Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Curmudgeon Video of the Week: Your Tax Dollars at Work

Ted Cruz is a senator from Texas.  He is a Republican, he’s a tea party guy, and he’s pretty insistent that his job is to overturn – you almost want to use the word overthrow – everything about our government in Washington.

He’s also a guy who wants things to go his own way – and when he doesn’t, he engages in the congressional version of putting his over his eyes and yelling “Nananananananana” until the thing bothering him goes away.

In this case, he wanted to force a Senate vote on a measure that would lead to overturning what is popularly known as Obamacare.  Unable to do that on his argument’s merits, and without anything approaching the support of a majority of members of Congress, he engaged in one of the most despicable things a member of Congress can do (aside from, you know, selling his votes):  he filibustered.  Oh, it wasn’t technically a filibuster, but he stood on the floor of the Senate and spoke for more than twenty hours.

But as much as Cruz likes to think he has to say about this subject, it turns out that the senator really doesn’t know very much, so he started wandering off the subject.  How far?  See for yourself here.


They Need Training for WHAT?

Unionized workers who push people in wheelchairs through Philadelphia International Airport have dropped a complaint they filed against their employer alleging that they have not received adequate training to do their job, the Philadelphia Inquirer has reported.


To push wheelchairs.

Through the airport.

Not enough training.

To push wheelchairs.

Through the airport.

The Face of the New Republican Party?

The Curmudgeon knows a lot of Republicans.  His father’s one, his brother’s one, several of his co-workers are Republicans, some of his friends are, and many of his neighbors are, too.  He knows them to be good people.

But the club of which they’re a member is changing, and sooner or later, they’re going to have to make a choice about where they choose to hang their political hats, because that old Republican Party, she ain’t what she used to be.

Consider, for example, the state of Oregon, where Republicans recently chose a new guy, Art Robinson, to head their state party.  As the magazine Mother Jones points out, Mr. Robinson has some, uh, unusual views.

His views on nuclear waste:

“All we need to do with nuclear waste is dilute it to a low radiation level and sprinkle it over the ocean – or even over America…”

Maybe he thinks that if all that radiation causes people to glow in the dark it’ll be easier to catch the bad guys when they try to hide from law enforcement.


“If we could use it to enhance our own drinking water here in Oregon, where background radiation is low, it would hormetically enhance our resistance to degenerative diseases.”


On public education:

“Public education (tax-financed socialism) has become the most widespread and devastating form of child abuse and racism in the United States.  Moreover, people who have been cut off at the knees by public education are so mentally handicapped that they cannot be responsible custodians of the energy technology base or other advanced accomplishments of our civilization.”

Damn, and we were already running short of responsible custodians of the energy technology base.

And the Daily Kos adds this gem:

“If all tax-financed schools in America closed tomorrow, and no other governmental action whatever were taken, within six months every child in America would have access to better educational opportunities provided by the free market–and every child who could not afford these opportunities would be educated without cost.”

Yes, because the private sector is always eager to knock on the doors of poor people and offer them very expensive services for no charge at all.

MSNBC reports one of Robinson’s interesting ideas about AIDS and homosexuality:

” …median age at death for homosexual men dying of AIDS is 39 years and… for homosexual men who do not die of AIDS is 42.  By comparison, the value for heterosexual married men is 75.  This is evidence in support of the hypothesis that AIDS may be little more than a general classification of deaths resulting from exposure to homosexual behavior.”


On government regulation, according to The Daily Kos:

“Every tax, regulation, law or other impediment that currently inhibits any energy-producing industry should immediately be abolished and no new such tax, law, or regulation should be created until the total flow of useful energy across the borders of the United States is strongly outward…Simultaneously, and for the same period of time, all local, state, and federal taxes should be waived for all persons employed in the energy industries, and these industries should operate with no government oversight whatsoever.”

Yeah, no need to bother those nuclear power plants with pesky regulations, right?

The Curmudgeon knows that most Republicans don’t share these views.  He wonders, though, when they’re going to have the courage to step forward and say so and take back their party.



Simple Technology, Yet Scary

Last weekend The Curmudgeon painted his bedroom, and to make the job easier, he cleared the room of much of its furniture.  (By the way:  have you ever moved a queen-sized mattress to another room by yourself?)  One of the things he removed was a night table, and with it, a clock-radio.

The following day, when the paint fumes cleared, he began bringing furniture back into the room.  (By the way:  have you ever moved a queen-sized mattress back from another room by yourself?)  Among other things, he brought back the night table and clock-radio.

He plugged in the clock-radio with a bit of trepidation:  he had dropped it while unplugging it the previous day.  So he watched the face of the clock, and within about ten seconds, the clock cycled through a series of numbers and then stopped – on the correct time.  All by itself.

While The Curmudgeon suspects this is not exactly electronic wizardry, it’s still pretty impressive.  It’s also a little scary that a mere twenty dollars buys that kind of technology.

Shut Up, Wall Street

Wall Street loves to bitch and moan about government interference and about how all it wants is for government to get out of its way, but it fails to walk its talk.

