Time to Retire


After giving the matter very little thought over a short period of time, I have decided to retire.

[Pause to allow cheering to die down.]

I admit that this is somewhat anticlimactic for a freelance writer. Many people don’t consider the gig economy to be part of the “real” employment market. I don’t feel that way.

In June 2013, when I left my last full-time job at the Society for Human Resource Management and began accepting freelance assignments, I was pleased to find that I was working about 40 hours per week almost immediately. However, the party didn’t last forever. In the past two years, I have dealt with family crises, surgeries, all sorts of prescription drugs and a disturbing increase in orphan socks. All of these issues have left me with less bandwidth and focus than I would like.


Anyone who follows baseball is familiar with the veteran pitcher who keeps hanging on long after he is effective, hoping for a last shot at glory and few measly million bucks. But he has lost the hop on his fastball, and he is a shadow of his former self. That’s probably not the way he wants to be remembered. Same for me.

I retire happy with what I have done professionally since I started contributing articles to the Richmond-News Leader while I was a college student in the 1970s. I got five backs per article. (It seemed like a lot at the time.) My last journalism class was in the tenth grade, so I guess you can say I overachieved.

One of my favorite memories is from my stint as a copy editor for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Faced with a narrow column in which to fit a headline about a man arrested for a sex crime, I wrote:


It seemed innocuous enough. But the next morning, the newspaper’s switchboard was inundated with readers asking where they could get theirs charged.

Several years later, I was sitting in a Washington Post news conference when an editor mentioned that one of his female reporters, who happened to be quite attractive and talented, was rumored to be a candidate for a TV network job. With impeccable timing, Executive Editor Ben Bradlee responded: “Arrange for a scar.”

My favorite article was written while I was at the Post. It was about two children with failing livers at a pediatric hospital in Philadelphia. One donor liver became available. To whom should the surgeon give it? The kid from rural Pennsylvania, or the one from Bolivia? In a somewhat Solomon-like action, the surgeon gambled and sliced the liver in half and transplanted a piece into each child.

What made the story really special for me was that, while the parents were waiting anxiously for the surgeon to finish work, the families bonded strongly. None of them spoke more than a word or two of the other couple’s language, but that didn’t stop them. The last I heard, the two kids had reached adulthood in good health.

I had hoped to continue my career for a few more years, but I got reality check during a recent visit to my doctor. I started hearing voices. They said the same word over and over: “Battery…. Battery….” I thought it was my subconscious mind beating me up for that awful headline back in the 1980s. It turns out that it was just my hearing aids trying to tell me they needed more juice. But I took it as a sign.

Now, some of you have reacted very strongly to my suggestion that I might abandon this blog as well. Despite your fervent pleadings, I have decided to continue it anyway. At least for a while.

In addition, I will write science fiction short stories as long as editors keep buying them. The great thing about sci-fi is that you don’t have to worry about accuracy. You can invent universes in which anything is possible. Well, almost anything. In all the possible universes, there is none in which Congress actually gets anything accomplished.

Some things never change.


When I Rule the World


I plan to rule the world someday. I’m not sure exactly when or how this will happen. But happen it will.

I have been saving up ideas for what I will do when I rule the world. Here’s my rough draft, by category.


Instead of fighting over gun restrictions, we need to try a new approach: bullet control. Let’s forbid the sale and use of all bullets except those with marshmallow points. Or we’ll allow harder bullets that can move at no more than 3 miles per hour.

Let’s spend more on research to develop new energy sources. I understand that it might be possible someday to turn carbon pollution into methane fuel. Maybe we can also find a way to harness the energy of used tennis balls and laundry lint to power the 21st century.


Landlines and cellphones are bombarded with junk calls, despite laws restricting them. If we can’t block them, at least require each caller to pay you a dollar for the right to call right during dinner or when you’re trying to get junior to sleep.

If we allow Twitter to exist–and I’m not sure that we should–we should include the following message with each tweet: “Warning: The surgeon general has determined that Twitter can cause all kinds of bad things to happen. Stay far away. And don’t read any tweet from anyone inside the Washington Beltway.”

Cellphones will self-destruct when operated continuously for more than 12 hours.


