Straws and Blimps in the Wind And a Guy Who HAS a Hole in His Head January 14, 2004January 21, 2017 Coming soon – what Gregg should advise his recently widowed 84-year-old mom. (A throaty comedic actress from the last century, Hermione Gingold, used to tell people, ‘I have two sons, both older than I.’) But today . . . A STRAW IN THE WIND? Paul Wren: ‘I have never been moved to involve myself in the political process (beyond voting) until this president. I am so convinced that he is doing real damage that I created a website to spread the word: JustOneTerm.com. You might enjoy it! And you can get a free bumper sticker, too. My biggest surprise is that there are nearly a thousand similar grass-roots, anti-Bush sites out there (checkout linkcrusader.com).’ ☞ There is indeed, in my view, a lot to be anti (even if some of the sites this links to are left of the ‘dynamic center’ that I and many Democrats feel most comfortable in). Bush himself may be a nice fella – I know several of his classmates who swear he is (and a couple who swear he’s a bully) – but his administration’s policies are unfriendly to the unrich, unfriendly to the environment, and unfriendly to much of the rest of the world. That said, what drives many of us who take shots at this administration is not ‘anti,’ it’s passionately ‘pro’ – pro a better life for the average guy . . . pro giving kids the best possible education and health care . . . pro a clean, healthy, beautiful environment . . . pro a world order based largely on cooperation and respect. (And now that you’ve got me going – why do you encourage me this way? – pro a tax code that nicks millionaires for at least as high a proportion of their income as it does the average guy . . . pro a woman’s right to control her own body . . . pro a person’s right to love whomever he or she wants, regardless of race and, yes, even gender . . . pro the right of the people of California to pass a medical marijuana referendum or the people of Oregon to twice pass a Death With Dignity referendum without coming under attack from Big Brother in Washington . . . pro the separation of church and state . . . pro a social safety net . . . pro a minimum wage and an earned income tax credit and the Family and Medical Leave Act . . . and more.) WHAT IF IT’S NOT A STRAW BUT A BLIMP? Apologies to any blimp enthusiasts who took yesterday’s headline as anything more than a humorous attempt to tie two disparate things together in a single sentence. But c’mon, y’all – at $1 million a year to operate even Dan’s new ‘cheap’ design, this has got to be one of the first nonessentials to cut out of almost any tight household budget. Dan Nachbar: ‘I should be clear I certainly do not expect any individual to shell out $1 million a year for a blimp. Rather, a recreational blimp will cost around $50,000 to build and less than $10,000 per year to operate — this is very much in line with many existing pleasure boats, etc. The $1 million per year cost estimate is for continuous, year-round commercial operation including several full-time employees, travel expenses, etc, etc. From the outside, a million doesn’t seem to be a wildly unreasonable outlay for part of a big-time ad campaign. (But I don’t know — thus my initial query.) So, while I may not expect a stampede of blimp buyers to my front door, I don’t think I’m suggesting anything quite like drilling holes in one’s skull in order to obtain spiritual enlightenment. That said, I am delighted to be associated with penguins.’ HE HAS A HOLE IN HIS HEAD Randall W. Haws: ‘I did this procedure and I built the trepan.com website. I challenge you to read my profile and the other 14 volunteers who have willfully chosen to evolve their minds, much like the ancient cultures discovered. If you truly have an open mind, you’ll want to read the truth revealed behind the subject. Better yet, I’m open for an interview. My story is truly incredible and this procedure has helped me to gain back the top performance level of my brain that was naturally intended, but was repressed due to human evolution over the past 10,000 years.’ WHAT IF IT’S A BOGUS WEB SITE? Sharon: ‘How can one tell if a web site is legitimate. We were checking out a money exchange site called xe.com. I’ve used the site for a while for their free currency conversion calculator, but now they have a financial web page where you can do commissionless wire transfers, etc. They are listed as Verisign checked, but it’s not clear on the Verisign web page how you can check if that is genuine. A Google search on xe.com turned up nothing but the original link to xe.com. Having been previously ripped off (slightly) by Cyberrebate, I’m wary of undocumented and bogus web pages. So – can you ask your panel of experts how to check on a web page’s veracity?’ ☞ What say you, Panel? ME-MAIL Please consider this a thank you to Wesly, who sent a generous note yesterday; and an apology to all those of you who might have expected to hear back from me but, like Wesly, accidentally gave me a mistpyed e-mail address, or none at all, and thus no way (other than this) to reply. Don’t forget to send in your fourth quarterly estimated tax payment today or tomorrow, if it’s due (i.e., you have significant income not subject to withholding and will owe a bunch of tax April 15).