Wednesday, March 28, 2012

AT LEAST WE WON’T HAVE KING GEORGE


March 28, 2012

By now most of us must be aware of the 2017 changeover, the international agreement that affects us directly here in Walton County. President Obama announces details of this historical deal on Sunday but some aspects have already been reported. Let’s see what we know so far.
It will mean sweeping changes here and in the surrounding area. While Washington gets $9.77 trillion in much-needed cash over the next 18 months; we get a somewhat different lifestyle when part of the South is handed back to Britain, with France also involved. The deal was hammered out in a series of hush-hush meetings during the past two years on which Obama signed off with Prime Minister David Cameron in Washington two weeks ago. They and French president Nicolas Sarkozy will make the announcement simultaneously.
Along with a portion of Georgia that stretches to Savannah and the coastal islands, the United Kingdom acquires a swath of South Carolina and the major part of Florida. Pressure from Obama affords France a minor voice in the new administration in recognition of its pivotal role in the War of Independence.
Good for the remaining USA? Very much so. It will take care of the national debt and then some (and should also help Obama in his re-election bid). For us it will mean a noticeable switch as European goods and services are introduced.
Customs, too. In sport we’ll likely see the mind-numbingly dull game of cricket introduced, where three days of leisurely batting and pitching often ends in a stalemate. They might as well have flipped a coin and spent the time in the pub. Indeed, we can expect our bars to be replaced with jolly old pubs serving warm beer. The good news for young folks is that they’ll be allowed alcohol at 18, as in Britain. This despite a French proposal to do away with a minimum age altogether and make available their acclaimed 15-proof baby formula containing powdered cognac.
Dentists won’t be outlawed; that was a hoax report. English teeth are for the English. But changes there will most certainly be. After 2017 we’ll be driving on the left; following the five-year transition period Waltonians who still own American-version cars will be permitted to continue using the right carriageway. Extreme care must be taken, considering the oncoming traffic!
France’s role is largely symbolic but not insignificant. We’ll benefit from authentic world-renowned French cuisine with snails, frogs’ legs and horsemeat. A tip: don’t nobody calls hors d’oeuvres “horse doovers”.
More mouthwateringly, we’ll also be dining on Scottish haggis – a sheep’s stomach stuffed with its minced-up internal organs - on Welsh leek soup, jellied eels and an assortment of Anglo-Indian curries. Then there’s the vast array of yummy chocolate products that make Hershey’s taste like... like something you no longer wish to taste.
The new electoral and taxation systems have yet to be explained. But those in the Anglo-French zone will have the option to serve in the military of either of these countries or the USA. Passport formalities are waived and existing US identification papers recognized by the new British Crown Dependency of America.
Critical is the border slicing through Walton County. Loganville remains in US-held Georgia but Monroe will be impacted. The demarcation line runs South along Route 11 through Social Circle to Interstate 20 and beyond. Land lying east, stretching through Pleasant Valley and Good Hope will revert to British rule.
With Broad Street divided, some further idea of life under the new regime can already be gleaned. Royal Mail - marginally more efficient - replaces the US Postal Service and takes the current location opposite the fire station which continues to serve the entire area. A new USPS building will be on West Spring Street.
Royal Wells Fargo Bank will maintain accounts of its customers in both US Dollars and British Pounds sterling, and issue “cheques”. Euros were rejected.
Elements of Napoleonic Law, already practiced in Louisiana, will be introduced, a suspect being guilty until he proves his innocence. Most attorneys are situated on the eastern side, and will be expected to adhere to English common law in its pure form, with judges and barristers wearing robes and wigs, At proceedings in Her Majesty’s Judicial Building on Hammond Drive they’ll be required to address the justices as “your lordship” or “your worship”, each other as “my learned friend.”
Queen Elizabeth, now titular head, has named her first High Commissioner. He is Sir Richard Sanderson, a well-bespectacled diplomat and scholar who is already a literary icon and a former Major Lord of Woking.
His official residence will be in Charleston.
French will replace Spanish as the second language taught in some schools where real English, the original (as in Classic Coke versus the new flavors – my comparison) is to be taught. The ‘u’ will return to words like color and splendor and “not guilty of driving on the wrong side of the road your honor.” The story that we’ll all be forced to speak veddy pawsh and hoity-toity is untrue, except with the new teachers our accent is bound to become more plummy over time.
All but four Walton County schools will be unaffected. Harmony and Blaine Street elementaries, Carver High and Athens Tech will change over to the zero-cost British system. The Tribune, being in the new zone, will also be using “proper” English.
To obtain further details including zoning before the April 1 presidential announcement please contact us at the Walton Tribune.

