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Quips and Jabs — 2001-2002

David E. Ross

An unorganized collection of wry humor, short comments on politics, jabs at commercials, predictions, et cetera. There is no table of contents. Entries are in reverse order (newest at the top).

Not everything here is original with me. Those items that are marked with © are original, and I own the copyright. Those items that indicate contributed by might not be original creations of the contributors.

Current Quips and Jabs

Quips and Jabs 1999-2000

Quips and Jabs 1997-1998

Nine of us gathered for Thanksgiving dinner. Besides my wife and I, sitting around our table were my mother (who lives with us), our son, my wife's brother-in-law and his two children, and my cousin and his "main squeeze".

My wife lifted her wine glass to make a toast: "To our wonderful family."

"It's not so great," grumbled my mother!

A sudden silence fell over the table. I looked Mom straight in the eyes and asked for an explanation.

Mom said, "This wild rice stuffing I made — it's not so great." Mom, who is hard of hearing (although she won't admit it), did not even hear my wife's toast.

© 2002

By helping to ensure that terrorism insurance is affordable and available, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act will permit many construction projects to move forward and to help this economy grow.

President Bush, as he signed the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act into law.

The new law will provide $100,000,000,000 in backing for insurance that covers businesses damaged in terrorist attacks. This new law — coupled with the lack of any legislation to make health insurance affordable and available to individuals — clearly demonstrates Bush's priorities.

© 2002

Bush Brushes Aside Criticism of War on Terror

Sat Nov 16, 2:26 PM ET, Yahoo/Reuters

Despite evidence Osama bin Laden is alive and plotting new attacks, President Bush claimed great progress in the war on terrorism on Saturday, touting thousands of arrests and vowing that "no terrorist will escape" the global manhunt.

Mr. President, how many of those arrested have been convicted? Or are they merely disappearing, as did other thousands in Argentina during the reign of the generals and in Bosnia and Kosovo during "ethnic cleansing"?

© 2002

The defendant stood before the judge for sentencing. This was not the first time. Facing a prior criminal charge for drugs (attempting to fill a forged prescription at a pharmacy), the defendant had been sentenced to drug rehabilitation. This time, the defendant had crack cocaine hidden in a shoe at the rehabilitation center.

Mere possession of crack cocaine is a serious offense. And it seems that, in this case, rehabilitation was not working. If the defendant had been a black male, the sentence could have been 10 years in prison.

But this defendant was a white female, daughter of the governor and niece of the President of the United States. Her sentence? Noelle Bush was sentenced to 10 days in the county jail followed by a return to the rehabilitation center.

© 2002

Deflating an international campaign against him, Saddam Hussein will again allow U.N. weapons inspectors into Iraq. There is only one "minor" exception: They cannot inspect within Saddam's presidential palaces.

Now where do you think Saddam has placed his facilities to create weapons?

© 2002

My mother recently received a letter. The very first sentence read: "You've accomplished something most people only dream about — you bought a house." In the third paragraph, the letter told Mom: "You are a homeowner with your own individual needs."

This piece of junk mail went on to describe the wonderful uses Mom could make of the money she would get if she refinanced her house: "You could buy a new car."

Wrong! Mom is 92 years old. The only real estate she owns is her cemetery plot. If she had a car, she could not drive it because she is legally blind.

The letter also said: "We can tell you how much you qualify for in one day." For how large a loan could Mom qualify? That is a very interesting question. She has been retired for over 25 years. Her only regular income is Social Security. If she had not moved into our house with my wife and me three years ago, her rent (even in a rent-controlled apartment) would have finally depleted the modest inheritance she received from my father 31 years ago.

Of course, we all receive such junk mail, containing "facts" that are obviously wrong. Take it as a warning. If Ameriquest Mortgage Company (who sent the letter to Mom) cannot correctly identify potential customers, what errors does Ameriquest make when dealing with actual customers? I certainly would not do business with a mortgage lender whose marketing approach is so error-laden because I would then be concerned about the accuracy of how my payments are recorded or my interest is computed.

