MAJOR ASHPOLE                                                                                        


   More people than ever seem to believe--or want to believe--that our earth is being visited by inhabitants of other planets.

   A Harris Interactive poll pegged the number of UFO believers at 36%, which is about 36 points higher than it should be.

   Believers seem to assume that aliens will become our saviors, but I’m not so sure sentient beings from a galaxy far, far away would make the trip just to cure disease, end famine, buy mega-loads of toilet paper at Costco, and head home.

   And while there’s certainly a lot that needs fixing here on earth, being enslaved or infected-to-death by beings from another planet isn’t exactly my dream of a universal solution to the world’s problems.

   We could accomplish a lot on our own if we just started with the little things first.

   I’d settle for a band-aid that wouldn’t wash off in the shower.

   My mother didn’t believe in band-aids. 

   When I got a cut, she’d wash it off with soapy water, put some runny red stuff called Merthiolate all over it, and tell me not to get it dirty. 

   I’d go outside and get it dirty and then my mother would clean it up again, put more Merthiolate on it and send me to my room. 

   That qualified her as my primary care physician.

   Merthiolate, it turns out, is a trade name for thimerisol, which is about half mercury by weight, and when I was a boy, every kid had it slathered all over their cuts all the time, which means it was pretty much being absorbed into our blood streams on an almost daily basis.

   Today there are people who think a drop of thimerisol in a vaccine given once or twice in a child’s lifetime causes autism. 

   If that were the case, everyone over the age of forty would be autistic. 

   On second thought, maybe they’re right.

   Blaming thimerisol for autism isn’t a lot different than hoping UFO’s are real.

   My father believed in the possibility of UFO’s. 

   When I was sixteen, I asked him if I could have a car and he said, “Sure, as long as they bring it here from another planet.”

   People are always looking for miracle cures and miracle excuses.

   The Catholic Church actually has procedures for certifying that a miracle is real.

   I don’t understand that. 

   How can a miracle be certified?

   Whatever happened to blind faith?

   I had an uncle who went blind temporarily from a bump on the head. 

   When he got his vision back, he said it was a miracle. 

   The doctor said it was the result of a hemorrhage dissolving but my uncle liked his reason better. 

   He was so enthralled with his miracle that he decided to become a priest, but it turned out he was already a priest, so he changed his plans and became a helmet salesman.

   Physicists tells us it would take a miracle for aliens to reach earth, because we’re so far from anywhere.

   The distance between earth and the nearest star is about a million light years, and there’s no evidence to suggest there’s a planet there with anything approaching intelligent life.

   Astronomers say the closest planet that might be life-supporting is about twenty million light years away. 

   I’m not so sure I believe our scientists can really tell what’s happening that far into the cosmos. 

   They can’t forecast the weather five days out, and now they’re forecasting the possibility of life twenty million years ago.

   In the meantime, we can’t build a space station 200 miles above earth that works better than a Ford Pinto, but there are people who believe that on some other planet they’ve solved  the problem of traveling faster--a lot faster--than the speed of light.

   Light travels at about 670 million miles per hour.

   Clearly, people who believe in UFO’s have no understanding of the concept of speed, and I’d feel a lot safer if they all had their driver’s licenses revoked.


Dear Major Ashpole,

   It is an insult to our friends across the universe to assume they would come here to enslave us, or wouldn’t have the intelligence to be certain they’d avoid carrying an organism with them that would be fatal to humans.

   After all, any race that could solve the problems of rapid interstellar travel would be sure to know a thing or two about infectious disease.

   Show me where I’m wrong.

Bill O’Reilly

America’s Gift To Intergalactic Peace

Fox Nation, NY

P.S. Please remember that understanding and consideration for the rights of all peoples everywhere is what holds us all together in this big beautiful world full of interns and assistants.

Dear Bill,

   Your show remains one of the funniest on the air.

   Please don’t ever stop.

Dear Major Ashpole,

   The Catholic Church knows more about miracles in its hind apse than you will ever know, period.

   And if the time ever comes when we want your opinion on how to run our church, we’ll convert to Asram Buddhism instead (which will never happen).

   By the way: I heard about your uncle and his bout with blindness.  It was a miracle, and his surgeon has been enlightened to the point that he now agrees with us, and if you don’t believe me, go visit him in his new spread at our Palm Springs St. Barnabus Research Center, if you get my drift.

   Remember, buddy boy, when you take on the Vatican, you’re not just taking on the wealthiest nation state in the world: You’re taking on me.

Bill Donohue, President

Catholic League For Religious and Civil Rights

New York, NY

Dear Bill,

   You are one of the funniest guys in the Vatican. 

   Please don’t ever stop your Times op-ed ads.

Dear Major Ashpole,

   Our son, John, has autism.

   Thankfully, modern science has provided the means for us to work with him to help him create a full and satisfying life.

   In the meantime: all of the so-called scientific evidence that will ever be presented will never convince me that his autism is the result of anything other than mercury in vaccines.

  It’s just such a damn satisfying answer in so very many ways.

Olympia Juvenal

Skytop Lake

Rising Rainbow, Idaho

Dear Major Ashpole,

   You are so careful with your facts most of the time that I am surprised you goofed on this one.  To wit:

   Your mother could never have qualified as your primary care physician unless she was actually a licensed M.D. and required a co-pay at the time of service.

   Maybe you should rely less on childhood memories for comic material, and stay a bit more tethered to reality.

Bill Cosby

Former Ob/Gyn on Television

Still Delivering (laughs, that is, ha!)

New York, NY

P.S. I never drugged a woman in my life (maybe two or three, but not one! Ha again! I’ve still got it!).

Dear Major Ashpole,

   I hope you can help me.

   I’m a creationist, I believe in UFO’s, and I believe there is a conspiracy to poison our children with mercury.

   The thing is, I can’t seem to get all the conflicting facts and assumptions to make sense in my mind, no matter how much I depend on Fox News as my major source of information.

   Do you have any suggestions?

Noah Little

Lake Understutty

Dear Noah,

   As a devotee of Fox News you should know that trying to make sense is a crutch for those who lack the intellectual capacity and emotional courage to accept fantasy as the foundation of reality.

   Were I you, I would sit in a corner and draw stick figures on the wall, but I’m not you. 

   So I suggest that you keep believing whatever makes you feel good at the moment, regardless of inconveniences like facts and logic, and before long, you’ll be elected to Congress as a Tea Party Republican, and worrying about making sense will be completely a thing of the past.


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