Cheney: How The Grinch Stole Festivus!

• “I’m not talking about the actual country. I’m talking about the idea of America. The idea of America would never torture.” —Stephen Colbert

20 key findings about CIA interrogations from the Senate Intelligence Committee's report released December 2014 (NY TImes):
1 (torture) “not an effective means of acquiring intelligence”
2 “rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness”
3 “brutal and far worse than the CIA represented”
4 “conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher
5 “repeatedly provided inaccurate information”
6 “actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight”
7 “impeded effective White House oversight”
8 “complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions”
9 “impeded oversight by the CIA’s Office of Inspector General”
10 “coordinated the release of classified information to the media”
11 “unprepared as it began operating”
12 “deeply flawed throughout the program's duration”
13 “overwhelmingly outsourced operations”
14 “coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved”
15 “did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained”
16 “failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness
17 “rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable
18 “ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections”
19 “inherently unsustainable
20 “damaged the United States' standing in the world”

• Watch video below: “Dick Cheney's Mind Is 'The Scariest F--king Place In The Universe,' Says Jon Stewart” (after short ad)

• “(The CIA Torture Report confirms that) the CIA's actions a decade ago are a stain on our values and on our history.” —Senator Dianne Feinstein

• ”We didn't treat the Nazis like this. We didn't' treat the Vietcong like this. This is something that is without precedent in American history." —CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin

• “The Torture Convention (effective 1987) prohibits the United States from deporting an individual to a country where there is a reasonable expectation that he will be subjected to torture — physical, mental or otherwise. —Jonathan Shapiro

• “The purpose of torture is not getting information. It's spreading fear.” —Eduardo Galeano

• “There is still much debate about whether torture has been effective in eliciting information - the assumption being, apparently, that if it is effective, then it may be justified.” —Noam Chomsky

• “Shamefully we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management. —Late Senator Edward Kennedy

• Watch below: Former President George W. Bush interviewed by Matt Lauer: Bush: "Look, first, we used the technique on three people. captured a lot of people and used it on three. we gained valuable information to protect the country, and it was the right thing to do, as far as i'm concerned."

• “One of America's greatest strengths is the soft power of our value system and how we treat prisoners of war, and we don't torture.” —Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge

• “We are America; we don't torture. And the moment that is not the case, I want off the train.” — Fox News anchor Shepard Smith

• "We tortured some folks…We did some things that were contrary to our values." —Barack Obama

• “Torture didn’t just happen, after all – contrary to the president’s recent statement, “we” didn’t torture some folks. Real actual people engaged in torture. Some of these people are still employed by the U.S. government … It is bad enough not to prosecute these officials – but to reward or promote them and risk the integrity of the U.S. government to protect them is incomprehensible. The president needs to purge his administration of high-level officials who were instrumental to the development and running of this program. He needs to force a cultural change at the CIA.” —Outgoing Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), Senate Intelligence Committee

• Watch below: Former VP Dick Cheney: "I have no problem (with torture) as long as we achieve our objective. And our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11 and to avoid another attack against the United States. I was prepared and we did, we got the authorization from the president and authorization from the justice department to go forward with the program. it worked. It worked now for 13 years. We've avoided another mass casualty attack against the United States ... I'd do it again in a minute".

• Watch below: Former POW, Senator John McCain speaks out against torture:

• Watch below: Senator Dianne Feinstein discusses release of the CIA Torture Report:

•” When you send the signal, as the Obama administration did, that torture is not a crime that ought to be punished, it's just a policy dispute that you argue about on Sunday shows, of course it emboldens torturers like Dick Cheney to go around and say, 'What I did was absolutely right.’” —Glenn Greenwald 

The Illusion of Multitasking

• “Multi-taskers often think they are like gym rats, bulking up their ability to juggle tasks, when in fact they are like alcoholics, degrading their abilities through over-consumption.” —Clay Shirky

• “Fucking two things up at the same time isn't multitasking” —Dick Masterson

• “The heaviest multitaskers — those who invariably said they could focus like laser beams whenever they wanted — were terrible at various cognitive chores such as organizing information, switching between tasks and discerning significance.” —Clifford Nass, Stanford Univ.

