Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Talking to Myself

I see this as a regular or maybe not-so-regular column. Time will tell.

And I’m not sure what to call it. Some possibilities:
Items You Might Have Missed
What You Should Know
Trivia to Brighten Your Day
Ten Useless Pieces of Information You Don’t Need to Know
What You Don’t Need to Know

Or maybe just Talking to Myself.

In any event:

1. Pittsburgh sports-radio host Mark Madden was fired by ESPN for saying he hoped Ted Kennedy “would live long enough to be assassinated.”

2. Berlin has a new memorial to honor gay victims of Nazi persecution.

3. Mims Hackett Jr., former mayor of Orange, NJ, had a two-fer yesterday. He pled guilty in two courts – to attempted extortion in Federal Court and to official misconduct in a state court. He began his day by resigning as mayor.

4. There’s a problem aboard the International Space Station. The toilet is broken. Or at least partially broken. It is OK for solid waste, but the liquid stuff isn’t collecting properly. They say peeing in a gravity-free environment is a challenge even when all systems are ‘go.’ They’ve devised a workaround procedure until the plumber and a replacement part arrive on the next shuttle mission.

5. D’Artagnan has introduced two new hot dogs just in time for summer grilling: Duck and Buffalo.

6. China’s Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, now has a page on Facebook.

7. FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, has lifted its ban on high altitude matches, defined as above 9,020 feet. La Paz and Quito were the key cities affected. Bolivian President Evo Morales had accused FIFA of ‘soccer apartheid.’

8. For the first time a majority of California voters believe that same-sex marriage should be legal. Thirty years ago only 28% were in favor of it.

9. Osmond Molarsky of Mill Valley has written his first two books, a novel and a memoir. He is looking for a publisher. Osmond is 98 years old.

10. The Wall Street Journal warns that all-day delays are possible at the Hong Kong and Singapore airports.

Have a nice day.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Is There An Iran In My Future?

My lifelong karma has been to travel. I’ve spent time in 62 countries, not including those I transited. Some I’ve visited many times – like about 20 trips to Italy. Some have been remote and exotic – like Bhutan, Borneo, Laos, Myanmar, Turkey, and Egypt.

I enjoy the challenge and excitement of being in new and challenging places. I don’t use travel agents. I don’t go on group tours. In consultation with the lovely Ms. Marsh I organize the itinerary, make the reservations, plan it all out, and then Sandra and I do our own thing in our own way.

Since I stopped working ten years ago we’ve designed Five Year Plans for travel. That’s given us a chance to be clear about our priorities and make them happen. Our current Five Year Plan includes another trip to Italy, which we’ll do in September, a return trip to Japan that will include sumo and visits to several new places, some yet-to-be-determined far out location (probably in Asia) that is way off the beaten tourist track, and at Sandra’s urging, Iran, Syria and Jordan.

Why, we have been asked on many occasions, would we want to go to Iran? Usually the question is followed immediately by some opinions, like “You’re out of your mind,” “That’s a dumb thing to do,” “You’ve got to be kidding,” and other empowering and supportive statements.

For Sandra it’s a no-brainer. Iran is home to an ancient civilization, and she loves face-to-face interactions with what I call ‘old stones’ from thousands of years ago. It is a Muslim country with exquisite mosques, and Sandra has never met a mosque she didn’t like. And it is a place not often visited by foreigners these days, especially Americans, which is a feature both of us like.

I spent a few days in Tehran before the Revolution, so I can’t say I’ve really seen much of the country. I’ve never been in Syria or Jordan. We’ve discussed making this trip for several years. I haven’t been enthusiastic, not because I thought it was too dangerous, but mostly because my interest level in that part of the world isn’t too high.

Even so, we decided to get it on our schedule and made plane reservations for this past March. Then, two things intervened. First, Bush and his cronies upped the ‘maybe we should bomb them’ ante with more inflammatory rhetoric. Also, we realized our dates coincided with the Iranian New Year, not the best time to be there because local people would be focused on family, celebrating and travel, so a lot would be closed.

We’ve reset it for next spring. If Obama is president I don’t think there’s much chance of a war with Iran (certainly not during his first six months.) If McCain is elected we’ll see how it looks closer to our departure date. In terms of military action against Iran, Israel is the wild card. Their track record for launching attacks on sites they consider threatening is consistent, irrespective what an American president might think. But there’s no point in trying to predict what they might or might not do.

In terms of the trip itself, my interest level is higher than it was a year or two ago, so at this point I’m not resisting. Maybe Sandra’s persistence has worn me down. It’ll be a little tricky logistically, since we’ll have to fly from Iran to Syria and then drive to Jordan. We’ll end up in Greece for a few days and fly home from there.

To be continued . . .

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Dislike Intensified

At the beginning of the primary season I wrote about the upcoming political campaign. It hadn’t yet become interminable and for a politics junkie was fascinating. Well, it still has my attention, but it certainly has gone on and on.

My choice hasn’t changed. I still strongly prefer Obama. What has changed is my attitude toward Hillary Clinton. I said when the year began that I didn’t like or trust her. Well, five months later I really really don’t like or trust her. I can’t stand to see her or listen to her. She hasn’t yet risen to a George Bush level of disgust for me, but she’s not far from it.

I’ve found that the most constructive action I can take when my pissed off level overflows is to send more money to Obama. If you believe the polls her inauthenticity, her pandering, her pit bull-like determination to win at any cost don’t fool many people, but she’s still in the race, so some of her behavior must be appealing.

Her negative aura has spread to her husband and daughter. I can’t stand them either. This is new. Until recently I didn’t dislike Bill and I thought Chelsea had turned out pretty well. But guilt by association is powerful, so now they occupy high positions on my shit list. And of course, the more they say and do the more solid their place on my list becomes.

I think Obama will get the nomination. But I’m not overly confident. The witch is shameless and tenacious and shows no sign of giving in, not matter how long the odds. I can only hope that the undeclared super delegates, most of whom are self-serving, gutless politicians, will have the courage to go for Obama. Let me amend that. I don’t think they’ll ever have the courage. I think they’ll just conclude that it is in their interest to do so. And with that, the race will end.

Should the worst happen, would I vote for McCain in protest? No. My dislike for Clinton isn’t great enough to totally obliterate my common sense. But if that is my choice I sure won’t like it.

Tonight will tell us about Indiana and North Carolina. I’d love to see my man kick her ass. We shall see.