Cosmological Koans for Katrina

 

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From the News Center at UC Santa Cruz:  “In his new book, Cosmological Koans: A Journey to the Heart of Physical Reality”, physicist Anthony Aguirre explores deep questions about the nature of reality, using an approach inspired by Zen koans to take the reader on a thought-provoking tour of the cosmos and the core ideas of modern physics.

In Zen Buddhism, koans are short parables or questions meant to confront the practitioner with the inadequacy of conventional concepts and habits of thought. Similarly, Aguirre’s “cosmological koans” confront the reader with the unexpected nature of the world as described by physics and the mind-boggling ways in which it differs from our subjective experience or intuitive understanding of things.

‘I wanted to convey that sense of mystery and wonder that comes from seeing reality in a new way,’ said Aguirre, a professor of physics and holder of the Faggin Family Presidential Chair for the Physics of Information at UC Santa Cruz.

The book covers a wide range of topics, woven together with a fictional story line that recounts a journey from Italy to Japan. Multiple universes, the nature of time, the meaning of quantum theory, and entropy and information are among the subjects explored in short chapters that manage to convey mind-bending ideas in a way that is accessible and entertaining.

The topics include some of the most challenging open questions in cosmology and physics, as well as concepts that have long been settled science yet remain disturbingly counterintuitive. With respect to the enduring mystery of time, for example, Einstein showed that there is no universal ‘now’—in other words, different observers can have different perceptions of whether two events are simultaneous.”

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Let’s explore the concept of time a bit further.  In Chapter 28, p. 210, Professor Aguirre writes that you don’t see the world as it is now, whether that “now” is cosmic or not.  The world you see around you is the world as it was in the past.  Viewing the leaf falling from a tree 50 meters away, you see the tree as it was 167 nanoseconds ago.

What does “now” mean?  In other words how do we define the present as distinct from the past or the future?  It’s a timeless question borne of metaphysics as much as physics.  As soon as you stop to identify that now is now, the moment has already passed into the past.  Perhaps the closest we can come is envisioning a pause button as the label for a given “time t” that occurs as an event in a particular space at a specific time.  But as we know, within our physical framework, there is no pause button.  The arrow of time is always moving forward.  The instant we reflect on the present it becomes the past, and the future is the next moment in time.

So if identifying the present is nearly a fleeting impossibility, would we have the audacity to imagine a perfect moment in time?  Art Garfunkel believes we can, and who am I to disagree?

In chapter 30, p. 226, Professor Aguirre turns his attention to the thorny question of Theodicy, or why a designer would create a world of beauty such as ours while allowing for unimaginable levels of pervasive suffering.   This leads the good professor to contemplate the multiverse, and that the universe we inhabit is one among many – merely the one that is most inhabitable to us.  That thinking is in line with Leibniz, who imagined this to be the “best” universe not just in terms of good outweighing evil, but also as the simplest in hypotheses and the richest in phenomena.

Chapter 31, The Floating Gardens, prompted me to get even more whimsical than usual. From a biblical standpoint, and the Old Testament in particular, the most significant “uni-verse” is the first verse.  (Might we consider this a Cosmological “Cohen” as opposed to a “Koan”?)  It reads:  בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ

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בְּרֵאשִׁית – in the beginning.   The beginning of what?  Time would seem to be the essence.

בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים – God created.  The apparent conflict between “God” in the plural, and “created” in the singular.

אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ – The heavens and the earth.  Note the singularity of the earth and the multiplicity of the heavens, not to mention “the two aces”.

So by now you may be wondering, who is Katrina?  In chapter 50, p. 355, Professor Aguirre takes note of the host of dichotomies he has assailed us with:  Us and Them.  Self and Other.  East and West.  Katrina is a young woman in the service industry I encounter in her role as a barista at Starbucks in the morning and as a waitress at Martell’s Tiki Bar in the evening, a dichotomy in its own right.  She took an interest in what I was reading one morning – it was Cosmological Koans – which led to a conversation about East/West and the Yoga which got shoved down to the bottom of my bucket list.

Starbucks of course asks for your first name if you order anything but regular coffee.  Originally I gave my name as Len, but for some reason the baristas kept hearing “Glen”.  I got tired of correcting them, and so Glen I became for the purposes of my morning routine.  When Katrina waited on Miriam and me and at Martell’s, my “real” name came to the surface.  “If you’re Len, be Len” she said.  Sounds like a cosmological koan to me.

