Therapy for The Delicate Flowers

I have developed a therapy for the Delicate Flowers who are triggered by chalk marks, someone raising their hand in class, or the cafeteria making tacos.

I have spend a great deal of time and money developing it, but am giving it away freely, as a gift to mankind. It doesn’t always work on the patient, but it always improves the mood of the therapist.

Here is the technique:

Put your hands on the offended party’s shoulders, reassuringly.

Look them in the eye, respectfully.

Take a very deep breath.

Scream at the top of your lungs, “GROW THE FUCK UP!” Shaking them is optional, but encouraged.

Repeat, until they grow the fuck up.

***

Here are some related methods of therapy.

 

And if five minutes is too long, Cher can fix you in just six seconds.

 

 

 

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The Quick Hitts Podcast is Back

After a four-year podfade, the Quick Hitts podcast is back!

Since the show faded, a lot of folks have asked about it returning. Some of you even pleaded for it. (Actual quote: “Please, please, PLEASE bring it back.”) So I conducted an experiment.

My plan was to do six shows – a minimum of one every two weeks – and ask people to email me if they were listening. After six shows I’d decide if there were enough responses, (I had a number in mind) to keep going.

I published “Trigger Warnings” late Tuesday night. February 16th, without telling anyone about it. I wanted to make sure the feed was working correctly, and a few other technical details were in place, before I announced it the next evening.

Before I announced it, there were a dozen responses in my mailbox. Two people responded less than 45 minutes after I uploaded the show, which means they saw it immediately, late at night, in a four-year-old feed, and listened to it right away.

By Friday the experiment was finished. I’d exceeded the number of responses I hoped to see after six shows.

So….it’s back! There are two new shows waiting for you, with more to come on a regular basis. The commitment is to a new show every two weeks, although that’s a minimum – you may get more.

I remember making the website for it, back in 2005. It was first time I didn’t have to worry about keeping picture files small, since everyone using it would be on broadband.

I’d always loved the art work on old pulp fiction novels, so I built it around that.windowcity I thought it looked cool at the time, but the sheer number of shows has turned it into a mess. It needs to be rebuilt from scratch, and I’ll be doing that, eventually, but right now I’m concentrating more on getting shows out. (If someone could smartenize me on the best way to publish podcasts on a WordPress platform, I’d appreciate it.)

If you haven’t heard it yet, search for “Quick Hitts” on your favorite podcatcher. In addition to the new shows, there are over a hundred past episodes. They’re all in the same feed, so they’re easy to listen to.

To all of you who pestered me about this for the past four years: Thank you. It was your persistence that brought it back.

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Bringing People Together

This is a very good ad. It’s well-produced, well presented, and appeals to our basic emotions.

And it’s a reason so many of us are deeply afraid of a Bernie presidency.

I don’t want the government to bring me together with anyone. I, and I alone, should get to pick who I get together with. They, and they alone, get to decide if they want to get together with me. Choosing your own associations is one of the most basic of all human rights.

You want to get us together, Bernie? Then get out of the damn way. Let us peacefully decide what we want to do and who we want to do it with. Let us start a business doing whatever we want, without thousands of dollars worth of permits and three-inch-thick books of regulations. Let us decide for ourselves how we want to live our lives, and keep the resources we need to do it.

A half a lifetime ago, I was part of an informal group of cigar smokers who regularly met at a brew pub, where we were welcomed by the management. There were about twenty of us. It would be hard to imagine a more diverse group. We were different races, had different educational backgrounds and were on different rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. Our politics and religious beliefs were all over the place. We had different jobs and different interests. The only thing we all had in common was the love of fine cigars.

We’d meet at a large table, light up good cigars (often gifting some back and forth), and have some good drinks. Then we’d have a good meal, followed by another round of cigars.

Everything was good, but the conversations – the conversations were great. We’d joke and discuss and debate and explain and argue and be charming and offensive and everything in between, and never once, in all the years we did it, was a voice ever raised in anger. Nothing brings out good conversation better than fine cigars.

Your tribes took that from us, Bernie. Your Government Tribe and your Nanny Tribe reached in with their diseased claws and ripped it from our lives. They intentionally destroyed something wonderful that brought people together.

Give that back to us, Bernie. That, and a thousand other things you’ve ruined for us. Yes, we do want to come together, but we want to do it on our own, and we can only do it if you get the hell out of our way.

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I Don’t Want To Be An Angel

I was smoking my pipe at the edge of a park that had been infested with Word of Life preachers, when young girl approached me. She was about sixteen, short and cute and lightly pimpled. Full of confidence, she smiled, looked me in the eye and asked, “Are you sure you’re going to heaven?”

