The first time I accessed Facebook was early 2011, a year before the 2012 Presidential election went into a full-tilt boogie. I had never been on a social media site though I’d heard of MySpace. My impression was it was where 12-year-olds went to pretend they were 16. (I was right.)

Initially, was surprised by Facebook. It was easy to use. I could connect with almost anyone. Anywhere. That warm fuzzy feeling evaporated faster than morning mist on the river. Facebook was very soon the most angry place on earth.

Everyone is pissed off about something, frequently for no logical reason. So much of the stuff on it is based on opinions which are based on rumor and some kind of bizarre obsession — nonsense or just plain scary.

Facts? We don’t need no stinking facts! This is Facebook! MY opinion is as good as anyone else’s (no, it isn’t). It seemed as if everyone was posting angry diatribes. From the left, right, middle and far ends of the universe, everyone had something to shout about. Whoa, I thought to myself. This could get ugly (I was right … it did).

Then I discovered games. I connected with kids (now grandparents) with whom I went to grade school or college. People I wanted to reconnect with. Then, with people I had hoped to never to hear from. The good, the bad and the wholly unattractive, all in one basket. Whoopee.

I began backing away as fast as I could. The games were cool, or some of them were. But the percentage of enraged people, illiterates, the mentally unbalanced, the lunatic fringe — all posting whatever was on their minds (perhaps “minds” is too strong a word) was too much for me. The temperature on Facebook was permanently in the red zone.

I continued to play games, which is why so many friends are those with whom I connected because we were playing the same game. The remaining 5% are real live people, some of whom I actually know. Personally. Among these, some prefer communicating via Facebook rather than email, telephone, or in person. To each his/her/their own. Who am I to judge? (Okay, I think it’s weird, but I try not to judge.) (I don’t succeed.)

In the beginning, I got upset when Facebook made blatantly exploitive changes to their site. Then I remembered: I don’t have to go there. I don’t need to post there. If Facebook vanished tomorrow, my world would not crumble.

By then, I’d found WordPress and begun blogging. The more into blogging I got, the less reason I had to visit Facebook … unless I was in the mood for a game. And of course, there is the convenience of using Facebook to publicize my blog. I may not like it, but lots of others do.

The thing is, you can’t completely avoid Facebook. Whether or not you post on it, so many places do — builders and electricians and plumbers and all of that kind of stuff — if you are going to find a local worker, that’s where you’ll end up looking. And that’s where you’ll get recommendations, too.

Facebook is the elephant in the room, the itch you can’t scratch.

The elephant in my (living) room

Moreover, a surprising (to me) number of authors and artists choose Facebook in preference to having their own website. Is it because Facebook offers wide open access and effortless connectivity? It is less demanding than a website. Since almost everyone already has Facebook access, so no one has to forge a new alliance.

Maybe that’s it.

For me, the open access of Facebook is a reason to avoid it. I want a modicum of control over who does what on my site. Others feel differently. Or as Mom used to say: “For everyone, there’s someone.” In this case, something.

Facebook is the something many people choose. It will never be my first choice, but freedom is one of my core values.  And, it’s the American way — or used to be. In the old days. When we lived in the real America.


Scientific studies now exist that defend
Stress as something good which we need to extend
Our productive lives,  as we get on in years.
So perhaps we should fuel, not conquer our fears
And dwell on what is scary in the world today
So we can keep our minds sharp and dotage at bay.

That’s easier today than it was in the past
Thanks to round-the-clock, in your face, varied and vast
News media, that seem to excel at frightening
(But not at their job – informing and enlightening!)

Illustration: Bangor Daily Tribune

Whenever we search for what we used to call “news”,
Major world events and leaders’ well-reasoned views,
The depths of human depravity appear
In bold print before our eyes or loudly in our ear.
We get endless non-reporting, in-depth and detail,
Of the endless ways in which the conscience can derail

A killer with a torture device collection,
A kidnapper with a sex slave ring connection,
A pervert who goes way beyond weird and bizarre,
A psycho who hoards, God knows what, in his car!