© 2002

Ameriquest is out of business, killed by its own self-inflicted wounds resulting from loose lending criteria in the sub-prime mortgage market. Settlements of civil fraud charges did not help. Nevertheless, Roland Arnall (the founder and CEO of Ameriquest) was appointed ambassador to the Netherlands by President George W. Bush.

Mom is now 97, suffering from dementia, and living in a secured skilled nursing facility. She still gets mail at my house with offers to sell her life insurance, books, etc.

© 2007

When a bank talks about customer service, I recount the money in my wallet.

© 2002

President Bush announced a federal regulation on medical privacy. When you study this regulation, you discover you have no privacy at all. In a bow to his business supporters, health providers will be allowed to give or sell your medical data to pharmaceutical and insurance companies and to drug retailers so that they can then market their products and services to you.

© 2002

Tell the truth. Then you don't need a good memory.

© 2002

President Bush's environmental plan calls for polluters to cut emissions voluntarily and willingly stop other acts that are damaging the environment. If they don't do the right thing when it is a law (e.g., keep accurate and honest accounting records), what makes him think they will do the right thing when it's not a requirement?

Contributed by my daughter, Heather

Because I have the commute from Hell, I get up at 5:30am during the week. (Yes, I know others get up even earlier for an even longer commute.) So, on the weekend, sleeping late is not only a luxury, it's a necessity.

However, MCI does not think so! A telemarketer from MCI woke me out of a sound sleep on a recent Saturday, trying to sell me MCI's service.

This is my pledge:

I will not buy from any business that uses telemarketing!

That's correct. Not only will I not accept any offer made over the telephone; I will not later choose your service or product from a print or broadcast advertisement. If your company uses telemarketers, you are on my Boycott list. If enough people would take this pledge, we could end this plague.

By the way, I never respond to spam. I automatically filter unsolicited commercial E-mail into my trash without ever opening it. If you bought my E-mail address or bought software to "harvest" it from the Internet, you have wasted your money.

Attention MCI: There is no way in God's green earth that I would subscribe to your service, even if you were not part of WorldCom's fraudulent bookkeeping.

© 2002

Sunday, 16 June 2002 — Father's Day. Today, children should be with their fathers. Tonight, my son (35) will join his mother, grandmother, and me for dinner. This morning, my daughter (who lives about 2,000 miles away) called to talk; she also sent an E-mail to my wife to present to me: a message about why at 30 she still wants me to be her father.

For breakfast, my mother treated us to a very nice meal at a local delicatessen. Near our table was a long table set for three or four families who were together. However, on Father's Day, the fathers and mothers sat at one end of the table and the children sat at the other. Oh, one father did sit with his child. But the others just don't realize that, someday, their children will grow up and maybe even move 2,000 miles away. It doesn't seem so when your child is only 6, but the times you can be with your children are really limited. (They also don't realize how annoying small children can be to others in a restaurant when their parents are not sitting right next to them.)

Another observation from the restaurant: Whether you wear the cap backwards or forwards, it still makes you look crude when you wear it while eating.

As for why my daughter now lives in Canada, her own words tell much:

Keep in mind that I MOVED to Canada for love. I LIVE in Canada for love, universal health care, gun control, and greater civil rights.

© 2002

A very loud uproar was recently heard in the city of Poway (near San Diego, CA). A vice-principal at Rancho Bernardo High School checked to see if girls attending a high school dance met the school's dress code. In this case, the administrator was looking up the girl's skirts to make sure they had "regular" underwear instead of thongs. She also peaked into their blouses to make sure they had brassieres. In the meantime, a teacher conducted a visual inspection of boys at the dance to make sure they were wearing some kind of underwear beneath their togas (the dance being a costume party).

Since when is it government's business (the Poway Unified School District being a government agency) whether anyone wears underwear, let alone what kind of underwear? Why can a girl (possibly not yet fully developed) not go bra-less? And why is it wrong for a boy (in the words of Kramer from the Seinfeld show) to let his "boys hang free"?

