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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Charles Krauthammer/Died June 21, 2018

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

Charles Krauthammer, M.D. died of metastatic cancer on June 21, 2018. His mind, his wit, his courage will be sorely missed. The following is a gracious tribute to him.

 

“The Irreplaceable Charles Krauthammer

The Washington Examiner

Philip Klein

June 22, 2018

 

 

Having worked in Washington conservative circles for over a decade, I wish I had a great personal anecdote to share about Charles Krauthammer, who by all accounts was as wonderful a human being as he was a writer.

 

Unfortunately, on the few occasions on which I had the opportunity to meet him, I was too tongue-tied and bumbling to sustain any sort of conversation, not quite knowing what to say to a man whom I felt I had so much to say.

 

As part of my job, I’ve had to interact with a number of public figures, and typically have had no qualms about pressing cabinet officials, presidential candidates, or members of Congress. Yet why is it that of all the people I’ve met in this city, I was so awestruck in the presence of another writer?

 

Of course, the answer is that it’s because Krauthammer wasn’t just another writer. In an era of YouTube and social media, when anybody with an Internet connection can spout out an opinion that could potentially go viral, it seems absurd to think of any political pundit as irreplaceable. Yet that’s the word I keep coming back to when I think of the sad passing of Charles Krauthammer. He is simply irreplaceable.

 

To start, Krauthammer was undeniably brilliant. After graduating from Harvard Medical School, he was well on his way to making a name for himself as a psychiatrist before changing course and entering the world of political writing. The fact that he was able to shift gears so seamlessly speaks to his mental agility.

 

But there are a lot of people who are brilliant. What was different about Krauthammer is that he was able to use his intellect to form opinions and then communicate them in an accessible way to broader audiences without dumbing down his arguments.

 

The 800-word column format presents a challenge to writers, who often struggle to make a broader point and provide enough evidence to back it up, without going into excessive detail. Krauthammer was a master of the format, and they weren’t typically filled with fancy prose or lengthy Latin phrases. Instead, his intelligence came through in the clarity of his thought and his ability to work through issues with reason using just enough supporting evidence.

 

His column ran every Friday, and while the rest of us rushed to weigh in on the ongoing controversies in Washington that consumed any given week, he managed to write something that took a bigger picture view, simultaneously seeming obvious yet fresh. For many conservatives, his columns often expressed ideas that were kind of floating around in their minds, but that they couldn’t quite articulate as clearly. He coined the term the ”Reagan Doctrine” to describe President Ronald Reagan’s strategy to win the Cold War, and “Bush Derangement Syndrome” to diagnose the hysterical way that opponents reacted to President George W. Bush.

 

Under President Barack Obama, Krauthammer set the standard for substantive criticism that was harsh yet steered clear of the bile and conspiratorial thinking that tempted some conservative pundits. Whether the issue was Obamacare, the disastrous Iran deal, executive overreach, or his parting shot toward Israel at the U.N., Krauthammer offered blistering yet fair critiques of Obama’s presidency.

 

Krauthammer made no secret of his disapproval of President Trump and fretted about the awful choice in the 2016 election, yet in his final column written last year, he expressed relief that the guardrails of democracy seemed to be keeping Trump’s worst impulses in check.

 

Perhaps above all, Krauthammer managed to convey a sense of moral clarity, something that was on full display whenever he wrote about Israel, and was also demonstrated in a powerful 2004 column in which he grappled with the issue of stem cell research and where to draw the line on medical experimentation given the “competing human values” of searching for cures and respecting life.

 

“When I was 22 and a first-year medical student, I suffered a spinal-cord injury,” he wrote. “I have not walked in 32 years. I would be delighted to do so again. But not at any price. I think it is more important to bequeath to my son a world that retains a moral compass…”

Charles Krauthammer has left this world far too soon and will be sorely missed, but his legacy will not soon be forgotten.

 

Song Writer, Hoagy Carmichael

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

November 22nd is the birthday of songwriter Hoagy Carmichael, born Hoagland Howard Carmichael in 1899 in Bloomington, Indiana. Hoagy got his nickname from a circus performer who once lived with his family. Carmichael’s parents were a horse-and-buggy driver and a piano player for silent film, and his mother got him started playing the piano when he was six years old. Carmichael joined the Army one day before the end of World War I, then came home to Bloomington to play piano for high school dances.

On visits to Chicago, Carmichael got acquainted with speakeasy jazz and was a fan of King Oliver and Louis Armstrong. The speakeasy scene set him up with a gig smuggling champagne, and he used the money to put himself through law school. Though his parents were supportive of his musical talents, Carmichael was eager to leave his poor roots, especially after his sister died from diphtheria — a “victim of poverty,” Carmichael said.

Law degree in hand, Carmichael barely got the chance to practice. He formed a band, began to write music, and by 1926 had penned his first hit, “Riverboat Shuffle.” After that, Hoagy dove into music full-time. His career took him to New York and eventually to Hollywood, where he wrote for soundtracks and appeared in many films.

