Thoughts du Jour

Happy Endings

My hair stylist of the last dozen years has retired early, for interesting reasons. When I met her, she was in her early 20s and newly married, but her doctors told her she was unable to have children. Except — oops — she turned up pregnant.

But complications arose. She had several scares when her blood pressure tanked. She almost died during delivery, and the baby was premature. But mother and son eventually recovered.

Two years later, against the advice of her doctors, she got pregnant again. After a difficult time and another scary early delivery, she and her second boy rebounded, albeit slowly.

Two years ago, against the advice of doctors, family, and friends, she became pregnant again. But this time, the pregnancy was textbook normal. No health issues whatsoever. After a full nine-month term, she delivered a healthy girl without incident.

My friend is now a stay-at-home mom, home-schooling the two boys. I see the family around town sometimes. My back-up hair stylist is now the primary.

This story makes me happy.


A dramatic incident occurred recently in my usually quiet life. It consisted of 10 seconds of utter chaos, an episode that is etched forever in my memory banks. I chuckle out loud each time I mentally replay the scene.

Not long ago on a morning walk, my dog Jake surprised a squirrel — surprised as in met it eyeball to eyeball as we rounded the corner of an old shed. The startled squirrel leapt into the air, bounced off the side of the shed, zipped across Jake’s back, and scrambled up to the shed roof.

But the metal roof was steep and slippery, and the squirrel’s claws found no purchase. Running frantically, but sliding steadily backwards, the squirrel fell to the ground, landing at Jake’s feet.

Barely eluding Jake, the squirrel bounded into a tree, ascended to the uppermost branches, flung itself into the air, and landed with a thunk on the roof of a nearby house.

Fortunately, the roof of the house was not metal, and the squirrel made its escape.

The Rest is Cake

Becca Lawton, a river guide at Grand Canyon during the 1970s and 80s, has written several books about life as a boatwoman. In her most recent, she nicely sums up life in the inner canyon and how being on the river can affect you. As I can attest, the influence of the place is real and powerful. Becca wrote this…

The Canyon may appear vast and overwhelming when seen as a whole, especially when viewed in the mere 17 minutes the National Park Service notes as the average tourist’s visitation time to the rim.

What the mini-visitor doesn’t grasp in that time are the pockets of sanctuary tucked everywhere in the Canyon’s recesses. Deep green waterfalls. Pockets of shade and cool. Pools in red rock. Ferns, monkeyflowers, cottonwoods, willows.

You only have to get them there,” Canyon guide Louise Teal says. “The rest is cake.” Get people to the river, earn their trust, and take them deep into what Louise calls the “zillion-year-old rocks.” She and I were passengers before we took up guiding. Then we never wanted to be apart from the Canyon’s soul-stirring sunsets, embracing rock walls, and endlessly flowing water.

Those we guided, too, found it a beautiful, intense, and, in Louise’s words, “completely fulfilling place.” It is — a place out of time and out of overwhelmed mind.

So take me to the river. Drop me in the water.

Experts say it usually takes about three days for a trip passenger to fully “arrive” on the river and mentally disconnect from their outside lives. Honestly, I don’t think it ever took me three days.

This Just In

NAPLES, FLORIDA — Biologists have captured an 18-foot Burmese python in the Florida Everglades that weighed 218 pounds, the heaviest on record.

Burmese pythons are an invasive species from Southeast Asia first found in the Everglades in the 1990s. The snakes have no natural enemies and threaten a range of native mammals, birds, and reptiles.

The captured snake was a female carrying 122 developing eggs, which were destroyed along with the mother. A postmortem showed that the snake’s last meal was a whitetail deer.

Importing the pythons was banned by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2012, but the snakes thrive in the South Florida wetlands. Their current population is about one million.

Over 1,000 Burmese pythons have been eliminated in Florida since 2013. Typically, biologists implant radio transmitters in male snakes, which always seek out the largest females, and follow the signals. Eliminating females is considered the best way to interrupt the breeding cycle.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — A South Korean software engineer marked the demise of Internet Explorer, Microsoft’s much-maligned browser, by erecting a tombstone with the epitaph, “He was a good tool to download other browsers.”

