Trump Pardons Hillary

by Bil Lepp

 

President Trump today pardoned Hillary Clinton. Moments later Sean Hannity’s head exploded.

Aides, speaking confidentially, said it was an accident. “Look, right when he got in office, the President asked us to tell him what things a President could do and somebody told him he had the power to pardon folks. The President asked how that worked and we showed him the machine. The Pardoner 1000. It’s kinda like a Gameboy. You punch in a name, and hit Pardon. So right away he pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Then he sorta forget about it and put in his desk. A couple of days ago he was going through his desk and he came across The Pardoner. It was like a new toy a kid gets at Christmas. You should see him with it! He’s asking everybody who stops by, ‘Who should I pardon?’”

Earlier today President Trump said he was considering pardoning boxer Muhammad Ali. Ali’s lawyer said that that was unnecessary. (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-says-he-may-pardon-the-late-boxer-muhammad-ali/ar-AAyoei2?OCID=ansmsnnews11)

Then he told NFL players to shout out who they want pardoned. Adding, “Then we’ll be cool, right guys? I pardon your friends and then you can all stand during the anthem and we’ll be buds again.”(https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/president-trump-asks-nfl-players-to-recommend-people-for-pardons/ar-AAyo7gK?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=wispr)

“So,” the anonymous aide continued, “he was messing with the Pardoner 1000, goofing off, and he was like, ‘Hey, I’m gonna type Crooked Hillary into this thing.’ And he did. And then he accidently mashed the Pardon button. And that’s it, she’s pardoned.”

When told the news, Sean Hannity’s head exploded.

Asked about it later, the President explained that he was the greatest mind of his generation, any generation, that he was a really good guy, a genius, really, and therefore he didn’t do anything by accident. He said that if he ever did anything, then it must be the right thing, the best thing, to do.

Portions of this story are not fake news.

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“This is not a gun issue. It’s a mental health issue.”

It’s been months since the school shooting in Florida.  I’ve waited patiently but anxiously to write this piece, trying to time it after the Florida shooting, but before the next mass shooting in America.

I’m a gun owner. I don’t own an assault rifle. I don’t own a twenty round magazine. I don’t need either. I own guns to hunt, primarily. I am not a member of the NRA. I understand that if the government comes to get me, they are going to come with force so overwhelming that untold twenty round clips won’t help me. Or they’ll send a drone the size of a bumble bee up my nose and explode my brain.

Mental illness seems to be the default culprit behind mass shootings. It is easy to blame mental illness. If a person shoots up a church, or a music festival, or a school, it is mental illness’s fault.

Some lawmakers who blame mental illness for gun tragedies do so because while they could legislate gun laws, they cannot legislate mental illness. It makes the problem unsolvable because…

Mental illness isn’t a constitutional right.

We can’t pass a law that bans mental illness.

We can’t even pass a law that makes mental illness harder to get.           

If mental illness was a constitutionally granted right, and something people wanted to have, there would be a lobby that gave millions of dollars to Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan ensuring that they never, ever, blamed anything on mental illness.

Congress people tell us their hands are tied on the gun issue.  The NRA wants elected officials to believe that if they say anything against gun ownership of any kind, they will be swept from office.

Evan Jenkins is running for Senate in West Virginia. Mr. Jenkins’ campaign has this to say about the Second Amendment on his website: New York liberals…would repeal the Second Amendment…; they have no regard for our constitutional rights and our special way of life in West Virginia…Jenkins will fight tooth and nail to defend the Second Amendment when it’s under attack. Evan’s work in Congress to stop liberal assaults on our gun rights has earned him an A Rating from the National Rifle Association, because he understands that our God-given freedoms and constitutional rights are not up for negotiation.

First off, the statement “our special way of life in West Virginia” leaves me queasy and a bit unsettled. Taken in context, it makes it sound as though every West Virginian is toting an AR-15 squirrel gun, and Granny is on her porch fulfilling stereotypes and jist awaitin’ fer one ah them liberal New Yorkers to come a-walkin by.

Taken out of context, “our special way of life in West Virginia” is just weird.