The news keeps us knee-deep in sickos and creeps,
Who are out there for real, not just made up for sweeps!
We’ve been programmed to be on our guard all the time
So we don’t end up being a statistic of crime.
Instead of relating with trust and with ease
We assume those we meet have a mental disease.
You’ve made everyone in the country paranoid;
We’ve all got PTSD now, according to Freud!

Then there are reports that are billed as “public service”
Which really just want to make sure that we’re nervous
About things in our house that can kill our pet,
Diseases we never heard of we’re at risk to get,
Some food or drink we give our grandkids every day
That’s been reported to sicken or kill in some way,
The “fluke” accidents that seem to daily kill and maim,
The fear we’ll die with a Darwin Award in our name.
“Petty” you may say – but the message is clear –
Vigilance is a must to live out the year.


Thanks to the media we are also aware
Of all the stupidity and ignorance out there.
Not just IN the world, but running it as well
(Running it into the ground and straight to hell)!
Instead of dealing with the problems we must solve
Leaders argue if man “appeared” or “evolved”.
Rational and civil debate has been hijacked
By arguments whether a fact is, in fact, a fact.
“Discussion” is now defined as “loud, angry yelling”
And there’s little hope of the hostilities quelling.
It feels like we’re devolving back to the cave
Or rapidly digging a species sized grave.
That’s because there are no longer systems in place
To keep PEOPLE from destroying the human race!

It may be true that we won’t lose our edge if the press
Artificially elevates our levels of stress.
But the more we’re exposed to greed and insanity,
Selfishness, prejudice, lying, inanity,
The less we care about our brains getting stronger
And our bodies thriving so we can live longer.

The bombardment of negativity we endure
Has left us conflicted, hopeless and unsure –
Do we really WANT to keep senility at bay?
Or just let our minds slip peacefully away?
Being connected and well-informed these days
Creates angst and despair in so many ways!
We often think,” Why bother getting out of bed?
Long life is a croc! We’d be better off dead”!


A while back, Marilyn wrote a piece using the word chutzpah. This is a word I’ve always badly mangled when I try to say it. It’s just a word, what the heck? That was my take for many years until Robin Williams and Billy Crystal gave me a proper public whupping for butchering the pronunciation of chutzpah.  I don’t try to say it in public anymore. It’s a word. I respect it because it carries its own meanings and images.

These days, people often use words or phrases without understanding their origin or meaning. I hear political aspirants, celebrities, athletes and civic leaders say things that make me scratch my head and run back to my dictionary.  Words!  They can be powerful tools used correctly. They can be dangerous used in ignorance.

I grew up in a home full of books. Including dictionaries. Big ones and pocket dictionaries. My parents insisted on using proper language and crisp diction.  Street slang guaranteed a head slap or a smack. My two brothers and I were warned about using prejudicial clichés. Since my head has never been properly wrapped, I’ve been guilty of violating those warnings because of my warped sense of humor.

Marilyn warns people that I have toys in the attic.  True.  Some of the toys are very old.

A friend and I were trading insults the other day. I snapped at him with, “That’s white of you”.  His smile said everything. Words!  You gotta know who, when, and where to use them.

Way back in olden times, I was 19 years old and worked in a department Store in Hempstead, New York. I was the only goy working in the children’s shoe department. I was waiting on a customer who drove me bonkers. I couldn’t take it anymore and told the parent he was a schmuck.

The manager quietly called me into the stockroom, explained what schmuck meant and asked me never to use it again — even if the customers were jerks. I think he was smiling although reprimanding me.  It was a word I’d often heard used in friendly banter, but I didn’t know its origin or meaning. It was just a word. What was the big deal?  I was 19 and knew everything!  I used big words, “20 dollar” words to impress people. People often complimented me, saying I spoke very well.  I didn’t understand the veiled insult behind many of those compliments.