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BayCare Ballpark

It’ll be a few days yet before we arrive in Clearwater Beach, but the sign is there that will be hoisted above the entrance to the stadium, renaming Spectrum Field as BayCare Ballpark. It seems most appropriate, in this crazy era of Covid, that a healthcare system would acquire the naming rights to the home of Phillies Spring Training stadium and low A Clearwater Threshers. It does raise the interesting rhetorical question of how a “not-for-profit” health care organization like BayCare has enough ca-ching to put its name on the building.

We love the Clearwater Beach area enough to spend the month of March there, even in the absence of baseball spring training. But no doubt the opportunity to attend games at a time when hope springs eternal enhances the experience, particularly after the truncated events of March 2020. This year’s experience will be constrained, another dilemma for the modern fan presented by the challenges of coronavirus. This comes with the territory of loving sports when they don’t love you back, a subject given great context in a new book by Jessica Luther and Kavitha Davidson.

Consider the book’s introduction: “We know why you are here, reading this right now: you love sports like we do, but like us, you often feel like sports don’t love you back. But – and here’s the real hurt – you don’t know how to quit them. You are, instead, searching constantly for that middle space that allows you to quiet your conscience and indulge your fandom. Sports are big business, and with that comes the dirtiness of any major moneymaking thing that holds cultural significance … Welcome to our club for sports fans who care too much. It’s exhausting here, but we can’t leave. We don’t want to.”

Early images from spring training look enticing as always. Even Super fan Steve Potter doesn’t have access to the field for practice and can only watch from afar, but Super-Photographer Mark Wylie either has full press credentials or an amazing telephoto lens.

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Why My Father is My Hero – by Dick Allen, Jr.

As we continue to make preparations for heading to Clearwater Beach, envisioning a Spring Training that is going to be quite different from any before, I was touched by a social media posting attributed to Dick Allen Jr. His father, who came up to the Phillies as a walloping rookie from Wampum, PA, was a fixture with the club in later years, making appearances at Alumni Day in the spring to which we always looked forward.

I will miss not seeing Dick Allen at Spring Training this year. A controversial figure during his playing days in Philly in the 1960s, Dick’s #15 was finally retired by the Phillies in a Wall of Fame ceremony. Though he never made it into the Hall of Fame during his lfetime, he at least got to experience his Phils’ WoF induction last year before he died of cancer in December.

On a social media site this morning, the following post attributed to his son, Dick Allen, Jr. appeared. It is entitled: Why My Father is My Hero, and is a touching tribute to The Man’s memory.

“Jackie Robinson made it possible for African Americans to play the game of baseball professionally by breaking the color barrier in 1947. Two decades later, my father became the ‘Jackie Robinson of the Philadelphia Phillies’ by challenging the racism that existed in a segregated city. My father, Dick Allen, grew up in rural western Pennsylvania.

He and his brothers were extremely talented basketball players, winning two state championships for Wampum High School. Although all five of the Allen brothers went on to become All-State athletes in basketball, my father knew from a young age that he wanted to play baseball. Like Jackie Robinson, Dad broke color barriers of his own.

When he left home, at age 18 in 1960, to play for the Philadelphia Phillies, Dad had never experienced segregation or racial discrimination. But four years later, when the Phillies assigned him to their Triple -A club, the Arkansas Travelers, he became the very first African American ballplayer on the team. During his time in Little Rock, Dad experienced both segregation and racial discrimination. He could not stay in the same hotel with his white teammates, or eat at the same restaurants. There were nights when he feared for his life going out on to the playing field because of the jeers he received from the fans. He even received death threats simply because he was black. But Dad persevered. By the end of the 1963 season he had won over the fans because of his exceptional talent, being voted the International League’s Most Valuable Player.

In 1964 my father was promoted to the Major Leagues, becoming the Phillies’ regular third baseman. He performed so well that he was voted Rookie of the Year. Over the next five years, Dad would become the Phillies’ first African American superstar, averaging 20 home runs and 90 RBI a season. But he was never really accepted by the Philadelphia fans because of his race. Dick Allen, Jr. (2)When Dad began to speak out against the racism he experienced at the ballpark and in the City of Philadelphia, his situation became worse. Our family was subjected to some pretty unfortunate things, too, like having trash thrown on our front lawn, or having to hear the nasty boos when we went to the ballpark to watch Dad play. Although he pleaded with the Phillies to trade him to another team, they refused because Dad was the best player they had. The longer he stayed with the Phillies, the more he spoke out against the racism he experienced.