When the next school shooting happens, Jenkins will likely side with the argument that, “This is not a gun issue. It’s a mental health issue.” It’s the kind of argument that wins you an NRA A rating. It is a cowardly whimper that ensures NRA donations, does nothing to fix the problem, and allows mass shootings to continue.

Flip a few words around and you have “This is not a mental health issue.  This is a gun issue.” But for conservatives and Democrats in conservative districts, that statement would be tantamount to resigning from office. To say it that way is to admit that guns play a role in gun violence. But Jenkins “will fight tooth and nail to defend the Second Amendment when it’s under attack.”

The Second Amendment often comes under attack when some person enters a school and kills multiple children.  Wouldn’t it be great if Jenkin’s website said he will fight tooth and nail to defend your children from attack?  It would seem that Jenkins believes gun ownership is a God-given freedom (I don’t have that passage in my Bible, maybe Jenkins has some other translation) and thus he will not negotiate on behalf of the lives of children.

Jesus said, “Suffer little children come unto me.”

Lawmakers who choose to do nothing to stop gun violence in schools seem satisfied with just, “Suffer little children.”

It may be un-American, and counter to “our special way of life in West Virginia,” but I love my children more than I love my guns.  And the very fact that that statement will anger some people is crushingly sad.

The NRA wants people to believe that the passage of any law restricting guns will herald three immediate consequences. First, gun violence will continue unabated. Second, if even one restriction is passed the Government will show up to seize all your guns. And third, all law bidding citizens will be murdered by outlaws at midnight.

The second two won’t happen.  We don’t know if gun violence will decrease because the mere suggestion of public safety is a liberal assault on our gun rights and Congress won’t stand for that.

But we could try. We could pass a law that says no new sales of assault rifles (I know we’d have to work on the definition of an assault rifle). Nobody has to give up the assault rifles they already own, you just can’t buy anymore new ones.  It won’t kill the gun market. Guns are like cars. If a company quits selling one model, people buy another model.

Or, no new sales of twenty round clips.  It is frustrating that even that idea is so seemingly impossible.  Again, nobody has to turn anything in. Just no more sales of new twenty round clips.

The argument is inevitable: Neither one of those laws will stop all gun violence.

I know that. But what if we stopped one mass killing? What if by banning the sale of twenty round clips we managed to avert one school from getting shot up? What if because one person couldn’t get a twenty round clip, seventeen kids weren’t killed?  Shouldn’t we be fighting tooth and nail for that?

I Spoke to Heroes

This past weekend I was part of the Inaugural Wine Country Spoken Word Festival in Petaluma, CA. The smoke from the devastating and deadly fires was in the air. The festival produces decided not to cancel the festival despite the fires, reasoning that since everything else had been canceled, people needed something to do.

There were many artists who participated and every one I heard/saw was fantastic. I can’t name them all here, because I’m lazy, but the festival culminated in a show at the Mystic Theater with myself, Steve Connell and Sarah Vowell.

And I’m not gonna lie. We rocked. It was one of the wildest mixes of hip hop slam poetry, storytelling, and hilarious tales of a sad sack cartographer that you will likely ever encounter.

But here’s the thing. There were three hundred people in the audience. Some of whom had lost their houses. They lost everything. Except the clothes on their backs and, oddly, their tickets to the show.

My job is standing on stage and saying words which I have organized in a manner intended to make you laugh. I’m not curing cancer. I’m not flying a tanker plane dropping fire retardant. I’m certainly not a firefighter parachuting into an inferno. I say words.

Your house burns down. Your whole neighborhood is gone. Forty people are dead. And your reaction to that is, in part, to come out and support the Wine Country Spoken Word Festival, to support Dave and Juliet in this endeavor because you know it will help your community be stronger in the future and despite your present tragedy you want to make sure your community thrives. Because next time it’s going to be someone else’s time for tragedy and you want a compassionate infrastructure in place so you can aid the next person. You people are heroes.

But you came for another reason, too. You also came to hear me talk. Yeah, you knew this was eventually going to be about me. You came in the midst of chaos to listen to Steve, Bil, and Sarah say words in the hope that we might take your mind off your loss for 120 minutes. That is a humbling and tremendous honor.

