I have been very busy watching sports and writing blogs. What happened to that Obama guy? He could be arrogant sometimes and he did not always do what I wanted but nobody else does either. He was very smart but a little boring. His big scandal was sneaking cigarettes. Where did he go? He was starting to grow on me. I was even beginning to believe he was born in Hawaii. He seemed to be a good family man and I liked his sense of humor. He could spin like a politician but he was not telling mean spirited whoppers. Is George W still alive? Can he come back without Cheney? Who is this new guy and where the heck did he come from? Is he an interim President? When is the real one scheduled to take over?


Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan was only 62 when he died in Seattle in 1996. He was an astronomer who popularized science by translating concepts that most every non scientist except me could understand. He did grab my attention when he expressed irony over the plaque Apollo 11 left on the Moon. It was signed by President Nixon and reads, “We came in peace for all mankind.” Sagan’s take: “As the United States was dropping seven and a half megatons of conventional explosives on small nations in Southeast Asia, we congratulated ourselves on our humanity. We would harm no one on a lifeless rock.” Sagan could be provocative and I enjoyed following his legal skirmishes with with Apple. After Sagan forced the technology company to drop the code name Carl Sagan from their McIntosh 7100, they retaliated with a new code name: Butt-Head Astronomer (BHA). Sagan sued for libel and lost. Then he sued for the original use of his name and lost. Nevertheless, Apple eventually apologized and changed the code name to a mutually agreeable Lawyers are Wimps (LAW).


I have discovered over the years that tooth decay and destruction is caused by eating food, drinking liquids, and playing tennis. Sure, some foods and drinks are worse than others and we can brush and floss our teeth in a desperate attempt to cover up our addiction to meals. But basically our eating and drinking is causing cavities. How bad it gets is greatly influenced by genetics, so at least I have something else to blame my parents for. The good characteristic of cavities is their tendency to take awhile to develop. Playing tennis can destroy your teeth instantly. When I was fifteen, I knocked my two front teeth out with my own racket as I tried to make a quick adjustment at the net to an incoming ball with nasty backspin. This was especially traumatic at the time because the temporary caps would become discolored and I was called “Clubtooth” at school. The experience did teach me a few things. First, it made me realize that society does not need racial or nationality differences to pick on people. Humans will always be able to find something about a person and/or their appearance to cut them out of the herd. I also learned how dangerous tennis is and tried to ban it in our household. Of course, this inspired my wife and oldest son (who lettered in tennis in high school) to become serious tennis players. I have about given up wishing they would knock their teeth out and prove me right.


Ernest Benn, a British publisher and writer, is quoted in a 1944 book by Henry Powell Spring as saying, “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” This quote has also been attributed to Groucho Marx which is what happens when you say something brilliant and/or funny. Others repeat it and listeners sometimes forget who is being quoted or the re-teller confuses who actually said it. The quotation itself is the important element and we struggle to remember which of the five Marx brothers to credit: Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, Johnny Carson, or Jon Stewart. No matter who originated the quote, Donald Trump is making it fashionable today by embodying it. And so decades from now, he will likely be wrongly remembered as the source. I am reprinting it in the hope that anyone who reads it here will start misidentifying me as the author.

Small Pleasures

One recent morning my five year old granddaughter chided me, “Shouldn’t you be getting me ready for school?” I had to remind her that it was Saturday. Finding out you do not have school is one of life’s small pleasures, like waking to a surprise snowfall and seeing the name of your institution on a cancellation list. Did you ever get a welcome prom invitation, raise, or promotion you did not expect? I like the moment I wake up from a nightmare and realize it was a dream. How about a Stamper Blog under a hundred words!?


If time flies when you are having fun, I figure I must be having a lot more fun than I realized. I did some research and found caveats and exceptions. Adam originally discovered time was flying in the Garden of Eden but Methuselah later factored in age which also accelerates time (T=F/A). Plato uncoupled fun and happiness by linking the latter to morality. Aristotle tried to reconcile the difference under the theory of Eudaimonia but Quintus Sextius the Elder later exposed this as a vegetable. The School of the Sextii sounded promising but began promoting boring stuff like vegetarianism and the avoidance of politics. The Cynics, Stoics, and Epicureans continued to squeeze any remaining fun out of happiness. Epicurus introduced the idea of Tranquility with a mandate for the ascetic lifestyle but also endorsed the avoidance of politics. Augustine of Hippo is mistakenly credited with introducing weight loss principles as essential to fulfillment but he actually linked happiness to mental pursuits. Intellectual answers were further popularized in the Middle Ages by others like St. Thomas Aquinas. Early Modern and Contemporary Philosophers have done little to get fun back in the picture. Surprisingly, all of this philosophy can be reduced to specific scientific predictions related to time and fun. For example, regardless of age, Democrats will find time slowing to a crawl over the next few years.