Too often, school dress codes are demanded by parents who have too little backbone to tell their own children how to dress appropriately. Of course, dress codes are also promoted by parents who do not like the way their neighbors raise their own children. Generally, dress codes target extreme fashions that are very new and thus alarmingly strange. However, by the time a school dress code can address new fashion and be implemented, what was novel is now commonplace and being worn by the students' grandparents.

In Poway we saw dress codes carried to a ridiculous but predictable extreme. In response to outraged parents (who should have foreseen the consequences of their support for dress codes), the vice-principal has been put on leave pending an investigation by the school district.

© 2002

'Dilber' cartoon in which 6-Sigma is revealed as TQM under a new name

The latest fad in management theory is Six Sigma. The buzzword name of this theory derives from statistics. Along a normal (bell) curve, an event at 6 standard deviations (symbolized by the Greek letter sigma) from the mean has a probability of only 0.00009%. According to the advocates of Six Sigma, the implementation of this theory in a business will result in errors that improbable, a business 99.99991% error-free. 'Dilbert' cartoon in which 6-Sigma is claimed to increase profits except where profits go down

That is truly a noble goal. Just imagine what it really means. In a supermarket chain achieving this goal, they will sell over 200,000 cartons of milk, but only one of those cartons leaks. Also, that same supermarket chain will sell 50,000 cartons of a dozen eggs each without a single cracked egg, 70,000 strawberries with none being either moldy or under-ripe, and 200,000 cans of soup with not one dent.

With Six Sigma, Micro$oft's Word has less than six bytes of the code in error. A complete day's edition of the Los Angeles Times comes off the press with not more than two copies smudged. I have only one spelling, punctuation, or grammatical error in my entire Web site (137 pages containing 1.27 megabytes).

Does anyone really believe this level of perfection is possible?

© 2002

To make an 8:30am appointment with a doctor, I fought heavy traffic and (where traffic was lighter) possibly even broke the speed limit. But I was there on time.

When I signed in at the receptionist's counter, I noticed three other patients already waiting for the same doctor at that early hour. I sat there in the waiting room in pain (I was there for a post-operative check on surgery the doctor had performed on my hand) until 9:10, when I went back up to the receptionist.

"Will it be much longer?" I asked. "My appointment was for 40 minutes ago. When an airline double books, they pay a penalty to their passengers."

Less than five minutes later, I was in an examination room.

© 2002

Why do companies put E-mail addresses on their Web pages? I sent E-mail to:

None answered! Don't they want my business? Why do they bother with an E-mail address if they are not going to respond to customers?

© 2002

bumper sticker: 'In God We Trust'

But which God?
Allah, Mithras, Buddha, Zeus, Zoroaster, Woden?

Whose God? The God of the Jews? A god of the Hindus?
The God of our enemies (who also happen to believe in God)?

What does our national motto really mean?
Again: Which God? Whose God?

© 2002

Nova Scotia nudists won't be prosecuted for tanning their privates in public

Headline in Canada News, 25 Oct 01

The provincial government of Nova Scotia decided that nude sunbathing at Crystal Crescent, a popular beach outside Halifax, is legal and would be allowed. It becomes illegal only when nudists act inappropriately and perform lewd or indecent acts.

Under the Criminal Code in Nova Scotia, it is an offence to be nude if it offends public decency. The maximum penalty is a fine of $2,000, a jail term of up to six months or both.

Hey! With my body, just taking off my shirt (leaving on my pants) offends public decency.

© 2001

My wife had an unpleasant task to peform. I told her to consider it as a growth experience.

She replied, "When you experience a growth, you have it removed."

© 2001

I received the following message, forwarded to me by my son:

Subject: Be aware on 10/28 - VERY AWARE!!!

Don't go to the bathroom on October 28th. CIA intelligence reports that a major plot is planned for that day.