After all, they were just words.

John Wayne, of all people, once commented on words and ethics.  It was movie dialogue but still reverberates a half century later. In the 1961 film, “The Comancheros,”  Texas Ranger “Big Jake” Cutter (John Wayne) is lecturing his younger sidekick, Monsieur Paul Regret (Stuart Whitman). Regret asks Big Jake to spin a lie to his superiors to alleviate a problem. Big Jake refuses. Regret doesn’t understand, saying they are just “words.”

Big Jake, with that iconic Wayne frown, says softly, “Just words??  Words, MON-soor, are what men live by. You musta had a poor upbringing.”  Regret looks puzzled, not fully grasping the ethical code of this rough and ready Texas Ranger.  It’s a sublime moment and perfect for the young 1960’s when youth was defying the older generation’s moral code.

I recalled the scene years later in an interview with John Wayne. He smiled, shaking his head because he was in the middle of on-going national dissent against the Vietnam War.  Wayne was one of the most visible and vocal “hawks” in the Vietnam controversy. He had been ridiculed by strident protesters at a Harvard University gathering earlier that day.

“Words, dammit,”  Wayne looked at me, angry and sad. “My words! No damn Hollywood script. I have as much right as those damn college kids.”  Wayne was fuming. The Hollywood legend collected himself as I redirected the conversation to my time as a Marine. I had enlisted in 1959, fired up by the “Sands of Iwo Jima.

“Words. Good words,” I said to Wayne who smiled broadly.

Today, words are often tossed around loosely on social media with little regard to truth or the repercussions of ill-advised words. We have a president who uses words without thought in a daily barrage of tweets. Our media is engaged in a daily war of words, ignoring crucial issues facing our nation and world. Those of us of a certain age shake our heads as we watch young people immersed in tweets rather than direct conversation with friends in the same room. Words have become an endangered species.

I remember the good old days when me and friends went face to face with verbal jousts like “Your Mother wears combat boots!”

Words!  I love’em.


I’m not thrilled with news. Any news. I can’t abide right-wing lies based on the opposite of what happened, especially when they are talking about things through which I lived and which I’ve seen. For shear blatant not-even-a-hint-of truth lying, they are the winners. But the left of the aisle crap is only nominally better. They may begin from a hint of truth, but then take some minor thing and blow it up to something gigantic. Put up a headline on it which sounds as if an astounding event occurred. So whatever it was in the beginning, it ends up a lie.

At the root was something real, but the end is nonsense. I would have to be a fool to believe it. At this point, I don’t believe anything.

My personal political allegiances is not news. I don’t need news organizations to approve or disapprove on my behalf. That’s not the point of news.

I want information, data, and facts based on a recognizable reality. I want the news to give me an informed, intelligent, and preferably neutral (or as close as possible) idea of what’s going on. I don’t want overblown headlines about how Trump is about to be impeached. Because he isn’t about to be impeached (yet) and anyone with half a brain knows that. I don’t want shouted headlines about stuff that isn’t happening and will never occur. Nor do I want distorted stories which only make the stuff in which I believe look stupid.

I don’t want right-wing revisions of news that never happened and never will  — or left-wing fairy tales, either.

It’s hard to find believable news from any source. I don’t trust anything from any form of social media. Each has its own version of what they think I want to hear. I don’t want to hear what they think I want to hear. I want to know what happened. What was seen. What was written. Then I will decide what I believe.

In today’s world, is there room for reality?

We’ve been watching a PBS series about World War 1. It was a terrible time. It was also when many of the myths, fables, and lies with which we are now living, began. It was the time when we started thinking we were fighting for democracy, and that somehow, we were “the right country” to defend democracy everywhere. It wasn’t true then. It isn’t true now.

We have been believing those same lies since 1914, the beginning of the breach between our political halves. It was the start of what we see every day, more than 100 years later.

A hundred years of lying.

