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PJMcK's Journal
PJMcK's Journal
December 16, 2017

A related joke from astrophysicist, Lawrence Krauss

A physicist, an engineer and a psychologist are called in as consultants to a dairy farm whose production has been below par. Each is given time to inspect the details of the operation before making a report.

The first to be called is the engineer, who states, "The size of the stalls for the cattle should be decreased. Efficiency could be improved if the cows were more closely packed, with a net allotment of 275 cubic feet per cow. Also, the diameter of the milking tubes should be increased by 4 percent to allow for a greater average flow rate during the milking periods."

The next to report is the psychologist, who proposes, "The inside of the barn should be painted green. This is a more mellow color than brown and should help induce greater milk flow. Also, more trees should be planted in the fields to add diversity to the scenery for the cattle during grazing, to reduce boredom."

Finally, the physicist is called upon. He asks for a blackboard and then draws a circle. He begins: "Assume the cow is a sphere....”

Pretty funny if you get it. Otherwise, not so much.

By the way, the second picture looks just like a fat cat I used to belong to.
November 29, 2017

Evangelicals get their religion from their politics

Mr. Rothenberg's point is directly spot-on.

The ways that many churches influence politics in America are many. The methods range the spectrum of American politics. On the Democratic side, churches have often been the focal point for Get-Out-The-Vote and registration activities. Sometimes these churches will use Jesus' teachings to make observations about current events.

On the Republican side, however, religion has been weaponized and bastardized so that the behaviors accepted by those adherents have little relation to the lessons Jesus taught. The perfect example of this weaponization is their use of Bible passages to support their political and social views: they use Old Testament verses to support their restrictive views even though they contradict what Jesus said in the New Testament. One example of this is the Right's attack on homosexuality where they quote Old Testament laws condemning it while never acknowledging that Jesus never said a word about the subject. Another example is when Jesus had mercy on a woman accused of adultery and prevented the crowd from stoning her to death. Today's rightwing Christians would stone her but forgive the man with whom she had the affair. Incidentally, isn't it curious that Jesus never said a word about the man in that story?

The political use of the pulpit by rightwing churches is an abomination to our political system. It has allowed bigotry, hatred and greed to dominate their world-views and justify wholly un-American values. As an atheist and an American, I find the Right's use of religion to be deplorable.

November 17, 2017

Something to keep in mind about Comedy

Comedy is extremely difficult to execute well. Humor is ill-defined and its parameters are constantly changing. Additionally, in order to break through as a performer, comedians have to push the edges of what they think is funny in order to create a unique brand.

This creative search can often produce great comedy. It can also backfire spectacularly. As Steve Martin said, "Comedy is not pretty."

Several weeks after the 9/11 attacks, the Friars' Club in New York City decided to go ahead with their planned roast of Hugh Hefner. The evening was polite as the city and the country were still in shock from the terrorism. When Gilbert Gottfried took to the podium, however, he told a joke about his difficulty in flying post-9/11 and how his plane had made an unscheduled stop at the 104th floor of the Empire State Building. The audience started to boo him and someone yelled out, "Too soon!" The joke had crashed disastrously and Gottfried was suddenly destroying the evening. Amazingly, he rallied by dropping his original routine and switching to his rendition of "The Aristocrats," a joke so filthy that Frank Rich called it the dirtiest joke of all time. The audience went wild with their enthusiastic response.

My point is that comedians don't know if they're writing funny stuff until it's in front of an audience. Go to any stand-up comedy club and watch the performer trying out their new material. Much of the writing will be funny but some of it will clunk to the floor.

Senator Franken pointed out that what he conceived would be funny, wasn't and he apologized. Certainly, the totality of his work in public life should bear witness to his character and fitness for his office.

October 16, 2017

Your last sentence is sad but funny

Americans have been getting more and more ignorant about our civics for years. It is eroding our republic. Distrust of our governments has been stoked by Republicans' decades-long assault on the structures of our nation. In our schools, very little time is spent teaching the civics of the U.S. and how they work. The complexity and intricacies of our governments are profound yet Americans don't make the effort to comprehend them.

We see the examples of this ignorance nearly every day. The misunderstandings of the Bill of Rights and the other Constitutional Amendments has been glaringly highlighted in the recent disputes about NFL players' free speech rights. Trump's ignorance about the Founding Documents, the Rule of Law and the mechanics of government exemplifies how little too many Americans know about the philosophical and practical structures of the U.S. It's been demonstrated many times that, in general, voters really don't know very much about the candidates and the issues they cast ballots for.

Trump thought being president would be very different than what it is. He wants to be dictator so he could, in fact, fire the Speaker of The House.

Trump is an idiot but it frightens me that so are so many of our fellow citizens.

September 27, 2017

The Great American Experiment

Is it possible that the experiment put in motion by the Founding Fathers is a failure? Do our present circumstances represent the end of our representative government?

The polarization of our citizenry cannot be bridged by any of the people in our governments. The battle lines are deep and darkly drawn and it is not going to change. So many of our government officials are corrupt and we are led by some of the most incompetent people in the world.

