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Ojai Orange | The Column of Lasting Insignificance | Books | Wait-A-Minute

March 7, 2009
John Wilcock - January 5, 2008

 

  The column of lasting insignificance
     


also posted:



2011
November 26 2011
November 19, 2011
November 12, 2011
November 5, 2011
October 29, 2011
October 22, 2011
October 15, 2011
October 8, 2011
October 1, 2011
September 24, 2011
September 17, 2011
September 10, 2011
September 4, 2011
August 27, 2011
August 20, 2011
August 13, 2011
August 6, 2011
July 30, 2011
July 23, 2011
July 16, 2011
July 9, 2011
July 2, 2011
June 25, 2011
June 18, 2011
June 11, 2011
June 4, 2011
May 28, 2011
May 21, 2011
May 14, 2011
May 7, 2011
April 30, 2011
April 23, 2011
April 16, 2011
April 9, 2011
April 2, 2011
March 26, 2011
March 19, 2011
March 12, 2011
March 5, 2011
February 26, 2011
February 19, 2011
February 12, 2011
February 5, 2011
February 5, 2011
January 29, 2011
January 22, 2011
January 15, 2011
January 6, 2011

2010
December 25, 2010
December 18, 2010
December 11, 2010
December 4, 2010
November 27, 2010
November 20, 2010
November 13, 2010
November 6, 2010
October 30, 2010
October 23, 2010
October 16, 2010
October 9, 2010
October 2, 2010
September 25, 2010
September 18, 2010
September 11, 2010
September 4, 2010
August 28, 2010
August 21, 2010
August 14, 2010
August 7, 2010
July 31, 2010
July 24, 2010
July 17, 2010
July 10, 2010
July 3, 2010
June 26, 2010
June 19, 2010
June 12, 2010
June 5, 2010
May 29, 2010
May 22, 2010
May 15, 2010
May 8, 2010
May 1, 2010
April 24, 2010
April 17, 2010
April 10, 2010
April 3, 2010
March 27, 2010
March 20, 2010
March 13, 2010
March 6, 2010
February 27, 2010
February 20, 2010
February 13, 2010
February 6, 2010
January 30, 2010
January 23, 2010
January 16, 2010
January 9, 2010
January 2, 2010

2009
December 26, 2009
December 19, 2009
December 12, 2009
December 5, 2009
November 28, 2009
November 21, 2009
November 14, 2009
November 7, 2009
October 31, 2009
October 24, 2009
October 17, 2009
October 10, 2009
October 3, 2009
September 26, 2009
September 19, 2009
September 12, 2009
September 5, 2009
August 29, 2009
August 22, 2009
August 15, 2009
August 8, 2009
August 1, 2009
July 25, 2009
July 18, 2009
July 11, 2009
July 4, 2009
June 27, 2009
June 20, 2009
June 13, 2009
June 6, 2009
May 30, 2009
May 23, 2009
May 16, 2009
May 9, 2009
May 2, 2009
April 25, 2009
April 18, 2009
April 11, 2009
April 4, 2009
March 28, 2009
March 21, 2009
March 14, 2009
March 7, 2009
February 28, 2009
February 21, 2009
February 14, 2009
February 7, 2009
January 31, 2009
January 24, 2009
January 17, 2009
January 3, 2009

2008
December 27, 2008
December 20, 2008
December 13, 2008
December 6, 2008
November 29, 2008
November 22, 2008
November 15, 2008
November 8, 2008
November 5, 2008
November 1, 2008
October 25, 2008
October 18, 2008
October 11, 2008
October 4, 2008
September 27, 2008
September 20, 2008
September 13, 2008
September 6, 2008
August 30, 2008
August 23, 2008
August 16, 2008
August 9, 2008
August 2, 2008
July 26, 2008
July 19, 2008
July 12, 2008
July 5, 2008
June 28, 2008
June 21, 2008
June 14, 2008
June 7, 2008
May 31, 2008
May 24, 2008
May 17, 2008
May 10, 2008
May 3, 2008
April 26, 2008
April 19, 2008
April 12, 2008
April 5, 2008
March 29, 2008
March 22, 2008
March 15, 2008
March 8, 2008
March 1, 2008
February 23, 2008
February 16, 2008
February 9, 2008
February 2, 2008
January 26, 2008
January 19, 2008
January 12, 2008
January 5, 2008

