Or how about a fucking scientist?

Robert F Kennedy, Jr. was recently tapped to lead a commission on vaccine safety.

Good news, everybody: President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly asked Robert F. Kennedy, Jr to chair a federal commission on “vaccine safety and scientific integrity.” In addition to being one of the original Robert F. Kennedy’s 11 children, RFK Jr. is an activist who believes vaccines cause autism—an idea that has been roundly rejected by scientists and doctors, found to have no merit in dozens of experimental trials, and traced to one article published in Lancet 20 years ago and subsequently retracted. But what do scientists know? How many of them are Kennedys? Fucking none, that’s how many—not one Kennedy has become a scientist, because science sucks. It’s not because they couldn’t do it. Why, RFK Jr. himself went to Harvard, even after he flunked out of Milbrook. He’s just naturally right about things, the same way he is naturally rich: by being a Kennedy. I quote the Washington Post:

“President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policies, and he has questions about it,” Kennedy said. “His opinion doesn’t matter, but the science does matter, and we ought to be reading the science, and we ought to be debating the science.”

Yeah, when are people going to start reading and debating science? We’ve left the science behind vaccines to doctors and scientists for too long. It’s time to get some famous rich people in there to straighten this out and decide whether polio should come back.

Continue reading

This sketch from Sesame Street demonstrates a theory of comedy

What’s in the box? Not a cookie

Friend of the blog and devoted father Peter Franke drew my attention to this Sesame Street sketch, in which Kermit has a mystery box. If anyone can guess what’s in the box, they can have it. “Is it cookie?” Cookie Monster asks, appearing from beneath the frame. “Bye-bye,” he says upon learning it is not. In addition to adding tension by giving Kermit something to want from him—i.e. cooperation in the Mystery Box game—Cookie Monster’s rapid entrance-exit cleanly establishes the premise of the sketch. He wants cookies. That’s all he wants, and he wants them very much. The first half of this sketch demonstrates the theory that comedy happens when a character acts like himself to the point of absurdity. Behold:

Close analysis of puppet show for children after the jump.

Continue reading

Friday links! Triumph of the everyman edition

As recently as two months ago, this country was run by elites: latte-sipping, liberal arts degree-holding, pilates-skipping elites. Fortunately, the election of Donald Trump and meteoric re-ascendence of the Republican Party has solved all that. Now that the billionaire son of a millionaire is president, America is going to start working for ordinary people again. And you know who will be leading the charge? Conservative pundits. They’ve broken free of the oppression that confined them to think tanks and the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, and now they’ve taken up the cry of the real American. Today is Friday, and we’re finally going to do something about the elitists who stopped tax cuts for the rich and saddled the country with burdensome welfare programs. Won’t you go sans culottes with me?

Continue reading

Eugene Graf IV, less humorous candidates vie for Zinke’s seat

Congressional candidate and caricature of a rich grandson Eugene Graf IV

Since Donald Trump announced his plan to appoint as Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Montana’s sole representative in the US House, no fewer than six Republicans have threatened to campaign for his seat. Six! One of them is Eugene Graf IV, the scion of a Bozeman real estate fortune pictured above. Graf: He doesn’t remember shoving you into anything. As much as I would like to see Montana politics return to old-school corporatocracy, Graf is a long shot. He has not previously run for elected office, and his work experience is limited to working for his family business and, as past president of the Montana Homebuilders Association, lobbying for his family business. Yet he is sure to meet one qualification for office: the $1,740 fee the Montana Republican Party is charging each candidate to run.

That fee—set by state law at 1% of the salary of the office sought—is designed to defray the cost of organizing statewide primaries. It seems a little odd to charge it for candidates in this special election, where a nominee will be chosen not by primaries but by members of the state Republican committee. The food at that meeting is going to be great, I guess. Assuming he ponies up, the most likely nominee seems to be Ed Buttrey, a moderate Republican credited with orchestrating the compromise that allowed Montana to accept federal Medicaid funds last session. Among conservatives, of course, that’s a debit. But they have yet to put up a candidate of their own who can plausibly threaten him. This makes Buttrey’s run a barometer in the ongoing conflict between moderates and the right wing in Montana’s GOP. You can read all about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent.

Why read about the recent past, though, when you can focus on the future? This week marks the Indy’s annual Bold Predictions issue, in which various people including me speculate on what 2017 will bring in Missoula, Montana, and the world. My first two bold predictions, made in 2013 and 2014, crushed it: Missoula really did set out to buy the water works in 2014, and conservatives in the legislature really did overplay their hand in 2015. Last year’s prediction—that Uber would put at least one of Missoula’s two taxi companies out of business—has yet to come true. But there’s still time! Keep watching this space or even some more reliable news outlet for updates on my prediction for 2017, which is that Republicans will become staunch defenders of Medicaid until they can blame someone else for taking it away. I also predict we’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links.

Look at Sarah Aswell’s website

Author Sarah Aswell (artist’s conception)

Do you know my friend Sarah Aswell? In addition to being an ace content strategist and commercial copywriter, she is very funny. Her work has appeared in outlets from McSweeney’s to Reductress to the Gettysburg Review. It used to be that when you wanted to read some Aswell, you had to either come to our writing group or go search all over the internet. Thanks to her new website, though, you can read all sorts of Aswelliana right here. My personal favorite is How to Snap a Sexy Selfie Without Stopping to Eat Sheet Cake With Your Hands. I also enjoy her McSweeney’s piece about Your First CSA. But perhaps you would prefer the Handy-esque Maybe We Should Just Wait and See, which is that combination of funny and sad I love so much. Sarah is working in a niche brand of humor that is actually funny, instead of just combining cultural signifiers to produce awkward non sequiturs. Her success in this field suggests that prose humor may not fall to brain-dead sarcasm after all. Check it out!