Golden Tweets of the Ages

Many of you have been expressing fear that, with the dominance of instant electronic communication, the age of literacy–of poetry and novels and rhetorical eloquence–is coming to a tragic end. We have good news. Our Alternate Universe correspondent has found a world identical to ours, except for that the fact that its inhabitants invented the Internet more than 2000 years before we did. As you can see, the events of this world, and its literary legacy, have not suffered at all from the absence of long-form expression….

Julius Caesar, Tweet to Roman Senate after conquering Persia (46 B.C.)

I CAME I SAW I CONCORD

Jesus Christ, SMS to the apostle Peter (early 1st century A.D.)

Dude U R such a hard a@@ Ima build my church on it rofl!!

Dante Alighieri, opening Tweet of serial poem Inferno (1300)

Totally lost n the 4est! Google Maps suks!!

Alexis de Tocqueville, YELP review of America (1835)

OK the democracy part is pretty awesome but I have to take off a star for the food. They put ketchup on everything! Um…why?

Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Tweet (1863)

AWESOME JOB GUYS!! Guys?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s inaugural Tweet (1933)

U got nothin 2 fear BUT fear lol!

Dr. Martin Luther King, YELP review of the Birmingham city jail (1963)

My friends & I were looking for a place to hang out until arraignment and saw this place, it had a small-town retro vibe plus someone told us it’s where the locals go so we decided to give it a try. MISTAKE!!  The cell was FILTHY and all they had on the menu was the cold baloney sandwich and skim milk combo. Really?! The staff acted like total fascists! Never coming back!!

President Lyndon Johnson’s announcement on Twitter re: 1968 re-election bid

LBJ OUT

More Real Conspiracies Revealed!

The truth is out there…and we found it for you!

The 2020 U.S. presidential “election” was in reality a widespread conspiracy by over 80 million registered American voters to make sure a dangerous, selfish, psychopathological doo-doo head didn’t remain in the office once held by Lincoln and Obama.

The “inflation reduction act” has little to do with reducing inflation and is actually an insidious conspiracy by the Democratic members of Congress to stop the planet from burning up.

The new law allowing over-the-counter sales of hearing aids is part of an elaborate scheme by lazy do-nothing seniors to get high on cheap affordable ‘sound’.

The so-called January 6 “conspiracy” to prevent the peaceful transition of power and destroy democracy in America was pretty much a conspiracy to do just that, yeah.

The FBI raid on Mar-A-Lago was part of a deep-state conspiracy to recover stolen top-secret nuclear protocols and the Reagan china.

No, Not Really

No, I don’t want to add avocado for just two dollars more
No, I don’t want to add bacon for just two dollars more
No, I don’t want to choose a protein
No, I don’t want to add an extra shot of espresso for a dollar
No, I don’t want to add a shot of syrup for fifty cents
No, I don’t want the cheese-stuffed crust
No, I don’t want to boost my download speed for ten more dollars a month
No, I don’t want my identity protected for ten more dollars a month
No, I don’t want to go ad-free for ten more dollars a month
No, I don’t want to make it a meal for a dollar-fifty more
No, I don’t want to make it a large for a dollar-fifty more
No, I don’t want the extended warranty in case something breaks
No, I don’t want the clear-coat protection
No, I don’t want two more inches of leg room for a hundred dollars
No, I don’t want priority boarding for a hundred dollars
No, I don’t want free cancellation for ten dollars more
No, I don’t want to upgrade to platinum for ten dollars more
No, I don’t want it delivered today for ten dollars more
No, I don’t want the covered parking for ten more dollars a day
No, I don’t want the close-in parking for twelve more dollars a day
No, I don’t want to contribute a dollar for kids in need
No, I don’t want to add avocado for just two dollars more
Would you please just let me have it please?

Your 24-Hour ExactoWeather Forecast

From the KGOE weather tracking center deep in the heart of Texas…

6:00 a.m. Pleasantly warm. And suffocatingly humid.

