traffic-jam

Good news, bad news.

The good news is that now that we are no longer filming Psych, I’ve lined up some jobs in Hollywood.

The bad news is that I have to be in Los Angeles for extended periods of time.

This is a real struggle for someone who loves the Northwest, especially during an extended drought that is turning the Golden State into the Dust Bowl.

Locally, the smog is horrible and the traffic is in a state of permanent gridlock. There is no longer a rush HOUR in LA—the freeways are always jammed and the overflow has spilled into all of the local streets.

You take your life in your hands just walking around because pedestrians are regarded as at best irritants and at worse easy targets.

If this sounds cataclysmic, that is exactly what it is. This place has reached a critical mass and the city fathers and mothers just keep issuing more building permits to grow the tax base.

As you all know, the Zookeeper is all about solving problems and not just complaining about things. Taking the bull by it’s horns.

Sometimes the best solutions are incredibly easy. The population of Los Angeles is a shade over 4 million and I have found a way to reduce this number by 25 percent.

I am forming a new city—let’s call it Melvindam (think Amsterdam)—that will take one million residents of the LA Basin and move them to a wonderful breezy location along the California Coast. It’s a 30-mile stretch between Santa Barbara and Buellton.

There are a great many people who live in Los Angeles who don’t need to be there. They aren’t working in the movie industry or the aerospace industry and they mostly have service jobs that could easily be transported to Melvindam.

If you are a doctor or a merchant or in any of the service industries, a city of one million will give you lots of patients and customers and clients.

If someone has to commute, I am installing a high-speed commuter train along existing tracks that run along the Pacific Ocean. Those lines will be able to connect to the new Metro subway system that is crawling towards completion in Los Angeles.

After scouting many locations, I chose this stretch to build my city because it is primo land that slopes down to the ocean and it is very sparsely inhabited. There will be very little disruption to the very few existing residents, and while we will remove those residents using eminent domain, we will certainly reward them at a reasonable rate.

If they don’t like it, too bad. How do they think the railroad and every interstate highway was built in America. Steven Spielberg and James Cameron and the others who are rumored to have big beautiful ranches up there that they hardly ever go to—get over it. Think of the greater good. Take one for the team, the big team—Planet Earth.

One of the great things about this location is that the housing will be built in a sustainable cluster and virtually every residence will have an ocean view. The lack of really high end housing will keep away a certain, shall we say, elite type of buyer who might prefer to have a big house somewhere behind a wall.

Water won’t be a problem because I am running a pipeline from an Arctic iceberg directly to Melvindam. This might sound outrageous but the city of Santa Barbara actually researched just such a solution during the seven year drought in the 1980’s. True.

All the cars and trucks and buses will be either electric or run on natural gas and hydrogen as that becomes more readily available. Needless to say, if you a regular reader of the Zookeeper, you won’t be surprised to hear that leaf blowers will be banned.

Imagine, a beautiful location overlooking the Pacific Ocean with wonderful westerly breezes and no smog and no noisy combustion engines. Every once in a while the whoosh of a high speed train going by.

And don’t worry. If we sell out before you can get your act together to make the move, I’m already eyeing a lovely stretch of Oxnard farmland for our companion city, Meltopia.

melshouses

Running-and-coffee

My name is Mel and I have a problem!

I am addicted to caffeine. But my addiction has developed into a very expensive habit. I love coffee—very good coffee.

Recently a study showed that half the coffee drinkers in American would be satisfied with the freeze-dried varietals. This made me sad.

I guess I just identify with the high class users. I feel sorry for those poor fools who are addicted to the buzz but don’t care about taste or freshness or color or terroir.

My life took a very definite turn for the better when I discovered, via a recommendation from a friend, an amazing coffee roaster who lives ten minutes from my house in Bellingham.

It’s in the boonies, and you drive down a long dirt road to a little settlement where you are greeted by a lovable Yellow Lab.

Inside a small log building, on the second floor, is an amazing roasting machine that was developed on nearby Camano Island.

Here, a gifted man, let’s call him Rodrigo, demonstrated to me the art and the science of coffee roasting. The beans come from the best growing regions in the World, all along the equator but spanning the globe from Central American and South to Africa and Asia and back via New Guinea.

Rodrigo would pop the beans like pop corn and listen for the second crackle to know that the bean had reached it’s full potential.

I took a few bags of beans—real coffee drinkers grind their own beans every morning because freshness is paramount!

