Showing posts with label France. Show all posts
Showing posts with label France. Show all posts

Sunday, June 2, 2024

The Secret of Life

Image by Nuno Lopes from Pixabay

This weekly column consists of letters written to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now and haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky." -Slick Willy

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

Sorry this column is late, life in the South of France moves at a leisurely pace. Pretending to be rich Eurotrash for the last month or so has been fun, but I'm running out of money. 

I should be home by now but I'm still here, in France I mean. The pic of the Eiffel Tower is deceptive in that Collette and I have yet to visit the Louvre or the city wherein it's located. 

We're currently staying at a remote chateau that belongs to a reasonably wealthy native who has fortunately managed to avoid the downsides of inherited wealth who/whom we happened to meet at a McDonald's of all places. 

He's a conservative family man and I'm advising him on finding a place to spend the summer back in the U.S. with his family as he wants his kids to see what America is actually like as opposed to how it's presented by the world's media.

He finds America fascinating and as mystified as I am as to how it is the Donald paying hush money to a well-known and enthusiastic professional could result in being convicted of committing dozens of felonies. I recently came across the phrase Bananas Republic on the Worldwide Web of Contradictory Knowledge.

The following Cranky's on a vacay column is from 2016, but it's been considerably edited, altered, and updated.      

The secret of life is that so-called real life is just high school with money. Once you embrace this notion, much becomes clear.

When I was in school, I noticed a phenomenon that hasn't changed. Much has obviously changed since I graduated from high school in 1971 and the subsequent, but unrelated, beginning of the collapse of Western Civilization in 1972 — the year disco songs started showing up on the charts — but not the phenomenon I'm about to explore.

I know this because of the Stickies, all children of the new millennium, who/whom I monitor closely.


Despite my 39 documented college credits and nearly nine years of cranking out columns, I've managed to avoid becoming a master grammarian but the who vs. whom thing has always caused me trouble. I'm now too old to care all that much and I'm thinking about making who/whom company policy. 

I've helped to finance/parent/clean up after this sticky syndicate of savages, all of who/whom have turned out reasonably well...

{Wait-wait-wait. I'm certain that's a whom.}

I agree, Dana... So much for company policy. Anyway, for the record, I mention this because it was the right thing to do, not because I'm hoping they will never let a certain old crank starve, or go without high-speed internet access. 

But don't worry about me guys, I'll be OK. Now, where was I? 

As a young callowyute, I noticed that kids of only slightly different ages were often radically different creatures. Grade levels served as a reliable index. 

Every September, after another summer of working on the family farm at the family's steel mill on the Sou'sidah Pittsburgh, I exchanged my steel-toed work boots for a pair of cheap dress shoes from the local Thom McAn store and returned to school. 

{Dress shoes?}

I'm so old... When I was young everyone that went to Catholic school wore dress clothes or uniforms. Skirts only for girls with no "patent leather" shoes to prevent inadvertent immodest reflections. 

Most of the kids that were one grade level behind me seemed childish and dorky. Most of the kids that were one grade ahead were cooler than me and seemed to know something I didn't know.

[Question: Why is the American school calendar still built around an agrarian culture that no longer exists?]

As a callowyute, I was taught that at some point this process would end and that I would be a grup. All that was necessary after that was a slow but steady accumulation of skills and wisdom which I would pass on to the callowyutes in my life. 

[Of course, I wouldn't be like most grups, I'd still be cool. I'd never wear socks with sandals. I'd open a vein rather than wear an all-polyester outfit that included a white patent leather belt and shoes (and sandals with black socks). I'd only drive cool cars. Etc.]

Legally speaking, in the US at least, you can vote or become a porn star at age 18 and you can buy booze when you're 21. Science says that H. sapiens, on average, are not fully mature till roughly the age of 25. This explains a lot. 

{Let me guess, Colonel Cranky wants everyone to be 25 before they can vote, drink, or boink for bucks.}

Nope. On our current trajectory, I think that 21 and 18 will both eventually be lowered to 16. I support the current age limits to help prevent that from happening till I'm personally deleted.  

But if I were King I'd require that everyone has to pass the same citizenship test that immigrants have to pass to become naturalized citizens in order to register to vote.   

Once we finally fully mature we spend the rest of our lives waiting for the next dramatic step -- that day when we will wake up filled with wisdom, certainty, and financial security — which never actually happens. We will never actually graduate from high school.

