Missed it by THAT Much

There’s a growing belief, arguably evolving and still incomplete, that police officers should have some kind of higher education before they’re given guns and tasers and cars and sent out on the streets to keep us safe.  With that growing view, growing numbers of police departments are imposing such requirements on those who aspire to be police officers.

The city of Philadelphia implemented such a requirement in 2013 after a U.S. Department of Justice investigation of the city’s police department, requested by the city’s own police commissioner, questioned the caliber of the people to whom the city was issuing badges and batons.  The requirement:  60 hours of college credit, based on research that found that police officers who attended college perform better on the job, are more creative, are better problem-solvers, pose fewer disciplinary problems, are less likely to view force as their first option, generate fewer citizen complaints, and even use less sick time.

Which are some pretty compelling reasons to require more education, when you think about it.

But after less than three years with this requirement in place the city panicked when it didn’t have enough applicants to fill its latest class at the police academy and dropped the still-new requirement.  The argument was that too many otherwise-qualified applicants didn’t qualify because they lacked the 60 credits.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the reasoning offered by the city’s mayor:  that police recruits can’t afford to go into $100,000 in debt to get those 60 credits.

Which sounds almost reasonable, doesn’t it?  After all, while many people invest a great deal of money in the education they need to pursue their career of choice, more and more people are questioning the value of such large investments.

But there’s a flaw in the mayor’s rationale, the Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out:  people who want to be police officers don’t need to spend $100,000 to get the amount of education the city had been seeking.  Actually, it turns out it would cost only about $10,000 to get the needed 60 credits at the city’s community college.

So the mayor was only off by $90,000.

Because no one’s asking anyone to go to Harvard.

And a reasonable argument can be made that someone who’s not willing to invest that relatively modest amount of money and a little time in a classroom to get such a minor credential for what’s really a pretty good (albeit sometimes dangerous) job must not be terribly interested in being a police officer.

And that those “otherwise qualified applicants” aren’t really that qualified in the first place – and not terribly interested in becoming qualified, either.

Finally, something not to be overlooked:  Philadelphia’s mayor is clueless.

Who Knew Such a Place Even Existed?

The Curmudgeon stumbled upon this store just five minutes from his house and was just astonished.

Who knew such a place even existed?

And more important, who owns it – Wile E. Coyote?

When it Absolutely Does NOT Have to be There Overnight

Because it’s a captive audience:  a storefront the curmudgeonly sister spotted along North Broad Street in Philadelphia.


Another Thought About Whole Foods

The Curmudgeon has written about the almost-supermarket chain Whole Foods in the past.

He’s not a fan.

Everything about the place screams arrogance, from the outrageous prices to bizarre products (goat dung soap, anyone?) to the minimum wage cashiers who sneer at you if you don’t bring your own biodegradable, fair trade bags to the smug self-righteousness of so many of its customers to the CEO of a crunchy granola, left wing-type business who is himself a conservative – a libertarian, actually – who opposed health care reform, doesn’t believe health care is a right, compared unions to herpes, doesn’t think climate change is necessarily bad and doesn’t believe there’s a consensus that it’s even happening, and was once caught by the Security and Exchanges Commission going to online forums under a pseudonym to talk trash about a company he was trying to buy in the hope that the lies he was spreading would lower that company’s value.

But here’s a new one:  to the right is a photo of a trash can outside a Whole Foods near The Curmudgeon’s home.  The company, in its arrogance, is trying to shame people for not recycling every single bit of waste or trash they generate.

As if there’s never a dumpster behind a Whole Foods store.

Seriously, seriously obnoxious and arrogant.

The Vice President Provides a Much-Needed Answer

Is The Curmudgeon a natural curmudgeon?  Was he born that way or did he become that way somewhere along the line?  Was it nature or nurture?

Sigmund Pence

The Curmudgeon has long wondered about this and now, he may have an answer.  In 1997, vice president Mike Pence said that children with two working parents suffer “…stunted emotional growth.”

So that explains it:  The Curmudgeon is a curmudgeon because he had two working parents and that stunted his emotional growth.

Thanks, Mike, for clearing that up for us.

A real piece of work, he is.

They Walked Five Miles to School Every Day…

…with shoes that had holes in them.

Even in the snow.

Wearing thin, hand-me-down coats.

And no umbrellas when it rained.

And they walked home for lunch every day and their mothers always – always – had a hot meal on the table for them.

And they used fountain pens because who could afford a ballpoint pen?

And they had to cut down trees and strip the bark to make paper for their notebooks.

Okay, maybe The Curmudgeon exaggerated a little on that last one, but really, don’t we get tired of people of a certain age complaining about how kids today have it too easy?  Most of those complainers would be reduced to tears if they’d had to learn in tenth grade the things kids today learn in fifth, but no, they were rougher and tougher in the olden days and they went to school when men were men and even the women were men and today’s kids are soft and we baby them too much and we’ve got a nanny society today and that’s why the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

To which The Curmudgeon declares “Poppycock!”

But that’s exactly what you find when you check out reader comments in response to a Philadelphia Inquirer article explaining that because the forecast for last Tuesday called for temperatures in the mid-nineties, public schools in Philadelphia and some surrounding suburbs would be closing at noon, or shortly thereafter, that day.

Among some of the gems from Inquirer readers:

When it got this hot, St. Agnes would only let us take our ties off.

*      *     *

They sucked it up back in the 1950s. You probably didn’t have no AC at home back then either.

*      *     *

It was 95 degrees every day through the Summer of 1776, but somehow they came up with a Declaration of Independence.

*      *     *

Getting out early because it is too hot?  Why, it’s still going to be hot on the bus, the subway, the train, walking home, when you get home if you do not have AC…

*      *     *

Whaaaaaahhhhhhh………..it’s hot in here.