I work hard at my job precisely because I want what I do to be useful. I’ve had some people say some remarkably wonderful things about how my stories impacted their life, but I won’t ever forget that as your houses burned you came to see me. Okay, you came to see Sarah Vowell and Steve Connell, but I was in the mix. And that is humbling. I’m not going to say, “If even one you laughed just once. If even one of you forgot your troubles for one second…” cause we all know I’m too vain for that. I mean, I was there, you laughed. I had you for at least a few minutes. But that’s precisely the thing. You are heroes- the very heroes Steve described- and you needed a minute to just be human. To just be a laughing fool in a dark theater. A nameless moron without a worry in the world looking to bask in the revelry of Bacchus for a brief respite. And morons and fools are my demographic, baby.

Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your dedication to your community. Thank you for supporting the festival. Thank you for Petaluma’s outstanding outreach to evacuees. And thank you to the people who couldn’t come because they were fighting the fires.

Steve said something to the effect of, “…It is our job as people, in times of need, to say to those around us,’I got you. Until you can get yourself, I got you.’” For that show we had you. Steve, Sarah and I had you, but I want you to know that for the rest of my life whenever I doubt my usefulness I’ll remember, well, first, what a lady in Pigeon Forge, TN, said about my stories, cause it’ll never be beat. But right next, I’ll remember that in your time of need you came to me and that I made some heros laugh. And that will hold me for a long, long time.

Sorta Clean Water spills into WV drinking chemicals

A storage tank containing 30,000 gallons of an ancient compound known as Sorta Clean Water sprang a leak last week. The breach went unnoticed for several hours, allowing the Sorta Clean Water to contaminate the drinking chemicals of thousands of West Virginians.

The Sorta Clean Water is a compound that was used extensively in the production of trees and wildlife.

Customers complained that no odor came from the liquid flowing from their faucets, and that they could “see clean through” their drinking glasses. “It was unnerving,” said one customer. “Honestly, if I can’t smell it? And if I can see through it? Yuck. I don’t want to drink it.”

Scientists are unsure of the effects Sorta Clean Water may have on people who ingest it.

Authorities are urging citizens to follow the procedures set forth in the Spoil Advisory. The Spoil Advisory contains detailed instructions on how to best recontaminate the water before ingestion.

 “If you are unable to properly recontaminate the water,” a spokesman for the Governor’s Office advised, “mix equal parts antifreeze, gasoline and Michelob Ultra Light. It won’t burn your esophagus going down as much as you are accustomed to from your normal drinking chemicals, but it should get you through the crisis without too many withdrawal symptoms.”

“It is especially important to make sure infants and children stay away from the freshwater,” warned Director Sogbottom, of the recently created the Department Of Environmental Destruction. “Old folks,” he continued, “and I mean the truly old, may be able to drink the Sorta Clean Water, as they probably still have some residual tolerance to cleanish water, but fresh water could be toxic to children, pets and big business.”

Asked for comment, Delegate Zatezalo, R-Hancock, said, “This is a tragedy and a travesty. When we passed House Bill 2506, recalculating the mixing zones and amounts of cancer-causing chemicals companies were permitted to dump into streams and rivers, we thought we’d effectively eliminated any chance of even a single child in West Virginia ever having to be subjected to drinking clean water again. We are not even sure why Sorta Clean Water was allowed to be stored in a tank a mere mile upriver from a drinking chemical intake. If industrial waste isn’t safe in West Virginia, then nothing and no one is safe.

“Trust me, we will take vigorous action against any and all people irresponsible enough to allow Sorta Clean Water to be present in any amount in any West Virginia stream or river. In fact, I’m working on legislation right now that would allow companies to dispose of their waste by pumping it straight into the, uh, um, boobs of breastfeeding mothers. We in the West Virginia House and Senate take the health and wellness of industry very, very seriously.”

For now, the National Guard will be mobilizing to bring in drinking chemicals from rivers, slag ponds and cesspools in Chernobyl and parts of India and China to get us through the crisis.

Please bring only lead-lined containers to the National Guard distribution site.

Bil Lepp is a storyteller and author.