I took a pull on my pipe – pipes are great for dramatic pauses – and said, “I sure hope not. All the good musicians are in hell. I like Handel’s Messiah and I’m sure the angels do a kick-ass version, but it would get tiresome after a few days. I want to hear Hendrix and Jerry Garcia and Stevie Ray Vaughn and Janis Joplin and Keith Moon and The Ramones, and I’m sure none of them are in heaven.”

She froze. She had never heard that answer, and probably never heard of any of those musicians. There was fifteen or twenty seconds of dead silence between us. She was uncomfortable. I was amused. Then she took a breath, regained her composure and launched into her well-rehearsed script.

Most religions promise a joyful afterlife as a disembodied spirit. Few believers really think about how unsatisfying that would be. Me, I never want to be an angel.

boredWe assume angels can hear and see, but they can’t bite into a freshly picked corn cob, roasted to perfection, slathered with real butter and topped off with a sprinkle of salt. They can’t savor a fine cigar, or sip some good whiskey, or gulp a cold beer. They’ll never again experience the exhilaration and exhaustion of hot, messy sex. Something as simple as the touch of a lover will be nothing more than a memory. They may be able to listen to music, but they’ll never stand on a stage in front of people who have paid to be entertained, banging on a cheap guitar and pouring their heart into a performance.

Eating junk food? Nope. Biting into a perfectly cooked steak? Never again. Experimenting in the kitchen, usually making something awesome but occasionally creating something horrible? They don’t get to do that.

They can’t take a long walk through a pleasant path, accompanied by a frisky dog. They can’t stand in a crowd watching fireworks and smile at the conversations around them. That street magician, who is wowing the crowd, doesn’t surprise or amaze them. A “Coming Soon” sign, announcing an interesting restaurant, won’t give them a pleasurable little ping of anticipation. There will be no guy with a purple Mohawk walking by.

They’ll never stand back and admire the house they just painted and say, “Damn, that looks good.” They won’t experience the heart palpations of narrowly avoiding a car accident with some skillful driving. They can’t calm down that angry customer, or close that difficult sale. The exhilaration of solving a difficult problem is foreign to them.

Whacking that ball and watching it sail into the sky. Changing a muddy tire without messing up your good clothes and still making it to the job interview on time. Working out a deal that satisfies everyone. Brownies, warm from the oven, washed down with a glass of cold milk. Mulling over a big mistake and figuring out what you did wrong, and not doing it again. Learning the secret to getting along with people you don’t like. Opening a package containing something really cool that you’ve been wanting for a long time. Finding a hidden treasure at a yard sale. Going into the attic and discovering something you like and forgot about. Sitting around a fire pit with friends and beers on a chilly night. Swimming in a brisk lake. Racing down the road with the wind in your face. None of it, ever again. Not for them.

No thanks.

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Class

The world loves David Bowie.

It seems like every fourth of fifth Facebook post in my feed is about him. Some folks might be tired of so many blasts of information, but they all make me appreciate him even more.

And through all of them, from when he was a teenager campaigning for the freedom for boys to wear long hair, to reports of his final days, one thing stands out.

Class.

David Bowie wasn’t a class act; he was class personified.

Even in his most bizarre persona, even at his most outrageous, he was classy. I’ve yet to see an instance of him putting someone down. He didn’t get angry in public, but annoyed in classy ways.

He lavished praise on artists he liked, while never speaking ill of those he didn’t. Try searching the phrase “David Bowie complains” or “David Bowie insults.” You won’t find anything.

He never took himself too seriously. When interviewers questioned him about his importance and influence, he always shrugged it off with a modest smile and said, “It’s only rock and roll.”

Rock and roll is not supposed to be classy. It is supposed to be outrageous and loud and nasty and crass. Much of Blondie’s appeal was Deborah Harry’s sluttyness. Zappa sang about enemas. Joan Jet is a genuine badass. I love ‘em all. In rock, crass is the rule. Class is the very rare exception.

His death was as classy as his life. He could have garnered a lot of attention with essays about life and advice to his fans and thanks to his friends. Instead he kept his illness a secret, and made an album and created a play that said goodbye. Very classy.

When I read of his death, my first thought was “the world is now a poorer place without him.” Then I realized we will never be without him. His music is still part of our lives, and will continue to be. New musicians will be inspired by him, directly and indirectly, for at least the next century or two. The world is currently filled with abundant tributes and praise for him, but that will fade in time. But it will never fade out completely. A few hundred years from now, when we have long been forgotten, people will still be listening to his music and reading about his life. And some of them will notice that he was always really, really classy.