Wilson could have gotten everything he wanted from Congress including the League of Nations, but refused to accept it because (are you ready?) the “deal” was offered by the wrong party.

Just in case you think the world has changed a lot? The answer is it has changed … but a lot less than you might think and in the worst possible ways.


Avoiding Stress, by Rich Paschall

Recently I attended a talk at work regarding avoiding stress.  We are in a deadline driven business and there can be a good deal of stress, so a talk on dealing with and reducing stress seemed like a good use of my time in a busy day. The speaker was Dr. Scott Cabrera of Higgins Sports and Spinal Rehab.  This caught my interest as I have had a variety of spinal issues and could not help but believe that some of them were caused by stress.

As I expected he had charts and a skeletal figure so he could explain to us about the spine.  He showed how we can often tense up and this is bad for the spine and the nerves connected to it.  We saw how nerves ran from the spine down the arms and legs.  Tension in the back could be the cause of arm and leg difficulty as well as neck and back pain.  Things were laid out in a colorful and clinical manner.  His main piece of advice was something I did not expect.

“Stop watching and listening to the news,” he declared.  “It adds stress to your life and is something outside of your control.”

He went on to ask how many listened to the news on the way to work.  I am certainly one of those.  I figure it is better to get in the morning rather than right before bed.  The good doctor did not agree.  He felt it was the way to start off your day in a bad mood.  Do these short radio broadcasts really give you a look at the news?  They are just tidbits, usually of the most sensational items.  There will certainly be something to upset you as they present a preponderance of bad news.  There is no big picture.  There is no understanding.

This makes the news somewhat irrelevant.  You have not learned anything that will be useful in your day-to-day life.  In fact, these tiny slices of news can be misleading.  You can draw the wrong conclusions based on the most dire pieces of factoids thrown at you in a report lasting less than sixty seconds.  After they have successfully upset you, it is likely to be “Traffic and weather on the 8’s” if you live in a big city.  That can upset you too.

The negative morsels broadcast in the never-ending news business can pile on the chronic stress.  This can result in the release of cortisol which is not just the item that builds belly fat, but it is also reported to have adverse effects on your immune system.  Did you know the news could adversely affect your health?

If you have paid attention to the news in this social media driven era of so-called reporting, you will notice how many people get riled up over tidbits of news. These can be tidbits that are essentially meaningless to the larger story, but enough to provide the “confirmation bias” lurking there for someone.  Many use the news or worse, social media memes, as a way to confirm their point of few, rather than to learn anything.  This turns conversations and social postings into upsetting arguments.  Is this making you happier?


Also helping you to get riled up is the spin put on the news by certain programing.  If you are right of center, you may be watching FOX to help confirm your point of view.  If you are on the other side of the fence, perhaps you can find your tidbit somewhere else.  This chasing down of miniscule pieces inhibits creative thinking.  There is no self interpretation of the news, just more proof from your side that the other side is bad.

Since news is largely about things you can not control, you might be happier if you skip the news altogether.  Consider this carefully.  Is it doing anything more than adding stress to your life?

Many will say it is not possible to live in society without being educated on the issues, but is the news actually educating you on anything?  Does learning how many people were shot today bring you closer to the policy decisions, or lack thereof, of gun control.  Does a late night tweet on a particular country bring you near to understanding the trade issues between our country and another?  There are many questions like this and you know the answer to all of them.  No.

Real journalism

What we actually need is true journalism.  We need to delve into a story in-depth so we may come away from it with the ability to do critical thinking.  Rather than a thirty-second piece, how about a story that takes a half hour to report or an article that takes a half hour or more to read.  Yes, many of these are also slanted one way or another, but if you get more than a half-minute of a story, you may stand a better chance to understand it.  Further, a thoughtful, even if time-consuming, look at a story is better than the bombardment of tidbits.

