Chapter 9: 50, Cars.
Well that's it. The end of
the first half century. I am 50 years old tomorrow.
Happy happy birthday, and may the happiest moment you have felt
up until now be the saddest of your next fifty.
That is a nice thought,
although statistically improbable. Thank you kindly
The 17th is also my nephew, Gilbert Theodore Lehman (Teddy)'s,
birthday. He is one today.
Well, happy birthday to little nephew Teddy, and
many more of them.
I feel there ought to be an
intermission with ice creams and things before the next half starts, but I guess
life just carries on regardless.
think that's a wonderful idea. And the intermission should be conducted in
a theatre lobby in the location of your choice, with beautiful ushers bringing
the ice cream.
Well I didn't do too badly as it turned out - I had
a small party for a few friends, and baked a big steak and kidney pie to go
around. Oh, yum. I
love S&K pie, but I don't like cooking kidneys; the smell puts me off.
The pie was as good as any I have done and was well received.
(I admit to cheating and buying frozen puff pastry - I don't have time to make
that.) Who does? I
always buy the frozen stuff. You need chronically cool hands to make good
pastry, and I have chronically warm hands. My pastry always turns out
tough. I have given up gracefully. One couple brought a big
dish of raspberry Pavlova, my favourite dessert, and they had a separate one on
a smaller dish just for me. How kind! You didn't have to share! That way, you
could shatter it all by yourself, without having other people pick at the bits.
I thought a Pavlova was an Aussie dessert. I knew that UK culture
flowed to Oz, but I didn't know it flowed the other way, too. Do you also
have all those revolting Australian candy bars, like Violet Crumbles and Cherry
I wasn't aware of that. It is a
Russian name or thereabouts, but it doesn't seem much in the Russian
style. I knew the Aussies were strong on deserts but I didn't know they
did desserts too. Although I did have an Australian book on Russian
cookery, which was a bit odd. The headteacher at Natasha's nursery
school (when she was 3) borrowed it and never gave it back. Every six months
or so I see her in the supermarket and she reminds me she's still got
it. That doesn't really help.
am into the history of cooking and dishes, and I think it was invented when
Anna Pavlova toured Australia. Like Peaches Melba.
you I once lent a geology textbook to a guy who I lost touch with and one day
about five years later he turned up at the front door with it. The odd
thing about that was that we started talking about travel, and he mentioned he
was going to Capetown the next month to visit his son. As it happened I
was working there that month, and we ended up meeting at his son's
girlfriend's place for a barbeque. The girlfriend was quite a character
- she held the world record for swimming the English Channel at the time, and
had an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.
No we don't have the candy
bars you name, yucky or otherwise, although we surely have enough of our own.
Not bad as they only got back from holidaying in Cyprus the day before.
That was a lovely thought.
Didn't manage the beautiful usherettes
though. A good time was had by all, I accumulated a flip-top bin-full of
empty bottles (for recycling) and the dishwasher had two full loads this
Thereby impressing the
neighbors, no doubt.
Happy day after your birthday.
I just read that Robson Walton of Wal-Mart has overtaken Bill Gates in
the richest man stakes. Why is it that I greatly resent Gates'
profits from Microsoft, while I don't feel half so bad about ASDA/Wal-Mart
taking my money, even though they get a lot more of it? My three nearest
supermarkets are all ASDAs. Maybe because they employ a lot more people
than M$ does, then the CEO is a bit more entitled to have his nose in the
trough. Or maybe it's just Gates' personality that gets up my nose.
Somehow I feel that M$ doesn't so much provide a service as prevent services
I think it's
all that plus the fact that Wal-Marts are very useful places, whereas MS
products often cause agita. I never have a problem with anything I've
bought at Wal-Mart. (Well, why would I? I mostly buy pickles and
toilet paper there. Not exactly high tech.)