Finally, in 1969, my father got his wish – he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he was appreciated much more by the city and its baseball fans. He went on to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A’s, too. But the most enjoyable years of his career were spent with the Chicago White Sox, where he was accepted for the person he was instead of the color of his skin. In 1972, Dad was voted the American League MVP and he made the All Star team all three years he played in Chicago. Growing up, I admired many athletes in many different sports, but none of them were my hero. I was fortunate to have a father who was my hero. Sure, I admire Dad for what he achieved on the playing field as well as for what he endured off of it. But he is my hero because he was the best Dad any kid could have. He cared about me and made the time to spend with me in spite of a very busy schedule and the many problems he had to face during his playing career. He taught me to respect myself, to respect other people regardless of their skin color, and to dedicate myself to my family. Dad used his life as an example to shape me, and the person I have become. Today, I try to live up to his example by passing those same lessons on to my own son.”

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When Apes Start Coughing

It was in 2018 that I first discovered David Quammen as an author through his brilliant book, The Tangled Tree. He is a naturalist and a science writer, and you can get a feel for his thinking by visiting his website.

More to the point, as much as Bill Gates is credited for calling attention in 2015 to the possibility if not probability of a large scale viral pandemic along the lines of what we are experiencing, the real credit goes to public intellectuals such as David Quammen. It is chilling today to watch his clarion call in 2013 to pay more serious attention to zoonotic viruses. Our disruption of the ecosystem, coupled with increased connectivity, have shaken loose viruses to infect us universally and at alarming speeds.

Today, the New York Times published an opinion piece from David Quammen. It is well worth reading, and here are several key excerpts.

  • The noises of nature sometimes carry broader meanings. The howl of a wolf signifies that wildness endures. The gronk of Canada geese moving south overhead reminds Americans to brace for winter. The sound of a coughing gorilla signals that COVID-19 is an even bigger problem than we thought. Early last month, two gorillas started coughing at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a compound of open-air enclosures for wild animals, an annex to the city zoo but separate, out in an arid valley just east of Escondido. These gorillas were among a group of eight residing amiably there, on a patch of artfully constructed habitat known as the Gorilla Forest. Testing of faecal samples showed that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was among them. It could only have come from a person. 
  • There’s been a smattering of news accounts over the past year about anthroponotic transmission of SARS-CoV-2: human into mink on the fur farms of Denmark, resulting in rampant spread and cullings by the millions; human into tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo in New York; human into snow leopards at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky; human into another tiger at the zoo in Knoxville, Tenn. 
    Laboratory studies have shown that domestic cats also are highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and can transmit it to other cats; dogs are less susceptible, and the virus doesn’t replicate as well within them. The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds people to practice “healthy habits” with their pets. Better for you — and better for them, since you are probably more likely to give the virus to your dog or your cat than to receive it from them. 
  • Fabian Leendertz, a wildlife veterinarian and infectious-disease researcher with the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, is one scientist who pays close attention to anthroponotic spillovers, especially into vulnerable populations of non-human primates, such as the chimpanzees he has studied for two decades at Tai National Park, in Ivory Coast. Tom Gillespie, an ecologist based at Emory University in Atlanta, is another. Dr. Gillespie co-directs the ecosystem-health project at Gombe National Park, Tanzania, where Jane Goodall did her field studies. In March, just before the pandemic exploded, Dr. Leendertz and Dr. Gillespie wrote a letter in the journal Nature warning that COVID-19 might become not just a catastrophe for humans but also “a threat to our closest living relatives, the great apes.” Great apes: That’s gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos (once called pygmy chimpanzees), all members — along with us — of the familial group known as hominids. The exposure of wild apes to human respiratory viruses is especially concerning, because those can be transmitted on a puff of breath (unlike blood-borne viruses such as Ebola or H.I.V.) and apes have susceptible respiratory cells very similar to ours. 
  • Five years from now, when much of the world’s population will have been vaccinated against COVID-19 but maybe a billion people won’t, either for lack of opportunity or by stubborn refusal, the virus will still be with us. It will circulate among the unvaccinated, sometimes inconspicuously, sometimes causing severe illness or death, and it could also abide among wildlife populations, mutating and evolving in ways no one can predict. If it crosses back from them to us, it may ignite new outbreaks, start us coughing again and even bring with it some ugly genomic innovations. 

