Archive for the ‘Academics’ Category

The San Francisco Chronicle carried an article recently about a noted pick-up artist who will, for a thousand dollars, reveal his techniques on how to pickup women.

The attendees were described generally as handsome, some with money, a few just coming out of relationships, but all lacking the confidence needed in today’s competitive pickup market. Personally, I fail to grasp the concept of a handsome rich guy who lacks confidence.

Be that as it may, I sincerely hope they all gained an appreciation of the latest pick-up techniques and successfully used them. I honestly pray their investment pays dividends in the future in case any of them weren’t immediately successful following the completion of the seminar and lab time in various bars along Geary.

But for those who haven’t scored and for those who couldn’t afford 10 C-Notes, I have some follow-on advice that may help.

First of all, if your target covey is usually found in bars and other watering holes, never make an appearance early in the evening. You may need a little advance reconnaissance to establish an appropriate arrival time, which may take as many as three visits. Eventually, however, you will sense the time when everyone in the bar is drunker than a skunk. The proper timing will reduce or eliminate your competition because most if not all habitués will be in the end stages of inebriation. It just stands to reason that a sober man (you) will have an edge over a mumbling, glazed-eyed, incoherent, gaseous son of a billionaire Nob Hill scion. Moreover, it’s easier to hook up with an inebriated woman than a sober one.

But where’s the challenge? It seems to me that a red-blooded American male would find the conquest of sober women a feat more worthy of his talents. That’s why I am suggesting that all aspiring pickup artists seriously consider expanding the field of operations beyond booze joints. Here is a list of possibilities for you to mull over, along with my observations.

The romance section of bookstores.
Any bookstore will suffice, although this tactic may not work in specialty stores such as one selling used Army technical manuals. There aren’t many women interested in learning how to dissemble and assemble a .50 caliber machine gun except an occasional jilted wife. In these sorts of stores, you will waste too much time waiting. Increase the possibilities of a connection by browsing Borders, for example. As you browse, keep your head buried in an open book as far as you can bury it while at the same time scanning the activity around you through squinted eyes. When a potential target moves into view, slowly approach her. If she notices you and smiles…well, you get the idea.

Organic food markets
Women who buy organic foods are, as a general rule, healthy, intelligent, moderately well-to-do, and of indeterminate age. They are good looking because they follow a daily regimen of skin care and spa workouts, grooming activities that will largely camouflage those pesky signs of aging. The methodology for a pickup in this arena is twofold. First, dress appropriately. Wear a pair of knee length athletic shorts and a logo-ed athletic shirt. These have definite advantages because they speak of athleticism, which women admire in men, and suggest the possession of a college degree, a definite plus in today’s relationship market. Second, fill a shopping cart half full of organic goods selected at random and simply browse the isles. Sooner or later, you’ll catch the eye of a beautiful blonde cougar.

A university research library
These days, institutions of higher learning are heavily populated with women who have returned to school seeking skills appropriate to the21st Century job market. The number of female master’s and doctoral candidates has skyrocketed. And, as anyone who is familiar with the process for acquiring an advanced degree knows, several 40-page research papers as well as a 300-page dissertation are required for the successful completion of the program. That means many women virtually live in a graduate library. You don’t have to be a candidate to approach one of these women. Merely dress in a manner commensurate with today’s young executive and present yourself as a recruiter for a large company. Hand a likely target a business card and engage her in conversation about her skills and future plans. Of course, if you score, your lie may catch up with you sooner rather than later. But, then, that’s one of the hazards of lying to a woman, even an inebriated one.

I believe these three examples of alternate pick up locations will suffice for the time being. For now, let me close with these words of wisdom.

To begin with, consider very seriously the possibility of an entirely new pick up approach currently under study in a research lab in a top secret location near Las Vegas. Here’s how it works.

Dress neatly, walk into your selected arena with a pleasant look on your face, and go about your business.  When a woman catches your eye, smile and merely say, “Hi,” or “Good morning.” If she’s interested, she’ll take it from there. After all, why do you think women are out and around in the middle of the morning? Chances are, they are embarked on the same mission you are on.

Finally, studies have consistently proven that women are the real selectors. They select the man they want to pick them up. Women have said over and over that the juvenile approaches employed by men are actually turn offs. Men, you will improve your chances immeasurably by just being yourself. Women are, after all smarter than men and more perceptive. Give them credit. Save a thousand dollars.


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I’m watching the President’s Cup golf match televised from San Francisco’s Harding Park Golf Course. This magnificent example of San Francisco’s beauty winds around Lake Merced not too far from the main campus of San Francisco State University where, in a moment of insanity, I once enrolled.

The President’s Cup is a golfing match between a United States team of top professional golfers and a team referred to as the International team, meaning it’s players are from various countries around the world. At the moment, the U.S. team is leading, but the skill level of the international players could mean anything is possible before the fat golfer swings.

One of my disconcerting habits when I watch golf is a tendency to spend more time looking at the galleries than the action on the course. For me, that’s normal behavior. I can hear the announcers and commentators as they explain what’s happing but I am equally interested in spotting notables in the crowd. For example, I wonder if the Mayor of San Francisco is following his favorite golfer. He’s an amateur golfer himself, so I imagine he’s been there on and off, although he probably doesn’t spend a whole day in attendance. Maybe, and this is just a guess, he’ll show up on the last day when the trophies are handed out.

I also wonder if any members of San Francisco’s famed Cougar Class are lurking around, waiting for a chance to pounce on a healthy young golfing stud. A large proportion of the gallery consists of females, but it’s difficult if not impossible to separate a Cougar from the pack. Human Cougars ordinarily don’t wear signs or stripped blouses.

As I’ve watched and admired the golf swings of the world’s top golfers, a disconcerting thought occurred to me. Neither the U.S. team nor the International team has a single woman player on it. In this land of equality and freedom for all, you’d think PGA officials could at least acknowledge the existence of the women in our society. After all, the President is the President of women as well as men. Sure, the PGA has a ladies golfing division, which is appropriately called “Ladies Professional Golfer’s Association” because it has no male members. The LPGA has its own tour and tournaments, so women professional golfers haven’t been totally ignored.

Still, one would think a match so important that it is called “The Presidents Cup” would in some small way include women players as well as men. It’s only fair, and America is, after all, a land of fairness.

So, here’s my modest proposal. The Presidents Cup matches would consist of two divisions, The Presidents Cup for men and The First Ladies Cup for women. One advantage of a First Ladies Cup is that the ladies are, in general, more attractive than the men and they wear shorts, thus giving the galleries a look at some fine legs. Think of the number of Male Cougars that might suddenly develop an interest in golf.

This would be gender equality at its finest.

Update: A commentator just interviewed Condi Rice. Now that the weight of office is no longer on her shoulders, she looks quite relaxed.

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For about 20 years, I taught in a variety of 4-year and community colleges. This is just a partial list of the subjects and classes I taught—Beginning Political Science, American Government, Constitutional Law and Politics, International Law and Politics, Comparative Politics, the Politics of Hawaii, American Studies with a concentration in America’s Role in the World, and a few I don’t recall at the moment.

I taught classroom and internet courses, on and off-campus, day and evening classes, and classes in a medium security prison. My students ranged in age from 18 to 74 and spanned the gamut of ethnic groups. They were Americans and foreigners of varying political beliefs, attitudes, and opinions.

By now, some of you are probably thinking that I’m a braggart and you are waiting for an opportunity as you read this to expose my ignorance. You are fully prepared to kick ass. Well, wait no more.

When I began teaching, I did not know my ass from a hole in the ground about politics. Nada, nil, zilch, zero. At the end of my 20 years, I knew even less.

But I had a couple of things going for me. First of all, no matter how little I knew, I knew more than any student who ever enrolled in and attended my classes. In fact, the level of ignorance among my students was so high that I often referred to community college as a half way house between the tenth and twelfth grades.

I am not arguing that these students were dumb. To the contrary, they were quite intelligent on the whole. They just didn’t possess enough factual information to fill a thimble. Consequently, they were unable to reason except in the manner of high school adolescents, which, if you recall from your own experience, and from watching the recent spate of town hall meetings, was and is rather emotional and bereft of the slightest hint of knowledge and comprehension.

As teachers, how were we supposed to handle a class of 35 students who, to be honest, could not compose a simple sentence or understand the simplest political concept? The answer is, we didn’t handle them very well.