The engineer said Explorer was “a pain in the ass,” but he was forced to use it because Explorer was the default browser for so many government and business offices.

Explorer was launched in 1995. It came pre-installed on billions of computers equipped with the Windows operating system and quickly became the world’s leading browser. But many considered Explorer to be sluggish and flawed, and by the late 2000s, Google Chrome took over as the top browser.

In June, Microsoft retired Internet Explorer to focus on the Microsoft Edge browser, which was released in 2015.

“I won’t miss it,” the software engineer said of Explorer’s passing. “Its retirement, to me, is a good death.”

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND — The government of New Zealand and the country’s agriculture industry have jointly agreed to a tax on methane emissions by sheep and cattle, to be paid by farmers and the farming industry.

Currently, agricultural emissions are exempt from such taxation, and pressure has increased for industry and the government to take action.

New Zealand, population five million, is home to 26 million sheep and 10 million cows, which are the source of about half of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The plan hopes to reduce methane emissions at manure treatment facilities as well as from the belching of farm animals.

Under the plan, farmers and agricultural businesses can reduce their methane taxes via such methods as using feed additives that minimize belching and placing covers on manure ponds.

Worldwide, agriculture is the largest source of methane emissions caused by human activity. In the U.S., agriculture causes about one-third of total methane emissions, and the oil and gas industry causes another third.

Bountiful Harvest

Miriam Allen deFord (1888-1975) was an author of mysteries and science fiction who won awards in both fields. She was a member of the Socialist Party of America and advocated for birth control and women’s suffrage.

She once wrote, “I am unalterably and actively opposed to fascism, Nazism, Hitlerism, Hirohitoism, or whatever name may be applied to the monster.”

After her second husband died when she was 46, deFord focused on her writing career. She died at age 86 in her longtime residence, the Ambassador Hotel in San Francisco.


The Margenes

By Miriam Allen deFord
Published in If Worlds of Science Fiction, February 1956

There is a small striped smelt called the grunion which has odd egg-laying habits. At high tide, on the second, third, and fourth nights after the full of the moon from March to June, thousands of female grunions ride in on the waves to a beach in southern California near San Diego, dig tail-first into the soft sand, deposit their eggs, then ride back on the wash of the next wave. The whole operation lasts about six seconds.

On the nights when the grunion are running, hordes of people used to come to the beach with baskets and other containers, and with torches to light the scene, and try to catch the elusive little fish in their hands.

They were doing that on an April night in 1960. In the midst of the excitement of the chase, only a few of them noticed that something else was riding the waves in with the grunions.

Among the few who stopped grunion-catching long enough to investigate were a girl named Marge Hickin and a boy named Gene Towanda. They were UCLA students, “going together,” who had come down on Saturday from Los Angeles for the fun.

“What on earth do you think these can be, Gene?” Marge asked, holding out on her palms three or four of the little circular, wriggling objects, looking like small-size doughnuts, pale straw in color.

“Never saw anything like them,” Gene admitted. “But then my major’s psychology, not zoology. They don’t seem to bite, anyway. Here let’s collect some of them instead of the fish. That dingus of yours will hold water. We can take them to the Marine Biology lab tomorrow and find out what they are.”

Marge Hickin and Gene Towanda had started a world-wide economic revolution.

None of the scientists at the university laboratory knew what the little live straw-colored circles were, either. In fact, after a preliminary study they wouldn’t say positively whether the creatures were animal or vegetable; they displayed voluntary movement, but they seemed to have no respiratory or digestive organs. They were completely anomalous.

The grunion ran again that night, and Gene and Marge stayed down to help the laboratory assistants gather several hundred of the strange new objects for further study. They were so numerous that they were swamping the fish, and the crowds at the beach began to grumble that their sport was being spoiled.

Next night the grunion stopped running — but the little doughnuts didn’t. They never stopped. They came in by hundreds of thousands every night, and those which nobody gathered wriggled their way over the land until some of them even turned up on the highways (where a lot of them were smashed by automobiles), on the streets and sidewalks of La Jolla, and as far north as Oceanside and as far south as downtown San Diego itself.

