T   P   O
The Patient Ox (aka Hénock Gugsa)

G r e e t i n g s !

** TPO **
A personal blog with diverse topicality and multiple interests!

On the menu ... politics, music, poetry, and other good stuff.
There is humor, but there is blunt seriousness here as well!

Parfois, on parle français ici aussi. Je suis un francophile .... Bienvenue à tous!

* Your comments and evaluations are appreciated ! *

Thursday, December 29, 2011

‘Charity’ and ‘the Better Angels of Our Nature’ - by TPO

Abe Lincoln (1809-1865)

‘Charity’ and ‘the Better Angels of Our Nature’
by Hénock Gugsa

It has been almost a hundred-and-fifty years since President Abraham Lincoln brought or reintroduced those ideals and guiding lights to our collective consciousness. He appealed to this nation’s mind and to its heart to do and to follow what was right. And he was, of-course, right. Most wrongs are the result of rash, intemperate, and selfish (as opposed to self-less) acts of the few upon the many. What society needs above all is an abundance of charity, and good-will. If we can achieve these, we have achieved peace on earth. But to get there, we need leaders who, like Old Abe, trust and follow the better angels of their nature.

In all of human history, there have been very few individuals that have pointed the right path for humanity, Christ and Buddha being the prime examples. Sadly, their central messages of charity, love, selflessness, and non-materialism are only given lip service in today’s world. The immorality of governments and political leaders is burgeoning, and society is unfortunately  aiding and abetting. And charity has almost become a dirty and unspoken word!

What does charity mean? It certainly does not mean what the wealthy donate to Oxfam with one hand, while with the other, they receive tax credit from the government. Charity does not mean buying "Toys-For-Tots" or feeding the hungry one-day-a-year (on Thanksgiving Day only?)

And where do all these social analysts and political pundits get their theories of the public being ‘overwhelmed’ by requests for charity? What mind came up with the notion of “compassion fatigue”?! When I first heard about that some time ago, I thought: what a supremely subtle cover for greed and for apathy?!

In my humble opinion, Charity is more than giving aid in the form of a material good. After-all, that is only finite.

- Charity is about a state of mind where the self is secondary and acquiescent to the wishes and considerations of fellow human-beings.
- Charity is recognizing what the French once ideally fought for: Liberté, Egalité, et Fraternité!
- Charity is above all about love, and the proper setting of priorities … where the material can also be immaterial.

Sadly, here in the United States, we see these days that greed and hate have gotten a strong political stronghold on the nation. I am observing less and less of rational reasoning and common sense. There is more negativity, and narrowness of vision. And the hypocrites of yesteryear have now gone a step further and openly abandoned any pretense to compassionate "isms"!

However, this does not mean I have lost my faith in America. This nation has not yet irrevocably lost its way. I am confident that there are still many (invisible) humble voices out there who are quietly doing good deeds. And these individuals are guided always by "the better angels of their nature". They will, like Mr. Lincoln, eventually succeed!

Happy New Year, America !! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Is Sex Passé?" - by Erica Jong

Is Sex Passé?
NY Times - July 9, 2011

WHAT could be more eternal than sexuality? The fog of longing, the obsession with the loved one’s voice, smell, touch. Sex is discombobulating and distracting, it makes you immune to money, politics and family. And sometimes I think the younger generation wants to give it up.

People always ask me what happened to sex since “Fear of Flying.” While editing an anthology of women’s sexual writing called “Sugar in My Bowl” last year, I was fascinated to see, among younger women, a nostalgia for ’50s-era attitudes toward sexuality. The older writers in my anthology are raunchier than the younger writers. The younger writers are obsessed with motherhood and monogamy.

It makes sense. Daughters always want to be different from their mothers. If their mothers discovered free sex, then they want to rediscover monogamy. My daughter, Molly Jong-Fast, who is in her mid-30s, wrote an essay called “They Had Sex So I Didn’t Have To.” Her friend Julie Klam wrote “Let’s Not Talk About Sex.” The novelist Elisa Albert said: “Sex is overexposed. It needs to take a vacation, turn off its phone, get off the grid.” Meg Wolitzer, author of “The Uncoupling,” a fictional retelling of “Lysistrata,” described “a kind of background chatter about women losing interest in sex.” Min Jin Lee, a contributor to the anthology, suggested that “for cosmopolitan singles, sex with intimacy appears to be neither the norm nor the objective.”

Generalizing about cultural trends is tricky, but everywhere there are signs that sex has lost its frisson of freedom. Is sex less piquant when it is not forbidden? Sex itself may not be dead, but it seems sexual passion is on life support.

The Internet obliges by offering simulated sex without intimacy, without identity and without fear of infection. Risky behavior can be devoid of risk — unless of course you use your real name and are an elected official.

Not only did we fail to corrupt our daughters, but we gave them a sterile way to have sex, electronically. Clearly the lure of Internet sex is the lack of involvement. We want to keep the chaos of sex trapped in a device we think we can control.

Just as the watchword of my generation was freedom, that of my daughter’s generation seems to be control. Is this just the predictable swing of the pendulum or a new passion for order in an ever more chaotic world? A little of both. We idealized open marriage; our daughters are back to idealizing monogamy. We were unable to extinguish the lust for propriety.

Punishing the sexual woman is a hoary, antique meme found from “Jane Eyre” to “The Scarlet Letter” to “Sex and the City,” where the lustiest woman ended up with breast cancer. Sex for women is dangerous. Sex for women leads to madness in attics, cancer and death by fire. Better to soul cycle and write cookbooks. Better to give up men and sleep with one’s children. Better to wear one’s baby in a man-distancing sling and breast-feed at all hours so your mate knows your breasts don’t belong to him. Our current orgy of multiple maternity does indeed leave little room for sexuality. With children in your bed, is there any space for sexual passion? The question lingers in the air, unanswered.

Does this mean there are no sexual taboos left? Not really. Sex between older people is the new unmentionable, the thing that makes our kids yell, “Ewww — gross!” You won’t find many movies or TV shows about 70-year-olds falling in love, though they may be doing it in real life.

The backlash against sex has lasted longer than the sexual revolution itself. Both birth control and abortion are under attack in many states. Women’s health care is considered expendable in budgetary negotiations. And the right wing only wants to champion unborn children. (Those already born are presumed able to fend for themselves.)

Lust for control fuels our current obsession with the deficit, our rejection of passion, our undoing of women’s rights. How far will we go in destroying women’s equality before a new generation of feminists wakes up? This time we hope those feminists will be of both genders and that men will understand how much equality benefits them.