Social/dominance hierarchies will always be a thing. Gossip/rumor/innuendo will always be a thing. The pursuit of happiness will always be a thing, but obtaining contentment is as good as it gets. 

The maturity gap between you and both the younger and older kids will narrow and the lines blur but the average reasonably well-adjusted 40-year-old, for example, will find the average reasonably well-adjusted 30-year-old lacking in specific as well as vague ways.

What will change is that most of the kids that are older than you will gradually become less cool than you are as the years go by. 

Eventually, you'll look around and decide many of the kids that are your chronological age are now also older and also less cool than you, which will make you feel pretty good... till it dawns on you that you have no shortage of contemporaries who likely feel the same way about you. 

And as the crowd of H. sapiens that are younger than you keeps growing larger, you'll be reminded of how you felt when the world was top-heavy with clueless old people — like you?

Most H. sapiens will gradually/slowly/painfully learn to share the playground with others, perhaps even pick up a bit of wisdom here and there. Many will not. We will start out confident that we won't be like our parents; that our lives will be _______, _______, and _______! Then our lives will mostly just happen to us.

Some will win, some will lose, most will tie.

You're probably in better shape than me. I'm almost 71 years old, still overthink everything and in my heart of hearts I'm the same horny, insecure callowyute destined to be a rockstar and enlightened Taoist master that I was as a young man — just (thankfully) much less so.

You will do the job, take care of the kids and the parents who are morphing back into kids, keep the car running, etc. Since it's relatively easy to fool most callowyutes/ourselves/other grups, we will all participate in a lie agreed upon (HT: David Milch). We will all pretend to be well-adjusted grups when in reality we're just high-functioning high school kids.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Friday, May 17, 2024

Abortion and Minority Rule

 Greetings and Salutations From France! 
Image by Thomas Staub from Pixabay

This weekly column consists of letters written to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now and haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device

"There are no solutions, only trade-offs." -Dr. Thomas Sowell

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

Yes, I'm still here, In France I mean. Please see the intro to this column if you're unaware as to the how/why I'm spending the month of May here. 

Collette and I are thinking about overnighting in Paris next week because I'd really like to visit the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa (among other things) but she's trying to talk me out of it; I guess it can get a bit crowded. I'll let you know if we went and how it went. 

Turns out you can arrange early morning private tours before the museum opens. I went a-googlin' and discovered this service is provided by a bunch of privately owned firms and that all sorts of options are available.

The average price is about $250 per adult. A bit pricy but that's for 2-3 hours, and it includes admission.

{A bit pricey?}  

Have you ever been to one of the Disney theme parks, Dana? Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

I have the pallet of an American little boy... Well, an American little boy born in the 1950s, the Stickies are now all at least 18 and eat all sorts of sophisticated stuff that my parents, and most of their contemporaries, had never even heard of. 

I'll wager there's no shortage of my fellow American old cranks who fear traveling to Europe for fear of the food. 

However, I had heard that McDonald's can be found everywhere in Europe. I verified this before I left and it turns out France has the most. Who would've guessed? No wonder they love Americans so much.

“Lafayette, we are here!” -Colonel Charles Stanton (not General Pershing).

{I heard they serve breaded deep-fried snail tenders...but what's any of this got to do with abortion, and/or minority rule?}

Nothing really, Dana, this is me avoiding the subject by doing what I'm famous for, entertaining my hordes of readers via the wit and wisdom of a garrulous geezer. 

I have only one thing in common with the late, great Isac Asimov, I often think with my fingers. Sometimes, often actually, I have to wait for my muse to reveal what I should write. You'll no doubt be relieved to know I've figured it out.  

As I explained in my first summer rerun column, I thought I could republish some old columns with minimal editing while on vacation but my writing style, some quoted statistics, and some of my opinions have shifted anywhere from a little to a lot.

That column required massive rewriting, but this week's column was supposed to be a piece of croissant. The first time I wrote about abortion, in 2015, I came down decisively on neither side of this never-ending debate. I still feel the same way. 

How about a compromise wherein neither side gets what they want? Permit me to sum up my position and move on to what's really bothering me. 

{We can't wait!}

What if abortion was banned, everywhere, with or without common sense exceptions (incest, rape, or likely death of the woman involved immediately spring to mind), would there be no more abortions? 

Obviously not. A rich and well-connected woman would still be able to get one in relative comfort and safety. Anyone else who thought they had a compelling reason to seek an abortion would be forced to take the "back alley" route and no shortage of women would be killed or physically/emotionally damaged. 

So what if there were no restrictions? It's a free country, it's your body, do what you want! 

