5/24/22

Former Trump Hotel Now Haunted By World’s Dumbest Ghost

 

July 27, 2042

WASHINGTON, D.C.—It would seem that the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel here in Washington has a guest who just won’t check out.

For several years now, guests at the opulent luxury hotel have been reporting that the upper floors are haunted by a suit-wearing ghost with really bad hair.

“He’s so annoying,” said one recent guest. “He never shuts up, and all he ever talks about is himself.”

The hotel was once owned by the Trump Organization and was called the Trump Hotel until its sale to CGI Merchant Group and its partner Hilton Worldwide Holdings in 2022. It was named after Donald J. Trump, the former U.S. President who died from drinking bleach in 2029.

While the guests affected by the apparition have many theories as to who the ghost was before he died, there is one thing they all agree on.

“He’s got to be the dumbest ghost on the entire ethereal plane,” said one man who stayed at the hotel last year. “He keeps ranting about how he didn’t actually die and that it was all a hoax by Democrats, and that he will reappear like a miracle any day now.

“It’s all deep state this, blah blah fake news, something something great again.”

Other guests have noted what seems to be a remarkable lack of awareness on the part of the disembodied spirit, who has been haunting the structure for at least a few years.

“Sometimes he turns like he’s going to leave, and it’s like he forgets he can go through walls,” said one woman.  “He just walks right into the wall with a big thud.”

Another woman noticed an apparent obsession with objects in the room. “He’ll point at stuff around the room, saying, ‘person, woman, man, camera, TV,’” she said. “Then he’ll stand there grinning like he expects a goddamn prize.”

Other women have reported attempts to grope them with weird, stubby little fingers.

The strange specter does have his defenders, however.

“He’s the greatest ghost in history,” said one hotel employee, practically spitting out the words between missing teeth. “He tells the truth where other ghosts are too afraid.”

Most who have seen him, however, are not so enamored of the lecherous lich. “God, he is tiresome,” said one elderly man. “Fortunately, he usually leaves when we turn the TV off.”

It’s all a mystery, but one thing is certain: the cretinous creature won’t be going away any time soon.


5/16/22

They Also Ran Good: George H.W. Bush


This is part nine of my series on losing presidential candidates that began with Richard Nixon in 1960. This time up we have George H.W. Bush and his unsuccessful campaign for re-election in 1992. As always, it is absolutely, positively 100% historically accurate, except for the stuff I made up. I trust you’ll be able to tell the difference.

The names have not been changed because these people are politicians and deserve our derision and scorn.

 George Herbert Walker Bush, a Biography

George Herbert Walker Bush was born on June 12, 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts. He was the second son of Prescott Sheldon Bush, a wealthy investment banker and a U.S. Senator representing the state of Connecticut. Young George was raised in Greenwich, Connecticut, which sharp-eyed readers will recognize as the source of all standardized intelligence tests and the reason why those tests always contain word problems that begin with “Teddy leaves Sag Harbor on the brunchtime jitney...”

The Bush family also had a vacation home in Kennebunkport, Maine, and his grandparents owned a plantation in South Carolina.

You may think all of this portends a life of wealth, privilege, and insufferable douchebaggery, but you would be wrong. In those days, douchebaggery was actually called “foppishness” and there were special schools to develop and refine it.

Bush served as a naval aviator in World War II, during which he won the Distinguished Flying Cross for being shot down, bailing out, and being rescued rather than being captured, executed and having his liver eaten by his captors, as happened with some of his fellow aviators during the same doomed attack. This, as so often happens, convinced young George that God had some plan in mind for him. The Promethean plan God apparently had for his comrades remains one of those unknowable yet profound mysteries that surround the Christian deity.

 After his service, Bush attended Yale University, where he was a fratboy, baseball player, and cheerleader. He was also initiated into the Skull and Crossbones secret society, where he first became one of the Lizard People [citation needed]. He graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics.

Bush then moved to Texas, where he got involved in politics. He was defeated in a campaign for U.S. Senate in 1964, and two years later was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1970 he was again defeated in a Senate race.

Bush was appointed by Richard Nixon as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in 1971 and as Chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1973. He also served as Director of the CIA from 1976-1977.

This resume, which is, like, totally honorable and everything, set up a presidential run in 1980, which led to being chosen as Ronald Reagan’s running mate in the general election that year. Bush served as vice-president until defeating Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election.

 Bush As President

George H.W. Bush moved into the White House in 1989, and for the first three years of his presidency, things appeared to go fairly swimmingly. In that first year, all the communist governments in Eastern Europe collapsed, and the 40-year Cold War with the Soviet Union came to an end. The Soviet Union dissolved into 15 states at the end of 1991.