Different though we are, men and women were designed to be allies, to fill out each other’s limitations, to raise children together and give them different models of adulthood. We have often botched attempts to do this, but there is valor in trying to get it right, to heal the world and the rift between the sexes, to pursue the healing of home and by extension the healing of the earth.

Physical pleasure binds two people together and lets them endure the inevitable pains and losses of being human. When sex becomes boring, something deeper is usually the problem — resentment or envy or lack of honesty. So I worry about the sudden craze for Lysistrata’s solution. Why reject honey for vinegar? Don’t we all deserve sugar in our bowls?

Erica Jong is the author of 22 books, most recently “Sugar in My Bowl.”

Monday, December 26, 2011

SELABI !! - by Hénock Gugsa

Selabi ! *
ስላቢ !
By Hénock Gugsa ( ሄኖክ  ጉግሣ )

Previously, when the spirit has moved me, I have dared to write about some particularly unique aspects of life in Ethiopia.  You may call them one man's stubborn forays into cultural, day-to-day phenomena that are taken for granted in Ethiopia.  But they could and should certainly fascinate and intrigue Ethiopians and non-Ethiopians in equal measure.  Some of you may have already read or sampled my writing on the topics of "meganya" ( meganya  መጋኛ) or "the yogurt fly" ( the yogurt fly  የ፡ እርጐ፡ ዝንብ).  In the same vein, I would like to address here another interesting Ethiopian reality known as: Selabi. [Pronounced … sel-ah-bee  ሰላቢ]

Well, what is selabi?  I am not really certain of the exact meaning of the word … I must defer that to linguists.  But it is my educated guess that it derives from a root word: meseleb, which could mean … to put one over, to blind, to cheat, etc.  It is a word highly charged with negative connotations.

A selabi is a person that practices trickery, black magic, and disappearing acts of self or of objects nearby.  No good can come of any association with a selabi.  It is bad luck, and bad karma to have a selabi around you.  After an encounter with a selabi, you could be dispossessed of your mojo, and life can suddenly become a series of missteps and disillusionment.  In extreme cases, even your health and well-being could be affected … and that is something to be considered seriously.

Selabi is a close kin to meganya, but in a phantom-like (poltergeist) way.  A selabi’s mischief is sly and subtle, and by the time it is detected, it is probably too late for countermeasures.  Ethiopian parents protect their children by making them wear some talismans and spell-potions around their necks.  It is believed that these items are effective defenses against selabi, meganya, and the pervasive evil-eye!

When the word “selabi” is uttered in any public setting, it is like an alarm bell, a clarion call to stop whatever you're doing and observe your surroundings closely.  Saying “selabi” is like shouting “fire!”  The significance and urgency of the situation is left up to the people on hand at the time.

To me, “selabi” conjures up images of some sociopathic individual who for obvious or non-obvious reasons sets out to make other people’s lives a misery.  A selabi could be one person acting alone, or it could be a group of people working in evil unison to bring about the demise of an individual or another group of people.  Even governments can be selabi!

The pseudo-socialist (in reality fascist) government of Mengistu Haile Mariam is a prime example of a selabi institution that did more harm than good in Ethiopia over two decades ago.  In a period lasting almost 16 years, Mengistu and his "dergue" (ደርግ) committed atrocious acts on a nation that already had enough on its hands dealing with natural calamities, such as droughts and famine.  And in the end, true to form, and like the selabi that he was, Mengistu slipped out of the country and fled to Zimbabwe.  To date, he has been living there in luxury after having plundered whatever he could from poor Ethiopia.  Not surprisingly, it is no irony that Mengistu has been the honored guest of another selabi who goes by the name of Robert Mugabe.

In conclusion, I say to the reader: be alert, be wary, there may be a selabi near you. Don’t put your trust or faith in strangers.  Be doubtful and skeptical of governments and especially of politicians.  The media should also come under your close scrutiny especially those that are commercial and yet claim to be free.  Question and examine closely everything and everyone!  Good faith is only good as an ideal.  In reality, trust (እምነት) is just another tool that a selabi could turn and use against you!  My apologies for a sour-note exit!
* “Selabi” ~ © Hénock Gugsa (ሄኖክ ጉግሣ) - 12/26/2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lines and Squares - by A. A. Milne

Lines and Squares
by A. A. Milne (1882-1956)

Whenever I walk in a London street,
I'm ever so careful to watch my feet;
And I keep in the squares,
And the masses of bears,
Who wait at the corners all ready to eat
The sillies who tread on the lines of the street
Go back to their lairs,
And I say to them, "Bears,
Just look how I'm walking in all the squares!"

And the little bears growl to each other, "He's mine,
As soon as he's silly and steps on a line."
And some of the bigger bears try to pretend
That they came round the corner to look for a friend;
And they try to pretend that nobody cares
Whether you walk on the lines or squares.
But only the sillies believe their talk;
It's ever so portant how you walk.
And it's ever so jolly to call out, "Bears,
Just watch me walking in all the squares!" 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

GOP... Denying and Defying Reality - by TPO

GOP ... Denying and Defying Reality
["Republicans lie about surtaxes ..."]
by NPR (National Public Radio)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

From the Doctorr's Office - by Unknown

From the Doctor's Office
Source: Unknown (?)

1. A man comes into the ER and yells, "My wife's going to have her baby in the cab!" I grabbed my stuff, rushed out to the cab, lifted the lady's dress, and began to take off her underwear. Suddenly I noticed that there were several cabs -and I was in the wrong one. Submitted by Dr. Mark MacDonald, San Antonio, TX.

2. At the beginning of my shift I placed a stethoscope on an elderly and slightly deaf female patient's anterior chest wall. "Big breaths," I instructed. "Yes, they used to be," replied the patient.
Submitted by Dr. Richard Byrnes, Seattle, WA

3. One day I had to be the bearer of bad news when I told a wife that her husband had died of a massive myocardial infarct. Not more than five minutes later, I heard her reporting to the rest of the family that he had died of a "massive internal fart."
Submitted by Dr. Susan Steinberg, Manitoba, Canada

4. During a patient's two week follow-up appointment with his cardiologist, he informed me, his doctor, that he was having trouble with one of his medications. "Which one?" I asked. "The patch. The nurse told me to put on a new one every six hours and now I'm running out of places to put it!" I had him quickly undress and discovered what I hoped I wouldn't see. Yes, the man had over fifty patches on his body! Now, the instructions include removal of the old patch before applying a new one.
Submitted by Dr. Rebecca St. Clair, Norfolk, VA

5. While acquainting myself with a new elderly patient, I asked, "How long have you been bedridden?" After a look of complete confusion she answered..."Why, not for about twenty years - when my husband was alive."
Submitted by Dr. Steven Swanson, Corvallis, OR