– See more at: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/gazette-op-ed-commentaries/20170304/bil-lepp-sorta-clean-water-spills-into-wv-drinking-chemicals-gazette#sthash.NLI8kLj1.dpuf

Turns out I’m Cis-Demisexual… Or Pronouns are the New Metric System

Bil Lepp Copyright 2017
My son, like any good sixteen year-old, is more socially relevant than I. We got to talking about gender identity and sexuality the other day, partly because we were driving through Omaha and I saw a sign that read, “Exit here for L-Q streets.” I says to my son, “Know what streets are in between L & Q? B, G and T.”

 

He laughed, but not entirely.

 

If I had to describe my dad via just one thing he said, I would go with: “It’s not true that a cat always lands on its feet. The cat only lands on its feet the first eleven times. And you’ll never see that cat again.”

 

I come from a long line of men who firmly believe, “If it ain’t broke, keep trying.”
And I mean that in the most positive way possible. In the late the 30’s my Grosspapa, after fighting the Red Army and making his way to America, was looking for work. He drove by the employee parking lot at Goodyear. He saw all the cars in the parking lot and thought, “If they can hire that many people, they can hire one more.”

 

The system may not have been constructed with us in mind, but we can always find a way in.

 

The only real argument my dad and I ever had was my hair. I didn’t smoke, or do drugs, and, unlike my brothers, I got grades. Not necessarily good ones, but I did get grades. So my hair just couldn’t be turned into that big of a deal. I kept it long. Maybe just to rankle him. And it worked. But one thing I swore was that I would never comment negatively on my kid’s hair.

 

My son’s hair is ridiculous. But I’ve never said anything about it.
Still and all, my son has informed me that I have a skewed ideal of masculinity.
No doubt. When I was a teenager my idol was David Bowie. How could my ideas about masculinity not be skewed?

 

So, I says to my son, “Know what streets are in between L & Q? B, G and T.”
That started the discussion. I come from maybe the last generation where it wasn’t uncommon to describe Uncle Charlie as a “confirmed bachelor,” or explain that Aunt Tonya and her friend Sonja live together to save rent. I’m a pretty liberal guy, I also come from the generation that nearly revolted when school boards tried to make us learn the metric system. Who cares if 5280 feet is a weird distance? It’s the way things are and that’s that.

 

My son says, “There’s not just male and female, and your gender has nothing to do with your sexuality.”

 

Again, I try and keep an open mind, but 128 ounces makes more sense to me than 1000 cubic centimeters.

 

He says: “First you have to understand the pronouns.”

 

“I gotta learn new pronouns?”

 

“Yep. You can keep He and She, but you need to adopt Ze and Hir (pronounced Here) for gender neutral people. And Mx. (pronounced Mix) Instead of Mr., Ms. or Mrs.”

 

“Really? Like, ‘This is Mx. Johnson’s car. It’s hir car.’”

 

“Yep.”

 

1000 meters in a kilometer…

 

“See,” my son explains, “you think in terms of binary genders. Male and female, but that excludes nonbinary genders and makes you  cisnormative.”

 

“Wait, I’m a what?”

 

“Cisnormative. See, you’re cisgender.”

 

“I am?”

 

“Yeah, your gender and biological parts assigned at birth align.”

 

“Like I’m an Aries with a moon in Jupiter?”

 

Sigh

 

So I say, “You mean I was born male and I have boy parts? Is that bad?”

 

“Bad is word you need to disassociate with this conversation,” counsels my sixteen year old. “So you’re cis, and cisnormative people think there are only two genders.” He continues, “There are people who are Agender, Androgynous, Androphilic, Aromantic, Asexual…”

 

“Okay, hold up. I know androgynous, what’s the others?”

 

“Agender has little connection to traditional genders at all.
“Androphilics are attracted to males or masculinity.
“Aromantics have little or no romantic interest in others.
“Asexuals have little physical interest in others.
“Got it? Cause that’s just the A’s.”

 

….Twelve inches in a foot, three feet in a yard.

 

“Then there’s Bigender, Bicurious, Bisexual and Butch.”

 

“Hey, we used to say Butch. Can I say Butch?”

 

“You probably shouldn’t.”

 

“Then there’s Cisgender…”

 

“That’s me!”

 

“Demigender, Demiromantic, and Demisexuals…”

 

“Those sound ominous.”

