They’re Coming for Your Car Keys. Welcome to the World of Self-Driving Cars

self-driving car - drivers licenseOne of my favorite jokes goes like this: “I got really drunk last night, so I decided to take the bus home. Now that may not sound impressive to you, but I’ve never driven a bus before.” Stop the Presses! Drunk drivers may soon not need to drive the bus – or their car – anymore. Welcome to the world of self-driving cars. They’re just around the corner.

Several tech companies like Tesla, Google and Apple are driving ahead with plans to mass-produce “autonomous” cars. These boring box vehicles are designed to ruin your happiness. If successful, they will all take away your freedom to cruise the open road at 90 mph, steering only with your knees, while singing Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’ off-key at the top of your lungs with the top rolled down. We need to slam the brakes on this effort. Our forefathers, who guaranteed the right to drive in the Bill of Rights, would be mortified at this attack on our this fundamental constitutional liberty.

If these tech companies succeed, it’s only a matter of time before other companies will start manufacturing self-cleaning ovens, self-navigating vacuum cleaners or even self-playing pianos. Today they’re coming for your car. Tomorrow they’ll be coming for your kids. Read my argument in fierce opposition to the freedom-crushing future of autonomous cars.

Argument for autonomous cars: Autonomous cars are far superior drivers. They will never get distracted by what’s going on around them. They won’t feel a need to check out who just texted them or try to balance their McDonald’s drive-through meal on their lap, swerving as they reach for their French fries that just fell to the floor.

My rebuttal: Are you trying to impugn the greatness of our nation’s finest fast food chain? You really hate America, don’t you? And I would never get distracted checking text messages while driving. I’m usually far too busy staring at my rearview mirror and shouting at my daughters, who are arguing with each other in the back seat about what video to watch on the minivan monitor.

Argument: Autonomous cars will dramatically lower automobile injuries and fatalities. If only 10% of U.S. vehicles on the road were self-driving, it would reduce car accidents by over 200,000 and save over 1,000 lives per year. If 90% of vehicles were self-driving, it would save 22,000 lives annually. Read More…


  • Published On May. 09, 2016 by TEJ
  • Swingin’ in the Rain

    swingin in the rain - tee shotRecently, I played a round of golf with my longtime golfing buddy Kevin. Kevin hates it when I refer to him by his actual name in my posts, so that’s how I will refer to him – because I just like to piss Kevin off. We were scheduled to play a round, but I called him an hour before our tee time to report that it was raining cats and dogs at my house. “Really? Well, it’s sunny and clear here,” he said. So against my better judgment – which judgment is shaky at the best of times – I decided to go ahead and play.

    We were met at the course by the rest of our foursome, Ron and John. And just like Kevin had predicted, it was clear and dry – conditions that were going to change dramatically about fifteen minutes after we teed off.

    Kevin and I have been playing golf together for 17 years. It has evolved into something of a rivalry. It often comes down to the final hole before Kevin knows for sure whether he beat me by double digits or just single. You see, Kevin is a really good golfer and, with rare exceptions, I allow him to beat me – mostly to placate his fragile male ego, which shatters like broken glass if he loses to me in anything. And also because he is the far superior golfer.

    Ron, John, Kevin and I teed off at the first tee. Kevin hit a gorgeous drive 270 yards straight down the middle of the fairway. Then it was my turn. I smiled as my ball landed eerily close to Kevin’s – by which I mean 100 yards closer to the tee box and banana-sliced 40 yards into the right-side woods. Oh yeah. The game was officially on.

    As we reached the second hole, I noticed a few gentle droplets of rain. Kevin shook it off. He was sure it would pass. His smart phone’s weather app said it was going to be mostly sunny by afternoon. But at 8:15am, the sky was looking foreboding, like the skies over Mordor. As Kevin headed up the second fairway and I headed due east into the right-side forest, I noticed the raindrops were coming down harder. Wisely, I had decided to bring a jacket. Unwisely, I’d soon discover it repelled water about as effectively as toilet paper. And I forgot my golf cap.

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  • Published On May. 02, 2016 by TEJ
  • According to Google, I am a Terrible Person

    Google Tim - magnifying glassUntil about twenty minutes ago, I thought I was a decent person, a loving father and all in all, a fairly responsible citizen. But I am starting to have my doubts. You see, I recently published a humor book on parenting called YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE – Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time.

    I sent out press releases and then did a quick online search to see whether any of my promotional activities were paying off. So, I googled my name – TIM JONES. Uh oh. The results were rather surprising.

    On the positive side, I found several search results about the book and recent VFTB articles I’d written. But that’s not all I discovered. Turns out I’ve lived a far more interesting and varied life than I’d ever realized. And I have a dark side. A disturbingly dark side.