6. I was caring for a woman and asked, "So how's your breakfast this morning?" "It's very good, except for the Kentucky Jelly. I can't seem to get used to the taste" the patient replied. I then asked to see the jelly and the woman produced a foil packet labeled "KY Jelly."
Submitted by Dr. Leonard Kransdorf, Detroit, MI

7. A nurse was on duty in the Emergency Room, when a young woman with purple hair styled into a punk rocker Mohawk, sporting a variety of tattoos, and wearing strange clothing, entered. It was quickly determined that the patient had acute appendicitis, so she was scheduled for immediate surgery. When she was completely disrobed on the
Operating table, the staff noticed that her pubic hair had been dyed green, and above it there was a tattoo that read, "Keep off the grass." Once the surgery was completed, the surgeon wrote a short note on the patient's dressing, which said, "Sorry, had to mow the lawn."
Submitted by RN no name

AND FINALLY!!!................
8. As a new, young MD doing his residency in OB, I was quite embarrassed when performing female pelvic exams. To cover my embarrassment I had unconsciously formed a habit of whistling softly. The middle-aged lady upon whom I was performing this exam suddenly burst out laughing and further embarrassing me. I looked up from my work and sheepishly said, "I'm sorry. Was I tickling you?"! She replied, "No doctor, but the song you were whistling was, "I wish I was an Oscar Meyer Wiener".
Dr. wouldn't submit his name.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"My Man Newt" - by Maureen Dowd

"My Man Newt"
Maureen Dowd
NY Times OP-Ed Columnist
Published: November 29, 2011

In many ways, Newt is the perfect man.

He knows how to buy good jewelry. He puts his wife ahead of his campaign. He’s so in touch with his feelings that he would rather close the entire federal government than keep his emotions bottled up. He’s confident enough to include a steamy sex scene in a novel. He understands that Paul Revere was warning about the British.

Mitt Romney is a phony with gobs of hair gel. Newt Gingrich is a phony with gobs of historical grandiosity.

The 68-year-old has compared himself to Charles de Gaulle. He has noted nonchalantly: “People like me are what stand between us and Auschwitz.” As speaker, he liked to tell reporters he was a World Historical Transformational Figure.

What does it say about the cuckoo G.O.P. primary that Gingrich is the hot new thing? Still, his moment is now. And therein lies the rub.

As one commentator astutely noted, Gingrich is a historian and a futurist who can’t seem to handle the present. He has more exploding cigars in his pocket than the president with whom he had the volatile bromance: Bill Clinton.

But next to Romney, Gingrich seems authentic. Next to Herman Cain, Gingrich seems faithful. Next to Jon Huntsman, Gingrich seems conservative. Next to Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, Gingrich actually does look like an intellectual. Unlike the governor of Texas, he surely knows the voting age. To paraphrase Raymond Chandler, if brains were elastic, Perry wouldn’t have enough to make suspenders for a parakeet.

In presidential campaigns, it’s all relative.

Franker than ever as he announced plans to retire from Congress, Barney Frank told Abby Goodnough in The Times that Gingrich was “the single biggest factor” in destroying a Washington culture where the two parties respected each other’s differing views yet still worked together.

Newt is the progenitor of the modern politics of personal destruction.

“He got to Congress in ’78 and said, ‘We the Republicans are not going to be able to take over unless we demonize the Democrats,’ ” Frank said.

In the fiction he writes with William R. Forstchen, Gingrich specializes in alternative histories. What if America hadn’t gone to war with Germany in World War II? What if Gen. Robert E. Lee had won Gettysburg?

The Republican also weaves an alternative history of his own life, where he is saving civilization rather than ripping up the fabric of Congress, where he improves the moral climate of America rather than pollutes it.

Romney is a mundane opportunist who reverses himself on core issues. Gingrich is a megalomaniacal opportunist who brazenly indulges in the same sins that he rails about to tear down political rivals.

Republicans have a far greater talent for hypocrisy than easily cowed Democrats do — and no doubt appreciate that in a leader.

Gingrich led the putsch against Democratic Speaker Jim Wright in 1988, bludgeoning him for an ethically sketchy book deal. The following year, as he moved into the House Republican leadership, he himself got in trouble for an ethically sketchy book deal.

Gingrich was part of the House Republican mob trying to impeach Bill Clinton for hiding his affair with a young government staffer, even as Newt himself was hiding his affair with a young government staffer.

Gingrich has excoriated Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae for dragging the country into a financial spiral and now demands that Freddie Mac be broken up. But it turns out that he was on contract with Freddie for six years and paid $1.6 million to $1.8 million (yacht trips and Tiffany’s bling for everyone!) to help the company strategize about how to soften up critical conservatives and stay alive.

At a Republican debate in New Hampshire last month before this lucrative deal became public, Gingrich suggested that Barney Frank and Chris Dodd should be put in jail. “All I’m saying is, everybody in the media who wants to go after the business community ought to start by going after the politicians who were at the heart of the sickness that is weakening this country,” he said.

Another transcendent moment in Gingrich hypocrisy. He risibly rationalized his deal, saying he was giving the mortgage company advice as a prestigious historian rather than a hired gun.

Gingrich boasts that he’s full of fresh ideas, but it always seems to essentially be the same old one: Let’s turn the clock back to the ’50s. Just as Newt, who dodged service in Vietnam, once cast the Clintons as hippie “McGovernicks,” now he limns the Occupy Wall Street protesters as hippies who need to take a bath and get a job.

Maybe the ideal man to fix Washington’s dysfunction is the one who made it dysfunctional. He broke it so he should own it. And Newt has the best reason to long for the presidency: He’d never be banished to the back of Air Force One again.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Stopping Afghans' Weapons Source - by Greg Jaffe

"To stop Afghan bombs, a focus on Pakistani fertilizer"
By Greg Jaffe, (*)
Washington Post - Published: November 25

To grasp the severity of Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero’s $40-fertilizer-bomb problem, it helps to consider some much bigger numbers.

Barbero heads a U.S. military command, with an annual budget of about $2.8 billion, that was created to stem U.S. casualties from insurgent bombs. In just the past few months, he has shelled out $24 million for a new hand-held ground-penetrating radar, $33 million for mini-surveillance robots and $19 million for bomb-resistant underwear.

The insurgent’s weapon of choice in Afghanistan is at the other end of the price spectrum: a plastic jug filled with ammonium nitrate fertilizer. So far this year, these cheap, hard-to-detect bombs have wounded about 3,200 U.S. soldiers and Marines, up 22 percent from 2010, according to the Pentagon.

