Worst case scenarios
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Published Thursday, July 28, 2016 @ 6:26 AM EDT
Jul 28 2016

"With Hillary Clinton, worst case scenario, you have a bad President for four years, right? And America's had bad presidents before, you'll get through it. But America, you have never had a Donald Trump before. A man, who claiming to be the leader of law and order and make America safe candidate, that man who invites foreign hackers to steal files that he himself said contain American national security data? Yhat man? That's a leader you've never had. A man who publically admires and now very possibly colludes with Vladimir Putin? A man who's lovingly endorsed by Kim Jong-un? A man who praises and doubles down on praising Saddam Hussein? These are his role models. And these people, what you have to understand is, once they're in power, they don't go away. You don't get a chance to vote them out in four years. Their rule ends when the country ends. So to all the people out there, considering voting for Trump, I hope you enjoy your vote. Because on days like this you realize, this could be the very last vote you will ever get."


Categories: Daily Show; Donald Trump; Hillary Clinton; Trevor Noah


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Quotes of the day: Norman Augustine
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Published Wednesday, July 27, 2016 @ 5:21 AM EDT
Jul 27 2016

Norman Ralph Augustine (b July 27, 1935) is a U.S. aerospace businessman who served as Under Secretary of the Army from 1975 to 1977. Augustine served as chairman of the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)

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A hungry dog hunts best. A hungrier dog hunts even better.

A revised schedule is to business what a new season is to an athlete or a new canvas to an artist.

All too many consultants, when asked, 'What is 2 and 2?' respond, 'What do you have in mind?'.

Although most products will soon be too costly to purchase, there will be a thriving market in the sale of books on how to fix them.

Any task can be completed in only one-third more time than is currently estimated.

Bulls do not win bull fights. People do.

By the time the people asking the questions are ready for the answers, the people doing the work have lost track of the questions.

Decreased business base increases overhead. So does increased business base.

Fools rush in where incumbents fear to tread.

Hardware works best when it matters the least.

If a sufficient number of management layers are superimposed on top of each other, it can be assured that disaster is not left to chance.

If stock market experts were so expert, they would be buying stock, not selling advice.

If today was half as good as tomorrow is supposed to be, it would probably be twice as good as yesterday was.

If you can afford to advertise, you don't need to.

Most projects start out slowly- and then sort of taper off.

Motivation will almost always beat mere talent.

Ninety percent of the time things will turn out worse than you expect. The other ten percent of the time you had no right to expect so much.

One cannot legislate problems out of existence. It has been tried.

One should expect that the expected can be prevented, but the unexpected should have been expected.

People do not win people fights. Lawyers do.

People working in the private sector should try to save money. There remains the possibility that it may someday be valuable again.

Rank does not intimidate hardware. Neither does the lack of rank.

Regulations grow at the same rate as weeds.

Simple systems are not feasible because they require infinite testing.

Software is like entropy. It is difficult to grasp, weighs nothing, and obeys the second law of thermodynamics; i.e. it always increases.

The best way to make a silk purse from a sow's ear is to begin with a silk sow. The same is true of money.

The early bird gets the worm. The early worm... gets eaten.

The more one produces, the less one gets.

The optimum committee has no members.

The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts.

The weaker the data available upon which to base one's conclusion, the greater the precision which should be quoted in order to give the data authenticity.

There are many highly successful businesses in the United States. There are also many highly paid executives. The policy is not to intermingle the two.

Two-thirds of the Earth's surface is covered with water. The other third is covered with auditors from headquarters.


Categories: Norman Augustine; Quotes of the day


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As a rule...
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Published Tuesday, July 26, 2016 @ 4:48 AM EDT
Jul 26 2016

A man's face as a rule says more, and more interesting things, than his mouth, for it is a compendium of everything his mouth will ever say, in that it is the monogram of all this man's thoughts and aspirations.
-Arthur Schopenhauer

As a rule it is circumstances that make men.
-Napoleon Bonaparte

As a rule we disbelieve all facts and theories for which we have no use.
-William James

As a rule, large capitalists are Republicans and small capitalists are Democrats, but workingmen must remember that they are all capitalists, and that the many small ones, like the fewer large ones, are all politically supporting their class interests, and this is always and everywhere the capitalist class.
-Eugene V. Debs