    Apparently, despite what my kids have been saying about me for the past ten years, I am “highly intelligent.”Google Tim - IntelligentSo intelligent, in fact, that I earned a Ph.D. and joined the ranks of the faculty at Cardiff University in Wales.Google Tim - Cardiff UAccording to my profile in the Faculty Directory, my interests include “airborne particulate pollution” and “remote sensing in resource exploitation.” I have no idea what any of this means. I must have been drunk when I wrote my faculty profile. Had you asked me before today what my interests are, I would have listed football, sleeping and bacon.

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    • Hey,hold on! Youi're not all that bad, you were a 1973 graduate from the Albany Academy for boys!…
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  • Published On Apr. 18, 2016 by TEJ
  • Small Town Crime

    Small town crime - MayberryI’ve lived in major metro areas my entire life – Albany, NY, Columbus, Miami, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and most recently, Seattle. They all had one disturbing characteristic in common – high levels of crime. Every year, it seems, the rates of homicides, drug-related incidents, home break-ins, road rage, and jaywalking go up. I hate to admit it, but even I eventually succumbed to my base criminal instincts. Last summer, I paid for three hours of parking in downtown Seattle, but left my car in the spot for three hours and 12 minutes. I know I should have turned myself in. It’s something that will eat away at my conscience for the rest of my life.

    So when my wife and I moved to a small, idyllic community (population ~ 15,000), I was relieved that we’d finally escaped the urban world of unbridled crime. Or had we? We now live on Camano Island, a seemingly tranquil, semi-rural community with rolling farmland, rugged beaches, and views of snow-capped mountains. But lurking underneath this deceptive façade of serenity, I’ve discovered an insidious underbelly of rampant crime.

    The island’s longtime elderly residents remember nostalgically a more peaceful era, when the main activities were crab fishing and sitting. The island only had one stop light, one gas station, and almost nobody with a last name that was hard to pronounce. But now the island has four stop lights and three gas stations. Thankfully, with the exception of Lucjan and Konstantyna Chmielowski, who were born in Poland, we can still pronounce most people’s names. However, along with this community’s spiraling urbanization (recently they even opened a drive-through espresso stand, can you imagine!) has come previously unheard of levels of crime and disorderly behavior.

    The following is a list of infractions reported for the month of March. (All of the following items are based on actual police reports found in the local paper, the Camano Island Hopper.)

    March 4: Mail was stolen from 115 Paradise Lane. The homeowner is only asking the perpetrator to please return the Wednesday Flyer section of the paper. There was a two-for-one coupon on flank steak she had planned to use. Read More…


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  • Published On Apr. 11, 2016 by TEJ
  • Dear American Refugees, Welcome to Canada

    Welcome to Canada - Welcome signGreetings, American Refugees,

    On behalf of the people of Canada, we would like to welcome you to our country. We hope you’ll enjoy your stay. We’re starting to worry about your nation’s apparent complete psychological breakdown. You were doing so well these past eight years with President Obama. He seemed like an awfully nice fellow. We’re not really sure what has caused your country to go off the rails, but as we’ve watched your presidential election primary coverage, it appears millions of your fellow Americans have gone utterly bonkers.

    Oh sure, for a while there, we’ll admit, we were highly amused watching your presidential contest, featuring a carnival of candidates, from a narcissistic billionaire / Reality TV show host, to a rightwing evangelical Texan universally disliked even by his own party’s colleagues in the Senate, to a prominent neuro-surgeon who believes Egypt’s pyramids were built to store grains, not pharaohs. Where on earth did you find such a zany cast of characters? But we figured that eventually your countrymen would come to their senses and realize that perhaps the most important criteria for selecting your next head of state should be something more substantial than the size of the candidate’s privates or the relative hotness of their spouse. Apparently we were wrong. And for that, we deeply apologize.

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    • Well done Bro. Living here for 82 years I'm proud to be a Canadian. The US is a…
      Eleanor Rushworh
  • Published On Apr. 03, 2016 by TEJ
  • Please Accept My Heartfelt Apology If I’ve Offended You

    I apologize - Tim and PopeI want to apologize. Recently I’ve learned that remarks I’ve made in previous humor articles have offended some readers. To Mr. Arnold Halasz of Budapest, Hungary, whom I appear to have sent completely over the edge, I apologize for my snarky comment that in Hungary, the only three foods you’ll find are pickles, cabbage, and pickled cabbage. I completely failed to mention cauliflower, and that one is totally on me. Thank you, Mr. H., for all your letters. I should mention, however, that your most recent death threat came postage due. Don’t forget to use two 1st class stamps next time.

