Patterico's Pontifications


Dave Barry: There’s Just No Explaining 2014

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:43 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Some funny stuff from a funny guy:

On the domestic front, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, who oversaw the rollout of Obamacare, resigns from the Cabinet to take a position overseeing e-mail storage for the Internal Revenue Service.

In Washington scandal news, the Internal Revenue Service, responding to a subpoena, tells congressional investigators that it cannot produce 28 months of Lois Lerner’s e-mails because the hard drive they were stored on failed, and the hard drive was thrown away, and the backup tapes were erased, and no printed copies were saved — contrary to the IRS’s own record-keeping policy, which was eaten by the IRS’s dog. “It was just one crazy thing after another,” states the IRS, “and it got us to thinking: All these years we’ve been subjecting taxpayers to everything short of rectal probes if they can’t produce EVERY SINGLE DOCUMENT WE WANT, and here we lose YEARS’ worth of official records! So from now on, if taxpayers tell us they lost something, or just plain forgot to make a tax payment, we’ll be like, ‘Hey, whatever! Stuff happens!’ Because who are we to judge?”

But all kidding aside, you can bet that before this thing is over there will be a strongly worded report.

… when the Ebola virus takes center stage as a parade of medical authorities appear on cable news to assure the American public that there is absolutely no reason to panic about Ebola so we should just stay calm regarding Ebola because given what we know about Ebola there is probably no danger that you will get Ebola so just stop worrying about Ebola Ebola Ebola OMIGOD EBOLA! After a solid week of being reassured 24/7 about Ebola, the public has been soothed into a state of panic, which is not improved when the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does an interview for CNN from inside a bubble.

President Obama, responding decisively to the mounting crisis, appoints as his “Ebola Czar” Ron Klain, a lawyer who is never heard from again.

In politics, the big story is the looming midterm elections, which have President Obama crisscrossing the nation at a hectic pace in a last-ditch effort to find a Democratic candidate willing to appear in public with him. The president is finally able to schedule an event with 94-year-old R. Nordstrom Fleemer, who is running for his 17th term as road commissioner of Carwankle County, Tennessee. Fleemer appears pleased by the endorsement, although he refers to the president repeatedly as “Mr. Truman.”


63 Responses to “Dave Barry: There’s Just No Explaining 2014”

  1. Hello.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  2. Obola is a SCOAMF.

    redc1c4 (4db2c8)

  3. I laughed out lout at “Mr. Truman”!

    Dana (8e74ce)

  4. Hi Dana,

    Sorry to be pedantic, but it’s Dave Barry, not Dave Berry.

    Happy New Year!

    Lynne W (105e42)

  5. Thanks, Lynne W.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  6. Dave Barry is a national treasure.

    htom (4ca1fa)

  7. Dave Barry’s year in review columns would make an awesome book.

    JD (cf960d)

  8. Today was spent changing diapers, wiping runny noses and extolling the culinary excellence of macaroni and cheese in an effort to get my 2 year old grandson to eat his lunch. In the midst of all that, however, I did fit in reading Barry’s piece. Second only to a delicious afternoon snooze, it was the highlight of my day. :)

    Terrie VanB (011fb1)

  9. Dave Barry is not all that funny * – a lot of it is not really good parody, if you understand all the things he is talking about, and I could discuss it – but he is a lot better than Saturday Night Live.

    * I really don’t like these hyperexaggerations like Governor Cuomo being carried off by a yeti, or Texas being returned to Mexico.

    Incidentally, it was Kim Jong Un, not Vladimir Putin, who lost his Netflix account, and credit cards were cancelled only in the Crimea and only at the end of December. And ebola czar Ron Klain was on Face The Nation yesterday, although he didn’t apparently say anything newsworthy..

    And by the way, Dave Barry missed Governor Cuomo finally making a decision – to outlaw fracking in New York.

    Sammy Finkelman (d542b2)

  10. Mr. Truman- made me laugh as well.

    mg (31009b)

  11. Hilarious!

    Georganne (e37667)

  12. Holy Guacamole. Thank the Lord that Sammy is here to tell us that Dave Barry wrote something that wasn’t completely accurate.

    Burnside (8fa39f)

  13. Wait . . . Texas wasn’t returned to Mexico?

    PPs43 (6fdef4)

  14. Sammy’s sense of humor is … how can I put it? … like a rock’s buoyancy. He resembles a kleptomaniac in that he takes all things (wait for it) literally.

    nk (dbc370)

  15. Nk, I have long wondered if Teh Sammeh is a bot. But you cannot say that he doesn’t have a sense of humor when he writes:

    “...I really don’t like these hyperexaggerations…

    Quite droll, really.