When I went through two pounds in about a week, all I had to do was call Rodrigo and leave word designating which varietal I wanted and when I would pick up the small sealed bags.

The beans are roasted to my specifications the next morning and I pick them up any time after 1 PM. If Rodrigo isn’t around, I find my bags on a short bench with an open tin can where I deposit $15 per pound.

Rodrigo always leaves $5 bills in there for change of twenties and he’s never been ripped off—ever.

The ceremony is only beginning. The next morning I wake up under a cloud, grumpy, negative, unable to put a whole sentence together.

I grind the beans, pour over heated filtered water, and magic happens. Minutes later, I am sipping optimism, I am sipping personality, I am sipping articulation. The brew, with a little half and half added, is the color of Shari Belafonte and it is the nectar of the Gods.

Very often, I have a song stuck in my head and I start singing it to myself. It might be something I heard on the car radio the night before or a song that came up in a conversation and graciously I keep it to myself and sing it under my breath.

Off I go, ready to take on the d-bags and save the world and perhaps even create something wonderful.

Thankfully, I have some self control so I only allow myself to have one big cup in the morning and one big cup in mid-afternoon. The afternoon cup is always away from home and it’s not from a chain! It’s from one of the wonderful coffee shops in Bellingham that take this just as seriously as I do.

There is an inherent challenge in this process: how to make a great cup of coffee when you haven’t had your coffee yet. The other day, I was scheduled to play golf very early in the morning. I woke up, ground the beans, flipped the switch and jumped in the shower.

I had forgotten to put the coffee pot under the cone and I came back into the kitchen ten minutes later to witness an industrial disaster. There was a pool of hot coffee on the counter and it had dripped into all of the open drawers below it and of course onto the floor.

I called my amigos and bailed on my golf game and spent the next 15 minutes cleaning up before my wife woke up.

Each drawer had it’s only little coffee flood but I managed to mostly make the place look presentable. Luckily, coffee is a smell I love because there was an aromatic reminder of my little disaster for the next few hours.

You see, I have a problem. I am addicted to caffeine…

coffee-anyone-opt

Tough morning for a news junkie! Globally, the insoluble Middle East
Crisis, Putin trying to restart the Cold War, and no cure for the Ebola
Virus.

Locally, people in LA walking around with surgical masks because of the
combination of hot weather, drought and terrible smog.

I did the only sensible thing I could think of, something that I only do
under the most dire circumstances.

I stopped and bought a donut!
post-apocalyptic donut

Check out the pilot I directed for “Working the Engles”

Watch Full Pilot HERE

photo

I drove 3.1 miles from my house, parked, got in a short line, showed ID, and walked into a brave new world.

Bellingham’s first pot shop. Their first customer was from Abilene, Kansas, and he arrived at 4:30 AM for an 8 AM opening. The first sale went down at 8:03. I showed up the next afternoon.

The vibe was hip industrial, like one of those coffee places where they roast the beans right in front of you.

There were two dudes with badges hanging around their necks. No uniforms. One guy looked like a surfer and the other looked like a bouncer. They were very friendly.

I asked for the cheapest, weakest thing they had in the store and I bought a small bag marked Cheese Quake. It had the lowest percentage of THC of everything on the menu—4.7—and it cost $19 bucks for a gram, including $5 for the governor.

Considering my heritage, I asked that it be renamed New York Cheese Quake, and of course they agreed. I could have asked for the salesperson’s first born child and she would have nodded and smiled.

It took me 9 minutes to get home. Halfway there, I passed Squalicum High School, about 5 minutes from the pot store, officially named Top Shelf Cannabis. This is going to be a tease for the high school kids because you have to have ID to prove you are 21 years old.

This means we are probably going to create a gray market. I can hear it already, “Hey, grandpa, can you pick me up a couple of grams of My Blue Heaven at Top Shelf when you’re heading back from the Shell Station?”

At home, I took pictures of the small baggie of pot, the historic receipt and the headline in today’s Bellingham Herald.

photo 1

Then I gave the baggie to my son because I don’t smoke the stuff and besides I don’t have rolling papers or a pipe and even if I did, I couldn’t roll a joint if my life depended on it.

So why did I do it? For history. For posterity. To experience something I could not have experienced before.

Actually, there is a very nice aroma emanating from my son’s room. I’ll catch up with you later.

photo 2

 

 

high-school-prints-yearbook-with-hitler-quote

If you’ve been reading my column for the last few years, you know that the one thing I can’t tolerate is Intolerance.