“We are sweeping more and more of this stuff off the battlefield,” Barbero said of the fertilizer bombs. “But it just keeps coming, and it keeps growing.”

Almost all of the ammonium nitrate used in the Taliban’s bombs comes from two big fertilizer plants across the border in Pakistan. Barbero concluded that the best way to slow the Taliban killing was to make it harder for the insurgents to obtain the fertilizer, which is banned in Afghanistan because it can be made into explosives.

In August, the general called Fawad Mukhtar, the chairman of the Fatima Group, which owns the fertilizer plants, and asked to meet with him in Pakistan.

Mukhtar replied that Barbero did not need to travel. He was planning to visit the United States to drop off his son at college and promised to stop by Barbero’s office in Arlington. The two met for about 30 minutes.

Barbero told the Pakistani businessman that the fertilizer from his plants was responsible for most of the U.S. deaths in Afghanistan. Mukhtar countered that less than 1 percent of his product fell into insurgents’ hands and was fashioned into bombs. The vast majority of the fertilizer was used for farming; people depended on his product to eat and live.

“He is not a radical,” Barbero said of Mukhtar. “I think he wants to be part of the solution.”

Mukhtar declined an interview request for this article. A spokesman for the Fatima Group praised Barbero’s efforts in an e-mail. “I am sure that a person of his experience and caliber can be very effective in dealing with the issue of IED related incidents,” he said, using the abbreviation for improvised explosive device.

The brief office visit was the beginning of Barbero’s months-long immersion in the global fertilizer industry. He and his staff have studied how the ammonium nitrate fertilizer is made, how it can be processed into a bomb and how it might be modified to make it less dangerous or more detectable by U.S. and Afghan troops at border crossings.

A week after his meeting with Mukhtar, Barbero flew to Denver to address a global conference of ammonium nitrate plant managers. His speech included a plea for help and warnings of onerous regulation if industry executives did not find ways to make ammonium nitrate fertilizer less useful as a weapon.

The plant managers reacted coolly. “They told me how hard it was to make it non-detonable,” Barbero said. “I said I got it. But you need to start working on it.”

Last week, Barbero’s command, the Joint IED Defeat Organization, organized its own fertilizer conference at a hotel in Arlington. About 120 industry executives, agronomists, chemists and military officers met for three days. Mukhtar’s Fatima Group sent a representative from its plant in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Almost immediately, the industry executives raised doubts that there was anything they could do to help the military. The amounts of fertilizer the Taliban were using to make their bombs — about 480,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate a year — seemed minuscule when compared with the global industry’s annual output.

“I appreciate the gravity of the situation,” said Donald Thomas, an executive with Illinois-based CF Industries. “I have a son-in-law who is a lance corporal in the Marines. But when I look at the volumes [in insurgent bombs], it is nothing. It is two rail cars out of millions of tons.”

“I think you need to talk to your son-in-law,” said Bob Best, the top fertilizer expert on Barbero’s staff. “That 480,000 pounds is a big number to him.”

In the summer, the 59-year-old chemist visited the Fatima Group’s fertilizer plant in Multan to understand how the company made and distributed its product.

“It was amazing for me,” recalled Best, who said he received a warm reception from the plant’s technical staff.

A few days after his trip, a Pakistani newspaper alleged that Best was a CIA operative and said that U.S. officials were using a diplomatic facade to “secure niches for their spies and hit men in and around Multan.” Best said the allegations are untrue.

At the November conference, Best described how the Taliban convert fertilizer into explosives, a process he has studied for years by making and detonating crude bombs himself.

The first step is to remove calcium carbonate, which the industry began adding to ammonium nitrate fertilizer in the 1970s to make it less explosive. Taliban bombmakers remove the calcium by pouring the fertilizer granules into a large pot of hot water. The insoluble calcium carbonate sinks to the bottom of the container.

The insurgents then dry the ammonium nitrate solution. The final product, which looks like laundry detergent, is packed in yellow plastic jugs. Blasting caps are fashioned out of ball­point pens or glass tubes full of acid. The bombs contain no metal, making them exceptionally hard to detect.

Best flashed a picture of one of the Taliban’s bomb-making factories on a large screen for the conference participants. “What you are seeing is a few guys living in a mud hut with no electricity,” he told the crowd.

A few minutes later the conference broke into working groups. The teams’ task was to find easy, quick and cheap ways to modify the fertilizer so it would be harder to make into a bomb.

Some groups talked about adding pink or yellow dyes to the fertilizer to make it easier to spot at border crossings. One team debated whether there was a way to add an effervescent substance to the bags of calcium ammonium nitrate so that when insurgents placed the granules in water they would get a fizzy mess. Another group suggested putting radio frequency identification tags in the bags so that they could be tracked as they left the factory.

The most promising solution, recommended by all four working groups, involved adding coated urea fertilizer granules to the bags of ammonium nitrate. The combination of urea and ammonium nitrate has a strong affinity for water and would be very difficult for insurgents to dry into an explosive powder.

The urea additives would not stop the insurgents from processing the fertilizer into bombs, but it would complicate their task and potentially make the blast less potent.

On the conference’s last day, groups reported their findings and the attention shifted to Fatima Group representative Farrukh Qureshi, the sole Pakistani at the conference.

A British military officer at the conference suggested that only the Fatima Group plants should have to change their method of production because they were the lone source of the problem in Afghanistan.

“It is a near-monopoly,” the British officer said. “And if those two plants would adjust their processes, it would make it very difficult for the insurgent to shop around.”

Qureshi bristled at the suggestion that Pakistan plants were the only problem. “There is a lot of trade taking place with India. There is Iran and Indonesia,” he said. “And I am not even discussing about the former Russian states. .?.?. The extremists will find ways to get calcium ammonium nitrate. These are very smart people.”

Another conference participant suggested banning ammonium nitrate in Pakistan and forcing farmers to shift to other kinds of fertilizer, such as urea, which is used heavily in the United States and is harder to make into a bomb.

Qureshi said that Pakistan’s impoverished subsistence farmers would need expensive machinery to spread urea. Ammonium nitrate fertilizer is spread by hand and is better suited to Pakistani soil. “Our customers are very change-sensitive and very cost-sensitive,” he said.

A few minutes later, the conference ended. Barbero’s command will pay for some quick studies in the next few months to determine whether adding coated urea granules, dyes or radio tags to the ammonium nitrate bags really will mean fewer bombs.

The goal is to have any potential solution in place at the Fatima Group plants before the 2012 summer fighting season in Afghanistan.