Alternate Universe

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. He was a Baptist Minister in Alabama who led the Montgomery Bus Boycott after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat in the colored section of the bus to a white passenger on December 1, 1955. The 385 day strike was ultimately successful in ending all racial segregation on Montgomery public buses but King’s house was bombed and he was arrested during the campaign. For the sake of his pregnant wife and young daughter, King subsequently took a Minister position in Chicago. He was a supporter of Ralph Abernathy, the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Abernathy credited correspondence from King as influencing the mission of the SCLC in campaigns in Albany, Birmingham, St. Augustine, Selma, and the 1963 March on Washington. Meanwhile King was known locally for his sermons as he would rouse his Congregation with his dreams for America. He was hit with a brick during a 1966 Chicago Open Housing March and negotiated with Mayor Daley on the cancellation of another March due to escalating violence. The SCLC movement stalled with the 1968 assassination of Abernathy and violence increased in American cities. Pressure continued to mount but King was able to witness the passage of Civil Rights legislation during the Carter Administration in the late 1970’s. President Clinton presented Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King with the Medal of Freedom in 1996. King often wondered how different his life might have been if he had not relocated the family to Illinois. He frequently regaled his granddaughter with stories of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the exhilaration of the crowds. He missed the excitement of that time. He died peacefully at the age of 88, survived by three of his four children.


Who decided the order we say the ABC’s? Young children have to memorize seemingly random letters with a sing song ditty. The letters are not even arranged in a rhyme despite the fact that nine letters end with the long e sound; other letters rhyme as well. The ABC’s do not bother to lump the vowels together, so another ditty is required. Keyboards arrange the letters in an alleged efficient manner (I type with one finger so would not know). Why are we not starting the alphabet QWERTY? Or can we not at least sort the majority of the alphabet in words like NYMPH? I have been working hard on this but cannot attract any interest. Without the alphabet, we have no written words. We upgrade smart phones every few minutes but do not spend any time putting the alphabet in optimum order. So many people are sitting around watching mind numbing television (like confirmation hearings) when we could all be working together on this. I will be setting up a Crowdfunding site soon if you are wondering how to contribute.

El Salvador

Next month my middle son’s family is traveling to El Salvador for five nights to visit his wife’s family. I went with them on the 2013 version of the same trip because two of my grandchildren were being baptized. No one is going to miss me this time because I do not speak Spanish but found many creative ways to insult our hosts. For example, I carried all my own food and liquids. The night we arrived, the six guests were offered chicken from a hen who was running around the grounds earlier that day. I declined in favor of the trail mix in my pocket. Later that evening I ate my canned chicken with jerky strips and ketchup on wheat bread (Salvadoran Club Sandwich). I was able to maintain variety. The canned tuna with jelly sandwich (The Jellyfish) was a favorite as was peanut butter with anything. My advice to anyone trying this strategy would be to carry more liquids. I brought six waters and three Gatorades I purchased for a small fortune at the airport after going through Security. I was reduced to buying three Cokes at the end of the trip. They were bottled in Nicaragua and were the best soft drinks I ever tasted. I did not get sick but neither did anyone else. My granddaughter was five when we made the trip. A few years later I was talking about being at her baptism and she said, “You weren’t there!” And in one sense, maybe I was not. My main function was taking the pictures. So my next piece of advice is applicable to any situation: make sure you get in some of the photos!


I always wanted to be famous. But I never wanted to put hard work into the effort. Just like I always wanted to be rich but I prefer to win my fortune in the lottery and avoid overexerting myself. This goes a long way toward explaining why I will never be famous or rich. Some lack of talent also exists but that is beside the point. I am actually somewhat relieved that I have not achieved fame and fortune. Right now, I can barely accumulate a hundred people who go beyond indifference and dislike me intensely. I can keep adding more but then some start dying off. For prominent people like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, they can literally maintain rosters of tens of millions of people who loathe them at any particular time. Clearly they also get adulation from millions but I am not sure I could handle the downside volume of vitriol that comes with the territory. And I am even a relatively insensitive person. Still, I am not quite ready to stop buying lottery tickets.