Some of us found ourselves spending an inordinate amount of time on 8th grade civics, e.g., America has a Constitution. What’s a constitution, you ask? Well, it’s a written document that outlines the rules a government is supposed to follow. What’s a government, you ask? Well, it’s a tweedly dee tweedly dum and then some. Ah, good, you got that.

Others among us said, on a regular basis, “Screw the little shits. They’re supposed to be prepared when they arrive in college. I am not going to slow my classes down for the ignorant assholes. (Yes, friends, gray-bearded, bow-tie wearing, dark suit clad academicians are fully conversant with street-level vernacular).

And then there was that tiny minority of teachers who thought they could teach the peach fuzz generation by being one of them. They dressed in the latest teen fashions, dyed their hair, got a few tattoos, and in general hung around with juveniles, all on the assumption that the kids would learn better “from one of their own.” Well, the kids did learn from their own, but not the sorts of things some 50-year old wannabe might have imagined.

The funny thing is, none of these approaches changed the statistics. The overall drop-out rate remained relatively high from semester to semester over the years. The number of community college students who went on to a four-year institution also remained low, and of those who transferred to a four-year institution, the percentage who failed to complete their bachelors also hovered at the basement level year after year.

Many explanations for the appalling academic preparation of incoming freshmen and women have been offered over the years. I’ll discuss that aspect of the American education system at another time. My purpose today is merely to explain how I managed to walk through a 20-year teaching career in a state of blissful ignorance. One reason, explained above, is that, ignorant though I may have been, I knew more than my students.

The second major reason revolves around the issue of misunderstandings and expectations. This was particularly true of classes in beginning political science. There was, almost universally among my students, a virtually impenetrable wall of confusion over the meanings of the words “politics” and “political science.”

In a nutshell, politics is the practice of striving for and retaining political office once elected. This covers a lot of ground, but briefly, it includes such activities as conducting campaigns, the strategies and tactics of reaching a predefined segment of the voting population, and the use of loaded language (e.g. death panels).

In another sense, politics is practice; political science is theory. Still another way of phrasing it is that politics is doing something; political science is thinking about what has been and what might be done. Or, one that I prefer—politics is calling an opponent an asshole; political science is defining asshole. I did not teach politics. I taught political science.

Which brings me back to misperceptions and misunderstandings. Students were under the impression that they would walk in the door, sit down, throw their feet up on an empty chair (male students, anyway), and start calling politicians assholes, as if that were a mark of testosteronic maturity (I don’t know the equivalent female hormonal impediment to learning).

When I insisted repeatedly that they define asshole according to the techniques utilized in political science that I had or would teach them, many decided on another course of study. Critical thinking (meaning logical analysis based on factual information) was a concept so alien to them that my mere insistence on objectivity was considered radical liberalism or radical conservatism, depending on their own self-professed ideological outlook.

In fact, I was accused on more than one occasion of attempting to undermine their core beliefs, although I did nothing more than ask questions and insist that they be able to explain their stands on the issues.

I often skated around their abhorrence of objective analysis by using an example from the practice of law: A winning attorney is able to argue the opponent’s case better than the opponent can. In other words, know what the hell the other side is thinking and know the facts of its case.

A point of clarification is in order before I wind up. When I wrote that I taught for 20 years in a state of blissful ignorance, I meant that politics was and remains a mystery to me. True, the words and deeds of politicians are rather predictable, but the reactions and responses of the general voting public are astoundingly lacking in logical bases. But that is only one part of the problem. Why are large segments of American society so determined to remain ignorant? In fact, I believe that the only thing exceeding the ignorance of these segments is a fierce determination to remain in that state.

That, I believe, is the eternal mystery of politics, and that is what I intended to suggest by talking about my ignorance in the classroom. I may be ignorant about this particular political mystery, but I know how to think about it in the manner of political scientists. My students never seemed to get the distinction.

Finally, despite the negativities in this essay, I taught many outstanding students, and I can truthfully say that my teaching career was challenging and satisfying. I left teaching a couple of years ago but not because I was disgusted or beaten down by student inertia. I needed to care for my beloved. I’m thinking now of returning to the classroom on a part-time basis. That remains to be seen.

Pending a decision, I’ll probably visit a few relatives who think I’m nuts or weird and who will not hesitate to let me know that they know more about politics than I do. It’s the American way. A loud voice and a dearth of information are often confused with knowledge.

