News peak cacophonous writer’s block.

I love the name ‘Viva Escritora.’ A live writer. A lively scribbler.

And then things get tricky.  While writing looks like banging out letters at a keyboard or picking up a pen and scribbling away on paper, it is the thinking behind the typing, behind the scribbles which is where the word ‘writer’ gains gravitas.

Everyday there is a new peak in events every where all over and we must have an opinion and we must word our opinions strongly and we should type and push ‘publish’ but then there is so much to opinionize on and we can’t figure out what is most important because there is so much choice between injustices to be angry at or developments to be thoughtful about or intriguing trivia and on and on and so we step away from the keyboard because we are confused. We are blocked. We set the pen down.

And this post — ‘How Information Overload Turns Into Writer’s Block‘ — nailed writer’s block for me with the description — “hallways of the mind.”¹ Each hallway is littered with doors and behind the doors? Well, more hallways. And more doors, but! if you don’t just give up, you might find that golden nugget to blog about. Or a nugget might somehow find you.

And so, yeah! Today’s golden nugget comes in the form of sound — not exactly musical, but music. As I read the morning news, I was reminded of The Most Unwanted Song.² Although the song was written in 1997 for the purpose of annoying people, today it provides a cacophonous mirror to current events — the ambiance and atmosphere for the news interpreted in Muzak.³


Or not.

¹Jackson, Panama. Aside: I read VSB to “seek out marginalized voices and perspectives“.  And smokes.  The VSB contributors can WRITE. And by WRITE, I mean THINK.

²If you take a listen Ann, I encourage you to at least give it until 1:35 when the operatic rap starts. Really.

³My apologies to Muzak.

3-way word mash-up: Prescedense

Prescedense: an elected chief of state lacking intelligence or common sense whose subsequent actions lower the bar for the standard of comportment¹ expected of the office of President of the United States (POTUS).

Prescedensy: the office of Prescedense.

Some word play is order for this, the angriest of TGIFs and I wish it was more difficult, but here we go!  Prescedense is the result of a three-way word mash-up:

President (pres): “an elected official serving as both chief of state and chief political executive in a republic having a presidential government,” (definition 5a).

For our mash-up, we’re specifically referring to the office of President of the United States (POTUS).

Precedent (ced): “an earlier event or action that is regarded as an example or guide to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances”.

Here we have many examples of actions to choose from: Twitter and tweeting, outright lies and subsequent denial, shameless self-promotion, blatant and unrepentant use of elected office to promote personal business interests, etc. and there are multiple examples for each. Ugh.

And dense (ense), (synonym of stupid): “having or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense.”

And thus, mash it all together pres+ced+ense and we have Prescedense: an elected chief of state lacking intelligence or common sense whose subsequent actions lower the bar for the standard of comportment¹ expected of the office of President of the United States (POTUS).


Prescedense: After suggesting that conversations in the Oval Office might be taped in May, Prescedense Trump² eventually tweeted in June that he did not have any such recordings.

Prescedensy: The media is subject to incessant gaslighting by the current Prescedensy; as are we all!

Have a great weekend, why not?  TGIF!

¹Comportment: behavior; bearing. This is a favorite word from my youth as my dad’s discipline usually came gently in the form of “you know you could improve your comportment.”

²Yes, Ann. “Prescedense” feels like a typo — a weak fumble railing against the night. But for today, “that’ll do pig …”


Tequila math.

Yesterday, Diageo announced they are purchasing Casamigos tequila brand for $700 million up front with the potential for an additional $300 million based on the tequila’s performance over 10 years.  Wowza! That’s a lot of wim-wams¹ for some might-tee fine liquor.

And snap!  George Clooney is one of the co-founders of Casamigos. He will gain many dollars US bigly.

And I like to dive into the numbers as much as I like to dive into a salty margarita² on a hot, languid, thirsty summer day.  So for the common good, consider a purchase price of $1B ($1,000,000,000) and a 2016 production line of 120K cases or a purchase price of $5.8M/case ($5,800,000/case).

And we wonder, how many bottles of tequila are in a case? From Binny’s Beverage Depot, some tequilas ship 12 bottles to a case, others ship 6 bottles to a case.³  It appears Casamigos ships 6 bottles to a case so $5.8M/case divided by 6 bottles/case is $980K/bottle ($980,000/bottle).

