Aug 18, 2021

A Letter to the Pope on Having Semi-Colons

How even a guy named Goldman can share a malady with the leader of the Catholic church

By Ed Goldman

Dear Pope Francis,

While we’re seemingly quite different — your being Catholic, my being Jewish, your being recognized as a world leader, my being a hero to my 19-year-old cat, Osborn the Magnificent — we do share one major trait: tummy troubles.

No one could ever accuse either of us of lacking intestinal fortitude (you should see me stand up to those Jehovah’s Witnesses who knock on my door when I’m on my way into or out of the shower). Nevertheless, both of us could be cited as lacking intestinal invulnerability. 

Edgy Cartoon

“Papal Bismol- Don’t Leave Rome Without It”

Which is to say, I was saddened to read that due to a flare-up of your diverticulitis, surgeons removed half of your colon the other week. In 2009, they removed about 18 inches of mine, owing to a bout of osteomyelitis, also caused by pernicious diverticulitis. (I’m not sure “pernicious” was the medical descriptor used, but I’ve wanted to work that word into this column for some time.) 

Well, your Holiness, despite our age and religious differences, I’ve survived just fine with my semi-colon—and you will, too. 

I hope they didn’t subject you to wearing “the bag,” as I needed to for four months. This was fairly unpleasant and while I know this may be too much information, I can’t say that wearing it did much for my social life.

But one adjusts—as I’ve been admiring of you, and your positions on hot-button social issues like sexual orientation and others. You’re kind of a pope for this moment in history—and even though I play for a different faith-based team, it’s clear we both value human beings. This is what all religions espouse but not all of them practice. I’m not naming names—and in truth, even though my heart, enculturation and racial history belong to the Jewish temple, were I to step into one at this point in my life, I think there’s a possibility I’d burst into flames. I haven’t exactly been a model of devotion but my heart, unlike my colon, seems to be in the right place.

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That said, you and I are now united in a rather discomfiting brotherhood. But it sounds like you have some serious doctors there in Vatican City, and I’ve been well cared for here in California’s Capital City.

Do hang in there, Pontiff. As you like to acknowledge, as a priest and leader, the best is yet to come. 

Your friend, Ed 

PS: There’s no truth to the rumor that I saved all my unused colostomy bags and created a sculpture called Goldman’s Sacks. 

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).

Yes, Virginia

A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela

President and CEO, Golden Pacific Bank

photo by Phoebe Verkouw


Whose dumb idea was it to attach new cryptocurrency proposed rules to the massive infrastructure bill package? What does BitCoin have to do with roads and bridges?

It broils me when politicians develop rules that they and their staff don’t understand, and then vote in a rushed and frenzied manner on something with long-lasting implications.

While I don’t enjoy paying taxes, I also don’t enjoy tax cheating by individuals and businesses. The cryptocurrency proposals are a sad substitute for paying for the long-overdue infrastructure legislation by adopting broad strategies that bolster IRS enforcement of individuals and businesses that cheat on their taxes.

A proposal to “track down tax cheats” and make a fairer system was estimated to have been able to bring in $100 billion over ten years and would more than paid for the infrastructure plans. Why don’t we focus on getting that proposal right before throwing in cryptocurrency?

There are very few people I know who truly understand cryptocurrency (and a lot of those people are in the financial services industry). It’s true that cryptocurrency attracts some bad actors who engage in fraud and theft. But it’s also true that crypto is a global phenomenon and tampering with the U.S. rules may drive away innovation and prove to be a disincentive to keep financial modernization on our shores.

Says Chris McAlary, Coin Cloud President and CEO: “Digital currency policy is important for the future of our county and financial system. It’s important congress is thoughtful and gets this right.”

Politicians are going back and forth on versions of proposed crypto measures, but I vote to be careful. Go back to the drawing board on this one and don’t disrupt U.S. innovation in the wrong way. (And I hope that message wasn’t too cryptic!)

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