    So if I have offended any of you the way I appear to have done to the entire nation of Hungary, let me extend an olive branch by way of apology in the hopes that someday you might find it in your heart to forgive me.

    To Edna Weppler of Racine, WI, who was offended by my post A side by side comparison of our Savior vs. the Apple iPad, I apologize. I absolutely respect your deeply held religious convictions. I was not trying to imply the iPad is better than your Lord and Savior. I was simply trying to point out that it has a much faster operating system than Jesus, with more advanced graphics, comes with way more free apps, and has a more forgiving interface. 

    To Maria Solbein of Hornbeck, LA, who was offended by my post Women, help end discrimination against men. Get struck by lightning, I apologize. I appreciate that from your perspective it seemed I was arguing that men face more discrimination than women in our society. Your exhaustive list of 342 studies documenting longstanding patterns of discrimination against women in the workforce, politics, and society was, I must say impressive – not to mention exhausting. But I stand by my claim that far more men than women suffer from male pattern baldness. So let’s just agree to call it a tie, okay? 

    To Angus O’Shaughnessy of Halifax, Nova Scotia, who was offended by my post Seven myths about our neighbors to the north, I apologize for my insensitivity to your great nation and for my callous stereotypes about your country being totally ice-covered for 10 months of the year, along with my egregiously flippant comment that most Canadians live in igloos and leave their elderly to die alone on ice floes. In doing some additional research, I realize now I meant to say Norway, not Canada. I promise to print a correction in the next issue. Read More…


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  • Published On Mar. 14, 2016 by TEJ
  • Be Prepared for the Apocalypse – Oh, and Have a Nice Day

    Armageddon - shelterHi, everybody. Hope you’re having a super day. Have you been following the news?  If not, I’ll let you in on some late-breaking news. Our world might not be around much longer.

    You see, experts now lay the odds of an imminent cataclysmic event at somewhere between 75 and 90%. By imminent, I mean possibly next month. And not just one “event” – a tidal wave of cataclysmic events. So you might want to get prepared for the Final Countdown. No hurry. If you’re in the middle of something important – like watching pro bowling or pruning your rose bushes– then by all means, finish that up. We can chat about this later.

    But when you have a few minutes, you might want to consider making just a few minor preparations for when the end of civilization as we know it arrives. To be honest, I never gave much thought to the impending Apocalypse until lately. You see, I live near Seattle. Recently, the New Yorker Magazine posted an article that predicts a 9.1 or greater earthquake that is apparently long overdue, according to seismologists. “The Big One”, as they call it, will be so devastating that “It will leave Seattle and most of western Washington in ruins. Everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.” Hard to spin this story in a positive way – unless you happen to live in Boise, Idaho, in which case you may soon become the owner of oceanfront property.

    Then CBS 60 Minutes reported that the odds are over 80% for a major terrorist strike in the next three years which would take down huge portions of our electrical grid, leaving vast regions of the country without power for months. No biggie – seeing as I installed solar panels last year.

    Add to these worries rumors that North Korea’s Kim Jong-un threatens to launch a nuclear strike against the US, a probable terrorist suitcase nuclear bomb attack, and Fox News’ prediction of the looming Zombie Apocalypse, and well, the near future is not shaping up like an episode of Happy Days.

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    • Why wait for the end of times ... plan ahead and give your kids all the inheritance they deserve right…
      Janice Strong
  • Published On Mar. 06, 2016 by TEJ
  • I Have Discovered the Fountain of Youth

    Fountain of Youth - bottleI’m 61 years old. You can’t fool me with platitudes like “60 is the new 45.”  Let’s face it. The man in the mirror is looking very rough around the edges – and frankly, he’s looking pretty rough everywhere inside the edges, too.

    In recent years, I’ve become increasingly aware that my body is starting to falter. Nowadays my knees creak melodiously. When I get out of a chair, I have to think about how much thrust will be needed to propel me to a vertical posture. I’m losing my hair where I want it and gaining it in places I don’t. And my eyebrows grow in every direction but straight. When did that start happening?

    In a series of futile efforts to stave off getting old, I’ve employed a variety of desperate measures. I can’t recall how many times I’ve tried dieting – mainly because my memory isn’t that good anymore. Every diet I try seems to end at the bottom of a guilt-ridden bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream at 11 o’clock at night, with me swearing I’ll start my diet tomorrow. I’ve tried working out on the treadmill, swimming and cycling, but these all suffer from a major drawback: they all require effort. I’ve tried herbal supplements like ginkgo biloba to improve my memory, but I always forget whether I took the pills that day or not. I’ve even tried self-proclaimed miracle drugs like Dyzastra. You name it. I’ve tried it. None of them have worked. I still feel like I am aging by the minute.