    Simon Jester (2b3038)

  16. P.J. O’Rourke is writing some pretty funny stuff over at The Daily Beast….

    Georganne (e37667)

  17. PJ is always funny.

    Simon Jester (2b3038)

  18. These guys are the young’uns to me. I’d read Mike Royko and Art Buchwald daily, and Lewis Grizzard occasionally. Erma Bombeck anyone? It’s been a long time, though.

    nk (dbc370)

  19. This is not meant as a slight at all, but I think the hardwiring of Sammy’s neurological system is a bit different than that of many people.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  20. I miss Paul Harvey. Though if I ever found out he was as purposefully deceitful as Cronkite I guess I would be stunned then shake my head and have a deeper appreciation for the fallenness of mankind.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  21. Want a real belly laugh? Walk up to someone without a sense of self-awareness, such as, I don’t know, Sammy Finkelman, and have him explain to you why something isn’t funny.

    John Hitchcock (181a34)

  22. I got used to reading Bombeck, because my mom always read her.

    mg (31009b)

  23. John Hitchcock (181a34) — 12/30/2014 @ 8:04 am

    Sammy Finkelman, and have him explain to you why something isn’t funny.

    That’s easy.

    All one has to do is explain why it is supposed to be funny, but it isn’t.

    It has to be fit the thing being compared to.

    Sammy Finkelman (d542b2)

  24. Now that about Truman isn’t good, because it is too wrong. It kind of exaerrates a candidate’s unawareness of the change since then (although 94-year-old R. Nordstrom Fleemer would have bene 28 in 1948) On the other hand, you really have to go back to Truman to find a president as partisan on the campaign trail as Obama, so that is really good. And that no other candidate wanted him to campaign with him – that is good, too. It’s just an exaggeration, which is humor. But – losing 66 years of history?? That’s a bridge too far.

    Sammy Finkelman (d542b2)

  25. Sammy,

    Obama and Michelle are at Kaminsky (sic) Field (sic) on White Sox opening day, when Obama picks up Michelle and throws her at home plate. David Axelrod runs up to him and says, “No, Mr. President! You’re supposed to throw out the first pitch. The first pitch!”

    Is this funny?

    nk (dbc370)

  26. OK, I’ll take a run at this:

    Sammy, the reason the Truman thing is funny is that when 94-year-old R. Nordstrom Fleemer calls the president “Mr. Truman”, you suddenly realize that poor old Mr. Fleemer has become senile, a sad but not-uncommon thing in a person of his age; the humor isn’t his ill-health, but the fact that this rather-important fact is left to be inferred by the reader.

    The sudden realization that there is a gap between the setup and the punchline, the shock of making that connection, often triggers the humor response in the human mind.

    Also the knowledge that R. Nordstrom Fleemer is a fictional person with a humerous name (no offense meant) softens the blow to this senescent nonagenarian.

    Pious Agnostic (7eb3b0)

  27. Exactly like Raymond Luxury Yacht, but if you have to explain the joke,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  28. See, that one’s funny because most reasonable people would know that it’s pronounced Throatwobbler Mangrove.

    Burnside (8fa39f)

  29. And I rest my case. Sammy is both un-self-aware and humorless.

    John Hitchcock (181a34)

  30. Wait . . . Texas wasn’t returned to Mexico?

    They’re waiting to see if the Mexicans can be induced to take CA first.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  31. I think there are a lot more Mexicans that would like the United States to annex more,
    if not all, of Mexico than want to take any part of the state of Texas or California back.

    Sammy Finkelman (d542b2)

  32. 26. The problem there is you can’t visualize it.


    when Obama picks up Michelle and throws her out at home plate

    But how does she get onto the field?

    Maybe he tags her out, (she’s sitting next to him) instead of throwing the ball out onto the field?

    The idea here would be to show him having complete ignorance of baseball.

    Sammy Finkelman (d542b2)

  33. 32- Why would you say that sf, they come here and refuse to learn English as it is.
    Why do you think they would want to be part of a United States whose government is conducted in English.
    Anyway, they had their chance following the M-A War, but took the money instead.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  34. askeptic (efcf22) — 12/30/2014 @ 3:25 pm

    Why would you say that sf, they come here and refuse to learn English as it is.

    Why do you think they would want to be part of a United States whose government is conducted in English.

    There are certain things that are a little bit more important than that, and anyway, there’s the precedent of Puerto Rico. I’m not saying all Mexicans want to join the United states, I’m saying more Mexicans would want to join the United States than would to take any territory back. Mexicans know Mexico is not governed well.

    For starters, they could let non-Mexicans invest in Mexico.

    Anyway, they had their chance following the M-A War, but took the money instead.