Soccer is in most need of an upgrade. I would double the width and height of the goals. And I would require that goalkeepers be no larger than five-foot-six and play with one hand tied behind their back.

To make football less dangerous, I would force all players to wear at least two layers of bubble wrap before venturing out onto the field.


I’ve given up trying to make baseball games shorter. I would fine every player who spits more than one gallon during a nine-inning game. Two gallons for extra innings.

To make golf more interesting, I would make it a contact sport. You can swing any club in the bag at any opponent at any time. Fans would be required to yell every time a player tries to putt.


I am particularly unhappy with drivers who mosey along at 15 miles per hour below the speed limit while blocking the left lane for mile after mile, only to dart across three lanes to make a right-lane exit at the last instant. Their 30-day sentences would consist of them driving all day behind a smelly trash truck moving at 5 miles per hour on a one-lane road.

All bars of soap would be hollow, so that you are never left with a sliver.


Use of the term “shiplap” would be illegal on TV networks. It’s a made-up word used by people trying to prove how cool they are.


Elected officials would be required to wear uniforms like race car drivers. Their patches would indicate the corporations that gave them more than $1 million. If they ran out of space for those patches on their jackets and pants, they would be allowed to put them on their undergarments.

Health care has gotten too expensive and complicated. Just let people go to doctors. Let the doctors provide the treatment and medicine the patients need. And charge the patients a reasonable amount. Is that so hard?

A new museum would be built on the National Mall dedicated to Hillary’s e-mails. Every e-mail she ever sent would appear on a rolling basis on massive screens. Tour guides and electronic kiosks would explain the damage that these e-mails have caused to national security and our country’s future.

Trump: Illegal Immigrants Will Build Border Wall


President Trump announced today that undocumented immigrants—including children separated from their parents—will build the border wall with Mexico.

Labor camps are already being assembled along the lengthy border. They will house children separately from adults. An administration spokesman said that the adult camps will be at least five miles from those used to house children, so that even if immigrants manage to climb on top of something and use binoculars, they will just be out of sight of their families.


“Knowing that loved-ones are nearby should be a mighty motivating force for immigrants in constructing this much-needed border wall,” said the spokesman. “They will keep building and building with the vain hope of getting close to their family members.”

Trump tweeted that he got the idea from North Korean dictator Kim Jung Il. “Kim has mastered the art of taking idle hands and putting them to work for good purposes,” said Trump. “We’re going to build this wall in no time.”

The Trump administration spokesman said the immigrants building the wall will be paid the equivalent of one dollar an hour in a new cryptocurrency, TrumpCoin. Those who demonstrate advanced skills or who work more than 14 hours a day could earn college credit at Trump University.

“We have about 90 million illegal immigrants in this country,” the president tweeted. “We’re going to put them to work!” Children as young as four will be expected to participate.

He added that those undocumented residents who are not currently in detention have 10 days to surrender to ICE agents in order to get the best bunks in the labor camps. Those who fail to do so will face to prospect of sleeping two a cot.


“When we look back on this 20 years from now,” said Trump, “we’ll be proud of this great project. We will probably hold a parade for any immigrants who survive the process.”

Americans who immigrated legally to the United States might also be asked to help the effort, the administration spokesman stated. He said that exceptions will be made for people who are making substantial contributions to the public good, such as First Lady Melania Trump.

“Brown, black, yellow–we won’t discriminate,” said the spokesman. “Everyone who isn’t white will have the same opportunity to break their backs and spill their blood for the betterment of this great country.”

Erasing Obama


Welcome to the Museum of Revised American History. Straight ahead is the Hall of the Presidents.

What’s that you ask? Why is there a giant empty space where the 44th president would be enshrined? An excellent question.

All traces of the eight years he served have been eradicated. You’re too young to have lived through that terrible, awful time. But I can tell you, it is amazing that our people and our country survived it.

We’re not supposed to talk about that time. Better to let the healing continue, our wonderful President for Life says.


Believe it or not, before the President for Life, there was something called a free press, not the state-controlled media we have now. People were bombarded with fake news. They really didn’t know what to think. They even were led to believe that the President for Life was not very smart and he did some things that were not in the best interests of our great country. Boy, did he correct those false claims.

We can guess that the sorry mess that is our health care system can be traced to the terrible decisions made by whoever was the president back in those dark days. And the fact that several horrible wars have broken out across the globe in the past few years likely also can be linked to that worst-ever president.

No, I don’t recall his name. Those of us over the age of 21 have all had microchips implanted in our brains, with the wonderful result that all of our unpleasant memories of that miserable time have been erased. I do have the vague feeling that the man was an illegal immigrant, born in Africa or Hawaii or some other foreign country bent on our destruction.

How could one man do so much damage? Another excellent question. Historians believe that he did not act alone. There was a Deep State Conspiracy that our President for Life detected and wiped out, though the battle was long and bloody. There was one woman in particular who was particularly heinous. She sent several e-mails, I’m told. I shudder to think of how much our wonderful nation was corrupted by her disgusting actions.

But let’s not dwell on the past. Up ahead is a huge exhibition illustrating the accomplishments of our President for Life. The glowing monument at the center celebrates the historic peace agreement under which we relinquished our autonomy to the Russian Federation. Life is so much more serene now that the tension between our countries has been alleviated.

Next stop is the cafeteria. Today’s special is borscht. Of course, borscht is the special every day. Remember that if you want bread with your meal, you’ll need to get in that line. Looks like a two-hour wait today. Not nearly as bad as some days.

What’s that you say? You didn’t enjoy your visit to the Museum of Revised American History? Guard! I think we have a new recruit for the Labor Camp.

Madman Across the Water


In case you missed it, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has agreed to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump. Kim, the man Trump once mocked as “Rocket Man,” reportedly has agreed to stop testing nukes before the meeting occurs.

The “In Sight” blog has learned that the North Korean dictator agreed to the meeting on one condition: His comments will be limited to lyrics from rock musician Elton John, who wrote the song “Rocket Man.” Because Kim is known for his odd behavior, U.S. officials decided to go along with him in the interest of world peace.


Here is a possible preview of the big meeting:

Trump: Nice to meet you. Before we get into all this nuke stuff, I was wondering if you could help me with a little problem I’m having. A lady problem. Any chance you could make someone disappear?

Kim: Like a candle in the wind.

Trump: Great. Now, about those missiles and warheads. I’d like to get to a place where no one has to live in fear that atomic bombs will end their lives any minute.

Kim: Live for each second without hesitation.

Trump: Hmm. I figured this would be difficult. Let’s try it a different way. I know that your people are starving. What if we offered food shipments or some, you know, financial incentives? That would help you live like a king, and it would reduce a lot of suffering.

Kim: I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will.

Trump: Come on, Mr. Kim. We need to accomplish something here. I can’t go back to Washington empty handed.

Kim: I guess that’s why they call it the blues.

Trump: Say, what if you come to the United States and saw what a great country we have. The greatest. You would enjoy meeting our people.

Kim: I’m not a present for your friends to open.

Trump: Listen, you tiny dancer, the U.S. military is very strong. If we wanted to force you to cooperate, it wouldn’t go well for you. We could obliterate all your cities and military bases. If you somehow survived the attack, you’d be thrown out of power.

Kim: I’m still standing.

Trump: Okay, I tried being nice. Now we do it my way. We’re going to impose all sorts of nasty sanctions on you if you don’t give up your nuclear ambitions. After a few weeks, you’ll be begging us to call it off.

Kim: I think it’s going to be a long, long time.

Trump: I’ve had it with you, Kim. Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t go home?

Kim: Get back, honky cat.

Welcome to the Hysteria Channel


It’s big, it’s bold, it’s chock full of Fake News.

Today I am unveiling a new cable network, The Hysteria Channel, which will titillate viewers with loosely researched episodes depicting conspiracies and secret societies throughout man’s time on Earth.


Sure, some TV networks purport to recount history. Others offer us Fake News programs one after the other. But this new channel goes far beyond, documenting the worst in human endeavor over the ages. Here are some of the episodes planned for Season 1:

INTERNMENT CAMPS: History books tell us that the U.S. government forced people of Japanese ancestry into crowded camps to prevent them from acting against this country during World War II. Our investigation proves that this is far from the truth. Instead, our forward-thinking leaders went out and found people of Asian descent who showed promise in math and the sciences. Instead of prison camps, they were installed in comfortable settings where they started work on modern computers and the Internet.