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But not the ordinary run of Supreme Court nominees.We need a woman who has never been s judge in any venue, period. Prior experience corrupts the brain.

Taking it a step further, we need a a Justice without a scintilla of legal education or training. The Constitution requires no such education or experience, and it’s time we broke the old fogey tradition.

Moreover, a rigid and traditional background in a law school followed by legal experience of one sort or another obscures the purpose of the American court system, namely, a search for justice, fairness, and equity.

A lengthy legal background results in a strong tendency to rule based on technicalities regardless of the ultimate outcome which, lately in American courtrooms, has led to the conviction of innocent indiciduals.

Many will say, “What a crackpot idea.”

True, but then again, America was considered a crackpot idea when the nation was formed in 1789. Seems to me, it’s done pretty good.

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Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne envisions a world without print journalism in his on-line column today. It isn’t pretty for the legions of working journalists and would-be-journalists.

Under the rules of a capitalist economic system, print journalism will be replaced by some form of electronically-transmitted news.  Dionne uses a nice analogy, however, to hold out hope for inveterate news readers.

General Motors may disappear under the capitalistic onslaught, but cars will continue to be manufactured by other companies.

In like manner, hard-copy newspapers may fade away, but the news will always with us, albeit in a different form and transmitted by different means.

To legions of old-line newspaper readers, that could be a life-altering experience. Scrolling through a news source with a mouse in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other just doesn’t seem like the proper way to start a day.

Needless to say, the newspaper industry is striving mightily to remain relevant and competitive with internet news sources, but it has been a losing battle. Major papers from coast to coast have disappeared and more may follow.

If there is a bright spot, it may lie in small town papers. Many have also bitten the dust, but there are still a few thousand daily papers rolling off the presses every day.

Another saving approach could lie in specialization. Most newspapers, large and small, attempt to satisfy everyone. Thus, papers are crammed with embellishments like crossword puzzles, Sudoko challenges, recipes, comic strips, and society gossip, to name a few. Economics has already forced many papers out of the generalist business by eliminating some of these special features.

Further specialization in the kind of news a paper chooses to include may also reduce content, as papers strive to appeal to a special audience, such as those interested solely in politics, business, or cultural matters.

Business publications have enjoyed a modicum of economic stability for a long time. Other specialized models may follow as the survival shakeout continues.

I am reminded of a small, foreign language newspaper in Hawaii once edited by a friend of mine. Honolulu has had two major dailies for centuries, yet the state of Hawaii also has several smaller papers aimed at specific ethnic groups.

The paper I am thinking about is the Hawaii Hochi. It’s small as papers go, but it prints its front page in English and its inner content in Japanese, and to meet its needs, the paper employs both an English-page editor and a Japanese news editor.

The remarkable aspect about the Hochi is its continued existence despite a shrinking population of Japanese readers. Even so, it has seen its own hard times in the face of a declining readership. It has managed to stay around by branching into other fields, such as job printing. At one time, it published special editions funded by businesses, governments, or educational institutions that wish to commemorate special occasions.

In short, the Hochi has adapted to the capitalist business mode and has stuck it out through thick and thin.

Could such a model work elsewhere? Yes, but it would require a reevaluation of just what is print journalism. For one thing, journalists would need to perform multi-functions. One day, a journalist might cover city hall. The next day, he or she may be assigned to collect information about a company’s history and write the copy for a centennial edition.

Whichever model comes out a winner in the long run, I am sure of one thing. Hard-copy newspapers are not going to disappear entirely. It’s just too satisfying to lean back and prop your feet up during your morning coffee break and doze behind the safety of a large newspaper.

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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

These words constitute in total the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Do you notice anything striking about them?

Read again the first five words: Congress shall make no law…

Given these plain words-Congress shall make no law— how do we explain the many limits on personal freedoms we find in the history of our country? For example, if Congress shall make no law against whites and blacks assembling together, how do we explain a 165-plus year history of enforced segregation in the U.S.?

If Congress shall make no law against the marriage of whites and other races, or of the marriage of members of the same sex, how do we explain a history of governments forcibly preventing those marriages?

One potential answer may lie in this question. Do those words say, “the state of Nebraska shall make no law” or “a corporation shall make no rule” or “a religious organization shall make no canon” or “the president shall make no signing statement?”