I'm not going to go looking for statistics as I can confidently state two things. First, nearly all of even the most radical pro-choice advocates are revolted by the idea of aborting a viable baby no matter what they say. 

Second, there's a tiny minority that are comfortable with absolutely no restrictions right up to and including infanticide and if you don't understand why they should be denied this right I have nothing to say to you that's going to make a difference. 

I have kept an eye on the relevant polling before and since I first wrote about abortion and the results have been consistent. 

Gallup, 7 July 2023 (that's how we say the date on the Continent):

"When asked about the legality of abortion at different stages of pregnancy, about two-thirds of Americans say it should be legal in the first trimester (69%)...the majority oppose laws that would “ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected [about 6 weeks]...63% favor allowing the abortion pill mifepristone to be available in the U.S. as a prescription drug." (My emphasises.) 

So what's the problem? This is a democratic republic so I'm sure Congress will write some sort of clearly worded law to put an end to this, compromise on the details, and tell the extremists on both sides to go pound sand so we can concentrate on worrying about AI and robots destroying everyone's job. 

{Sarcasm isn't always appropriate.}

Wait, I've got an idea! What if we relitigate the issue? Maybe the Supremes will decide that since there's nothing in the Constitution to base a decision on, the individual states should decide?      

{More sarcasm? Seriously dude? About such an important issue? I suppose now we're going to be subjected to what's "really" bothering you.}

You betcha. 

The Founding Pasty Patriarchs were well aware of an ever-looming danger of democracy, a tyranny of the majority. That is to say, what if 51% of us agree that killing the other 49% of us would be best for all involved.

{That's a goofy, vast oversimplification of the subject!"}

"Hyperbole in the defense of a valid point is no vice!" -me  

Anyway, Socrates, murdered by his fellow citizens in the city often credited with inventing and implementing a democratic system of government might disagree. 

America is a democratic republic. The Founding Pasty Patriarchs, aware of the potential downsides of democracy, set up a system in which we choose which weasels we want to represent us in the Swamp so that we can devote our time and energy to important things like making a living, and making and trading Taylor Swift friendship bracelets. 

Unfortunately, they had no way of knowing how effectively relatively tiny minorities would eventually be able to easily mess with majorities thanks to the onset of the Dizzinromation Age and the rapid subsequent spread of the WWCK (worldwide web of contradictory knowledge). 

We're at the mercy of motivated minorities cheered on by a rabid media that actively/deliberately promotes controversy to keep the money flowing.

No form of democracy can survive without rational compromise. 
Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Saturday, May 11, 2024

Summer Reruns Continue

This weekly column consists of letters written to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now and haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

"Babies don't need a vacation, but I still see them at the beach...I'll go over to a little baby and say 'What are you doing here? You haven't worked a day in your life!'" -Steven Wright

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders), 

Yup, I'm still on vacation in the South of France. If you're unaware of how this came about last week's column explains all. 

I'm embarrassed to say that I fell asleep on the beach at Village Naturiste Oasis Village while Collette was shopping and I'm so badly sunburned that I can hardly move. However, I was able to dictate this explanation and instruct her on how to post what follows below. 

I've recently been made aware that many of my gentlereaders see no reason to click on the link that is the closing of my weekly letter, having done so years ago, and which, by the way, is based on an old column written when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and has been tweaked just a bit.  

Also, believe it or not, I have fans who read my column via the dead trees format who have likely never had a chance to discover the origin of "have an OK day." 

Given all that, this week's summer rerun is what gentlereaders encounter if they follow the link in question. I'm feeling better and promise that next week's rerun will be a rewritten, full-fledged column originally published in 2015 about an issue that never seems to go away. 

When I'm king of the forrrest, the insipid phrase have a nice day will officially be changed to have an OK day. Hang in there will also be acceptable. Life is sometimes brutal, sometimes nice, but mostly, it's just SBDD (same bonkercockie, different day). So, Mark, how was your day? Well, some of it was nice, some of it was brutal, mostly it was somewhere in between. It was OK. I didn't win the lottery, but I wasn't tortured and killed. I hung in there.

"Have a nice day!," saith the fast-food worker as she shoves the bag containing my (often jacked up) order in my general direction while not making eye contact because her focus has already shifted to the next customer and she's hoping to get the drive-thru window closed before I ask for salt, a bunch of it. 