 

“Not at all. Demigender people are basically nonbinary but might lean a little toward one gender or the other.
“Demiromatics don’t experience romance until they are physically involved with someone and
“Demisexuals don’t experience physical attraction until a strong emotional bond is formed.”

 

“Wait! I think that’s me, too! I’m a cis-demisexual. Sounds like a Star Wars character.”

 

“Feminine-of-center and Masculine-of-center are folks who present, understand themselves, and/or relate to others in a more feminine or masculine way, but don’t necessarily identify as women or men.
“Which is not to be confused with Feminine-presenting or Masculine-presenting which is someone who expresses gender in a more feminine or masculine way.”

 

“Oh, no,” I say, “that’s not confusing at all.”

 

A liter used to be described as a kilogram of water under standard conditions.

 

“Fluidity describes a gender identity that shifts over time.
“FtM and MtF is for transgenders going from male to female or female to male.
“Gender Non-Conforming, Gender Normative, Gender Straight and Gender Variant should be pretty self-explanatory,” says my son.

 

They should?

 

“Then we get to the alphabet soup. LGBT, LGBTQ, GSM and DSG. LGBTQ stands for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer.”

 

I want to ask why we need the Q after the LGBT, but I’m afraid of sounding cisnormative.

 

And then my son says, “Sometimes the Q stands for Questioning instead of Queer. If you see a plus sign after the Q, that means And Everybody Else. GSM is Gender and Sexual Minorities and DSG is for Diverse Sexualities and Genders. And sometimes you hear somebody say QUILTBAG.”

 

I have heard people say quiltbag, but it was generally little old ladies who were referring to a bag in which to carry a quilt. I hold my tongue. Then I wonder if there’s a name for people who like to hold tongues.

 

“QUILTBAG stands for Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian Trans*, Bisexual, Asexual/Allied, and Gay/Genderqueer.”

 

“Seriously?” I say.

 

“Yep.”

 

“Is that it?”

 

“Tip of the iceberg.”

 

I’m a dad in the 21st century raised by men born in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Here’s what I know. If you see a parking lot full of cars you can think, “There’s no room for me,” or you can think, “There’s easily room for one more.” And, as a dad, you always have the option of deciding that you are right no matter what. And you can prove it. You can drag that cat up onto the roof and chuck it off until you do irreparable damage, but you’ll likely never see that cat again.

 

Sometimes you just need to accept that the centimeters have always been right there, across from the inches on your ruler.

 

Note: This is a composite of several conversations, not an actual start to finish conversation

Lying Effectively in Public- A Primer or We Should Withdraw from the Solar System Because, Let’s Face It, the Rest of the Planets Just Aren’t Pulling Their Weight

 

By Bil Lepp Copyright 2017

I have to say that I am professionally insulted by the standard of lies that have been making the news in past weeks.  And though I don’t want to aid the competition, I feel compelled to share a few pointers on successful lying, so as to not tarnish the reputation lying in general.

I am five time champion of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest.  I lie for a living.  I stand in front of huge crowds. Huge.  And tell them lies.  They love it.  They give me standing ovations that are very long. Very.

No, seriously, that is my job. I am a professional storyteller who specializes in tall-tales, fibs, and untruths.  Look me up.

 

First, before you go in front of a huge audience, really big, you should write your lies down on paper and read through them to see if they make any sense.  Any sense. You should have a few trusted associates look over the lies beforehand.  Sometimes they can point out the flaws in your lies.  Also, you may want your associates to know what lies you are planning to tell so they can be prepared to back those lies up, or at the very least, not contradict them.

After you write the lies down, you should rehearse them before saying them to large crowds of people. Or Tweeting them.

A good lie, by which I mean a successful lie, depends on you connecting with your audience in such a way that you build rapport with them.  You need your audience to feel that you and they have something in common.  And if you are going to tell a real doozey, you need to work up to it.  Start by saying something the audience understands, or is familiar with, maybe something that is, if not true, at least honest.

That cunning witch from Scotland who wants your children to worship the Devil is good at this.  She’ll start a book innocuously enough: “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”  Totally believable statement, right?  We understand that people live in houses and houses have addresses.  She would not be a zillionaire had she begun with, “Once there was a boy who had a stick with a feather in it and he could wave it at stuff and say fake Latin and unlock locks and crush the dreams of a poor, misunderstood orphan named Voldemort who only wanted to control the world and be super evil.”  This statement is harder to adjust to because it isn’t something most of us have experienced and so it seems a little dishonest.