(*) - Correspondent Karin Brulliard in Islamabad contributed to this report.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"Here Comes Santa Claus !" - Doris Day

Doris Day"Here comes Santa Claus !"
Doris Day (1924 - )

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Long Words - A.A. Milne

A.A. Milne

 Long Words *
by A.A. Milne (1882 - 1956)

“'Well,' said Owl, 'the customary procedure in such cases is as follows.'

'What does Crustimoney Proseedcake mean?' said Pooh. 'For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me.'

'It means the Thing to Do.'

'As long as it means that, I don’t mind,' said Pooh humbly.'”

* A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh, 1926

Monday, December 5, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" - Gene Pitney

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"
Gene Pitney (1941 - 2006)
Lee Marvin a.k.a Liberty Valance
James Stewart, the "Law" man from the East

//** Lee Marvin vs. James Stewart **\\ 
When Liberty Valance rode to town
the womenfolk would hide,
they'd hide.
When Liberty Valance walked around
the men would step aside.
'Cause the point of a gun was the only law
that Liberty understood.
When it came to shootin' straight and fast
---he was mighty good.

From out of the East a stranger came,
a law book in his hand, a man.
The kind of a man the West would need
to tame a troubled land.
'Cause the point of a gun was the only law
that Liberty understood.
When it came to shootin' straight and fast
---he was mighty good.

Many a man would face his gun
and many a man would fall.
The man who shot Liberty Valance,
he shot Liberty Valance.
He was the bravest of them all.

The love of a girl can make a man stay on
when he should go, stay on.
Just tryin' to build a peaceful life
where love is free to grow.
But the point of a gun was the only law
that Liberty understood.
When the final showdown came at last,
a law book was no good.

Alone and afraid she prayed
that he'd return that fateful night,
awww that night.
When nothin' she said could keep her man
from goin' out to fight.
From the moment a girl gets to be full-grown
the very first thing she learns
When two men go out to face each other
only one retur-r-r-ns!

Everyone heard two shots ring out,
a shot made Liberty fall.
The man who shot Liberty Valance,
he shot Liberty Valance.
He was the bravest of them all.

The man who shot Liberty Valance,
he shot Liberty Valance.
He was the bravest of them all.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Child Development -- by Billy Collins

Child Development
Billy Collins (1941-)

As sure as prehistoric fish grew legs
and sauntered off the beaches into forests
working up some irregular verbs for their
first conversation, so three-year-old children
enter the phase of name-calling.

Every day a new one arrives and is added
to the repertoire. You Dumb Goopyhead,
You Big Sewerface, You Poop-on-the-Floor
(a kind of Navaho ring to that one)
they yell from knee level, their little mugs
flushed with challenge.
Nothing Samuel Johnson would bother tossing out
in a pub, but then the toddlers are not trying
to devastate some fatuous Enlightenment hack.

They are just tormenting their fellow squirts
or going after the attention of the giants
way up there with their cocktails and bad breath
talking baritone nonsense to other giants,
waiting to call them names after thanking
them for the lovely party and hearing the door close.

The mature save their hothead invective
for things: an errant hammer, tire chains,
or receding trains missed by seconds,
though they know in their adult hearts,
even as they threaten to banish Timmy to bed
for his appalling behavior,
that their bosses are Big Fatty Stupids,
their wives are Dopey Dopeheads
and that they themselves are Mr. Sillypants.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What happens [during] sleep - by Julie Redstone

What Happens While We Sleep: A Spiritual Perspective
By Julie Redstone*

The human body has never truly been separated from the higher realms of light, despite one's waking experience. At night, this body rejoins its higher counterparts that are the non-physical energy bodies, and a more seamless union of different aspects of one's being takes place than can normally occur during daytime functioning.

The body is a miracle of organization and intelligence in which life is continually renewed and energy continually replenished so that the total organism can continue to live. Sleeping involves part of this renewal, and is a process through which the higher vibrations of light are permitted greater access to the physical body because the emotional and mental components of personality that are often limiting factors in the awake state are no longer present while one sleeps. Although dreaming produces mental and emotional content and therefore creates emotional states, the content of these is part of the sleep state itself and not a barrier to the energies that would restore, heal, and rejuvenate.

The quality of sleeping has a great deal to do with the amount of restoration that can take place. Deep sleep produces not only different brainwave patterns, but also permits a greater influx of light energy into the cells and tissues so that toxins can be removed and greater energy can be infused on a cellular level. This does not happen in any kind of conscious way. It happens because of the nature of the human body which has never truly been separated from the higher realms of light, despite one's waking experience. At night, this body rejoins its higher counterparts that are the non-physical energy bodies, and a more seamless union of different aspects of one's being takes place than can normally occur during daytime functioning.

The infusion of light is not the only thing that can occur during sleep, however. It is also possible for a soul to decide to continue their experiences with other realms while they sleep or to receive teachings from Beings with whom they have had an ongoing soul relationship. Such nighttime experiences are not unusual even if not recalled, and many people benefit during the daytime from learning acquired at night which is unknown to them, but which occurs to their conscious mind as insight or inspiration later on. Much of this insight has taken place during the sleep state, when access to one's own higher intelligence as well as to the help and teachings of others, can infuse the mind and the understanding and be held there till such time as the conscious mind can retrieve the information or inspiration.

For those who have sleeping difficulties, there is very often a preceding difficulty that has occurred in relation to connecting with the spiritual realms. Often, something has occurred during previous lifetimes which has created a greater separation between one's embodied self and the higher self and higher energy bodies that exist on other planes. Because of this preceding separation, during the night when one wants to be asleep, it is often difficult to do so because the seamless transmission of energy from one level of being to another cannot smoothly take place. Where this is the case, there may be longstanding problems with sleep and much wonderment about what the cause might be. Often, the cause is not physical but spiritual and energetic, that is, it is related to the perceived separation of physical life from spiritual life and the manifestation of that sense of separation through sleeplessness.

Much healing is possible at night, including healing of sleep disturbances as well. If there is a possibility for one in need of healing to relax, and instead of trying to sleep, rather to try to enter an intermediate 'twilight' zone of being partly asleep and partly awake, it is possible to rest in this state and to gain much of the nourishment from the upper realms that one would normally gain during deeper sleep. Healing of other kinds is also possible, for the relationship with the spiritual realms continues whether one perceives it to be so or not, indeed, whether one seeks it or not, and helpers of all kinds are available when called upon to help address problems, both emotional and physical, that may be troubling during the day.

The capacity to enter a deeper state of sleep is one that needs to be appreciated as part of the extraordinary complexity and beauty of the way the human body has been fashioned, for there is a self-maintaining function built into the body itself which renews itself, heals itself, and restores a sufficient amount of energy after it has been depleted so that the body can remain in a viable state for experiencing life within the physical realm for many years. As more light becomes present on earth and infuses the cellular structure of people's bodies, this capacity for renewal and sustenance will become much more available, and many of the ailments that are currently produced by insufficient energy or insufficient life-force will disappear in the presence of greater light.