 New Yorker image

New Yorker image

• (Multitaskers are) “suckers for irrelevancy. Everything distracts them. They’re living and writing in a staccato world.” —Clifford Nass

• “We could essentially be undermining the thinking ability of our society. We could essentially be dumbing down the world.” —Clifford Nass

• (Researchers) “demonstrated that drivers using cell phones—even hands-free devices—were at just as high a risk of accidents as intoxicated ones.” —Maria Konnikova, The New Yorker

• “There is a tiny but persistent subset of the population—about two per cent—whose performance does not deteriorate, and can even improve, when multiple demands are placed on their attention. The supertaskers are true outliers.” —David Strayer paraphrased by Maria Konnilova

• "The flip side, of course, is that, for the ninety-seven and a half per cent of us who don’t share the requisite genetic predisposition, no amount of practice will make us into supertasking stars." —David Strayer paraphrased by Maria Konnilova

• "I can't do anything at once." —R. Chimes

• “Juggling is an illusion. ... In reality, the balls are being independently caught and thrown in rapid succession. ... It is actually task switching.” —Gary Keller

• “When we think we're multitasking we're actually multiswitching. That is what the brain is very good at doing - quickly diverting its attention from one place to the next. We think we're being productive. We are, indeed, being busy. But in reality we're simply giving ourselves extra work.” —Michael Harris

• “Do three things well, not ten things badly.” —David Segrove

 • Above: Typical corporate overachiever in full multitasking mode  Art by Heroes of Might and Magic V

• Above: Typical corporate overachiever in full multitasking mode

Art by Heroes of Might and Magic V

Why Be Normal?

 • Richard, to his imaginatively-dysfunctional family: "Oh my God. I'm getting pulled over. Everyone, just ...   pretend to be normal. "

• Richard, to his imaginatively-dysfunctional family:
"Oh my God. I'm getting pulled over. Everyone, just ... 
pretend to be normal."

• “Normal is in the eye of the beholder.” —Whoopi Goldberg

• “Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.” —Albert Camus

• “Maybe your weird is my normal. Who's to say?” —Nicki Minaj

• “I don’t think anyone has a normal family.” —Edward Furlong

• “The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well.” —Alfred Adler

• “How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?” —Oscar Wilde

• “I feel 80% of my life is completely normal.” —J. K. Rowling

• “Every normal person, in fact, is only normal on the average. His ego approximates to that of the psychotic in some part or other and to a greater or lesser extent.” —Sigmund Freud
• “Sometimes I think, 'Why couldn't I have been normal?’” —Demi Lovato

• “You use your money to buy privacy because during most of your life you aren't allowed to be normal.” —Johnny Depp
• “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” —H. L. Mencken

• “I’m just another douche-bag with a job and three pairs of Dockers.” —Saul Goodman, Walter White’s lawyer in “Breaking Bad”

• “Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” —Ellen Goodman

Normal is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from.” —Jodie Foster

• “What is normal? That's just a story that we tell ourselves.” —Matthew Quick

 • Actual quote from “Mother’s Night”: "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."

• Actual quote from “Mother’s Night”: "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."