Anyone who takes a shit on the 28th will be bitten on the ass by an alligator. Reports indicate that organized groups of alligators hired by Bin Laden are planning to rise up into unsuspecting American's toliet bowls and bite them in the ass when they are doing their business.

I usually don't send emails like this, but I got this information from a reliable source. It came from a friend of a friend whose cousin is dating this girl whose brother knows this guy whose wife knows this lady whose husband buys hotdogs from this guy who knows a shoeshine guy who shines the shoes of a mailroom worker who has a friend whose drug dealer sells drugs to another mailroom worker who works in the CIA building. He apparently overheard two guys talking in the bathroom about alligators and came to the conclusion that we are going to be attacked. So it must be true.

I replied:

Oh, oh.

First of all, the CIA snoops are screening all E-mail looking for "bin Laden". Anyone who sends a message with that name is at risk of being held without bail and without an attorney as a material witness. Material witnesses will be held without trial until both Bush and what's-his-name both die of old age.

Then, of course, some recipients (including the CIA snoops) have zero sense of humor. They will think this is a real warning. Thus begins another urban legend. As the word spreads, this could create more damage — overloaded E-mail servers and congested connections — than any virus.

Just remember, anthrax (another word for which the snoops are looking) cannot be spread via E-mail. All it will take is someone to drop the not from cannot. E-mail servers around the world will then begin to crash from the overload.

My reply © 2001

The wave of citizens purchasing U.S. flags in the aftermath of the recent terrorist attacks is certainly a warm and fuzzy story. Will these "patriots" also be willing to get rid of their gas-guzzling SUVs — which perpetuate the United States' dependence on Arab oil? I doubt it. That would undoubtedly be too great a sacrifice. It's much easier to buy a flag.

Aaron Friedland, in a "Letter to the Editor" in the Los Angeles Times

At the racism conference in Durban, South Africa, many delegates from African nations demanded an apology from the United States and European nations for slavery. Slavery ended there in the 19th century.

In the meantime, no such demand for an apology was made against Arab nations, where black Africans were still being enslaved in the 20th century. I must therefore question the legitimacy of the entire conference.

© 2001

Was he anticipating Dick Cheney's heart surgery?

We'll let our friends be the peacekeepers and the great country called America will be the pacemakers.

George W. Bush, Houston, Texas, 6 September 2000

Do you know this person? Why?

A photo of my son making a very funny face

I heard it on KNX radio (1070 AM in Los Angeles).

First, there was a news item about California's electric power problems. Apparently, sufficient commitments of power had been obtained to ensure there would be no more rolling blackouts in California for the next two or three years. Indeed, the state now has a surplus of electric power.

Immediately following that news item was an advertisement from a company specializing in installing emergency electric power generators. The announcer described a frightening scenario of lost data and closed businesses, all caused by the pending rolling blackouts. Then he told us how his company could prevent such disasters, but we had to call before the next blackout.

© 2001

The Israeli Prime Minister is sitting down with Yasser Arafat to try to work out an agreement. The Prime Minister asks if he might first tell a story. Arafat tells him to go ahead.

When Moses was in the desert for forty years the Jews got very thirsty and Moses asked the Lord for water and there appeared a beautiful lake. The Jews first drank and then bathed themselves. Moses did the same but when he came out of the water his clothes were gone.

Moses shouted, 'Where are my clothes? Who took them?'

The Jews answered, 'The Palestinians took them.'"

Arafat quickly objects, "There were no Palestinians at that time!"

The Prime Minister looks at Arafat and said, "Now we can begin to negotiate."

Contributed by my cousin Sandra A.

All in one single morning's commute to work, I saw the following:

Why not road rage?

© 2001

President Bush's HMO "reform" legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives provides a mechanism for a patient to appeal a denial of service. The appeal would be heard by an "independent" medical review board appointed by the HMOs.

Tell me, Mr. Fox, how many chickens do you want us to put into that henhouse we are asking you to guard?