People in the U.S. hate
Wal-Mart because it is often the death of small mom-and-pop stores in small
towns, but I insist on my right to shop in a store with a wide selection of
goods, very low prices, and polite staff. I have no nostalgia for the
fly-blown selection of three elderly candy
bars, a rustly can of WD-40, and
two hats that one used to find at said mom-and-pop stores. That's why
people in small towns were always driving huge distances to the big city to
shop. Now they don't have to, and they moan and whine.
Also, Wal-Mart hasn't had to lay people off, whereas Microsoft
has. Routine surveys of "the best companies to work for in America" have
Wal-Mart up at the top of the list. They treat their employees
is also a secret fan of the fact that you can get cotton candy (candy floss) any
old time you go to Wal-Mart, instead of having to wait for a state fair or
I'm also glad that there is a rational explanation for
my gut feelings.
I -have- had problems with things I bought from ASDA, like
chickens that were a bit high, to put it mildly. However they bent over
backwards to help, replaced the chickens and gave me £10 as well. When I
have problems with M$ the attitude seems to be "We've got your money, now f**k
Absolutely. Hey, does your
keyboard have a key that makes a £ sign, or one for the $ sign? Which
one do you have to put the ASCII code in for, or do you? Can you tell I
haven't been to Britain since 1983?
Both. The standard UK keyboard differs
from the US one in a few details, and has one extra key, 102 not 101. It
looks like this
In particular the #, \, " and @ signs
are moved and the left shift is single rather than double width with the extra
\ key next to it.
So £ displaces # and # displaces \ to
the extra key. @ and " are exchanged.
I don't have to put in ASCII for any
of these, just for things like °, ½, ² etc. most others I use 'character
Although I am reluctant to press it far after reading reports of people
who paid for support only to find that they didn't get their problem solved, but
did get continuing debits to their credit cards thereafter.
problem here is slightly different because of less dependency on the
automobile. The main complaint is that out-of-town supermarkets are
effectively inaccessible to the elderly and other carless people, and by 'cherry
picking' customers, force up prices in local shops and so end up as a tax on the
least privileged sectors of society. For those of us that pollute
routinely it is pretty much an unqualified boon. There is a growing
movement here of the opinion that low price has gone too far, and quality,
taste, food safety and the well-being of our (and third world) agricultural
industry are being sacrificed on this altar.
have that feeling here. I've had it for years. David doesn't
understand why I have to go to THIS grocery store for meat and THAT one for
produce, but that's the way it is. However, I do admit that Wal-Mart's
store brand (the low-priced one) of pickles is divine.
have long felt that the 'budget' brands in supermarkets were best avoided on
nutritional and flavour grounds.
I used to feel that way, but the
Safeway store brand has improved dramatically in the past couple of years and,
when I shop there, I buy that brand whenever I can. They have really made
an effort. I pass their frozen chili off as my own, and I get raves for
it, and I don't have to spend six hours cooking it.
I will admit to liking ASDA's budget
brand of mild cheese, and things like kitchen towels are OK. In the latter
there is a lot of hype about absorbency and strength but when was the last time
you really soaked one or had one fail structurally? Most times these
factors are irrelevant and one sheet is really more than you need, so
number of sheets is the only criterion. I do try not to buy their meat, it
is rather poorer quality than the local butcher's.
The prodigal son just returned. Nothing to do with the
previous, he just walked through the door as I was typing. He had been
home for the weekend, and should have been on the bus back to university
today. He left at about 1:30 to get a sequence of buses to get him back to
London, but missed his connection in Manchester and figured the next London bus
would land after the local public transport there had shut down for the
night. So he came back to have another try tomorrow. Bloody
students! :-) On his journey here he had arranged to attend a
family gathering at my sister's in North London on his way. He arrived
here on time and without fuss somewhat to my surprise. I spoke to my
mother later and she said he had actually arrived with them two hours late, and
they had just given him some food and taken him straight to the tube station, so
getting him back on schedule. I guess I have another place to set for
Feed him something
He got liver and onions - he had to have
what was in the freezer because the van windscreen got vandalised Major bummer. and I didn't feel
much like going shopping on foot. There's always a pack of frozen liver in
there, cheap and compact.