His 1929 hit “Star Dust” quickly became a standard. By 1963, “Star Dust” had been recorded more than 500 times — the century’s most recorded song — and its lyrics had been translated into 40 languages. “Star Dust” was named by a friend, who said of the song: “That one’s all the girls, the university, the family, the old golden oak, all the good things gone, all wrapped up in a melody.”

Carmichael wrote “Star Dust” during a nostalgic visit to his alma mater, Indiana University, while recalling an old girlfriend. He said: “This melody was bigger than I. It didn’t seem a part of me. Maybe I hadn’t written it at all […] I wanted to shout back at it. ‘Maybe I didn’t write you, but I found you.’”

Explaining President Trump?

Monday, August 28th, 2017

This may explain a few things going on at The White House. On the other hand, this might explain nothing. And if you believe this, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. But keep an open mind.

Read this little essay a couple of times and read it slowly the last time you read it. And Donald Trump is the smartest President we have had for quite some time.

“Apparently, liberals and never-Trumpers are so isolated in their political circles that they have no concept how things work in the real world of business and corporate America. For example, they completely fail to grasp the concept of the “hatchet man.”

Say you are a business tycoon. You just successfully completed a large-scale acquisition and merger, bringing together multiple smaller companies into one conglomerate. After the merger, you want to put your own people in charge of everything. However, all those smaller companies had their own executives – and, at least for the short term – you need to keep many of them around the keep things running. So, you keep many of those executives around, and let them retain their own senior staff. You even appoint one of them – the head of the largest of the companies you acquired – to be the CEO of the conglomerate, and he pledges to get all the departments working together harmoniously.

After a transition period, some of them are doing fine in the new conglomerate – but others are clearly causing trouble. In fact, the one you appointed CEO is clearly a disaster. The newly merged departments are working against each other.

Furthermore, you have good suspicion he is dealing in insider trading – nothing you can take to a prosecutor, but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence building up. Worse, he is not only doing his own dirty dealing, but it appears he may even be leaking intellectual property to your competitors, helping them take market share from you.

Clearly, he has to go – and go now.

Problem is, many of the senior employees in your conglomerate are loyal to him. If you just fire him and put in your own chosen CEO, you know you could get a lot of backlash from disgruntled employees. And in your business, there is such a small profit-margin that you really can’t afford anything at all that threatens performance. So, what do you do?

In comes the hatchet man.

The hatchet man is someone you bring in for sole purpose of slashing the problems and shaking things up over a very short period of time – but doing it in a way that deflects any blame or blowback away from you. As soon as the problems are hacked away, the hatchet man leaves – taking the ire and resentment with him, and leaving you free to bring in your new team for a fresh start.

This happens in the business world all the time. And Donald Trump is a businessman. He knows this. He has lived this. We’ve seen him do it on “The Apprentice.” We’ve read about it in his books. This is not a surprise to anyone. Except for liberals and never-Trumpers.

Enter Scaramucci.

Liberals and never-Trumpers see the past two weeks as proof of a Hitler-clown-circus spectacle, as evidence that Trump is unhinged and our government is in the hands of madmen. Anyone who understands the business world and Donald Trump fully understands that what we just witnessed was a perfectly executed hatchet man maneuver.

When Trump won the election, he essentially performed the political equivalent of an acquisition and merger. He brought together different political factions – establishment Republicans, conservatives, tea party, religious right, moderates, independents, cross-overs – into one winning political coup. For some, it was a hostile takeover – and if they were going to be dragged in against their will, they would sure as hell resist.

This is where Reince Priebus came in.

Priebus, as the then-chairman of the Republican National Committee, was hired as White House Chief of Staff to be a sort of post-merger CEO. It was his job to bring all these political factions together and get them to work harmoniously. But he failed. Worse, there is ample evidence to suggest he not only failed, but worked against Trump and the Trump agenda. Look at the leaks. Look at all the chaos. Look at all the bureaucracy continuing to work at odds with the president. Priebus – and a number of other people around him – had to go.

Back to Scaramucci.

Donald Trump has known for some time that Priebus was a disaster. He was going to give him his six-month trial period – that’s a fairly common thing in the private sector. After that, heads were going to roll. But Trump himself doesn’t want to be the hatchet man. He needs to be able to lead after the bloodbath. So, what does he do? He turns to an old friend he has known for many years – someone with nothing to lose, someone who can step in with a hatchet and hack away, someone who can then just walk away from it all and leave the slate clean. He turned to Scaramucci.

So, what does Scaramucci do? He comes in swinging. He fires a few people to make a quick example. He tells others they can “resign” right now if they want to – but if not, they will be fired. Others see what is going on and just up and quit of their own accord.

That problem CEO, Priebus? Oh, the new “structure” of the organization puts Scaramucci in direct competition with Priebus – and Priebus throws up his hands and says “fine, I’m out of here.” And Scaramucci does it all in a way that is spectacularly visible to draw all the fire from Trump critics.

So how does it all end? It ends with Trump putting in his new CEO – the one he probably wanted from day one, but held back – and the new CEO says “OK, Scaramucci – you are no longer needed here.”

Gen. Kelly now has a clean slate to start fresh – and Scaramucci takes all the heat. Where the left and never-Trumpers see a circus freak-show, realists from the business world see a perfectly executed post-merger hatchet-man job.

The political wonks see Kelly taking command as the first sane thing to happen in this administration. They don’t realize they’ve been played, and played perfectly. And soon we will likely see some other changes that move the Executive Branch further towards what Trump has wanted from day one. And then watch the real swamp-drainer get to work. It sucks to be Hillary Clinton right now…

Oh, and Scaramucci? He gets a sweet deal out of all this – no doubt, he and his friend Donald Trump talked it all out first.

Scaramucci was already facing a nasty divorce that would result in the liquidation of his business to divide assets. A little-known law allows people who are legally required to sell a business as a condition of employment in the Executive Branch (to prevent conflicts of interest) to defer the taxes on their profits from the sale.

Scaramucci was going to have to sell his company anyway due to his pending divorce. Now he and his soon-to-be ex-wife just saved $80 million in taxes. So, don’t think for a moment all this was an unplanned mess that went awry. Scaramucci and Trump knew exactly what they were doing.

All of this was planned – and foreseen. Not just by me, but by others as well.

Scott Adams wrote before Trump was inaugurated that, to his critics, the first year of Trump would be a play in three acts:
Act One – Trump is literally Hitler.

Act Two – Trump is not literally Hitler, but Trump is incompetent.

Act Three – Trump is not incompetent, but we don’t like his policies.

We’ve seen this play out. From election night, up through the first 100 days, the left was out rioting and acting as though Trump taking office was literally the end of Western Civilization.

But after 100 days, when Trump had failed to do evil-dictator things like round up all the brown people and put the gays into camps and force women to stay home and have babies, it became farcical to continue the “Trump is Hitler” narrative.

And so, from that 100 day point up until now, it has been the “Trump is incompetent” game. Look at all the chaos. Look at all the leaking. Look at all the tweets. Now, we begin Act Three. With Priebus out and Kelly in, things will settle down. Pretty soon, all the left will have to say is “we just don’t like Trump’s policies.”…Act Three.

And once that happens, the left is dead. Because, Trump’s policies are policies that most Americans actually agree with. We should put America first. Build back our economy. Create jobs. Strengthen the military. Protect the border. Outside a few densely-populated liberal strongholds like New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and – of course – Washington, D.C., Americans in general agree with all of this. So, when all the left has to say is “Trump’s policies are wrong,” the left will literally be telling most of America, “you people are stupid.”

Trump will win 47 states in 2020. The left will be scratching their heads and wondering what the hell happened. And you’ll be able to look back and say, “hey, some of us told you all this back in 201….
The author of this “tale” is unknown. In fact, it might even be Trump.

A Royal Message to the USA

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

NOVEMBER 8, 2016
A Royal Message to the USA:

A MESSAGE FROM THE QUEEN ON YOUR ALLEGED ELECTION DAY

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

In light of your failure to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.
Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except North Dakota, which she does not fancy).
Our new Prime Minister, Theresa May, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

———————–
1. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’ ‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’ Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up ‘vocabulary’).

————————
2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ”like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter ‘u” and the elimination of ‘-ize.’

——————-
3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

—————–
4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can’t sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you’re not ready to shoot grouse.

———————-
5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

———————-
6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

——————–
7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

——————-
8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

——————-
9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth – see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

———————
10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialect in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater.

———————
11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

———————
12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

——————–
13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.

—————–
14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

—————
15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!
This wonderful piece was sent to me by my good friend, Leonard Hayflick. I certainly wish that we in the USA could have done so much better, or was this our Brexit?
PS: Only share this with friends who have a good sense of humour (NOT humor)!

A Possible 21st Century Preamble to the Constitution

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

This is probably the best e-mail I’ve seen in a long, long time. The following has been attributed to Lewis Napper, a Jackson, Mississippi computer programmer. He didn’t expect his essay — a tart 10-point list of “rights” Americans don’t have — to become an Internet legend.

NEW PREAMBLE TO THE CONSTITUTION
We the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt-free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional. We hold these truths to be self-evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim they require a Bill of NON-Rights.’

ARTICLE I:
You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV, or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.

ARTICLE II:
You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone — not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc.; but the world is full of dummies, and probably always will be.

ARTICLE III:
You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful; do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.

ARTICLE IV:
You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.

ARTICLE V:
You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we’re just not interested in public health care.

ARTICLE VI:
You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don’t be surprised if the rest of us want to see you get the blue juice.

ARTICLE VII:
You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat, or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don’t be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won’t have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.

ARTICLE VIII:
You do not have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.

ARTICLE IX:
You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to PURSUE happiness, which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an over abundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.

ARTICLE X:
This is an English speaking country. We don’t care where you came from, English is our language. Learn it!

Lastly…

ARTICLE XI:
You do not have the right to change our country’s history or heritage. This country was founded on the belief in one true God. And yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all; with no fear of persecution. The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part of our heritage and history, sorry if you are uncomfortable with it.

If you agree, share this with a friend. No, you don’t have to, and nothing tragic will befall you if you don’t. I just think it’s about time common sense is allowed to flourish. Sensible people of the United States must speak out because if you do not, who will?


William S. Frankl, MD, All Rights Reserved