• Below: Trailer for "Little Miss Sunshine" 
2:29; Writer: Michael Arndt; Co-Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

• Fans of "Little Miss Sunshine" may be interested this study of the film's characters and dysfunctional roles by a Swedish film student (gets interesting at page 17+):

Your One Wild and Precious Life

 Screen shots from Harold Lloyd's 1923 film, "Safety Last"

Screen shots from Harold Lloyd's 1923 film, "Safety Last"

• “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win you’re still a rat.” —William Sloane Coffin (later quoted by Lily Tomlin)

 Art attributed to Banksy

Art attributed to Banksy

• “23 and 69 Are the Happiest Ages”  —headline from London School of Economics 2013

• “The individual's right to pursue his own vision of the best ratio of pleasure to pain (is) utterly sacrosanct.” —David Foster Wallace

 Cartoon by Ian Stevenson

Cartoon by Ian Stevenson

• “Just choose a dead-end and chill out till you die.” —Homer Simpson’s career advice to Lisa on "The Simpsons" by Matt Groening

• Below: Mary Oliver reads her short poem that includes the animated phrase above:

Memory, I Know You're In There

 john grimes memory forgetfulness   

• “Forgetfulness is a form of freedom.” ―Khalil Gibran

• “Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in? I think that's how dogs spend their lives.” —Sue Murphy

• “I love you when I forget about me.” —Joni Mitchell

• Below: Watch an amusing animation of former Poet Laureate Billy Collins' "Forgetfulness"

• “We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget” —Joan Didion

• “People change and forget to tell each other.” —Lillian Hellman

• “The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.” ―Friedrich Nietzsche

 thx John Kouletsis

thx John Kouletsis

• “Remember your humanity and forget the rest” —Albert Einstein

• “Can you really forgive if you can't forget?” —Sarah Jessica Parker

• “Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theater.” —Roman Polanski

• “Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is.” —Barbara Bush

• “Isn't elegance forgetting what one is wearing?”—Yves Saint Laurent

• “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou

• “Life must go on; I forget just why.” —Edna St. Vincent Millay

 • “Promise me you'll never forget me because if I thought you would I'd never leave.” —Winnie the Pooh/A. A. Milne

Food for the Funnel of Love

 This is a portion of a real ad around a tunnel in Germany, with the woman's mouth forming the entrance. Quote, burger, drink and animation added by Fizzdom. 

This is a portion of a real ad around a tunnel in Germany, with the woman's mouth forming the entrance. Quote, burger, drink and animation added by Fizzdom.

• “The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.” —George Miller

• Below: Comedian Brian Regan on serving sizes, etc. (worth 4:34)

• “Eighty percent of the flavor comes from your nose, including a set of internal nostrils. When you chew food and hold it in your mouth, the gases that are released go into these nostrils. People who wolf their food are missing some of the flavor.” —Mary Roach, “Gulp: Adventures of the Alimentary Canal”

• "I used to be svelt, but with age I have svelled." —Henry Alford

• “Virtually every adult on the planet consumes too much salt … nearly double the two grams daily recommended … 1.65 million deaths annually … a major cause of high blood pressure … Forty percent of those deaths occurred before the age of 70.” — Tufts University study, Washington Post

  Sushi  roll art by  Takayo Kiyota  - homage to  Edvard Munch's "The Scream"  (

Sushi roll art by Takayo Kiyota - homage to Edvard Munch's "The Scream" (

• "Obesity rates have more than doubled in adults and children since the 1970’s … More than two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese … About a quarter of 2-5 year olds and one-third of school-age children (including adolescents) are overweight or obese in the U.S." —Food Research and Action Center (FRAC, anti-hunger non-profit)

• “Mexico overtakes the U.S. as the world’s fattest country, according to the U.N.” —Time 7.22.13

 art by  Banksy

art by Banksy

Know Your Jargon for Fast-Food Trickery:

"1. Pillar Ingredients—Salt, sugar, and fat are the Pillar Ingredients, and the industry strategically combines the three to keep you hooked.
2. Bliss Point—If we crave pillar ingredients so much, why not just crank them up as much as possible? It turns out there is an optimum amount of salt, sugar, or fat the human brain likes best, and it is called the bliss point.
3. Mouthfeel—This is literally the way food feels inside a person’s mouth; junk food industry scientists also adjust factors like crunchiness to produce a mouthfeel that consumer most crave.
4. Flavor Burst—Technologists alter the size and shape of salt crystals, so that they induce a flavor burst that “can basically assault the taste buds into submission.”
5. Vanishing Caloric Density—Underlying all junk-food science is vanishing caloric density, which is the process by which the food melts in your mouth so quickly that the brain is fooled into thinking it is consuming fewer calories than it actually is. The packaged-food scientists want to avoid triggering sensory-specific satiety, the brain mechanism that tells a person to stop eating when it is overwhelmed by flavors." —Michael Moss, “Salt Sugar Fat”