Mmm. Liver and onions. I love it, especially with
bacon and ketchup. WE can't get frozen liver here. It's fresh or
nothing. I don't often cook it because there's a membrane on it that is
a pain to remove. If you don't remove it your poor little (or big) piece
of liver curls up like an armadillo when heated - so much for cooking it on
both sides. We don't have stand-alone butchers any more, so I can't hand
the liver to the meat counter attandant and ask if he can remove it. He
doesn't even know what I'm talking about -- it was probably trucked in from
some central abbatoir last night and all he did was load it into the chill
Shame. Our supermarkets tried that and did a major favour for
small shops. They are getting back to the idea of having specialist meat and
fish staff on site, and the quality is improving but it has a way to go.
They advertise "If you want something special doing just ask for it". I
tried. The answer, when you eventually find the right person is "Sorry we
haven't got any" Oh well, their PR heart is in the right place but
they still can't quite get out of the 'cheap and efficient'
Yup, that's the way it is
here. I think it's because they don't have an actual cow carcass or
whatever hanging in the back. Everything has been cut up already and
trucked in, and of course they can't give you anything special. We are
lucky in that we are in Seattle and the fish counter is wonderful. THEY
can do anything you ask. I am a wuss and always ask them to filet
and/or bone the fish. I hate eating fish with bones or with the skin
still on, etc. Shudder.
The rapid call-out windscreen repair
service said "OK can you bring it in this afternoon." "What? Drive ten
miles with an illegal broken windscreen to get a service that is covered on my
insurance?" Erm, don't they
advertise themselves as rapid call-out? " Well it'll have to be
tomorrow afternoon then." I suspect that I get second class cover if it an
insurance job, the rapid call out only applies to cash. This somewhat begs
the question of the value of the insurance in the first place - windscreens
aren't that expensive an item or that infrequent a job that insurance is really
appropriate, but I am forced to have that cover - being a domestic van driver I
am in a minority and so victim of insurance cherry-picking.
This is another beef of mine, maybe I
should start a new paragraph. My befogged chemo brain and I thank you. Insurance
companies get economies of scale by only calculating premiums for
commonly-occurring situations. So as soon as you want to do anything
unusual, you find you can't get insurance or you have to go to expensive
specialists. Most regular car insurance companies won't insure vans, so
the one that will gets to rip you off. I can only get covered if I buy
their top-of-the-range 'gold' policy with inclusive road recovery,
windscreen cover, all the bells and whistles which I don't particularly
want. Even a free device to warn of approaching traffic jams, which I
tried and (a) didn't work and (b) was a potential road hazard in itself. I
get eager salesmen ringing me up "We can cut your car insurance bills." "I
drive a van." "No problem, how big is the engine" "2.5l diesel" "Oh, sorry
we don't go that big." or "No problem. No modifications?" "Only
side windows and five seats" "Oh no we can't cover that".
It used to be the same way here
until all the soccer moms started driving vans. They now drive things
called mini-vans, but they didn't always. And of course there are the
idiots in the SUVs. (Sport Utility Vehicles.) I include my
husband in the latter category. It was bad enough to drive around with
him in the pickup truck with four-wheel drive which we did not get much use
from, as we are currently city mice. Right before he went out of town
(so I haven't been able to torment him as I would like to) he traded the
pickup truck in and bought a Ford Excursion. He just went out and did
it. Did not include me in the decision at all. Just came home with
it. This is the biggest SUV made. I don't even know if it's legal
in Canada. It oughtn't to be legal here.
It is 227.6
inches long. It gets 4.4 miles per gallon in freeway driving with the
air conditioning on and 5.9 MPG with the air conditioning off, also on the
Jeez. I'll bet it accounts for about 0.1° per century
global warming all on its own. My 3.5 tonner (diesel) does about 28mpg
at 70mph, that's about 23mpg in your money, and it's probably got more
windage too. The days when our air needs cooling are too few to
mention, at least until Europe gets hit by the exhaust plume from David's
(wailing) I'm so
I know this because it has a
fancy on-board computer that will tell you these things. It is so big
that it has an internal beeper that beeps if you are about to hit something,
fore or aft.
