Saturday, December 29, 2012

DECEMBER 27,2012

You've had, I hope, a huge merry feast and a bag of goodies so heavy Santa needed help to get it down the chimney.  I wonder how this America strikes its new arrival.

One of the ladies who looks after me is Ethiopian.  She is very pleasant and has opened a new cuisine for me—spicy.  I like it.  She's been in the US several years now and understands our wackinesses.  But her husband and their two teen-age kids just got here.   I wonder what they make of it all.

Mom, I'm gonna give this shirt to my brother, but we're supposed to pretend it's from some dude named Santa--Santa Claus?  Is that even an American name? Well no, honey, but it's what they do, so we better do it too.  And eight tiny reindeer?  They don't  grow any reindeer here, do they? I don't know, son, just go along.

And no, you'll probably never find a hall to deck with holly.

One thing though, mom.  The food's terrific. Yes, son. you got that right.  Have another turkey leg.

DECEMBER 22, 2012

     A columnist needs a foolish lobbyist these slow holiday weeks, so I'd like to thank the National Rifle Association for providing today's column.

     The NRA, the Washington Post reports, has come out in favor of putting armed (with guns, of course) police officers in every school.  Man, would that ever sell a lot of guns!  The Post estimates there are 135,000 public and private schools in the United States.  Maybe we need to make things even safer--arm every teacher, in every classroom, so that if the fifth-graders start acting up, the teacher can blow away two or three of the ringleaders and calm things down.

     It won't pass, of course.  Congress, even Congress, wouldn't do that.  To arms, Americans!

     And Merry Christmas!


DECEMBER 21, 2012

      The news is saying that Chuck Hagel, the former Republican senator from Nebraska, may be President Obama's choice for Secretary of Defense.  Well, Mr. President, you could go further and do much worse.
     The first good thing about Hagel is that he's been to war--Vietnam--and in fact was wounded there. Wars are ugly;  if you've been to one, you know that.  Hagel knows that.  The Washingon Post quotes him as saying, "I remember thinking to myself, you know, if I ever get out of all this, I am going to do everything I can to assure that war is the last resort that we as a nation, a people calls upon to settle a dispute.  The horror of it, the pain of it, the sufferiing of it.  People just don't understand it unless they've been through it."

     Pretty good words for a possible Sec Def.  Some presidents have known war first hand, of course--Grant, Einsenhower, Kennedy.  Obama hasn't and I can't think of anyone better to stand at his shoulder if war beckons than Chuck Hagel.

     Hell, if George W Bush had had him, we might be at peace today.



Sunday, December 16, 2012

DECEMBER 15, 2012

The headline makes no sense…"victims mourn."  Wrong, newspaper.  

The victims are dead.  We, the living. mourn.  We mourn, but we have no words.  

There is nothing more to say.  Children?  Yes, but still.  

There is just nothing more ro say.  Silence beckons.  Let us mourn.  

There is just nothing more to say.




Friday, December 7, 2012

DECEMBER 7, 2012

      About forty years go, I was a reporter at the Manned Spacecraft Center (Mission Control) just outside Houston while Neil Arrnstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon.  "One small step for (a) man," Armstrong, who died this past year, said, "a giant leap for mankind" 

     Well, the leaps worked well for a while and then they stopped.
 If any Americans are in outer space now, they hitched a ride there on Russian rockets.

     So you can imagine my surprise today when I saw a front-page story in the Washington Post--all right, below the fold, it wasn't that big a deal
—"Want to get away? Book a trip to the moon."

      The company offering the trip is the Golden Spike Co.
"We know how to do this," a spokesman said.  And maybe they do.  People did, once.  The company envisions a lunar lander and moonwalking suits.  They see 2020 as a possible date for a first trip.

     There is one hurdle--the price.
 The newpaper quotes the company as saying 750 million dollars per seat.  They think they'll sell to foreign governments and space tourists.   One unnamed rich guy is already talking to them about it.   I think I'll wait a while.


DECEMBER 6, 2012

     The holidays are on us.  Fun, of course, especially for us parents.  I like buying gifts for the kids.  But it gets harder as they, and I, get older.  The gift world keeps changing.

     I could buy a kid a car, of course
, but I keep seeing phrases in car ads I don't understand.  People talk about "hybrids," for instance.  Fooled me.   I thought maybe it's a cross between a radish and a tomato, something of an automotive mule, but no.  Turns out it's a car that guzzles gas and some other ingredient (Scotch, sour mash, I can't remember, impartially.  No, wait, it's electricity, but does it burn out the way a flashlight battery does?)

     My daughter wants a tablet
this year.  I was all set to run down to the drug store and get one of those yellow writing pads with lines.  Nope. Turns out to be a small computer.  I don't know whether it has lines or comes in yellow.

     Oh well, maybe I'll just give the kids eight tiny reindeer.
 Do they come in diesel? 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

DECEMBER 2, 2012

     Some trends burst upon us--the airplane, the atomic bomb, the Twinkie.  A note today about a smaller change, but one full of interest.   West Point's Cadet Chapel--yes, the one at the US Military Academy--has hosted a gay wedding.

     It was, the Associated Press reports, a first, or at least a first since the "don't ask, don't tell" policy ended. 

     It leaves out some things I'd like to know:  what did they--both women--wear, was there music, were there flowers, etc.  

     They've been together seventeen years. They'd have preferred to have the wedding in New Jersey, where they live, but their home state doesn't allow gay marriage.  They said West Point was fine, more than fine.  One of the brides graduated from West Point in 1980, the first class to include women.

     It turns out theirs was the second same-sex wedding at the Academy;  the other was last week at a different chapel.  This couple was told no West Point chaplains were allowed by their faiths to perform same-sex weddings.  They found an army chaplain friend.

     God (if there is a god) bless you, ladies. Truly,