New York City, 9/11, and its aftermath

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Moonstruck

by Saul Bloodworth

I finally made it to Tombstone, but I was not especially impressed. This town might as well be located on a Hollywood back lot. In fact, they had some "old" Wild West buildings on a lot that had been a gas station in the 1960s, a local woman told me. All the Wild West stores on Allen Street were selling Indian jewelry, Wyatt-Earp-T-shirts, semi-precious stones and the like. I spent 12 bucks on a coffee mug with Betty Boop, saying, "I don't do mornings".

Neither do I, but traveling such long distances requires getting up before 9am. In the evening, I hit Tuscon, the house of a friend's friend. We had a little get-together with some of her friends, we ate chicken salad sandwiches, brownies, and had some wine. One of her friends hat just built a huge mirror that captures moonlight. If you sit in it and let the moon shine on you, you should be cured from depression (because moonlight is more gentle than sunlight). She was by no means a McCain-fan, she found him way too aggressive. The other woman, who was married to an Army officer, was unsure.

The woman who had invited us was pro Obama, because she was concerned about the economy. Many people are holding onto whatever money they have left, she said. She also felt that in these times she would rather not buy a new TV. That might not seem such a big deal, but she was not doing bad at all. She owned a great house. So how do people feel who are really strapped?

Then again, if McCain gets elected, I can alway visit her friend and take a bath in the moonlight.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Copper Queen

By Saul Bloodworth

My road trip took me to Brisbee, Arizona. I actually wanted to got to Tombstone, but I was too exhausted from driving those bumpy roads to make the last thirty miles.

Brisbee is an old mining town without mines; everthing has been closed down in the 1970s, due to a lack of copper, so now everybody is making a living off tourism, more or less. Probably less. The town has an organic coffee shop, a number of stores selling Indian jewelry, the Brisbee Grille, and quite a few hotels, the oldest and most fanciest being the Copper Queen Hotel.

That's were I spent the evening, at the bar of the Copper Queen Hotel. The TV was running — baseball — and three guys, who were local, were talking about, no, not the playoffs, about the election. The discussion went like — well, Obama will likely win, according to these polls we've just seen, but there are also two Republican Congressman from Arizona who could loose there seats, plus, the Senat, if you count ... — anyway, it was not what you expect to hear in an Arizona town in the Wild West, at 10pm in a bar. They also sounded quite enthusiastic.

And nobody was mentioning John McCain.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Highway to Hell

by Saul Bloodworth

Recently, John McCain had an appearance in one of these late night comedy shows — I believe it was Letterman, but I'm not sure — were he was joking about earmarks. He said he had never voted for an earmark in Washington, DC. In fact, when he became Senator, Arizona had hundreds of miles of federal highways, and now it has next to none.

Guess what: He was not joking! I arrived in Arizona today, and when you cross the border, coming from New Mexico, the Highway 10 suddenly disappears! Well, not completely, but it turns from a well-maintained street into a bumpy road, lined with potholes. It reminded me of the GDR in the 1980s, when they were already broke. Obviously, so is Arizona.

I then took a left turn to get into the Chiricahua Mountains, very scenic (and pretty hot, too), however, the road, that was not very impressive to begin with, turned into a dirt road! Dirt road really meaning a stone-and-stick road. I was driving a rental, and I haven't changed a tire since, like, Jim Morrison died, if at all.

I finally arrived at a coffee place in a tiny town called Portal, and the very friendly lady that runs it gave me a makeshift map. Guess what: pretty much all the roads in the Chiricahua Mountains are dirt roads.

So, thank you, John McCain. If my flat tire isn't covered by my insurance, is there any address I can send the bill to (probably not 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I hope)? Also, I filled the tank with $50 worth of gas, so give my regards to your twin brother, George W. Bush.

To end on a high note, here is a joke my nephew told me: A sailor lands on the coast of Tasmania (far, far away, farther than Australia). He finds a strange looking bottle, and as he opens it, a Dschinn appears.