The Maniacal Mind of Richard Nixon

More Nixon:

• "You don't know how to lie. If you can't lie, you'll never go anywhere." — Nixon's advice to a political associate

• "I'm not going to be the first American president to lose a war." — Nixon in October 1969, six years before the Vietnam War finally ended

• "The only place where you and I disagree is with regard to the bombing. You're so goddamned concerned about civilians and I don't give a damn. I don't care." — to Henry Kissinger — quoted in Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg

• "I call it the Madman Theory, Bob. I want the North Vietnamese to believe I've reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We'll just slip the word to them that, for God's sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about Communism. We can't restrain him when he's angry and he has his hand on the nuclear button." — quoted in The Ends of Power by Robert Haldeman

• "I don't give a shit what happens. I want you all to stonewall—plead the Fifth Amendment, cover-up, or anything else. If that will save it, save the plan." — Watergate cover-up

• Below: Stephen Colbert looks back at the ups and downs of the Nixon presidency. Gives Nixon credit for notable accomplishments. Worth 4 minutes.

Yet More Nixon:

• "Reagan is not one that wears well ... on a personal basis, is terrible ...  isn't pleasant to be around ... strange." — in 1972

• "The Irish can't drink ... they get mean." — to Chuck Colson

• "The Italians, of course, those people course don't have their heads screwed on tight." — to Chuck Colson

 August 9, 1974

August 9, 1974

Still more Nixon: 

• "Well, did you do any fornicating this weekend?" — to David Frost before a 1977 interview

• "I was not lying. I said things that later on seemed to be untrue." — Nixon reflecting on the Watergate scandal in 1978

• "Voters quickly forget what a man says." — Nixon

flag pin for label.jpg

• "The tradition only goes back about 40 years, when Richard Nixon started wearing a flag lapel pin regularly ... got the idea from Bob Haldeman — who picked it up from Robert Redford’s 1972 film, “The Candidate.” — Stephen Ambrose per Washington Post

"The Justice Department has agreed to pay $18 million to the estate of former President Richard M. Nixon in compensation for presidential papers, photographs and tape recordings that were seized after Mr. Nixon's resignation in 1974." — New York Times, June 2000

• From USA Today: Corrections & Clarifications:
"A story Feb. 21, 2005 wrongly attributed a quote to Richard Nixon as saying Hunter S. Thompson was that dark, venal, and incurably violent side of the American character. It was Thompson who made the remark about Nixon."

(additional sources: hbo,,,


Losing Their Minds on Capitol Hill

 • Andy Borowitz writes for  The New Yorker

• Andy Borowitz writes for The New Yorker

• Video below: Stephen Colbert's jabs at the least productive Congress in American history

• "Face it, folks, we are a divided nation — divided by those who think with their head, and those who know with their heart.” — Stephen Colbert

• Below: Red states (GOP) and blue states (Dems) 2013

• Below: Hotbeds of discontent and willful ignorance:

gallup poll congressional approval 1974-2014.png

• Above: "The 435 House members and one-third of the Senate who face re-election could do so amid the lowest congressional approval ratings for a midterm election in modern political history. Gallup historically has found that low congressional approval ratings are associated with higher congressional turnover." — Gallup

•  “Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad name.” — Henry Kissinger

Latinos Talking Funny Like Whites

  Above: Screen shots + text from's video below

• Watch Buzzfeed's hysterical video below starring Sofia Marie Gonzales and Norberto Briceno:

  2010 Hispanic or Latino percent of county population

2010 Hispanic or Latino percent of county population

53 million - Hispanics in U.S. in 2012, the nation's largest ethnic or racial minority at 17%.
128.8 million - Estimated U.S. Hispanics in 2050, reaching 31% of total.

