Viral Blog

Viruses are strange, which is what makes them so dangerous.

First, experts describe them as “organisms at the edge of life” because they share some characteristics with living organisms, but lack others. They do not reproduce on their own. Simplistically, they invade a living cell and force the cell to produce hundreds or thousands of copies of the virus based on the virus’s RNA or DNA.

And they mutate.

One way to think about mutation is to compare it to copying a photograph. The first copy may look reasonably good, although when you place the original and the copy you may notice some differences. If you make a copy of the copy and then repeat, each generation looks less like the original. A similar thing occurs with viruses. That’s why each year the pharmaceutical companies need to prepare a different vaccine in preparation for the flu season. Much of the time, their projections are accurate, but some times the influenza strain that predominates is totally different from what they expected.

Another bad thing about viruses is that the treatment options are limited. Some medical professionals say that if they treat the patient, the patient will be better in a week. If they don’t, the patient will be better in seven days. There is an element of truth to that.

The COVID-19 virus has mutated into a more virulent form. People who have been vaccinated may carry the virus, usually with mild or no symptoms. Although they may not feel sick, they not only carry the virus, but also shed it, potentially infecting those who have not been vaccinated. This includes children too young for the vaccine and those who are immunocompromised, such as those who have received an organ transplant, those who have an autoimmune disease, and those who are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy. This is why masks are once again recommended, even for those who have been vaccinated.

Masks would not be necessary if the virus hadn’t mutated.

The COVID-19 virus, like all viruses, cannot reproduce itself. In most cases it needs an unvaccinated host and useS the hosts cells to reproduce. As long as there are a sufficient number of unvaccinated people it will continue to replicate and, inevitably mutate. We currently know of two mutations, identified as delta and lambda.

Some people point out that there was confusing guidance in the past, decreasing their confidence in current medical advice. When COVID-19 first appeared, it was often referred to as a novel disease, meaning there was little or nothing known about it because it was new. This meant that scientists were forced to try something and see if it worked. If it didn’t work, try something else. Science is a process, not a collection of facts.

Among the ways that viruses can be spread are by droplets or aerosols from a cough, sneeze, or even just talking. Prior to COVID-19, it was widely believed that anything larger than 5 microns could not be spread by aerosol, only droplets. Droplets have a limited range of about six feet, after which they drop and settle on surfaces. Given that the coronavirus is larger than 5 microns, the advice was to maintain the six-foot social distance, clean surfaces, and wash hands frequently. This was a reasonable approach until it was proven that the 5-micron rule was invalid, after which the use of masks was seen as the best protection.

So today, the advice is to get the vaccine to protect yourself and to deny the virus a breeding ground. Wearing a mask provides you with another level of protection and helps protect those around you.

It’s confusing, but as we got more data, it altered our response. It’s inevitable that we will collect even more data, which may alter our response once again. Following the advice is far, far better than experiencing COVID. Trust me on this.

Wannabe Famous??

After paying careful attention to the media, I believe I have finally cracked the code. I have read hundreds of articles in various “news” sources. Here are my conclusions:

  1. The easiest way, of course, is to be born to famous parents. If possible, to famous parents who had famous parents. Children of the famous attract paparazzi and sycophants before they switch from breast milk to creamed peas.
  2. Having rich parents always helps, even if they’re not famous per se. It takes a bit more work, but it is possible. Paris Hilton now says that her earlier activities were all an act and, with all the money she has, that tells you something.
  3. Lacking the foresight for picking proper ancestors, becoming famous will take more work, but is still quite possible. The best plan is to do something incredibly stupid. Contrary to what you may have heard, it does NOT have to be criminal, although criminal acts do tend to garner headlines. If it bleeds, it leads.
  4. Creating and promoting fake remedies is as old as America itself. The 21st century Medicine Shows do not have the entertainment value of Dr. Brouhaha’s Hell Oil Tonic sold from a horse drawn wagon, but don’t despair. Look at the following that hydroxychloroquine and injectable bleach managed in only a few short weeks.
  5. Lavish use of Facebook and Twitter will help you build credibility. Have several accounts with which to quote or forward your own ideas so it looks like you have a following.
  6. And, finally–run for Congress.