So much of the violence and conflict in the world is a by-product of social, cultural, financial, and religious differences in addition to the age old battles over land and property and power.

We tend to think of these things kinds of simple-minded prejudices happening halfway across the globe in Tibet or Syria or Africa.

But then something happens in our own backyard that makes us realize that intolerance and the ignorance and stupidity that fuels it are unfortunately among those basic instincts that must be discouraged and suppressed first through education and when that fails, the rule of law.

Recently, three graduating seniors from nearby Lynden High School chose quotes from Adolph Hitler to post under their yearbook pictures. The quotes somehow went undetected by the faculty advisor and the students were seemingly unpunished and allowed to graduate with their classmates.

To make matters worse, several of their classmates told the news media in interviews that they didn’t understand what all of the fuss was about.

The Bellingham Herald ran a very short piece about the incident with no follow-up. They did publish some letters from local residents who were very upset that the school allowed this to happen and seemed anxious to sweep the incident under the rug.

One woman wrote that her husband risked his life fighting Hitler’s Army in World War Two so that Der Fuhrer’s psychotic nationalism was not allowed to spread across the Atlantic Ocean.

Another woman wrote that she grew up in Holland and had to endure constant bombings that killed her brother and two of her childhood friends.

She wrote: “What made them do this? It was just for fun, they said. What were these children, now supposedly young men, educated and responsible, taught in history class? If they were told about everything Hitler did, and all that happened during this terrible war, this is incomprehensible!”

Rabbi Joshua Samuels of Congregation Beth Israel in Bellingham wrote in the synagogue newsletter that he’s disappointed “that the principal and the superintendent failed to make this incident a teaching moment.”

Rabbi Samuels went on to write “this IS a big deal. It IS news. People DO care. And there IS something to see and it’s disgusting and offensive. Where is the education? Can we count on parents and teachers doing their part as well?”

Washington State is considered to have a well-educated, progressive population.   However, one of the lessons of this disturbing incident is that there are pockets of hatred and intolerance everywhere.

In 2001, gravestones of Filipino and Japanese and Jewish Veterans on Bainbridge Island were painted with swastikas. Six years later, small American flags placed at the graves of Veterans on Orcas Island were vandalized and burned and replaced with swastikas.

Seeing an opportunity, Neo-Nazi groups in Oregon recently sent recruitment letters to Lynden High School students. Because of free speech, that is totally legal however despicable it is to me.

But the publishing of Hitler’s quotations in the high school yearbook is not protected speech. My editor Sandy Stokes can strike anything from my column that she thinks is offensive or inappropriate and that editorial control certainly holds for a high school newspaper or yearbook advisor.

It’s not always pretty to dwell on the past but if we ignore the lessons of history, we will let ignorance and stupidity reign!

teachablemoment

donald-sterling-media-shitstorm

He was born Donald Tokowitz in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, where for many years Jews and blacks and Latinos lived together in harmony far from affluent Beverly Hills and Hancock Park.

He married Rochelle Stein and together they changed their name from Tokowitz to Sterling, saying that it would help them in business.

I would invoke an old saying I used to hear that you can take a person out of the ghetto but you can’t take the ghetto out of the person but that would be unfair association for everyone else who grew up in a ghetto,  including my relatives in Poland.

So Donald Tokowitz was a hater from the beginning, a self-loathing Jew who wanted to associate with the white establishment living in the more expensive parts of Los Angeles.  How he got Sterling from Tokowitz is beyond me.  Usually there is some connection between the original name and the modern westernized version but in this case Donald and Shelly tried to sound as WASPy as they could.

If you are getting the impression that this is a man who I despise,  you are correct, and this hate affair did not start just recently when the rest of the world discovered what an imbecile Donald Sterling is.

I’m an original Los Angeles Clippers season ticket holder, going back to 1984 when the San Diego Clippers moved to Los Angeles.

Tokowitz went to law school but in those days it was difficult for Jewish lawyers to get into prestigious firms and somehow the name change didn’t fool anyone, so Sterling did divorce and personal injury cases and earned enough to buy a building in Beverly Hills.

He built up a fortune in real estate and bought the Clippers for $12.5 million even though he knew absolutely nothing about basketball.  He became, according to the New York Times and Forbes magazine, the “worst owner in all of sports”, putting together the worst won-lost record including basketball, baseball, football, and hockey.

