THE REDNECKS ARE STILL WITH US

Amazing! Rep Paul Broun, a Rpublican from Georegia stood up in the U.S. House of Representatives the other day and called global warming a “hoax.” We quote:

“Scientists all over this world say that the idea of human induced global climate change is one of the greatest hoaxes perpretate  out of the scientific comunity.  It is a hoax.  There is no scientific consensus.”

       Where in this world does this man exist?  What kind of scientists has he been talking to? Almost all scientists, with very few exceptions, believe exactly the oposite and have openly so stated in interviews  and in scientific papers. This is a crazy statement, made up of whole cloth.Does Rep Broun also state that most scientists believe that the world is flat?

       In a world witrh millions of books and other sources of information, it is amazing how many people are totally ignorant of fundamental facts.  I hear that about a third of Americans believe that Obama is a Muslim. In the Muslim world, large numbers of people believe that Jews were responsible for 9/11. An unbelievable number of Americans have doubts about Evolution. Google, where ar’t thou? It is bad enough to be ignorant, but worse when you really want to remain ignorant.

Worse than the totally inaccurate  ranting of Rep.Broun is the fact that his statement was greeted with applause.We are dealing with those who know not and know not that they know not. 

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WORDS MOM AND POP USED TO SPELL

I have long been intrigued by our attitudes towards “dirty words,” For starters, I am not quite sure what makes a word “dirty.” Why is it socially acceptable to speak of one’s behind,buttocks, derriere or gluteus maximus, but to hesitate to refer to one’s ass. I know, I know. Ass has found acceptable use in recent years, but was taboo not so long ago.

       Some time ago,  I was interviewed by Leonard Lopate on WNYC radio. Since I was discussing a book of mine on the subject of words, I asked what terms would be taboo during our conversation The answer amuses me and annoys me to this day. I could say “ass,” for example, but “ass h*le” was forbidden. Fortunately, the word “Damn!” has recently come out of the closet. One no longer has to say, “Darn.”

        When dealing with politically incorrect words, the use of the symbols (*), (_) or (-) instead of vowels is a silly deception. Everyone knows what the disguised word means. For those who feel that this device protects children, you are being naive. Almost every child over five who hasbeen exposed to movies and TV knows these forbidden words and recognizes them immediately    

       What the heck (h*ll) is going on here? What kind of blue-nosed bowdlerizers are servingas our word police? Don’t they know that all of us, kids included, have had contact with numerous”ass h*les” and know what the word means? Why must we be limited to synonyms such as idiot or incompetent? (Is schmuck allowed?) Just because one replaces a vowel with an asterisk, breve or dash does not make the word less understandable.

      These ramblings set me off in search or other words and phrases which have been sanitized by word police. It’s O.K. to say. “Oh shoot!” but not “Oh sh*t.” Someone recently wrote a best- selling book entitled . “Bullsh*t.” He spelled the word out in the title but,when reviewed on the air, all they could say was, “Bull.” This for a book fully exposed in any popular bookstore. Of course, one could say “B.S.” a favorite term of Chris Mathews. The same rule goes for    “horsesh*t.” “Horsepucky” is apparently allowed, since few recognize the term. “Chickensh*t” provides a great example of the restrictions these stupid rules put on our language. The dictionary meaning is “dictatorial insistence on rules, details and discipline.” So, we must now voice this mouthful, when the terse, distinct term “chickensh*t” says it all.       

      While still on the subject of bodily functions, “pee” is now in, but “p*ss” is out. This P*sses me off (makes me furious), since it deprives me of the use of vivid expressions such as p*ss poor (extremely poor); full of p*ss and vinegar (very lively or vivacious); or not having a pot to piss in (dirt poor). “Fart” has recently gained acceptance, probably because, when used as a noun, there is really no polite alternative. Even as a verb, “to pass gas” is weak-kneed       

       “C*nt” and pr*ck” are of course totally taboo. This presents obvious problems.Describing body parts, one can always say”vagina” or “penis.” Even those two words were taboo in polite conversation for many years. Moreover, if you want to use these terms as derogatorypejoratives, calling a woman ” a filthy vagina” or a man ” a stupid penis’ doesn’t quite cut the mustard.       

       There are hundreds of other highly descriptive , pithy terms in the English language. —terms which add vitality and spirit to both conversation and writing — which you will not see in our newspapers or hear on prime time TV or radio, strictly because some assh*le finds them offensive.

       If we can’t say sh*t,, circumlocutions are required for such pungent and highly descriptive termsbrains (stupid idiot); sh*tfaced (drunk)); sh*tlist (people one strongly disapproves of); in deep sh*t (in real trouble); etc. Our former President, George H.W. Bush frequently used “in deep doodoo”; everyone of course knew that he meant in deep sh*t.

       The list goes on: the sh*t hit the fan (something catastrophic happened); sh*t or get off the pot (do something about it or forget it); to get one’s sh*t together (to get organized); to sh*t bricks (to becomeextremely worried or frightened); happy as a pig in sh*t (self explanatory); a crock of sh*t (a bunch of lies or nonsense); etc. All os these are in common use and can be found in any decent dictionary.