The answer of course is no, and therein lies the source of almost all socially and culturally restrictive laws in the United States. The restrictions mentioned and others were and still are a product of state laws.

How can this be? How can states make laws that violate the Constitution? That’s a leading question. These laws do not violate the Constitution. The legal rationale is simple when you think about it: the Constitution doesn’t specifically prohibit the states from enacting restrictive laws; therefore, the states are free to place restrictions on civil rights.

Ordinary individuals use the same logic in their daily lives. “Well, officer, the sign doesn’t say I can’t make a U-Turn.” I used that very defense when I made a U-Turn right in front of a San Francisco motorcycle police officer who promptly proceeded to follow me into a parking garage and issue a ticket.

Looking at the matter in historical context and constitutionally-relevant terms, the First Ten Amendments, AKA the Bill of Rights, did not originally apply to the states, and even now, a few of those pesky First Ten Amendments to the Constitution still do not restrict state action. How can this be in the 21st Century? Consider:

  • 1833. The Marshall Supreme Court concluded there was no expression in the Bill of Rights “indicating an intention to apply [guarantees of the Bill of Rights] to the State governments. This court cannot so apply them.” From David M. Obrien’s Constitutional Law and Politics: Volume II, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
  • 1845. The Marshall ruling reaffirmed.
  • 1922. Supreme Court rules “the Constitution of the United States imposes upon the states no obligation to confer upon those within its jurisdiction…the right to free speech.” From O’Brien.
  • Present. Marshall’s original ruling of 1833 has never been reversed by the Supreme Court or otherwise expressly overruled. O’Brien.

Why would the all-seeing, all-knowing Founders have omitted a restriction on state power? To begin with, the Founders were the products of their time and place and an existing social and cultural order with all of the attendant norms. The “people of the United States” were previously British colonists whipped around at the whim of King George. When they gained independence, they decided that any central government they created would have no such power over their lives.

The Founders did not, could not, have foreseen the evolution of American society from an agrarian, loosely connected conglomeration of isolated communities into an industrial and military world power.  Hence, they created a federal system in which almost all power was retained by the states, including the power to restrict the civil liberties of all resident’s within their respective borders if they so chose.

The question now is how or by what mechanism have we reached a point in our constitutional history when most of the restrictive state laws and state constitutions no longer have effect? Did we suddenly become enlightened and eliminate them? No. Almost all of the laws and discriminatory portions of state constitutions were invalidated one by one by the U.S. Supreme Court under a concept called the Nationalization of the Bill of Rights or sometimes the Selective Nationalization of the Bill of Rights.

Some examples will serve to illustrate the snail’s pace at which fundamental rights became available to citizens by Supreme Court rulings rather than through state legislative action.

  • 1927 Freedom of speech
  • 1931 Freedom of the press
  • 1934 Freedom of religion
  • 1958 Freedom of Association
  • 1965 Right to privacy

Some have characterized the Supreme Court’s actions as interference in state’s rights. Others have used terms such as “activist judges” who “legislate from the bench.” The legal terminology is Judicial Review, a practice originating with the Marshall Court in which federal courts may under some circumstances review state actions for constitutionality. Almost all cases involving civil rights were taken to the U.S. Supreme Court because state legislatures and state courts failed to provide relief through the political process.

In one well-known case, Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court invalidated the 50-year old practice of separate but equal facilities under which many states prevented the integration of the races in schools. Subsequent to this ruling, President Eisenhower used federal troops to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

There followed numerous school integration clashes in the South, notably one in which the governor of Alabama, George Wallace, vowed  “I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say, segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

This archaic attitude exemplifies the philosophy of those who even today wish to roll back the Constitutional clock. Despite the recent election of Barack Obsma as the first black President of the United States, the old Confederate states and their scattered allies haven’t forgotten the indignity of being forcibly dragged kicking and screaming into the modern world through the process of Judiaicl Review.

They forget that had they demonstrated a decent respect for the civil rights of everyone, not just the influential and landed gentry, the Civil War would not have occurred and over 500,000 Americans would never have died in a futile and destructive war. In wars, the best and brightest die. The worst remain to poison future generations.

Now, the worst are already calling for an end to affirmative action and other programs established to aid the disadvantaged among us based on the rationale that Obama’s election proves the U.S. is free of racial bias. Blacks no longer need a bootstrap to haul themselves up by.

