Elon - gating
We begin with a random philosophical Gene Pool Gene Poll:
Okay, As Elon Musk was visiting Israel, I visited TwitterX, and read the feed allotted to me in my current and future non-person state — nothing from followers, just the things TwitterX chose to dole out to me — and about three-fifths of it was people gushing over Elon Musk, including this, from a user called @Meldy-Sue: “I think history will look back and see Elon Musk as one of the greatest men who ever lived.” Juanita Broaddrick, the famously anti-vaxx Trump enthusiast, offered Musk “profound respect.”
The subject of these encomiums was a quote Musk gave in an interview with CNBC when he was asked about how he felt about losing revenue over his controversial tweets, and he paused for a full, dramatic 15 seconds before summoning a quote from The Princess Bride, in which Inigo Montoya tells the six-fingered murderer of his father that he was going to kill him, regardless of what financial inducements the murderer offered to spare his life. Musk’s point: Money doesn’t matter, it’s about principle. The amazing thing is that this interview was from May 16, 2023. Somehow it just surfaced on TwitterX in wild abandon … yesterday.
So I guess that’s why Musk was doing his tour of shame and naked repentance in Israel: Because he didn’t care that he was losing hundreds of millions of bucks, and felt no need to lamely try to rehabilitate his image as a Nazi.
The next part of the intro is based on an insight I had at one in the morning.
There's a good reason that Joe Biden -- objectively, a decent man trying to do his best, and largely succeeding -- is not, in most presidential preference polls, thoroughly spanking Donald Trump, who is, objectively, a grotesque, self-worshiping, daughter-lusting, congenitally lying, democracy-demolishing, treasonous bloated monstrosity.
I believe the reason is, at least in large measure, because of a tried and true and trusted principle of journalism — and as a journalist, I am professionally required to officially get behind the principle. It is called the "on the other hand" phenomenon of drawing false equivalencies. I have described it, in the past, as the “On the other hand, Mr. Hitler contends...” philosophy.
For the media, this is a knee-jerk reaction, and I emphasize the “jerk” part. We are very good at it. Here is how it works.
Number 1: Virtually all journalists despise Donald Trump; there is a simple reason for this. Most in the media covering politics are smart and well informed, whatever our political leanings may be, and Donald Trump is patently reprehensible — shockingly ignorant, unaccountably narcissistic, vindictive, cruel, and whatnot. BUT the media is terrified of being accused of being “biased.” This is built into our genetic structure, assembled as amino acids back in the days when the two parties were reasonable, understandable ideological combatants and not divided into the maniacs and the reasonably sane.
So it is our natural instinct to try to balance criticism, even when it creates absurdist comparisons. Example: If we wanted to write the true fact that Donald Trump is as old as dirt and also fat, we would simultaneously have to point out, often in the same sentence, that Biden is older than dirt’s grandpa, and, while not fat, has, like, a fat uncle named Steve.
Actually, there is no Number Two, other than Trump himself. This “on the other hand” phenomenon delivered Donald Trump to the country in 2016 by virtue of the media’s gullibility in reporting on Hillary Clinton’s harmless emails, in order to appear to counterbalance all the grotesqueries of the Trump campaign.
Also, “Solyndra.” Remember Solyndra? Neither do I, really, but I looked it up as a refresher. It was an alternative energy company that got some government backing from the Obama administration, and then went bankrupt. It was the biggest scandal in the world, written about obsessively as a balancing fact, until after the election cycle, when it wasn’t so big anymore on account of the fact that several investigations proved there was no scandal there, and that Solyndra failed not because of graft or incompetence but because of competition from China. It was a failed investment and nothing more.
I particularly love the bogus argument that Biden is intellectually impaired, which the media flogs as ballast against the online unhinged impotent ravings of Donald Trump. Meanwhile, Compared to George W. Bush, Biden is Demosthenes. Check out this old clip of Frank Caliendo imitating Bush. I have queued up the key moment for you.
Also, here is a perfect example of the bullshit that Biden must endure from the media.
In the class of 1968 at the Bronx High School of Science, most of the kids went on to lucrative productive meaningful careers, but, as I recall, only two of us became aat least somewhat famous. There was me and Paul Guzman, who graduated and became Pablo Guzman, a locally renowned TV street reporter for CBS in New York.