The Dschinn: Sailor, you have freed me. I will grant you a wish - anything at all!

The Sailor: Well, I would like you to build a highway over the Pacific Ocean, all the way from Tasmania to San Francisco.

The Dschinn: Uhh ... well, a highway across the ocean, tens of thousands of miles? Well, I am a Dschinn, buts thats quite an endeavor. Is there anything else you might care for?

The Sailor: Ok then. I want to understand women.

The Dschinn: Do you want you highway with six or with eight lanes?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A left turn at Albuquerque

By Saul Bloodworth

I stil don't know who will win the election (although I'm guessing, at this point, Obama) but I do know who will win New Mexico: Obama. Why? Because I'm currently traveling in New Mexico. Saturday, Obama had a rally in Albuquerque, at the University of New Mexico, and pretty much everybody who lived there, came.

Ok, nearly everybody. Albuquerque has a population of about 450.000 people, that would make, I guess, 200.000 voters. I attended the rally with a friend, we came one hour early, had a hard time fining a (legal) parking space, and also found the university gates packed. There was a long, long, long line (and a fairly broad one, too), we kept walking towards the end of the line until we were close to Santa Fé, the end never came. We decided to give up, walked back and we (ok, me) found an opportunity were we could sneak in, cutting the line short.

There were still some 10.000 people in front of us. We waited another hour, eventually, the people broke down the barriers to the sports field because security took too long, so everybody got in. And everybody was in a good mood. First, Bill Richardson, the Governor, spoke (whom my friend does not like because he reminds him of Bill Clinton), Richardson counted 300.000 people, that was probably a little over the top, but who cares.

Anyway, if that is already the number of supporters actually showing up and standing in line for three hours, you can guess that the number of voters will be through the roof. McCain also had a rally, only thousand people came. To be fair, they had to be pre-screened, and only committed Republicans got access. But still. Anyway, gotta run.

Friday, October 24, 2008

TV Land

by Saul Bloodworth

Three days ago I met Leslie Stahl. She spoke at the New York Historical Society. She looked good from afar, but up close you could that she was, like, sixtyish (no offense, I admire accomplished women). She talked with Peggy Noonan, about politics, the election, it was very cordial. The point, however, I'm trying to make is that it was like being on TV.

And with being on TV don't mean Ms. Stahls CBS appearances because I don't watch network news. I mean Murphy Brown. Currently, TV Land is re-broadcasting old Murphy Brown episodes. Occasionally, a real person shows up and pretends to be part of that fake news organization called FYI. And one of them is Leslie Stahl.

So I felt like I knew her already. At Murphy Brown they are also making jokes about Dan Quayle all the time. Dan Quayle was the dopey Veep of Bush the Elder, he got himself into the tank when he was trashing Murphy Brown for becoming pregnant while unwed (inspite that she did not even exist). So Bristol Palin can be glad that Quayle is not around any more.

Dan Quayle's chief of staff was, by the way, Bill Kristol. So, maybe, Kristol is not that smart - otherwise he would have prevented this PR desaster. At least he has learned: recently, he called Sarah Palin a "a working woman who's a proud wife and mother".

This might sound crazy, but I miss these times. Then again, they probably never were real. Anyway, if Sarah Palin shows up on 30 Rock, I'll become sick.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fakiness

by Saul Bloodworth

I don't even think it's such a big deal that the Republicans spent $150.000 on clothes for Sarah Palin. After all, the election is about appearances (even though for that kind of money Obama could probably look like a less scary and whiter version of Michael Jackson).

However, the odd thing is the fakiness surrounding that decision. Sarah Palin is supposed to be the down-to-earth, small-town-values, ordinary-American-kind of gal. So how come she dresses like Carrie Bradshaw?