    Sammy Finkelman (d542b2)

  35. Sammy, I see you’re commenting on a couple of other threads. I took the roast out of the oven and letting the potatoes crisp a little, so now, tell me a joke you think is funny. Since you did not think mine was.

    nk (dbc370)

  36. I don’t have a joke book.

    I did read an interesting story in a newspaper letter today. I think I read something like this before, many years ago, so, like an old joke, it circulates in different versions. But it is not a joke, it just has maybe a twist at the end.

    Several centuries ago, there was a merchant in Italy who owed a lot of money to a moneylender, who was old. The lender said he would forgive the debt if he was allowed to marry his daughter. Both were horrified.

    So then the moneylender proposed that he would pick two pebbles from the merchant’s garden, a white one and a black one, put them into a bag, and have the girl pick one out of the bag. If she picked a white one, the debt would be wiped out, and she wouldn’t have to marry him, and if she picked a black one she would marry him and the debt would be forgiven. And if she did nothing, he’d have him thrown in jail.

    Saying that, he picked two pebbles.

    But the girl noticed that he’d picked two black pebbles.

    So now you’d think her choices were:

    1. Refuse to take a pebble. (in which case he might have her father thrown in jail)

    2. Expose the fraud. (in which case she might then be presented with a genuine 50-50 offer, otr maybe he’d throw her father in jail.)

    3. Pick a pebble and sacrifice herself to save her father from imprisonment or debt.

    But what she did in the story was:

    4. Pick a pebble, and, without looking at it, fumble and let it fall down, where it got mixed up with other pebbles.

    And then said: “It’s all right. If you look in the bag for the one that is left, you’ll be able to tell which was the pebble I picked.”

    The writer says that the moral of the story is that most complex problems do have a solution..

    Sammy Finkelman (6ee5be)

  37. Ok, Sammy, I’ll stop picking on you.

    nk (dbc370)

  38. Well, a twofer.
    Maybe that story of Sammy’s is where captain Kirk learned to hack the scenario test at Star Fleet Academy.

    I’ve said before, I think Sammy, bless his heart, seriously, has hard wiring that influences his view of the world, and it does not include the standard “humor” package.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  39. It’s a common theme in fiction on the hero defeating the shell game. The thimblerigger only pretends to put a pea under one of the shells. He palms it as he’s moving the shells around. The hero, smart and tough: “It’s not under this one.” Picks it up. “It’s not under this one, either.” Picks it up. “So it’s got to be under this one. Pay up.”

    nk (dbc370)

  40. Sammy, this joke has been voted the world’s funniest. Memorize it and I guarantee you laughs, unless your audience has already heard it.

    Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator says “Calm down. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence, then a gun shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says “OK, now what?”

    nk (dbc370)

  41. I think I read that one.

    Maybe here. But I can’t find it.

    Here is a video version of the joke.

    Sammy Finkelman (6ee5be)


    The Kobayashi Maru was introduced in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It’s a Starfleet Academy simulator that is impossible to beat; the intended purpose of the test is to see how a potential captain deals with defeat and death. In the entire history of Starfleet only one cadet has ever actually bested the unbeatable test, and it was a young James Kirk. For much of Wrath of Khan the answer to how he did it remains a mystery, but eventually, when things seem darkest for the crew of the USS Enterprise, it’s revealed: Kirk changed the program….

    ….That was Kirk being Kirk, and it wasn’t cheating. It’s important to understand how Kirk approached the test – he thought it was fundamentally unfair. To Kirk the Kobayashi Maru itself was cheating. He believed the idea of an unwinnable scenario to be ludicrous; as he saw the world, any problem could be overcome eventually with smarts and hard work. The equivalent here was being given a math test with the problem “2+2=?” and being told that “4” was the wrong answer.

    The test was the problem, and Kirk solved that problem. It’s never explicitly stated what Kirk changed when he hacked the program…but the gist of what we’re to understand is that Kirk didn’t hack the Kobayashi Maru to win, but rather to make it winnable. When Saavik accuses Kirk of cheating, he replies “I changed the conditions of the test!”

    (He is arguing that the writers of the Star Trek video game understand and get things all wrong.)

    Sammy Finkelman (6ee5be)

  43. The test was the test. Kirk hacking it put him on the short list for future Admiral of the Galactic Fleet. There’s dozens of trick tests like that psychologists and motivational experts use. Here’s one:

    You’re in a psychiatric hospital. The doctor takes you to a bathroom with a bathtub full of water. There’s a bucket and a spoon by it. He tells you to empty the water out of the tub. What do you use to get the water out of the tub?

    Sammy gets to answer first.

    nk (dbc370)

  44. Nk, you are funny.

    Simon Jester (0f95a2)

  45. Nk, here is a joke for your. First, I like my in-laws. But the common trope in jokes like this is that the husband doesn’t get along with the mother in law.

