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September 16, 2006
John Wilcock - September 16, 2006

 

  The column of lasting insignificance
     


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September 16, 2006


BUSH POSTPONES 2008 ELECTION
was the alarming headline on a boxed story in The Nation, quoting the president as saying. “Protecting the nation from another 9/11 is more important than holding an election precisely on time”. Fortunately, the story—postdated for June 8/08—was a hoax, written by NYU law professor Stephen Gillers closing with a make-believe quote from attorney general Albert Gonzalez who expressed confidence that “if the case reaches the Supreme Court, five justices will agree with our interpretation of ‘four years’”.

DESCRIBING MUCH OF
the current output as “just corporate sound” as he released his new album (Modern Times), Bob Dylan says: “This is not art form….there’s very little there; you have to dress it up with all these tracks… Those beats don’t make people move or change their lives. For me, everything has to have a purpose or it should get lost”

ONE OF THE WORLD’S most recorded songs, The Lion Sleeps Tonight has generated more than $15 million since it was written by Solomon Linda, a Zulu herdsman, in 1939. “But (Disney) is using his music in The Lion King which is playing to full houses all over the world” says Owen Dean, “while Linda’s daughters work as domestic servants, live in shacks and struggle to feed their families”. Dr Dean, who represents the sisters in a copyright infringements suit against Disney, has obtained a court order allowing him to attach all of that company’s trademarks in South Africa.. “So far as we’re concerned” , he adds, “this is illegal and profoundly unfair, and so we’re detaining Mickey, Donald and all the others until proper justice is done”.

THERE’S SUCH A SHORTAGE of long range truck drivers reports the Wall Street Journal that freight companies are turning to mom and pop teams of “the RV generation” and training them to handle the big rigs. At some companies the roster of these older couples has reached 20%, and because of their age (plus stability and background) truck stops have begun to supplement their hot rod mags and girlie books with more sophisticated reading, as well as salons where trucker moms can get their hair and nails done.

OUR TOWN DOWNTOWN, the best of New York City’s seven free tabloids, devoted a full page to local opinions about whether second-term mayor Michael Bloomberg would run for president. (The consensus: three No; four Maybe; one Yes.). It was faced with an attack ad from the police union, headed LEARN TO SPEAK BLOOMBERGESE. Sample items: We’d like to pay our police officers more (translation: We want our police officers to know we appreciate them but have no intention of giving them a raise ) and We don’t have the money to give police officers a bigger raise (We have $5 billion surplus but we want to spend it on other things).

IN ITS SEPT/OCT. CATALOG, the Huntington Library acknowledged the gift, from his widow, of the books and papers of Charles Bukowski stating that, in his poetry and prose, the renegade poet “used experience, emotion and imagination along with violent and sexual imagery, to capture life at its most elemental, (without) artifice or posturing, but just getting on with day-to-day survival at the harsh edges of society”. Readings, reminisces and discussions were scheduled for Celebrating Bukowski on September 20.

IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND
what hedge funds are, you’re not alone. According to the New Statesman, they’re such sophisticated financial institutions that even the regulators don’t understand them enough to rein them in. “Syndicates for the rich—lords of havoc”—is what NS calls them referring to the “mind-bogglingly large” sums of money they handle. “If hedge funds were a country, it would be the eighth largest in the world”. Institutional Investment Magazine guesses that a minimum investment of $1million brought the top 25 top hedge fund managers an average of $251m each last year. Because they have managed to “sidestep” regulation, NS charges, “they have the potential to wreck perfectly healthy companies…to arrest the development of whole economies (and) crash the financial system”.

UNPAID TRAFFIC TICKETS by diplomats in the past five years now total 150,000 in New York, and city officials are pissed off about it. “The UN needs a good smack in the face” according to one city councilman quoted by the Economist . A study made by economists at Columbia University and UCBerkeley reveals that the number of unpaid tickets matches the degree of corruption in various countries with, for example, Chad’s diplomats having racked up 124 and Canada and the UK none.

THE WILCOCK WEB: The flamboyant boss of London’s Harrods is said to have announced that he plans to be mummified when he dies and installed as the hour hand on a gigantic clock atop the department store’s roof….…. Another London dept. store, Selfridge’s, has added two psychics ($70 for a 40minute session) to its Oxford Street store, explaining that it plans to be “a one-stop for all your needs. Including spiritual” ….“Good judgment comes from experience” said author A.A. Milne, “and experience—well that comes from poor judgment”…. The hippopotamus population around Kenya’s Lake Navasha has slumped 25% in the past two years because so much water has been drained off to irrigate surrounding flower and vegetable farms to satisfy Europe’s growing demand for cheap flowers…..Fidel Castro is so paranoid about the threat of assassination says The Week, that he has his underwear burnt rather than send it to the laundry where it could contaminated with chemicals …. Female athletes have steadily increased their running speed in 100 meter races so much since 1900, says Oxford University’s Dr. Andrew Tatum, that there’s now only one second between men and women and he forecasts the latter may eventually take the lead. Some experts disagree on the grounds that testosterone increases muscle power and oxygen capacity…. The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves”—William Hazlitt (1778-1830)


SEPTEMBER 16/06

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