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© 2012 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

CLAP HANDS, HERE COMES RAMON


March 21, 2012

Fifty feet to walk is too far. There are customers who’ll motor all over the parking lot in search of a space closer to the store entrance than that. They’ll waste ten minutes, half a gallon of gas and countless amps of nervous energy to save themselves perhaps a couple dozen extra steps.
The same hogs pounce on those electric shopping carts and spend an hour or so zipping in and out the aisles at Walmart. Not the genuinely impaired, and, admittedly, disabilities aren’t always easily detectable, so obviously not those guys. But the selfish act of individuals with zero need for in-store transportation denies a real handicapped person the ride. Finished with their purchases, they’ll even abandon that scooter somewhere out in the parking lot. These are the reprehensible ones - the fat ‘n’ lazy.
Which leads me to ponder how disgustingly lethargic we’ve become. Drive-in movies and restaurants, drive-thru weddings and funerals. Not only can’t we be bothered to take a few healthy steps indoors or out, it seems we find it too strenuous to even twist our wrists.
Why wiggle that toothbrush up and down over your pearly whites when you can simply hold a battery-driven one there and press a button. Not yet invented is a hands-free version that’ll roam all over your mouth.
Toothpaste? Don’t bother unscrewing the cap – it’s one of those modern ones where you can just flip the top open with a fingernail. Saves a few turns. They make those same easy-open caps for bottles of sauce, condiments etc. Even sticking out your tongue is too demanding, so we have self-stick stamps and envelopes.
In all the above cases the amount of effort saved is absolutely minimal. Like with the electric pencil sharpener. It spares you three, maybe four, slight movements of thumb and forefinger, all that was necessary with the original pocket sharpeners. Now just poke the pencil in.
Not to put too fine a point on it - how lazy have we become!
Too comatose to stir your morning joe? Ten bucks buys you a mug that stirs itself. Not to forget the beer helmet that holds two cans on your head as you guzzle away through the plastic tube, thereby freeing your hands to do... nothing, of course. What else if you’re too bone idle to even hold a beer can!
We’re a nation of drones and dronettes, barely able to move, except to reach for the remote. And for some even that’s too demanding. Like my former squeeze Annie. She would wave a limp hand in the vague direction of whatever object lay just out of easy reach and beckon her imaginary Filipino houseboy with a faint and plaintive wail:” Ramon!” An ashtray, the wine bottle, whatever. This “Ramon” was supposed to fetch and deliver it the few paces unto her person.
Slothful? I’ll say. This was the lazy lady who complained when I took her to England: “godammed country’s made of steps!”
Convenience and inertia – the twin evils of modern society, feeding off each other. Literally, too. Pre-shelled hard-boiled eggs, pre-washed lettuce, pre-peeled onions and potatoes, pre-shredded carrots, pre-cut, pre-cooked, pre-everythinged everything, so that virtually all we’re required to do is mobilize our munching mechanism. Next there’ll be a device that lifts the grub off your plate and shoves it into your face.
Not our fault we’re such a torpid bunch. Let’s push the blame onto... the remote control. That’s right, it all started when Zenith introduced the Lazy Bones remote in 1952 with the hand control attached to the TV via a long cable. Or did Loafin’ Time begin a decade earlier with first automatic garage door openers that robbed us motorists of our daily stoop-and-lift exercise?
Fast forward (using your remote) to The Clapper that appeared in 1985. And folks discovered you didn’t even need hands – a cough or other loud noise would do. Therefore sufferers of Tourette’s or owners of yappy dogs would experience a dizzying display of lights constantly switching themselves on and off. For this reason The Clapper merits only faint applause.
Were there a suitable gadget to use we wouldn’t even lift a finger to scratch an itch. It’s all automatic these days – even our thinking’s being done for us.
For instance, how many students do actual arithmetic without the use of a calculator? A local kid I know declared himself a “genius” with an IQ of 180. He’d taken 15 minutes to copy down the solutions to a Mensa exam and I’m convinced he thought the test was exactly that: how fast can you Google the answers.
Clearly, automation makes our lives easier. My observation is that too much of it can turn you into a roly-poly couch slouch. So get out and do something energetic, get the joints working perhaps by skateboarding. But even that is now automated: there are electric skateboards for $200 to $650: just hop on board and go. Effortless.
Large or small, we’re leaving all the chores to the automatons. They mow your lawn, clean the pool, sweep the carpet, microwave your unhealthy TV dinners. So when you succumb there are even robots doing major heart surgery these days although if they screw up then who’re you gonna sue? “i...am...but...a...penniless...android...” Then, mechanical buddyboy, it’s gonna cost you a robotic arm and a leg.
Calling my lawyer now that I’ve digested this pre-sliced apple I just bought. If only I could raise my well-upholstered behind off this armchair and get my cell phone. But I can’t quite reach.
Ramon!