7:00 a.m. Is that the sun coming up? Oh god, not again.

8:00 a.m. About what you’d expect. If it were noon already.

9:00 a.m. Can I just have iced tea for breakfast?

10:00 a.m. Have you read Dante’s Inferno? Yeah, like that.

11:00 a.m. The CIA sanctions waterboarding, but not leaving prisoners outside in this weather. That would be ‘torture.’

12:00 p.m. Unless you parked in the shade, I wouldn’t recommend getting into your car right now. Maybe in November.

1:00 p.m. Hotter than hot. Thermorrific.

2:00 p.m. Do you remember what it was like at this time of day back in February? Nice, right?

3:00 p.m. Stay inside and away from windows. That glass is hot.

4:00 p.m. A perfect time to take your dog for a walk. If you hate your dog.

5:00 p.m. Hotter than a Scotch Bonnet dipped in Tabasco and stuffed inside a jalapeño with the seeds left in.

6:00 p.m. Let’s get that watermelon out of the fridge, split it open and stick our face in it

7:00 p.m. Still let’s-give-up-and-move-to-Fairbanks hot. It still gets cold sometimes in Fairbanks, right?

8:00 p.m. Don’t assume that just because it’s getting dark it won’t stay hot.

9:00 p.m. Still hot.

10:00 p.m. ibid.

11:00 p.m. See “10:00 p.m.”

12:00 a.m. We’re down to 98 so quit complaining.

1:00 a.m. Back up to 100

2:00 a.m. Il fait très chaud!

3:00 a.m. es ist verdammt heiß!

4:00 a.m. 非常熱的天氣!

5:00 a.m. not too bad I guess

6:00 a.m. If heaven has central air, just take me now

The Groans of August

How hot is it in Texas this summer?

It’s so hot in Texas that Governor Abbott has declared hell a designated cooling center.


It’s so hot in Texas you can’t even spit on the ground. The spit doesn’t make it that far.


It’s so hot in Texas that the eggs frying on the sidewalk just get burned.


It’s so hot in Texas that Oklahoma’s tuchus is suffering third-degree burns.


It’s so hot in Texas that Matthew McConaughey is breaking a sweat.


It’s so hot in Texas that the corn is popping in the field. Now if it would just rain butter and salt.


It’s so hot in Texas that you can just eat smoked brisket right off the cow.


It’s so hot in Texas that Sno-Cones are being rebranded as Puddle in a Cup.


It’s so hot in Texas that a Republican in Plano thinks global warming might be a thing.


It’s so hot in Texas that we’re changing the name of this blog to The Garden of Heatin’. Bada bing!

Ode to the Summer of ’22

Well there’s a high pressure dome over Texas

And it ain’t no pleasure dome, here in Texas

You can shoot me if I’m lyin, there’s advantages in dyin

Cause it’s cold in hell compared to here in Texas.

Why why oh why am I living in this state

When all there is to do is watch my trees exfoliate?

There’s a high pressure dome here in Texas

Step outside, it’ll kick you in the plexus

And the rivers are all dried up and we’re feeling like we’re fried up

By this high pressure dome over Texas

There’s a high pressure dome over Texas

And it’s burning up my home here in Texas

Now don’t blame global warmin, it’s that goddamned dome that’s formin

High above, says the weather man in Texas.

Why why oh why am I living in this state

Hello, dear Antarctica!  Can I expatriate?

Well there’s a high pressure dome over Texas

And it ain’t no pleasure dome, here in Texas

You can shoot me if I’m lyin, there’s advantages in dyin

Cause it’s cold in hell compared to here in Texas.

Reflections on the long, very hot summer of 2022

If there’s any justice in the world, Joe Manchin will fry in hell. The problem is, the rest of us will, too. We already are.

It’s so hot in Texas that the word has lost meaning. We need a new word for these temperatures. Hottissimo. Hyperthermic. It’s just hotticulous down here.

It’s so hot in Texas that people are lighting their fireplaces just to cool off a little.

