

Don’t flush your life away. Call We Care Line!

I was snoozing away at the Suicide Prevention Hotline, where I volunteer. Suddenly my supervisor shook my shoulder and woke me up.

“Tippy, take line three. It’s Egan. He’s a regular. I think I can trust you to handle this guy.”

Egan Obendorfer. I’d never heard of him before, but I was fairly new to this job.

“We Care Line. Tippy here. What’s up, Egan?” I yawned, while wiping my bleary eyes.

“It’s in my hand right now. I’m ready to do it.” the shaky voice on the other end said.

I felt my heart explode into overdrive. This was a real one. This guy really meant it. How could an idiot like me possibly talk him down? I just wanted to throw down the phone and quit, right then and there. But I couldn’t. A life was on the line. A drop of sweat dribbled down my neck.

“Let go of it!” I gulped. It was the only thing I could think of to say.

“Oh no, I’m doing it. I’m lifting it up to my mouth right now.”

“Wait! Think of your wife!”

“I don’t have a wife. She divorced me. I’m opening my mouth wide now.”

“Your children! Do you have children? Think of them!”

“My children hate me.” this insufferable self-inflicter said. Why do people have to be so difficult? Then I heard a dog bark.

“Your dog! What would your dog do without you? Think of him.”

“Her. And she bit me this morning. I’m putting it in my mouth, right now.”

I heard a kind of slurping sound, like he was sucking on the end of it. I plugged my ears, anticipating a loud bang. But then I realized I had to listen, in case he had some final words. And he did.

“There, I did it. And I’m going to do it again if you can’t talk me out of it.” he finally spoke.

Did what? How do you commit suicide twice?

It took a few more minutes of dialogue for Egan to explain that he has an eating disorder. He worries that he’s eating himself to death, so when he goes on a binge he calls the Suicide Prevention Hotline.

On this occasion he had a bucket of Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Buttah ice cream in front of him. Delicious stuff. Even his dog was begging for it, and all cause to bite him earlier in the day had been forgotten.

This gave me an idea, and I convinced Egan to share his ice cream with his dog. And this renewed his relationship with his best friend.

Egan only ate half a bucket of ice cream that day, and his dog got the other half. So I was pretty successful, if I say so myself.

There are many Egans in this world. Suicide isn’t always a sudden event. Some people commit it slowly, whether by eating, drinking, drugs, smoking, or maybe by just not taking care of their health. Their deaths are not usually entered into the suicidology statistics. They’re sneaky at killing themselves.

But at least I was able to help this one person. And after the call, I felt content enough to catch a few more z’s. It had been a good day.

Disclaimer: My Suicide Prevention Hotline is fictional. If you’re feeling hopeless and would like a skilled, trained counselor to talk to, try calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They’re real, and available 24/7.

Hillary’s Generic Grandiloquent Speech to Wall Street

The initial rough draft of Hillary's speech

The initial rough draft of Hillary’s speech

Bernie Sanders points out that Hillary Clinton has made $200,000 a pop for delivering speeches to Wall Street. He implies that these speaking fees are nothing more than bribes from Wall Street executives, so that she will do their bidding once she becomes President, and he’s challenged Hillary to release transcripts of these speeches.

But it seems Hillary will not be releasing these transcripts. But don’t worry. I managed to bribe a disaffected Wall Street employee, who works in a mail room, and he has provided me with the very transcript that Bernie has been asking for.

And yes I use the singular, “transcript,” because as it turns out our former Secretary of State was lazily giving the same generic speech over and over again. C’mon Madam Secretary, for 200 thousand mazumas you couldn’t write a fresh new speech each time? But that’s how it is. There’s only one transcript. However I must admit, it’s a grandiloquent stemwinder. Here it is, because I want to share it with you so I can become rich and famous in the interests of the greater public good:

HILLARY’S GENERIC GRANDILOQUENT SPEECH TO WALL STREET (final draft)

For scores and several hundred years, ya know, our mothers and fathers brought forth on this continent new corporations, conceived in profit, and dedicated to the proposition that I’m gonna get 200 large for a speech, any speech, even if it’s one I lift from Abe Lincoln.

Now we are engaged in a great business transaction, testing whether any big corporation can long endure paying this much money for a speech. We are met at a great auditorium of one of these corporations. We have come to dedicate a portion of that corporation’s profit, as a final resting place in my purse. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this vast sum of money. The brave employees, still working and laid-off, who struggled at this corporation for a fraction of what I’m getting for this piddly speech, have consecrated this money, far above my power to add or detract.