And speaking of fakiness in the Republican campaign, the money-making backbone of this country is not the Nebraskan cowboy who barely breaks even (no offense, I like cowboys). The economic backbone is — still — Wall Street, the corporations of Delaware, Silicon Valley and all of the West Coast, from Microsoft to Hollywood.

The rural Midwest, on its own, without farm subsidies and other Washington handouts, would collapse to the economic level of Guatemala, if the un-American part of America were to succeed. And so would Alaska. When Palin speaks about hard working small town Americans, what she really means is: white people, the same way Ronald Reagan meant black people when he was talking about Cadillac-driving welfare queens.

She might be in for a rude awakening.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Future in Frankfurt

by Saul Bloodworth

I just came back from the Frankfurt Book Fair, and for the first time I've spent more time in hall 4 than in hall 3. This does not sound especially impressive; however, hall 3 is where all the fancy publishing houses are, it's where you meet the famous authors, and where you get free wine and cookies. Hall 4 is for the tech freaks and used to be boring.

Now, hall 4 was pretty much in demand because everyone is afraid of that new thingy, the e-book. Google was presenting its e-book search, Amazon was showing its Kindle, albeit for one day only, and Sony was also in hall 4, passing its own e-book around (also for one day only, because the prototype got stolen).

My hunch is that we'll see a revolution in publishing, comparable with Napster and Gnutella. Because you don't need publishing houses for editing and advertisement — these people can be hired on a freelance basis anyway —, you need them for distribution. If they can be bypassed, there will be no more gatekeepers.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Aryan Pitbulling

by Saul Bloodworth


Here is an interesting fact about Sarah Palin: The Governor from Alaska was born in Sandpoint, Idaho, and had returned to Idaho to attend the North Idaho community college in Coeur d'Alene; somewhat later she attended the University of Idaho.

Northern Idaho and especially Coeur d'Alene were, at that time, the heartland of white supremacism, the headquarters of the Aryan Nations were in Hayden, a suburb of Coeur d'Alane. The Aryan Nations are a neonazi group that worshippes Hitler.

So, I don't want to assume guilt by association, after all, she just lived there. Then again, the late leader of the Aryan Nations, Pastor Richard Butler, did sound a lot like Sarah Palin. Butler was the head of the Church of Jesus Christ–Christian. The church, originally known as the White Identity Church of Jesus Christ-Christian was founded, according to Wikipedia, by Ku Klux Klan organizer Wesley Swift, the son of a southern minister.

Butler was known for his rantings against Jews, much like Thomas Muthee, Sarah Palin's pastor in Wassila, Alaska, who wanted to replace the "Israelites" on Wall Street with Christian bankers. Even more eerily, when you listen to Palin's sneers against the "East Coast liberals" or "The New York Times" she sounds like Joseph Goebbels in drag (he also hated the Times).

While Palin at least avoids to be associated with modern-day neonazis, she has no problem with their predecessors from the 1930s. During a recent appearance she quoted Westbrook Pegler, an anti-semitic Hearst columnist who wished Roosevelt had been assassinated, and said that American Jews of Eastern European descent were "instinctively sympathetic to Communism." Or, in other words, you can't trust the East Coast liberals.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Polar Bears

by Saul Bloodworth

So, what can be done about Sarah Palin? I have given it some thought, so, how about this: Doesn't she shoot animals from helicopters? Wolfes? Mooses? Polar bears? Well, I would not put it beyond her that she might shoot this litte fellow.

How about putting that on a mug?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Empire Strikes Back

by Saul Bloodworth

Welcome to the wonderful world of digital publishing. When I designed this book, I had help from a friend who is in publishing, has all the necessary software and really no time at all. So, when I decided to do a few corrections I convinced myself that I could do it without his help. How difficult can it be to get and use Adobe Acrobat Pro? Because this is the program you need to turn your files into the PDF-format accepted by digital print services.

