Holy Turkey! What’s Happening to Thanksgiving!?

I don’t remember when I first heard the Friday after Thanksgiving being referred to as “Black Friday”, but it scared the stuffing out of me. Did it mean stores were going to fold? Did it mean Christmas was cancelled? It sure didn’t sound good.

Then I found out that the “Black” in “Black Friday” referred, not to “Black Ops” or “Blackout”, but to stores going from losing money (“in the red’) to making profits (“in the black”). That was a good thing!  

(Of course it still boggles my mind that a store can operate at a loss for 10 months and three weeks before making a profit.)

Recently I learned that “Black Friday” no longer even refers to the Friday after Thanksgiving. In fact, it no longer refers to any Friday. It now refers to all the days of the week – starting a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving..

What? 

Yes! It’s as though Thanksgiving no longer exists. Zoom! Phiit! Goodbye Turkey day!

Whoa! 

Nowadays, the biggest holiday of the year is Halloween. Even so, for several years now, stores have been featuring Christmas gifts and encouraging Christmas shopping before Halloween. In October. Wow!

But wait! It may be worse than that. Those poor goblins and ghosts are being ghosted! So, what happens to Trick-or-Treators?

Do they Trick-or-Treat on Halloween or start haranguing Mommy and Daddy for Christmas presents?

Does this mean the end of Halloween as we know it?

And what does that do to Thanksgiving?  Does it get shoved aside like Washington was when they started calling his birthday President’s Day?

And what of Christmas, itself?! If we’re moving Black Friday to before Thanksgiving and turning Halloween into the first shopping day of Christmas, does that mean that Christmas will be moved to November 25th, and crash headlong into Thanksgiving? 

OMG! Who is deliberately moving every holiday back! 

Will this be the end of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Will it be the beginning “Thankmas”? Will “Thankmas” include a tree with lights, fake snow, and bells? Will we sing “Thankmas” carols and have turkey cookies? Will Santa wear a turkey suit? Will Scrooge humbug the cranberry sauce?

What will I tell my kids? What will I tell my grandkids? What will I tell Santa’s elves? What will I tell Pilgrims and Native Americans? 

Something very nefarious is going on…

Oh! Oh!  I’ve figured it out. It’s the Gen X-ers and Millennials. They can’t wait their turn the way every generation before them has. They are trying to shorten the year so they will get older faster and be able to move Baby Boomers into old folks homes earlier. 

They’ll tell us that climate change is to blame, that it has shortened winter, pretty much raced through spring and fall, and lengthened summer. They’ll say the year is only 11 months long now – and blame it on climate change.

I never trusted them anyway. Anyone who can converse with their thumbs instead of their tongue is not to be trusted.

OK. This is serious, Mr. and Mrs. Older Americans. Time to fight back.

Resist. Refuse to buy Christmas presents until after Thanksgiving. When Thanksgiving does come, invite the Gen Xers and Millennials over for dinner and celebrate it like it was 1621 all over again. Watch football like you’ll never see another game. Savor your pumpkin pie.

And then pull a fast one. Tell them they are the true reason for Thanksgiving. Tell them the young of every generation are what older generations give thanks for. Tell them it’s because they’re good-looking, and nice and smart. Butter them up like a Thanksgiving turkey. 

Whatever you do, don’t ever admit the real reason you’re happy they’re here. Don’t even hint at how much you’re looking forward to having someone else shovel snow and take out the garbage. Avoid any reference to how hard you’ve worked and how happy you are to have them pay more taxes and make the hard decisions in life.

Just look at them adoringly. Smile and start talking about Santa Clause and the joys of Christmas and how many presents you’re going to get them.

And then, as you usher them out the door with stories of New Years Eve celebrations and wishes for a wonderful new year, give them your favorite Thanksgiving Cheer: 

Happy Thanksgiving, Turkeys!


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Henry Briggs For President!

I realize it is late in the campaign, but having had a close look at all the candidates – from both parties – the country clearly needs me.

Let me begin by answering the three basic questions we ask of any Presidential candidate.

1) Why do I want to run? 

Hey! Pay attention! I just said – the country needs me!

2) What are my qualifications?

I am a really nice guy. Oh, I know other candidates are, too, but many are not. In fact, one is just mean. And ruthless, too. He would sell out his mistress for a fried chicken dinner. See what I mean about mean? 

I know, I know. Who in their right mind would want to run for President, just to have some of the nastiest people in the world attack them and their family every day? And, having won, who would want to deal with people like Pelosi or McConnell or anyone else in Congress? That would be incredibly stupid, huh… 

Except, I have a plan.

I would refuse to talk to any of them directly. Instead, I would hire a raft of child psychologists and communicate with Congress solely through them. 

I also have government experience, which is more than our current President had when he started. I was President of the Borough Council for a number of years. And never even a scintilla of impeachment. 

“Wait!” You say. “A 3000 population town compared to 320 million population country!?” 

Absolutely. Potayto-potahto.

Trust me, I’m really honest. Oh, I know, I know. Anyone who says “Trust me” should not be trusted. But, frankly, I really am very honest. Oh, I know, I know. Anyone who says “frankly” isn’t being “frank”. But I am frank. Really. Oh, I know, I know…

…I think I’ll stop there.

My knowledge of politics is deep and wide. I’ve been reading the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the New York Times for years, along with all those columnists who always know what they’re talking about. And I’ve been watching Fox News, especially Sean Hannity. And those two guys that sit next to the knocked-out blond on that couch every the morning and tell me…um… stuff. Which I can never remember because …the blonde.

I am very well traveled. I have seen the world. Well, on TV.  I’m a real fan of travel channels. I can now spell Aphgannistand and Keev without any help. And I can order food in so-o-o many languages.

I’ve made it a point to learn about international politics. I have read all the Tom Clancy novels and tried to read all the John Le Carre novels (hey, that English accent isn’t easy.)

I understand politics better than almost anyone in the campaign. I have binge-watched every episode of “The West Wing”, “Madam Secretary”,   “House of Cards”, “The First Family” and “Veep”. And for intellectual variety I watch network new shows every night.  

3) What is my platform?

The economy. Remember, “it’s the economy, stupid?” You know what’s stupid? A national debt of nearly a trillion dollars and growing. China can lend us so much more. 

Healthcare. Because of my deep knowledge of medicine and healthcare (I’ve been in doctors’ offices, hospitals – and minute clinics), neither Bernie Sanders nor Elizabeth Warren has anything on me. I support “single payer” healthcare, but with a difference. The difference is, in my version only single people pay. In the case of children, single parents pay. Married couples don’t pay until they divorce.

The Justice System. The problem is over-crowded prisons. I will only appoint ex-convicts as prosecutors. End of problem.

Foreign Affairs? Only if they speak English.

Right about now, dear reader, you might be saying to yourself, “This is all a joke, right?”

Yes. But is it funnier than what we have now?

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To the Victor Belong The Spoils

We all like balance in life. It helps us climb stairs without falling, especially when we’re really young or really old. It keeps us from going too far left or too far right. It keeps boats from keeling over, airplanes flying straight, and parents from disowning teenagers. 

Oh! And it helps nature provide for us.

But some lack of balance is fun, too. Otherwise why have seesaws? Imagine our form of democracy surviving if we had only two branches of government? Where would we be without men and women, and vice versa?  

Actually, although we talk a lot about the balance of nature, nature is usually at least a little out of balance – even as it continually tries to achieve balance. It has always been that way, as different species competed for superiority, as the earth revolved around the sun, as continents grew and shrank. 

Some imbalance makes life interesting.  Three may be a crowd, but two is boring.

When mankind first arrived on earth, wooly mammoths ruled the world, (even as bacteria ruled the netherworld). Humans had a competitive edge no animal or insect, fish or fowl had ever had before: the human brain. Gradually, over time, it proved more powerful than the biggest mammoth or the smallest bacteria.

We’ve harnessed energy, invented bacteria-fighting drugs, made food production predictable, and brought heat to cold areas and cold to hot areas (one of the most significant change agents of the 20th Century was the air conditioner). 

We turned useless black rock into energy. Then we repeated it with all that messy goo and foul-smelling stuff from under earth and ocean. We used them as tools for everything from food to cars to skyscrapers to computers. 

By the late-twentieth century, mankind had won the competition with other elements of nature. We were riding high.

But maybe not. Mankind is part of nature. By defeating parts of nature to benefit ourselves, we’ve directly altered the balance of nature.

And nature is our ultimate – and only – provider.

A few hundred years after arriving at one of the most bountiful continents in the world, America, we started cut the tops off of mountains for coal. We filled rivers with chemical pollutants from factories and sewage from animals and humans. We filled the air with fumes from the mid-west which the wind carried to the rivers of New York and New England, making them less drinkable. And we thrived.

Not to be outdone, other emerging countries in the Middle East and Asia, did many of the same things.

Now, one third of bird species are extinct. Hundreds of animal species are gone. Ditto plant life.