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© 2012 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

IN SEARCH OF THE KILLER PILL


March 14, 2012

Mama said chew each mouthful 28 times before swallowing. Mama was right, and this applies to anything ingested through the eyes and ears as well. We’re being spoon-fed so much information these days it’s important to chew everything over properly before digesting it.
They’ll show you stuff on TV that’s a blatant distortion. They’ll twist the facts to suit a particular political dogma or a religious one. They’ll disguise the true nature of the ingredients in their foodstuffs. They’ll outright lie about the safety of their products. The list goes on.
It’s all out there. Misinformation from those who don’t know, Disinformation from the ones who do but seek to deceive. Hidden agendas, doublespeak...
So what can you believe these days? And who? The World Health Organization complains that false “facts” keep being circulated in newspapers and elsewhere. And the kind of bad data it mentions in detail is last week’s guest column by Becki Bennett, Walton County representative for the anti-abortion organization Life Chain.
‘Nuff said. This is a person with a mission.
The contraceptive pill, she declared, causes strokes, heart attacks, various nasty cancers and other fatal diseases. She said we may be surprised to learn this. We are, because none of it is true.
From which source did this lady unearth such disturbing information? Certainly not from the World Health Organization that, she claims, labels the pill “a group one carcinogen” because that authority says quite the opposite.
In complaining about false reports such as Ms Bennett’s, the World Health Organization says: “These statements are factually incorrect but unfortunately are widespread. Such negative and sometimes inflammatory media coverage only alarms women and may keep some from using the method when they most need it.”
The full statement may be read at http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/88/4/10-077446/en/ where the hoax e-mail “true story of a woman who died of a stroke while on hormonal birth control” is also exposed as total invented garbage. This may or may not be the same woman that Ms Bennett says she knew personally.
Wikipedia refers to a 2010 review of the pill that found little or no increased risk of cancer but instead a variety of health benefits, and far from causing death it has been shown to extend women’s lives.
Ms Bennett invites us to embrace a period “before 1930”, when some previous guys lambasted contraception. Perhaps to 1910 but maybe not the full hundred years offered by Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler nor to the Spanish Inquisition... Nope, scratch that, she wants us back in the 2nd Century listening to a dude called Clement of Alexandria. But I suspect hardly anyone cares to step into her time machine or Albert’s, no matter to which prior century these folks set the dial.
Feet firmly planted in the past, she references the 1970 book ‘The Pill: An Alarming Report’, in which author Morton Mintz warned about ‘the greatest uncontrolled medical experiment in human history.’ Wow! He wasn't one to (sorry) mintz words.
Yet exactly 42 years after that finger-wagging, and 52 years since the pill was introduced, there’ve been hundreds of millions of users and, happily, we’ve seen nothing to cause any real concern.
Ms Bennett also quotes Dr Angela Lanfranchi who’s out there on her own linking use of the pill to breast cancer and appears to get her other information from far-right websites like American Thinker or Knights Of Divine Mercy. I’m an American thinker and I think that on health matters I prefer to believe The World Health Organization.
Let’s be clear. While there are rumblings in alarmist crannies of the medical community about possible links between certain forms of contraceptive pill and cancer there is zero proof. The Food And Drug Administration is looking with a measure of justifiable suspicion at a new version using drospirenone – but not at the hormonal pill already heavily in use for decades.
A simple side effect of that one is breakthrough bleeding, commonly known as ‘spotting’. Every medication has peripherals - even an aspirin can cause the ear-ringing affliction tinnitus, so it’s important to listen up, and to more than one voice. Appropriate here is that silly singsong slogan you hear in all those tiresome drug commercials: “Talk to your doctor.” It’s vital to also do your own research.
Ms Bennett is absolutely right about one thing when she states this is a conscience issue. I say it’s for the conscience of the person deciding whether or not to take the pill or have the abortion and not, absolutely not, for the conscience of some other individual or group of people, religious or otherwise. Basically it’s none of their business. It’s “The gift of life.” Sure, but nobody has the right to force that gift on someone else.
Opinion dressed as facts, is that what we want? Opinion in fact’s clothing like this lady’s column. I won’t join the chorus of critics who tore apart her fear-mongering. Speaking of facts, though, it’s a well-known fact that fear is used to control people. Make ‘em afraid, then have ‘em believe you’re the one who can keep ‘em safe. Such an old trick.
I doubt Ms Bennett would deliberately set out to deceive us with false data. More likely she just repeated what she found elsewhere without checking it first. After chewing her column thoroughly, though, I’m afraid I was forced to spit it right back out.
Oh, and I’m not asking anyone to accept without question anything I say. Check out my facts too.

