You may notice that it’s no longer morning. This was begun at 7 am. Can it ever be a good morning that begins with a dentist appointment a likely root canal? Never mind that: my car broke down—transmission failure, and had just had the thing repaired—right in front of the dentist’s office, and after the appointment, I had to wait another hour to be towed home.
1. The end of the spelling bee. It seems clear that sick parental obsession with success has killed the spelling, or should, as soon as possible. Just after midnight last week, the Scripps National Spelling Bee crowned eight contestants co-champions after the competition ran out of challenging words. Why did these kids successfully spell auslaut, erysipelas, bougainvillea, and aiguillette, while previous winners had triumphed by spelling word like croissant in 1970, incisor in 1975, and luge in 1984 ?
The primary reason is SpellPundit, a coaching company started last year by two former competitive spellers. For an annual subscription of $600, SpellPundit sends a huge list of words , sorted by difficulty level, for potential spelling champions to study. The company guarantees that it includes all words used in the spelling competitions.
Thirty-eight of this year’s top fifty spellers were provided the service by their proud parents. One of the this years champions, Sohum Sukhatankar, 13, of Dallas said he had spent about 30 hours a week studying the 120,000 words SpellPundit had selected from the 472,000 words in the dictionary.
Yechh. What a wonderful use of a 13-year-old’s time. When he’s on his deathbed, he’ll wihs he had those hours back.
So now the spelling bee stands for a combination of child abuse, unhealthy obsession, parental interference and rich, hyper-competitive families buying an edge that normal families either can’t or have the sense not to. Such fun. In case you are in doubt, the jerks here are the parents.
As for the once fun and innocent national spelling bee: Kill it.
2. Soviet-style society creeps ever closer, thanks to political correctness. Dr Sandra Thomas, an associate medical examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in Decatur, was moved to make a spontaneous joke while performing an autopsy. Thomas asked another doctor at the GBI’s morgue if she knew how to do a ‘Muslim autopsy’, and then lifted the neck of the dead woman and made the unique sound known as an ululation, which is commonly used in Islamic cultures at weddings and funerals.
Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jonathan Eisenstat reported the incident to internal affairs, and Thomas was suspended for two weeks. Of course, she apologized profusely. The deceased person was not a Muslim.
The beshamed doctor said that she had heard the joke while working as a resident in Richmond, Virginia, that it popped into her head during the autopsy, and that it wasn’t meant to disparage Muslims.
One colleague interviewed during the internal investigation speculated that the joke was a way of dealing with stress at the busy morgue. Ya think? Are jokes really forbidden during autopsies? Someone should have told the writers for “CSI.” Obviously there have to be professional standards, or this kind of thing could get out of hand. Still, the chief medical examiner should have privately admonished Thomas rather than setting out to get her punished.
Who was harmed by that joke? I would have laughed.
This kind of thing is out of control, and will eventually make America joyless, fearful, and dull, as well as in thrall to the whims and virtue-signaling of jerks like Dr. Eisenstat.
3. A silver cloud to being stuck reading magazines in the dentist’s office: I was reminded of the Constance Wu story, which fell off the Ethics Alarms radar. The star of “Fresh Off The Boat” learned in May that the hit series was renewed by ABC for another season. For most actors—like, say, less secure her cast mates—being informed that you have steady and lucrative work for another year is good news, but not Constance. She had other, apparently hotter irons in the fire, so when the news of the re-up was announced, she tweeted to her followers that she was “so upset” that the show had been renewed, and tweeted further, “I’m literally crying. Ugh. Fuck” and “Fucking Hell.”
In response to a fan who tweeted to her that the renewal was “great news,” she tweeted back, “No, it’s not.”
After considerable backlash over her comments, the star of “Crazy Asians” as well as the sitcom was obviously instructed by her publicist that she better back -track and deny that what she wrote was what she meant, when it obviously was, and issue this obvious and desperate spin:
The woman is clearly a narcissistic jerk—hardly rare in Hollywood, but even most narcissistic jerks have the sense not to slap a metaphorical label on her forehead that says “I AM A NARCISSISTIC JERK!” in block letters. A normal, self-aware, nice person who cares about others would realize that even if she was personally disappointed, announcing her disappointment to the world in such emphatic and angry terms would make it clear that she really doesn’t give a damn about her colleagues and co-workers.
But I suspect they knew that already.
4. In the Jerk Universe, though, Constance is an amateur compared to THIS guy.
Michael Trichilo Sr., of Throop, Pennsylvania, was arraigned last week on 18 felony counts, including identity theft and fraud. Those counts all involved illegally using the identity and the credit of his son. Lackawanna County detectives say Trichilo Sr. used his son’s Social Security number to rack up $120,000 in debt. Michael Jr. initially refused to file charges, but Dad’s persistence left him no choice.
Senior started the fraud when Junior was just 14. The son learned of the fraud in 2016 when he tried to buy his first car and couldn’t get a loan. A credit check revealed thousands of dollars’ worth of loans and credit card bills. Even after Dad filed for bankruptcy in 2015, he kept using his son’s identity. Of course, he swore to his son that he would pay it all back. He didn’t pay any of it back, and finally, the family reported the crimes to police.
This should be an interesting Father’s Day at the Trichilo home.
5. American jerks. I have been reading Facebook feeds by alleged Americans taking delight that Londoners are protesting our President’s presence in the city to commemorate D-Day. Any citizen of Great Britain who would insult the U.S. on this anniversary is a jerk by definition. (If the association principle is unclear here, the President in his ceremonial capacity represents his office and the nation, and by extension, all the American servicemen who died and sacrificed to ensure that England, France and the rest were not German slave states by 1950.) Any American who would take glee in the ugly display by the London protesters is a far bigger jerk than any of them are, and a toxic influence on our culture as well.
I take insults to President Trump, in this role, in this matter, as insults to my late father, who was one of those GIs who made massive sacrifices to liberate Europe. I take them this way because that’s what they are.