Also in 1991, Bush led the United States into the Gulf War with Iraq, after its leader Saddam Hussein attempted to conquer neighboring Kuwait. The American forces were successful in evicting Iraqi troops in a matter of weeks.

Though largely a symbolic gesture, Bush also left a mark in the realm of foreign policy by throwing up in the lap of Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa in 1992.

Normally, he'd use the "Oval Office" for that.

 

As the war came to a close, Bush’s approval rating was sitting at a stratospheric 90%.

So exactly how, just a year and a half later, did Bush lose an election to a fat, lecherous hillbilly?

Enter Bill Clinton

 William Jefferson Clinton, born and raised in Arkansas, was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and graduated from Yale Law School. He was elected state’s Attorney General in Arkansas and served two non-consecutive terms as the state’s governor.

The hillbilly Grover Cleveland, as it were.

     By 1987, Clinton was something of a rising star and there was speculation that he would run for president in 1988. Two frontrunners, New York Governor Mario Cuomo and Colorado Philanderer Gary Hart, both dropped out. Despite the opening, Clinton also decided to forego the race and remain governor. He did give the opening night address at the Democratic convention; it went on for 33 minutes, showing both Clinton’s deep understanding of economic policy, as well as his uncanny ability to keep talking after everyone has left the room.

This, after Bush’s defeat of Dukakis in November, set up Clinton to challenge for the Democratic nomination for President four years later.

Also, he was married to one Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom you’ve probably heard of.

 The Bush Campaign Begins

Again, Bush seemed to be in terrific shape going into 1992. There were some darker clouds on the horizon, however: the economy was stagnant and unemployment had risen from 5.9 to 7.8%. The federal deficit had increased considerably and was a matter of growing concern to Americans. Bush had also reneged on his 1988 pledge not to raise taxes, having insisted at the time that he would say to congress, “read my lips; no new taxes” if they suggested doing so.

In fact, the man had no lips.

The budget deal Bush agreed to was regarded as a betrayal by the more ultra-conservative members of the party, and resulted in the candidacy for the Republican nomination of one Pat Buchanon, a columnist and commentator who served as an assistant to Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan. Buchanon was able to score over 20% in the first primary in New Hampshire, and while Bush did win all the primaries, it’s never a good look for an incumbent president to have to work for his re-nomination. Although he scored points on both domestic and foreign policy, in the end Buchanon was done in by his lack of experience in office, lesser name recognition, and horrible personality.

Yup.

 Meanwhile, The Clinton Campaign Gets Off To a Roaring Start

The early days of Bill Clinton’s run for the White House were marred by three scandals: an affair with a woman named Gennifer Flowers, an admission that he had tried marijuana as a young man, and accusations that he had dodged the draft during the Vietnam War.

To address the first question, Clinton’s affair and his general reputation for philandering, he appeared on the national TV show 60 Minutes in prime time with his wife, Hillary.

And most of the nation got its first look at Hillary Clinton.

You may know her as the first woman to accidentally
email the presidency to a cartoon billionaire.

The Clintons insisted that Bill’s canoodling was a private affair that they were dealing with in private, that they needed this privacy to air out these private matters, and the public should not concern itself with Bill’s privates. Also clear was the fact that Hillary was not a weak and submissive spouse, but an intelligent, educated and professionally accomplished woman.

“I’m not some little Tammy Wynette standing by her man,” said the blonde woman sitting next to her unfaithful husband. And democratic voters seemed satisfied enough; it never came up again (cough).

Clinton was able to set the marijuana question to rest by explaining that it happened only one time, and in fact he “didn’t inhale.” This made perfect sense and America totally believed him (COUGH).

We totally believed him.

As for the draft-dodging accusation, the nation came to realize that it wasn’t an issue after hearing Clinton’s explanation that it wasn’t an issue.

After finishing third in the Iowa caucus and second in the New Hampshire primary, Clinton dubbed himself “the Comeback Kid,” which totally made sense (cough), and headed south for more primaries. This, of course, was his home turf and he was able to win delegates, gain momentum, and win the nomination. For his running mate, Clinton moved to offset his own reputation for constant personal drama by choosing Al Gore, a man so boring his Secret Service code name was “Al Gore.”

Al Gore.

And the race was on, Bush vs. Clinton in a battle for the White House. And—wait a minute--

 Who Is This Guy With The Ears?

Concerns over the budget deficit led some to believe that perhaps the government should be run like a business, and that possibly the best person to do that would be a billionaire businessman. This is an idea that persists to this day, an idea that it was thought could break the cycle of deficit spending, and an idea centered on reducing wastefulness and increasing efficiency in government. It’s also a bad idea, as we’ve seen, but that’s a topic for another post.