I often start my lies with a simple truth like, “I have a dog.”  Again, an easy statement to swallow.  Lots of people are dog owners, or at least understand that people have dogs.  There are no dog agnostics.  I might be planning to tell you I once flew a train with my tongue, but I start by telling you I have a dog.  One key to a good lie is gradual exaggeration.

For example, if you want to tell people that some widely believed scientific fact is hooey, you first must establish some kind of truth.  Instead of saying, “There is no moon.  It doesn’t exist.  And any scientist who tells you the moon exists is a very bad scientist. Very. Bad. That scientist is likely paid by some liberal, vegetable eating, environmental think-tank that hates God, the USA and Russia.  Also that scientist is likely a member of ISIS.”

See, that is a little too much to take in all at once.  A little.  Furthermore, it doesn’t establish a connection with a broad audience. [By Broad, I mean wide. Not just the ladies.]  Also, it might be offensive to vegetable eaters.  It is best not to start a lie by alienating a portion of your audience.  A good lie requires building trust with your audience, and it is hard to build trust when you start with pugnacity.

Start slow.

You might start by saying, “There is this thing people call the moon.”

Your audience will accept this.  They will nod in confirmation.  You are drawing them in.

Next, try, “You may notice that at certain points during this moon’s so-called lunar cycle, it is not visible.  It is usually not visible during the day, either.”

Who can dispute this?  This is an experience of the moon we all have in common.  But, more importantly, you are working toward a credible lie because you are sowing reasonable doubt.  The audience has to admit- sometimes they just can’t see the moon.

They begin to trust you.  You’re talking sense.  And their imaginations start to hum in-tune with yours.  They are starting to see the world your way.

Now that you have the audience thinking the way you need them to, you can launch into the more dramatic parts of your presentation: “So if you can’t see the moon part of the time then it obviously either isn’t real, or it is hiding because it is plotting a nasty attack.  Nasty.  And therefore we should build a wall to keep the moon out and make Mars pay for the wall, and then withdraw from the Solar System because, let’s face it, the rest of the planets just aren’t pulling their weight.”

See how much more believable your statements are now?  I mean, heck, I just wrote the above lie and I know it’s not true, but I wrote it so well I’m already starting to believe it.  Starting to believe your own lies can be dangerous.  If you start to believe your own lies, then you begin to live in a fantasy world from which there is no escape.  So, be careful about that.

Also, don’t go too far.  For example, I said “…the rest of the planets just aren’t pulling their weight.”  This statement goes against the laws of physics and so-called physicists like Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton, both of whom are doing amazing jobs and are getting recognized more and more, might get together and dispute your claims based on the pseudo-science of gravity, throwing your whole lie into question.  One little step outside the context box and the credibility of your whole carefully crafted lie comes into question.

Great Big Mammoth Wind Hole- Celebrating 100 Years of National Parks

Copyright Bil Lepp 20106

In honor of the National Parks 100th Birthday, I have an idea.  They want us to go to the parks, but some are just so remote.  In fact, one is called Pacific Remote Islands.  So what if we combined a few parks to make visitation easier.

Wind Cave, Mammoth Cave, Big Bend, Great Basin & Jackson Hole could become

Great Big Mammoth Wind Hole

 

We could meld Arches and Gateway to get St. Louis Arches

 

Glacier Bay & Glacier seem like a nice combo

 

Lake George & The New River Gorge would be New River George

 

How ‘bout The Great Great Great Smoky Sand Basin Dunes Mountains

 

If Hanford Reach married Misty Fjords we’d have Hanford & Misty Reach-Fjords

 

For marketing purposes we could do:

The National Mall & The Mall of America to get The National Mall of America

Badlands & Carlsbad Caverns = Carlsbadlands Jr.

Brookstone & Yellowstone could work out a deal

 

Papahānaumokuākea is fine the way it is

I’m voting for Crater Lake of the Moon

And just to please the GOP and ignore political correctness, I say Rainbow Bridge should lead to Harper’s Ferry