That's handy if you can't drive. Yes. We have very exciting drives,
as it's always beeping when D. is about to hit a curb. I just smile
quietly to myself as he cusses at it. I have one of those
fresnel lenses stuck to the back window so I can see until I'm about 6" from
the thing behind me. I did once hit a ladder protruding from the top of a
smaller van though, but the bleeper probably wouldn't see that either at
about 7' off the ground.
It is so big that Ford is
stopping making it. Too many people were buying them and then returning
them because they don't fit in their standard garages or carports. The
one David bought was ticketed at $41K. He was able to talk them down to
$35K because the vehicle is not being made any more. The car payments
are still, even with the trade-in of his fairly new, fairly fancy pickup
truck, $635 a month.
<envy> It must be nice to be rich.
My anger came from the fact
that we are not all THAT rich, and I think once we start actually living on
this new salary he is going to find that he can't really afford it.
I was truly madly deeply mortified to be seen in it, and then I looked
around and saw that the majority of traffic in Seattle is pickup trucks,
minivans, vans, and SUVs, so we don't stick out too much. I hate
it. I won't drive it. It wallows when it goes around corners, and
it has this front-to-back bucketing motion and also a side-to-side sloshing
motion that are very painful on my physical body. I associate these
motions with a bad suspension, but oh, no, David says they are evidence of its
good ride. As my exquisitely vulgar former boyfriend used to say, "Don't
pee on my shoe and tell me it's raining."
I thought all American vehicles did that - the concept of the
Detroit Blimp is well known here. It is evidence of a soft ride, great
for going in a straight line over bumpy roads, but useless at anything
else. That's why American motor racing doesn't have a manufacturers'
competition (so I'm told).
They have been
getting better. Back when we were going to buy ME the new car because
HE was happy with his pickup truck, I was investigating the Ford
Focus. I was initially attracted to it because it looks like a space
ship and comes in silly colors, but I was really impressed with it when I
drove it. Very tight handling -- which the salesman worried about, as
he thought it was not good.
Artyom showed me a headline in a lads car magazine. Their team
had just test driven a Focus and were impressed. Their headline took
a little thinking about; "Focus sideways!".
I'm not interested in what
"lads" think of cars. I have a wonderful magnet on my refrigerator
that shows a handsome teen guy in a car about to crash into another car
and the caption is "He was too young... too fast... and had too much
Washington State requires everyone to have car
insurance. That means there are insurance agencies that specialize
in people with bad driving records. They are called SS21 agencies,
after the piece of paper that has your record on it. There is one
that has a hilarious ad on TV that features a bunch of what we used to
call "stoners" sitting around on a sofa. One of them is on the phone
and says, "Man, I have a DUI record, glasspacks on the car and Keegans (or
something like that) on the back end. What?!? You can cover
me?!? IRON MAIDEN!!!" I didn't know that Iron Maiden was being used
as a statement of approbation, but whatever.
I'm interested in what
rotund women in their mid-to-late 30s who still want to look cool and want
to be able to zoom onto the freeway think of cars.
The point was that you were not the only one to notice that the
Focus had better handling than one gernerally expected of a
I figured as much, but I
wanted to be snippy.
I was also interested
in the Toyota Echo. (Yeah, yeah, I love my little Toyota, but I was
excited about the idea of a new car.)
This sort of suspension
goes really well with chemo. You need Zofran just to ride to the
hospital. I was discussing the other day with Natasha why she still
gets sick on car journeys but never gets sick in the van any
I got sick on car trips until
I was about eleven, if that's any help. :) Does she read in the car? I
needed to do that or I went crazy with boredom, but that was always my
Yes the discussion covered the effects of reading or drawing
in the car.