WATER FLUORIDATION: Yes, most municipalities added chemicals to our drinking water starting in the 1940s. But no, the chemicals were not designed to strengthen our teeth and deter cavities. The subtances were designed to control our minds, to make us susceptible to propaganda. The greatest proof came in 1969 when a majority of the population actually believed that humans set foot on the moon.

THE BERLIN WALL: The effects of the chemicals began to wear off by 1989, but not before a much-publicized November evening in which average people were photographed knocking down sections of The Berlin Wall. The so-called wall, which was designed to keep people from escaping East Germany for West Germany, was never built because of budget cuts. Instead, the East Germans erected a fake barrier out of painted paper and cardboard left over from World War II munitions shipments. The photos of people supposedly busting up the wall were shot at crumbling sections of the Great Wall of China.


OBAMA: Much was made about the proposition that Barack Obama, our first African American president, was born in Kenya. Our investigation has proven his Kenyan birth certificate to be a fake. In reality, Obama was born on Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter, to a space alien couple visiting the solar system to determine how to destroy our civilization. How else can you explain the abomination of Obamacare?

ELECTION MEDDLING: Some members of the so-called intelligence community have claimed that Russian hackers—acting on their own or possibly with the direction of top Russian leaders—tried to influence the 2016 elections. Newly released texts prove that two FBI agents invented the whole thing to try to divert attention from their illicit affair. These are the same two agents who set up a secret society to try to fire President Donald Trump. Lock them up!

Have any ideas of your own for episodes that will depict conspiracies and cover-ups? Send your ideas to this blog. And don’t bother trying to disguise your identity. We know who you are and where you live!

Identical Snowflakes Highlight Scientific Advances


Scientists have discovered two snowflakes that are totally identical, a stunning development in meteorological research that stands of one of the top advances of 2017.

Experts at the U.S. Department of Really Expensive Arcane Developments (DREAD) announced Thursday that the snowflake discovery occurred in the remote town of Damitskold, S.D. Sensors that examine every snowflake that falls in the town set off alarms at 4:12 a.m. when the twin flakes fell harmlessly onto the shoulder of Route 410.


Teams of DREAD employees were dispatched by helicopter to the site, where they excavated a 400-cubic-foot chunk of snow and frozen tundra and whisked it to an underground lab. There, scientists combed through more than 8 billion flakes to isolate the two identical ones.

“We know that this will be hard for some people to believe,” commented an obviously excited DREAD Director Abby Normal. “But machines don’t lie. These snowflakes are identical in every possible way. Unfortunately, in the process of recovering the flakes, one was damaged. And one melted when a researcher inadvertently breathed,” conceded Normal. “These workers have been punished severely for their actions. However, we stand by our findings, putting to rest one of life’s greatest mysteries.”

DREAD first made headlines three years ago when it found conclusive evidence that a stitch in time saves nine. Normal said she had no doubt that DREAD’s annual budget of $250 billion will be increased during upcoming deliberations in Washington.

“There’s so much left to do,” she stated. “For example, we have teams working round-the-clock trying to determine whether a picture is indeed worth one thousand words. Preliminary findings indicate that a typical picture corresponds with 914.11 words, but modern photo data-compression techniques might be impacting those results.”

Moving forward, DREAD hopes to determine whether laughter is indeed the best medicine. Several dozen volunteer subjects with a range of terminal diseases will be subjected to recordings of Jim Carrey, David Letterman and Samantha Bee 24/7 to monitor their reactions. Jerry Seinfeld was willing to speak directly to the subjects, but scientists agreed that he isn’t funny anymore.

“Determining whether the pen is mightier than the sword should also bear significant results for the public,” stated Normal. “We have purchased thousands of pens and swords and will begin testing them in January.” She said that while researchers have recruited more than 400 volunteers to use swords in the research, DREAD is still seeking people willing to enter combat with pens.

She hinted that DREAD might have another exciting announcement soon. “We started the ‘watched pot never boils’ trial in November. Fred, sitting there at the model kitchen, has been at it nonstop, and we are hopeful that he will avoid falling into a coma long enough to prove or disprove this saying once and for all.

“Now Fred, please try to keep your eyes open. Remember, good things come to those who wait.”