The things were becoming a pest. There were indignant letters to the papers, and editorials were written calling on the authorities to do something. Just what to do, nobody knew; the only way to kill the circular little objects from the sea seemed to be to crush them — and they were too abundant for that to be very effective.

Meanwhile, the laboratory kept studying them.

Marge and Gene were interested enough to come down again the next weekend to find out what, if anything, had been discovered. Not much had; but one of the biochemists at the laboratory casually mentioned that chemically, the straw-colored circles seemed to be almost pure protein, with some carbohydrates and fats, and that apparently they contained all the essential vitamins.

College student that he was, Gene Towanda immediately swallowed one of the wriggling things down whole, as a joke.

It tickled a little, but that wasn’t what caused the delighted amazement on his face.

“Gosh!” he exclaimed. “It’s delicious!”

He swallowed another handful.

That was the beginning of the great margene industry.

It was an astute reporter, getting a feature story on the sensational new food find, who gave the creatures their name, in honor of the boy and girl who had first brought the things to the attention of the scientists. He dubbed them margenes, and margenes they remained.

“Dr. O. Y. Willard, director of the laboratory,” his story said in part, “thinks the margenes may be the answer to the increasing and alarming problem of malnutrition, especially in undeveloped countries.

“‘For decades now,’ he said, ‘scientists have been worried by the growing gap between world population and world food facilities. Over-farming, climatic changes caused by erosion and deforestation, the encroachment of building areas on agricultural land, and above all the unrestricted growth of population, greatest in the very places where food is becoming scarcest and most expensive, have produced a situation where, if no remedy is found, starvation or semi-starvation may be the fate of half the Earth’s people. The ultimate result would be the slow degeneration and death of the entire human race.

“‘Many remedies have been suggested,’ Dr. Willard commented further. ‘They range from compulsory birth control to the production of synthetic food, hydroponics, and the harvesting of plankton from the oceans. Each of these presents almost insuperable difficulties.

“‘The one ideal solution would be the discovery of some universal food that would be nourishing, very cheap, plentiful, tasty, and that would not violate the taboos of any people anywhere in the world. In the margenes we may have discovered that food.’

“‘We don’t know where the margenes came from,’ the director went on to say, ‘and we don’t even know yet what they are, biologically speaking. What we do know is that they provide more energy per gram than any other edible product known to man, that everyone who has eaten them is enthusiastic about their taste, that they can be processed and distributed easily and cheaply, and that they are acceptable even to those who have religious or other objections to certain other foods, such as beef, among the Hindus or pork among the Jews and Mohammedans.

“‘Even vegetarians can eat them,’ Dr. Willard remarked, ‘since they are decidedly not animal in nature. Neither, I may add, are they vegetable. They are a hitherto utterly unknown synthesis of chemical elements in living form. Their origin remains undiscovered.'”

Naturally, there was no thought of feeding people on raw margenes. Only a few isolated places in either hemisphere would have found live food agreeable. Experiment showed that the most satisfactory way to prepare them was to boil them alive, like crabs or lobsters. They could then be ground and pressed into cakes, cut into convenient portions. One one-inch-square cube made a nourishing and delicious meal for a sedentary adult, two for a man engaged in hard physical labor.

And they kept coming in from the Pacific Ocean nightly, by the million.

By this time none of them had to be swept off streets or highways. The beach where for nearly a century throngs had gathered for the sport of catching grunion was off bounds now; it was the property of California Margene, Inc., a private corporation heavily subsidized by the Federal Government as an infant industry.

The grunions themselves had to find another place to lay their eggs, or die off — nobody cared which. The sand they had used for countless millennia as an incubator was hemmed in by factory buildings and trampled by margene-gatherers.

The whole beautiful shore for miles around was devastated; the university had to move its marine biological laboratory elsewhere; La Jolla, once a delightful suburb and tourist attraction, had become a dirty, noisy honkytonk town where processing and cannery workers lived and spent their off-hours; the unique Torrey Pines had been chopped down because they interfered with the erection of a freight airport.

But half the world’s people were living on margenes.

