Since I’m getting the chance to write my column up before the awaited apocalypse on the twenty-first, I think that, since this may never actually make it to print, it might be the perfect time to air out all of my personal concerns and opinions about the world...
But I’m not.
If, by the grace of the Mayans, we are all still kicking around on good-old planet Earth next week, you’ll have a nice, silly story to read, and, if history has taught us anything, there will be crazy stories ripe for the picking next time I look for stuff to mock.
In New Delhi, (and, no, that’s not on Main Street), a suspect, identified only as “Rajesh,” headed out on a Sunday morning to get some drunk food and, as he was sitting down to have a little nosh, pulled out a gun and started blasting on his waiter.
True, we’ve all had occasion to want to punish a member of a wait staff, but we don’t – typically. Let’s tune in and see what riled Rajesh up.
The Times of India reports that “Monu,” the waiter, refused to eat Rajesh’s left over flatbread.
So Rajesh shot at Monu.
Being a good boy, I’ve never balked at the offer of food, and, after learning about the possible consequences of doing so, I don’t think I’ll break the habit.
And the next time you find yourself confronted with a waiter who just doesn’t see things your way, just repeat to yourself:
“Monu, Monu, Monu...”
Printed in the December 27, 2012 edition
Christmas is almost here. I find it fascinating when people ask me if I am ready for Christmas. I stumble, not quite knowing how to answer the question. I am assuming that they wonder if I have bought and wrapped all my presents, cooked all I intend to cook, have my cards sent and my house decorated.
This advent season, our church has been studying the book The Journey by Adam Hamilton. The book explores the journey that Mary and Joseph took on the way to Jesus’ birth. The book’s intent is to get us “ready” for the day we celebrate the birth of the Christ child.
Being “ready” for Christmas is a physical undertaking, a spiritual undertaking but also a psychological undertaking. There is so much expectation of what Christmas is supposed to be, that so many find themselves disappointed and a bit depressed on December 26 because for whatever reason their expectations were not realized.
So how do we get ready for Christmas so that we do not feel let down after it is all said and done? Here are a few tips that might be helpful.
Focus on the intended meaning of the holiday. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is not our birthday. We give gifts as a representation of the gift that was given to us in the person of Jesus. Give gifts that honor him. There are many reputable organizations to which to contribute that allow you to give a gift in a person’s honor. Some of these include World Vision, Heifer International or Compassion International.
If two-and-a-half gallons of vodka can keep a 45-year-old elephant from freezing to death in Siberia, imagine what it could do you!
That’s right, Leonid Labo, elephant trainer for the Komsomolskaya Pravda circus, claims that he saved the lives of his two elephants by having them suck down 10 liters of vodka, which he first diluted in warm water.
It should be no surprise that a Russian carnie just happened to have almost three gallons of vodka on hand that he could spare on the poor creatures.
Alexander Davydov, emergency ministry spokesman, explained that the elephants were caught in a trailer during a fire near the city of Novosibirsk, and that Labo was forced to take the poor creatures out into the lovely weather.
(As I write this it is currently sunny in Novosibirsk and the high today is expected to get to -24 degrees Fahrenheit.)
Labo decided to freeze his assets – literally – to the Siberian landscape, but wasn’t heartless enough to let them kick off in pain.
Giving the giants enough to drink themselves stupid, Labo may have just wanted a little ignorant bliss for his oversized pets right before they headed off to that Sahara in the sky.
But the uniquely Russian tactic saved their hides (and ivories).
All in all, this isn’t the first time liquor has been lauded in the news as a way to hold off freezee death.
Supposedly, Charles Joughin managed to survive three hours chilling in the icy Atlantic after going down in the Atlantic with the Titanic because he was tanked out of his gourd before his feet hit the water.
Alcohol: anti-freeze for the body.
And anti-sad for the soul.
Printed in the December 20, 2012 edition
In the wake of the senseless shooting tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut we attempt to ease our collective pain by latching onto the only hope of extracting anything useful from this event, that is, to learn from what is now history so that it is never repeated. But what have we learned? Superficially this shooting is no different than any of the other mass killings: heavily armed killer walks into an area designated as a “gun free zone” and then proceeds to open fire on the unarmed. For example, it is a deliberately ignored fact (or rather an inconvenient truth) in the mainstream media that the Cinemark theater chain (where the infamous Dark Knight shootings took place in Aurora, Colorado) had a “gun-free” policy (http://goo.gl/yVHLt). Several of the victims were recent veterans who could have expeditiously put down the shooter had they been permitted to carry arms into the theater. It is highly improbable that the following is mere coincidence: with only one exception (Gabrielle Giffords shooting in 2011) every public shooting in the U.S. since 1950 in which there were at least three fatalities have occurred in gun-free areas (schools, malls, post offices, etc.) (http://goo.gl/7RVgJ). The killers may be sociopaths but they aren’t stupid. Such shootings do not occur at police stations or gun shows for a reason. If you are still unconvinced that gun-free zones simply inform evil-doers where they may proceed unmolested then I issue to you the following challenge: place a “this is a gun-free zone” sign on your front lawn. Still feel safe?
A terrible national tragedy occurred last week which left 27 people, 20 of them 6- and 7-year-olds, dead at the hands of a young man who took three guns, including an assault rifle, into a grammar school.
While we mourn, we need to be cognizant of the basic facts. Some of the most noteworthy:
1. American children ages 5 to 14 are 13 times as likely to be murdered with guns as children in other industrialized countries.
2. More Americans die every six months in gun homicides and suicides than have died in the last 25 years in every terrorist attack and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.
3. A person on the terrorist watch list can legally buy a gun in this country.
No other developed country tolerates the number of gun deaths that plagues the United States. As Nicholas Kristof, writing in the New York Times, put it, “The fundamental reason kids are dying in massacres like this one is not that we have lunatics or criminals — all countries have them — but that we suffer from a political failure to regulate guns.”
No one, including this self-identifying liberal, proposes banning guns. My son and nephews are hunters, and I respect their right to gun ownership. However, the time has come to enact sensible gun laws.
Yes, an evil man will always find a way to get a gun, but we can do a great deal to reduce the carnage that takes the life of an American every 20 minutes. We can bring back the assault weapons ban; we can prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines; we can require background checks for all gun sales, including gun show and private sales; we can prohibit the purchase of multiple guns within a short period of time; we can make gun serial numbers more difficult to erase; we can track sales of ammunition and ban armor piercing ammo.
Nancy Pelosi said, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." But the bill was passed three years ago and we are still finding out what’s in it. The healthcare bill is widely called Obamacare. The reason for that is probably the fact that the real name, The “Affordable” Care Act is becoming a joke as healthcare costs are sky rocketing.
Blue Cross of California is requesting a 20 percent increase in premiums. Aetna’s CEO says, “Health insurance premiums may as much as double for some small businesses and individual buyers in the U.S. when the Affordable Care Act’s major provisions start in 2014.”
Bryon York in the Washington Examiner writes, “For millions of people, Obamacare will mean, alone or in some combination: higher insurance bills, unwanted changes in status at work, higher taxes, loss of employer-based health insurance and a bewildering bureaucracy that will make today's already complex insurance maze seem downright simple.”
The healthcare bill imposes new taxes on businesses. One tax is a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices. Democrat Senator Al Franken, whose home state is headquarters of device-maker Medtronic, called it a "job-killing tax." The tax also impacts Baxter International. In 2013 new taxes hit everyone when a 3.8 percent tax is applied to gross income from interest, dividends, annuities, rent and the taxable gain from the sale of your personal residence.