Common octopus on seabed
By albert kok – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Others, such as Alan Sherman, who was was parodying songs while Weird Al Yankovich was just beginning accordion lessons have contemplated the mysteries of pluralizing words. I generally accept the weirdness of English in general without too much difficulties, but there are some idiosyncracies that must be challenged.

I’ve resigned myself to the pluralization of fish. If it’s all one species, the plural is fish. If there are more than one species, it’s fishes. So, if you had 1,000 salmon, you have 1,000 fish. If you have 999 salmon, but one tuna, then you have fishes. You’d think that there would be some defined tipping point. In either case, the average fisherman would focus on the one-thousand first fish that got away. It put all the others to shame.

I’ve always been fascinated by the octopus and even had one as a pet for a while. We got along fine, so while I had him, I never brought up the following, lest it embarrass or offend him.

Octopus is a Latin word derived from a Greek word, but a Latin word, nevertheless. I am an alumnus of several universities (much to their embarrassment). When I am with old classmates, we are alumni, the plural of alumnus. My wife, on the other hand, is an alumna for which the plural is alumnae unless there are males in attendance, in which case together they are alumni. (Chauvinistic Romans!)

So, alumnus, alumni. Octopus, octopuses. Why not octopi?

All of this creates a significant dilemna. Did the Beatles song refer to a single Octopoda, as in “An Octopus’s Garden” or several who were sharing a garden, as in “An Octopuses’ Garden”?

Ringo, feel free to reply and resolve this issue.

A Rough, Common Workmam

In the Old Testament, God selected prophets, judges, and when pushed, kings. He was represented as a vengeful God, who was an expert on smiting those who offended Him, often including their family, friends, village or nation in His righteous retribution. People didn’t get His message. God decided that to get through to us he’d have to try something totally different, so he sent his Son.

Jesus, to the dismay of many, was not there to take names and kick sinners to the ground. He was no king like Saul, David, or Solomon. He was probably not even a craftsman in a well stocked workshop. It is more likely that He was a tekton–a day laborer who performed hard construction work outside in the sun, wherever work could be found. If so, he was probably muscular with rough, callused hands and sun-weathered skin.

The people with whom He worked were not sophisticated. No doubt, they all smelled of sweat, including Jesus. They likely used language that was crude, as those close to the earth do. His coworkers would not fit in polite society. When Jesus chose fishermen to be his followers, it was probably a social step up–after all, they were in business for themselves and had property, such as boats, nets, and tackle.

This rough, common workman, took us in a different direction. Instead of focusing on vengeance, He focused on its opposite–forgiveness and encouraged us to do the same. His forgiveness was complete even for those who were responsible for his death.

When his disciples asked Him how to pray, He taught them a prayer that includes the most difficult demand.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”


Just like Nostradamus, one of the great philosophers of the 20th century prophetically wrote, foretelling today’s reality. Pete Townsend, lead guitarist for The Who wrote Substitute back in the mid-1960’s.

The lyrics explain how nothing is as it appears:

I’m a substitute for another guy
I look pretty tall but my heels are high
The simple things you see are all complicated
I look pretty young, but I’m just backdated, yeah

I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth . . .

Interestingly, in 1966, one line- “I look all white but my dad was black” had to be modified in the version released in the United States. You’d think that in the 55 years since, we’d have sorted all that out. Not quite.

So, today, we have all kinds of people claiming all sorts of things. Skeptics and cynics believe that such are questionable.

Or are they?

All I can add to the discussion is another verse:

And now you dare to look me in the eye
Those crocodile tears are what you cry
It’s a genuine problem, you won’t try
To work it out at all you just pass it by, pass it by

Great song. I’m not sure the reality is quite as zippy as the song.

COVID-19 – Take Two

I apologize if this sounds brutal or uncaring, but I believe it is a legitimate subject. I am speaking, of course, of the future impact of COVID-19, now that we have at least two variants in addition to the original virus.

