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October 23, 2010
John Wilcock - The Column of Lasting Insignificance - October 9, 2010

 

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

 

 

October 23, 2010

John Wilcock
the column of lasting insignificance

“I feel they have all been bought off. Who is the lobbyist for the American people?”
disgruntled voter in the Los Angeles Times

IN A SECTION headed ‘What Happens Next’ Forbes laid out some of its forecasts for the future. Most of them weren’t very cheerful. For example,

  • Next year we can expect to find Bernie Madoff hanged in his prison cell;  Kim Jong Il to die aged 70; the world’s seven billionth child to be born, in an Egyptian hospital; and Russian scientists uncover a giant US/Israeli cyber- espionage network.
  • Oil prices will skyrocket in 2012, Forbes predicts, following an Israeli raid on Iran’s nuclear plants and sharia law will be imposed in Somalia after Al Shabab takes over the Gulf of Aden piracy operations. The following year Congress will ban high-frequency trading after the Dow suffers from a “flash crash” which takes it down 4,000 points in minutes.
  • Longer range forecasts see Chelsea Clinton running for office (2017); two women conceiving the first fatherless child with synthetic sperm from one mother’s stem cells; a Chinese train arriving in Paris from Beijing, breaking the 300mph speed record; and six men and two women alight on the moon after each paying $200m for a Virgin Galactic ticket.

THOSE NIGERIAN CONMEN who are so anxious for you to help them access (non-existent) funds have spawned a new type of scammer: the crooked soldier in Afghanistan. “Some money in various currencies was discovered and concealed in barrels with piles of weapons and ammunition at a location near one of Taliban's Supreme Leader Mullah Omar Cave Palace in the city of Jalalabad during an operation”  the solicitation reads. ”I am seeking your assistance to evacuate (it) to the States or any safe country…” It’s somewhat of a giveaway that the enticing email is from Hong Kong.

Kalashnikov and the AK47
Kalashnikov, posing in front of the Order of Lenin,
and other medals.

EVErYBODY’S FAVORITE WEAPON, the Kalashnikov, gets a 200-word profile in Columbia Journalism Review in the form of a 2,000-word review of C. J Chivers’ The Gun, tracing its origin back to the Russian tank sergeant who in 1947 invented “the most common sophisticated weapon on earth”. Unlike the American copy, the M-16 assault rifle, the Kalashnikov performed better than anything before it, the mag says, being adopted for everything from popular insurrection and armed liberation to gangland stature. “(It) epitomizes revolutionary chic”. The secret of the gun’s success, which was dunked in water and buried in sand during testing, is reportedly due to loose fit and big parts which ensures that it is less likely to get stuck when dirty. There are said to be a million Kalashnikovs in circulation. “Every self-respecting militant from Yasir Arafat to Osama Bin Laden has posed with one”.


End the Impossible War

WITH THE APPOINTMENT of Malaysian astrophysicist Dr. Mazlan Othman as head of the UN’s Office for Outer Space Affairs any aliens that happen to land now have some place to go. “The recent discovery of hundreds of planets around other stars has made the detection of extraterrestrial life more likely than ever before” he told Britain’s Royal Society, “and that means the UN must be ready to coordinate humanity’s response to any ‘first contact’.” Professor Richard Crowther, an “expert in space law and governance” at the UK Space Agency, who leads British delegations to the UN on such matters, said: “Othman is absolutely the nearest thing we have to a ‘take me to your leader’”.

STUBBORN RESISTANCE FROM both sides is what prevents the astronomical defense budget—the largest since WW2—being cut, charges Reason, with liberals “cowed (into believing) it would be political suicide” and Conservatives (who) “have national security on the brain”.  The new $708bn defense budget accounts for 20% of federal government spending writes Veronique de Rugy and in 2008 represented 44% of global military spending—eight times as much or Russia or China. “Merely tweaking the Pentagon’s supply chain and personnel management practices—or eliminating a handful controversial weapons systems—could save $50bn each year”.

THE WEBSITE DriverSide focuses on what you need to know as a car owner because (explains its  boss Trevor Traina), “Car ownership is one of the last areas that makes smart people feel stupid”. Users sign up for free, specifying a model,  can access the 15,000 replies already made to queries by other car owners, then find estimates for fixing similar problems encountered by people nearby,  locating mechanics after reading assessments by other customers of their work. There are an estimated 241 million cars in the U.S. and San Francisco-based DriverSide claims to have signed up 1.5 million of them.

