Cleaning out still more files....

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Sep 06, 2002 12:00 AM
One way to foil hijackings is to intelligently disable the pilots - or, in President Bush's words, create "technology to enable (air traffic) controllers to take over a distressed aircraft and land it by remote control." And why not? If we can lock cruise missiles on Baghdad and Kandahar, surely we can put down commercial aircraft where they are scheduled to go - never mind the demands of hijackers. Good news from the former Soviet Union: Not only has Russia, under Vladimir Putin, moved closer to the United States, so have five of its central Asian "republics" - now the nations of Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Emphatically undemocratic, yet broadly Muslim, their regimes generally regard Islamist extremism with the same dread they used to reserve for Soviet commissars. Their star may be rising. Add their names to your vocabulary. Our military is carrying most of the anti-terror load, but with serious funding lapses. Production of defense equipment is down 37 percent from its peak in 1988 - and accounts for just 0.5 percent of total U.S. industrial production, about the same percentage as in 1950. Government spending on defense equipment and structures stands at just 0.8 percent of Gross Domestic Product. Today, the military boasts just 1.6 percent of the American workforce. The Saudis (who booted out their native son, Osama bin Laden) remain oddly conflicted about how much to help America. Why? When it is not deploring America-backed Israel, the Saudi regime supposedly worries about what the Saudi people might think about a war against the ousted Osama - the regime fearing perhaps nothing quite so much as a democratic uprising. Is this not a grand time at last to get a proposed constitutional amendment through the Senate prohibiting the desecration of the Grand Old Flag? The House routinely passes such a measure by the necessary two-thirds vote, but the Senate vote just as routinely falls short. Now is the time. Ratification by the states would come at light-speed. Maybe you missed that the ever-relevant People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals suggested college students shun milk for beer on the grounds that drinking milk is cruel to cows. On the runways, do the highest of high-fashion models insistently not smile because (1) they are told not to, (2) they are totally bored, (3) they are overworked - nearly enslaved - and harassed by oppressive males into utter unhappiness, or (4) they believe deeply that to smile might carry certain sexual connotations the haberdashery they are strutting is secretly intended to conceal? In case you missed it: With 28,000 restaurants worldwide, McDonald's ranks as (1) the world's No. 1 buyer of beef, pork and potatoes, and (2) the world's largest owner of retail property. What's more, about one in eight American workers has had a McDonald's job. Finally this, from a piece making the rounds on the Internet and attributed to comedian George Carlin: "The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways but narrower viewpoints. We spend more but have less. We buy more but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge but less judgment, more experts yet more problems, more medicine but less wellness. We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much and pray too seldom. . Remember to say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side. Remember to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it does not cost a cent. Remember to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment, for someday that person will not be there again."