John Wilcock column header


The Column of Lasting Insignificance: November 7, 2009

John Wilcock
the column of lasting insignificance

‘I approached Brown and asked him what sort of governor he might be the second time around. He cheerfully replied: “If you figure that out, let me know.”
— Joe Mathews writing in The American Prospect about Jerry Brown’s probable run for Governor of California (When he ran for president in 1976, Brown said: “A little vagueness goes a long way in this business.)

PROCLAIMING THAT not long ago Detroit was one of the richest places in the country, Fortune wrote that for decades Motown had been ”misunderstood, underreported, stereotyped, avoided, and exploited” and the magazine planned to do something about it. What it did was to buy a house there, and during the next year promised to flood it with journalists, photographers, video-tapers, and bloggers from four of Time-Life’s other magazines. “We believe that Detroit is a great American story. No city has had more influence on our economic and social evolution,” it proclaims.

Reputedly containing less cellulose and more starch, a digestible seaweed is being fed to Australian cows to see if it cuts down their farting.  The methane gas expelled by an average beef cow produces 3300 pounds of carbon per year; additional flatulence comes from 120 million cows, sheep, and goats.

THE MEXICAN HERB salvia, the most powerful hallucinogenic ever discovered, has become so popular with dopers that it may be banned, which scientists claim would be a big mistake. Apparently, the drug shows signs of being valuable as a painkiller and a possible treatment for mental illnesses — like morphine but without the addiction — and its reclassification would greatly inhibit research. Scientific American points out that “human studies with LSD were basically blocked for 15 years because of federal restrictions.”

THE BACKYARD SAFARI is what it’s been called and it involves close-up contact with all those exotic creatures such as zebras, giraffes, and wildebeest without leaving the U.S. Santa Rosa’s 400-acre Safari West game preserve and tent camp is just one of many pseudo safari companies springing up from Yellowstone to the Texas Hill Country. Around $260 a night offers you a luxury tent (no TV or Internet or cell phone service), bumpy rides in a jeep to admire grizzlies, cheetah, and ostriches, and — at Vision Quest’s B&B in Salinas — breakfast in bed delivered by elephants. “The sounds of Africa will echo in your dreams,” promises Safari West’s website.

“Greed has been with human beings forever. We have a number of things in our species that you would call the dark side and greed is one of them. If you don’t put certain structures in place or restrictions on those parts of our being that come from that dark place, then it gets out of control. Capitalism does the opposite of that…It encourages it, it rewards it.” — Michael Moore talking to The Nation.

DENTISTS OFFERING GIFTS is a growing trend according to Smart Money, reflecting that, in these tough times, cost-conscious customers have decided that “tooth care can be optional.” A Ventura dentist is giving away monogrammed coffee cups to new patients, others are offering redeemable ‘points’ for turning up on time for appointments or enduring a wait in the lobby, the mag reports. With a cost of around $850,000 to get into the business, as many as 85% of the country’s 160,000 dentists are significantly in debt, estimates Raymond Willeford, president of the Academy of Dental CPAs.

IT’S NOT TOO EARLY to start thinking about what to give for Christmas and thus time for your annual reminder about that terrific company Heifer International. Google them and they’ll send you a catalog or show you how you can donate — on your friend’s behalf — the cost of trees or useful and loveable animals to some poor village in a Third World country. For as little as $10 you can pay for a share of some gift or you can be lavish and donate the cost ($250) of a water buffalo. Heifer will send you gift cards along with a receipt which can be for a wide range of gifts from rabbits, honeybees, ducks, llamas etc.

Heifer International

THE WILCOCK WEB: That David Letterman “scandal” sure faded away fast…. With $225m in the bank from his eponymous show that ended a decade ago, Jerry Seinfeld is still earning $50m a year from reruns in syndication…..A study titled Executive Function Abnormalities in Pathological Gamblers concluded that compulsive gamblers were difficult to ‘cure’ because they showed signs of “cognitive rigidity,” i.e. that they took longer than most people to learn from their mistakes and look for alternative solutions… The tastiest soda of all, France’s Orangina, has changed hands again after being bought by Japan’s Suntory Company (for $3.1 billion) from Cadbury’s who bought it from Pernod for less than half that price two years ago….. The modern Conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy, that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness, opined John Kenneth Galbraith….. “There is not the slightest doubt that Kissinger was a great statesman,” writes jailed former publisher Conrad Black, reviewing (in National Review) a new biography of his old friend….Berlin’s new dining trend centers around secret restaurants, some of which allow potential customers to request access via e-mail and await word to see if their reservation is accepted……Vinod Bansal, a right-wing member of the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party, has asked the Indian government to investigate the legality of romantic fiction following reports of the boom in sales of Harlequin novels and their “steamy, sexual scenes.” Bansal claims that this kind of literature “is against the cultural values of the country” and should be banned….. …..One-way fares on Pet Airways (capacity: 50 dog and cat carriers) begin at $150 and by next year a dozen cities will be served….Air-traveling babies should be kept in sound-proof containers… Why don’t term limits apply to shiftless senators who’ve been living on public welfare for generations?….A $100 bottle top ( lights up and sends you a text message when you forget to take your meds…..“A nation should be just as full of conflict as it can contain.” — Robert Frost (1874-1963)