        Even more restricted are terms dealing with sexual intercourse . You can use a scientific substitute such as copulate, a prissy expression like make love, or a silly euphemism such as frig or flog. But, don’t you dare say f*ck. This of course forbids the use of all f*cked up (completely confused and in trouble); what the f*ck!? (what the Hell is going on?); I’m f*cked (I’m completely undone); f*ck face (derogatory term for someone totally disgusting); f*ck’n job (it stinks, but I cannot afford to quit); f*ck up ((an incompetent bungler); f*ck over (to treat unfairly or take advantage of); take a flying*f_ck (get the Hell out of here).,… Need I go on?

 All these colorful expressions — and many more — tossed into the dustbin for no damnedgood reason.Come to think of it, my Mom and Pop would probably never have even spelled these terms.

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When Hemlines Start Rising, Don’t Sell Short


Short skirts are in the news again. Hemlines are rising and, if you believe in statistical correlation, whenever hemlines go up, so do profits and business activity. No one has a logical explanation for this phenomenon, but it has held true for the past 30 years.

Perhaps optimism is the common denominator. The bottom line is that when short skirts are selling like hot cakes, , don’t sell short.

      Are we still in a stagnant recession? Or, is the country heading for a business boom? Looking for a crystal ball to guide your investments? Possibly the short skirt theory is as good as any.

      Perhaps careful, systematic analysis of leading economic indicators is the way to go. Is the Dow heading up or down? Nasdaq, the S&P 500? What about unemployment figures? Heavy duty equipment sales? The confidence index? The indicators head in all directions.

      Can we average them all and find a reliable trend, or is that like having your doctor tell you that your cholesterol is high but your blood pressure is low? So it all balances out. Everything is uncertain. Republicans are doubtful whethwer we are on our way to recovery. Democrats are more optimistic.

      However, if you stick with the short skirt test, the answer suggests a resounding economic “Boom! Boom! Boom!” Be optimistic. Short skirts are in. Happy days are here again. Not only will we be viewing more cheesecake, we shall soon be able to afford more cheesecake.

      If neither the short skirt theory nor the mixed opinions of the experts thrill you, why not try my informal barometer or recession indicator — the Repair Rule? This indicates that, when the country starts slipping into a recession, both individuals and companies are less inclined to buy new equipment and more likely to make repairs. When happy days are about to be here again, we return to a throwaway economy.

      I was once the CEO of a small, aggressive company specializing in a technique for repairing and restoring worn or damaged equipment. Our system involved a type of reverse machining. We trained people to put metal back on for the purpose of returning expensive equipment to years of future use. In order to use our method, customers had to expend several thousand dollars for an installation — usually on a capital equipment budget. For continued use, however, they needed only to buy a group of chemicals and supplies — much cheaper consumables requiring periodic replenishment.

      For more than 35 years, my company weathered ups and downs. When times were good and the economy was bouncy, we received numerous demands for new equipment. When hard times were in the offing, there was a precipitous fall in new installation orders. Capital equipment sales dropped off. Repeat orders for consumables sharply increased.

      What was true for my company must also be true for most firms marketing tools or equipment used for repairs. Further, I am sure that the same situation applies with automobile owners, housewives and office managers. If cars, refrigerators, ovens, telephones, copy machines, etc., are on the blink, and times are good, buy a new one. Otherwise, send for the repair man.

      I don’t know if statistics are readily available on repair and service expenditures vs. capital equipment, but if you can find them, add them to your arsenal of information leading to investment profits. For less fuss and feathers, look closer to home. Ask your wife if the old toaster has been repaired or whether she bought a new one. Has the TV repair man been in lately?

      A valid rule? Perhaps. If you don’t like it, however, you can always pore over economic indicators. Or go back to short skirts, a more stimulating way to see where the economy is heading.

 

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STATISTICAL FEARS

Political fearmongers are at it again. I refuse to be swept into the penumbra of their virtual fears. I carry on my day-to-day a activities in a normal manner. I travel almost everywhere, atany time. Have I lost my mind? No, but I have taken a course in statistics.

 

         I have a niece who tells me that she doesn’t believe in statistics. That’s sort of like doubting the theory of evolution. I ask my niece (and others like her) to toss a coin in the air 1,000 timesand see how many times it turns up heads and tails.

 

         How many people died on 9/11? Using round numbers, about 3,000. What is the population of New York City? Somewhat over 8,000,000 , not including the suburbs. This means that I, as an individual, had a statistical chance of being killed during 9/11 of 3,000 divided by 8,000,000 or roughly one chance in 2,700, a little over 0.0001 percent. This is probably less than your chances of dying by slipping and falling in your bathtub.

 

        So, why the panic? Of course, one should take normal precautions at all times. But, even ifthere should be another terrorist strike here, the chances of my being killed (or your being killed) are infinitesimally small. The people of Israel realize this; their reaction to suicide bombings is totake precautions but get on with their lives. To do otherwise is to let the terrorists win.

 

        The intensity of fear is pervasive. Some trepidation in New York or Washington might beunderstandable. But for people in Sandusky, Ohio and Paducah, Kentucky to tremble in their bootsis nothing short of ridiculous.