It’s so hot in Texas that the AC compressors have stopped trying. They just smirk and say, “As if…”

Maybe the hotticulous heat this summer will actually change some reactionary minds about climate change.

As if…

Donald Trump has successfully created a cult of personality around himself. What baffles me is how he created a cult, with that personality. It’s like inviting someone to your home who makes insulting remarks about your wife, leaves a big yellow puddle on your bathroom floor, slips a piece of your silverware up his sleeve, and won’t let anyone else get a word in. And as he leaves you give him a big hug and ask him how soon he can come back.

I don’t really understand the resentment that’s piling up against Joe Biden. The last year and a half of sanity have felt pretty soothing to me. I could definitely use another six and a half of that. Compared to another four years of unrelenting dread and disgust…no contest, inflation smation.

Oh, you don’t like high gas prices? Then dump your F-150 and get a Yaris.

Every time there’s a massacre of innocent people here in Texas, our state’s leaders shed crocodile tears and shake their heads over “mental health.” Well, the Uvalde killer was nicknamed “school shooter” by his classmates and that apparently didn’t lead any gun dealer to think he wasn’t mentally stable enough to buy an assault rifle.

And may I say, as an actual Texan, if the plan is to reduce mass shootings in Texas by curing the mental illnesses of Texans…well Sisyphus has a cushy job in comparison…

Idea for a new law: Whenever a violent crime is committed with a gun, then the last person to take money for that gun shares legal responsibility, prison time, and/or a lethal injection with the shooter, no questions asked, legal gun purchase or not. Whether it’s the guy at the register of Don’s Sporting Goods, Gary at the “gun show,” the shooter’s cousin Floyd, or the guy who runs the Guns’N’More website. Maybe that would make Gun Show Gary stop and think about whether or not to sell the pale mumbling  teenager in army boots an AK.

As if.

EXTRATERRESTRIAL VISITORS LEAVE MESSAGES ON THE STREETS OF DENTON, TEXAS

It is an incontrovertible fact that visitors from outer space have left messages for the human race, written in ribbons of tar on the streets of Denton, Texas. They were never meant to be secret and are not encoded. They are simply written in a language we do not comprehend.

Until now. With the help of Bletchley Park, the NSA, and that guy with mental health issues who hangs out on the corner of Fry St. and Oak, we have translated these messages for the benefit of you, humankind. As always, you are welcome!

BETELGEUSE BOYZ RULE!!

Betty Ann Blumenhagen does it with non-carbon-based lifeforms!

300 Million Americans to choose from, and you make Donald Trump your leader? Please explain, really, I want to understand!

We were all set to make an offer on your planet til we saw the inspection report. We’ll talk after you get the A/C fixed

YOUR WORLD WILL END ON MARCH 10, YEAR [undecipherable]

Best Beef Jerky in the Universe! Straight Ahead 50 Million Light Years, Then Left 1/2 Mile

BLEEZUS SAVES

DOES ADVERTISING WORK? JUST DID!

just fix the damn street

HELP WANTED

Leery of a national draft for the Ukraine war, the Kremlin is offering cash bonuses and employing strong arm tactics.—”Desperate for Recruits, Russia Launches a ‘Stealth Mobilization’,” New York Times July 10 2022

ENTRY LEVEL CANNON FODDER—No experience needed, we’ll train you! Positive attitude and willingness to stand in front of professional soldiers a must!

CALLING ALL CRIMINALS—THUGS WANTED for immediate deployment. Do you love to make innocent civilians suffer? Let your inner monster out—and get paid for it! Walk out of prison today…psychotic tendencies welcome!

WARM BODIES NEEDED NOW—report now to Field Hospital 441, Donbas, Ukraine. No experience required! 1000 ruble signing bonus for O-Negatives!

BURIAL TECHNICIAN LEVEL I TO START IMMEDIATELY—If you can dig a hole we need you!