* Julie Redstone - is a writer, teacher, and founder of Light Omega, a spiritual center for healing and transformation in Western Massachusetts, and One World Meditations, a global effort to bring light and healing to the earth and to strengthen the planetary network of light.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stop Waiting for Washington - by Jim Sollisch

Stop Waiting for Washington
By Jim Sollisch (in Cleveland)
Christian Science Monitor - November 4, 2011

[If Americans hope Washington will create jobs or cut the deficit, they're in for a long wait. The onus lies on citizens. We need to change what it means to participate. We should treat politics like social media. Become our own politicians, just like we're our own digital-content producers.]

There’s an extremely good chance that you, dear reader, are fed up with Washington. To be precise, that chance is about 91 percent. According to a CBS News Poll conducted last week, only 9 percent of Americans say they approve of the job Congress is doing. That’s the lowest approval number since they began asking the question more than 30 years ago.

And yet we keep waiting for Congress to come up with solutions to our problems. Right now, we’re waiting for them to do something to spur job growth. We’re waiting for a Super Committee to find at least $1.2 trillion in budget cuts. Many are waiting for the political Messiah to appear in the form of a Republican candidate.

We might as well be waiting for Godot.

To be fair, not everyone is merely waiting. Some are occupying public squares and parks. Or having tea parties. A large number of us are still voting. We’re trying to participate, but the problem is we’re doing all the same things we’ve always done and expecting different results.

To actually do things differently, we should change what it means to participate. We should treat politics like we treat media. We should make it social.

As Clay Shirky points out in his excellent book, “Cognitive Surplus,” media have been turned upside down by this phenomenon. Not long ago, media were completely top down: a select few decided what the many would see, read, hear. Now everyone is a potential media producer. You can shoot a video and broadcast it on YouTube. Can’t get a job as a columnist? Start a blog and publish columns as often as you like. The means of production have shifted. We are all photojournalists, filmmakers, writers, publishers.

But the Internet has done more than democratize media. It’s also made it social and collaborative in ways that were never possible before. Imagine that 20 years ago someone told you there would be an encyclopedia that was updated minute by minute by hordes of volunteer editors, and it would be as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica, only much bigger. Even if you could grasp the idea technologically, you’d still have scoffed at the notion that so many people would collaborate without a monetary motive.

Apparently, we’re more social and collaborative than we thought. And Wikipedia is only one example of human nobility and cooperation on the web. There are jillions of others, including the global microloan site Kiva; the open-source software system Linux; Webcanvas.com, a worldwide collaborative painting; countless electric car forums where people help each other convert gas engines to electric, and the list goes on.

We’ve socialized media, software, knowledge, and philanthropy but not politics – or at least, not to the extent that it could be. In the political arena, we do the same things we’ve always done, even if we use new tools. Occupy Wall St. might have a Facebook page and a Twitter feed, but it’s still a good old-fashioned protest. MoveOn.org on the left and TheVanguard.org on the right make it easy for people to spread the message, but it’s still a message crafted by the few for the many.
We can do better. We have the tools to create a parallel government, a Congress of the people, that lives online, transparent and open to all.

Imagine a wiki for cutting $1.2 trillion, something that starts where, for instance, YouCutTheBudget.com ends. That site lets you do the exercise individually but not collaboratively. Or imagine a jobs bill online, one that Americans write. We can vote on provisions and proposals. We can post suggestions. We can have a real participatory debate. And politicians would be free to ignore us at their peril.
There might have to be several of these wikis to accommodate different points of view, but Americans could in effect vote with their mouses on which they prefer. Locally, we might be able to better manage road construction projects and school textbook decisions by making these things truly transparent and done together.
If we can collaboratively create an encyclopedia of all the knowledge in the world and constantly edit it and moderate disputes, how hard could it be to create a better jobs bill or a better budget online?

Let’s use the tools we have to do more than spread messages around – let’s send a message: America needs a new political system, a social one, where participation means more than voting or donating to a campaign. In this new politics, we’ll create the platform and politicians will embrace it, rather than the other way around. It’s time to make participatory democracy mean something again.

Jim Sollisch is creative director at Marcus Thomas Advertising.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"La Chittarra Romana " - (video) by Hénock Gugsa

Oggi, Ho Bisogno di Roma!
(video) by Hénock Gugsa

A Bad Oops Moment - by Anonymous

A Bad Oops Moment
by Anonymous

An example of why we should never make hasty assumptions or inferences and conclusions on the basis of a snippet of information ....

A little girl runs out to the backyard where her father is working, and asks him, "Daddy, what's Sex?"

"OK," he thinks, "this day was bound to come, and I'm not going to let my little princess learn about sex from the streets."

So, he sits her down, and tells her all about the birds and the bees. He tells her about conception, sexual intercourse, sperms and eggs. He tells her about puberty, menstruation, erections, and wet dreams.

Then she asks, "Daddy, what is 'A Couple'?"

And he carries on, "A couple are the two people involved in sex, but this can also be two males or two females which we call homosexual relationships," and he goes on to describe in detail several other topics in the vast arena of sex.

When he was done, he finally asks, "So why did you want to know about 'a couple' and 'Sex'?"

... Came the answer ....

"Oh, mummy said lunch would be ready in a couple of secs..."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"How to be a failure in 4 easy steps" - Dale Dauten

"How to be a failure, in four easy steps"
by Dale Dauten (*)
Today let us consider how lives and careers come apart – or, said another way, how to fail. During the past year I’ve been doing volunteer career counseling at a men’s center, a place for starting over. While many of those I’ve encountered simply have had a run of bad luck and are regaining their balance quickly, others seem to have mastered the art of screwing up. From the latter, I’ve put together this Guide to Being a Bonehead.

• Don’t know what you don’t know.

If there’s one point the “how to succeed” literature agrees upon, it’s that confidence and a positive attitude are the underpinnings of achievement. Well, if there were “how to fail” literature, it would be full of stories of overconfidence and overpositivism.

Those who have collected the most failures are often the ones who offer the most advice, making assertions with stunning absence of self-doubt. The ones quickly rebounding in their lives and careers are different. They ask the most questions. Said another way, it’s the difference between know-it-alls and learn-it-alls.

• When things go bad, go with them.

In the physics of failure, the critical factor is momentum. The “tipping point” was a health or business failure, being laid off, an arrest, drug habit or divorce. Financial and personal problems tumble down together.