    So a fellow walking along the beach finds a dinged up, dirty lamp. He rubs it against his sleeve to clean it and whoosh! A djinn appears, sarcastic and rude.

    The djinn explains that the husband gets three wishes…but that whatever he wishes for, his mother in law gets twice as much.

    The man thinks, and then asks for a million dollars, tax free. Poof! A Swiss bank account book appears in his hand.

    The djinn then sneers, and reminds the husband that his mother in law gets two million dollars, tax free.

    Gritting his teeth, the husband thinks furiously, while the djinn contemptuously taps his foot.

    The man then wishes for a grand house, on a high hill, overlooking the ocean. Poof! They are there, and it is everything he wished for.

    The djinn laughs out loud, and reminds the husband that his mother in law gets a house twice as large, on a hill twice as high, with a view of the ocean twice as lovely.

    The man thinks and thinks. And then he smiles.

    What was his final wish?

    Simon Jester (0f95a2)

  46. 44. Is the spoon preventing the water from going down the drain?

    Sammy Finkelman (6ee5be)

  47. Sammy, go look at your bathtub for a moment.

    Simon Jester (0f95a2)

  48. Ummmm, pull the plug?

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  49. The richest son-in-law in the world?

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  50. Well, we know the true perennial bragging rights for the SEC are awaiting the result of Alabama tonight and maybe again next week,
    but hopefully we’ve put a damper in the “3rd best team in the SEC can beat anyone else” claim.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  51. MD, the actual punch line, which I’m guessing will make nk laugh…

    The husband looks at the sneering djinn for a moment, smiles, and says: “Would you beat me half to death?”

    Simon Jester (0f95a2)

  52. A bucket and a spoon, but no teacup? This test is rigged.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  53. Pull the drain plug is the “correct” answer. Now, if I were a corporate motivational expert, I’d put on a condescendingly tolerant air and tell you how seven-year old kids solve these puzzles right away without even thinking about them.

    Heh, Simon. I can very well see my mother-in-law doing that to me.

    nk (dbc370)

  54. 44. Sammy Finkelman (6ee5be) — 1/1/2015 @ 12:57 pm

    Is the spoon preventing the water from going down the drain?

    48. Simon Jester (0f95a2) — 1/1/2015 @ 1:03 pm

    Sammy, go look at your bathtub for a moment.

    There’s a metal pole standing next to it which can go up and down. For a period of a year or two there was a toothbrush – not a spoon, but a spoon could do this as well – wedged in. It was keeping that from closing the drain.

    Now maybe something could also be used to close the drain, and pulling it out would let the water out..

    Thanks, by the way, for sending me there.

    I found the blue mouthwash cup that’s been missing for a few weeks or so. It was right on the side of the bathtub in the narrow space between it and the sink, next to the wall. I had thought that was gone.

    49. MD in Philly (f9371b) — 1/1/2015 @ 1:11 pm

    Ummmm, pull the plug?

    But what do you need a spoon for that? Is the bottom of the bathtub too deep, so that the stopper can only be reached with the help of a spoon?

    Sammy Finkelman (6ee5be)

  55. Enough of this, please. We all have different abilities and limitations.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  56. first thing is you have to take off all your clothes

    this way the bathtub will let its guard down

    happyfeet (831175)

  57. Sammy’s at fault too, with that totally unbelievable story. Like a woman would ever trick a rich guy into not marrying her. (Ducks)

    Ok, ok, ok. For a change a subject, and on topic, SeeBS radio just announced that GM, today, announced that it would recall another 91,000 cars. Not making it up.

    On more somber news, R.I.P. former NY governor Mario Cuomo, the father of the present one.

    nk (dbc370)

  58. They said that Mario Cuomo was sick – he went into the hospital right after Election Day – but then he got out. I think he went back in, but it looked like something more long term.

    His father in law, I think, ran a company called Ideal.

    Sammy Finkelman (6ee5be)

  59. *

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  60. i heart Mr. F more than beans and fishsticks

    this place would be 119% less pontificationy in his absence i tell you what

    happyfeet (831175)

  61. I don’t know to what degree Mario Cuomo took to the grave his suspicions that President Clinton had tried to get him killed in Feb. 1993. He wouldn’t take his call afterward for a week. (Mario Cuomo felt he was the target and told that to Mike McAlary.)

    The newspaper column is too obscure – it didn’t make it into Nora Ephron’s play.

    Sammy Finkelman (6ee5be)

  62. I have another story I read in a book – somebody donated a whole bunch of books to my synagogie and we don’t know where to put them – about Nechama Leibowitz – how children who were thieves were persuaded to return what they had stolen – but I will have to write this later. I photograpphes the page but it’s kind of dark, so it’s slow in retelling.

    Sammy Finkelman (6ee5be)

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