As a rule, only very learned and clever men deny what is obviously true. Common men have less brains, but more sense.
-William T. Stace

As a rule, we find what we look for; we achieve what we get ready for.
-James Cash Penney

Boys who spent their weekends making banana nut muffins did not, as a rule, excel in the art of hand-to-hand combat.
-David Sedaris

Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them in: but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents.
-Arthur Schopenhauer

Cats, as a rule, don't like lawyers. They have great insight into human character.
-Kinky Friedman

Fear prophets and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them.
-Umberto Eco

It can be laid down as a rule that those who speak most of liberty are least inclined to use it.
-John Kenneth Galbraith

It is, as a rule, far more important how men pursue their occupation than what the occupation is which they select.
-Louis Brandeis

Logic and morality made it impossible to accept an illogical and immoral reality; they engendered a rejection of reality which as a rule led the cultivated man rapidly to despair.
-Primo Levi

Martyrdom, as a rule, establishes the sincerity of the martyr- never the correctness of his thought. Things are true or false in themselves. Truth cannot be affected by opinions; it cannot be changed, established, or affected by martyrdom. An error cannot be believed sincerely enough to make it a truth.
-Robert G. Ingersoll

Never speculate. Never buy or sell grain or stocks upon a margin. If you have savings, invest them in solid securities, lands or property. The man who gambles upon the exchanges is in the condition of the man who gambles at the gaming table. He rarely, if ever, makes a permanent success. His judgment goes; his faculties are snapped; and his end, as a rule, is nervous prostration after an unworthy and useless life.
-Andrew Carnegie

Nonconformists travel as a rule in bunches. You rarely find a nonconformist who goes it alone. And woe to him inside a nonconformist clique who does not conform with nonconformity.
-Eric Hoffer

The choice before human beings, is not, as a rule, between good and evil but between two evils.
-George Orwell

The man who is unhappy will, as a rule, adopt an unhappy creed, while the man who is happy will adopt a happy creed; each may attribute his happiness or unhappiness to his beliefs, while the real causation is the other way round.
-Bertrand Russell

When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong. The minority are right.
-Eugene V. Debs


Categories: As a rule...; Quotes on a topic


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Status check
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Published Monday, July 25, 2016 @ 1:38 AM EDT
Jul 25 2016

The last of my unemployment benefits will hit the bank account this week. In the past 26 or so weeks, I've learned that if you're over 40, it's difficult to get a job in the tech sector, and while the compliments are appreciated, there are virtually no potential employers posting classified advertisements seeking smart people (as in, "a smart person like you should have no problem finding a job").

So... after 16 years, I'm self-employed again. Funny thing about unemployment insurance; if you're self-employed, you're not eligible to receive it. I've been fortunate to have customers who paid me as a part-time employee, withholding taxes, etc., which allowed me to continue to receive benefits. From this point on, I'm an independent contractor, the vaunted small businessman, an essential vertebra in the financial backbone of this great nation. I'll try to hold up my end, America.

I turn 62 in September, and to make certain I have a guaranteed monthly cash flow, I applied for Social Security retirement benefits. My application was approved and I was told my benefits would begin in November, not October, as one would believe from reading the rules.

I called my local Social Security office and was told that in order to start receiving benefits in November, I "have to survive the month of October," which is a rather odd way of phrasing it. Maybe the government knows something I don't. Frankly, I'm more worried about surviving November 8.

My work history dates back 45 years. I graduated from high school at the age of 16 in 1971, and my first full-time job was as a veterinary assistant, which consisted primary of restraining cats and dogs and preparing and checking stool specimens under a microscope for parasite eggs. Social Security's earnings record said I made $967 that year, when the minimum wage was $1.60 an hour. I worked at the vet from the summer into the fall, when I was hired as a newspaper reporter. The details of that adventure are here.

It's interesting to review over four decades of one's work history. The earnings record said in 1974, my last full year as a newspaper reporter/editor, I earned $7,656, or $37,431.78 in 2016 dollars. It certainly seemed less at the time. So I started the third in a succession of career changes that led me to my present situation.

Onward and upward. I have to write some custom software for a customer and prepare a couple books I'm going to sell on Amazon's Kindle site. And, of course, I have to write here for the 2,600 or so of you who check in everyday.

So if you see something here every day, you know things are more or less percolating along.