The racial issues that have erupted with Trump have been with us all along. The efforts of the Civil Rights Era seem to have been ineffectual in redirecting our society. The slow destruction of our public education systems has produced an incurious and ignorant society. The greed of capitalism has caused our people to become selfish and self-important.

I'm distressed by what I see and what it augers for our once-great country.

August 4, 2017

Hey, Alisyn Camerota!

Fuck you!

First, you're on cable TV. Anything goes. It is not broadcast television so there are no FCC regulations on speech.

Second, you saw President Fox's videos taunting Trump. That's exactly why you and your producers put him on the air.

Third, how dare you suggest that you would censor free speech? Without that Constitutional guarantee, you and your network would be out of business.

Besides, why would you bleep the word "fuck" anyway? Where is the offense? The real offense is that your network will allow Republicans to spout blatant falsehoods and in most cases, your crew doesn't push back with facts. That is far more obnoxious, nefarious and dangerous than a four-letter word that gets used daily by so many people of all ages.

Lastly, Alisyn, fuck off because you thought it was funny, too.

July 24, 2017

Posts and commentaries about Hillary Clinton are a waste of time!

Mrs. Clinton does not hold any lever of power. She is not involved in anything to do with our government. There is nothing she can do to alter our nation's political trajectory. Rightly, wrongly or otherwise, she lost the election. Do ya'll remember that night?

Seriously, the Democratic Party will move forward. We have to. The rear-view window/navel gazing is a waste of time. While there are lessons to be learned, aren't most of them quite obvious?

Please, let's be progressive.

Thanks for reading.

April 26, 2017

Words have meanings

My dictionary is nearly six inches thick with thousands of words and their definitions. The Guardian article articulates most of the reasons we have language. In order to communicate and cooperate as a civilization, we have to agree on the meanings of words or we're only making noises at one another. I mean, fundamentally, if you say the grass is green while I insist that it's purple, we'll never be able to effectively discuss the grass.

Donald Trump abuses language every time he speaks. If you want to give yourself a headache, try reading the transcript of his interview with the Associated Press. Nearly the entire interview is gibberish. I cannot parse a single sentence so I have no real idea what he was talking about. His thought process is unintelligible as he veers all over the place.

This is a short quote from Kathleen Parker's column today:

The disconnect between the witty and the witless was that Trump fans took him seriously, not literally, while the media — silly gooses — took him literally but not seriously — as many have mentioned.

This is a clever observation, but it’s ludicrous to suggest that reporters shouldn’t take literally a president’s or candidate’s words. Certainly other nations and leaders do.

I added the emphasis and the rest can be found here:


My point is that words have meanings and unless it's very clear that the president is joking, then his words must be taken literally. That job doesn't allow for ambiguity in communication. That path leads to confusion and danger.

I don't know why that is so hard to understand. After all, grass is green.
April 25, 2017

You're welcome

When I was in graduate school at the Manhattan School of Music, one of my composition teachers was the maestro's music associate and he arranged for me to work with them for about 6 months. It was an awesome and heady experience. He was an incredible genius and his personal life was as rich as his professional work.

In addition to the musical chores he gave me, I was invited to many events each of which were unique in their own way. One performance he gave was with the NY Philharmonic and he conducted the Brahms Third Symphony paired with his own Third Symphony, "The Kaddish," which happens to be my personal favorite of all his music. He conducted the entire program from memory!

Bernstein had a large apartment at the Dakota in NYC and when John Lennon was murdered, the maestro held the wake at his place and that was an evening I'll never forget! The list of celebrities who attended was amazing. Lauren Bacall was there and had just cracked a bone in her foot performing in Kander & Ebb's Broadway show, "Woman of the Year." Earlier, I had met her at Bernstein's birthday bash and she was sitting in the breakfast nook with her foot up on a chair. When she saw me, she called over to me, "Darling, come keep me company and entertain me." Mind-blowing stuff for a 22 year old!

Another time, at his estate in Fairfield, Connecticut, I was invited for dinner, (my parent's lived in nearby Westport). The other guests included Rudolph Nureyev, Franco Zeffirelli and Stephen Sondheim (who I would later represent as a music publisher). We ate dinner on the screen porch sitting with TV trays as we watched "The Naked Civil Servant" which is about the writer/raconteur, Quentin Crisp. Wild!

One example of his brilliance happened some years later. On the occasion of his 70th birthday, the NY Times offered him a space on the Op-Ed page of the Sunday edition. He could have written anything so he wrote a poem! What a multi-talented man.

The one event that bummed me out was a political fund-raiser for Senator Ted Kennedy who was challenging President Carter in the 1980 Democratic primary. Given Bernstein's long relationship with the Kennedy family, his support wasn't surprising but Kennedy's long-shot challenge harmed the president's reelection and we know how that turned out.

Nonetheless, the opportunity to work for him was tremendous and shaped much of my musical thinking and aesthetics. (Note my sig line!)

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: New York City
Home country: USA
Current location: Catskill Mountains
Member since: Mon Jun 5, 2006, 05:16 PM
Number of posts: 22,239

About PJMcK

Lifelong Democrat
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