I knew Paul a bit in high school. I can’t remember why, but at some point we had a minor disagreement and I called him an “asshole.” He looked hurt, and responded that he would never think of me in such crude terms. He said that he would call me a “pendejo.”
Yeah, it means “asshole” in street Spanish.
Pablo Guzman died yesterday at 73. He was eulogized online by the mayor of New York. Now, there’s only mildly famous me from the class. And about 600 doctors and nuclear physicists.
Truer words were never spake:
“Writing, writhing — what’s the difference?” — Rachel Manteuffel
Now send in questions and observations to be answered in real time.
Okay, here we go. What follows is the start of our real-time Question and Answer and Observation segment. Reminder: If you are reading this in real time, keep refreshing the screen to see the latest. Many of the entries are in response to my Weekend Gene Pool call for things that you did that seemed like a good idea at the time, but proved not to be.
Two examples from my life: When I was heading off to college, my ma advised me not to room with a friend of mine named Doug. She called him “Drug.” I did not heed the advice. Twenty years later he called me from a 12-step program to confess that he had stolen my camera and sold it to pay for a bottle of Darvon.
Also, my son-in law, Julien, as a very young man, once decided that a good way to save time was to descend stairs by avoiding the actual steps, leaping straight from one landing to the next. He broke his ankle, of course.
Q: Hi. This is Tom Witte. Regarding decisions that turned out to be not as smart as we thought: One time I tried to add myself to the Wikipedia page for aptonyms, citing my Style Invitational fame. It got deleted and now I’m banned from editing Wikipedia for life or something.
A: Hey, Tom. Many years ago, for a column, I added weird stuff to my Wiki page, just to see what would happen. Specifically, it was this:
At the age of 15, playing for the Bronx High School of Science Fighting Cowlicks, Weingarten once kicked a field goal of 68 yards, a distance still unequaled at any level of competition. It was his first time on a football field, and, oddly, he never played the game again.
In the late 1970s, he attained brief, unwanted notoriety when two women with whom he'd been romantically involved-- singer-songwriter Emmylou Harris and Russian gymnast Olga Korbut -- got into a knife fight over him in a Chicago waterfront bar. No charges were filed.
Weingarten, who is just 5-feet-10- inches tall, has size 19 feet.
According to The Guinness Book of World Records, on July 17, 1979, Weingarten became the first Jewish-American to consume a pastrami sandwich with mayonnaise on raisin bread. He reportedly performed a similar feat in 1981, when he ate an onion bagel with peanut butter. This was not certified by the Guinness Book, and its authenticity remains in doubt.
In the spring of 1990, Weingarten was awarded the Croix de Guerre by French President Francois Mitterrand for unspecified diplomatic services to the Republic during the Cold War. He has repeatedly declined to address this in his columns.
In 1984 and again in 1986, Weingarten competed in the iditarod, each time assembling a team of 15 mongrel dogs rescued from local shelters, and one very large house cat. He finished third and sixth, respectively.
Unlike you, Tom, Wiki did not banish me. They did worse. They added to my Wiki page – it is still there – that I once did this and was reprimanded and that the changes were peremptorily rescinded, or, as Wiki stiffly noted “the edits were reverted.”
TIMELY TIP: If you’re reading this right now, on an email: Click here to get to my webpage, then click on the top headline (In this case, “Elon-gated… ” for the full column, and comments, and real-time questions and answers. And you can refresh and see new questions and answers that appear as I regularly update the post from about noon to roughly 1 p.m. ET today.
If you are not already a subscriber but enjoy The Gene Pool, you may also send me a small amount of money. ($4.15 a month.) Why? To be able to submit entries to the Invitational, to be able to comment, to be a good guy or gal, to get Right with God. You do it here:
Q: Can you explain why people feel it is antisemitic to be critical of Israel's actions? I am finding it a real barrier to discourse.
A: I cannot so explain. Nor can I understand why so many people fail to distinguish the difference between “Hamas” and “Palestinians.”
Q: Dumb thing: The gutter over the garage needed painting. Rather than mess with a brush and paint can, I chose to use cans of spray paint to make the job go faster. Smart idea. However, leaving the garage door open, with a new car parked inside, and a gentle breeze blowing, was not so smart. $$$ to have the tiny speckles removed.
A: I would have just left them on the car. My cars look like crap, anyway. Mighta given it some pizzazz.
(FYI, autocorrect changed “pizzazz” to “pizzas” three times.)