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"The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been."
-Madeleine L'Engle


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Considering the way things have been going...
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Published Sunday, July 24, 2016 @ 6:59 AM EDT
Jul 24 2016

Quotes about the abyss:

At every moment of our lives, we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss.
-Paulo Coelho

By his very success in inventing labor-saving devices, modern man has manufactured an abyss of boredom that only the privileged classes in earlier civilizations have ever fathomed.
-Lewis Mumford

Every step in human progress, from the first feeble stirrings in the abyss of time, has been opposed by the great majority of men.
-H.L. Mencken

Everything, alas, is an abyss,- actions, desires, dreams, Words!.
-Charles Baudelaire

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
-Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

I am tired of my expedition into the dim, the zero abyss of facts.
-Oscar Wilde

I will admit that an artist may be great and limited; by one word he may light up an abyss of soul; but there must be this one magical and unique word.
-George Moore

If you're at the edge of an abyss the only progressive step is backward!.
-William Sloane Coffin, Jr.

It is a stern fact of history that no nation that rushed to the abyss ever turned back. Not ever, in the long history of the world. We are now on the edge of the abyss. Can we, for the first time in history, turn back? It is up to you.
-Taylor Caldwell

It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.
-Joseph Campbell

It is neither easy nor agreeable to dredge this abyss of viciousness, and yet I think it must be done, because what could be perpetrated yesterday could be attempted again tomorrow, could overwhelm us and our children.
-Primo Levi

One thing that comes out in myths is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.
-Joseph Campbell

Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.
-Thomas Huxley

The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.
-Vladimir Nabokov

The day after that wedding night I found that a distance of a thousand miles, abyss and discovery and irremediable metamorphosis, separated me from the day before.
-Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.
-Honoré de Balzac

There are people who wring their hands and call it an abyss, but do nothing to fill it; there are also those who work to widen it, as if the scientist and literary man belong to two different human subspecies, reciprocally incomprehensible, fated to ignore each other and not apt to engage in cross-fertilization.
-Primo Levi

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves?.
-Thomas Merton

When you see the abyss, and we have looked into it, then what? There isn't much room at the edge- one person, another, not many. If you are there, others cannot be there. If you are there, you become a protective wall. What happens? You become part of the abyss.
-Elie Wiesel


Categories: Abyss; Quotes on a topic


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Star Trek Beyond - it's not bad and far better than the last one.
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Published Saturday, July 23, 2016 @ 9:43 AM EDT
Jul 23 2016

This isn't a review. It's a sigh of relief.

Star Trek Beyond is... not bad. Coming after the abysmal Star Trek: Into Darkness, I was careful not to expect too much from this third film in the J.J. Abrams-produced reboot of the 50 year old franchise. At least this time around they acknowledged the existence of a decades-old fanbase, instead of purposely trying to alienate it.

The problem with the new movies is best described by rogerebert.com reviewer Matt Zoller Seitz, who notes they're mostly big-budget sci-fi films "marinated in 'Star Trek' flavor packets." It's a common problem with reboots and star shifts in big franchises. The latest James Bond films have Bondian scripts, but it's difficult to buy Daniel Craig as James Bond. The Abrams-produced Trek films have the new actors marvelously portraying iconic characters, but in storylines that bear little resemblance to the original tone of the tv series or films.

Fortunately, the script for STB was co-written by Simon Pegg, a self-confessed Star Trek fan who also plays chief engineer Montgomery Scott. So while STB suffers in places from intense special effects overkill, an enemy whose motives aren't revealed until the end of the film, and various plot holes (he forgot where he parked his starship?), it has recaptured the spirit and gentle charm of the original version. Think of this movie as a fair to middling second season entry of the original show- like The Omega Glory or A Private Little War- only with a budget more than twice as large as the cost of producing all 79 episodes in the 1966-1969 run of the series.

Wisely, no references are made to its predecessor, so we're spared inanities like interplanetary beaming and tribble resurrection. Instead, Pegg pays homage to the original series with scores of subtle references. The original aeolian harp-like transporter sound effect is used. There's a Chekov 'invented-in-Russia gag'. An obscure and odd-sounding but totally accurate call-out to the original series episode Who Mourns for Adonais? where 'a giant green hand' is offered as a sound, rational explanation for ship disappearances. And two Enterprise crewman on the receiving end of the villain's wrath are, of course, wearing red shirts. A few scenes are reminiscent of Galaxy Quest and Guardians of the Galaxy, but in clever and non-obstrusive ways.