The scientists predict that the mutated virus will not only infect unprotected people, but in the process will continue to mutate, potentially leading to more deadly strains.

Some people cannot be vaccinated due to a variety of medical issues, such as those who are immunosuppressed. Those who have had an organ transplant are given medications to reduce the chance of rejection of the transplanted organ. People who are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy are also immunosuppressed, as are people with other medical conditions. Fortunately, this is not a huge segment of the population.

Those who have chosen not to be vaccinated, on the other hand, are a much larger group, and are clustered in rural areas. There are six states with less than 35 percent of their population vaccinated that are believed to be at higher risk. Currently, these include Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Wyoming.

It is feared that the unvaccinated could act as a virus incubator resulting in additional, potentially more contagious and more lethal strains of the virus. In a worst case scenario, this could lead to a repeat of the significant restrictions we saw earlier.

From a scientific point of view, the results will be interesting. It would have been better to examine the results in petri dishes in an isolated laboratory. In that case, the petri dishes would be sterilized and disposed of as biohazardous waste. Instead, we may once again see people in body bags stored in refrigerated trucks.

Independence Day

Writing the Declaration of Independence, 1776, an idealized depiction of (left to right) Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson working on the Declaration was widely reprinted (by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1900). Courtesy Wikipedia.

Independence Day, the fourth of July, is celebrated as the birthday of the United States. It was not, as some believe, the day the Declaration of Independence was signed. Given that this was a congress-the Continental Congress, the precursor to the United States Congress-it is no surprise that things took longer than expected.

Richard Henry Lee of Virginia had proposed a resolution for independence, which was finally adopted without opposition, on July 2, 1776. John Adams believed that the second of July would be the day celebrated. However, even though the resolution had been passed, the final wording of the Declaration of Independence was not approved until two days later with copies printed and distributed.

Although the language of the Declaration of Independence was approved on 4 July, there is historical debate as to when the document was actually singed. The best information is that about three-quarters of the members of Congress signed it on that date. Others are believed to have signed it after 2 August. This included several who had not yet been elected to Congress on 4 July 1776. In any case, once the Declaration was passed on 2 July,, it was official.

I would ask you to read the last sentence of this marvelous document.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

How many members of Congress today would commit so completely to our nation?

Pets, Cats, and Attitudes

Courtesy Wikimedia

We have a veritable menagerie here—a dog, two cats, and a parrot.

When asked if I am a dog person or a cat person, I paraphrase Mark Twain, saying I am neither refined nor unrefined. I am the type of person who keeps a parrot.

Mind you, every one of the animals both demand and receive a lot of attention. It’s true that from their perspective it is woefully inadequate, but we go out of our way to make sure that they are spoiled well past the point of rotten.

All the mammals want to play and the laser pointer is one of their favorites. The bird is the loudest and isn’t interested in the pointer. Feed her a peanut and she’s happy.

The dog likes the pointer, but also loves chasing a soccer ball around the yard or a smaller ball in the house. Around 4:00 pm he starts demanding that someone play with him. Lately it seems as if he’s trying to form words to better explain what he wants. The clearest word he can say is, “Aroooh!” I assume it means, “Play with me,” but that’s just a guess.

The cats, on the other hand, have provided me with an epiphany. As we all were taught, cats were perceived as deities for the Egyptians. Many of their gods were portrayed with cat-like heads. Why did they believe that cats were god-like?

When you stop to think about it, it’s easy. Cats’ behavior basically says, “I am here. Feed me. Adore me. Feed me. Don’t bother me when I’m trying to nap. Feed me. And, for heaven’s sake, keep my litter box clean.”

In between feedings, they are wont to ignore their humans.

I believe that the Egyptians merely took the path of least resistance to get the cats to stop bugging them.

The Good Old Days and the NRA

I’m what they used to call, “long in the tooth” or a “grey beard.” I still have my own teeth, thank you, and if I grew a beard, it would indeed be grey. How do I know? Because the hair I have left on my head is grey and I’m damn glad to still have some, at least.

I’ve read many of the “back when” blogs. Yes, I drank from the garden hose. I rode my bike without a helmet–after all, helmets back then were for only soldiers, football players, and jet pilots. I still relate to the years when a gallon of gasoline sold for 36.9 cents a gallon.

Now that we’ve established that I’m ancient, there’s one important thing that I remember. This memory was triggered by a recent letter I received from the National Rifle Association. In bold letters on the front was printed, “NOTICE OF GUN CONFISCATION.”

Of course, there has been no gun confiscation.

The content inside was a plea for donations to the NRA. They used fear to get people’s attention.

I was a member of the NRA for many years. I remember the NRA differently. When I was a teenager, NRA instructors taught gun safety and marksmanship. Where was the shooting range? It was in the basement of my Catholic elementary school. That was where NRA instructors taught me gun safety and marksmanship. To this day, I treat every firearm as loaded. I am always aware as to where my muzzle is pointed and ensure it is pointed in a safe direction. I keep my finger out of the trigger guard. I only point a weapon at something I intend to shoot.

To me, using a gun to settle a dispute only occured on television.

As a parent, I have taken each of my children to the range and taught them gun safety and how to target shoot. Guns had no fascination for them either. They were taught that if a friend asked, “Do you want to see my parents’ gun?” they were to come straight home, immediately.

In the past five generations, we have never had a gun incident and the NRA was actually part of the solution.

As they say, if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem. Today, with their fear tactics, the NRA is no longer part of the solution.

Blogs are Hard

I have written over 70 blogs that I never finished. Most were thoughts that I really wanted to share, but I couldn’t because of my day job. Mind you, I never disagreed with the requirements of my day job, but I will soon retire and no longer be quite so constrained.

Ask any writer if writing is a challenge. If they tell you it’s not, they’re either lying or Stephen King. (Great first name, Mr. King.)

Having over 70 good ideas that I couldn’t publish says something. That’s as many sidelined blogs as years I will celebrate in September. However, soon, I will be able to be more honest.

I hope you don’t hate me if I am honest.

History Rhymes

Maybe you’ve noticed, or perhaps you haven’t, that I am behind in my blogging. I could blame it on Post-Covid Syndrome, which is still wreaking havoc with me. However, the truth is, it’s difficult to write in an environment that is just so nasty.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m seeking wisdom, one source to which I turn includes American Musicals. Even though Tom Lehrer has called them a dead art form that is suitable for academic treatment, I find that they often provide hope.

West Side Story, for example, provides drama, humor, romance, and the inevitable tragic end—after all, it’s a 20th century take on Romeo and Juliet. In the original version, the two gangs, the Sharks and the Jets are squaring off for a fight, but instead of beating the snot out of one another, they break into song and dance, and all to Leonard Bernstein’s music.

But today, I turn to 1776, the musical based on the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. The first musical number introduces John Adams by the rest of the delegates singing, “Sit down, John! [For God’s sake John, sit down!].

John leaves, and sings a plea to the Almighty. The words may be as applicable today as they would have been during the Revolution.

I do believe you’ve laid a curse on
North America
A curse that we here now rehearse in

A second flood, a simple famine
Plagues of locusts everywhere
Or a cataclysmic earthquake
I’d accept with some despair

But no, you sent us Congress
Good God, sir, was that fair?

Oh, yeah!?!!

We have become a divided and divisive society. No matter what the topic, it seems that at least one side takes their viewpoint as a religious crusade or jihad. The other side, they seem to opine are all degenerate idiots who engage in pagan rituals at the dinner table.

Here’s an example, based on the question “Is Drinking Non-Homogenized Milk Healthier Than Drinking Homogenized Milk?” from Brittanica

Pro – Robert Cohen, Executive Director of the Dairy Education Board, wrote in his article “Homogenized Milk: Rocket Fuel for Cancer,” accessed Nov. 28, 2007 on the Health 101 website:    “Homogenization is the worst thing that dairymen did to milk. Simple proteins rarely survive digestion in a balanced world. . . .”

Con – Laura Paajanen, Division of Nutrition at the University of Helsinki, and Tuula Tuure, Researcher at Vailo Ltd., et al., wrote in their 2003 article, “No Difference in Symptoms During Challenges with Homogenized and Unhomogenized Cow’s Milk in Subjects with Subjective Hypersensitivity to Homogenized Milk,” published in the Journal of Dairy Research.

The term “Rocket Fuel for Cancer” is, of course, a well-known scientific term. It is believed to have been first used in 1676 by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, the scientist who discovered bacteria. Van Leeuwenhoek spent the rest of his life desperately trying to find what “rocket fuel” was.  His search was unsuccessful and he died in debtors’ prison, having spent every penny (or was it pfennig?) on the search

I say, if you want to fight, find something that strikes at the heart. For example, did you know every day of the week is named after a pagan god?

Sunday – Named after Sol, the Roman and Norse god of the sun

Monday – Named in honor of Mani, Norse goddess of the moon

Tuesday – Tiw, the Incan god of single combat

Wednesday – Wodin, also known as Odin, Norse god and father of Thor.

Thursday – Like father like son, Thor, the God of thunder, lighting, and strength

Friday – Frige’s day—Frige was the Norse goddess of love and SEX!!! Did you hear me, SEX! She was known in Rome as Venus.

Saturday – Saturnus, Roman god of plenty, wealth, and agriculture

And just to add fuel to the fire, guess which kind of milk they all preferred????????

Does This Look Odd?

Donald Trump et al. standing in front of a crowd

The Interior Department Inspector General decided that the US Park Police acted appropriately last year when they cleared protesters from Lafayette Park. They cleared the area just before the president was photographed, holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Church.

Here’s the link to the article [LINK].

Whether you agree or disagree, there’s one thing I find confusing about the picture from the article (reproduced above). Notice all armed, uniformed police officers, some wearing riot gear. Did you spot it?

Standard procedure for providing protective services is to always face in the direction of possible threats. If there’s a crowd, face toward the crowd. If the VIP is boarding the plane, don’t watch the VIP go up the stairs–look for threats. In order to head off danger, they must always watch the directions from which a threat may come.

Makes sense.

So why are all of the police facing Trump?

Only Following Orders

See the source image
Clawmarks in the walls of Auschwitz gas chamber.

The State of Arizona is once again proving that nothing in this day and age is out of bounds.

In their efforts to resume capital punishment, Arizona is planning on using cyanide gas to execute those under the sentence of death. The most famous use of cyanide gas was by the Nazis in their effort to eliminate Jews, Roma (Gypsies), homosexuals, the handicapped, and anyone else. This was more efficient than the guillotine, starvation or individual gunshots to the head.

The Nazi system was simple. After stealing people’s valuables and stripping them naked, force them into the gas chamber, and drop in the Zyklon B. Ignore the screams and the fingernail marks on the walls as they desperately tried to escape.

The last use of cyanide for an execution in Arizona was similarly gruesome. The condemned took 18 minutes to die, struggling, gagging, and coughing the entire time.

Don’t worry, though, if you are called upon to witness an execution in Arizona. Since the gas chamber hasn’t been used in over twenty years, they checked the seals and even held a candle near them to look for leaks. Nineteenth century safety checks for a 20th century process.

If you want to read more, Newsweek has an article, “Arizona Prepares to Use Auschwitz Gas Zyklon B on Death Row Inmates.”

Pants On Fire

Huey Long ends epic Senate filibuster, June 13, 1935 ...
Huey P. Long—Master Politician

Among the many old jokes I recall is this one:

Q: How do you know when politicians are lying?
A: Their lips are moving.

When I was a child, I remember my father asking–usually during election season–“Why would anyone spend millions and millions of dollars on a campaign in order to be elected to a job that pays far less than that?” Good question. Unfortunately, the only logical answers are based on the idea that there is remuneration in other ways.

We’ve long accepted that politicians will say or do anything to further their ambitions. And why do they do this? For power and money. In fairness, power and money are inherently attractive to most human beings. However, some lack the opportunity. Some are unwilling to sacrifice their morals and ethics. Some go into politics.