For many of these men, living out their own versions of “Jerry Springer” scenes, their salvation came when they walked away. One young man told of the day his wife introduced him to the man whose baby she was carrying: “I shook his hand and said, 'Thank you – she’s your problem now,’ and walked out for good.”

Having left dreadful environments, the men most likely to succeed have found the humility to understand that they are not stronger than their environment. As one of the recovering addicts put it: “I don’t have to just avoid ‘using,’ I have to avoid ‘using behavior.’ That means giving up all my old friends.” Misery doesn’t just love company, it has an active recruiting program.

• Believe that your job is a dead end.

Every job is a dead end if your end is dead. What people who fail often rarely understand is that every job is an audition.

• Believe that “we’re all in this alone.”

Despite all we hear about the brutal new economic realities, there is still plenty of kindness in strangers. There are still people willing to help. Let’s end with one such story of helping, one perfect for the Christmas season.

Having been kicked out of his apartment, and eventually those of all his friends, a young man was wandering the streets one night when he tried the doors of a nearby church, found one unlocked and spent the rest of the night curled up in a pew. He was awakened by a group of the ladies of the church.

To their credit, the women of the Presbyterian church did not get the police; they got breakfast. They also got him a motel room for the next night and then found him a spot in the men’s center. Those women did more than get him a meal or a place to sleep, they made him want to be like them, made him want to be one of those giving help, which is a marvelous definition of success.

(*) Corporate Curmudgeon - Minneapolis Star Tribune, December 19, 2001

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fire and Ice - by Robert Frost

Fire and Ice
by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Inequality Map - by David Brooks

The Inequality Map
Op-Ed Columnist / NY Times
November 10, 2011

Foreign tourists are coming up to me on the streets and asking, “David, you have so many different kinds of inequality in your country. How can I tell which are socially acceptable and which are not?”

The intellectual, cultural and scientific findings that land on the columnist’s desk nearly every day.

This is an excellent question. I will provide you with a guide to the American inequality map to help you avoid embarrassment.

Academic inequality is socially acceptable. It is perfectly fine to demonstrate that you are in the academic top 1 percent by wearing a Princeton, Harvard or Stanford sweatshirt.

Ancestor inequality is not socially acceptable. It is not permissible to go around bragging that your family came over on the Mayflower and that you are descended from generations of Throgmorton-Winthrops who bequeathed a legacy of good breeding and fine manners.

Fitness inequality is acceptable. It is perfectly fine to wear tight workout sweats to show the world that pilates have given you buns of steel. These sorts of displays are welcomed as evidence of your commendable self-discipline and reproductive merit.

Moral fitness inequality is unacceptable. It is out of bounds to boast of your superior chastity, integrity, honor or honesty. Instead, one must respect the fact that we are all morally equal, though our behavior and ethical tastes may differ.

Sports inequality is acceptable. It is normal to wear a Yankees jersey, an L.S.U. T-shirt or the emblem of any big budget team. The fact that your favorite sports franchise regularly grounds opponents into dust is a signal of your overall prowess.

Church inequality is unacceptable. It would be uncouth to wear a Baptist or Catholic or Jewish jersey to signal that people of your faith are closer to God. It is wrong to look down on other faiths on the grounds that their creeds are erroneous.

Income inequality is acceptable. If you are a star baseball player, it is socially acceptable to sell your services for $25 million per year (after all, you have to do what’s best for your family). If you are a star C.E.O., it’s no longer quite polite to receive an $18 million compensation package, but everybody who can still does it

Spending inequality is less acceptable. If you make $1 billion, it helps to go to work in jeans and black T-shirts. It helps to live in Omaha and eat in diners. If you make $200,000 a year, it is acceptable to spend money on any room previously used by servants, like the kitchen, but it is vulgar to spend on any adult toy that might give superficial pleasure, like a Maserati.

Technological inequality is acceptable. If you are the sort of person who understands the latest hardware and software advances, who knows the latest apps, it is acceptable to lord your superior connoisseurship over the aged relics who do not understand these things.

Cultural inequality is unacceptable. If you are the sort of person who attends opera or enjoys Ibsen plays, it is not acceptable to believe that you have a more refined sensibility than people who like Lady Gaga, Ke$ha or graffiti.

Status inequality is acceptable for college teachers. Universities exist within a finely gradated status structure, with certain schools like Brown clearly more elite than other schools. University departments are carefully ranked and compete for superiority.

Status inequality is unacceptable for high school teachers. Teachers at this level strongly resist being ranked. It would be loathsome to have one’s department competing with other departments in nearby schools.

Beer inequality is on the way down. There used to be a high status difference between microbrews and regular old Budweiser. In academic jargon, beer had a high Gini Coefficient. But as microbrews went mainstream, these status differences diminished.

Cupcake inequality is on the way up. People will stand for hours outside of gourmet cupcake stores even though there are other adequate cupcakes on offer with no waiting at nearby Safeways.

Travel inequality is acceptable. It is perfectly normal to have separate check-in lines and boarding procedures for airline patrons who have achieved Gold, Platinum, Double Ruby or Sun God status.

Supermarket inequality is unacceptable. It would not be permissible to have separate checkout lines at the grocery store for obese frequent buyers who consume a lot of Twinkies.

Jock inequality is unacceptable if your kid is an average performer on his or her youth soccer team. If your kid is a star, then his or her accomplishments validate your entire existence.

Vocation inequality is acceptable so long as you don’t talk about it. Surgeons have more prestige than valet parkers, but we do not acknowledge this. On the other hand, ethnic inequality — believing one group is better than another — is unacceptable (this is one of our culture’s highest achievements).

Dear visitor, we are a democratic, egalitarian people who spend our days desperately trying to climb over each other. Have a nice stay. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Yogurt Fly - by Hénock Gugsa

(የ  እርጐ  ዝንብ )
by Hénock Gugsa ©
A while back, I was sitting at a café with an old school friend ... drinking coffee and just shooting the breeze ... having a wonderful and jovial conversation.  We had begun doing this as a weekly ritual.  My friend is fully retired, and I am effectively semi-retired, and anyway we both agree that Facebook somehow just is not enough for old folks like us.  Interfacing on the computer cannot match actual face-to-face interaction between friends.  But sometimes, this rare luxury is spoiled by the appearance on the scene of some unwanted persons.  There are indeed such people out there who just drop in uninvited and insert themselves in private conversations. There is no rhyme or reason (or should I say excuse) for spoiling the good ambiance of a favorite café.  In Ethiopia, such people are, not unkindly, and collectively labelled: Yogurt fly.

The common garden-variety picnic ant has nothing on the pesky and ugly green fly of great infamy.  Even its Latin name gives one pause: Calliphora  Vomitoria! ....  But, some people simply refer to it as a green-bottle-fly ... an innocuous and nonsensical appellation!

