Ben Stein’s Diary

Ben Stein's Diary

Christmas Gifts

By 12.6.13

Now for a few words about a great gift idea for those of you blessed enough to have living parents. Recently, I sat at lunch with two young women who were in a drug treatment facility. They rattled off their horror stories about their drug use, about how they disappeared from home for weeks or months at a time with shady boyfriends, about how their parents put them in one rehab after another at staggering expense, about how their parents could not sleep at night for years worrying about them, about how their parents showed infinite love and care for them year after year. They talked about what fabulous parents they had and how sorry they were for what they put their parents through.

I finally asked them, “Do you ever thank them?” They hesitated a bit and said they were sure they had thanked them.

I asked them, “Let me tell you as a parent the absolute hell you put your parents through. Your parents are my age now. You should make it a point to call them every single day and tell them how grateful you are. Every darned day. Every morning and every night.”

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Ben Stein's Diary

Present Dangers

By 11.25.13

Tuesday
Here I am in Mr. Tim Kerr’s Advanced World History class at Kent Island High School, visiting with the students. They are juniors and seniors and they look healthy and alert, This school is in Stevensville, Maryland, just over the Bay Bridge of the Chesapeake Bay.

It is a long story how I came to be here. Basically, I met a group of kids from the school at a Taco Bell and was impressed with them and their command of mathematics. So I called the principal, a man whose last name is impossible to spell, but his first name is John and he’s a great guy. John invited me over and so here I am.

I cannot recall ever meeting a sweeter looking, more solid looking, less disturbing looking, calmer looking kids. They looked like Montgomery Blair, 1962. Silver Spring, Maryland. The girls were neatly dressed. The boys were neatly dressed. Everyone looked confident. I was completely surprised at what a spectacle of reasonable charm the kids were.

We just talked about a few statistics like population, GDP, and then they had to go home.

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Ben Stein's Diary

The View From Torrey Pines

By 11.15.13

Wednesday
What an amazing day I had. An episode of The Twilight Zone. My driver, the capable Mr. Baha, picked me up in Beverly Hills at noon. We zoomed down the 405 and then the 5 at speeds so fast it was as if I were in outer space. I slept, of course.

When we got to Del Mar, we pulled over for sushi at a little dive called Sushi-Ya. It is in an immense shopping center but don’t get fooled (again). The sushi is fresh and delicious and the chicken teriyaki is the best I have ever had. Yum. Sushi is one of nature’s great gifts.

Then just a few minutes away in Torrey Pines was the elegant “Lodge at Torrey Pines,” set just east of a golf course overlooking the foggy Pacific. I was there to speak to a group of genius scientists, medical men and women, investors, venture capitalists, men and women who are super men and super women.

I went into their reception and started to visit with them and I thought my brains would jump out of my head. These guys and gals were so accomplished, so out of control smart, it made me feel as if I were with geniuses from another earth.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Is This Really Happening?

By 11.14.13

I really cannot believe what I am seeing in the news about the U.S. and Iran. In 2013, less than 70 years after the end of the Hitler regime in Europe that killed half of all of the Jews in the world, roughly half of the Jews in the world are threatened with annihilation again—and the U.S. administration is not only going along with it, but cheering on the possibility.

Hitler did not have nuclear weapons, thank God, and there was no tiny little country like Israel where 7 million of the race he hated with such a crazed vengeance lived. So he had to send police and militia and the Gestapo and the SS and local anti-Semites to round up the Jews, move them to nearby fields for shooting or beating, or in trains to death factories like Auschwitz where thousands of Jews a day were gassed in the most horrible circumstances imaginable.

The Iranians in the recent past have pledged to destroy the Jewish people in the Middle East. Some of their leaders have boasted that if Iran gets nuclear weapons, Iran will have “a holocaust in an afternoon” by rocketing a few nuclear weapons into Israel. Naturally, the Israelis are desperately worried.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Hizzoner’s Handshake

By 11.8.13

Thursday
Scary. A friend appeared early in the morning to show me pictures of women who had answered his ad on a dating website. They were unhappy looking people. Not so much unattractive as frightening looking. These were mostly women 60 plus. My heart truly bleeds for them and for the men trying to befriend them. It is really hard to be lonely and it takes a toll on women’s facial features. They look like they have been in prison. I know I am a pitiful fat old man. I don’t think I look as if I have been in prison though. Maybe I do.

Yes, indeed. Maybe I do. I am in a sort of prison of fear about going broke. That’s my obsession.

Anyway, off to DCA to wait for my flight to ORD. I was afraid it would be a long, boring wait but I was pleasantly surprised. A simply beautiful young lawyer with the same first name as my wifey sat near me and we talked animatedly about the law for about an hour. She was as good at conversation as a person can be and also had a cheerful, flashing smile.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Called to Account

By 11.7.13

Wednesday
A great morning at my apartment at the Watergate until I got a call from my bank. I was basking in the glow of doing a truly wonderful event for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia last night. We had a superb attendance, kind sponsors, a glorious attentive organizing team, and it all was the way life is supposed to be.

Just before I went to bed last night I imagined that I would get a really bad call from my bank and it sent me into a panic. But I was able to sleep anyway. And, as I puttered around this morning making breakfast, I felt happy.

Then I saw the call from my bank. Yuck. A really big overdraft, caused by my own stupidity and carelessness. Luckily, I could easily cover it, but I hated, hated, hated it. Overdrafts make me crazy. You would think that would make me more careful about keeping my accounts straight. It doesn’t. It’s really embarrassing how careless I am about my accounts.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Called to Account

By 11.7.13

If only an SEC action against a friend wasn’t so puzzling.
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