The sole possession of this wonderful foodstuff gave more power to the United States than had priority in the atomic bomb. Only behind the Iron Curtain did the product of California Margene, Inc. fail to penetrate. Pravda ran parallel articles on the same day, one claiming that margenes — brzdichnoya — had first appeared long ago on a beach of the Caspian Sea and had for years formed most of the Russian diet; the other warning the deluded nations receiving free supplies as part of American foreign aid that the margenes had been injected with drugs aimed at making them weak and submissive to the exploitation of the capitalist-imperialists.

There was a dangerous moment at the beginning when the sudden sharp decline in stocks of all other food products threatened another 1929. But with federal aid a financial crash was averted and now a new high level of prosperity had been established. Technological unemployment was brief, and most of the displaced workers were soon retained for jobs in one of the many ramifications of the new margene industry.

Agriculture, of course, underwent a short deep depression, not only in America but all over the world; but it came to an end as food other than margenes quickly became a luxury product. Farmers were able to cut their production to a small fraction of the former yield, and to get rich on the dizzying prices offered for bread, apples, or potatoes. And this increased the prosperity of the baking and other related industries as well.

In fact, ordinary food costs (which meant margene costs) were so low that a number of the larger unions voluntarily asked for wage decreases in their next contracts. California Margene, Inc. was able to process, pack, and distribute margene cakes at an infinitesimal retail price, by reason of the magnitude of the output.

An era of political good feeling fell upon the western world, reflected from the well-fed comfort of vast populations whose members never before in their lives had had quite enough to eat. The fear of famine seemed to be over forever, and with it the fear of the diseases and the social unrest that follow famine.

Even the U.S.S.R. and its satellites, in a conciliatory move in the United Nations Assembly, suggested that the long cold war ought to be amenable to a reasonable solution through a series of amicable discussions. The western nations, assenting, guessed shrewdly that the Iron Curtain countries “wanted in” on the margenes.

Marge Hickin and Gene Towanda, who had started it all, left college for copywriting jobs with the agency handling the enormous margene publicity; they were married a few months later.

And the margenes continued to come in from the sea in countless millions. They were being harvested now from the Pacific itself, near the shoreline, before they reached the beach. Still, no research could discover their original source.

Only a few scientists worried about what would happen if the margenes should disappear as suddenly as they had arrived. Attempts at breeding the creatures had failed completely. They did not undergo fission, they did not sporulate, they seemed to have no sex. No methods of reproduction known in the plant or animal kingdom seemed to apply to them.

Hundreds of them were kept alive for long periods — they lived with equal ease in either air or water, and they did not take nourishment, unless they absorbed it from their environment — but no sign of fertility ever appeared. Neither did they seem to die of natural causes. They just kept coming in…

On the night of May 7, 1969, not a single margene was visible in the ocean or on the beach.

They never came again.

What happened as a result is known to every student of history. The world-wide economic collapse, followed by the fall of the most stable governments, the huge riots that arose from the frantic attempts to get possession of the existing stocks of margene cakes or of the rare luxury items of other edibles, the announcement by the U.S.S.R. that it had known from the beginning the whole thing was a gigantic American hoax in the interests of the imperialistic bloodsuckers, the simultaneous atomic attacks by east and west, the Short War of 1970 that ruined most of what bombs had spared of the Earth, the slow struggle back of the remnant of civilization which is all of existence you and I have ever known — all these were a direct outgrowth of that first appearance of the margenes on the beach near San Diego on an April night in 1960.

Marge and Gene Towanda were divorced soon after they had both lost their jobs. She was killed in the hydrogen blast that wiped out San Diego; he fell in the War of 1970. “Margene” became a dirty word in every language on Earth. What small amount of money and ability can be spared is, as everyone knows, devoted today to a desperate international effort to reach and colonize another habitable planet of the Solar System, if such there be.

As for the margenes, themselves, out of the untold millions that had come, only a few thousand were lucky enough to survive and find their way back to their overcrowded starting-point.

In their strange way of communication — as incomprehensible to us as would be their means of nourishment and reproduction, or their constitution itself — they made known to their kin what had happened to them.

There is no possibility, in spite of the terrific over-population of their original home and of the others to which they are constantly migrating, that they will ever come here again.

There has been much speculation, particularly among writers of science fiction, on what would happen if aliens from other planets should invade Earth. Would they arrive as benefactors or as conquerors? Would we welcome them or would we overcome and capture them and put them in zoos and museums? Would we meet them in friendship or with hostility?