WAR CORRESPONDENT WANTED—Work from the comfort of your home! Get paid to sign your name–we’ll supply the content!

BIG-RIG DRIVERS NEEDED! Top pay to probe for road mines with Soviet-issue supply trucks! Report immediately and don’t tell mom and dad!

Potential Threat to the Tranquility of the State? There’s an App for That!

Across China, the police are buying technology that harnesses vast surveillance data to predict crime and protest before they happen. The systems and software are targeting people whose behavior or characteristics are suspicious in the eyes of an algorithm and the Chinese authorities, even if they’ve done nothing wrong.–“How China is Policing the Future,” The New York Times, June 25, 2022

Here in the Garden, we’re as appalled as anyone about how the Chinese government is leveraging technology such as big data, CCTV cameras, smart phone technology, facial recognition, and GPS tracking to monitor, control, and suppress its own population. But having once been in the computer programming game ourselves, we have to wonder what is going through the minds of the bright young things of China’s technocracy who are bringing this all about. We imagine here how the conversation might have started…

PLACE: THE PEOPLE’S COOPERATIVE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT CENTER FOR THE MAINTENANCE OF A HAPPY TRANQUIL SOCIETY, SOMEWHERE IN BEIJING

COMRADE DARRYL: Hey Comrade Duane, can I run something by you…

COMRADE DUANE: [furiously thumbing his smartphone]: one sec dude, I’m just about to level up in Smash American Hegemony in the South Pacific…awesome, I just got like a zillion points for nuking Guam! What up, bro?

COMRADE DARRYL: Well you know how half of us here in China are loyal citizens of the People’s Republic, and the other half are like security police to make sure that the first half stays that way…

COMRADE DUANE: Yeah, and it totally sucks!

COMRADE DARRYL: Right?

COMRADE DUANE: It’s like you can’t take a piss behind a bush without a cop popping up and arresting you…not that I would ever, outside of a designated People’s Facility for the Release of Bodily…

COMRADE DARRYL: No, of course not! Me neither! But what I mean is it’s so freaking labor intensive! Hey, remember that app we made a couple years ago to track every citizen’s COVID status?

COMRADE DUANE: You mean that one that made it such a pain in the ass to go anywhere or do anything if you hadn’t been vaccinated?

COMRADE DARRYL: Right!

COMRADE DUANE: Or had tested positive within the last two weeks?

COMRADE DARRYL: That’s the one!

COMRADE DUANE: Or lived in the same building as someone who had tested positive or hadn’t been vaccinated!

COMRADE DARRYL: Exactly!

COMRADE DUANE: Or was tracked on GPS to be within one kilometer of anyone who…

COMRADE DARRYL: Yeah dude, you don’t have to like repeat the whole freaking algorithm. So what if we like adapt that algorithm and marry it to the database of dissidents, criminals, and everyone who’s ever said anything that implies that Premier Hsi is a doo-doo head?

COMRADE DUANE: You mean so we can help criminals who’ve caught COVID?

COMRADE DARRYL: No, dummy, so we can track their movements anywhere in the country in real time!

COMRADE DUANE: Hey, yeah! And we can use it to keep them from getting on the subway or applying for a job or entering a restaurant or…

COMRADE DARRYL: That would be so totally cool! That would be so funny if some dude’s taking his girlfriend to have some crispy Szechuan fish…

COMRADE DUANE: God, I love crispy Szechuan fish!

COMRADE DARRYL: And when they scan his phone it goes, like, “WAAAH! DENIED! CAUSE YOU COMPLAINED TO THE PEOPLE’S GLORIOUS HOUSING AUTHORITY THREE YEARS AGO ABOUT YOUR TOILET BACKING UP INSTEAD OF SLIPPING A FEW YUAN TO THE SUPER LIKE EVERYONE ELSE!”

COMRADE DUANE: Ha ha! Right! And I was thinking, ok, what if…now this might sound crazy oppressive…

COMRADE DARRYL: No, go on, dude! Automated faceless oppression rocks!