Some years ago, a television station in Chicago changed the 10 o’clock news format to be different from the other stations.  Rather than a bunch of tidbits, it examined the top stories of the day.  It looked into the background and brought the news makers on set to discuss what had happened.  The experiment did not last.  People gravitated to the pieces thrown out on the other channels.  The old format is addicting and people had to have it, no matter how little they actually gained from being upset before bedtime.

Leave the negative tidbit cycle and you will be happier.  Although I was not willing to go along with Dr. Cabrera’s assertion we should just stop listening to and watching the news, period, there is great value to avoiding the news as it is currently presented in society.  I find the tidbits on sports talk radio more interesting these days.

Dr. Scott Cabrera, D.C., Higgins Sports & Spinal Rehab, S.C.
News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier,”


I’ve learned to write thoughts down when I have them these days. Mostly because I’ll forget those thoughts ten seconds after I have them. Unless I’m really stoned. Then I forget them about three and half seconds after I have them. I look at them the next day and usually have one of three reactions.

  1. What the hell was I thinking?
  2. Damn I was really stoned.
  3. Ha, that’s not bad.

The number threes usually become a post. I was looking over my notes and one was just the headline Unhinged, Unfit and Unbelievable. I  wanted to step back and get an overview of what’s been happening since the archetypical “drunk Uncle/racist Grandpa/senile parent/total asshole, ascended to the Oval Office.

For the last two years we’ve all been so focused on the trees, we’ve lost sight of the forest. And the forest is seriously fucked up.

Well that doesn’t look good.

People these days are saying we are in a new civil war. You know, like the one  that we had few years back. The war where Americans, neighbors and brothers, went to war and killed each other over their differing beliefs. In their case, slavery. And to all of you out there now going “NO, it was about State’s rights”, shut the fuck up. It was about slavery.

But is what we have today really like the Civil War?  I’m beginning to think if those folks, those Union and Confederate soldiers were here today, seeing what is going on they would say:

“Are you kidding me??”

They may have disagreed on whether slavery was good or bad, but at least they all agreed that slavery existed!

Today’s civil war is about reality, that is “what IS reality?” Really. It’s 2017. There are still people who truly believe the Earth is flat.

There are still people who believe that we didn’t land on the moon. Despite all evidence to the contrary or maybe because of it. 

And  there are still people who believe that Donald Trump and Roy Moore are not serial sexual abusers. Even though they have both been accused of abuse by many, many women. And both have been accused of abusing CHILDREN!


And before you start screaming fake news, Trump was accused of raping a 14-year-old girl. She was going to file a lawsuit, but didn’t because one week before the election, she was getting so many death threats from Trump supporters, she changed her mind. She feared for her life.

You can check it out. I know this because I was working at CBS the day the announcement was supposed to be made. I was watching the feed from the lawyer’s office. All the media was there. It was going to be the blockbuster story of the day. Then her lawyer came out and said she was dropping the lawsuit because she was afraid for her life.

Now to the unbelievable parts, the excuses supporters of Roy Moore have been giving. These go beyond unbelievable and beyond unhinged.

  1. “The Virgin Mary was a teenager and Joseph was in his 30’s. So Roy Moore is just being biblical.
  2. Roy Moore went to Vietnam. When he got back, all the women his age were married. So only teenagers were “pure” enough for him.
  3. Lots of those 14-year-old girls looked like they were 20.”
  4. “Ringo Starr sang a song called ‘You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful, and you’re mine.’ And he was 33. Are you dissing Ringo Starr?”

These are his supporters’ real excuses.

Number 4, that last one was also real. I did NOT MAKE THAT UP!

I picked this one as the winner.

“I don’t know if he did it. But even if he did, he’s better than a Democrat.”


Democrats are so bad, that a PEDOPHILE is a better choice? We are worse than CHILD MOLESTERS? Who, in their right mind would say that? Oh, yeah. THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!

Democrats bad. Child Molesters good.

This is the forest in which we now live. Thirty percent of our trees are BATSHIT FUCKING CRAZY. Most of them claim to be: “Evangelical Christians.” I put that in quotes because there many other Christians who also think these folks are insane.