All Americans should resist these call. If those forces who now cry for white equality had granted equality to others in the past, they wouldn’t have sufferred the embarassment and indignity of forty years of losing to the civil rights movement. “Legisltating from bench” would never have become a revisionist rallying cry for bigots at the expense of decent and well meaning Americans. Hurray for the triumph of Marshal and the triumph of judicial reciew.


1. 1. The rationale for the Nationalization of the Bill of Rights is frequently said to be based on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads in part, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

2. I wrote this essay several years ago. Some progress has been made in the arenas of civil and political rights, but social progress remains problematic despite the election of Barak Obama as America’s first black president. This morning I spoke with a resident of East Texas. I asked in the N word was still used in Texas. Her reply was quick and to the point. “Yes, every other word out of the mouths of the Anglos as she referred to them is N….r.” East Texas is a small part of Texas and of the United States, but my own broader experiences tell me this is representative of the attitudes in many parts of the U.S. Archaic mind sets are alive and well.

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I don’t know why, but people are always asking me if I am Mexican. They don’t say Latino or Hispanic, just Mexican.

The thing about it is, I don’t look Mexican. Any fool can see that I am your generic Ango-Saxon.  I have not a single feature or characteristic that distinguishes me from every other generic AS in the world.

So, when someone asks me, I reply, “Do I look Mexican?”

“Well, no.”

“Then why, for crissakes, would you ask me such a stupid question? It’s actually an insult to Mexicans.”

“What about your name?”

Hesus Cristo, man,  it’s some kind of Scandinavian name that means ‘The sun hangs over the landscape like a wrinkled prune, or something like that.”

The situation became so critical that I developed a habit of flinching like a Mexican jumping bean in a hot skillet every time the topic of my ethnicity came up.

Things finally came to a head not too long ago. I decided to put a stop to it once and for all. I’d show these miseranle ignoramasus.

We were in a class on Ethnic Politics one day and in the middle of a hot and heavy discussion, a student held up his hand and asked, “What are you?”

In the most sonorous and solemn tone of voice I could muster, something like Sterling Holloway (look it up), I answered, “Well, Son, I can’t answer that definitively.”

I paused until I sensed his and the class’s rising anticipation. “But I can relate these facts to you and leave the decision to you. To begin with, I have some Mexican cousins and a Mexican nephew.”

I looked around at the expectant faces.

“Plus, my granddad’s brother married a Mexican woman from Argentina.”

Again, I paused as the class gasped.

“And this is important to remember. We lived in a Mexican section of East Los Angeles and I often picked tomatoes in the fields of Orange County with my Mexican buddies.”

I pushed the La Bamba image a little further.

“And after we finished picking, we’d stop in a barrio where the men would all get drunk while Lou Diamond Philips sang Donna and the women danced the Mexican Hat Dance as us kids romped and cavorted in and out of the taco trees.”

By now, they were looking at me with a new degree of respect. But I didn’t stop there.

“My best buddy in the Air Force was a Mexican kid from Los Angeles.”

Then I launched into my ancestry.

“My mother had a definite ethnic look. I have a stack of pictures of her when she was young, which clearly display her ethnic appearance.”

Now that I try to recall it, I may have forgotten to mention that the ethnic cast was clearly generic Danish titanium. Instead, I launched into the pre-climax.

“I studied Spanish in the tenth grade in Richmond, California, where I learned to say ‘huevos.”

Much to my dismay now, I probably also forgot to tell them that this was the only Spanish word I could remember, or that, if a food server in a Mexican restaurant asked me, in response to my request for huevos, “Scrambled or over easy,” in Spanish, I’d fall back on tequila.

Be that as it may, I continued, now covering my father’s ethnic characteristics.

“My Dad was a short, skinny, guy with an asymmetrical face, a lot like a lump of overused PLAY-DOH, a sort of Mick Jagger without the women hanging all over him. I look exactly like my dad. I think he was Irish. He has a bunch of Caseys and Campbells in his line, and he says ‘harse” a lot instead of ‘horse,’ a peculiar Irish pronunciation.”

Now, it was time for the dramatic pause and the explosive climax.

“Does that answer your question?”

“Actually, I just wanted to know if you were a Democrat or a Republican.”

That smart-assed kid really pissed me off.

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