… If that happens, this coronavirus will also be reminding us — by the ease with which a bat virus became a human virus, which became a gorilla virus and a mink virus, then perhaps a badger virus and a mouse virus, and finally a human virus again — of the humbling fact to which Charles Darwin alerted us more than a century and a half ago: We are animals, too. 

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The Case for Semicolons

From the Sunday New York Times Magazine, a snappy article by Lauren Oyler about use of the semicolon showing the sometimes arbitrary nature of punctuation. The piece was also re-posted by Jack Limpert, an honorary member of the grammar police. Here it is, in its entirety for your reading pleasure:

I don’t remember when I first learned about semicolons, nor do I have a mental list of remarkable semicolons in literature. I don’t want to have to treasure them, though the typical advice for writers of all levels is to use them sparingly, as if there’s a limited supply. This only breeds fear, which in turn breeds stigma: Semicolons are ugly, pretentious and unnecessary; they immaturely try to have it both ways. There are so many things to fear in life, but punctuation is not one of them. That semicolons, unlike most other punctuation marks, are fully optional and relatively unusual lends them power; when you use one, you are doing something purposefully, by choice, at a time when motivations are vague and intentions often denied. And there are very few opportunities in life to have it both ways; semicolons are the rare instance in which you can; there is absolutely no downside.

For those who don’t know the rules. . .a semicolon does what it says on the box. . . .It’s a period on top of a comma, and it works like both a period and a comma. You can use it to separate two independent clauses — two sentences that work on their own — or to separate items in a series that would be particularly unwieldy with only commas, often because the items contain commas. (“Today I ate three desserts: a tiny cookie, which was free with my espresso; a bigger cookie, which was unfortunately a little dry; and a milkshake, which maybe took things too far.”)

You can also break these rules. I don’t, but you can. That’s another thing that’s good about them. As Cecelia Watson writes in her excellent 2019 book, “Semicolon: The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark,” the idea of a bygone era of seriousness and difficulty, in which everyone knew and followed grammar rules, is fallacious; grammar rules emerged only in the 1800s, and they have been hotly debated ever since. Read the work of any great author, and you will find idiosyncratic, often technically incorrect, punctuation; read the email of any interesting person, and you will find the same thing. . . .

Theodor Adorno said they looked like “a drooping mustache,” but in his view, that’s good — all punctuation marks, and the downtrodden semicolon especially, are “friendly spirits whose bodiless presence nourishes the body of language”; they ought to be defended. What’s more: Why does your text message, email, tweet, article or book need to be pretty? Is that not also a little pretentious? According to Kurt Vonnegut’s often-taught (and, if you read the full quote, both a little ironic and offensive) advice, “all they do is show you’ve been to college,” but these days anyone can look up how to use a semicolon, and such ideas about pretensions are circumscribed, unimaginative; they imply that the full range and joys of English expression are available only to people with bachelor’s degrees. Besides, all punctuation can be confusing, subject to interpretation. The seemingly harmless period becomes a knife when it appears at the end of a one-line text message, worsening intergenerational conflict as older people tend not to realize they sound curt to their younger interlocutors; the comma often shows up whenever someone wants a pause, even though the pauses most useful in reading are not the same as those you want in speech. The dash is considered a guilty pleasure, sort of chaotic; exclamation points will, for years, be associated with Donald Trump.

That semicolons aren’t popular on social media — where oversimplification and directness reign and the presence of too much grammatical flair is likely to limit “engagement” — is perhaps the only argument some readers will need to be convinced of their value. For the rest of the skeptical, the semicolon conveys a very specific kind of connection between ideas that is particularly useful now — it asserts a link where the reader might not necessarily see one while establishing the fragility of that link at the same time. The world is not accurately described through sets of declarations and mere pauses, without qualification or adjustment; occasionally we are lucky enough to see it many ways, at once.