There are 750 ml per bottle which works out to $1307 per ml. A generous shot is 2 oz. (60 ml) which translates to $78.4K ($78,420)!

But, ha-ha! These are funny numbers.  George Clooney and his house friends enjoying smooth tequila are not looking to charge $78K for a shot of tequila in my margarita.²  Their tequila was, and is an investment in the future.

And it looks like a future of serious drinking.

¹Wim-wams: Generic term referring to a unit of currency regardless of country of origin. (Wim-wam comes to us via Mr. Viva. Thank you)

²Casamigos tequila in a salty margarita would be a waste of a fine tequila.  I state this with certainty based on the Casamigos advertising which includes Mr. Clooney who can be very convincing.

³I hope Diageo used 6 bottles/case in their cost/benefit analysis and not 12 bottles/case.  If they used 12 bottles/case but they’re sold 6 bottles/case, they could be half as enthusiastic or twice as disappointed — the shot glass is half full or half empty.  Or could it be that they’re really buying Mr. Clooney’s continued involvement with the brand? And Mr. Clooney can be very convincing.²  Drink up.

Hillbilly Elegy and Born Rich. The hopeless.

tl;dr? Hillbilly Elegy, read it; Born Rich, watch it. One documents hopelessness; the other documents no need for hope.

Come to your own conclusions. These are mine.

Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir by J.D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy is a memoir of growing up in poverty in the hill country of Kentucky:Ohio.  J.D. Vance escapes to a different way of life via military service and a college education and I was surprised to hear me stating my visceral dislike of Mr. Vance during a book discussion. What? Viva how can you be such a harsh judge of someone with such hard experiences in his youth?

So I went home and pondered.  Somewhere in the story of his childhood, a devastating personal story morphed into an anecdotal solution to hillbilly ills. From his observations and experience, he escaped through his own will, intelligence, stamina, desire. Hand me my cape, I’m outta here.  Government and government policies be damned. As his story grew up and and he grew away, I didn’t like him very much and did not agree with his conclusions.

Vance has written a personally prescriptive anecdote suitable to him that would make for horrible systemic policy. Everyone in his born demographic — is hillbilly even a demographic? — would need to be as smart and as driven as he is.  And to be clear, his accomplishments, his drive, his ability to put off immediate gratification for future sustaining rewards is admirable. Yes, he is a role model.

But we might not be looking for a role model. We might not be heroic. We are not all gifted with Vance’s level of intelligence, drive, stamina.  We might want our own path.  His way out could be fraught with as much failure as what we’re leaving. We might be looking for a highway that many could use to get away.

And highways are infrastructure, they aren’t personal.

So while I applaud Hillbilly Elegy and J.D. Vance’s eventual escape¹ through force of will and personality, his memoir shines in his reporting of lives lived without hope — poverty, hunger, unemployment, drugs, families broken.  (See also Glass Castle, Jeannette Wells.)

By way of compare and contrast, I watched the documentary Born Rich shortly after finishing Hillbilly Elegy.  Born Rich is a film documentary by Jamie Johnson (heir, Johnson & Johnson).

First off, I commend Jamie Johnson for  interviewing those in his demographic – lucky sperms, affluent eggs — and constructing a complete documentary, AND releasing it publicly. The über-wealthy keep a very low public profile² and Mr. Johnson stepped outside that shadow and over the line and we are all the more enlightened for it.

Although I felt like some kind of Rick Moraniss-looking-through-the restaurant-window-in-the-movie-Ghost-Busters-type of voyeur, I watched the whole thing.  And I discovered that the children of wealth have no need for hope³.

They have no want.

They have no need that can’t be bought.

No project that can’t be funded.

Hope is not in their lexicon. They have no use for it.

And so my hopeless conclusion? One group has no hope because they aren’t going anywhere.  One group has no hope because they can go anywhere. At opposite ends of the economic spectrum, both groups are hopeless.  And Viva has a low hmmm.


¹March 16, 2017 – J.D. Vance is moving home to help combat the opioid epidemic. And to that we say “Bravo!”.  Mr. Vance is young and Viva looks forward to reading his reporting on new experiences and a life lived not in pursuit of escape, but in pursuit of improving lives around him.

²Exception: Trump. Go figure.