2007
December 29, 2007
December 22, 2007
December 15, 2007
December 8, 2007
December 1, 2007
November 24, 2007
November 17, 2007
November 10, 2007
November 3, 2007
October 27, 2007
October 20, 2007
October 13, 2007
October 6, 2007
September 29, 2007
September 22, 2007
September 15, 2007
September 8, 2007
September 1, 2007
August 25, 2007
August 18, 2007
August 11, 2007
August 4, 2007
July 28, 2007
July 21, 2007
July 14, 2007
July 7, 2007
June 30, 2007
June 23, 2007
June 16, 2007
June 9, 2007
June 2, 2007
May 19, 2007
May 12, 2007
May 5, 2007
April 28, 2007
April 21, 2007
April 14, 2007
April 7, 2007
March 31, 2007
March 24, 2007
March 17, 2007
March 10, 2007
March 3, 2007
February 24, 2007
February 17, 2007
February 10, 2007
February 3, 2007
January 20, 2007
January 13, 2007
January 6, 2007

2006
December 30, 2006
December 23, 2006
December 16, 2006
December 9, 2006
December 2, 2006
November 25, 2006
November 18, 2006
November 11, 2006
November 4, 2006
October 28, 2006
October 21, 2006
October 14, 2006
October 7, 2006
September 30, 2006
September 23, 2006
September 16, 2006
September 9, 2006
September 2, 2006
August 26, 2006
August 19, 2006
August 12, 2006
August 5, 2006
July 29, 2006
July 22, 2006
July 15, 2006

 

 



March 7, 2009

A SURPRISING CRITIQUE of the world’s 15th richest man, Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helú, who recently made a huge investment in the New York Times appeared in that very paper’s business section on February 16. Much of the criticism of the Mexican mogul comes from the fact that he owns Telmex, the country’s telephone monopoly, whose charges are among the highest in the world in a country that is among the poorest. “One journalist pressed him on how it felt to be worth so much in a country in which many people struggle to get by” the Times reported. “Mr. Slim cut off the questioner…His curt tone made it clear he did not favor that line of questioning. Tagging him as “notoriously thin-skinned” the Times, of which Slim may soon own 17%, quoted Denise Dresser, a Mexican political scientist: “Going down in history as an evil monopolist who fleeced Mexican consumers is not an image of himself that he likes, but it’s a true image”.

ZIMBABWE’S CURRENCY may be an international joke, with its $100 trillion note good in Kinshasa for a mere loaf of bread, but that same flimsy bill with its 14 zeros could fetch a tidy $100 from collectors in this country. A shrewd printer in Springfield, MA, Donald MacTavish, has been buying the African country’s ‘worthless’ old billion dollar currency and selling individual bills for up to $25.

FORTY EIGHT YEARS after president John Kennedy believed that desalination would change the world, some of the world is beginning to take the subject seriously—sort of. Saudi Arabia currently produces about 18% of the world’s fresh water-from seawater output and the Middle East in general is about to invest $30 billion in the technology. Algeria, Dubai, Libya and Singapore all depend on desal for drinking water (The U.S., with two oceans to draw from still lags  behind. One exception is California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, the only one of 45 in the U.S. to be cooled by desalinated seawater). The oceans contain almost 98% of the world’s water, as Fast Company reminds us, and more than half of the world’s population lives within 65 miles of a seacoast. Yet, according to the UN,  1.1 billion people have no access to a clean, reliable supply of water and more than two million people a year die for lack of it.

A DECADE AFTER playing the part of Hermione in the Harry Potter movies, Emma Watson is now a multi-millionaire and harassed by the kind of paparazzi who lie on the sidewalk to photograph up her skirt. “The next day I woke up and felt completely violated by it all”. She says it was pretty tough turning 18. “Everyone wants a picture of me in a mini-skirt, but that’s not me. I’d never go out in a mini-skirt. I  find the whole concept of being ‘sexy’ embarrassing and confusing”.