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The New Long Life

Andrew J. Scott is a consulting scholar at Stanford’ s Center on Longevity, and professor of economics at London Business School where Lynda Gratton is a professor of management practice. The two have teamed up to write The New Long Life, which is better than your average book about longevity because of its focus on social ingenuity.

In a nutshell, the aggregate trends of technology and longevity are shaping when and if we marry; the ways we combine family with work and distribute tasks between genders; what we learn, how we learn, and who we learn from; how we think of our careers and jobs and piece together our working identity; what we do at each stage of our lives and how we construct a life’s narrative.

Perhaps the most significant framework that Scott & Gratton supply is that social pioneers in this new era of longevity are redefining the classic three stages of youth, adulthood/work, and retirement, into a loosening of the relationship between age and stage. Many social pioneers have replaced midlife crisis with midlife reinvention and redirection. Midlife is only a crisis if you can’t make the transition to build a new future. This transition sets the stage for staying productive longer.

For more than a century, best practice life expectancy has been increasing at a remarkable rate of two to three years every decade. There is a debate in longevity circles about whether life expectancy is plateauing, or whether it is poised to continue. Taken to its extreme, open-ended increases in lifespan leads to the concept of longevity escape veclocity (eclipsing the Jewish good wishes to live to 120 – עד מאה ועשרים שנה‎ in Hebrew or ביז הונדערט און צוואַנציק in Yiddish). In any event, current data projects that here will be a dramatic growth in persons living beyond their 80s. The challenge for senior citizens is to remain as healthy and engaged as long as possible, so that one feels useful and relevant.

Scott & Gratton turn a beautiful phrase in this regard: “In the rhythm of your own life’s narrative you will have your own sense of what it is to be young and what it is to be old.” Although somewhat morbid, it is human nature to ponder one’s thanatological age. In simple terms, this means calculating or projecting the number of years you have left to be alive. Since, thankfully, we don’t know exactly when we die, we tend to rely on a combination of population statistics and family history. At any given point in time, how many more years do we have to productively pursue what we enjoy, or to continue pursuing new knowledge?

Embracing a multistage life structure allows you to continually focus on what you would like to do next. Without intending to be a social pioneer, I’ve been doing mini-sabbaticals in cycles of one month every six months for awhile now but like everything else, my mini-sabbatical last Fall was put on sabbatical by Covid-19. With two shots of Moderna in hand, and seeking a middle ground between paranoid isolation and throwing caution to the wind, I’m looking forward to March on Clearwater Beach. No doubt you’ve been continually adjusting your priorities this past year, as the pandemic required a microscopic view focusing on day-to-day plans. In accordance with Scott & Gratton’s subtitle, let’s continue to build our framework for flourishing in a changing world. It is the gateway to a new long life.

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The One-Eyed Man Endeavoring

If you know a baseball player, give him or her a special hug today. If you know a professional baseball player, make that hug a bit longer – even if it’s virtual. I just finished reading the remarkable story of Drew Robinson, written by Jeff Passan of ESPN and it’s safe to say that after reading it you will never look at an athlete the same way again.

Please do read it and share it with loved ones, whether or not they battle with mental illness. It is raw and it is powerful. It is tragic and it is inspiring. It is a human interest story, but one that should be of action rather than passive interest. And clearly these issues are exacerbated in the era of COVID.

Here’s a glimpse from Jeff Passan about the story, which is streaming now on ESPN, E:60:

“The brain is the most important organ in the body, yet the one we think about the least. Drew’s idea is to look at his brain the way he looks at his swing, Athletes think about themselves through a physical prism. What can I do to perform? And performance is always measured by strength, and by might, and the mental will to fight through injuries … We have to stop looking at performance just through a physical prism; we have to understand that the brain is involved in all of these elements, and applies not just to athletes, but all of us too.”

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The Binary Brain in a Complex World

Nice book by the research psychologist Kevin Dutton. Not one that I’d necessarily rush out to buy, but some nuggets nonetheless. Here is my favorite thus far, midway through the book. It’s in the chapter on framing, pointing out that the words we choose influence how we see things, and vice-versa. It gets at a major theme of Dutton’s, which is to describe the grey zone between pairs of black-and-white adjectives. What is the middle ground, for example between:

  • Top and bottom
  • Introvert and extrovert
  • Good and bad
  • Passive and aggressive
  • Rough and smooth
  • Awake and asleep
  • Happy and depressed

In Dutton’s terms, coming up with the middle zone in a binary world often involves redirecting the beam so that it comes from a different angle, rather than shedding new light on things. The same words, written in a different syntax, can completely alter their meaning. He illustrates this with the following example:

An English teacher at an all-boys school walks into a lecture room and, on writing the following sentence up on the board, asks the class to punctuate it:

A woman without her man is nothing.

