Monday, January 22, 2007


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Our National Health

To: Mark Mattson
National Institute on Aging

I am currently digesting the news that, according to your research, skipping meals might have health benefits. I would tend to agree, but only up to a point. I imagine, for example, that if you skipped too many meals, for example, a few dozen in a row or more, that you might risk exposing yourself to certain other health concerns, viz., death and related complications. Would you agree?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

No Rules at All?

To: Outback Steakhouse

Your "No Rules - Just Right" ad campaign has raised more than a few eyebrows in my social circle. I know that the idea of a restaurant with "no rules" may seem like an exciting and youthfully enthusiastic notion to some. But my own concern is with the handling of the meat. For example, is it really the best idea to have "no rules" whatsoever when it comes to the preparation and cooking of meat? I imagine the consequences of this could be, in a gastronomical sense, quite hazardous, possibly even deadly in certain cases.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Internment Camps Revisited

To: Michelle Malkin
Re: In Defense of Internment

I noticed that your book In Defense of Internment makes an extremely provocative case that the racial profiling of Japanese-Americans during WWII, including their evacuation, relocation, and internment in camps, was not only justified but also has lessons for our current conflict with Islam. What I don't understand, however, is how locking up all these Japanese-Americans today would help our cause. For example, aren't there many more Japanese-Americans living in the United States today than during WWII, and so wouldn't the logistics of hauling them off prove more difficult? Second problem: Wouldn't this move anger the Japanese government? Third - and I have to be honest with you on this one - I don't quite see how locking up the Japanese would help us fight Al Qaeda. Any illumination on this subject you can provide would be deeply appreciated.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

This is Beer

To: Anheuser Busch, Inc.

Your latest Bud ad campaign is a stunner. It has George Clooney announcing: "This is Budweiser. This is beer." Is this really the best thing Bud can say about itself? This is beer. OK, so it's beer. We know that. We know it's beer. You have the legal right to call your product beer. A grateful nation congratulates you. We accept the inevitable truth of your statement. You sell beer. We appreciate your modesty. Congratulations.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Very Special Education

To: Mary-Ann Milford, Provost
Mills College

I see that Mills has posted a course offering called "Controversies in Archeology" (Anth 180 :01 :ST) as a "Special Topic" for the Fall. The course description's opening sentences certainly give one a taste of the scholarly delights to come: "Did ancient astronauts build the pyramids?…How true are stories of Atlantis, of Troy, of the Bible?" I am heartily glad to see that the critical methods of late-night cable television programming are no longer being shunned in the classroom, at least at Mills. In truth, before seeing your course offering, I had been worried that the right wing was the only force in American society brave enough to challenge the assumptions of the scientific establishment and the so-called "experts" that dismiss out of hand alternative theories such as Creationism and alien landing strips in Peru. Mills shows itself to be an intellectual leader by recognizing the validity of these important controversies, just as President Bush recognizes that the controversy over Intelligent Design has two sides, each of which deserve our attention and respect. I realize that some might say that ascribing to aliens the accomplishments of ancient Egypt or South America could be considered insulting to the cultures that think their ancestors created them, but why should their sentimental feelings be an impediment to true scientific inquiry? This is a very special educational topic, indeed.

Thomas Wolfe Says You Can't Go Home

To: The New Jersey Board of Tourism
Re; Jon Bon Jovi's Song

The Bon Jovi song entitled "Who Says You Can't Go Home?", currently being used as the theme song of the New Jersey tourist board, has a fairly simple answer. It was the early 20th century novelist Thomas Wolfe who said that you can't go home. Actually, the title of his classic book is You Can't Go Home Again. The word "again" is the key to Wolfe's whole philosophical statement, so that Mr. Bon Jovi might want to consider re-titling his song, "Thomas Wolfe Says You Can't Go Home Again." Just a thought. Nobody says that you literally can't go home, it's just that home - at least "home" as you are likely to remember it - is a fleeting or lost thing that exists in your heart and your memory, not in the objective facets of the geographical location in which you grew up. You probably get the idea. Why the New Jersey tourist board would want to remind visitors of these notions is not entirely clear to me. Anyway, in case you were wondering, that's the answer to your question - next time you might want to check out Google or something.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

How to Get Colbert

To: Bill O'Reilly, Fox News
Re: The Threat of Stephen Colbert

As a patriotic American I'm sure you are as concerned as I am by the alarming news that the treacherous Stephen Colbert, of the phony news show The Colbert Report, has been paid a massive sum to write a book. I imagine that, just as his show slanders and cruelly satirizes your person on a daily basis, his book will only be more of the same. There is only one solution to this problem, and when you hear it, I'm sure you will adopt it immediately. Since Colbert's reputation is parasitical upon your own, his money and his supporters would soon dry up if you yourself were to resign from your position at Fox News. Therefore, I am suggesting, as a pre-emptive strike upon Colbert that you fire yourself and stop appearing on television forever. Sir, the nation depends on you in its hour of need.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Notes for the Lawyers on the DaVinci Code Trial

To: Jonathan Raynor James QC, Hogarth Chambers, London
Re: The Da Vinci Code Case

I'm no legal authority, but it strikes me that your case would obviously be stronger if your clients admitted the fact that their "nonfiction" conspiracy book, The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail, is actually a delightful fiction and a hoax. Essentially, they are protesting that the brilliant and ingenious fiction they created and were forced to market as nonfiction should be recognized as fiction, and therefore, recognized as the source for Dan Brown's book The DaVinci Code, their book credited, and the authors paid off. But if they maintain their book is fact, then they may not win their case, because then Brown (I would hazard) was supposedly simply adapting it and creating a new work, as in the case of a historical novelist. Therefore, my suggestion is that the plaintiffs should have argued that The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail is, in fact, a novel.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Refinancing your Mortgage from a Rattlesnake?


I subscribe to a free email service that runs banner ads on its pages. I believe one series of ads is from your company. However, some of the icons you have chosen to promote your product - home ownership refinancing, mortgage services, and the like - are curious. One is a poorly-animated shimmying banana. Another is a rather threatening-looking wolf, whose body elongates over the length of my internet page window, balefully glaring back at me over its shoulder. Yet another is a rattlesnake, whose tail, emblazoned with the abbreviations of the fifty states, shakes with poisonous intent, seeming to say, don't tread on me. Now, I ask you honestly, gentlemen, is this the best way to sell a mortgage? Is it a reasonable proposition that a consumer would desire to enter into a monetary transaction with a shimmying banana? Would it be prudent to throw yourself upon the mercy of a wolf or a rattlesnake when it comes to the family finances? Your newest ad, featuring some cute dangling frogs, is much more pleasant, but I still don't see the connection with high finance.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Republic, Pop. 1

From my houseboat here in Sausalito, I have one of the world's finest views. When it's not foggy, I can see from one end of the Golden Gate Bridge to the other, with the mountains disappearing off into the horizon. Sea-lions cavort up to the very door of my retirement. Of course, I try to lure my friends out here whenever I can, but everyone is so busy these days. Since I dropped out of life a few months ago, having a windfall inheritance to cover my costs for a time, an idea has been growing in my mind. I want to start a republic of letters. The republic of letters is not a new idea, nor is the name original. It is instead a perenial notion of the human imagination, viz., to have a like-minded community of men and women exchanging ideas about the present condition and fate of the world. Of course, my republic only contains a single citizen at the moment, myself. I hope to improve on that number by a steady application of effort in the literary sphere. I begin this new venture into undiscovered country today, on my 43rd birthday!