At the same time, he tried to evict people of color from his buildings, describing black tenants as “stinking and breeding vermin”.  This is a matter of court records as the sterling Sterling’s paid a huge fine and were ordered to clean up their act.

Unfortunately, nobody was making him clean up his act as a basketball owner.  Sterling figured out early that he could make a fortune with a bad team and didn’t feel compelled to pay top dollar for the best players and coaches.

My son Michael Damski and a close friend started a blog a few years ago entitled Fire Sterling, which was mostly about what a horrible owner the man is.

Now the world knows what a horrible person he is as well.

Sterling was caught on tape exhorting his young “friend” V. Stiviano that she shouldn’t be seen in public with Magic Johnson, one of the most popular and iconic figures in the Los Angeles sports world.

Stiviano was involved in a lawsuit with Shelly Sterling, who was suing Stiviano for the return of a $1.8-million Los Angeles duplex as well as a Ferrari, two Bentleys, and a Range Rover she said her estranged husband bought for Stiviano.

In the continuing soap opera that has been played out in the media in the last few weeks, Stiviano told Barbara Walters that she and Sterling were just friends.  Maybe I’m just a bit cynical but it’s amazing how much the price of friendship has gone up lately.

Also, there is an enormous irony in that Stiviano grew up in the same Boyle Heights neighborhood and attended the same high school, Roosevelt, as Sterling and is part black and part Mexican-American, yet he was caught on tape saying it was okay for her to sleep with black people, but she shouldn’t be photographed with the likes of Magic Johnson.

Sterling is now banned from attending games which is wonderful for me because I sit across the court and I no longer have to see him slouched on his court side seat mocking his players.  Baron Davis, UCLA star, recently retired, said he hated playing for the Clippers because Sterling would constantly raze him if he didn’t like the way he was playing.

We all love the American Dream because a person can rise up from poverty and become a monumental success but unfortunately class doesn’t come along with wealth.

In fact, it’s amazing to me that Sterling can be so stupid in so many other ways.  In his interview with Anderson Cooper, he said he apologized for what he said, but what was clear is that he was saying he was sorry that his true self was revealed to the whole world.

He then went on to say to Cooper that Magic Johnson was a poor role model to kids because he caught and conquered the AIDS virus and of course that became the most prominent sound bite from the interview.

You would think at some point the Sterlings would try to make a hasty retreat into obscurity and cut their losses but they have laid down the gauntlet and this is likely to end up in a very messy court case because it’s not easy to force someone to sell their business, even though the Clippers are a franchise of a league with strict covenants.

One thing is pretty certain, if the Sterlings still own the Clippers when it’s time to start the 2014-15 season, there is likely to be a huge boycott of players, home and away. Michael Damski was on sports radio this week saying if Sterling still owns the team on opening night of next season, he will no longer be a fan and he speaks for many of us.

Perhaps the cruelest irony of all is that the more publicity this gets, the price tag just goes up as people from Magic Johnson to Oprah Winfrey to Matt Damon say they are interested in paying half a billion or more to buy the team, meaning the Tokowitz-Sterling dynasty will be able to keep it’s dirty business afloat in a sea of infamy.

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retirement_road

To retire or not to retire.

The question has been floating around a lot in my circle of 60-somethings.

This decision isn’t as easy as you might think. The economy is struggling and life expectancy has risen dramatically so there are important calculations to be made in terms of how many years you can live on a fixed income without evaporating your savings.

To complicate things even more, two recent studies have totally contradictory conclusions about the effect of retirement on health.

One study said it’s better to keep working and keep your mind engaged and not worry about finances or get bored sitting around at home by yourself.

The other said your heart will be happy to be rid of the stress of the workplace..

Of course, in both cases, it’s bad science. There is no way to control a study about retirement because you can’t compare any two lives. If you study the person who doesn’t retire, there is no way of knowing how that person would have fared in retirement. It’s not only comparing apples to apples, it’s comparing apples to oranges to cantaloupe and kiwi fruit.

For instance, I’m a definite kiwi fruit. I love my job in the Never Never Land of the entertainment business. I love going to work in the morning and can’t imagine a life without telling stories with cameras and actors.

On the other hand, if you have a boring job sitting at a desk doing something that doesn’t really engage you mentally, I can understand why you would be counting the days until you can hang it up.

Or if you have been working in a coal mine or bent over day after day picking potatoes, I can totally understand that you would need a break for body and mind.