Meanwhile, down the road at an all-girls school. his friend does exactly the same.

When, later, they compare notes they’re shocked to discover that the results are completely different.

The boys punctuate the sentence like this: A woman, without her man, is nothing.

While the girls parse it like this: A woman: without her, man is nothing.

What about the exceptions to the rule? The girl who punctuated the phrase like most of the boys, and the boy who parsed the phrase like most of the girls.

Though Dutton doesn’t raise the issue, that would seem to add to the intricacies of the binary brain in a complex world.

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A Talented Artist Turns His Eye Toward Baseball

The talented artist Daniel Jacob Horine tells MLB.com how he got involved with doing comic book theme covers of select major league baseball players. My favorite of course is the one he just completed of Michael Jack Schmidt, which can be pre-ordered here.

In his blog, Daniel details how he’s been doing these prints for the past six months. He puts out one per week, and then retires it as a limited edition. Even though he’s just started producing them, Daniel is clearly headed for the baseball illustrator’s Hall of Fame!

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Pun Time

I know – that one was a groaner. But here is a good top 21 Pun List, courtesy of Jake Blatt.

1. Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The
ceremony wasn’t much, but the reception was excellent.
  2. A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, “I’ll serve
you, but don’t start anything.”
  3. Two peanuts walk into a bar, and one was a salted.
  4. A dyslexic man walked into a bra.
  5. A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm, and
says: “A beer please, and one for the road.”
  6. Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other: “Does this
taste funny to you?”
  7. “Doc, I can’t stop singing The Green, Green Grass of Home.”
  “That sounds like Tom Jones Syndrome.”
  “Is it common?”
  “Well, It’s Not Unusual.”
  8. Two cows are standing next to each other in a field.  Daisy says to
Dolly, “I was artificially inseminated this morning.”
  “I don’t believe you,” says Dolly.
  “It’s true; no bull!” exclaims Daisy.
  9. An invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing
to look at either.
  10. Deja Moo: The feeling that you’ve heard this bull before.
  11. I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day, but I
couldn’t find any.
  12.. A man woke up in a hospital after a serious accident.  He
shouted, “Doctor, doctor, I can’t feel my legs!” The doctor replied , “I
know, I amputated your arms!”
  13. I went to a seafood disco last week…. and pulled a mussel.
  14. What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.
  15. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the other and
says, “Dam!”
  16. Two Northerners sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire
in the craft. Not surprisingly it sank, proving once again that you
can’t have your kayak and heat it too.
  17. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel, and were
standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories.
After about an hour, the manager came out of the office, and asked them
to disperse.
  “But why,” they asked, as they moved off.
  “Because,” he said. “I can’t stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer.”
  18. A woman has twins, and gives them up for adoption. One of them
goes to a family in Egypt , and is named ‘Ahmal.’ The other goes to a
family in Spain ; they name him ‘Juan’ Years later,
  Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving
the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a
picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, “They’re IDENTICAL twins! If
you’ve seen Juan, you’ve seen Ahmal.”
  19. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time,
which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate
very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he
suffered from bad breath. This made him (oh, man, this is so bad, it’s
good) … a super-calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis
  20. A dwarf, who was a mystic, escaped from jail. The call went out
that there was a small medium at large.
  21. And finally, there was the person who sent ten different puns to
his friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them
laugh. No pun in ten did.

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Bernie’s Meme Enjoys Its 15 Minutes

No doubt you’re aware of the Bernie in Mittens and Parka Inauguration Meme. It will enjoy its 15 minutes of fame, fading faster than the ice bucket challenge of the summer of 2014. Here was the original shot that at the Inauguration that served as the drop seen ’round the world:

James Corden wondered aloud if Bernie know what all the fuss was about.

Bernie’s appearance on Seth Myers made it clear that indeed he knew about it, and was suitably amused if not somewhat befuddled.

And here are some of my personal favorites:

‘Bye ‘Bye Bernie …

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