COMRADE DUANE: Well what if we stole the points system from a gaming app and applied it…

COMRADE DARRYL: So if you’re caught participating in a demonstration you get dinged!

COMRADE DUANE: Yeah…but if you turn someone in for participating you earn points…

COMRADE DARRYL: Plus maybe free large fries!

COMRADE DUANE: And a large Coke, if they’re like a journalist! And everyone would start out at zero…

COMRADE DARRYL: Except Uighurs who start out at minus 1000…

COMRADE DUANE: Which would be so mean! But yeah! So basically we’re crowd-sourcing the terror state!

COMRADE DARRYL: And then we could tie in the whole thing to all the CCTV cameras in in the country!

COMRADE DUANE: Along with the facial recognition technology!

COMRADE DARRYL: Right! Call it the paperless police state! And then if the authorities need to, they could punch in someone’s ID and follow them online…

COMRADE DUANE: Yeah…like for example that totally hot babe who goes shopping at the fish market every Tuesday…

COMRADE DARRYL: You mean the one who lives on Hero Mao Avenue Section C Block 11 Building 5, 3rd floor north hallway number 12…

COMRADE DUANE: Dude, she is so hot! No, I mean the one who lives on Red Victory Boulevard Southwest Section F…

COMRADE DARRYL: Oh, right right right, the one with the awesome…

COMRADE DUANE: So we could get an alert whenever she’s going somewhere…

COMRADE DARRYL:  And follow her on camera even when she goes into a People’s Designated Facility…

COMRADE DUANE: As a theoretical example of what the technology is capable of only! Because we would never…

COMRADE DARRYL: No, we fully respect the upright loyal sister comrades of the People’s…

COMRADE DUANE: We sure do!

COMRADE DARRYL: Funding won’t be a problem…I bet even those limp old geezers on the Central Committee will get a chubbie when they hear about this…

COMRADE DUANE: Dude, I just have one problem with this…do you think a system like this might ever be misused?

COMRADE DARRYL: You mean like, to harass good loyal citizens who have legitimate concerns about the state?

COMRADE DUANE: Right! Or that it might be abused by those who just want to consolidate their own power and quash their enemies?

COMRADE DARRYL: Or to more efficiently keep minorities out of decent jobs, housing and education?

COMRADE DUANE: Yeah, I guess that would never happen. [phone buzzes]. Wait, I’m getting a message. The police are on the way, dude…someone in our building just called the Central Committee “a bunch of limp old geezers!”

On Taiwan

This is not an objective commentary: I love Taiwan, the place and the people. I am connected to it by family (through marriage), and I’ve visited it many times over the past 35-odd years. I could sing the glories of its natural beauty, its street markets, its food, its jungle-covered mountains and spectacular shorelines, as well as its problems. But I want to deal with one important question here: is Taiwan worth America fighting for?

To answer that question, we have to ask others: Is Taiwan a democracy? If it is, does that justify sacrificing American lives and expending American resources on protecting a small far-away country, at the risk of starting an all-out war with a very big far-away country?

Is Taiwan a democracy? Yes. Regular presidential elections have been held since 1996, and they are authentic elections—power has changed hands more than once between what had been the ruling party since 1949 (KMT) and the main opposition party (DPP). The current president belongs to the DPP.

And free speech is alive and well on the island. People in Taiwan (and Taiwanese abroad) have strong opinions all over the political spectrum, and enjoy espousing them openly, without any fear of reprisals from the state. I know that because I have personally been the object of much espousal.

Bookstores and convenience stores offer a wide variety of Chinese and English-language magazines and newspapers, published locally as well as imported, that are openly supportive or critical of Taiwan’s government (whichever political flavor it may be at the time) as well as of China. (Though no one apart from a Chinese troll or two expresses any desire to hand over Taiwan’s sovereignty to Beijing.)