There are still annoyances like humans having somehow developed the ability to fall 50-100 feet without injury. But this seems to be common to all films after the parkour opening of 2006's Casino Royale Bond reboot. Chris Pine's Kirk continues to get the crap beaten out of him on a regular basis, which makes me wonder if perhaps Shatner is slipping a few bucks under the table to the new production team.

Pegg's script seems to try to atone for the Trek-specific absurdities, like starships spouting flame from manuevering thrusters and flying in planetary atmospheres. "There's a reason they're called starships, you know," Scotty complains at one point. In another scene, Scotty points out that "Starfleet isn't a miliary organization," something that might not be obvious given the militaristic bent of the first two movies. But, alas, they've forgotten creator Gene Roddenberry's admonishment to starship desiger Matt Jeffries: "no flames, no fins, no rockets." Propulsion in this movie seems more 20th than 23rd century.

Director Justin Lin does a good job with lighting and framing- the bridge no longer looks like an Apple store on opening day and, thank goodness, less lens flare. The Fast and Furious director delivers several wild and wooly fight scenes and cgi set pieces that were hard to follow, which I attribute mainly to my age and unfamiliarity with the ouevre. I thought the space battles in Star Trek II were impressive, and that was just two optically printed motion control models and some cell animation. The thousands of cgi-rendered craft that swarm through STB were a bit overwhelming. Those cgi guys must get paid by the pixel. And there were times when I wanted to yell "just keep the goddamned camera still!" as it dollied and tilted through scenes not requiring such embellishment.

But that's nit-picking. As was the case with the original series, it's the relationships between the main characters and humor that really keep the movie afloat. Karl Urban's Dr. McCoy, in particular, is spot-on. And McCoy continues to get all the funny lines.

The movie notes the passing of Leonard Nimoy, "Spock Prime" in the new movies. There's also a "cameo" of the original crew via a photograph from the last film featuring all of the original cast, 1991's Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, which is in Spock Prime's personal effects.

Anyway, if you're an old Trek fan, go see it. You'll walk out of the theater feeling like you've actually watched a Star Trek movie, something I hadn't done in 25 years.


Categories: KGB Opinion; Star Trek


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Luxury indeed
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Published Friday, July 22, 2016 @ 9:55 AM EDT
Jul 22 2016

Well, we're going to take the plunge and see Star Trek Beyond at the discount matinee today.

Even mediocre movies (of which I sincerely hope this one isn't) are tolerable at Century Square Luxury Cinemas in West Mifflin. At the location of Carmike's old $1 discount movie house, this place is impressive. It features electric reclining leather seats, reserved ticketing for every seat, ticketing kiosks, Dolby 7.1 sound, a full bar (if the movie's really bad), and an "expanded" concession lineup.

You can select and purchase your seats online via the web or with their app for iPhone or Android. When you arrive at the theater, all you have to do is show your phone's screen to the usher, find the theater, and take your seat.

The presentation quality is superb. The digital projection is bright and in-focus, and the sound is balanced and takes full advantage of the enhanced Dolby 7.1 soundfield. Speakers are well-placed, and despite what's noisily bouncing around in the format's four surround zones, dialogue is always clear and easy to hear.

One caveat: at most local movie houses, the picture usually starts about a half-hour after the published showtime, due to commercials and trailers for upcoming features. At least for our last two visits, there were no ads and just a few trailers. (UPDATE: They do have the continuous ad reel playing before the start time of the movie. But at exactly 1:15, the house lifghts dimmed, and just three trailers were screened. The film started at about 1:20.)

The "luxury" comes with ticket prices significantly higher than non-luxury competitors. Standard 2-D matinee adult admission is $8 and regular admission (after 6 p.m.) is $11 on weekdays and $12 on weekends. 3-D pictures have a $3 surcharge. I feel the price is justified, given the extra convenience and comfort of the facility. No more waiting for 20-30 minutes at a Carmike theater to purchase tickets at the snack bar because they did away with the ticket kiosk (box office) to save money. There's no risk of getting non-adjacent seats in the first row or, worse, discovering the show's sold out.

The downside of those extra-comfy seats... if the action on the screen starts becoming a bit tedious, you can find yourself nodding off. But at least you'll be doing it in style.


