Roger Allen


October 4, 2012 // 0 Comments

This week: Serious Topics only   The first is Communication. Smart phones are extremely popular. All that email and texting is handy, but the result has been big income losses for the Post Office. It’s on the verge of insolvency. About 200 years ago Benjamin Franklin launched the U.S. Postal Service, a huge project in a vast new country. All our lives a mail carrier has come to our door six days a week. What an incredible effort to deliver mail to every house in the country, in every little town from Maine to California! It’s part of the fabric that holds America together. Today, Apple Computer and Microsoft are rich corporations and the Post Office is broke. This qualifies as a Serious Topic.   Education The other day I happened upon some pictures of American children from about the turn of the twentieth century. This was in the days of child labor, a practice widely accepted and highly profitable for business owners. So these weren’t school photos I was looking at; many of them were taken in front of the factories that employed the kids. So now we come to a joke I also came across the other day: A young boy went into an office to be interviewed for a job. The man in charge asked his full name. “Francesco Czuchna McGillicuddy,” he replied. “How do you write that?” asked the manager. “Well, sir,” said the boy, “can’t you just put it down without spelling it?”   Religion A young pastor was sitting in a restaurant eating lunch. He opened a letter he’d received from his mother that morning and a twenty-dollar bill fell out. The young pastor thought to himself, Thanks, Mom, I sure needed that right now. As he finished his meal, he noticed a beggar outside on the sidewalk leaning against the light post. Thinking the poor man could probably use the twenty dollars more than he, the pastor scribbled out the names on the envelope and wrote in big letters across the top: PERSEVERE! So as not to make a scene, he put the envelope under his arm and dropped it as he walked past the beggar. The man picked it up, read the message, and smiled. The next […]

MAIN STREET by Roger Allen, publisher

September 20, 2012 // 0 Comments

Main Street comedy Good taste is largely a matter of opinion. The humor in this (mostly) light-hearted column has quite a lot of wiggle room. I keep “good taste” in mind, but that doesn’t stop me from using blonde jokes, lawyer jokes, or little kid jokes. Blondes, lawyers, and little kids seldom write me letters of complaint, so my “good taste” regarding those topics must be pretty close to that of our readers. But I can’t rely on my own taste when politics enters the column. Something I consider hilarious can yank the annoyance chain of too many people. Sometimes I do it anyway, but I always know what’s likely to show up in the mailbox later. There’s a good reason that professional humorist Al Franken hasn’t cracked a joke since being confirmed as the junior Senator from Minnesota. But one of America’s greatest writers never held back. I’m talking about a personal hero of mine, Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, 1835-1910. He didn’t think highly of politicians in general. So, since his stuff is out of copyright, I’m free to quote him left and right. Mark said—“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning—politics, a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.” “The new political gospel: public office is private graft.” “An honest man in politics shines more there than he would elsewhere.” “All large political doctrines are rich in difficult problems—problems that are quite above the average citizen’s reach. And that is not strange, since they are also above the reach of the ablest minds in the country; after all the fuss and all the talk, not one of those doctrines has been conclusively proven to be the right one and the best.” Mark also said—“In politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.” “I shall not often meddle with politics, because we have a political Editor who is already excellent and only needs to serve a term or two in the penitentiary to be perfect.” Three blondes Three blondes […]

MAIN STREET by Roger Allen, publisher

September 13, 2012 // 0 Comments

Warm enough? Sometimes I read science reports about the weather. It’s not that I’m a nerd; I’m just interested in stuff that hits me right in the face. Stuff like the blazing sunshine (certainly not rain) that heated up our summer this year. And the mild breezes of last winter, one of Michigan’s warmest on record. A word of caution, though. Reading science reports about the weather can trigger anxiety attacks. That’s because… Details about extreme weather throughout the country seem to bombard us non-stop. Weather scientists’ predictions are pretty dire and they’re based on statistics. (It’s probably not good for me that I majored in statistics in college.) It doesn’t take much imagination to get a picture of what happens if the country runs out of energy to operate air conditioning when the temperature hits 100+ for weeks in a row (42 days in a row for Dallas, Texas, this summer). And scariest of all, global warming deniers are still bucking the scientists and pushing their own notion that all this is normal variation. Human beings keep burning fossil fuels? That has nothing to do with it, folks, so drill, baby, drill, and burn, baby, burn. Wild thinkers are saying that if this keeps on, we’d have to live underground. That would sure ruin the looks of the neighborhood. To quell my anxiety, I’d like people not to shout down but to listen to the scientists about where Earth and we, her children, stand with Mother Nature. And I’d like people to encourage the necessary, if inconvenient, actions needed to avert catastrophe. Here’s a website to one of those weather science reports. It has to do with what happened to the ice in the area of the North Pole this summer. Here’s a quote to get you started: “Astonished by the summer’s changes, scientists are studying the forces that exposed one million square miles of open water—six Californias—beyond the average since satellites started measurements in 1979.” Let’s lighten up Mr. Wilkins began reading his recovery-room record at the hospital. The doctor arrived for the routine check-up to find the elderly gentleman quite concerned about one notation. “I know I was in a bit of a mess when I was admitted,” said Mr. Wilkins, […]

