SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces: SmitherSlips&Slaps

Gar Smith
Monday January 30, 2023 - 05:33:00 PM

One Child's Magnetic Words

After two years of pandemic cloistering, we left the country for a Caribbean holiday visit with extended family in Trinidad. After over-indulging on Indian delicacies (dhal puri, aloo pie, pholourie, callaloo, roti, and doubles), we shared precious time with some lively and precocious Trini kids.

We gave 7-year-old Ethan a Christmas gift — a puzzle box containing more than 200 words printed on small, magnetized metal chips. He immediately went to work, separating them all for display on a dining table. Then he raced to the nearest refrigerator and began assembling his first two statements on the fridge's metal flank.

When he returned to the table to start assembling another string of words, I strolled over to the kitchen and was astonished to read what he had posted. His messages read:

"Kind things innovate you more than harder times. They improvise sweet."

And: "She can only have my joyful beautiful heart."

All the News That's Fit to Drip

During December's storm-fest of atmospheric rivers, the plastic bags intended to keep our morning Chronicles dry failed big-time. You could tell how intense each storm was by counting the number of wet pages inside.

When we returned, it was clear that one of the dampest days had been December 31. That day's edition of the Chron was so waterlogged that we had to hang the paper's saggy sheets on a clothesline to dry. Which lead to another surprise: it turns out that the ink in our "journal of record" is water-soluble! Details in a front-page story about Trump's tax troubles were lost to the ages: the ink had simply vanished, washed-away by the deluge. 

Shell-shocked at TJ's 

I recently tried to transcend the global egg-shortage by scrambling over to the local Trader Joe's at 8AM in order to be one of the first through the door. 

I rushed to the egg section (which has regularly been laid bare by the time I make my typical afternoon shopping run). But this time I was rewarded with the sight of a goodly number of egg cartons, including a dozen on the bottom shelf that appeared to be selling for the "low price" of $3.29. 

Looking over my shoulder, I asked a passing TJ employee if the eggs were really selling at the posted price. He confirmed the price then gently grabbed one of the two egg cartridges I was cradling in my arms. 

"But you can only have one," he informed me. 

I followed his index finger as he pointed upwards to a prominent sign high atop the egg display. It read: "1 Carton per Visit. Due to National Egg Shortage." And then (this being Trader Joe's) the sign concluded with the hopeful note: "Until supply is bok to normal." 

That's "bok" as in "bwak!" (for those who don't speak Chicken.) 

The Mass Killers Whose Names Are Never Uttered 

For two days in January, mass-shootings in California claimed the lives of at least 18 innocent victims. 

And then, the familiar parade of grieving. As with each and every mass killing in the US, the police and media gathered to share post-mortem details on the incident. The number of casualties was pronounced and the weapon-of-choice was identified as "a semi-automatic handgun" or "an assault rifle." 

But a critical piece of information was missing — the brand-name of the company that made the weapon. 

For the record: According to the Violence Project and Everytown for Gun Safety, the five companies whose weapons are most often used to commit America's mass-murders are: Smith & Wesson, Rutger, Bushmaster, Sig Sauer, and Daniel Defense. 

It's time to stop giving these merchants of death a pass. It's time for the press to start naming these sponsors of slaughter. 

The Lesser of Three Evils  

On August 31, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood before an audience of thousands while delivering a prophetic speech at the National Conference for New Politics in Chicago and famously decried what he called “the three evils of society”—namely, the “giant triplets of racism, economic exploitation and militarism.” Dr. King also spoke of the destructive triad of "Poverty, Racism, and War." 

But on MLK Day 2023—the day that Joe Biden addressed a crowd inside Ebenezer Baptist Church—Dr. King's eldest son, Martin Luther King III, publicly and intentionally misstated his father's famous "three evils" quote by replacing the word "militarism" with the less-focused word, "violence." 

Could this omission have been in deference to Biden's pro-war politics? 

I Have a Nightmare  

I've grown tired of MLK celebrations that focus on the single phrase, "I have a dream." 

In these sanctioned ceremonies there is never a mention of the "three evils" that King warned were leading to America's "spiritual death" — poverty, racism, and militarism. 

I'm imagining a meme with an image of King's towering statue in Washington being used to hide a collection of Pentagon-budgeted, nuclear-capable missiles. 

The caption would read: "Keep dreaming, suckers." 

The Ukraine War Pitch Meeting 

Harrison Smith breaks down the absurdity of the war in Ukraine in his latest pitch meeting on The American Journal


Four Clicks to Abhor War  

World BEYOND War, "a global network of volunteers, chapters, and affiliated organizations advocating for the abolition of the institution of war" is promoting "Four Awesome Things You Can Do for World Peace," all at the click of a keypad. Here they are: 

1. Tell Congress: Move the Money from the Military to Social and Environmental Programs! 

2. Ask President Biden to Sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
3. Celebrate the Global Banning of Nuclear Weapons

4. Rally Against War in Washington D.C. on February 19!  

Kaiser's Dry January 

According to Kaiser Permanente, more people are making a resolution to start the New Year with a "Dry January"—where you swear not to sip alcohol for the whole month. This brew-break is supposed to be good for your body and mind, so KP has come up with a healthy alternative to the Piña Colada — the Piña Kale-ada. Here's the recipe: 


Fashion Plates 

A collection of personalized license plates glimpsed about town: 

  • Black BMW: AG DIGTL (An Attorney General with a Smartphone? A hands-on agriculturist?)
  • Black Volvo: ORKIDS (A florist or a tight-knit family from Oregon?)
  • Dark blue vehicle: QRESONE (Question Reason?)
  • Black Alfa Romero Giulia Super: UAW 658 (A proud member of the United Auto Workers' Ohio division?)
  • Black van: I1L1L1 ("I Won-El One-El One"?)
  • Blue Ford Mustang: BAPA111 (Beats me.)
  • Buick Enclave: HOJOSAM (Haven't a clue.)
Trump's Trading Card Grift Exposed 


Daily Kos newshound Kurt Eichenwald recently sniffed out some tantalizing teases about The Former Guy and the "business partners in his sleazy trading card grift"—a reference to a self-indulging series of cards with cartoons showing Trump dressed up as a cowboy, a soldier, an astronaut, and a superhero. 

Eichenwald was amused to discover that Trumpsters who acquire these non-fungible tokens (NTFs) "don’t even fully own them." If they can ever find a buyer for any of their digital cards, "they have to kick back 10% of the sale price to Trump and his fellow grifters." 

Trump doesn't make these NFTs, of course. That's handled by a licensing company called CIC and a "skuzzy" New Jersey-based entity called NFT International, LLC. 

Eichenwald traced CIC "to a mailbox at a UPS Store in a strip mall in Utah" and then "to an office building in Wyoming, and finally to a tiny brick house in Cheyenne" that is said to be a "corporate 'home' for scores of business entities, including a huge number of fraudsters and international criminals." 

Among those registered with Wyoming Corporate is a New Jersey company that has profited by selling military car and tractor-trailer parts to the Defense Department and former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, "who was once ranked the eighth-most corrupt official in the world by watchdog group Transparency International." 

In 2004, Lazarenko was ordered to spend eight years in a California prison "for money-laundering and extortion" for his role in "a scam that used shell companies and offshore bank accounts to hide stolen Ukrainian government funds." According to Eichenwald, Wyoming Corporate's clients also include Ira N. Rubin, an alleged fraudster sued by the Federal Trade Commission in 2006 for employing "at least 18 different front companies to hide his role as a credit-card processor for telemarketing scams." 

They Call It Democracy