    I have searched for the Fountain of Youth for years with no success – until now. I’m excited to share that I’ve finally found the secret to feeling instantly 20 years younger. And it did not require any expensive cosmetic surgery, painful ab crunches, uncomfortable fat-burning, vibrating belt, or Australian-method Pilates classes. I didn’t have to drink Kale smoothies, which, no matter how many blueberries you add, still taste like, well, Kale smoothies. No hair transplants. No hip replacement. Nothing that my doctor has been nagging me to change about my daily fitness habits for the past fifteen years. No, my solution was far simpler and pain-free.

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    • Way ahead of you, Tim, and not just because I'm 10 years and 360 days older. Some years ago,…
      Drew Fisher
  • Published On Feb. 22, 2016 by TEJ
  • My Spirited Defense of Donald Trump

    Trump - AngryDonald Trump is a great American. In the past nine months, he has done a masterful job of uniting millions of Americans from all different backgrounds – admittedly mostly by uniting them in their deep hatred and fear of Donald Trump. But that’s simply because they’ve not gotten to know him the way I have. If only he had more TV exposure, then people would see the light.

    I know all about the trash talking dished at The Donald. Unflattering slurs – like he’s a narcissist, a racist, a sexist, that he often insults people using coarse language unsuitable for a serious presidential candidate, that he lashes out at anyone who dares say a negative word about him, that he has a hair-trigger temper, that he is unpredictable and mentally unstable, and that he flaunts his wealth every chance he gets. And these are just his supporters talking. Don’t get me started about his detractors.

    But these attacks are unfair. The Donald Trump I know is one to admire. Listen to my heartfelt defense of the man, who, God willing, will be the next – and quite possibly LAST – president of this great nation.

    CLAIM: TRUMP IS A NARCISSIST.

    Unfair. So he has a healthy opinion of his own point of view. So he harps on how he’s greater than everybody else. So he flaunts all the properties he owns worldwide. So he brags about how tough he is and how he’s the best deal maker since Thomas Jefferson engineered the Louisiana Purchase from France. So he likes to blow his own TRUMPet. Does that make Trump a narcissist? I happen to know for a fact that you bragged to your dad about your third place ribbon in your middle school science fair. Do you see me calling YOU a narcissist, you hypocrite?

    Did it ever occur to you that just maybe underneath all of Trump’s bravado, there is a fragile little boy begging to be loved? That all of his braggadocio may be masking the excruciating pain of not having any friends as a young boy – or ever? No, I didn’t think so. You’re so heartless.

    CLAIM: TRUMP HATES MEXICANS AND MUSLIMS. Read More…


    • All I could think of while reading this were the millions of people who watch professional wrestling, and truly believe…
      Vann Helms
  • Published On Feb. 15, 2016 by TEJ
  • I Recently Joined a Health Club. Eventually, I Might Even Try Using It.

    health club - buff guyI’m a little discouraged. You see, about six months ago, I joined a health club with all the latest fitness equipment. But in all that time, I have hardly lost any weight. And by “hardly” more specifically I mean I’ve gained five pounds. I have seen no improvement in my strength, flexibility or endurance since joining the club.

    There are several possible explanations for these disappointing results… most notably perhaps the fact that I’ve only gone to the club five times – and three of those visits were to catch the game on their large screen TV in the juice bar.

    But in my defense, there are many perfectly valid reasons for my slow start. First, I had to re-organize the Christmas decorations in the garage in alphabetical order. Then there was that project to restore several dozen art projects our kids made in elementary school, some of which were missing buttons and sparkles in critical places. And most recently, Downton Abbey started Season 6. It’s a serious time commitment, keeping abreast of whether the Earl of Grantham is going to lay off the under butler or the senior lady’s maid. I would not want to have to make that difficult decision.

    My point is, I’ve been extremely busy lately.

    Make no mistake. I’m not lazy. I love the idea of getting in shape. I’m just not particularly fond of the “working out” part. I love my health club’s many amenities, like the hot tub, sauna, and juice bar, which they call the “Barbell Bar.” Catchy name, eh? I’m just not crazy about the club’s complex fitness machines, some of which were clearly inspired by medieval torture instruments.

    Oh, sure, we all may like the results of doing 50 chin-ups or skipping rope for 30 minutes. But no honest person can look you in the eye and truthfully claim they have fun doing it. If they say that, they are lying – either that or they may be having a brain aneurism, in which case call 911 immediately.

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  • Published On Feb. 08, 2016 by TEJ