SOME UNLIKELY MILLIONAIRES are pinpointed by a story in Forbes which reveals the way some government retirees are gaming the system to elevate their pensions to astronomical heights. Four in five public sector workers have lifetime pensions, compared with only one in five in the private sector, Forbes asserts, and the $5.6 billion that New York City, for example, spent on pensions last year was more than devoted to the combined cost of at least six other departments. In many places the early retirement granted to cops and firemen (some basing their pension on huge overtime boosts in their pay) means that it’s possible to ‘retire’ and stay in the same position, thus earning both a pension and a salary for the same job. The magazine names a former police chief in Delray Beach, FL, who retired with a $65,000 pension, took another job as police chief in a nearby town and is already worth $2 million.

REMINDING READERS THAT left-brainers are managers (“verbal, logical, analytical”) and right-brainers are marketers (“visual, intuitive, holistic”) Adverting Age says the conflict is why it is often difficult for admen to sell their ideas to top management. “Certainty is the mark of a left-brainer, whereas holistic right-brainers are never quite sure” the mag observes. “Management deals in reality; marketing, meanwhile, deals in perception. A marketing person has to sell a marketing idea to management in management terms—not in marketing terms”.

JUST FLAUNTING IT is not enough these days for some billionaires who are building monuments to themselves in the form of personal museums. What Fortune calls the ultimate status symbol is popping up not only in the U.S. where Wal-Mart heir Alice Walton and developer Eli Broad have art centers underway in Turkey, the Ukraine and most ostentatiously in Paris. Here the LVMH Group (Luis Vuitton, Dior, Dom Pérignon) boss Bernard Arnault hired Frank Gehry for a $200 million home for his art collection, its appearance described as “an iceberg dressed as a cloud”. Arnault says he has long had “a desire to speak in a different way” to customers but Fortune adds that “clearly there’s more than a touch of ego involved”.

The leader of Britain’s Social Democrats, Lord David Owen, used to be a doctor and in 2007 he published a book, The Hubris Syndrome maintaining that being in power affects the mental state in a way that can become pathological.  Now he has a new book out.  In Sickness in Power, arguing that psychological changes of power lead to “grandiosity, narcissism and irresponsible behavior”.  Such leaders imagine that they operate beyond the bounds of ordinary morality.  “To a hubristic leader, lying, cutting corners and even invading foreign countries are justified” he writes “in the interests of accomplishing a supremely moral mission”.

THE WILCOCK WEB: Without being backed by gold, presumably nothing “guarantees” the currency? In which case,  why can’t the Treasury just keep printing money until everybody has enough?…. ”Last year people won more than $1billion playing poker” muses Samantha Bee. “And casinos made $27 billion by being around those people”….. Not long ago we armed the jihadists to fight the Russians. Are they now arming the jihadists to fight against us?…. “In Washington” declares Michael Kinsley, “the scandal isn’t what’s illegal It’s what’s legal…..More than 4,000 books were published on happiness last year—eight times as many as in 2000…Vladimir Putin’s paintings of a night sky seen through a peasant hut’s window fetched $1million at a St Petersburg charity auction….The National Review said it wanted to send NY’s tax-avoiding Congressman Charles Rangel  some Heritage Foundation figures contradicting his allegations about army casualties, “but we’re not sure what apartment to mail them to”….”Flying-while-Muslim” is the new “Driving-while-black”…. Cataloguing from around the world the  200,000 pictures it owns, the BBC plans to download them onto a new website….“Before you embark on a journey of revenge”, advised Confucius, “dig two graves ….. In the works at ABC, a new show Dating in the Dark, is exactly that with contestants seeing each other for the first time when the lights come up…..And CBS plans a show in which a boss goes undercover to check things out in his own workforce….In London, billionaire adman Charles Saatchi will host a reality show in which six young artists will compete for a prize….. Another deft definition: Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly….. Absentee fathers owe $5billion in child support in Britain which is planning to confiscate driving licenses and passports of those they catch….”Wise men say nothing in dangerous times”—John Selden (1584-1654)

2/28/09

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