Saturday, January 14, 2017


       Lots of talk these days about how we’re losing our privacy. Everywhere we go, we are being watched. Everyplace we speak, our voices are being recorded. This is perhaps best evidenced by the fact that politicians are now too often caught unawares in the act of saying what they really mean, and being exposed when telling the truth can ruin a political career.
            If you’re growing more uneasy about how public everything you do and say has become, I’m here to help. This column nearly ended right here, because I’m not in the habit of attempting the impossible.
            I’m old enough to remember a time when “Big Brother is watching you” meant that I had to spend the day babysitting my younger siblings. Now, I’m not here to wax nostalgic about how life used to be less complicated because it was, but I think that’s where we’re headed.
            (IMPORTANT SIDEBAR: Just so you all know, except for what I’m doing right this second, I don’t “text,” and I can’t even think about anyone who will text while they are driving. They apparently missed that Sir Isaac Newton class on what happens when a dumb object meets an immovable one.). 
            There are ways on the internet (I’m not telling you how, because that would make me an accomplice in fanning the flames of your paranoia) to not only see where you live, but to click along a photo-logue of your street to your house. I’ve just done it to myself, and yep, there’s my front door, my tippy porch chairs, my snowplow-flattened hydrangea, and the neighbor’s dogpoop on my lawn for everyone in the world to see. Looks like I’m not home, but let’s see if you are:
            Aha! I see you! It seems that my friend Ray still hasn’t hauled away that rusting lawn tractor, Betty really needs to get after those rain gutters, and Teresa has a new birdfeeder. And, hey, Robert! So, you can afford a new roof, but where’s that fiver you owe me?
Uneasy enough yet?
       I’m thinking about where I went today, and I conservatively estimate that I was photographed at least 100 times. A simple walk through one downtown and a drive-through another for a few errands, and tonight I’m a star in the video highlight vaults of stores, banks, town halls, post offices and parking lots.
            There’s now undeniable hard on-camera evidence that I like pizza with extra cheese, I took TWO Hershey’s kisses from the bank teller’s bowl, I used the bathroom at Wal-Mart, and I didn’t return my shopping carts to the corrals. There’s also a strong presumption of proof that I had too much coffee this morning before leaving the house, because I also used the bathroom at the town hall and the supermarket.
            I’m recklessly assuming that I was only filmed entering said bathrooms, and not while I was in there. If I was, you’ll notice that I did wash my hands and put the seat down.
            Personally, I’m not worried about being spied upon by the USA. We’ve been assured that this is not happening, and that just because Uncle Sam has the ability to eavesdrop on our phone calls, he wouldn’t. I don’t care. If fighting terrorism and world peace can only be achieved by my government spending 20 minutes listening to me trying to enunciate clear enough for my electric company’s crappy voice recognition software to understand what “YES…I…PAID” means, that’s fine with me. Spy away.
            Sorry, but unless you’re willing to get rid of your computers, credit cards, automobiles, bank accounts, licenses, phones, utilities, mortgages and jobs, you’re forever now in the roving eye of public domain and I can’t help you (mission impossible accomplished).
            Still, the government is a rookie sleuth compared with the advertising biz. There are people out there devoted to discovering that I’m a creamy not chunky peanut butter kind of guy, then filling my spambox with creamy peanut butter offers, which then generate a counter-offensive from their own chunky division.
            And, as this information is out there being sold and re-sold, the inevitable jelly ads start to roll in.
            I also expect, now that I’ve gone public about my bathroom breaks, that the coffee coupons aren’t far behind.

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Senior Wire News Service syndicated humor columnist B. Elwin Sherman writes from Bethlehem, NH.  Copyright 2017, all rights reserved.  Used here with permission.  You may contact him here via this blog.  His new book: "DEAR WITBONES" -- Ask A Humorist! is now available on Amazon, via Kindle and Paperback, and via his blog at

Sunday, December 4, 2016


    Time once again for my five favorite Christmas gift suggestions. These are real items, made in China, and designed for those special someones in your life. Here is where the true spirit of the holiday season enters my heart, as I think of those lonely sea captains picking their way across unbounding mains --- oceans of floating plastic junk --- with their cargo holds full of plastic junk.
    First up, the Bunny Ear Salad Servers. These are (floatable) plastic simulated bunny ears. Apparently, you stick them into a simulated grass pattern-decorated plastic salad bowl (sold separately) to help get you into the mood to munch, and “now even the kids will want their greens!” It’s not likely, after you’ve traumatized them into thinking you’ve buried the Easter bunny alive in the radicchio.
    (HUMORIST’S NOTE: Some of these Chinese-made items are shipped from the United Kingdom. This means that we live on a planet where petroleum-based rabbit ear utensils first go around the world before they ultimately land on the “Free!” desperation tables at next summer’s yard sales in America.)
    A moment of silence and season’s greetings, please, for the sea captains out there separately shipping a few tons of plastic salad bowls.
    Next, the Cat-A-Pencil. This is a working pencil. For my younger readers, a pencil was a writing instrument that you chewed until suffering gum slivers, eraser-head tartar and lead poisoning. The Cat-A-Pencil is shaped like, I’m not kidding, a slingshot, and is “not suitable for children,” yet the description also adds that it’s “perfect for mischievous Monday morning office desktop fun after you’ve finished doodling.”
    There is so much wrong with that statement. No one has pencil-doodled for thirty years, and the “mischievous Monday” is why it takes six to eight weeks for your bunny ear salad fork order to be processed.
    I’m only thinking of Christmas day emergency rooms filling up with moms & dads presenting with their children's puncture wounds:
    “Uh … how’d this happen?”
    “My son winged a plastic bunny ear into his sister’s ear with his pencil slingshot.” I see a whole new branch of pediatric medicine in the works.
    Next, the Re-usable Hot Pants Hand Warmer.
    Ah, nothing says Christmas spirit and/or New Hampshire winter weather to me better than designer underwear used to warm your hands, and I looked at this one closely.
    Wait. It seems these are shaped like skivvies, but are NOT made to be worn as such. You keep them in your coat pocket until needed, then take them out, “click the tab inside,” and insert your hands. To re-use them you “simply pop in a pan of boiling water for a few minutes and allow to cool.”
    I already see the lawyers lining up on December 26th for these lawsuits, as someone is surely going to forget the allow to cool part and ignore the no they’re not meant to be WORN you idiot part. Emergency rooms, already jammed with ear trauma cases, will fill up with an outbreak of groin burns.
    There’s little I can say about the Christmas Inflatable Fruitcake, designed to “repay your Aunt Franny’s kindness” in sending you a real one, by giving her a (yes, plastic) blow-up one. We can now add dear Aunt Franny’s choking on fake candied raisins to the influx of speared ears and scalded crotches. These folks also score points for truth in advertising: "It's festive, it's traditional, and it's inedible -- just like the real thing!" 
    Lastly, my favorite Christmas gift offering:
    It’s plastic, and comes packaged in enough plastic to open up another sea lane. The special holiday sentiment it invokes is perfect, and it comes when you press the button on the plastic brain-shaped remote control, and your Yuletide zombie “trudges forward and groans.”
    When it comes to Christmas gift shopping, we can relate.

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   Senior Wire News Service Syndicated Humor Columnist B. Elwin Sherman writes from Bethlehem, NH. He is an author, humorist and agony uncle columnist. His latest book is "Dear Witbones" -- Ask A Humorist!, now on Kindle and in paperback, from Curry Burn Press. You may contact him via his website at Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Used here with permission.