China is the biggest producer and user of coal in the world. People there and in other parts of Asia have to wear masks outside. Water is undrinkable in many parts of the world. There are droughts in places that were once fertile. Qatar is so hot, they are – literally – trying to air condition the outdoors now.

Without burning of coal or oil, climate change would not be occurring. There are now droughts where there was once water, water where there was once ice. There is less clean water, more poisoned soil. 

So people are beginning to leave once bountiful lands in the Middle East and Central and South America to become refugees in still fertile countries – where they are treated like invading armies. What’s next – refugees from California’s drought and fires?

We’ve won against wooly mammoths and thousands of other creatures and plants.

But in winning we have also destroyed parts of nature that we need for survival. As we stand surrounded by the spoils of what once sustained us, there is now little to prevent us from becoming extinct. 

Nature doesn’t need us to survive. It is ever rebalancing and evolving. And there is no rule that says it has to include us. Just as evolved bacteria can now survive mankind’s medicines, nature can rebalance and evolve past mankind altogether. 

Without massive, major, and immediate efforts, mankind’s survival is now in doubt.  

To the victor belong the spoils.

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Oh, For The Quaint Old Days

When Bill Clinton was impeached, a lot of people thought it was stupid. After all, he was just committing adultery. People do that everyday. 

Others thought impeachment was appropriate, not just because it was adultery, but because he was using the power of his office to seduce an intern. They were shocked at the abuse of power.

But when, during his testimony, he came out with “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is”, we all groaned together.

“Come on, Bill! ” we seemed to say.  “Is that the best you can come up with?”

Quaint, huh?  

We now have a President who makes Bill Clinton look positively amatuer. We elected him even though we knew all about his lying, bullying, cheating, misogyny, adultery, etc., even though we knew he would easily be the most sleazy President in history.

But, sleaze isn’t a high crime or misdemeanor in this country. In fact there’s no mention of sleaze (or lying, bullying, cheating, misogyny, adultery, etc.) anywhere in the Constitution. 

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it. 

Is it because people who wrote the Constitution had too much integrity to consider the notion of a sleazy person running for office? That would be my guess. Remember, that was before the Clintons, before Citizens United, before greed became the screed of politics. 

George Washington was elected President because he was impeccably honest, because he put country first. As a result of his integrity, he could very easily have become King George Washington. In fact, a lot of people wanted him to be. But he turned them down. He had too much integrity.

(I have a suspicion – just a suspicion, mind you – that our current President would not turn down the word “King” in front of his name.)

Integrity seems such an old-fashioned concept in today’s world. There was a time when movies and books and newspapers lauded integrity.  Comic book heroes, movie heroes, book heroes were models for integrity. Granted, they were pretty one-dimensional, but they celebrated qualities like self-sacrifice, hard work, honesty, reliability, working for the common good, and what was called “the American Way”. 

Quaint, huh?

The American Way helped save the world from genuine disaster in World War II. Without the US, fascists would be running the world now. Although it wasn’t as dramatic, the world also benefitted from US involvement in the Cold War.

While corruption has been around as long as the Republic, it was once disdained. Our institutions fought it and usually won.  As a result, people had faith in our institutions and leaders.

Then, in the 1980’s, the ethos changed. The Wolf of Wall Street pushed aside Superman and the other models. Greed became a respected motive. Win for the sake of winning became the mantra. 

Whether it’s cynicism or reality, many Americans today consider our institutions corrupt. Only 25% of us approve of Congress. Our health system ranks worst among the wealthy countries. The gap between rich and poor has been widening since the 1980’s. Our educational system is graduating people from high school who can’t read or do basic math, much less think critically.

We have elected a President with the vocabulary and temperament of a 3rd grader and the ethics of a mafia don. His corruption of the Office of the Presidency is ongoing and relentless. From using the Presidency to fill his hotels to trying to extort Ukraine, it never stops.  

A few examples: over 13000 lies since taking office, shredding international relationships, taking 5400 children away from their parents since 2017, relentlessly attacking the press, deserting allies on the battlefield, denying Climate Change, using tax payer money to attack his political opponent, obstructing the Mueller and Impeachment investigations, using his Presidency to fill his hotels. 

So, how did we wind up with such a corrupt President?

“The whole system is corrupt” was the reason a friend recently gave me for supporting Trump, this after acknowledging Trump’s corruption.   

When I brought up the lack of integrity in politics today, when I suggested the notion of fighting corruption instead of tolerating it, he smiled and patted me on the shoulder as you would a child after The Santa Clause talk. 

He was too polite to call me quaint.

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