Q: Regarding your poll from yesterday regarding crabs and God, , for the munificent God crowd, I'd add that the color change ⅓ the way up the Washington Monument is the high water mark from Noah's flood!
A: On a related matter, I believe it was Sarah Silverman who once wondered why penises have farmer’s tans.
Q: Another joke. Two guys are sitting at a bar watching the 11:00 news. The lead story, with film, is a guy on top of building getting ready to jump. The first guy says to the second, "I'll bet you $20 he jumps." The second guy takes him up on it. Sure enough, the guy on TV jumps. The second guy starts to pay off and the first guy says, "No, I can't take your money, I saw it on the 6:00 news." The second guy says, "so did I, but I didn't think he'd do it again." Tom Logan, Sterling VA
A: Thank you.
Q: You wrote about truck nuts! So that’s what they are! All along, I’ve thought they were punching bags for squirrels.
A: They serve that function, too.
Q: Hi Gene, fun story from me, Chris Doyle. One time I thought it would be a good idea to make Sprite battered fish. Since beer battered fish is a thing, why not Sprite battered? It caught fire in the oven and I had to use a fire extinguisher to put it out. Then I figured, oh hey, it looks fine, let’s eat it for dinner. I threw up all night and almost went to the hospital. Bad ideas all around.
A: Hey, Chris. Good story. I get the fire: Sprite is sweet. But why did it make you sick? I checked this out. THERE IS SUCH A THING AS SPRITE BATTER. I am thinking your fish was rotten.
Addendum: Ah, I now see. You sprayed the fish themselves with a fire extinguisher???? Man, you deserved that bellyache.
Q: Did you ever see Jackass, the Movie? The first one? On a dare, I tried to duplicate the stunt of snorting wasabi through a straw at a sushi bar. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Did you know it can make you firehose-vomit … immediately? On a sushi bar?
Q: In the early 1990s I had an opportunity to buy a Trabi – a “Trabant,” manufactured in East Germany. I thought it would be cool to own something that exotic. Oh, man. I wound up just abandoning it. Here is a summary of the Trabi, by Pulitzer prizewinning car reviewer Dan Neil:
This is the car that gave Communism a bad name. Powered by a two-stroke pollution generator that maxed out at an ear-splitting 18 hp, the Trabant was a hollow lie of a car constructed of recycled worthlessness (actually, the body was made of a fiberglass-like Duroplast, reinforced with recycled fibers like cotton and wood). A virtual antique when it was designed in the 1950s, the Trabant was East Germany’s answer to the VW Beetle — a “people’s car,” as if the people didn’t have enough to worry about. Trabants smoked like an Iraqi oil fire, when they ran at all, and often lacked even the most basic of amenities, like brake lights or turn signals. But history has been kind to the Trabi. Thousands of East Germans drove their Trabants over the border when the Wall fell, which made it a kind of automotive liberator. Once across the border, the none-too-sentimental Ostdeutschlanders immediately abandoned their cars. Ich bin Junk!
A: I got several car anecdotes, from regretful people who bought Pontiac Astres or Chevy Vegas in the 1970s. At least they weren’t Trabants.
Q: Buying a used 1987 Fiat X 1/9 seemed like a good idea during college. I could learn to drive stick, and it would cost only $1,500. I did learn to drive a manual transmission, but only after spending several thousand dollars fixing the Fiat. (Side note: almost every mechanic knows the joke that FIAT stands for Fix It Again, Tony.)
Still had some fun times in that car, which allows you to put the targa roof under the hood (it's a mid-engine vehicle) and enjoy life in a convertible. It was also so low to the ground--and this was a selling point my college classmate/car seller gleefully showed me during a test drive--that you could drive it UNDER A PARKING LOT BARRIER ARM/GATE. Yes, the parking arm bumped a bit against the roof, but, sure enough, we made it into and out of a campus lot without paying.
In the end, the car proved to be more trouble than it was worth. Just too many repair costs. I ended up selling it to a Washington Post reporter who wanted a fun weekend car. Months later, I got an official notice in the mail saying "your car has been abandoned on a public street." I had to prove via paperwork that I no longer owned the vehicle and, thus, was no longer responsible for it. But that official notice did remind me of what the seller's mom said when I bought it: "That car is the devil." Years later, I certainly keep my ear out for those words when buying a car.
A: You did great. No Trabi.