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Congratulations, Officers

“You know the score, pal! {If} you’re not cop, you’re little people.”
– Bryant, in Blade Runner.

Congratulations, Officers. You’ve set a new record. In 2015 you killed 1202 people – slightly more than 100 per month.

When I checked the numbers at Killed By Police on December 28, you were at 1196. I was worried you wouldn’t make it to 1200. But you did. Good job! Two other reports came in since then, making it 1202. Thanks for giving us those nice little bonus killings.

And that’s not even counting all the prison suicides you’ve faked.

Any Little People who are not impressed should compare our officer’s performance to that of cops in other countries. In 2014, China reported their cops had killed a mere twelve people, and they have four times our population. A few of our killer cops should go over there and teach them how to do it right. Hell, let’s send them all over.

Officers of Vermont, you should be ashamed. You didn’t kill anyone. I know your state’s population consists entirely of aging hippies who sell maple syrup out of rusty pickup trucks before having a dinner of road-kill raccoon, but you should have put forth a little effort. Not a single one of us Little People were terminated by cops in The Green Mountain State. Come on, guys, get with the program.

Special congratulations go out to Lisa Mearkle. You chased down 59-year-old David Kassick and tazed him over and over as he lay face down in the snow. Then you fired two shots into his back, killing him on the spot. Your tazer camera showed very clear video of the event. No reasonable person, watching that video, would see anything other than a cruel, cold-blooded murder by a woman who was completely out of control. Yet, you convinced a jury to gift you with a not guilty verdict. Thank you for proving the system works as designed.

walterA finger wag of disappointment, though, for Officer Cairo Palacios, who shot Walter DeLeon in the head. Walter was approaching your car carrying an obviously deadly towel and water bottle, so you blew off half his head. That’s fine – standard protocol – but because of your poor marksmanship, Walter survived. 25% of his skull has been removed, he’s nearly blind, can’t walk, and is severely crippled for life, but now he’s out there saying bad things about the police. Shame on you for doing your job so poorly that he survived. You should be ashamed.

I know some officers are concerned about the increase in charges and indictments against them in 2015. Relax. It’s all theater for us Little People. Officer Mearkle proved you have nothing to worry about. You just keep doing your job, letting Little People know who’s boss, and The State will do their job of making sure you get away with it.

Know that no matter what you do, no matter how brutal and horrible and unjustifiable your crimes, you’ll always have millions of Little People singing your praises. (Anyone doubting this should check out the YouTube comments on the Mearkle video.) So don’t let up even a little. Keep us safe by killing us.

We love you.

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E-Cigs and Junk Science

Anti-smokers have spent decades vilifying smokers over second-hand smoke. They claim that the near-homeopathic levels of chemicals in SHS cause not just lung cancer and heart disease, but SIDS, strokes, ear infections, low birth-weight babies, cervical cancer, behavioral problems in children (including ADHD), miscarriages and difficulty conceiving, breast cancer, brain cancer and stroke, to name a few.

They’ve been wildly successful. The general population has swallowed their propaganda, believing that the merest whiff of passing tobacco smoke will shorten their life. Nicotine nannies have achieved their goal of turning smokers into hated pariahs, unwelcome in any venue or situation. Only a small percentage of the public is aware that every one of the nannies’ claims are based on the junkiest of junk science: studies that have been concocted at their behest. Few people have the expertise necessary to examine and discredit such studies. Fewer still are interested enough to take the time to dissect the multitude of studies nanny gangs churn out on a regular basis. So the general public assumes they’re true, swallows the lie that SHS is deadly, and treats smokers like rats carrying a plague.

Electronic cigarettes don’t emit any SHS. Tobacco doesn’t burn from the end of them, and users don’t exhale tobacco smoke. They exhale vapor which consists of a fine mist of water and a tiny bit of nicotine and flavoring. It dissipates in seconds.

If nannies were really interested in health, they’d be celebrating e-cigs as a way to mitigate the harm of tobacco smoking. Instead, they’re horrified, seeing decades of work vilifying smokers going up in smoke vapor. So they’re attacking e-cigs the same way they’ve attacked SHS – with studies that are garbage and claims that are outright lies.

I’ve spent considerable time debunking SHS, but not much on e-cigs. The junk science is easily recognizable, but it can take quite a bit of time to research and debunk (or confirm) any specific study, and I’d rather do other things.

This whole article is a long-winded intro to send you elsewhere. Lee Johnson has taken the time to research eighteen different, often cited e-cig studies. He carefully explains their findings, then rips them to shreds, sets them on fire, and stomps out the cinders. If you have any interest in the subject, or just want to see how junk science works, check it out.

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