Categories: Century Square Luxury Cinemas; Movies


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Ramblings
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Published Thursday, July 21, 2016 @ 7:01 AM EDT
Jul 21 2016


(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Photo)

Not only did the Republicans nominate Trump for President, a red-bellied piranha was caught in North Park Lake. Ok, 2016, you win. Please stop.

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My son referenced a political thread in which he was engaged, and somehow the conversation turned into quotes from from the 1984 cult classic The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.

My son noted, "Lectroid involvement would explain a lot about the Trump campaign."

Laugh while you can, monkey boys...

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Pixie, our small, insane, alien dog-like creature who resembes a Shih Tzu, behaved quite well for Dr. Joanna Rubin and her staff at Bridgeville Animal Hospital for her pre-spay exam. The thought of her reproducing is too terrifying to consider. (Pixie, not Joanna.)

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"Every word that comes out of Mike Pence's mouth reminds me that somewhere in rural Indiana, probably near Elkhart, a Quizno's is missing its assistant manager."
-Ed. Gin & Tacos (on Facebook)

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Today is Get to Know Your Customer Day, Invite an Alien to Live with You Day, Legal Drinking Age Day, National Junk Food Day, National Tug- Of-War Tournament Day, and Take a Monkey to Lunch Day.

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Watching the Republican National Convention, I keep expecting them to break out into "Springtime for Hitler."

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ACA out of detent. Mode control, both auto. Descent engine command override, off.
-Buzz Aldrin
(The actual first words spoken by a human from the surface of the Moon, July 20, 1969.)

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On The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, Braddock mayor John Fetterman observed that since outrageous claims, lies and statements seem to have no effect on Trump and his ilk, we are now living in a "post=factual" age.

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According to a story in The New York Times Magazine, this past May Donald Trump's son, Donald Jr.,contacted a senior adviser to Ohio governer and failed Republican Presidential candidate John Kasich, and asked him if the governor had any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history. Here's where it gets weird:

When Kasich's adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father's vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?

“Making America great again” was the casual reply.

I've maintained since he entered the race that while Trump wants to win the Presidency, he really doesn't want to be President. Too much work, too much discipline and- let's face it- The White House is a step down from the decor of his multiple, gilded homes which appear to have been furnished by Saddam Hussein's interior designer.

He has the nomination. The question is now, how can he get out of it if he wins the election? Medical? Personal problems? (Hey, he's on wife number three). Stay tuned.

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I don't know if it's an accomplishment or not, but thanks to the Republicans in general and Trump in particular, I have now blocked more people on Facebook than I have as friends. Every once in a while I encounter one of them in real life, where I'm tempted to grab them by the shoulders and shake them, while screaming "Are you insane? We grew up together in the sixties! What the hell happened to you?"

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So, at least we now have the answer to the question "How could the German people allow Hitler to rise to power?"

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Someon stole my Bernie Sanders yard sign the other week. It was after he had suspended his campaign, but stil... I wanted to save it, to show there were some same people about in 2016.

You may have noticed on the right sidebar that I've replaced the Sanders plug with one for Hillary Clinton. At least she's not Trump...


Categories: 2016; Adolf Hitler; Bernie Sanders; Bridgeville Animal Hospital; Buckaroo Banzai; Buzz Aldrin; Candidates; Dogs; Donald Trump; Facebook; Gin and Tacos; Hillary Clinton; John Fetterman; John Kasich; Mike Pence; Politics; The Nightly Show


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The morning after
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Published Wednesday, July 20, 2016 @ 3:30 AM EDT
Jul 20 2016

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47 years ago, we put Americans on the moon. Now we no longer have manned spaceflight capability and Donald Trump is the GOP presidential candidate. The future sure ain't what it used to be.

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I'm starting to think that this is the last season of America and the writers are just going nuts.
-Jake Flores


Categories: Donald Trump


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The glorious return of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert
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Published Tuesday, July 19, 2016 @ 3:58 AM EDT
Jul 19 2016

This already abysmal election season has been made even more intolerable by the absemce of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert the character, not to be confused with the Stephen Colbert who took over The Late Show from David Letterman.

But last night on CBS, we were given a bit of a reprieve as Colbert pulled out all the stops:


Categories: Jon Stewart; Republicans; Stephen Colbert


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