Consider, for example, recent suggestions that the Federal Reserve might stop its practice of aggressively buying weak bonds and taking them off the market.  Every time the Fed suggests it might stop buying the bonds, or at least slow the pace at which it buys them, the market tumbles.  Then, last week, when the Fed announced that it would continue buying bonds at the current pace, the market soared.

Yeah, Wall Street really wants government to get out of its way.

Those Wall Street people are so full of shit.


Letters, We Get Letters

(It turns out that people are actually reading the “About The Curmudgeon” area on this blog and writing directly to him with questions and comments.  Today he’d like to share some of them with you.)

Dear Curmudgeon,

You seem awfully cranky all the time.  What gives?

Kevin in Kensington


Well, it’s not called “Four-Eyed Pollyana” now, is it?

The Curmudgeon

*            *            *

Dear Mudge,

Maybe all that curmudgeonliness is because you need to get laid.  Have you taken a vow of chastity?

Rachel in Bridesburg


Is that an offer, Rach?  If so, what’re you wearing?  No, actually, The Curmudgeon hasn’t taken a vow, but it turns out that you can have the chastity without any vows.

The Curmudgeon

*            *            *


You liberals are ruining our country – you and your Kenya-born socialist President.  Why don’t you go back to where you came from if you don’t like it here.



You mean go back to…Philadelphia?

The Curmudgeon

*            *            *


 I think you’re an elitist.  You make fun of popular music and popular television and you flout your education.  If people like something, it seems like you automatically have something nasty to say about it.  I’m about fed up.


 Dearest Priscilla,

First of all, I think you mean “flaunt,” not “flout.”  Second, you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition.

The Curmudgeon



 Okay, Poindexter, I’m about fed up, you jackass.



 That’s much better.

 The Curmudgeon

*            *            *

Hey Writer-wannabe,

If you were a half-decent writer you’d be on Huffington Post and not have some piddly little stand-alone blog averaging what, nine readers a day?



The pay’s the same here, darlin’.  And if you can arrange for the two more daily readers The Curmudgeon needs to get his average up to nine a day, he’d greatly appreciate it.

The Curmudgeon

*            *            *


 I’ve been reading this blog for a while now and you don’t seem to have an original thought.  Think that day will ever come?



 In the words of W.H. Auden, “Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.”  Or, as Voltaire wrote, “Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.  The most original writers borrowed from one another.”

 The Curmudgeon

*            *            *

Hey Shlomo,

I notice that you never seem to complain about the economy.  Is that because you’re Jewish and Jews control all the banks?

Billy Bob

Dear B.B.,

If we controlled all the banks, then The Curmudgeon would not have needed to spread out payment for his recent dental work over three months.  If, however, it’s true and we do control the banks, then you’re now pretty much screwed, don’t you think?

The Curmudgeon

*            *            *

Dear Einstein,

How can a bright and engaging guy like you possibly live in a vacuous suburban outpost like Marlton, New Jersey?


Dear Eric,

Um, maybe because even bright and engaging guys can sometimes make truly terrible decisions?

 The Curmudgeon

*            *            *

Dear Curmudgeon,

So you’re single.   Is it because you’re afraid of commitment?


Dear Beth,

The Curmudgeon suspects it’s the curmudgeonliness, not the commitmentliness, that has kept him the eternal/infernal bachelor at the advanced age of fifty-five.  Aside from that, this is a serious question that requires a somewhat complex answer, so let The Curmudgeon start by explaining… well, never mind, Let’s just say The Curmudgeon has no problem with commitment.

 The Curmudgeon

*            *            *

 Dear Worthless,

Since you’re an Ivy Leaguer, Jewish, and a city boy, I’m assuming that when it comes to doing men’s work with your hands, things like plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, fixing a car, things like that, you’re pretty useless.  Have I got that right?

Jake the Plumber


Almost, Jake.  The Curmudgeon has always been pretty good with yard work, he’s excellent with a paint brush or roller, and when he sees comments like yours, he may not be great with his hands but he always knows what to do with twenty percent of one.

The Curmudgeon

*            *            *

Dear Fellow Blogger,

Since you’re a blogger, I imagine you read tons of blogs yourself.  Have any recommendations for your readers?



Actually, as he explained in his very first blog post nearly two years ago, The Curmudgeon came late to blogging because he never understood why anyone would want to read the views of others.  Consequently, he reads no other blogs.  Also, it looks like the daily visitor stats for The Four-Eyed Curmudgeon demonstrate that his original thesis was pretty much correct.

The Curmudgeon

 *            *            *

Hey Ralph Lauren,

You seem real down to earth but I’m guessing you’re a pretty snappy dresser.  True?


Dearest Helen,

The Curmudgeon showed this question to his sister and she’s still laughing.  Actually, he thinks she may have pulled something.

The Curmudgeon

 *            *            *

Hey, Strunk and White,

What’s with all the colons, semi-colons, and dashes, dude?  Can’t you just write in a straightforward manner?