Not easy to explain how that works.
It's because the car makes
the paper vibrate and it's hard to focus on the vibrating print or
drawing. I understood that at seven; I'm sure she can,
It can't be that simple because it would be worse with hard
suspension like the van, and it isn't. It has to do with conflicting
signals from the eye and inner ear as well. When you watch outside,
the eye sees movements that make sense of the balance signals. When
you watch inside, the eye image is stable but the ear-balance one isn't,
so I guess the primitive brain says 'earthquake' or something. There
is something that happens to this mechanism when you learn to ride a
motorbike and get accustomed to looking at the world gliding past at odd
angles. Well it did for me, I remember noticing a sort of
reorientation was part of the learning process, and I can use that learnt
skill in other situations, eg on roller coasters or at sea, to keep my
mental orientiation in confusing environments. Didn't happen with
pedal bikes, I suppose you don't lay them over far enough.
I remember once we were coming
back from visiting my grandparents in Arkansas. I was around
seven. My father always wanted to start driving at around 3:30 a.m.,
so we could miss a lot of morning traffic. So we would always get
bundled into the car in our pajamas, and then we'd stop for breakfast around
8:00 a.m. and change into our clothes in the restaurant's bathroom.
ANYWAY, I was sitting in a miserable little heap in the booth at the
restaurant and the kind-hearted waitress kept pestering me to find out what
I wanted to eat for breakfast. No, I did not want a Rooty Tooty Fresh
'n' Fruity. No, I did not want a Ballpark Breakfast. Finally I
said, in a tiny voice, "Please could I have some scrambled eggs?" She
said, "Sure, hon, you like scrambled eggs?" I said, "No, it's just
that they're the easiest thing to throw up."
I still remember the evil
look she gave my parents.
Heh heh. The only good thing is that it won't fit in our
garage, where my tiny, bedraggled 1985 Toyota MR-2 now sits in lonely
splendor. It won't even fit in the parking places in front of our house,
as they are for compact cars and are very small. He has to park it down
the street and hike back to the house, complaining bitterly all the way, as he
doesn't like walking. Oh, the other good thing is that he keeps running
over curbs in it, which should ruin the alignment or the balance or something
pretty quickly. Yay.
I can finally drive myself around again (at the
high point, my leg was too grotesquely swollen to fit under the steering wheel
in my Toyota) and am SO HAPPY to be able to do so. Plus, I love my
little tin can. It has a mid-mounted engine and really skates along,
making a gratifying zoomy kind of noise at the same time. I
feel very small and virtuous as I zip along at 80 mph, getting 40 mpg, and
surrounded by towering, inefficient SUVs. I like to imagine that guys
look at my teensy little coupe longingly as they whip their giant family-size
vehicles onto the freeway which I have just danced onto, turn-signals ablaze,
but I don't think they really do. I think they still like the SIZE of
Of course, my car was made before airbags were standard.
So even wearing my seatbelt, I have the comforting thought that if one of
those SUVs creams me, I will die instantly, with none of this lingering in a
head-injury-twilight for months while my family bickers over
I get the same sort of deal with house
insurance, the last one "Is there a stream under the house?" "Yes, not for
nothing is it called Springside House, there is a well in the cellar. Its
been there for 160 years" "We can't insure that then".
Wow! A well in the
cellar. Is the water still potable? What does it taste
I don't think it was ever intended
for drinking water, when I arrived here it was being used to pump water up
8' into the street drains to keep the water table under the house
down. When putting in the utility room drain in the cellar, my
labourer discovered a culverted stream under the floor and diverted it into
the foul drain, which is about 6' DOWN. Water runs much easier that
way, and the public sewer was short of water flow (kept blocking in the
summer - not enough 'fall' (down slope)), so everyone benefited, and my
cellar never floods any more even in storms.
