Friday, May 30, 2008

#403 Beam Me Up, Scotty

#403 Beam Me Up, Scotty

A lying scuzzball in the Bush administration? That ain't news.

A lying scuzzball in the Bush administration who admits it? THAT's news!

Former press secretary Scott McClellan has written the umpteenth pre-conviction memoir in the past eight years.

"What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception" does have some fine print. McClellan says he didn't know that he was lying when he lied, he was lied to. This from the Spinner-in-chief.

Better late than never, Scotty, baby.

His successor, Dana "I Know Nothing" Perino, true to her Stalag 17 Sergeant Schultz demeanor says the President probably won't say much about all this, because he has more important issues on his mind. Yeah. Like getting his successor to pardon him. The rest of the crime family has plenty to say, none of it good. The liars Scotty blames deny the whole thing. Rove, Libby, you name him/her/it.

All Presidents lie. This one and his brain trust (can there be such a thing in this climate?) apparently lied about Iraq, the outing of a CIA operative for political punishment and who-knows whatall else.

But it's not just lies. It's screwups.

Scotty says Iraq was a screwup. Duh. This is not some left wingnut talking. This is the guy who is in charge of telling YOU what's going on in the west wing. He uses soft words to describe this. Things similar to "ill chosen," and "veering off the path." Not his exact words, because we peasants, as of now, have not been able to see the whole thing.

Disgruntled former employee trying to make a name for himself selling sensation-seeking tell-all memoirs, or a true patriot trying to help both this president onto the right path (not likely -- probably not possible) or doing the same for the rest of us (possible, but unlikely in the same room as the mind-numbing drumbeat this administration plays on its room-filling iPods.)

This is the best expose of its kind since Woodstein's "All the President's Men," which was semi-fictional in some of its aspects, but managed to make the point.

Now comes Scotty who puts into words the actions behind the catch phrase perpetual campaign.

We don't need a perpetual campaign. We don't even need a semi-perpetual campaign.

We need an honest guy in the White House.

It's okay if he's functionally illiterate. The office was made to run even with such people in the Oval Office.

Honest guy with sane policies.

Beam me up, Scotty.

Shrapnel:

--You used to be a customer, but now you're a consumer. So when you complain about consumables, you are making a "consumer complaint." As in: "I nearly choked to death when I consumed the funnel you sold me."

--We used to have a department of weights and measures now. Now, it's known as the department of consumer affairs. It sounds like Match.com for people looking to hook up with, say, a funnel.

--Then there was the insurance consumer who consumed his policy. Got double consumer value for his money. First he burned it, then he ate it.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©2008 WJR

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

#402 Combinations

#402 Combinations

The local Asian grocery store has "Chinese-style rice," which is grown in this country. And it has "Korean-style rice," which is grown in this country. And it has "Thai-style rice" which is grown in this country. And then there's "Japanese-style rice, which can be grown in this country and also in Japan. And it has "Malaysian-style rice" which is grown in Indonesia. What happens if you buy a small bag of each kind and mix them up. Rice is rice, right? Wrong. Rice has subtle differences depending on the length of the grain ("long" grain is short, "short" grain is shorter) and the way it tastes. Combining rices could lead to world war III. And that doesn't even take into account what's grown inViet Nam, Cambodia, Taiwan and Baltimore. Most of us don't care and don't notice a difference.

Such trouble.

Then, there's whisky. Or whiskey. What happens when you mix Bushmill's, which comes from County Armagh in Northern Ireland and Jameson's, which comes from Ireland- Ireland. Here's a hint. It doesn't explode. The North and South of Ireland may be at sword point. But the alcohol is not. The drinks blend together as if they were one.

If you blend Pepsi and Coke (Poke-a-Cola? Polka Cola?) what happens?

Is a line dance a hora or a square dance that's come apart but can be put back together?

Some of these combinations work well, others not.

Sea planes work in the air and on the water.

But does anyone remember the car that turned into a boat? Anyone who remembers it actually see one or go to sea in one?

Lots of stuff goes together, some stuff doesn't.

You can play croquet with golf clubs, but you can't play golf with croquet mallets.

You can play tennis with ping pong paddles, but can you play ping pong with tennis racquets?