The margenes gave us the answer.

Beings from outer space came to Earth in 1960.

And we ate them.

The running of the grunions on the southern California coast.


Pity the lowly bigot, who is not only a terrible human being, but also an embarrassment. Hating on an entire group — gays, blacks, immigrants — is mean, nasty, juvenile, and unjustifiable. I call that embarrassing.

Bigotry reveals a lot about the bigot. It says the hater is either dumb and suggestible or has mental and/or emotional issues.

Which is why it pains me to question whether I have a bigotry problem myself.

I like to think I’m a sensible and realistic person. But it’s a fact that I am deeply offended by — appalled, angered, outraged by — political conservatives. ALL of them. Anyone who identifies as Republican, right-wing, or MAGA.

Actually, I believe the correct acronym now is MAGAGA — Make American Great and Glorious Again. That’s the knee-slapper the Orange Gasbag used when he announced for president again.

But to stay on point, since my stated position re the GOP amounts to enmity toward the entire group, that seems uncomfortably close to bigotry. Hmm.

Let’s consider the facts. Conservatives are wrong on essentially every issue. Their beliefs are selfish and heinous to a cartoonish degree.

These people hate, resent, or are suspicious of anyone who isn’t white and Christian. They cling to their guns and religion. They’ve learned they can embrace, without consequence, outrageous falsehoods and the patently absurd. They rail about stolen elections, immigrant caravans, crisis actors, and imaginary pedophile rings.

And when you hear about Jewish space lasers or drinking the blood of infants in satanic rituals, you can be sure the source is MAGAGA-land.

Then there’s the fact that, if some conservatives don’t deserve scorn, why do they still call themselves conservatives? Have they repented, cut the ties, and walked away? They have not.

I will ponder this matter further.

Useless Facts

More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● Pink Floyd’s 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon was so popular, it remained on the record charts for 962 weeks — over 15 years.

● Six of the eight planets in the solar system rotate counter-clockwise, the same as the Sun. The exceptions are Venus, which rotates clockwise, and Uranus, which rotates clockwise while tilted on its side. For the record, the former planet Pluto also rotates clockwise and tilted.

● Disney World has 46 rides.

● Dolphins have the ability to go without sleep by resting half of their brains while the other half remains on duty. The halves then switch places. Studies have shown dolphins doing the resting thing for as long as two weeks before taking an actual full-on snooze.

● When the piano was invented in Italy in 1698, it was called a fortepiano or pianoforte. In Italian, piano and forte mean soft and loud, respectively, a reference to the volume level depending on how hard the keys are struck.

● In the 1963 film Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor changed costumes 65 times.

Nephophobia is the fear of clouds. It usually manifests after a scary incident involving a storm, hurricane, or tornado. Nepho is Greek for cloud.

● On average, an ear of corn has 800 kernels arranged in 16 rows. For reasons undetermined so far, the ears almost always have an even number of rows. An odd number is rare.

Tune o’ the Day

Rap, or, if you prefer, hip-hop, is a low form of art. It’s sort of the bastard offspring of music and poetry, manifesting as a kind of chanting. The expression “rap is crap” sums it up nicely.

But about 10 years ago, a Brooklyn music producer named Oscar Owens, aka Rench, found a way, more or less, to rescue rap from itself. He blended it with bluegrass, creating a new genre that, God help me, I find acceptable as music.

Rench formed the band Gangstagrass, a mixed bag of musicians that delivered the theme song of the popular TV series “Justified.” That tune, “Long Hard Times to Come,” was a collaboration between Gangstagrass and the rapper T.O.N.E-z.

Gangstagrass band members today are (left to right below) Dan Whitener (vocals/banjo), Dolio the Sleuth (vocals), Rench (vocals/guitar), R-Son The Voice of Reason (vocals), and Brian Farrow (vocals/fiddle).

Long Hard Times to Come

By Gangstagrass (Featuring T.O.N.E-z), 2010
Written by Rench and T.O.N.E-z

On this lonely road,
Tryin’ to make it home.
Doin’ it by my lonesome.
Pissed off, who wants some.
I’m fightin’ for my soul.
God get at you, boy.
You try to Bogart, fall back,
I go hard.