But this idea paved the way for the emergence of one Henry Ross Perot, Texas tycoon, and his entry into the 1992 campaign as an independent candidate.

Ross Perot entered the race, making a balanced budget and an end to the outsourcing of American jobs overseas central to his platform. He was also in favor of a direct, electronic democracy, and the fact that he made his billions in the field of data systems used by governments was obviously some sort of wild coincidence.

I know, right?

For his running mate, Perot chose James Stockdale, a vice admiral in the U.S. Navy, an aviator, and veteran of the Vietnam War in which he won the Medal of Honor and was a prisoner of war for seven years.

And now, finally, we’re off.

 Debates, I Guess You’d Call Them

By 1992 the setpiece battle of any presidential campaign was the debate, or in this case, debates. There would be both presidential and vice-presidential debates, and they would both be three-way affairs.

The presidential debates are mostly remembered for George Bush looking at his watch like he had somewhere better to be. Clinton, for his part, showed his economic policy expertise, as well as his gift for relatable metaphors. He compared the American economy to Elvis; once lean and trim and adventurous, it had grown bloated and fat and was in danger off falling right off the toilet.

Sorry. I made that up.

Perot sold himself as a man willing to listen to others and solve problems, telling the audience, “if anyone has a better idea, I’m all ears.”

I didn't make that up.

The vice-presidential debates are mostly remembered for the nation’s introduction to Stockdale, who appeared elderly and clearly out of his element, as well as deaf and possibly fermented. His first words to the country as candidate for the second highest office in the land were “Who am I? What am I doing here?” This took some of the sizzle out of Perot’s campaign.

 What Went So Horribly, Horribly Wrong

For Bush, Perot’s candidacy was problematic from the start. Although he faltered after a strong start and wound up winning 18.9% of the vote (after leading in the polls with 39% in June) and winning no states (thus garnering no electoral votes), he may well have pulled more votes away from Bush than from Clinton.

Bush also came off as generally out of touch with the voters of America, unaware of and unable to relate to their financial struggles. He showed amazement upon seeing a supermarket checkout scanner at work, leading Americans to believe he was insulated from regular daily life. Also, he looked at his watch during the debate.

On such weighty issues, Americans make their decisions. Clinton surged ahead.

 

Election Night


 In the end, Clinton won 43.0% of the popular vote, coming out ahead in 32 states and in the District of Columbia, for a total of 370 electoral votes. Bush won 37.4%, 18 states and 168 electoral votes. The first Democratic president in over a decade, Clinton won by taking the populous, nominally democratic states like New York, Massachusetts and California, northern industrial states Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois, and also making inroads into the south, his home region, which had been mostly held by Republicans since Nixon’s “southern strategy” began to bear fruit in 1968 (Jimmy Carter, a native of Georgia, winning in 1976 being the exception).

The Aftermath

George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States, retired to a home in Houston, Texas. Eventually his sons George and Jeb ventured into politics; George W. Bush was elected president in 2000 over Al Gore as the Bushes became the second father and son presidents in U.S. history. The elder George Bush died in 2018 at the age of 94.

Bill Clinton served two terms, nominated two Supreme Court justices, was impeached once, and for sure never inhaled (COUGH).


5/1/22

The Game Of Life

This is something of a deviation from my usual silliness, but I've long been fascinated by this stuff.

This little mathematical game, in its original form, was called The Game Of Life. Not to be confused with the Hasbro board game, it was invented in 1970 by a British mathematician named John Conway. It demonstrates how a simple set of purely local rules can lead to a complex world featuring an assortment of events and changing patterns that are not explicitly written into those rules. This phenomenon is often called emergence.

Each cell is surrounded by eight neighbors, and can be either on or off. From a starting configuration of ON cells, the game then proceeds step by step with cells either remaining in the on or off state, or changing from one to the other, depending on the state of its neighbors in the preceeding step.

The rules: if a cell has exactly two neighbors that are ON, it remains in its current state. On stays on, and off stays off. If a cell has three neighbors on, it stays on if it's already on, and turns on if it is off. If the cell has zero, one, or four or more neighbors on, it will be off the next step. Eventually, the grid will (as far as I've determined) reach a state where there is no further change, or a state that repeats itself in periodic fashion. There is no way to predict what is going to happen other than letting the game play out. Again, the larger patterns that result are not explicitly written into the rules, yet the system is entirely deterministic (each step is determined by the step before).

The original version was designed for an infinite grid. My computer, unfortunately, doesn't do infinite; I used a grid of 63 X 38.