 

        What about fear of flying? The number varies at different times and seasons, but approximately 5,000 aircraft are in the U.S. Skies at any given moment. Should any plane be blown up by terrorists, the chances of my being on that plane is one in five thousand or 0.02 percent. Unless I fly frequently, it is less than that. Even assuming that the recent plot in Britain had succeeded, the chance of my or your being a victim is less thatn .002 percent. And that’s only if you fly frequently from London to a U.S. Destination. Besides, the terrorists never got away with it.

        In spite of these abysimally small odds, hundreds of thousands –– perhaps millions ––  of Americans are fearful of flying They limit so many of the pleasures available in life by refusing to board a plane. This is silly. Worse yet, these same people do not hesitate to drive 500 miles to visit Uncle George in Chicago, a motor trip with far greater opportunities for tragedy than travelling by plane.

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PROSPERITY ––THE IRREFUTABLE ARGUMENT

       “We do not promise our people to turn Gaza into Hong Kong or Taiwan, but we promise them a dignified and proud life behind the resistance in defense of their honor, their land and their pride.”

              Khaled Mashaal, the Damascus-based leader of Hamas

Well, perhaps you don’t need an economy as bright as Hong Kong and Taiwan to lead a dignified and proud life, but you certainly need more prosperity than you can find in the Palestinian areas or in most Arab states today. So the key question is: how you can promise pride and dignitywithout being able to offer bread and circuses.

      This writer periodically travels to Israel, a destination I have periodically visited for more than fifty years.The country is prosperous. I don’t know if it quite reaches the prosperity of Hong Kong or Taiwan, but it is coming pretty damned close. Industry is thriving, particularly in high tech — electronics, computers and pharmaceutical. Agricultural products and flower exports keep increasing yearly.The streets are buzzing.New restaurants and shops open daily. Young people throng to late-night clubs and restaurants, a sure sign of prosperity.

       New construction is everywhere. Skyscrapers are rising like mushrooms. There is a real estate boom. Americans have bought seaside property, sometimes as second homes, sometimes as an investment. It is a popular tourist destination. The beaches are crowded, particularly on weekends. Traffic is impossible. In short — prosperity, an essential element of dignity and pride. Showing some signs of recession, but still prosperous.

       East Jerusalem shares this prosperity and, to a lesser degree, so do Arab villages located in Israel proper. On average, Israeli Arab citizens enjoy a much higher standard of living than most of their brethren elsewhere. Aware of this, many residents of Umm el-fahm, an Arab village on the West Bank destined for return to a new Palestinian state, would rather remain residents of Israel. “You want to take us from one of the most advanced countries and put us in one of the most depressed.” complains a local Arab. Apparently, even Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal agrees, since he chooses to remain in his posh quarters in Damascus.

       Recent visits to Tel Aviv have convinced me of the folly of all my arguments with a number of Arab-American friends. Basically, what does it matter whether God promised this land to the Jews or the Arabs? So what if the Israelis started this war or that or if the Arabs were the aggressors? One can argue ’til doomsday whether the Palestinians need east-Jerusalem as their capital or whether they should be satisfied with Mecca and Medina as their holy cities.

       The return of refugees, transit rights between Gaza and the West Bank, the exact configurations of the borders, the control of holy sites, water rights and electrical power rights — all have significance, but are of secondary importance. The real issue is prosperity. The significantquestion is: Can the Palestinian standard of living be brought close to that of the Israelis withing a reasonable number of years?

       Indications are that, given peaceful co-existence, there is no question that Israeli prosperity will spread to its Palestinian neighbor. Almost immediately, Palestinian raw materials and local produce will find profitable customers in Israeli. Their agricultural production will find a quick market in Europe and elsewhere. But that is only the beginning. The Palestinians are a bright and relatively well-educated people. What the Israelis have done, the Palestinians can do. The  Palestinian State can also become a source of veiy profitable high technology development, with theother Arab states and the rest of the world as customers.

         My Arab friends and I can argue to doomsday the points of dissension mentioned above. While we are arguing, nothing will be solved. The Israelis will be troubled by periodic attacks, but  will remain prosperous. The Palestinians may get some sick consolation out of suicide bombings, but that tactic will never enable them to win. They will continue to live in poverty, surviving on the charity of the rest of the world. And for how long?

        There is only one sound argument, and it is irrefutable. Prosperity. Simplify the peace  negotiations. Hold all points of difference in abeyance, except two – disarmament and prosperity. There can b e no prosperity without disarmament of Hamas and other radical groups. That is a sinequa non.       

        After that step or during that step, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators need to concentrate on one aim and one aim only – how to build a Palestinian economy where the standard of living of every Palestinian citizen reaches or gets very close to the standard of living of the average Israeli. If that goal can be achieved, solutions for all other differences should fall into place.

        Someone once said that there could never be a revolution in England. The average Englishman is too busy tending his garde: Create a Palestinian state and turn in into a Hong King or Taiwan, and the average Palestinian will lose interest in suicide bombings . He will be too busy making money and leading the good life.

        The approach may sound naive, but is anything else working?

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