I always ask for a bunch, so that if I get lucky, I may get two or even three packets instead of one (or none) before she snatches her hand away and the window slides shut. Now, if I'm in a reckless mood, or I'm feeling annoyed because I've tapped on the window and received a what are you still doing here glare before she reluctantly slides the window back open I may exercise the nuclear option. 

As she reluctantly hands me my salt packets (apparently salt volume is the key determinant of profit or loss in the fast-food industry) I'll call up the warmest smile I can muster and say, "I'm sorry, may I have a few more, please? I define food as a salt delivery mechanism" in a charmingly self-effacing tone. I've even been known to chuckle. From the look on her face, I'd have to say that having to hand me salt (again!) has ruined her perfectly nice day.  

This is the second most effective way I know of to gently remind a fast-food employee associate (though chances are it will, at best, be a subliminal reminder) that there's a customer – the source of all revenue – right here, right now, and in spite of the odds, seeking satisfaction. 

Sometimes, you have to look for it, you'll get an almost startled reaction. Wow, it's one of those sources of all revenue! I've heard stories, but I never thought I'd actually have to do more than toss the bag and chirp, Have a nice day!  

I know, I know, she works hard for the money and is definitely not being overpaid. I have a similar problem. However, no customers = no pay. If you want me to have a nice day, gimmesumsalt, and don't jack up my order. Say thank you and I'll dance at your wedding (or divorce). 

What's the number one most effective way to gently nudge an FFA (fast food associate) onto the same level of reality as oneself? Order a sundae, and ask them to make it with half strawberry and half chocolate syrup. Awkward pause. But...but there's no button for that! Hilarity ensues. You may get to meet the manager on duty.

Now, if I manage to get more than one salt packet, with a minimum of hassle, this will indeed be, at the very least, a nice moment. If I get a thank you for giving up some of my hard-earned money I'll know it's a sign from God and buy some scratch-off lottery tickets. Maybe I'll win big... wouldn't that be a nice day? 

Alternatively, it could turn ugly and snowball downhill into a brutal day via not enough salt, a jacked-up order, flat soda pop, stale buns, fries that have cooled off and reverted to their natural state (plastic), etc. And, of course, having to deal with me could nudge her day in a brutal direction.

The point is that Destiny (we've become close) and I have fairly limited control over who or what wanders into our personal reality zones and sparks a nice or brutal moment or day. Also, nice or brutal can easily morph into their opposites. 

If I win big in the lottery it might ultimately result in my degeneration into a perverted libertine and slobbering drug addict, which would be (mostly) a bad thing. If I were to be kidnaped by ISIS operatives and tortured for information because they've mistaken me for the head of the drone pilot training program but I was rescued by Leroy Jethro Gibbs and his team, that would be a nice thing and me and my work might go viral.

{Gibbs is gone.}

In theory, but I recently checked in for the first time in years, and even though only two of the main characters are there it's the same show over and over and...

However, Destiny and I (who, for the record, is 76, and will be introducing me to her friends and parents when we go mall walking tomorrow), having rejected society's misguided embrace of the meaningless nice day concept, choose to embrace having an OK day, and hope you do as well. 

Brutal days are going to happen to you despite lucky charms, prayers, and positive affirmations. Nice days are going to happen to you despite curses, your boss, or The Fedrl Gummit. No matter what happens it could always be worse, and it might even get better. But there's only so much you can do about it, so why not split the difference and strive for an OK day? OK blunts the brutal and nurtures the nice.

On a personal note, Destiny and I have decided to get married, probably in June of 2025. All of my readers are invited but please RSVP and be aware that no one will be admitted without a gift. Hang in there.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Dateline: Paris, France

News That You Can Use (Vol. 5)
Daily Paper, Newspaper, Daily News, Publication, Media

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my (eventual) grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who don't, yet) -- the Stickies -- to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

[The following column is rated SSC (Sexy Seasoned Citizens). If read by grups or callowyutes it may result in psychological/emotional/etceteralogical triggering.]


                                         Just who IS this guy?

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Star: Dana -- A gentlereader

"The truthiness is, anyone can read the news to you. I promise to feel the news 'at' you." -Stephen Colbert 

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-grandstickies (& gentlereaders),

Marie-Louise and Iggy came to me in a dream recently to inform me that Iggy has been selected by a rich, powerful, low profile polymath to live with him on his secret island and be his protege/heir/student (he and his wife are childless).

All the result of a random encounter at the Louvre when he and his wife overheard Marie-Louise and Iggy having a friendly argument about I.M. Pei's pyramid and joined in the discussion. I guess the controversy still simmers.

