But first . . .


One of you is angry with me for saying we descended from apes when in fact we and apes may have descended from a common ancestor. Another of you is angry with me for saying the hole in the ozone layer came from deodorants and refrigerants without mentioning the chlorofluorocarbons from industrial processes. (I mean, really angry!)


. . . with George Bush for vetoing the stem cell research bill . . . and with those who are likely to keep that veto from being overridden? By leaning against this medical research instead of encouraging it, the Republicans have been doing two things: first, they have been handing the lead in an important 21st Century industry to our friends in other lands; second, and more important, they have delayed the kinds of breakthroughs that could improve the quality of life – or save the life – of you or someone you love.

Imagine if the polio vaccine had been delayed five years. What if your parents had contracted it during that unfortunate five-year window?

Better – says the Republican majority – to discard microscopic embryos than to use them to save you or your loved ones from a final decade like Ronald Reagan’s or a nightmare like that of J. Michael Fox or Christopher Reeve.


Johnny Dicks: ‘I recently discovered cardavenue.com. It is an online marketplace for buying, selling, and trading retail gift certificates. I HATE receiving gift cards. The gesture is always nice, but I would much rather have cash. On this site, you can ‘liquidate’ your gift cards for what usually works out to about 90% of the value plus a small fee ($.39 cent postage – no kidding, that’s it, plus the Paypal fee if you use it). Or, if you know you want to buy something, say a Brooks Brothers suit, for example, and you know it will cost $300, you can go to cardavenue.com, buy three $100 cards, and get an automatic 10% off (or sometimes better). Or – and this is the most practical use – I can trade you my Best Buy $100 for your Home Depot $100. I really hope you’ve never seen this site. I love being revelationary.’

☞ And revelationary you are.


Fred: ‘I read your column on peas and then yesterday along comes a guy in my office with a cane. Torn calf muscle. Beach volleyball. Forwarded him your article. Note to self: add frozen peas to grocery list.’

☞ Vegetables are my forte.


Frank Schrader: ‘I installed the beta of Windows Vista [Microsoft’s new operating system] and one of the first things I tried was Managing Your Money DOS Version 12. It works just fine, which is great because I’m not ready to give it up yet. It still does everything I want it to and I have records dating back to 1987!’

☞ Orphaned 13 years ago, yet it lives on. Continued kudos to Jerry Rubin and countless talented young programmers under his direction who made MYM such an amazing tool.

Bill Strong: ‘Purchased new laptop. MYM 12 will not print. Only have USB ports on laptop. Any way to keep MYM12 working? Hate being without it.’

☞ Except for printing checks, the solution is easy: print ‘to disk’ and then open those reports with your word processor and print from there. (To get report columns to line up, you may need to change the font to Courier and/or reduce the font size.) For checks, the solution is to keep your old computer and printer around.


Kevin Kotowski: ‘Saw An Inconvenient Truth the other day and you’re right. Everyone who cares about the environment AND has an open mind should see it. I wonder whether, if a Republican had made it instead of Mr. Gore, it would find more acceptance among those who decry it without even seeing it.’

Dan Stone: ‘One of the most disturbing issues surrounding the release of Gore’s movie was Bush’s ‘probably not’ when asked if he’d see it. This underlines the fact that Bush self-censors his sources of information and that he is close-minded to any information that might challenge his pre-existing opinions.’

If they made a movie about YOUR HOUSE, would you go see it? Well, they have.

And now . . .


Jim Hickel: ‘About a year ago, I created this website which listed all the great “catastrophes” of my lifetime (the population explosion, nuclear winter, Y2K, and, yes, global COOLING) that seemed to generate large headlines and tremendous public anxieties and then…fizzle. Can you help me understand why global warming is different?’

☞ Good question. Because, so far, our healthy fear of nuclear war and nuclear winter have kept us from having one? And because a small fortune was invested in revising software to make it Y2K compliant? And because (shorthanding what should be a longer discussion), China instituted draconian measures to curb its population explosion?

(I don’t remember any tremendous public anxiety over global cooling.)

So sure! As long as we get smart and take the necessary measures to avert it, catastrophic global climate change will be yet another false alarm.

Your site summarizes the (in hindsight ridiculous) prediction of The Limits to Growth that (in your words) ‘The price of natural resources . . . particularly oil will skyrocket during the remainder of the century as supplies dwindle’ when in fact (you say) Natural resources are more abundant, and are less expensive in real terms, than they were when The Limits to Growth was published.

It brings to mind that scene in City Slickers where Billy Crystal tries to break the ice by asking Curly whether he’s ‘killed anybody today?’ Curly fixes him with an icy stare and says, ‘Day ain’t over yet.’

(People kept telling New Orleans that it sat in a bowl below sea level, and a bad storm could be catastrophic. But it never was – until it was. Would have made sense to take those warnings seriously. People kept telling the Administration, as it prepared to attack Iraq, ‘if you break it, you own it.’ Would have made sense to take those warnings seriously. Bush, Cheney and Rice were told by the CIA at Blair House on January 7, 2001, that Osama Bin Laden posed a ‘tremendous’ and ‘immediate’ threat to the United States. Would have made sense to take that warning seriously. People who see the movie will find it compelling. People who don’t will not make the peril any less real by ignoring it.)

Tomorrow: Real Estate


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