© 2001

Four years ago, I predicted that the depressed price of gold would draw out the "gold bugs" (individuals who have more faith in gold than in money) to campaign for the monetization of gold. At that time, gold in commodity markets was about $320 per troy ounce.

With gold now trading below $270 per ounce, an offshore company on a small Carribean island is promoting its own gold-based electronic currency for use on the Internet. The fact that this company is beyond the reach of any jurisdiction having effective consumer-protection laws should be warning enough.

© 2001

The The Walt Disney Company will soon layoff 1,000 employees in an attempt to reduce costs and boost profits. They will have to try even harder. After all, the wages and benefits they will save on those 1,000 employees is less than 2/3 of CEO Michael Eisner's compensation.

© 2001

My wife and I are going to Canada to celebrate the graduation of our daughter from the University of Toronto. Heather, my wife, and I will join some of Heather's friends and their families on graduation night for dinner.

After talking to our daughter on the phone, my wife pleaded with me, "Please don't embarrass Heather in front of her friends."

I replied, "What's the purpose of a father if not to embarrass his children?"

© 2001


Researchers Shocked to Finally Find Virus That Email App Doesn't Like

Atlanta, Ga. ( — Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Symantec's AntiVirus Research Center today confirmed that foot-and-mouth disease cannot be spread by Microsoft's Outlook email application, believed to be the first time the program has ever failed to propagate a major virus.

"Frankly, we've never heard of a virus that couldn't spread through Microsoft Outlook, so our findings were, to say the least, unexpected," said Clive Sarnow, director of the CDC's infectious disease unit.

The study was immediately hailed by British officials, who said it will save millions of pounds and thousands of man hours. "Up until now we have, quite naturally, assumed that both foot-and-mouth and mad cow were spread by Microsoft Outlook," said Nick Brown, Britain's Agriculture Minister.

"By eliminating it, we can focus our resources elsewhere."

However, researchers in the Netherlands, where foot-and-mouth has recently appeared, said they are not yet prepared to disqualify Outlook, which has been the progenitor of viruses such as "I Love You," "Bubbleboy," "Anna Kournikova," and "Naked Wife," to name but a few.

Said Nils Overmars, director of the Molecular Virology Lab at Leiden University: "It's not that we don't trust the research, it's just that as scientists, we are trained to be skeptical of any finding that flies in the face of established truth. And this one flies in the face like a blind drunk sparrow."

Contributed by Mike Miora

As with many jokes, the humor above is based on reality. This is one of the reasons I use Eudora for E-mail.

During a news report on KNX radio about a restaurant fire, I heard an official from the Los Angeles City Fire Department declare that " … we obtained extinguishment … ".


Perhaps the Fire Department should extinguish his tongue.

Later during the same news broadcast, KNX had a news item about the swarms of Memorial Day travelers at Los Angeles International Airport. Both the announcer in the radio studio and the reporter at the scene proclaimed "Live from LAX".

The reporter interviewed a woman about how she felt about traveling on a holiday. She said, "It's now 6:15. I'm not used to being awake this early." I looked at the clock in my car (set to match my computer clock that is set from highly accurate international time standards); it was already 7:35am.

Is it live or is it Memorex?

© 2001

No one is listening until you fart.

Contributed by a cousin who shall remain nameless

Insurance giant Conseco Incorporated recently announced it will layoff 1,000 employees as the first phase of transferring 14% of its operations to India. The second phase of this move in search of cheaper labor will eliminate another 1,000 U.S. jobs.

I would suggest that Conseco focus on India for its future customer base. After all, why should Americans buy life, health, and other insurance products from a company that creates unemployment for American workers?

In the meantime, Oracle Corporation made its own announcement. Adopting an employee-evaluation scheme already in use at General Electric and other companies, Oracle will rank its employees into three categories: the top 20%, the middle 70%, and the bottom 10%. Those at the bottom will have three choices: be reassigned (if there is an opening) to another position more aligned with their "talents", engage in a management-approved improvement program, or be terminated.