Well, I didn't see that coming! Although I'll miss the Iggmeister, plans have already been made for me to visit next Christmas. Anyways, I've no right to interfere in this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Iggy will get to finish growing up and have a life like the one I might've had if my family of dissolute European aristocrats had not sold me to Gypsies.

This, as you know, was the first link in a chain of events that led eventually to my "father" winning me in a poker game at the Gem Saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota.

Marie-Louise will stay with him for the foreseeable future but continue to inspire me from afar. As to...

[Cough, cough. What happened to news that they can use?]

I'm just taking care of some necessary column housekeeping, Dana. Besides, I do have a couple of fans that will regard the above as news they can use.

News That You Can Use (No 4), I recently discovered, was published back in March. Speaking of housekeeping, having recently turned three (the column, not me) I've been cleaning/updating/reorganizing/etceterizing. I found N.T.Y.C.U. (No. 4) being used to level a wobbly table in the armory.

Methinks it's time for a new column.

Dateline, France: France turns down citizenship for immigrant nurse because 'she works too much' 

Summary of the article linked to above: the nurse in question has to wait for two extra years to become a citizen of France because she has flaunted French law. She has regularly and routinely ignored the statute that makes it illegal to work more than 48 hours a week (including overtime, which apparently starts after 35 hours).

This unscrupulous, villainous healthcare professional has three jobs and averages a total of 59 hours a week taking care of patients.

Technically, the following news is olds because it's been true for quite some time. Still, it's good to know that the region -- world-famous manufacturing, hi-technology, and health care hub -- continues to thrive. 

Dateline: The Swamp. The 5 Counties with the Highest Median Household Income All Reside in the D.C. Area

Summary of the article linked to above: as the article's title indicates, the five
counties bordering the Swamp have the highest median household income in the United States of America... And that's all I have to say about that.

Dateline: Berkely, People's Republic of California. The City Council of Berkeley governs at the bleeding edge of Wokeness. Recently, in the course of the same week, they passed two laws. One to promote social justice and one to save the environment.

Never let it be said that the taxpayers of Berkely ain't gettin' their money's worth.
Gendered language like 'manhole' will soon be banned from Berkley's civil codes

As to the Nat gas ban, starting on the first day of next year the new law "requires all new single-family homes, townhomes and small apartment buildings to have electric infrastructure."

The council plans to eventually expand the law to cover all new buildings and have created a new, full-time gummit job for someone to make sure that nobody tries to put up a new building that uses natural gas. 

The job will pay $273,341 per year.

[Wanting to do my bit to save the planet, I hereby volunteer to do the job for only $270,341 per year -- if I get paid by the hour.] 

As to gendered language in general, manhole in particular, I probably should resist the temptation to repeat a very old joke that could possibly trigger all sorts of marginalized victims of this, that, and that other thing. 

[Are you referring to -- What's another name for sanitary napkins? manhole covers? -- you're right, you probably shouldn't mention it.] 

I just thought of something, I wonder what they're going to do about the obviously cisgendered/patriarchal/sexist/etceterist practice of referring to the two halves of various connectors as male and female?

Innies and outies? Anyways... 

Dateline: Paris, France. The Shift Project a...

[Wait-wait-wait. Everyone knows that Paris is in France. Who are you trying to impress? Geez, ain't it bad enough this thing started with a mention of the Lourve?]

Asamatterafact, I have a nephew who lives in Paris. Paris, Pennsylvania. Asamatterafact there are 23 cities in the USA called Paris. So why don't you just...

[Fine, let's just move on.]

Harrumph. The Shift Project, "...a French think tank advocating the shift to a post-carbon economy" has completed a study and discovered that "Digital technologies now emit 4% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, that is to say, more than civil aviation" (my comma after say, their emboldeninization).

That is also to say, they say, that online video alone is responsible for 1% of global GHG emissions. Binge-watching is destroying the planet!


The imposition of "Digital Sobriety" by legislation before it's too late. I can't recommend reading the Key Takeaways portion of the study (it's at the very beginning) enough.

And just because I can, I wish to point out that study somehow figured out that watching porn is responsible for almost .2% of GHG emissions. 

Poppa loves you, 
Have an OK day 

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©2019 Mark Mehlmauer As long as you agree to supply my name and URL (Creative Commons license at the top and bottom of my website) you may republish this anywhere that you please. Light editing that doesn't alter the content is acceptable. You don't have to include any of the folderol before the greeting or after the closing (Have an OK day) except for the title.