On this lonely road,
Tryin’ to make it home.
Doin’ it by my lonesome.
Pissed off, who wants some.
I see them long hard times to come.

My life is ill, son.
Prepared to kill, son.
A paradox of pain, baby.
It’s real, son.
Lonely traveler.
Ain’t tryin’ to battle ya.
But if you’re feelin’ tough, dog,
I welcome all challengers.

Ain’t got no family.
You see, there’s one of me.
Might lose your pulse
Standing two feet in front of me.
I’m pissed at the world,
But I ain’t lookin’ for trouble.
I might crack a grin.
I ain’t looking ‘to hug you.

Think about it:
Nobody wants to die.
There’s rules to this game, son.
I’m justified.
I’m ready to go, partner.
Hey, I’m on the run.
The devil’s huggin’ on my boots.
That’s why I own a gun.

This journey’s too long.
I’m lookin’ for some answers.
So much time stressin’,
I forget the questions.
I fear no man.
You don’t want no problems, B.
Eyes in the back of my head.
You better not follow me.

On this lonely road,
Tryin’ to make it home.
Doin’ it by my lonesome.
Pissed off, who wants some.
I’m fightin’ for my soul.
God get at you, boy.
You try to Bogart, fall back,
I go hard.

On this lonely road,
Tryin’ to make it home.
Doin’ it by my lonesome.
Pissed off, who wants some.
I see them long hard times to come.

You probably think I’m crazy,
Or got some loose screws.
But that’s alright, though.
I’m-a do me, you do you.
So how you judgin’ me?
I’m just tryin’ to survive.

And if the time comes,
I ain’t tryin’ to die.
I’m just tryin’ to fly
And get a little love.
Find me a dime piece
And get a little hug.

Hook the car up,
Hit the bar up,
Clean the scars up,
Hey, yo, the star’s up.
Hey, this is the life of an outlaw.

We ain’t promised tomorrow.
I’m livin’ now, dog.
I’m walkin’ through life,
But yo, my feet hurt.
All my blessings are fed.
Man, I’ll rest when I’m dead.

Look through my eyes
And see the real world.
Take a walk with me.
Have a talk with me.
Where we end up,
God only knows.
Strap your boots on tight,
You might be alright.

On this lonely road,
Tryin’ to make it home.
Doin’ it by my lonesome.
Pissed off, who wants some.
I’m fightin’ for my soul.
God get at you, boy.
You try to Bogart, fall back,
I go hard.

On this lonely road,
Tryin’ to make it home.
Doin’ it by my lonesome.
Pissed off, who wants some.
I see them long hard times to come.

On this lonely road,
Tryin’ to make it home.
Doin’ it by my lonesome.
Pissed off, who wants some.
I’m fightin’ for my soul.
God get at you, boy.
You try to Bogart, fall back,
I go hard.

On this lonely road,
Tryin’ to make it home.
Doin’ it by my lonesome.
Pissed off, who wants some.
I see them long hard times to come.


Thoughts du Jour

Arlington House

In 1831, after Lt. Robert E. Lee and Mary Custis were married, the happy couple took up residence at her childhood home in Virginia: the Arlington House mansion, across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. The Lees lived there for the next 30 years.

1831 plus 30 equals 1861; the Civil War began, and Robert was off to war. Mary, warned by a cousin that the feds planned to seize her property, went to stay with relatives behind Confederate lines.

In 1862, Congress imposed a special tax on property in “insurrectionary” areas, payable in person. For Mary, who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, travel was almost impossible. Whereupon, the government seized her property for non-payment.

In 1864, the federal government created Arlington National Cemetery on the Lee estate. A new cemetery indeed was badly needed because of war casualties. But using that particular property would — and did — prevent the Lees from returning home after the war.

General Lee never saw Arlington House again. Mary Lee went back once, a few months before her death, but was too distraught to go inside.

Chief Noc-A-Homa

From 1966 until 1986, the symbol of the Atlanta Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was Chief Noc-A-Homa. The chief wore war paint, danced around a tipi in the left field seats, and set off a smoke bomb when the Braves scored a run.