The problem is that, if Oracle succeeds this year in eliminating all the 10% of its employees who are "bottom performers", some of those who were in the 70% group — who were deemed acceptable this year — will find themselves in the unacceptable group next year even if their performance improves.

Why would anyone want to work in such quicksand? Of course, this might be merely a ploy for Oracle to reduce its workforce by 10% without having to go throught the expense and bother of a layoff.

© 2001

One day you'll realize that the people most capable of running the country are too smart to get into politics.

Jim Unger, Herman cartoonist

If we're not supposed to kill and eat animals, why are they made of meat?

Contributed by my brother

WASHINGTON (AP) - A veteran FBI agent has been arrested on an espionage charge, accused of spying for Russia, the FBI said Tuesday.

Associated Press/Yahoo, 20 February 2001

Has anyone else noticed? When a serious (or even not so serious) security breach occurs involving a government employee, the government addresses the problem by targeting contractors and their employees.

The government will now impose tighter security rules at contractors' workplaces. Employers will now find more trouble and time required to obtain clearances for their employees to work on classified projects. This will happen even though no contractor or contractor's employee was involved with FBI agent Robert Hanssen.

In the meantime, nothing will change for government employees who have security clearances. Just look at the difference between how ex-CIA Director John Deutch (a government employee) and Wen Ho Lee (a contractor employee) were treated when each committed the same security violation.

Over and over again, contractors and their employees suffer the consequences when government employees commit security violations.

© 2001

AUBURN HILLS, Mich.--DaimlerChrysler might sell off the Chrysler Group's aviation unit or some of its component plants in further restructuring moves this year to help pull the company out of its sea of red ink, Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said Monday.

News item from the Los Angeles Times, 20 February 2001

Why is it that, when a company reorganizes during financial difficulties, they always sell their winners and keep their losers?

© 2001

The latest fad in education reform among politicians is "pay for performance", where the teachers whose students do well get extra pay and the teachers whose students do poorly have their pay cut.

What if we tried the same thing with doctors? The doctor whose patients always get well would get extra pay, and the doctor whose patients die would have their pay cut. Of course, all doctors would then attempt to treat only healthy patients and turn away ill patients. (Oh! That is exactly what some HMOs and health insurance companies already try.)

In the meantime, the politicians do not realize that education involves both teaching (done by a teacher) and learning (done by a student). Some students just do not want to learn. For other students, whether they learn is strongly influenced by how important education is to their parents. The best teachers cannot make all students learn.

"Pay for performance" rewards and penalizes teachers for results that are not entirely under their control. If doctors were both compensated according to "pay for performance" and also required to accept all patients who walk in the door (just as teachers are not allowed to pick and choose their students), would it be fair to reduce the pay of a doctor who allowed a terminally ill patient to die?

© 2001

When I was younger I hated going to weddings … it seemed that all of my aunts and the grandmotherly types used to come up to me, poking me in the ribs and cackling, telling me, "You're next."

They stopped that shit after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.

Contributed by Jason Schroeder

Even though they seem to fly only when they are damn ready — whenever that is — airline schedules show very precise times. A plane does not take off at approximately 9:20am; it takes off at 9:21am. It does not land between 2:10pm and 2:15pm; it lands — according to the published schedule — exactly at 2:12pm.

The next time you are in an airport, look for a clock! Can you find any?

Recently, I was in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to pick up my daughter, who was paying too short a visit from her home in Toronto. In the arrivals area — the entire first floor of the Bradley Terminal — I could find just one small wall clock. It was two minutes fast.

No, the absence of clocks in airports does not explain the erratic schedules of airlines and their inability to adhere to those schedules. But this absence definitely makes it harder for travelers to know if their flight was late.

© 2001

A lady came up to me on the street, pointed at my suede jacket and said, "Don't you know a cow was murdered for that jacket?"

I said, "I didn't know there were any witnesses. Now I'll have to kill you too."

Contributed by my son.

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