Literally-descriptive Ethiopians, on the other hand, named this terrorist insect: “yogurt fly” (የ እርጐ ዝንብ ) ... because of what it does.  A person may just be getting ready to enjoy a glass of yogurt or some specially-prepared milkshake.  Then out of nowhere and with great and malicious speed, the fly appears and just literally dives into the delicacy in much the same manner as a kamikaze pilot. There is no escaping this fly!  And after it has landed on the yogurt and is feasting with spiteful greed, there is not much else to do but to dispose of the yogurt in disgust and frustration.

Understandably, such flies are despised, and people who behave like them are treated likewise as well.  They are avoided with passion and soon become friend-less.  It is true that butt-in-skis and busy-bodies are everywhere, but we patiently tolerate and cope with their behavior.  I suppose there is nothing else one can do with such people.

In old and ever-wise Ethiopia, when a child behaves in a manner akin to a yogurt fly, he is right away given that nickname.  And it will stick unless the child takes the reprimand to heart and shirks his bad ways (manners) once and for all!  Such shaming  is actually very effective psychologically, and I wish it were practiced more here!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Lesson on Bullying" - by Felissa Elfenbein

"Lesson on Bullying"
by Felissa Elfenbein (posted on FaceBook)

A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform.

She had the children take a piece of paper, and [she] told them to crumple it up, stomp on it, and really mess it up. But they were to make sure not to rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out, and observe how scarred and dirty it had now become.

She then asked them to tell it they’re sorry. Now even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they'd left behind ... and that those scars would never go away no matter how hard the children tried to fix the damage. That is what happens when a child bullies another child, the teacher told them -  you may say you’re sorry but the scars will be there forever.

The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message had hit home.

Pass this on, or better yet ... if you're a parent or a teacher,  
impart this lesson to your children (or your students).



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Hello Operator" - by Anonymous

Actual call center conversations!

Customer: 'I've been calling 700-1000 for two days and can't get through; Can you help?'

Operator: 'Where did you get that number, sir?'

Customer: 'It's on the door of your business.'

Operator: 'Sir, those are the hours that we are open.'

Samsung Electronics
Caller: 'Can you give me the telephone number for Jack?'

Operator: 'I'm sorry, sir, I don't understand who you are talking about.'

Caller: 'On page 1, section 5, of the user guide it clearly states that I need to unplug the fax machine from the AC wall socket and telephone jack before cleaning. Now, can you give me the number for Jack?'

Operator: 'I think it means the telephone plug on the wall.'

RAC Motoring Services

Caller: 'Does your European Breakdown Policy cover me when I am traveling in Australia ?'

Operator: 'Does the product name give you a clue?'

Caller (inquiring about legal requirements while traveling in Europe) :
'If I register my car in France, and then take it to England, do I have to change
the steering wheel to the other side of the car?'

Directory Inquiries
Caller: 'I'd like the number of the Argo Fish Bar, please'

Operator: 'I'm sorry, there's no listing. Are you sure that the spelling is correct?'

Caller: 'Well, it used to be called the Bargo Fish Bar but the 'B' fell off.'

Then there was the caller who asked for a knitwear company in Woven.

Operator: 'Woven? Are you sure?'

Caller: 'Yes. That's what it says on the label -- Woven in Scotland '

On another occasion, a man making heavy breathing sounds from a phone box told a worried operator: 'I haven't got a pen, so I'm steaming up the window to write the number on.'

Tech Support: 'I need you to right-click on the Open Desktop.'

Customer: 'OK.'

Tech Support: 'Did you get a pop-up menu?'

Customer: 'No.'

Tech Support: 'OK . Right-Click again. Do you see a pop-up menu?'

Customer: 'No.'

Tech Support: 'OK, sir. Can you tell me what you have done up until this Point?'

Customer: 'Sure. You told me to write 'click' and I wrote 'click'.'

Tech Support: 'OK. At the bottom left hand side of your screen, can
you see the 'OK' button displayed?'

Customer: 'Wow! How can you see my screen from there?'

Caller: 'I deleted a file from my PC last week and I just realized that I need it. So, if I turn my system clock back two weeks will I get my file back again?'

This has to be one of the funniest things in a long time. I think this guy should have been promoted, not fired. This is a true story from the WordPerfect Helpline, which was transcribed from a recording monitoring the customer care department. Needless to
say the Help Desk employee was fired; however, he/she is currently suing the WordPerfect organization for 'Termination without Cause.'

Actual dialogue of a former WordPerfect Customer Support employee.
(Now I know why they record these conversations!):

Operator: 'Ridge Hall, computer assistance; may I help you?'
Caller: 'Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect.'
Operator: 'What sort of trouble??'
Caller: 'Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away.'
Operator: 'Went away?'
Caller: 'They disappeared'
Operator: 'Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?'
Caller: 'Nothing.'
Operator: 'Nothing??'
Caller: 'It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type.'
Operator: 'Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?'
Caller: 'How do I tell?'
Operator: 'Can you see the 'C: prompt' on the screen?'
Caller: 'What's a sea-prompt?'
Operator: 'Never mind, can you move your cursor around the screen?'
Caller: 'There isn't any cursor; I told you, it won't accept anything I type.'
Operator: 'Does your monitor have a power indicator??'
Caller: 'What's a monitor?'
Operator: 'It's the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV.
Does it have a little light that tells you when it's on?'
Caller: 'I don't know.'
Operator: 'Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that??'
Caller: 'Yes, I think so.'
Operator: 'Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it's
plugged into the wall.
Caller: 'Yes, it is.'
Operator: 'When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one? '
Caller: 'No.'
Operator: 'Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable.'
Caller: 'Okay, here it is.'
Operator: 'Follow it for me, and tell me if it's plugged securely into the back of your computer.'
Caller: 'I can't reach.'
Operator: 'OK. Well, can you see if it is?'
Caller: 'No.'
Operator: 'Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?'
Caller: 'Well, it's not because I don't have the right angle -- it's because it's dark.'
Operator: 'Dark?'
Caller: 'Yes - the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window.'
Operator: 'Well, turn on the office light then.'
Caller: 'I can't.'
Operator: 'No? Why not?'
Caller: 'Because there's a power failure.'
Operator: 'A power ... A power failure? Aha. Okay, we've got it
licked now. Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff that your computer came in?'
Caller: 'Well, yes, I keep them in the closet.'
Operator: 'Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from.'
Caller: 'Really? Is it that bad?'
Operator: 'Yes, I'm afraid it is.'
Caller: 'Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them?'
Operator: 'Tell them you're too stupid to own a computer!