I'm not sure where it fills
from, I suspect it is the run-off from the spring somewhere, but attempts to
trace it did not show up in the well. They used to collect drinking water
from the spring at the top of the garden. I have drunk that without
ill effects, although there is no doubt a bit of last year's sheep pee in
it, filtered through about a mile of shale. Tough it
out. A mile of shale ought to filter anything out.
It tastes like water
without chlorine in it. Wow,
she said in soft wonderment. I can't imagine
You definitely wouldn't be able to get insurance coverage for such a
house in the U.S. Over the past decade, the insurance companies have
taken such a beating with natural disaster coverage that they are definitely
standardizing homeowners' coverage. Now, the federal government passed a
law saying that people in flood plains HAD to be offered flood
insurance. I kind of approved of that, but wondered what people were
doing living on flood plains anyway. I guess the property developers and zoning authorities are
mostly to blame for that.
Then I married a guy who impulsively bought the house I'm sitting in
right now without reading the due diligence papers. If he had, he would
have discovered that we are in the Green River flood plain. Fortunately,
we can get coverage for floods as per the aforementioned federal law, but
guess what?!? We are right smack dab in the eruption plain for Mount
Rainier. The map in the middle of the DD papers says so. So if
Mount Rainier explodes, as it is overdue to do, we will be drowned in a
lahar. (Boiling mud and ash.) Hence our stunning sunset views of
It is a hassle to have the house on the market, but I am
secretly glad that David is sick of Washington and wants to move. You
had better believe that, when we get to wherever we're moving, I am not
allowing him to leave the hotel on his own EVER. Call me a party-pooper,
but the first house he wanted to buy was next to a federally-protected
wetlands. Yes, the wildlife-watching opportunities are delightful, but
let's go see it at sunset. Honey? Those mosquitoes you're bitching
about? They're an extra added feature of a HOUSE BUILT IN A
Can you see why we fight a lot? I'm a mean old wet
Yes. mozzys are so ROMANTIC.
Memories of a summer in Leningrad. So many mosquitoes in the car
headlights it looked like a snowstorm.<shudder>
While this attitude may bring down the
costs of insurance for the masses, or improve the return on investment in
insurance companies, it does so at the expense of 'Macdonaldsisation' of the
market it covers. Paying a bit extra for an unusual risk is one thing but
being forced to drive a particular sort of vehicle because legally required
insurance is simply unavailable seems to be going too far. There should be a
duty on motor insurers to insure ANY legal vehicle if they are to benefit from
the law which requires motor insurance in the first place.
On the other hand I have now made major
claims on both house and motor insurance and recovered most of the premiums I
paid over the years, so I can't complain, and I did get the benefit from being
forced to have high-grade policies. I am very happy with the new kitchen
that the £15,000 fire insurance payout got us. I think of it every time I
dump a pile of dishes in the built-in dishwasher, or when I switch on the
extractor canopy to take my cooking smells outside via a duct above a lowered
Aren't those lovely? Do you have a Dispos-All? Can't
think what the generic name is. It's that thing that lives in the bottom
of the kitchen sink that chews up food scraps. I really love that.
Then the rubbish can doesn't stink.