³A publishing heir mentioned that he hoped not to be cut off from the cash flow for wearing the wrong attire. I thought it was cute.


NASA’s outreach to aliens.

Today I read that NASA received permission to look for extraterrestials in the 2017 NASA Authorization Act.

And to that I say, JUST STOP, DON’T DO IT NASA!  Right now humans need to be stealthy, quiet, mind our own business and deal with our own problems in our little corner of the galaxy. We are already cosmic polluters – shooting stuff into space like so many pieces of plastic in the ocean. We should not be inviting the cosmically unknown and presumably cosmically sophisticated for a visit. We do not want them to know we’re here. If they have any intelligence, they won’t like us very much and we are in no position to entertain other than as a food source, (short story: They’re Made Out of Meat, Terry Bisson). 

And this is a good time to make the observation that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

And so here I am promoting a position of STOP.NASA.STOP.DON’T.DO.IT!

Didn’t see that one coming. Ugh.



Jeff Sessions: White Lies, Part II

I read and watched segments of the testimony of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III to the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday, (June 13, 2017). What I learned:

  • Jeff Sessions is still the poster child for White Lies. 
    • Viva definition White Lies: “a harmful, non-trivial word construction expertly formed and delivered such as to avoid hurting one’s own political aspirations.
  • Although Jeff Sessions looks like a Keebler elf, we should stop this comparison. It is a disservice to the goodness and sweetness of Keebler and their elves.  A Jeff B.S. III cookie would be doughy-white, bitter, and fall apart at the slightest pressure.
  • Obama was given all kinds of flack for being non-Presidential when he wore a white suit.  I can’t help but think that Jeff Sessions’ white suit comes with a hood. Just sayin’.
  • The crazed element of the GOP is not serious about governing, ethics, truth.
  • Jeff Sessions is not serious about the office and his duties as Attorney General. After agreeing to testify, Sessions did not bring any personal artifacts to spark his memory, to offer as proof. By way of comparison, Comey’s notes as FBI Director were copious.
  • Gaslighting par excellence.  Sessions’ testimony yesterday was a distraction from the really serious healthcare bill going through the Senate. While we were all focused on the little guy testifying by not testifying in the spot light in ring #1, we missed the Flying Wallendas removing the net under cover of dark in the center ring. Eh, that’s an unfair comparison too.  The Wallendas were true artists and athletes. But the imagery stands, there will be no net.

And I like to make predictions so far into the future that it doesn’t matter to me whether I’m right or wrong.  But on March 3, 2017 I predicted that the penalty for Jeff B.S. III White Lying under oath would be that he would still be Attorney General in a month; 103 days later, I’m still right, he’s still there!

I wish I had been wrong.

Trump: 9; Obama: 2

James Comey served as the seventh director of the FBI from September 4, 2013 to May 9, 2017.  Make what you want of his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee last week but what is most disturbing is not the testimony, but the facts. Oh and Viva loves regurgitating indisputable facts because this is where the trouble gets obvious:

  • James Comey was director of the FBI for a total of 1342 days.
  • Of those days, 1233 or 92% were served during the Obama Administration.
  • That leaves 109 or 8% served during the Trump Administration.*

In 109 days, James Comey documented nine (9) conversations with President Trump*. The FBI director even played coy by going undercover in the Oval Office drapes. And then whoa! one tête-à-tête included dinner! I can hear Bill Withers Just the Two of Us to set the mood but, what was on the menu? Is Comey leaving out salient details?

No.  James Comey is not leaving out salient details. He notes that during the Obama Administration, he talked with Obama twice.  And one of those tête-à-tête’s was for the purpose of Obama saying good-bye. Good luck. See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya …

Oh! We do like to make things up, but back to our love of data. On any given day during the Trump Administration, James Comey had an 8.3% chance of talking to the President (phone or face-to-face). During the Obama Administration, the chance of talking to the President was 0.16% (face-to-face). This makes the case for Comey keeping a Scarlett O’Hara suit at hand in the office closet. You just never know when you might need to blend with the drapes.

And if this were a game where scoring more meant you were winning, Trump would be killing it.  Nine (9) is bigger than two (2).  But Presidential contact with the acting FBI Director scores like golf.  A lower score wins.

And Trump is a loser.

* Yes Ann.  Both times. I just threw up in my mouth a little.