Oh, and this was done on Excel 97, using screen capture and stop-motion software.

3/16/22

I Am Welcome To Attend!

Yup.
Well...you say that. Actually, you probably don't want me attending your little gathering. I might ask unpleasant questions. First of all, where the hell did you get my freaking name and address from? And secondly... who the hell is that? It took me a minute or two to realize--that's Jesus? Really? Or maybe it's...actor James Brolin?
As was once said regarding a painting of George Washington, "it may not be what he looked like then...but it's what he looked like now."

4/5/18

I Have Another Suggestion


I'm thinking if we put up billboards like this along our foreign borders they might serve as a better deterrent than a wall.
I briefly considered allowing for three digit numbers, but who would we be kidding?

2/1/18

I Have a Suggestion

With regards to the controversy in recent years involving what to do with all those old Confederate statues in the southern United States: I understand the feelings of the many people, especially those of color, who are offended by a culture that would celebrate what was essentially a war effort to retain the practice of racial slavery in those states. I also understand the desire of others to preserve history, a fairly unique history at that. Though I must say in this case it seems a little weird for a bunch of red states, dominated by Republican officeholders who like to make a big show of their patriotism, to celebrate an attempt to secede from the American union. And I'm concerned about the cost and effort required to remove, transport, and store these statues.
So I hereby offer my solution: leave the statues in place, but increase the efforts to educate the population about their historical significance. This should satisfy those who want to leave the statues in place, but could also render them less threatening as symbols of a racist, oppressive culture to those who want them removed. Attach a simple plaque to each statue:


4/26/17

My Solution To Everything

I've mentioned in this space before that I am currently making my living conducting surveys by telephone, most of them political in nature. I will not divulge the name of the company I work for, nor the names of any of the people I speak with, the outfits that fund the work, nor even the states we've been calling. Or, for that matter, the silly phony name that I use in my professional setting. But no one has told me that I can't otherwise blog occasionally about the experience, and share a few of the more moronic quotes I am given.

And I get plenty of those--this most stupid of political cycles has given me plenty of meat for the grinder.

You may wonder how I, with my strong left-leaning opinions, can get through conversation after conversation with people who voted for our current fearless leader--whom I have chosen to call "Trumpelthinskin" for the time being--without entirely losing my shit and telling these idiots exactly how well-thought-out I think their ideas are.  The secret, actually, is not to think about what any of it means, to let all those boneheaded comments pass in one ear and fly out the other without doing violence to the delicate gray matter in between. Fortunately, with much of our time being spent waiting for someone to answer their phone and agree to take the survey, we are allowed what we call distractions, small hand-held devices like books and smartphones.

I don't have a smartphone, and attempting to read a book usually results in repeated perusal of the same paragraph. And what is needed is something creative, something beautiful, something symmetrical and colorful.

I'm reminded of something Jim Bouton wrote long ago in his baseball diary/best-selling book Ball Four, about pitching in Seattle in 1969 in a ballpark whose name I have forgotten. He threw a knuckleball back then, a pitch known for unpredictability in flight and often for being undependable in its effectiveness.  This often resulted in the ball becoming known for flying off the bat of the hitter and tracing an arc over the outfield wall, a phenomenon known as the home run.

But, as Bouton wrote, following the ball's trajectory would result in a lovely view of Mt. Rainier, and, as he put it, "some of the bad feeling would go away."

We have no mountains in view where I work, and I can't bring one with me, so I reached back into my childhood for the solution. And what is my solution to the bad feelings I get when people spout their idiocy at me, insist on "facts" that are transparent bullshit, and leave me despairing for the future of my country?







None other than Spirograph. Color, beauty, symmetry, and visual manifestation of several mathematical principles does wonders for my mood and, by extension, my ability to retain my professional, neutral demeanor.

So when somebody tells me that Barack Obama lost the popular vote in 2012, a Republican myth that Trumpelthinskin boosted with one of his idiot tweets on election night that year, I note the comment while remaining entirely focused on my latest Spirograph creation, and I swear, some of that bad feeling goes away.

It works.


"I think a man should run the country. Women are too emotional."


And the bad feeling goes away.



"Hillary Clinton should get the electric chair!"


And the bad feeling goes away.



"I'm tired of land being taken from America and put into parks."


And the bad feeling GOES AWAY.




"Obamacare killed my wife. She got sick and I took her to the hospital. They had a bunch of foreign doctors that filled her up with liquids, and she died. Obamacare killed my wife."


And the bad feeling GOES AWAY.

I do love my Spirograph. Until someone invents a more interactive phone system, one that allows me to wring the necks of my respondents, this will do. Bring it on, America. I can make the bad feeling go away.