Waste disposal unit? No, I never got around to
that. The sink was about the only thing I didn't replace because the
best on offer that would fit in the limited space was identical to what I
had. I'm not sure the drains would cope with the sludge anyway, I don't
even flush coffee grounds, I sieve them out and put them in the
I really appreciated the opportunity to
redesign it myself from the bare brick/stonework with virtually no financial
The traffic queue detector was a
joke. Some bright spark has gone around the country installing motion
sensors on poles every few miles along all the major trunk roads. These
sense traffic speeds and communicate with each other, and so are able to pass
warnings of slow traffic down the chain and warn approaching traffic up to 20
miles away by means of a radio signal to a little box of lights of the
dashboard. Expensive GM cars
have that feature in their "Onstar" systems. I have heard that it doesn't
work here, either. But the must have f****d up the software
somehow. It made a complete meal of the new Manchester Ring
Road, which was just being completed. While it was still under
construction, the system persistently warned of slow traffic 5 miles ahead as
you approached the end of the existing road, where there was as yet no road
ahead. When it was completed it worked somewhat intermittently for a while
and gave conflicting signals, probably some links of the chain were down, it
didn't seem able to tolerate that either. The final straw for me was when
in light traffic it started warning of stationary traffic ahead. The
indication was consistent, the range steadily came down. When I got to the
zero point there was of course no problem and what little there was was
flowing smoothly. Then I spotted a drain cleaning truck crawling along the
hard shoulder. I am sure that in the absence of traffic it had sensed this
slow vehicle as a traffic jam, and had ignored the occasional fast one passing
It had worse tricks. In the year I had it before the
batteries ran out and I threw it away, the only major unpredictable and
potentially avoidable traffic jam I hit was about half an hour delay and the
instrument was happily saying "No problem" all the way up to it. Another
time it began beeping to get my attention to the fact that it was suddenly
displaying "Stationary, local". I looked back at the road to find a very
real queue rapidly approaching my front bumper. I think I could have found
it quicker without the help of the instrument, and the distraction at that point
was a serious hazard.
When all is said and done, "So
what." So I know that there is a delay ahead. Great, now what, I can
get a nice warm feeling of "I knew this was coming." as I sit in the
queue. From experience I know it is rarely worth trying to find an
alternative route to avoid a delay of less that 20 minutes, and delays that long
are only common in bottlenecks where there is no alternative anyway. If
the device could reliably predict long delays far enough in advance to plan an
alternative then it might occasionally have some value. It might save half
an hour a year for regular drivers. Basically it is a totally misconceived
and badly executed device and I resent being forced to buy it as part of my
I can get that information from
the radio, as well as news and music.
Hmm. What to do today. It's
pouring down rain again. I know, I'll lie on the couch and read library
What is W doing? I mean, ending the ABM treaty.
So with the
fall of the Soviet Empire and the ending of the cold war, America at last moves
toward world domination without credible opposition.
That's exactly what he's
doing. Hey, I didn't vote for him. And it isn't "W", it's
Dubya. Sounds more insulting and bubba-like.
W is easier to type, I can't pronounce Dubya. :-)
true that when he came to the White House someone had taken all the W's off
the computer terminals?
No. A couple of interns
had taken the Ws off of their keyboards, but it was two or three
USA no longer needs constraints on nuclear proliferation, now they can
proliferate to their heart's content. Goodbye mutual assured destruction,
Hello unilateral assured destruction.
If the anti-missile system -can- be
made to work and does not fall on its face as many seem to think it will, then
there is no nation that can match it. Ballistic missiles will no longer be
a threat to the USA. How long before the Pentagon forgets the promises
that this is only intended for defence against 'rogue' states attacking the
We all know that Dick Cheney is
really doing the presidenting, and we're scared to death of him.
Halliburton, the company he is the former CEO of, is a majorly evil company
securely tied into the military-industrial complex. Said complex is just
limping along, but its supporters do anything they can to protect and improve
So that's what it is all about. That explains quite a
lot. Still presumably his company would be involved in the projects if
only to save its ass, and it doesn't sound too well placed to make the sort of
technological leap required to have this system in place before the big
No, and frankly, I know
Halliburton as an oil and gas drilling company. I believe they also
manufacture drilling equipment. So I, personally, am not too sure how
he fits in to the M/I complex. I am brutally clear, though, on how he
fits in to the plan to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Oh dear. Does David's car need -that- much oil?
:-) When my friend worked at the big oil refinery in LA he told me
that they unload a supertanker every day there. More oil than I can
("Sorry guys but we already put off Armageddon for 18 months so that
Bill Gates could release Windows 2001, so you're going to have to come with
what what you've got") I guess we are going to have to rely on good old
Amurrican incompetence to save the world.
From a position of security, the temptation to use threats for economic
ends will be overpowering. Even if no threats are spoken, what do
you call a gorilla with a machine gun?