The world will little note, nor long remember this speech–unless Bernie Sanders insists on a transcript–but it can never forget what I’m being paid. It is for $200,000, to be directly deposited to my bank account, which the employees who have worked here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is for me, to be here dedicated this great sum of money—that from these honored employees I have increased devotion to that cause for which their bosses gave the last full measure of payment—that we here highly resolve that these employees shall not have worked in vain—that this corporation, under my Presidency, shall have a new birth of profits—and that corporations of the stockholders, by the stockholders, for the stockholders, shall not perish from the earth.

Parole

"Prisoners Exercising" by Vincent Van Gogh

“Prisoners Exercising” – Vincent Van Gogh

My wife and I would like to live a few more decades before the natural ebbing of life takes us to another world. We want to avoid being stabbed to death.

“He got parole!” Jay’s mother gleefully announced.

Jay was a dangerous man. He’s also our nephew. How could the state of California do that?! What the hell are those guys thinking, on the parole board?

“Help me, help me, please!” Jay moaned, lying in the front yard of a complete stranger. A woman peeked at him through a window and summoned her husband from another room. Jay was a teenager barely two months into adulthood. Beneath his veneer of desperation lay a darker desperation. Jay was in a blind, drunken rage. He had decided to kill the first person he saw, and he hoped to draw someone from the house.

Why the rage? Was it because he imagined he was jilted, by a girl he had a secret crush on in high school? No, according to the transcript it went much deeper than that. This was merely the trigger.

Was it because he’d been raised by a mother who had abdicated ordinary parental supervision, losing herself in a fantasy world of Wicca and hoarding? Perhaps, but his rage also plumbed deeper than that.

Was it due to living in a house with boxes piled to the ceiling, blocked off rooms, and narrow aisleways between the junk, crowded in with his mother and brother? Claustrophobic conditions can be stressful, but there were even deeper depths to Jay’s rage.

Was it because his brother, who was six years older than him, still lived at home? This same brother who had molested him at a young age, and who bullied him throughout his life? Certainly this could produce rage, but there was still more.

There was also a father who’d been tragically killed in a car accident when he was only two years old. A good father, who would have protected him from his crazy mother and deviant brother.

So Jay had sipped vodka from his hidden flask, while at high school, then walked home feeling angrier and angrier with each step. Normally alcohol calmed his rage, but this time it was like throwing gasoline upon a fire. At home he drank more, until his vodka-fueled rage propelled him from his house like an unguided missile, and with murder on his mind. He vowed to kill the first person he saw.

Her husband left the safety of their front door to assist this prostrate stranger in his front yard. She watched him lift Jay off the ground, then saw the young man draw a knife from his waistband. A bloody struggle ensued, as Jay plunged the knife repeatedly into her husband’s body, and slashed at his defensive arms and hands.

Had Jay been sober, her husband would not have stood a chance. But he drunkenly lost his balance, and in that split-second her husband grabbed a large rock and clobbered Jay over the head. Dazed, he broke off the attack and staggered away.

Within minutes an EMT team staunched her husband’s bleeding and saved his life. Over the next few months and years, surgeons repaired much of the damage to his arms and hands. But he will never be completely whole again, either physically or emotionally.

Deputies tracked Jay’s muddy footprints to his house and arrested him the next day. Initially he plead not guilty by reason of insanity. But later he changed his plea to guilty and received seven years to life. The DA promised he’d never be released.

But now, after just ten years behind bars, he’s being released.

Our fear was that he was crazy enough to hurt someone again. Perhaps us. We’d never harmed him, but neither had the stranger he stabbed, who was simply trying to help him. Suppose one day he showed up at our front door, asking for help? Would we dare let him in? Would we dare to even open the door?

How could the parole board possibly release someone as crazy as Jay? Especially when it was his first try for parole? It’s rare to release anyone with a life sentence on their first time up for parole. What the hell were they thinking? I contacted the parole board for an answer. They sent me a transcript of the parole hearing. I read every page.

Jay has spent the last ten years doing everything possible to reform himself. He’s kept out of trouble, for the most part. He’s stopped drinking, and attended substance abuse and self-help classes in prison. He’s reflected deeply on his crime and his childhood. He’s developed an impressive philosophy about life. He seems truly contrite and empathetic with his victim and victim’s family. He has a detailed plan for earning a living outside prison. And he plans to stay away from his mother and brother after being released.

Here is a man who has not lived in denial. He’s confronted his crime and his childhood with candor, and with determination to change his life.

He made an unusual impression upon the parole board, which they admitted.

The parole hearing occurred several months ago. If Jay stays out of trouble, he will be released before the end of this year. He will settle in a city far away from his victim, and far from where my wife and I live.

After reading the parole transcript we feel less worried about Jay’s upcoming release. But still, who knows?

Only time can prove the wisdom of the parole board’s judgment.