Truth Or Satire? Take My One-Question Quiz

There has been a spate of quizzes on Facebook lately.  Everything from “What One Word Describes You Best?” to “Answer These Questions and We’ll Guess Your Favorite Song.”  So I thought I’d chip in and offer a one-question quiz for those seekers of truth who simply are not able to resist answering questions on the Internet.

Here it is.  Multiple choice.

Which of the following are or were actual front page headlines in a major newspaper?

  1. Area Man Going To Sit Quietly In Darkened Bedroom Until Roommate’s Party Ends.
  2. Goldman Sachs Hires Single Morally Decent Human Being To Work In Separate, Enclosed Cubicle.
  3. Flooding on N.C. coast to rise.
  4. Man At Gym Just Watching TV.
  5. All of the above.
  6. None of the above.

Correct answer: c.  From the Raleigh News & Observer (N&O), January 31, 2015.  The others are satire, I say satire, from my daily calendar, produced by extremely talented writers at The Onion.

The N&O front-page above the fold article is chock full of astonishing disclosures, building on the headline in c., above.  Example: “More flooding will close roads, clog storm sewers, and damage streets and other public structures….”  Another example I would never have guessed: “Even moderate floods can hurt businesses, isolate neighborhoods, and disrupt transportation.”

As the kids say: Duh.

But we N.C. residents do have some hope, because our General Assembly has consistently thumbed its collective nose at studies produced by such clearly unqualified organizations as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Union of Concerned Scientists, studies that predict, among other alarming items, that rises in the sea level that will cause “…minor tidal flooding as a near-daily event in the Wilmington area by 2045.”

God bless our leaders for deciding to ignore those reports and simply order the ocean to stop rising.

A few years back I heard a program on WUNC describing early homes built on the Outer Banks that floated when the flood-causing storms came.  I think that was a hundred or more years ago.

Our solution thus far: raise insurance rates for seashore properties and continue to rebuild roads, bridges, beaches homes, other buildings, golf courses, and whatever else the floods continue to wash away.  We could use an Internet quiz for our leaders that will point out better solutions.

Did You Happen To Notice?

A rider was tacked on the latest congressional budget bill by lobbyists from big banks.  What the rider does is to make it easier for FDIC banks to trade derivatives, which Warren Buffett once defined as “financial weapons of mass destruction.”  (See “Tilting at Hillary,” TIME Magazine, by Rana Foroohar, January 26, 2015, page 28.)

Derivatives may be described as financial instruments that depend on something else for their value.  For example, a stock call option is a derivative, because the owner of the option does not own the stock, but the value of the derivative depends wholly on the value of the stock.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren gave a “barn-burning” speech on the Senate floor in December in opposition to the rider, but only time will tell whether the rider survives as the bill makes its way through Congress.

Ms. Foroohar’s essay makes other points about other failed economic adventures; e.g., “trickle-down” and turning “to finance to generate quick-hit growth in tough times, deregulating markets or loosening monetary policy rather than focusing on underlying fixes for the real economy.  Shrugging and citing a market-knows-best philosophy to avoid difficult political decisions has been a bipartisan exercise for quite a long time now.”

And the ever-increasing gap between rich and poor and wage stagnation?  Senator Warren: “Between the 1930’s and the 1970’s, 90% of all workers shared 70% of all income growth.  Between 1980 and 2012, guess how much that 90% got?  Zero!”

Did you happen to notice…..?

Truth or Fiction?

Sometimes the only way to tell the truth is with fiction.

Ever heard that one?

Aside from our suspicions that some of our politicians often use fiction in their speeches and other communications, but don’t really understand what my creative writing instructors meant with that sentence, the older I get the more I’ve come to believe my instructors knew of what they spoke.

Truth is stranger than fiction is another one that makes more and more sense as I get more and more candles on my birthday cake.

Just read somewhere that the two great teams in our country’s constant tug of war will never appreciate the achievements of the other team no matter what the facts are.  We have reached the point where a political moderate is hated by both conservatives and progressives.  Note: I much prefer “progressive” to “liberal,” because in today’s world the very word’s presence in the discourse produces the sort of expression one can only duplicate upon discovering the bite or drink just taken was of rotten substance.  Eeeww!  Spit that out!

Here is a list of statements made in a fairly recent book.  Fiction or  non-fiction?  You be the judge (and please read it through before looking at the answer at the end).

“…we must embrace certain truths which separate a compassionate society from one that is selfish and complacent:

“That racial discrimination still exists, and that we need the courage to challenge it, and to end it.

“That gay men and women are not on a crusade to change the behavior of others, and that protecting them from violence and discrimination is moral, not immoral.

“That guns are too available, and kill far too many people.

“That too many children are denied proper medical care and a proper education.

“That too many of their parents are trapped in dead-end jobs.

“That too many lives are warped by violence, inside and outside our families.

“That too much of our prosperity is built of low wages and shattered dreams.

“That, in the end, we are a family, charged by decency and self-interest to care about every American….”

“…How can we inspire trust…when the best we can say for ourselves is that the other party’s worse?  No wonder people are fed up.”

“…It’s about freedom, the special interests say.  But how many of us are ‘free’ to spend ten thousand dollars to influence a political party?

This is the freedom to corrupt, and it is slowly destroying our democracy.

“Ending it…is a moral imperative.  And the beginning of the end is a constitutional amendment which says, ‘Nothing in the Constitution shall prohibit Congress from passing laws to regulate the funding of campaigns for federal office.”

Fiction or non-fiction?

See “No Safe Place,” by Richard North Patterson, pages 305-307, Random House, 1998 (paperback copy).

It’s a political thriller by a great talent telling the truth with fiction.

Never Forget: Anthony Palmisano and Edwin R. Woodriffe

I was working on finishing the attic in our Falls Church, Virginia home when my wife called up to tell me two FBI agents had been killed in Washington.

January 8, 1969 is one of those dates I’ll always remember where I was and what I was doing.  For me and for the family and other friends of Tony and Ed, that January day is like the dates of President Kennedy’s assassination, the moon landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall, my children’s birthdays.

It was on that day that FBI Agents Tony Palmisano and Ed Woodriffe, two of my brothers in law enforcement, were shot and killed by escaped federal prisoner Billie Austin Bryant.  Tony and Ed had just entered a Southwest Washington, D.C. apartment building when Bryant surprised them in a hallway.  Bryant was sentenced to a life sentence for each murder.

Ed was a classmate of mine in New Agent Training in the summer of 1967.  Tony and I served on the same squad for a time in the Washington Field Office.  They were outstanding gentlemen and law enforcement officers, both forever dearly missed by family and friends.

For more information, search FBI Honor Roll.