Then it becomes an issue of how you fill those hours. If you’re going to sit on your ass and smoke and drink and pretend you know all there is to know, both your body and your mind are going to wilt away and you’re going to be a burden to your kids and your country!

If you are taking on new challenges and exploring new frontiers, you are likely to extend your life. They have discovered in recent years that brain cells can be rejuvenated by challenges to your mind and your senses. If you break up your routines, take different roads, expose yourself to new people and new ideas, try the crossword puzzle or play scrabble or bridge, you have a fighting chance against the ravages of time.

Right now, as I write this, my good friend Dr. Jerry Eisner is floating down the Colorado River. Then he’s coming back home to wrap up a very distinguished career as first an internist on Orcas Island and then a dermatologist in Mt. Vernon.

Jerry said he is sanguine with the decision because he feels he leaves with a great sense of satisfaction that he has touched a lot of lives in a very positive way. He is an ornithologist, an amateur astronomer, and a terrific wildlife photographer so it’s not like he’s going to be sitting in front of the television which I don’t recommend, unless of course you are watching one of my shows!

My wife Susan certain has every right to retire. She’s been teaching at the same Catholic School for almost 30 years, keeping a tight reign on some very rambunctious third graders while teaching them language arts.

Nobody would blame Susan for saying she’s paid her dues and doesn’t want to hear that alarm clock go off at 5:30 AM any more, but she is an educator through and through and can’t imagine a life away from the classroom and the school yard and the faculty lounge.

For me, I’m certainly old enough to start using the R-word, and I just finished an exhausting 8-year run on a television series, but I can’t seem to get my engine to idle. I’m bugging my agents almost daily to find me a new series and I’m starting a film school, Cascadia Film Workshop, in Bellingham this June and I have a great new idea for a screenplay about old people who haven’t forgotten how to party.

So it really comes down to making the right decision for yourself. Every person is unique, no two lives are the same. Run the numbers, make your best guess at your life expectancy, figure out the metrics that will allow you to sleep at night without obsessing on your finances.

Everyone’s life is unique and this is a highly personal decision. No matter what you decide, make sure to keep your body as active as possible, keep your mind engaged and count your blessings for the miracle of life.

kiwiworkers

SeekingAnswersLogo

When something really tragic happens to people close to you, you want closure and you want someone to blame. When a jetliner disappears into thin air with no plausible explanation, there is no closure and no one to blame.

We have all witnessed many scenes of the families of the missing passengers railing out against Malaysian and airline authorities, but that has to do with poor communication as it is still impossible to know at this point what caused the disappearance of Flight 370. An entirely different scenario is playing out right now much closer to home in Western Washington after a huge mudslide wiped out a community. At least 25 bodies have been identified so far and at least some relatives and friends have had some closure but there are as many as 30 more people missing.

In this case, there are many people to blame. We have heard story after story and testimony after testimony in the past week from people who had predicted that this disaster was inevitable and yet their warnings went unheeded by government officials.

Some people are asking for heads to roll and others are saying that stuff happens and the people who lived in that community were willing to live with the risks.

I don’t buy that reasoning at all. First of all, even if you are willing to endanger yourself, is it fair to also expose the mail carrier who delivers in that neighborhood or your own kids and the friends they invite over after school.

One of the most important things government officials need to do is protect people from their own worst decisions. Otherwise we wouldn’t need speed limits. We wouldn’t need zoning restrictions. We wouldn’t ban driving under the influence. We wouldn’t create very stringent standards before new drugs are allowed to be purchased.

One radio caller pointed out that people in Florida build houses where there could be hurricanes and people in Oklahoma build where there could be tornadoes and people in California build where there are likely to be wildfires and earthquakes.

True. The path of hurricanes and tornadoes are hard to predict and you can understand people casting their fate to the wind so they can live in an affordable house in an expensive area.

And you can understand why a municipality would encourage as much growth as possible in order to increase the tax base.

But knowing now what the authorities knew in the little town called Oso appears to be a severe case of civic negligence, if not outright criminal negligence.

As in so many tragedies, we see the worst and the best of human nature. Volunteers have been flocking to Oso to help in any way they can.

Cyndy Bostrom of Shelter Bay couldn’t sleep after watching the grisly news reports from Oso. In early morning, she went over to Bob Skeele’s house in La Conner and used his well-equipped kitchen to bake 10 dozen healthy muffins to bring to the first responders–firefighters, national guardsmen and volunteers– who accepted the grim task of looking for bodies at the rubble.