 Speaking parenthetically – The Curmudgeon’s favorite way of speaking – he would have to say this:  he likes colons; he likes semi-colons; and he’s especially fond of dashes, both en- and em- alike.  Think of it this way:  in the Green Acres game of life, The Curmudgeon is Mr. Kimball.

The Curmudgeon


The Curmudgeon Video of the Week: The Resemblance is Uncanny

As she grows older, Jane Fonda resembles her father more and more.  Take a look at this week’s video clip from the HBO series The Newsroom.  Aside from being a great scene, the father-daughter resemblance really shines through, especially starting at around the 3:00 mark and then especially at around 3:33.



Making Midgets Out of Men

People are responsible for a lot of pollution; we get that.  A lot of that pollution, it turns out, is associated with how much we eat.  Eighteen percent of greenhouse gases, for example, come from livestock farming – more than comes from our cars.  Thus, anything that might reduce our consumption of livestock products – you know, beef and fowl – could theoretically reduce greenhouse gases.

There are obvious ways to do this.  We could just eat less meat – eat it less often, eat less of it when we do eat it, find substitutes, and more.  But a recent edition of Harper’s magazine offers an excerpt from a book that offers what one might call a, um, different kind of idea for helping people eat less meat:  grow smaller people.

That’s right:  because if people were smaller they would eat less meat.

And how does the book Human Engineering and Climate Change, by S. Matthew Liao, Anders Dandberg, and Rebecca Roache propose this?  The Curmudgeon presents the authors’ own words.

Human ecological footprints are partly correlated with body size.  As well as needing to eat more, larger people consume more energy in less obvious ways.  For example, a car uses more fuel per mile to carry a heavier person than a lighter person; more fabric is needed to clothe larger people; heavier people wear out shoes, carpets, and furniture more quickly than lighter people; and so on.  A way to reduce ecological footprints, then, would be to reduce size.  There are several ways by which we could reduce adult height in humans.  While genetic modifications to control height are likely to be quite complex and beyond our current capacities, it nevertheless seems possible now to use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to select for shorter children.  Another method of influencing height is to use hormone treatment either to affect somatotropin levels or to trigger the closing of the epiphyseal plate earlier than normal (this sometimes occurs accidentally through Vitamin A overdoses).  A more speculative and controversial way of reducing adult height is to reduce birth weight.  Drugs or nutrients that either reduce the expression of paternally imprinted genes or increase the expression of maternally imprinted genes could potentially regulate birth weight. 

Unbelievable.  Just…unbelievable.  When The Curmudgeon read this, he had to check the magazine to make sure it wasn’t an April fool’s edition or something like that.  But nope:  these people are serious.


The Tiniest Things Can Spur the Strangest of Memories

Sometimes, old memories come flooding back in the strangest ways.

A while back, The Curmudgeon wrote about channel-surfing one night and hearing a character on a stage, pretending to be an actor, reciting a single line that The Curmudgeon immediately recalled as coming from a Shakespeare play he had last encountered in fifth grade (1967-1968).  He was amazed – amazed! – at how easily the memory returned.

Well, something similar happened recently.

As The Curmudgeon has written, he is a telecommuter:  he works at home.  He generally eats lunch sometime between noon and 12:30 and then retreats to his living room where he reads, often with the television playing in the background

Noon to one o’clock is not a good time to be looking for something to watch on television, and on this particular day, The Curmudgeon tuned to the high end of his cable spectrum and Hawaii Five-0 (he will have some choice observations about Hawaii Five-O and other such fare in the near future).  He rarely enjoys it, but it passes the time.

The station could not have been on for more than ten seconds when The Curmudgeon noticed the background music playing in the episode – and he knew the episode right away.  In the series, the later-to-be-highly-regarded actor Hume Cronyn played a gentlemanly thief who always left, as his calling card, one of the orange or yellow cards from a Monopoly set, hence the name he was known as by McGarrett and crew:  “The Monopoly Thief.”  Unlike most of the series’ serious, straightforward, almost grim episodes, the two episodes featuring Cronyn were humorous and charming, and someone associated with the program clearly understood how these episodes were different from the usual fare and took pains to commission a distinctive musical score to complement similarly distinctive episodes.

Now, more than forty years later – a quick trip to the wonderful imdb web site revealed that the Monopoly Thief episodes aired in 1970 and 1971 – The Curmudgeon was able to name that tune, before Cronyn even appeared on the screen, after about eight or ten notes.

Forty years and eight or ten notes.


Book ‘em, Danno!

“Persistently Dangerous”

The Curmudgeon didn’t exactly grow up in the ‘hood, but lest readers think he’s just another suburban softie, this news is just in:

The Philadelphia public high school The Curmudgeon attended, Abraham Lincoln, was recently cited by the Pennsylvania Department of Education as one of two schools in the city – and entire state – to be declared “persistently dangerous.”

The ranking is based on the number of violent crimes reported at the school.

When a school in Pennsylvania is labeled persistently dangerous, parents have an automatic right, no questions asked, to arrange a transfer for their child to a safer school.

So before anyone gets any ideas about messin’ with The Curmudgeon…