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© 2012 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

APROPOS THE PILL AND THE PILLOCKS


March 7, 2012

I am woman. This is the 21st century and I refuse to be cast back to the 1800s or even before when a wife was classed as chattel. That’s chattel, another word for cattle. I am not livestock.
Okay, I’m not a woman physically (I just checked). Nor emotionally, but I take a firm stand over a lady’s body and her right to decide what happens to it. She’s its owner and when she says no it’s no. So here we go again with the discussion about contraception and its partner, abortion, two issues that were decided more than 50 years ago.
I say if you’re so vehemently against abortion then it is you – not the woman whose arm you twisted to give birth – you personally who must raise that child.
You’re the puppetmaster, setting rules and pulling strings to control another individual, therefore you’re responsible for the consequence – however it may turn out. You forced this human being into the world? Your baby, your burden.
Oh, you don’t want the kid either? Then you have absolutely no right at all to interfere in someone else’s life. This is America, the land of the free, not the land of your ideas becoming another citizen’s albatross; there’s no call for that.
Okay now: the mother doesn’t want it, you don’t want it. You could try dumping this double-unwanted child on the state to be paid for by taxes, but then... you hate government, remember?
And anyway, only a human ostrich would be unaware that a woman determined to terminate will seek out some wart-faced back alley practitioner brandishing a coat hanger. If she wants to abort she will regardless. Why not give her a safe procedure!
Here’s the real kicker: if you’re against abortion then why are you against contraception? Clearly, if you prevent even the spark of life inside the womb then there is never any need for an abortion, is there.
Therefore all this current giffgaff isn’t about “right to life” at all, it’s about control. Strangers want to decide a damsel’s destiny for her. And how come it appears to be geriatric Caucasian men who always make those authoritarian decisions, ascribing to the woman strict moral obligations while keeping themselves free to do as they please. How Middle Eastern is that! What’s next? Muslim-style veils with only the eyes showing? Burqas; our womenfolk, now an underclass, no longer permitted to drive, shuffling silently through the streets like herds of black ghosts?
The latest clumsy assault on women’s freedom of choice, by senators Roy Blunt and Marco Rubio, was defeated even though every Senate Republican bar one voted for it. We should treat all these dictatorial pillocks to a vasectomy!
Days earlier, fanatical congressman Darrell Issa held an utterly ludicrous hearing on women’s sexual issues in which the only woman who might have been allowed a voice was silenced.
It, too, was about denying the pill to the ladies of the land while professing to be about religion. Barred were Catholic hospitals and charities. And why? Because they’d all announced support for a President Obama compromise that accommodated religious dogma while still providing birth control to women.
Joining the geezers’ croaky chorus are some female Benedict Arnolds - the equivalent of women in other lands who support a system that keeps them downtrodden. Included here is a pushy Georgia harpy named Karen Handel whose attempt to stifle planned parenthood ignited massive outrage and cost her her job. And will Senator Susan Collins, who voted to rob women of prevention claim she never used contraceptives herself? After all, another name for Washington DC is Hypocrisy Central.
Female opponents of family planning and abortion should also scan their own souls. Faced with a seriously unwanted pregnancy will they stick to their principles?
So it’s not about religion either. All major Christian denominations barring the Catholic leadership condone contraception. The Baptists are ambivalent, with leader Albert Mohler against it, inviting us to “go back a hundred years” (no thanks) while his colleague Richard Land wavers. “The Southern Baptist Convention is not opposed to the use of birth control within marriage as long as the methods used do not cause the fertilized egg to abort.” Clue here is “the fertilized egg".
While the Catholic church remains intransigent polls show the widespread use of contraceptives by Catholic women is only slightly below that of their non-Catholic sisters. And who are these bishops anyway who dare to pontificate so haughtily? Aren’t they the guys who sheltered felons, who protected and hid all the pedophile priests, thereby making themselves accessories to their crimes. Shouldn’t they be in jail?
What a dangerous path we tread in the name of religion! We see it already. There are Muslims who would stone a lady to death for being seen out with a man, behead a woman for adultery or hang a girl for having sex before marriage. In backward territories like Somalia they circumcise young girls to deny them, as wives, any pleasure in sex. Controlling males again.
And so to the Master of Misogyny, the foul-mouthed loudmouth whose pus-filled pronouncements ooze over the airwaves. If the females in this blustering buffoon’s private life ever received a dime towards their contraception then they, too, are, in his own words, sluts and prostitutes whom he wants to watch having sex. What a joke this phlegmatic pimple is – a sick joke. He repeatedly calls women “feminazis” but guess who’s revealed himself as the real Nazi now, Reich Limbaugh.
Thursday is International Women’s Day. If we’re real gentlemen then we should be all for the ladies.

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© 2012 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.