Q: If I say "my ex-wife" as my “seemed good at the time,” my only question is, is this the most frequent entry?
A: My ex-husband is leading by a bit.
By the way, I once bought a Nehru jacket.
Q: Trying to be nice, I congratulated a coworker on her pregnancy, which was visible. I think you know where this story went.
A: I know of a similar case. The guy compounded the error by continually insisting he COULDN’T be wrong.
Q: I sorta regret drinking that bottle of cranberry juice that might or might not have been my partial bottle from earlier, just because I was thirsty.
In a related note, my friend and colleague might regret grabbing the nearest water-tight container to capture coolant from the laser water-chiller he was working on, which he put into a nearly empty cranberry juice bottle.
On the other hand, it has given me an ever-green anecdote to tell folks, and has gifted me with the knowledge of how to treat antifreeze poisoning, in case that should ever come up again.
A: Thank you.
Q: DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT TRYING THIS AT HOME
When my boys were little, I was always the fun mom in the neighborhood (or maybe insane would be more appropriate). Oh sure, all you little munchkins, come over to my house. We'll make candy canes (you can insert anything here) from scratch.
The recipe stated (or maybe it was a warning) that making candy canes from scratch requires time and energy, but the endeavor is worthwhile because everyone will be amazed and delighted.
So there, gathered around my large kitchen island, were five little faces with wide eyes filled with excitement. Everyone had their turn at measuring sugar, corn syrup, water, peppermint flavoring and red food coloring. Only a few spills, but so far, so good.
I found that the real challenge came with the boiling and heating process. Apparently, ingredients for candy must be kept at a perfect temperature to magically stretch and twist the sugary ropes into red and white canes. Ours wasn’t even close.
As we started pulling and stretching the ropey things, they shattered and hurled like tiny missiles where they stuck like Super Glue to the kids’ hair, clothing, the cabinet doors, the walls and most other surfaces in my kitchen. The mom in me panicked thinking someone could lose an eye like this while the kiddos were dodging and laughing hysterically. They thought it was the most fun they'd had since convincing one of my boys to stuff tiny rocks in his ears.
My sister has always been the candy maker in the family. Somehow that skill bypassed me. After all this fun, I said never again. I’ll go to a store, like every other sane person, where I can buy a dozen candy canes in any color of the rainbow for a dollar or two.
A: I once destroyed a stove by trying to cook a duck in it. Ducks have a lot of fat, and the whole thing caught fire. Your story is way better, Peggy.
Q: Two of the best put-downs have been delivered to me this week: one sweet young thing asked me if I needed the large-print version of the book I was buying. Another anonymous internet contact said she found me attractive, because sincerity not looks are most important to her. I’m not even in the market. Zing! In response, “Time is the fire that consumes us all.” And this joke: Q: What is this? 10-9-8-7-6…etc. A: It’s Bo Derek, aging…
A: Thank you for all of that. My best put-down from a woman was from a young coworker many years ago. Her name was Avra Wing. When she came into work, I said, just to be an arsehole, “And how’s my sweet little thing today?” And she said, “I don’t know. How is it?”
Q: I had a punchline that got me off on the wrong foot with my new boss. Mike (not his name) was involved in a big project that left little opportunity for us to get to know each other. One Sunday my family came down with violent salmonella poisoning. We were ill for a couple of days. When I finally recovered enough to return to work I went to Mike’s office to explain my absence. He was sitting at his desk having coffee and danish. Mike enjoyed my tale of woe. The more revolting the specifics, the more he chuckled. I didn’t mind. We were bonding. Then he glanced at his watch, which I took as a cue to wrap it up. So I concluded by saying that I had learned a valuable lesson from my ordeal.
"What was that?” he said.
"I learned that you can shit and barf at the same time.”
Mike spewed coffee all down the front of his shirt. “Goddammit, Jon! Goddammit! You fucking piece of shit! I’ve got a fucking branch meeting in ten minutes! Jesus fucking Christ!” With that he stomped off to the men’s room. So my boffo ending was a debacle. On the other hand, I had never seen a spit take in real life, just on TV. Life imitates art! — Jonathan Paul
A: Made me laugh, Jonathan.
We’re going to end on this one. I will see you all tomorrow in the Invitational Gene Pool, in which Jonathan is a long-time star. Please keep sending in questions /observations here, and I will attend to them tomorrow.
I won’t ask for money this time.
Oh, wait. I will.