And no one should doubt what would happen to that democracy and free speech if Taiwan is taken over by mainland China. Hong Kong is the example: sham elections of Beijing-approved candidates, journalists silenced or disappeared, demonstrations brutally repressed, independent media shut down. And that’s not to mention what has happened in Tibet, Xinjiang, and on Tiananmen Square, and to dissenting artists, journalists, and thinkers.

But does all that add up to a reason for putting American necks and resources on the line, if (God forbid) China makes a serious military move across the Straits of Taiwan?

I think it does, and not for any reasons of economic or security-related self-interest. I never believed in going to war for oil, or for that matter, microchips. And I don’t think China poses a serious military threat to the United States.

I take it to be self-evident that when a totalitarian state tries to take over a free one, that is an evil thing, and that if the United States has the ability to prevent evil with reasonable risk to itself, it should do so.

But what is a reasonable risk? That of course is open to interpretation and opinion. We should supply Taiwan with as much weaponry as Taiwan can use to stop or, more optimistically, pre-empt a Chinese invasion.

American forces? That’s a much harder question. I don’t think we should deploy ground forces in Taiwan. In cases like this I mentally apply my “grieving mother” test. I believe in defending Taiwan in the name of freedom. But could I look into a grieving American mother’s face and tell her without blushing why her son or daughter had to die to keep China out of Taiwan? I don’t think so.

But I believe we can and should use American naval and air forces to keep the People’s Liberation Army from crossing the Straits of Taiwan, even though that would put our sailors and pilots at risk.

I don’t serve in the military, and never have. So I am very conscious of how easy it is to send other people to die for a grand cause. But that’s no excuse for avoiding hard questions such as this one.

China claims (and millions of Chinese sincerely believe) that Taiwan “belongs” to China. But no historical argument changes the fact that China is a police state and Taiwan is free. A Chinese takeover of Taiwan would be a latter-day parallel to Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland, or Japan’s invasion of China. We can make China think twice about destroying Taiwan, and if necessary, we can help Taiwan to stay free. And because we can, we should.

On Abortion

Here goes the post that will lose me half of my followers. Plus the other half.

The issue of abortion rights is not like the other big issues of our day. If you tell me you believe that climate change is a hoax, or that Donald Trump won the 2020 election, or that subsidized, single-payer healthcare is tantamount to Bolshevism, or that discrimination against Black people ended sometime in the 1960’s, I can look at you with a straight face and tell you that you must be ill-informed, stupid, or lying. But if you tell me that a microscopic fertilized egg is a human being, deserving of rights equal to those of its mother under the U.S. constitution, all I can tell you is that I disagree.

I don’t know when life begins, or, to put it another way, what exactly constitutes a human life. I don’t think it’s just a complete set of chromosomes. I don’t think a beating heart is enough, any more than a functioning liver would be. A functioning brain, perhaps. But then we have to decide what defines a meaningfully functioning brain.

I don’t know when life begins. No one knows. It’s a matter of opinion. Science can’t tell us. It can only give us partial information about what functions develop at what stage in the womb.

Looking at the issue from another direction, some of the most intelligent and well-intentioned people I know sincerely believe that abortion at any time after conception is murder.

Of course, here in the great and sovereign state of Texas, there is no end of disingenuous, hypocritical “pro-life” advocates who simply use the issue to gain votes, who cynically claim that our ever more restrictive laws are in the interest of the health of the mother(!), who want to abolish abortion yet are dead set against actually teaching our schoolchildren how sex actually works and how to avoid pregnancy (except perhaps through celibacy).

These types make my blood boil, but I cannot get around the fact that there are also smart, compassionate people of both genders who sincerely believe that abortion is immoral.

I don’t know when life begins, so for myself (a male, to be clear), I hold that the decision rightfully belongs to the indisputably human bearer of the fetus, the one who, let’s be honest, will likely bear almost all of the burden of raising a child. For what little it’s worth, I will say it and write it and blog it and vote it. But I won’t demonize people who disagree in good faith. If, on the other hand, you’re one of those [expletive]s who claim that Donald Trump won the election….