Demagogues make it clear which is the most attractive. Genghis Khan, Joseph Stalin, and Adolph Hitler did not worry about money. None of them whipped out their wallet when they wanted something–they just told their lackeys to get it and armies marched in to take it. Like energy and matter being converted from one to another, the same is true of money and power. Money buys power. Power controls money.

There is a lesson from about 100 years ago. Someone asked notorious gangster Willy Sutton why he robbed banks. Willy’s replied, “That’s where the money is!” Today the money and power is in politics and the modern day Willies know it.

Random Thoughts

Or, as George Carlin called them, brain droppings.

If someone steals my identity, wouldn’t it be easier for all concerned for me to start over with a clean slate, create a new identity, and just nullify the old one? All my bank accounts could be forwarded, just like they do with mail when you move to a new address. But if the thief tried to open an account in my name, they’d be told, sorry, that person doesn’t exist.

Wouldn’t it be great if, when we’re old enough to retire, our mind could purge all the crap we had to learn for work so we’d have enough brainpower available to remember where we left the car keys?

When e-mail and cell phones were new, they were almost sexy. Now they’re merely repositories for spam with the occasional important message buried somewhere in the mess.

Wouldn’t it be great if all of us normal people could barrage the spammers with OUR uninvited messages and offers? Somebody knows how to do this and they’d have no trouble finding volunteers.

If “celebrities” only want people to see photographs of them that are taken from the right angle, perfectly lighted, and then Photo-shopped, how would we even recognize them in real-life. Don’t forget, this means cellulite and all.

If, as I’ve read in the news, there’s a shortage of workers for lower paying jobs–like fast food, etc. Maybe we could convince people from poorer countries into moving here and taking those jobs.

Memorial Day – A Selfish View

How COVID Is Affecting Memorial Day 2021 - TREMG

Memorial Day honors those who have died in defense of our country. Veterans Day, in November, honors those who served. For this reason I do not celebrate Memorial Day, I observe it.

However, there’s one tiny part of Memorial Day that is a bit celebratory on a personal level.

Fifteen years ago, the Sailors I was responsible for were returning home. These sailors had been boots-on-the-ground supporting the Army. Many had carried weapons every day and dealt with mortar fire, rockets, and IEDs. All had worked hard while enduring desert heat, mountain cold, or ankle deep mud.

Some I knew well, others, not so much, but given that there were hundreds spread all over Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait, it wasn’t possible to spend more than a little time with some. I never know their political views nor did I care. I do know that we had a number who were not American citizens. Dozens were sworn in as citizens in desert cammies while deployed. Dozens more had completed all the requirements and were sworn in after they returned home.

The Command Master Chief and I were the last ones off the last plane home. He took the lead, as he often did, and we checked inside the passenger compartment, then the cargo bay to make sure that all our people were off the plane and inside the terminal.

Together, we breathed a sigh of relief. We had returned without a single casualty. On Memorial Days, we would not grieve the loss of any of our Sailors.

However, more than a few of those from other units stationed with our Sailors had lost men and women. Today, while thanking God that none of our people are honored today, in war, too many are lost–the number doesn’t matter, it is always too many.

Far too many.

Almost Normal?

Maybe we made it. I hope so.

Vaccinated people can now visit certain places without wearing a mask. Churches around here are going back to live, in-person services, rather than virtual online services. I won’t know what to do if the priest doesn’t periodically freeze or jitter during Mass like he did via the Internet, but I’ll get used to it.

I always told my kids that I’m a planner and therefore paid to be paranoid. I wonder if we could have reached this near-normal state earlier if wearing a mask hadn’t been perceived as a political statement. How would it have been if the COVID vaccine had been accepted the way the mass polio vaccinations were.

In the military, people are trained to understand that after a firefight or a battle is over, it’s best to be prepared for another attack. I hope we don’t have to worry about that with COVID, but it is one of the possibilities.

But then, I’m paid to be paranoid.