In the old days, when the forest wasn’t on fire with the flames of insanity, right-wing folks used to call us “Tax and Spend Liberals.”  That was supposed to explain everything that’s wrong with the left/Democrats/Liberals.

That particular “insult” has always driven me crazy. “Tax and spend” is an explanation of what a government does. Governments need to run a country. It costs money to do that, so they have to make money. How? They tax the people who live in the country. Are there other ways to raise money? Sure.

The U.S. government could hold bake sales. They could take in laundry. But to cover the trillion-dollar budgets we have these days, not to mention the trillions of dollars of debt we are in, the government would have to sell a shit load of cookies and take in all the laundry in the world — and it still wouldn’t cover their nut.

So instead, we have taxes. The government collects taxes. Then, they spend those taxes. That’s their job. The only remaining questions is who is going to pay the taxes? How much will they pay? And exactly  for what will those taxes be used?

So yes. I am a tax and spend liberal. As opposed to the “no taxes and but spend anyway” Republican cohort. I freely admit this. In this reality, am I worse than a pedophile? Seriously?

In the great ether, two ghosts are watching. One, dressed in blue, is Union. And the other, dressed in gray or butternut, is a Confederate. They are looking down on our mess and saying:

“Damn, you guys are seriously fucked up.



Well, it’s been quite a week — don’t we say that every week? — and the words “unhinged” and “unprecedented” have been used even more than they were the week before.

And the week before that.

And the week before that.

A while ago, actually two weeks into this crazed mess called an administration, I wrote a blog called “We’re Getting Ahead of This Guy, But Where the Hell is He Going?” It pointed out that our “So Called President” is insane. Mentally ill. Off his rocker. A few fries short of a Happy Meal.

I pointed out that regardless of your political affiliation, you can’t have a President who is INSANE! When your Grandpa starts to show signs of dementia, you get him help. Maybe you have to put him in a home. BUT YOU DON’T MAKE HIM PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!!

I said way back then, seven years ago (months are years in Trump-time), that the media had to start concentrating on this. Every day. Examine everything he says and does from the viewpoint of “This guy’s nuts.

He just proved it again.”

And this week, it finally happened. After the “campaign rally” SCROTUS held Tuesday night, August 22, 2017, I watched the media react in stunned shock. And then they all started talking about how this guy is seriously whacked.

They have also learned to call a lie, a lie. Not a “falsehood”. Not a “misrepresentation of the facts”. No, they called what he said exactly what it was. Lies. CNN covered the whole speech and then had a panel spend the next ten minutes or so talking about how this guy is insane. MSNBC only showed video of parts of the speech as pundit after pundit talked about how this guy has gone around the bend. They would bring the audio up now and then, listen for about 20 seconds and go “He’s not saying anything. And what he just said was a lie.” And then they’d go back to talking about how crazy he is.

There’s been lots of talk since this whack-job took office about “normalizing his behavior”. How we can’t let things like racism, misogyny, xenophobia and eating steak well done with ketchup become “normal”.

But here’s the thing. We are “normalizing” him. Just not in the way everybody thought. We are all recognizing he is insane and we are basically ignoring him. The world laughs at us and has started to stop paying any attention to anything he says.

Even leaders like Kim Jon Un are saying things like “Wow, I’m the sane one here. How insane is that?

He’s lost Congress. Even though it is controlled by his own party. He’s lost enough Senators to stop anything he might try to pass. Both houses voted by over 90% to stop him from lifting sanctions on Russia.  Republicans have introduced legislation protecting Robert Mueller’s special investigation. Stories leak every day from White House aides saying basically, “You think what he said today was insane? You have no idea what we stop him from saying every day!”. He’s being marginalized.

News reports are coming down  to this.

ANCHOR 1: In the news today, the President said something incredibly stupid and crazy.

ANCHOR 2: Yup. Moving on to sports …