Very difficult, it turns out, if you work with Mac. Because Adobe does not have free trial software for Macintosh. Fortunately, I also have Windows XP on my MacBook, even though I never use in (I got it for a Sony program it refuses to work with anyway). Not only do I never use it, turning on Windows feels like watching that Alien baby worm grow inside Sigourney Weaver. Or talking to the Body Snatchers ... you get the point.

So, I downloaded Adobe Acrobat Pro, plus, as it turned out, I also needed a trial version of Microsoft Office. Because you can reach from the Windows part of your computer to the Mac part and pull files over to the Dark Side of the Force, but you can't pull over an application.

No easy task for somebody who is completely unfamiliar with the Evil Empire's operating system, however, I made it. Days later, my iPod broke down and I had to go the the Apple store and ask a Genius for help. While waiting for the Genius, a screen flashed all sorts of useful tips, such as: You can actually save any file as a PDF if you use Microsoft Work for Mac!

Back home, I tried it out. Yes, you can! turn your file into a PDF within ten seconds without going through the trouble of familiarizing yourself with two trial versions running on an operating system you hate while they keep asking for their serial number. Thanks, Steve.

So, this sounds as if I made it up, but during all these troubles I actually met Bill Gates. It was not a one-on-one, of course, he was speaking at a conference with Bill Clinton about Malaria and Philanthropy. Unfortunately, there was no Q&A. Otherwise I would have asked him why XP is not compatible with Sony applications. But I guess, that why there was no Q&A.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Nextel And The Firefighters

by Saul Bloodworth

Usually, I don't watch TV ads since I have TiVo, sometimes, however, I'm to lazy to switch. So, I saw that Nextel ad where firefighters are making decisions. They make the decisions pretty quick, like Sarah Palin on steroids: water - check, housing - check, electricity, check. The point of the ad is that you have to be quick.

Why is this revolting? Because Nextel, now a joint venture with Sprint, was responsible for the equipment of the police and the fire department in New York City on 9-11. Equipment that, we remember, was to crappy to enable the police to warn to the firefighters who were rescuing people in the burning twin towers from the eminent collapse. This had caused the death of 320 firefighters who didn't excape in time. Nextel, by the way, is represented in Washington by Giuliani Partners.

The least they can do is not exploit their victims for commercial purposes.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

7 World Trade Center

by Saul Bloodworth

7 World Trade Center, the new office tower adjacent to Ground Zero has lost a major tenant due to the current financial crisis, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. 7 WTC, we remember, was the building that had housed banks (mainly Citibank-subsidiary Smith Barney), offices of the SEC, the Secret Service, the IRS, the DoD, the CIA, and Rudy Giuliani's bunker. It collapsed in the afternoon of 9-11.

The reason for the collapse are somewhat disputed, to put it mildly. In the beginning, the official theory was that the diesel tanks had caught fire (on a personal note: I've visited a similar emergency building in Miami, and the owners assured me that diesel tanks cannot, under no circumstances, go up in flames). A newer theory is that it burned down because debris fell on it.

Be that as it may — it is undisputed that the new building has troubles finding tenants. Here is the deal: The building is called 7 World Trade Center, but for one reason only: It was built right next to the actual twin towers, by Larry Silverstein, in 1986, long after the twin towers had gone up. In addition, Silverstein had leased the actual World Trade Center from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, but only in July 2001.

Why is this important? Because Silverstein did not manage to get the WTC insured. He only had a preliminarely agreement which left the twin towers, in effect, underinsured. 7 WTC, however, is a totally different matter. This building was fully insured, Silverstein got the money and has used it to replace the skyscraper. On top of that, the city allowed him to top it with five additional floors at practically no costs.

It market terms, Silverstein should have found a lot of tenants a long time ago. So maybe, just maybe, tenants are afraid to move into a building called 7 World Trade Center?

Well, at least Silverstein won't have these troubles with the Freedom Tower, the replacement for the twin towers. This building is exclusively build and being paid for by the Port Authority, aka the taxpayer. Silverstein is just getting a "consulting fee".

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