MAIN STREET by Roger Allen, publisher

September 6, 2012 // 0 Comments

Armageddon Don’t know why, but the political convention season always makes me think about Armageddon. And, speaking of that… Time after time, various folks have predicted the end of the world. The Millennium was one of the biggies, prediction-wise. Oops… not even the world’s computer programs came to an end. (Remember all those so-called “millennium bugs”?) So far, every day has gone by with a tomorrow to follow. The latest prediction I’ve personally heard about is for December 21, 2012. Give credit for this one to the ancient Mayans and some imaginative moderns. It goes like this: Events of 2012 are based on the ending date of the ancient Mayan Long Count Calendar. This is thought to end on December 21, 2012, signaling, of course, the end of days for real. Predictions of devastation and destruction abound. Some believe it wise to prepare for doomsday. Considering the record of past predictions, I suggest planning on a cup of coffee and a good TV rerun show on December 21. If we’re wrong, all of us will be in the same boat, anyway. In my opinion, it’s likely to be just another ho-hum. Just to make sure we don’t get too bored, the Mayan calendar worked in another end-of-times possibility 25,000 years from now. Cure story A man goes into a drug store and asks the pharmacist if he can give him something for the hiccups. The pharmacist promptly reaches out and slaps the man’s face. “What the heck did you do that for?” yells the man. “Well, you don’t have the hiccups anymore do you?” answers the pharmacist. The man says, “No, I don’t, you dummy… But my wife out in the car still does!” Taste story When the store manager returned from lunch, he noticed his clerk’s hand was bandaged, but before he could ask about the bandage, the clerk had some very good news for him. “Guess what, sir?” said the clerk. “I finally sold that terrible, ugly suit we’ve had so long!” “Do you mean that repulsive pink-and-blue double-breasted thing?” asked the manager. “That’s the one!” “ Well, great!” said the manager. “I thought we’d never get rid of that monstrosity. It had to be the ugliest suit we’ve ever had. But tell […]

MAIN STREET by Roger Allen, publisher

August 30, 2012 // 0 Comments

Jobs for all I know some ways we can improve the employment picture. On TV every day I see cartoon characters involved in all kinds of entertaining activities. Every one of those little cartoonies replaces a human. Out there, for every one of them, some actor didn’t get a job because of a comic book character. Even more wasteful of jobs is the telephone system. I’m talking not just the phone numbers answered by somebody in the Philippines, but also companies with automated answering systems. After you drag their phone numbers and their business hours out of their websites, you get a tinny electronic voice saying, “All of our representatives are busy with other callers. Your call will be answered in the order received.” The wait can be 30 minutes. It can be even longer! They’re wasting our time for a few more bucks of profit! We could cut the unemployment rate if they would just answer their phones!!! (And we wouldn’t feel so grouchy once we finally got a human being on the line.) Marriage #1 Three guys are talking in the bar. Two of them remark about the amount of control they have over their wives while the third guy stays quiet. After a while one of them says to the third, “Well, what about you? What sort of control do you have over your wife?” “Well,” says the third guy, “I’ll tell you. Just the other night my wife came to me on her hands and knees.” The first two were amazed. “Gee, what happened then?” they asked. She said, “GET OUT FROM UNDER THE BED AND FIGHT LIKE A MAN!” Marriage #2 Marty was in his usual place in the morning, sitting at the table reading the paper after breakfast. He came across an article about a beautiful actress who was about to marry a football player known primarily for his dumb comments and lack of common knowledge. He turned to his wife with puzzlement on his face. “I’ll never understand why the biggest jerks get the most attractive wives.” His wife replied, “Why, thank you, dear!” Yup, it’s not for sissies Old age is when you go to the doctor and realize you now have to pay someone to look […]

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