Unicorn Meat

INVENTED AS AN April Fools-day joke, canned Unicorn Meat proved to be so popular that a product with that name will go on sale for $12 next year. Listed in the catalog of Think Geek, an online retailer  for computer fans, it will be imported from a small independent cannery in Co. Meath, Ireland with “crunchy horn bits in every bite”  and tasting “like rotisserie chicken but with a hint of marshmallow sweetness”. While it was still a mythical product, the company got a “cease and desist” letter from the National Pork Board claiming exclusive rights to the phrase ”the other white meat”. The sales pitch explains: “The Sisters at Radiant Farms have dedicated their lives to nursing these elegant creatures through their final days. Taking a cue from the Kobe beef industry, they massage each unicorn's coat with Guinness daily and fatten them on a diet comprised entirely of candy corn”.

WITH AN ANTICIPATED 71 million Americans over 65 by the year 2030, there’s a boom in the development of robots aimed at that audience. In Japan the Institute if Physical and Chemical Research has come up with RIBA whose arms can carry patients too weak to walk on their own; another Japanese institute offers TAIZO which can demonstrate to and lead an exercise class; France offers KOMPAï which does routine tasks around the house but can email your doctor if you tell it your symptoms; and from the Universities of Washington and UC, the RAVEN 2 can perform intricate operations when linked to the directions of a distant surgeon via computer screen.

BECAUSE REGULATIONS PROHIBIT using high-powered x-rays on perishables, if you want to smuggle a nuclear device into the U.S. just bury it in a truck full of watermelons suggests  Popular Science. That does seem like a flaw in Homeland Security, the mag says, but not to worry: on the way is a new detector from a California company,  Decision Science, which is ingenious enough to detect even muons (A muon is a sort of super-charged electron. Does that make everything clear?).

Playing music at high volume over-stimulates people leading to “sensory overload which weakens self-control”, and this in turn makes them more likely to buy things says the Journal of Business Research.  That’s why the sound is too loud in most stores. “People might be more likely to be lured by brand names, fooled by discounts on items they might not really want, and susceptible to other influences” explains the University of Minnesota’s  Kathleen Vohs, an associate professor of marketing.

IT’S CONSTANTLY AMAZING what those university research teams get up to so maybe it’s no big surprise to learn that a team from North Carolina’s Duke University has been feeding ring-tailed lemurs with Depo-Provera, the human contraceptive often used in zoos. Why? The report in Science News doesn’t explain but it does report the unsurprising results that the lemurs give off a different smell lacking its usual appeal. (Female lemurs rub their glands onto branches from which male lemurs can sniff out their appeal).

WHY IS IT SO HARD for people not to understand that every action has a reaction—that the more the gay community  pushes further for ‘rights’ (same-sex marriages etc.) the more individual (usually helpless) gays will be harassed? The same thing applies to Muslims, Jews, Latinos etc. Always was, always will be. That’s the nature of a society in which every segment is constantly imagining a challenge to its authority.

THE WILCOCK WEB: In a reckless battle to gain circulation from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal  is on offer to subscribers for $1.99 per week….When you see desperate stores offering discounts of 70 or 80 per cent just to find customers, it makes you realize how exorbitant their markups were in the first place….Germany is among several European countries contributing to the $3.6bn to be paid to Ecuador not to develop some of its oil-rich Amazon rainforest….That little tubby Kim Jong Eun won’t last long…..With as many as 13% of Britain’s shops now vacant, the Empty Shops Network has been turning them into art galleries to bring visitors back to moribund downtowns… A man’s errors” wrote James Joyce, ”are his portals of discovery” …. In Yantai Park in China’s Shandong province, coin-operated meters determine the time allowed on benches with spikes arising to deter sleepers staying too long….Vowing in 1974 to visit the world’s 195 countries, John Rheinbeger, 61, of Stillwater, Minn., has only three left: Cuba, Libya and Somalia… Just stashed in the Journal of Literary Studies archive is “image, music, text: Elvis Presley as a postmodern, semiotic construct”….Aiming at its 400,000 nationals in London, French radio will open a mostly music radio station there….Pizza stores in  Denver are delivering their food in boxes that can be broken down into usable cardboard plates before being trashed….Nudists at Frances’  long-established Cap D’Agde are protesting an invasion of “swingers and exhibitionists” who are having sex in public on their pristine beach….Nostalgia isn't what it used to be…. Discovering that certain types of amoeba thrive on methane, researchers now theorize that there may be life on Mars which has lots of it….MISFORTUNE COOKIES: A fool always finds a greater fool to admire him… Who was the first person to say, 'See that chicken there?  I'm gonna eat the next thing that comes outta its butt.'…..Frito-Lay reveals that it spent years developing a biodegradable bag for its Sun Chips, but so many consumers complained about its crinkly noise they’re returning to the original bag…. If you have to ask, said Martha Graham, the answer is no…British supermarket chain Tesco, the world’s third  biggest retailer (after Wal-Mart and France’s Carrefour) has lost $600million trying to break into the U.S. market with its Free & Easy chain, promises to open 19 more yet forecasts that it will be making a profit by 2013…. One will rarely err if extreme actions be ascribed to vanity, ordinary actions to habit, and mean actions to fear.- Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

10/16/10

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