Alexander Graham Bell was not trying to invent the telephone when he did just that. What he was trying to do, at first, was make a better telegraph. It was the 1870s, and the telegraph was 30 years old — about as old as cellphones are now. Like cellphones, the telegraph had become enormously popular, so popular that messages backed up at telegraph offices, waiting to be sent. The problem had to be solved; there was no point in telegraphing a message from Washington to Baltimore if it took three days for operators to get around to tapping out your message. You could walk it there in two.
Four years ago, the city of Los Angeles banned the use of bullhooks, a tool that circuses use to train and control elephants, which meant that Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey circuses no longer felt they could bring elephants to the city. Soon the state of California followed suit, which prompted a spokesman for the circus to note that the circus was not the circus without elephants. His concern was not without merit.
The snarky article profiling Stephanie Winston Wolkoff’s association with the Trump transition team appears on the front page of the NYTimes Style section on Jan 19th It skewers Ms Wolkoff’s very expensive clothing, her upbringing in the Catskills when she had a more Jewish name than Winston and forebears who were chicken farmers, her un-classy education at Fordham and Loyola and most obviously, her chutzpah in her choice of friend and political bedfellow. This comes to you from the poisoned-pen of Jacob Bernstein, son of journalistic and movie royalty - Carl Bernstein and Nora Ephron - grandson of noted screenwriters Phoebe and Henry Ephron, young man of privilege whose divorced parents respectively lived at a townhouse on East 74th street between Madison and Fifth and the legendary Apthorp on the fashionable west side. Despite this affluent lifestyle and gifted genetic endowment, young Jacob attended Vassar College, a no-more prestigious school for boys than the choices of young Stephanie who traced her endowments to hardworking farmers instead of Hollywood glitterati with serious alcohol afflictions. Though the Times pretends to care about such issues as immigrants and nepotism - those don’t apply to Jewish snobs like Bernstein or the Sulzberger family. Jacob’s outstanding contribution to the Times so far is his launching of the “What I Love” column for the Real Estate section, in which celebrities discuss their most essential possessions and how they like to spend Sundays. Apparently it’s not offensive to advertise exorbitantly priced clothing and accessories (as the Times does), nor to wear an expensive handbag as long as you’re not on the Trump team. (See Anna Wintour of the Hillary team along with all the other super-rich sore losers who are immune from such ad-hominem attacks).
While a lot of white-hot issues will be hammered on in the coming weeks during U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for the incoming administration’s Cabinet secretaries, no topic will generate more sparks than Russia.
Am I the only one who was taken aback at our president’s gaffe? There were Michelle, Malia and Michelle’s mother Marian Robinson seated together wiping their tears as Barack Obama proceeded to laud the women in his life at his farewell speech. First came his wife to whom he offered a beautiful tribute to her performance as First Lady, as mother to their children and as best friend to him. Then came Malia who, along with her absent younger sister Sascha, also was treated to superlative praise for growing up so perfectly in a difficult, hothouse environment. And then the camera briefly panned to Mrs. Robinson, First Grandmother of the United States (FGOTUS), the 79 year old mother-in-law of our president and the woman who relocated to the White House in order to facilitate the first couple’s ability to raise their young children while still performing the myriad duties their jobs entail. Awkward moment as the camera quickly moved away and no presidential gratitude was expressed at that public finale.
Up until this morning, Kellyanne Conway seemed to be the coolest head advising Donald Trump and re-interpreting him for public consumption. No matter which t.v. channel she appeared on, she had that relaxed smile and even-toned voice that seemed to indicate moderation above all. She reminded us of how he modified some of his rashest statements to indicate that once a winner, he was after all, capable of self-reflection. We began to believe that he was sincere in his desire to bring Americans together after a blistering and polarizing campaign.
No courage was needed for Meryl Streep to stand before an audience of like-minded people to point her finger and raise her voice against the known object of their mutual disdain. That was easy. Here’s what would have taken some guts: condemning the role that the entertainment industry plays in glamorizing and disseminating wholesale violence on-screen, in video games, on television, in music and online. Particularly affected are the black youth who suffer infinitely more from the criminality of their brethren than from the purported racism of our men in blue. We’re all aware of the mind-boggling statistic of more than 750 murders in Chicago, Obama’s city of choice, this past year. Though many reasons for this may be offered and analyzed, the fact remains that extreme violence is now an available aphrodisiac 24/7 and if you have ever sat in a multiplex where one of these movies is playing, you don’t need to read here what the audience response is.
Lyrica, Xeljanz, Latuda, Brilinta, Entyvio, Vedolizumab, Toujeo, Prevagen, Xarelto - these are but a sampling of the words I learned while watching television news between 6 and 7:30 a.m. Some, like Lyrica or Brilinta might be new baby names for girls; some might belong to bellicose monsters - Vedolizumab and Xarelto; others have a tentative connotation - prevagen. All carry warnings of severe side effects, some including possible death, for which final effect seems a more fitting adjective. I wondered who names these drugs and whether that is a discrete profession or the product of a staff party with too much alcohol. Are these names with their strange letter combinations the substitute for the unreadable handwriting all doctors previously used to exclude us from their special knowledge? In our digital-happy world where prescriptions must be wired instead of written by the doctor, we may soon no longer need the pharmacists who were trained to decipher those heiroglyphics. One can only wonder at how frequently the wrong medication was previously procured and whether or not that made any difference.
One of the best known holiday songs is the tune “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” first sung by Bing Crosby in 1943. As a child, my grandmother told me the song was for the troops fighting overseas during World War II.