What made it so much more difficult for those volunteers is that they knew so many of the victims personally in this very tight community.

In nearby Arlington, the Union Bank was coordinating donations and the Red Cross and FEMA were there to do whatever could be done. When Cyndy reached the Oso fire station, there were already a flock of volunteers and an abundance of food.

She met a young man who still hadn’t found his grandfather, but he and a friend found his grandfather’s tractor buried in the mud. They found an American flag in the nearby rubble and mounted it in a dignified manner as a memorial to at least 25 victims who have been identified so far and many more still missing.

There are things we can all learn from this. We need to count our blessings every day and never underestimate how important it is to be healthy.

And we need to really think about where we live. It’s one thing to be a free spirit and defy the odds, but do you really want to expose your family to those risks?

Today, if I were buying my house on a promontory at the tip of Shelter Bay, I would do a lot more homework and not assume it has been properly vetted by public officials.

More than anything, we have to do what we can for the people who lost everything in Oso. You have to be careful about how to contribute and it’s always safe to work through established charities like the United Way to guarantee the money gets to where it’s needed.

Or you can do a simple text to Red Cross on your phone to 90999 and that will make a $10 contribution. Those ten dollars add up.

Cyndy Bostrom spoke for all of us when she wrote on those boxes of freshly baked goodies, “With love, from La Conner”.

The Oso Community Chapel is pictured near the area where a landslide blocks Highway 530 near Oso, Washington

birdman

Hold on tight, but you don’t have to fasten your seat belts, as this is going to be a very short ride.

Perhaps you heard that a Malaysian Jet disappeared last week.  Either that or you were in a coma and in that case welcome back to consciousness.

For those of you who still have synapses firing, like me you have been exposed to many theories in the last week to explain how a large 777 carrying 239 people could simply fly into oblivion.

Every time you turn on the radio or television or pick up a newspaper, you have been exposed to yet another theory as to what could possibly have happened. Terrorists using forged passports, skyjackers storming the cockpit, enraged or suicidal pilot purposely running off course.

It could almost make you laugh at how hard the media is trying to make this into a great mystery instead of just the tragedy of a plane full of people going down because of mechanical failures. Except then your heart breaks when you think about the families of those on board who are still praying against all odds that the big jet is parked somewhere on a remote jungle island.

Unfortunately, I have figured out what really happened and even the most wild-eyed conspiracy theorists totally missed it.

The whole event was orchestrated by one of my favorite people, Vladimir Putin. President for Life Putin brilliantly created a distraction so that the story that he was starting another Cold War would get buried.

Remember, Putin is The Ultimate Cold Warrior.  A former KGB officer, it is in his DNA to hate free speech and western-style democracies.  The word glasnost makes him sick and the word perestroika makes him vomit.  He finally found an opening that enabled him to begin to reassemble the Soviet Union when Ukrainians tossed out a pro-Moscow leader who was not in favor of joining the European Union.

This made Putin see Red and he hastily called a sham election while massing troops in and around the Crimean region, sending a very definite message that there would only be one acceptable outcome to this rigged referendum on the region’s future.

Because Russia provides much natural gas to many of the countries in Europe, there will be a lot of hollering but very little in the way of meaningful sanctions.

Still, Putin cleverly created a distraction in Malaysia so the Western news outlets, the one’s he can’t control, and he managed to tilt the 24-7 news cycle towards the Malaysia Peninsula.

Thus, every hour, when a new faux news program came on CNN, there was another breaking news story about the latest faux evidence in the tragic case of the missing jetliner, constantly playing on the heart strings of the families of those passengers.

They had to do this at CNN and the other shabby cable so-called news networks because they need to draw viewers, to whom they can pitch their so-called drugs, diets, cures, and ED pills. Their ads promise that alcoholics can take a pill that will enable them to continue to drink and overweight people can continue to over eat and still lose weight and testosterone pills will help your sex life and on and on and on and all without a stitch of scientific proof.

After all, if you can sell that stuff despite disclaimers that the products are medically useless, then you can sell those same viewers on a never ending mystery about how a jetliner disappeared into thin air.

And so they have turned a tragedy into a travesty. Stanley Kubrick’s highly satirical movie Dr. Strangelove looks tame and quite believable by comparison, and saddest of all is the fact that I have to wrap up this column so, pathetic news junkie that I am, I can get back to breaking news about a flight attendant who just might have had a one night stand with an alleged terrorist who she might have just accidentally on purpose allowed into the cockpit.