Sir. (Am I right?)
Aye. Same as you call a superpower with a
Horrible ethnic joke:
What do you say to a Samoan in a
"Will the defendant please rise?"
(I'm so ashamed of
Quote Catharine "And that's why I don't tell any ethnic jokes." Girls
who wear glass blouses shouldn't show bones (tee shirt seen in
Oxford).I said I was
ashamed of myself.
How many minutes does it take to re-target a nuke?
minds will turn to other arenas. The idea of an infiltrator with a swab
soaked in foot and mouth virus suddenly doesn't seem so silly.
I don't think it sounds silly at
all. Remember, I'm a public health enthusiast. I still
think that all the TB-infested Russian immigrants who are coming over here are
a last-gasp kind of Soviet plot. They certainly are sapping the strength
of the public health establishment here in King County.
Well yes but why are they sapping the strength of the former Soviet
Union as well. Sounds like a bit of an own goal.
Oh, yes. If I ever get
well again I want to go to try to help over there. I am proud of
Bill Gates for donating umpty-jillion dollars (I'm not sure exactly how much
it was) for the TB effort in Russia. You know, he's really a jerk as
far as Microsoft goes, but I admire him immensely for putting his money
where his mouth is and donating large sums to public health efforts,
especially in Russia and Africa. (Two areas I would really like to see
Well credit where it's due I suppose. I can't help being
suspicious that there is an ulterior motive, if only improving his public
image and buying off the legislative dogs that would bring him down.
Then again, I guess he probably has nothing better to do with it, even from
his point of view.
I don't care if he tattoos his
ulterior motive on his forehead, the money may do some good. I have
Mind you that's pretty normal for the Russian regime, not so much
shot in own foot as machine-gunned. Gorbachev tried to stamp out alcoholism by
destroying the champagne grape vines, and so lost a major export commodity
while making negligible impact on alcoholism - how many alcoholics drink
champagne? The system suffered (and still does) from a major structural
information bottleneck between the people on the ground and the decision
You don't need to be a superpower to do that, great for
terrorists. Biological war here we come. Creeping in the dark,
growing quietly in a carrier host then breaking out all over and spreading like
fire. The perpetrator long gone, you don't even know who hit you.
The next flu epidemic might not be an accident..
I think it is
I do, too, and I think
this loud trumpeting of our desires to bring back the good ol' days of Amurrica
First are a GREAT way to
get people thinking about such things.
Hey, they do thinking too? There's hope yet.
Rereading my previous comments on the ABM bit I sound
awfully anti-American, which I am not. You can be anti-American if you want to; I don't care.
Just worried where we are heading. Good old American
incompetence is a strange thing: with some brilliant successes
(electronics industry, space etc.) America has the image of technological
omnipotence, and yet when you look at the everyday stuff, cars, machines etc
they are strangely slapdash. It's because of the trade unions' inordinate influence in
manufacturing. I have probably said before that I always buy
American tools, they are the best in the world, and I am sure there has to be
some underlying cause which relates this fact to the mediocre quality of many
of their constructions.
Of course they think. All
those terrorist groups are groups of young, testosterone-poisoned men in their
twenties. Just the sort of men who like to hang around in coffee shops and
think. My plan for men is that, at the first sign of puberty, we put them
into a kind of twilight sleep and exercise them while they are under. We
only allow them out of their sleep at 35. Then they can go to school,
finish up what they haven't learned yet, and rejoin the human race at 40, when
they have become civilized.
Well, it's either that or require all men
to have some kind of sperm-reducing Norplant-type implant that will keep them
sterile until they can prove that they are married, do not drink, do not beat
their wives, have health insurance, and make over $30,000 a year.
Hmm, testosterone poisining and
logical thinking don't sound like comfortable bedfellows. I meant think as
in, with the head, not with the balls. Still Dubya might end up with
something like the anti-Vietnam protests on his hands if the implications
penetrate the mass awareness.