*      *     *

Bunch of sissies !

*      *     *

We cracked the windows and could take our tie off when it was 95F. And the swinging of sister’s steel ruler still created plenty of breeze about the classroom.

*      *     *

Didn’t have AC when I was in school either. Never got out early for high temps. Even when it was in the 90s!!

*      *     *

YOU HAVE TO KIDDING ME… No wondering our kids are cupcakes are feel like they are owed something. We treat them like gods.

Sometimes it seems as if people never fail to live down to your expectations.



A Question Asked, a Question Answered

Last Thursday Agent Orange asked, via tweet:

Why is that Hillary Clintons family and Dems dealings with Russia are not looked at, but my non-dealings are?

A question for which The Curmudgeon has a simple answer:

Because your Justice Department, led by an Attorney General you chose, is not investigating them.

It’s easy to criticize the government when you’re not part of it but when you’re the CEO and you get to call all the shots and you complain about what the government is or isn’t doing that’s just pathetic.


Another Sign of Aging

When The Curmudgeon was growing up, if there was a variety show on television you could count on one of the major comedians of the day being on it – people like George Burns, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante, Milton Berle, Henny Youngman, Phyllis Diller, folks like that.

And to the Curmudgeon these comedians had one thing in common:  they were all old guys.

How old?  The Curmudgeon decided to figure out how old they were by using as a base year 1972, when he turned 15.

So in 1972, George Burns was 76, Jack Benny was 78, Bob Hope was 69, Jimmy Durante was 79, Milton Berle was 64, Henny Youngman was 66, and Phyllis Diller was the kid of the group at only 55.

So what got The Curmudgeon to thinking about this?

Billy Crystal recently performed in Philadelphia and a newspaper article about his show noted that Crystal is 69 years old.

You could’ve knocked The Curmudgeon off his chair with a feather duster.

Little Billy Crystal, whom he remembers from a 1970s performance on Saturday Night Live and his Muhammad Ali impression and as one of the first gay characters on television on the series Soap, is 69-freaking-years old.


Which left The Curmudgeon feeling pretty old.

But it gets worse, because while Google is a wonderful tool when there’s something you want to know, it also can be a terrible weapon when you’re pursuing something that might be construed as self-destructive.

Like the ages of the next generation of major comedians.

Steve Martin is 71.

Bill Murray is 66.

The Smothers Brothers are 77 (Dick) and 80 (Tom).

Lily Tomlin is 77.

Carl Reiner is 95.  Mel Brooks is 88, which means he’s well on his way to becoming that 2000 Year Old Man.   Even Jerry Seinfeld, whom The Curmudgeon wouldn’t go see if you gave him free tickets, is 63, and his soulmate in yutzdom, Larry David, is 69.

If he was still alive Robin Williams would be 66 and George Carlin, gone now for nine years, would have been 80; Richard Pryor, gone now for a dozen years, would have been 77; and Joan Rivers would have been 84.

Which means the funny people who replaced the old guys of comedy of The Curmudgeon’s youth are now themselves the old guys of comedy.

Which makes them peers of those of us who used to look at the leading lights of comedy and consider them old guys.

Which is a little depressing.

As is looking at a piece The Curmudgeon wrote about older rock’n’roll performers and seeing what has happened to an alarming number of them in the five years since that piece appeared in this space.

Which makes it even more depressing.

That’s What the Headline Said

A philly.com headline, at least, of a Washington Post report:

The surprising number of American adults who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows

According to the article,

Seven percent of all American adults believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows, according to a nationally representative online survey commissioned by the Innovation Center of U.S. Dairy.

If you do the math, that works out to 16.4 million misinformed, milk-drinking people.


The Kathy Griffin Kerfuffle in Context

It amazes The Curmudgeon that anyone is surprised about Kathy Griffin’s recent step across what at least some people believe is the line between humor and bad taste.  Griffin has spent her entire career doing almost nothing but belittling people, so it was only a matter of time before she went too far.

On the other hand…

…if The Curmudgeon was a Kathy Griffin fan, which he is not, he wouldn’t be at all deterred from going to see her.

If he ran a television network or club at which comics appeared, he wouldn’t fire her based solely on what she said and did.  Instead, he’d wait and let the market tell him what to do.

Ratings down?  Advertisers fleeing?  Getting rid of her would be a sound business decision.

Can’t sell tickets?  Another business decision.

But what if the ratings stay solid, the advertisers stay put, and the tickets sell?  Then that’s a business decision, too.

We can’t continue this nonsense of attempting to cast aside forever anyone whose sole weapon is words every time such people say something that some of us find offensive or obnoxious.

Not Kathy Griffin.

Not Bill Maher, who lost his ABC television show over remarks about terrorists and is in trouble again.

Not Don Imus, who made racist remarks on his radio program.

Not Rick Sanchez, who said nasty things about Jon Stewart and Jews.

Not Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder.

Not Curt Schilling, who made ridiculous remarks about transgender people in bathrooms.

Not Scarlett Fakhar, a Houston television reporter who was fired when she expressed support for Donald Trump last year on her Facebook page.

Not CNN’s Reza Aslan, fired last week for a foolish comment about the president.

Not Paula Deen, fired by the Food Network for racist comments she made many years ago.

People make mistakes.  Hard though it may be to believe, even The Curmudgeon goes too far once in a while.  The idea that one strike and you’re out is becoming increasingly common and increasingly accepted and that’s not good.  We talk a lot about diversity these days and The Curmudgeon thinks that’s a good thing, but diversity of thought, including diversity of obnoxious thought, appears not to be part of that conversation.

It should be.