Heavenly Entertainment

"Musical Angels" Religious Stained Glass Window
“It’s a jazz riff in B, watch for the changes, and try to keep up.”

We all have strange beliefs. Mine is that my life is entertainment for the dead.

When people die and get to heaven, at first, it’s busy—music lessons and practice. Harps are probably the main ones that must be taught. Harps are complex; on earth they tend to go out of tune at the slightest breeze, which shouldn’t be a problem in heaven. Many other instruments, such as the tambourine or timbrel are percussion and almost intuitive. There are no accordions.

From what I can tell, the angels have the horn section covered.

In any case, before too long, heaven could get boring. God anticipated this, of course, so He arranged for alternative activities. One of which is that they treat my life like a situation comedy. They look forward to the next exciting episode, asking, “I wonder what humorous situation he’ll face this week?”

I must be doing okay, because so far I haven’t been canceled, at least to the best of my knowledge.

I figure the Steve Show must be the only true reality entertainment. It’s kind of like the old Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. You knew which guests were scheduled, but have an idea as to what will happen.

I thought, if that’s the case, would it be better if it were scripted?

The Steve Show

Characters: The cats, the dog, the parrot, the woman, and the man (Steve).

It’s dark—too dark to see anything. Things become slightly visible as though eyes are adjusting to the dark. There is a beeping sound that increases in volume. A slit widens, showing a digital clock. A hand fumbles, attempting to find the switch to turn off the alarm.

The man: (groaning) Ohhhh.

Man sits on edge of bed to the accompaniment of cracking sounds.

                The woman: (Has obviously already had at least one cup of coffee downstairs.) Are you up? Yes? Good. Love you babe.

                The man: (groaning) Ohhhh.

Man walks into bathroom and turns on the light, walks into the water closet room and closes door. Sound of toilet flushing as door reopens. Man looks into the mirror but isn’t quite able to focus on the reflection. Asks his reflection.

                The man: (groaning) What day is this?

Turns water on in shower, takes off clothes, tosses them toward the dirty clothes hamper, misses. Stares at clothes on the floor before picking them up and dropping them into the hamper. Steps into shower. Intermittent splashing sounds heard.

                The man: (groaning) Makes indeterminate guy sounds.

On the other hand, maybe unscripted spontaneity is better.

Ring! Ring! Hello?

Lily Tomlin's Lifetime of Funny Characters
“Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?” The inimitable Lily Tomlin

I have a computer.

The first version of a digital computer by any stretch of the imagination was the Atanasoff-Berry Computer in 1937. The first personal computer, the Altair 8800 was available to geeks and other hobbyists in 1973, but required knowledge of computer and electronic technology. The first IBM PC—generally accepted as the first consumer-friendly (more-or-less) was unveiled in 1981.

My computer has a firewall, anti-malware, virus detection, virtual private network, spam filters, and other protective software that are readily available and affordable. This seems reasonable.

I have a telephone, a smartphone.

While many inventors were involved with the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell introduced the first- commercially viable telephone in 1876. That was almost a century before the Altair 8800 and just over a century before the IBM PC. For years, the telephone company controlled every aspect of consumer telephones, which led to such advancements as telephones with dials and eventually, telephones with push buttons (yawn).

Even with ~100 years head start, the telephone manufacturers and telephone companies have done little to help their consumers. I’m average so that 90 percent of the telephone calls I receive are spam. The spammers make so much money that when they are sued, the judgement is considered a (tiny) cost of doing business.

With my smartphone, I can surf the internet, send text messages, make international calls, and find the nearest Lithuanian-Italian restaurant. However, I can’t do anything about the 10 spam phone calls I receive each day because the spammers spoof the phone number they’re calling from.

Why don’t the telephone companies address this? My suspicion is that a) they aren’t willing to invest any money in solving the problem and; b) they just might make money off the spammers who maintain a thousand phone lines to call the rest of us.

Since it’s all driven by money, I suggest that Congress (if they ever decide to agree on anything) pass a law that the telephone companies have to pay their customers twenty-five cents for every spam call we receive. That will be the end of spam.