A stereotype demeaning to Native Americans? Well, from 1968 to 1986, the chief was portrayed by Levi Walker, a member of the Odawsa tribe from the Great Lakes region. That helped a bit.

Walker, incidentally, once set his tipi on fire when a smoke bomb went off inside. He claimed it was sabotage.

In 1982, when the Braves opened the season 13-0, Ted Turner ordered the chief’s tipi removed to sell more seats. The Braves lost 19 of the next 21 games. Turner put the tipi back up, and the Braves went on to win the division title.

The Braves and the chief parted ways after a falling-out in 1986. The team said Walker was missing too many games, and Walker wanted a raise. His salary was $60 per game.

The Cream Cheese Rule

The NCAA has a 400-page rule book that governs the behavior of student athletes in great detail, some of which spills over into the laughably ridiculous. For example, in 2008, a rule was enacted that athletes on full scholarship were not allowed to eat bagels adorned with any type of spread.

Plain bagels were allowed, as were unlimited snacks of fruit and nuts and such, but bagels topped with cream cheese, etc. were forbidden.

Why? NCAA rules state that student athletes on full scholarship are allowed three meals a day. In its wisdom, the NCAA decided that, while a plain bagel constituted a snack, a bagel with butter, peanut butter, jelly, goat cheese, or whatever amounted to a fourth meal.

The new rule was widely mocked and dubbed the “cream cheese rule.” Finally, in 2013, the NCAA relented and scrapped the rule.

Quotes o’ the Day

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.

George Bernard Shaw


Religion is poison because it asks us to give up our most precious faculty, which is that of reason, and to believe things without evidence. It then asks us to respect this, which it calls faith.

Christopher Hitchens


The facts may tell you one thing, but God is not limited by the facts. Choose faith in spite of the facts.

Joel Osteen


Global air travel is a miracle when you stop to think about it. But no one does. Instead, we’ve made the very angels ordinary. And … we’re left with nothing but our contempt for the familiar.

Jeff MacGregor



The Indifferent Half

It’s a fine thing that Raphael Warnock defeated Herschel Walker and preserved a Senate seat for the Democrats.

But it stinks that the Republicans will have a majority in the House. The return of the GOP clown car means constructive legislation will come to a halt. Instead, we’ll have idiotic investigations into such weighty matters as Hunter Biden’s laptop.

They’re Republicans. They’re incapable of positive contributions.

I had hoped Senator Warnock would win by a larger margin, but Georgia’s bible-thumpers, nutjobs, and rednecks are rigidly tribal, and they automatically vote Republican. In my county, which is 87 percent white and staunchly GOP, Walker got 21,600 votes, and Warnock got 5,800.

Herschel was a lame and embarrassing candidate, but you have to feel bad for him. He is a troubled guy who doesn’t belong in the public eye. Putting him there was cruel.

In spite of the behavior of the rednecks and MAGAGAs, however, the larger problem is that half of eligible voters don’t vote.

In a typical US election, roughly one-quarter of the electorate votes Democratic, one-quarter votes Republican, and one-half stays home.

In the 2018 midterms, 48 percent of the voting-age population voted, and 52 percent did not.

In the Biden-Trump presidential election, only 63 percent of the voting-age population went to the polls. 37 percent couldn’t be bothered.

Compare our record to Sweden’s: in 2022, 80 percent of their voting age population voted. In 2021 in Peru, the number was 84 percent. In 2020 in New Zealand, it was 77 percent.

In the US, with the right-wingers becoming more wild-eyed and bonkers every day, and the democratic process literally in peril, failing to vote is practically criminal.

In 19 countries, it IS criminal.

In Australia, voting has been compulsory since 1924. Federal elections are held every three years, and all citizens over 18 are required to vote, or at least to show up at the polls.

Since the system was instituted, turnout has never been lower than 90 percent.

I’m certainly in favor of mandatory voting in the US, but it isn’t likely to happen. Requiring people to vote would bring GOP/MAGAGA influence to an immediate halt, since far more of us are rational than not. The right-wingers would riot in the streets to prevent that.

Still, the idea of lighting a fire under the indifferent half is mighty appealing.