Non-Hispanic white Americans are projected to be a minority by 2043, when the total population will exceed 400 million people.

 Above: Graph from based on 2010 U.S. Census  projections 

Above: Graph from based on 2010 U.S. Census  projections 

• Below: 1783 map of original 13 colonies surrounded by Spanish and British territories



Roz Chast is a Dutiful Daughter new yorker cartoonist roz chaste is a dutiful daughter death hospice assisted living neurotic hospice

"Mostly people are glad that I've said it was really hard, and really messy. I wanted to write about the entire experience, including the parts that were gross, and funny, and including my mixed feelings about my parents. I didn't want to write with a fake, rosy glow."  — Roz Chast

• "As they inched into their late 90s, (Chast) arranged for round-the-clock care. And she kept a horrified eye on their dwindling savings, all the while thinking: 'There goes my inheritance. It's a terrible, terrible thing and you look at yourself in the mirror and think: I'm a worm. I'm a lowly, shitty, crappy, horrible worm to be thinking about this.' " —  Roz Chast quoted by Emma

art-chast-cashmere story.png

• "Chast had done right by them, but she was still sick with regret after they were gone. 'Should I have taken them into my house? Should I have seen them more? Why didn't I love them more? You know? Am I a disgusting person?' " — Roz Chast quoted by Emma

Selected Reviews:

• “Roz Chast squeezes more existential pain out of baffled people in cheap clothing sitting around ... in crummy apartments than Dostoevsky got out of all of Russia’s dark despair. This is a great book in the annals of human suffering, cleverly disguised as fun.” — satirist Bruce McCall

• “A tour de force of dark humor and illuminating pathos about her parents’ final years as only this quirky genius of pen and ink could construe them.” —  Elle

• “Very, very, very funny, in a way that a straight-out memoir about the death of one’s elderly parents probably would not be.” — New York Times

Chast's photo in animation at top by her husband: “Bill Franzen is a humor writer who began his career in the mail room of The New Yorker. His book, Hearing From Wayne — a collection of short stories, most of them reprinted from Gentlemen’s Quarterly, National Lampoon and The New Yorker — was described by Publisher’s Weekly as “carefully crafted studies in whimsey and moments of truth....” —

• Watch 5-minute excerpt of Roz Chast interview by New Yorker Editor David Remnick (full 15-minute version at )

• Chast's memoir reminds us of Deborah Hoffmann and Frances Reid's revolutionary film, Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter, about Deborah's mother's battle with Alzheimer's. Deborah's father Banesh, who died earlier, was an associate of Albert Einstein's. 

• The 1994 PBS/POV doc, an Oscar finalist and winner of a Peabody and many other awards, was the first to address the challenges of a family member with Alzheimer's using a combination of humor with appreciation for the victim's residual-yet-declining humanity

• “The taboo that I broke was that, without being disrespectful to my mother … I admitted that this is a funny situation … in any other situation, everybody would laugh … (Alzheihmer's sufferers) are really doing very crazy, insane things, and it’s okay to see the humor in it … even my mother sees the humor in it … once I allowed myself to ease up and see the humor, my mother felt a lot better. She enjoyed laughing about it.” — Deborah Hoffmann

• "She is the ultimate of living in the moment," Hoffmann says proudly of her mother in the film's closing monologue. "She's sort of the ultimate enlightened person."

• "This is the best film about Alzheimer's disease that I've seen, and I've seen quite a few... film critic Gene Siskel

 • "Unflinchingly honest...a film that will give hope to Alzheimer's caregivers as well as early-stage Alzheimer's patients." — Marcia Freedman, American Society on Aging

• Watch an 8-minute excerpt of Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter below: