Saturday, October 08, 2005
Published October 8, 2005
Chicago -- I woke up one recent morning after setting my alarm clock (made in Japan) while my coffeepot (made in China) was perking. I shaved with my electric razor (made in Hong Kong) and put on a dress shirt (made in Sri Lanka), designer jeans (made in Singapore) and tennis shoes (made in Korea).
After cooking breakfast in my new electric skillet (made in India), I sat down with my calculator (made in Mexico) to see what my budget for the day was.
I set my watch (made in Taiwan) to the radio (made in China), got in my car (made in Germany) and started yet another search for a good-paying American job.
At the end of another fruitless and discouraging day, I decided to relax for a while, put on my sandals (made in Brazil), poured a glass of wine (made in France), turned on my TV (made in Indonesia), and then wondered why I can't find a good-paying job in America.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Up here in the Northern Plains we just recovered from a Historic --- may I
even say a "Weather Event" of "Biblical Proportions" with a historic
blizzard of up to 24" inches of snow and winds to 50 MPH that broke
trees in half, stranded hundreds of motorist in lethal snow banks, closed
all roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to 10's of thousands.
George Bush did not come.... FEMA staged nothing.... no one howled for
the government...no one even uttered an expletive on TV...nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards...no one asked for a FEMA Trailer House.... no news anchors.
We just melted snow for water, sent out caravans to pluck people out
of snow engulfed cars, fired up wood stoves, broke out coal oil lanterns or
Aladdin lamps and put on an extra layer of clothes.
Even though a Category "5" blizzard of this scale has never fallen
this early...we know it can happen and how to deal with it ourselves.
Everybody is fine.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Is the glass half full or half empty?
Expecting a spirited discussion his grandmother, looked up and said, "depends if you are pouring or drinking".
And that is the difference between Conservatives and Liberals..
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
The 2006 Congressional Elections are coming up. The two main parties are getting their talking points in order. From correspondent KLR in our east coast Bureau we have this inside information on the respective platforms thus far:
Four out of five rednecks and white trash agree... Vote Republican
Lets give the rest of the world and the environment the third index of our right hand again.
We make the rich richer.
Next time, we're liberating Canada.
We just about got that whole Israel/Palestinian peace accord thingy figured out.
"Yeah, I got your Weapon-of-Mass-Destruction right here, huh...its right here..."
Congressmen and Senators make better Lap dogs if theyre Republicans
Where's my spine, I know I left it somewhere?
We're the lesser of two evils like: BUSH ROVE CHENEY DELAY - LOTT
Fresh New faces of not as evil to get used to: Maxine Waters, Charlie Rangle, Howard Dean, Ray Nagin, and Mary Landrieu.
We're the best way to shut Michael Moore up.
We'll not only legalize gay marriage, we'll ban straight marriage.
Think "Chief-of-Staff Morgan Freeman" in 2008. Sure he's just an actor , but so was Ronald Reagan.
We've found the solution for low taxes.
We kinda miss the days when Rush Limbaugh was relevant.
Our guy dated Marilyn Monroe. How many American icons have they dated (if you know what I mean)?
And how bout that Monica. OOOOO Babeolishous sort of.
Dont you miss us as all? Please, Well promise you anything. Just vote for us. You won't be sorry.
It was 1975, July, a black cloud moved from the east to the west. I was driving north on MN 75 to go home. We lived north of Harwood ND then. I would cross the bridge. The dark wall seemed almost green. It moved inexorably.
I got home in time to beat the storm. It rained, and rained, and rained. Poured really. 10 inches in 5 hours.
When it stopped raining the floods came. It washed over us and all our neighbors up and down the Sheyenne river. Our house was high and dry. My brother lived next door. His was a little wetter.
We had a trailer in the woods for a hired man. Boat was the only way in or out to his place.
Equipment sat in water. Our crops were lost completely. We raised Muskmelon. A lot of muskmelon.
For the next 10 days we drove thru a half mile of water. I ruined the rear axle on my Pontiac. The road repair was expensive. It was actual devastation.
But, never fear, Fema was here. I trotted into the Air Guard armory at Hector to see about what kind of relief I could get. I lost crops, I had damage, I needed to do repairs, I had income problems because of this.
They said, fill out this form, and this, and this and this and this
I did. They looked at this and told me I was ineligible for any relief because:
I chose to live where I did and that was my problem
I had not insured my crop against flood
I should not have driven thru the water
The people who were now out of a Job that worked for me could always go on unemployment and welfare.
In the end almost no one got anything from Fema in that flood. Some years later there was a spring flood of the same proportions in Fargo. Fema showed up there.
No one got anything from that either.
I believe Fema is like the process of renewal in Logans Run. People whos indicator went off participated in a ritual of renewal. The idea was that if you were fortunate you would survive and live on. The people rose up and chanted Renew, Renew, Renew. Only later does Logan learn that NO ONE ever renews.
Thats the way Fema is. No one actually gets anything from them. Its all a ritual designed to make us think we might. Fema should be decommissioned along with the depts of Energy, Education, HUD, and Labor. Its all smoke and mirrors.
The people of New Orleans are about to learn this sad story.
During this same time there were farm grants being made to farmers for crop loss due to the flood. I looked in to that. I didnt make enough money to qualify.
So, the only people who got hundreds of thousands of dollars from the government were those who had the financial depth to survive the catastrophe and were connected well enough to participate.
Those getting didnt need it and those giving didnt have it.
We used to call that being a big shot with someone elses money. Still is.
Thats why I have a hard time with socialism as practiced among farmers on the Great Plains. Those what has gets from those to whom it doesnt belong.
Isn't there enough Clear Channel babble already cluttering our airwaves with audio Soylent Green? I'm a Sat Radio Subscriber. Sirrus and XM have a total of 6 million users. There's 300 million of us who can hear clear channel FREE. Clear Channel, MAYBE IT"S YOUR PROGRAMMING! If you provide quality programming like IPOD and Sat you won't lose listeners. This is a sorry excuse for not being competitive. Besides, even as a Sat Radio Subscriber I listen more to broadcast radio 10 times more than I do listen to satellite. When I hear the simul broadcast Muzak I tune out. Take a hint.
Maybe the FCC is staffed with people who care about genuine radio now. I can only hope.
holding up a $20.00 bill. In the room of 200, he asked,
Hands started going up.
He said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you
but first, let me do this.
He proceeded to crumple up the $20 dollar bill.
He then asked, "Who still wants it?"
Still the hands were up in the air.
Well, he replied, "What if I do this?"
And he dropped it on the ground
and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe.
"Now, who still wants it?"
Still the hands went into the air.
No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it
because it did not decrease in value.
It was still worth $20.
Many times in our lives,
we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt
by the decisions we make and
the circumstances that come our way.
But no matter what has happened or
what will happen, you will never lose your value.
Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to
those who DO LOVE you.
The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know,
but by WHO WE ARE and WHOSE WE ARE.
You are special- Don't EVER forget it."
And remember: amateurs built the ark ..
professionals built the Titanic.
If God brings you to it - He will bring you through it.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Guaranteed to make you smile.
There are also the official RULES OF MEN
There are lots and lot of Gender Funny links on this page too.
Have fun. Don't hold anything off color against me. I didn't write this stuff.
Today, I had a hard time believing my ears, Pres Bush said he had asked congress to allow him to quarantine whole states if necessary.
So, if you thought this was just fearmongering. Think again.
We are on the brink of something big here.
Monday, October 03, 2005
“NOT SO FAST, we don’t take you back just like that”, Insurance Guy Said.
So, the agent intervened (he doesn’t get his commission if they don’t keep me on). They sent out a medical interrogator to examine me.
DO I: Smoke, Drink, Do Drugs, Overweight, Exercise, Cholesterol, blood pressure, Aids, Sugar Diabetes, Family History of dying, etc etc etc??.
They asked and examined me every way from Sunday, took 4 quarts of blood (it seemed) I filled a half gallon bucket with (well you know). Tested my Stress.
The whole nine yards.
Then 6 weeks later after an actuarial with green eyeshades made a godlike decision on an overweight inactive person who’s 60 yrs old and who’s blood pressure just a bit too high could be insured I hung in limbo uninsured.
I thought about this because of the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans that is going on. Should we rebuild New Orleans just as it was? Should there be any restrictions on anyone building on oceanfront property again if they want to?
I have an answer, sure, build away. But don’t ask ME as a taxpayer to subsidize your decision to build with federal flood insurance. Banks should lend money and insurance companies should insure with the same care and consideration that the Life Group gave me. Actuarialialize away.
My lifestyle isn’t perfect. I have bad habits. I don’t work out. I eat poorly. I have made lifestyle choices and for that reason I pay a price when I buy life insurance. If it’s fair for people building in risky areas to get a socialistic insurance subsidy, where’s mine? The government should pick up the rating part of my insurance policy. Right?
If you build a 2 million dollar home directly on the Gulf you have made a lifestyle choice. The actuaries will help you decide if that’s a good choice or not. Don’t ask me to help you live a lifestyle that doesn’t make good sense.
If you can’t get flood insurance and you can’t get bank financing for that reason, don’t build. Now is a good time to rethink this whole thing.
The same thing goes for flood prone parts of New Orleans. If the actuaries won’t take the chance why should the rest of America subsidize a lifestyle choice that is a bad risk?
Eliminate federal subsidies for flood insurance. It’s not flood insurance, it’s lifestyle insurance.
Oh, and yes the life insurance company did take me back, no increase in premium. I’m still the man, (sort of).
The other day Harry Reid was passionately on the floor of the Senate pleading for money to be included in a defense appropriation for the antiviral vaccine Tamiflu. 3 Billion or so. He was heartfelt, talked of his grandchildren and wife. There was palpable fear and trembling in his voice. His sincerity is not in question. If your family is at risk of dying when a pandemic of Avian Flu breaks out you will be too. His plea was, we have to do something, anything. This threat is real. Avian Flu is coming.
The problem is the “we have to do something” action is meaningless. Tamiflu is useless. If you google up Avian Flu there are 20 Tamiflu advertisements that will pop up. They are all snake oil. Don’t waste your money. They are sugar pills essentially. Expensive ineffective panaceas.
Great Britain has spent 300+ million dollars stockpiling Tamiflu. Wasted money.
The Republicans were sympathetic but unwilling to allocate money for something that is useless. The Democrats were incensed. They claim that money was being saved and that it would cost lives. I submit they need to go back to college and learn something than how to be a lawyer. Science is still a course last I looked.
I know something about viral genetic mutation. What must happen is a clearly identifiable replicating strain of Avian Flu being transmitted successfully between humans has to be isolated. At that point the ova based production of vaccine gets underway. We will be racing the clock (8-10 months) to have enough to do some good in wide range inoculation.
If we are lucky and the flu doesn’t move thru the population too fast due to effective quarantine methodology we may just be able to inoculate enough people against the virus to whip this. If we don’t millions, maybe a billion will die.
If we are going to spend any money before that time it would be best spent preparing the infrastructure for production that once the mutation is stabilized and begins spreading so we can begin effective specific antiviral production of a flu shot that is effective against this killer. Keep up on this here.
This is a crapshoot, but putting all your money on the table with no chance at winning at all is a bad gamble.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
"Basically, it's about hitting a ball and running around."
"Oh, so I know this: It's like tennis, right?"
My colleague Kevin had a difficult mission -- but he was up to the task: Teaching me "Baseball 101." Me, who couldn't tell a pitcher from a batter. And since theory is always best when backed up by practice, we went out to Cellular Field: White Sox vs. Indians.
Germany's favorite pastime is soccer (one lawn, two goals, 22 men and one ball, just FYI). When we go to the soccer stadium, we cheer, sing some songs about our team (usually nice ones) and some songs about the other team (usually not so nice ones). Arriving at Cellular Field, thought that we were at the wrong place, some theater play or a funeral -- so silent was everybody. The Sox, I thought, should immediately dissolve the audience and order another.
If the crowd was on tranquilizers, however, they were losing their effect about two hours into the game: the Sox -- as I learned -- had finally scored two points, and all of a sudden, the audience woke up, clapping, cheering, rising from the seats. I realized that I was attending a sporting event and looked at the billboard.
It read things like: "Rowand .277, 12 HR, 64 RBI." Or "Pitch speed 87." And next to us, there was this man sitting, scribbling something down on his lap -- bored by the game, I figured, doing last Sunday paper's crossword. OK, I thought, might be an accountant who just got laid off, easing his pain over the lost job by going to the ballpark. But then I realized that there were so many people out there taking those notes. Kevin explained to me, these people were keeping track of the game, marking down strikes and outs and everything.
Germans may be bean counters in many a sense, but when we're at the soccer stadium, we actually only care about who's winning -- and, maybe, about who scored the goals, but that's rather something for the sophisticates. When we flip open the after-game day sports section, we want to see some dramatic pictures, read some juicy quotes -- but we don't do this data porn U.S. papers do.
Maybe it's the success thing: Since achievement is so important in American society -- and what better measure for success is there than numbers? -- maybe that's why you find sports statistics so sexy. Anyway, after a sudden outbreak of emotion, Cellular Field fell into silence again, the only thing to be heard was the scrawling of the pencils, so we took a stroll around the ballpark.
I was amazed by the huge variety offered at the merchandise stands. Sure, I can wear my favorite sports team's jersey back in Germany -- at night, in bed, when lights are low and my girlfriend's not at home. But otherwise I wouldn't dare to publicly express my affection for a specific sports team. Too uncool a thing, I suppose. Here, however, just about everybody lets the world know whom his heart beats for -- be it on bumper stickers, coffee mugs or jerseys.
The other day, Michael, the lawyer, explained to me at great length why he "is White Sox instead of Cubs" with the same sobriety of, say, a UN diplomat explaining why he supported the Indian concept for reform of the Security Council instead of the Italian one. (By the way: I'm for the Indian UN plan; I just can't make up my mind on the Cubs-Sox thing.)
As the game progressed, I started grasping some of the basics: that there is a top and a bottom to every inning, that you can be overweight and still be a baseball pro, etc. But at the same time, I was losing my ground on more and more of other basics: Why do pitchers bat in the American League and why do they not in the National League? (Or was it the other way round?) Why is there an American League and a National League in the first place? And who decides upon who's in which?
Kevin couldn't answer those questions and basically said that nobody else could. Maybe those are questions like: Why is the East Coast on the East? Or maybe I just have to come back to the ballpark.
Christian Thiele, who lives in Berlin, has spent the last two months working at the Chicago Tribune as the newspaper's Arthur F. Burns fellow. You can reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I believe Shania Twain, in addition to being an all around fine human being, to observe her in action is an amazing talent worth hearing and seeing.
But, when I really want my amazer triggered I put on a Kate Bush CD. The Whole Story is her best in my opinion. Buy it. There is also a stunning 90 minute video. I have only seen it twice but it sticks in my mind like glue.
My wife claims I’m in love with women in general. I’m here to confess. I’m terminally heterosexual. Maybe there’s a support group somewhere to set me right. I don’t think I’ll join. But something goes ding in my heart when I hear something original and beautiful in a pure female voice. I love opera for the same reason. I like Alanis Morrisette’s music. And Martina McBride. Then there’s Macy Gray. Not really singing but charming all the same. I'm confused.
So it was with some excitement that I read that Ms Bush has a new CD about to emerge. Not soon enough. November 7. She doesn’t just gin this stuff out. It’s been 12 years since she produced anything new. There is a huge underground personality cult. I’m not part of that but I am looking forward to the new CD. I hope it’s ok with all the other Kate fans that I’m over 60. Come to think of it, how old is Kate, 47? All in all she’s a fine looking woman with a wonderful voice.
Some people order Harry Potter books in advance. I will order Aeriel.
So should you.