The one that many people miss: comparing apples and oranges.

Can't be done? Why not?

Both are fruit. Both are spherical. Both carry seeds. Both taste good. And their juice blends as well as Bushmill's and Jameson's -- or Pepsi and Coke or Korean rice grown in Baltimore with Chinese rice grown in Texas.

So, compare all you want.

And combine all you want.



Shrapnel:

--Doctors' offices used to be great places to catch up on last year's issues of Newsweek and Reader's Digest. But TV has replaced magazines. So now, you get to watchSanjay Gupta's Greatest Hits.

--Today's medical office is a marvel of mass production that would make Henry Ford, Leo Fender and Ray Crock green with envy. And like Ford, Fender and McDonald's, when they find a bad part, they throw it out. Too bad if it's your spleen.

--The people who check you out of the doc's office are taking slowness lessons from the chain drug stores. But there is one difference. CVS knows what to do with actual cash.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©2008 WJR

Monday, May 26, 2008

#401 Top of the Bus

#401 Top of the Bus

There's an old Manhattan joke: "Should we walk, or do we have time to take the bus?" Tribute to the slowness of midtown traffic, there.

There's no mode of transportation that's as uncomfortable, gawky, slow moving and annoying as a bus. But that wasn't always so. Only starting in 1953. That's when the then-privately-owned Fifth Avenue Coach Company took its last double-decker off the street. Ten years later, Fifth Avenue Coach went bust and the state took over the routes.

Apparently, the lovely two-story monsters coming back. The single most elegant mode of transportation next to the horse-drawn coach. So much so, that their fares were double that of the more pedestrian modes of locomotion. Ten cents, compared with a nickel.

Some elementary school kids read an item in the paper, said you could tip those big buses over. Maybe. We tried, though and couldn't.

On the upper deck, you could sit right over the driver and pretend YOU were the driver. And you could see all the way up or all the way down (note to young people: 5th was a two way street until 1966.)

It was romantic. It was fun. It was interesting. It worked. People loved it. Therefore, let's kill it.

There was a brief comeback attempt about 30 or 35 years ago. It failed because they did it wrong.

Eventually, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority figured out it need more passenger space. So they made those extra long buses with the accordion dividing the front and the back. Great. Takes up twice the room, break every five hundred miles and are hideous.

Some genius figured out that a double decker doesn't take up as much as road room as a bus that is twice normal length and conjoined by a device on which you can clear the tables of a night club by playing "Lady of Spain," but not much else.

The seats on the new buses, you can be sure, will not be leather. The windows will not open. The air conditioning will be labored. Ah, but the view!

Probably we won't have a two-man crew like the originals, a driver and a conductor. Probably will have seat belts, especially on the upper deck.

These are the REAL tall ships of New York. May even make you forget that walking is faster.


Shrapnel:

--Big oil should take a tip from big telecom and the airlines. Don't raise prices, charge fees. Who'll care if you have to pay an extra few cents per gallon to use the pump hose, get a receipt, and listen to the awful canned music they play over the loudspeakers?

--The price of gasoline is so high, they're going to start selling it by the glass. Bartender, gimme an unleaded regular on the rocks. And I want extra olives.

--In tune with the times, ExxonMobil is changing its name to Tiffany. Fine name for a luxury item. Or a transvestite hooker at the Lincoln Tunnel.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©2008 WJR

Friday, May 23, 2008

#400 Two Babushkas & a Do-Rag

#400 Two Babushkas and a Do-Rag

Okay, all you Russian linguists. We know that you know that the word "babushka" means grandmotherly woman, and we'll get to to that meaning. First, we'll talk about the common American use of the word, which is head scarf, which, as I'm sure you'll remind us really is called a platok.

In America, the babushka means that triangular thing the Russian women wear on their heads while they carry bricks up the ladder to help build the latest People's Housing Development in Siberia. It's similar in shape to the thing African American and Hispanic men and some women wear. In Red Square, the red platok means fellow-traveler or party member. In Herald Square, a red platok means gang member. Still pretty similar.

So, if these groups, which seem to have nothing in common, but maybe sweaty heads, have this in common, what else do they share? Maybe we should all wear do-rags. Bring us closer together. The Russians and the gangsters and the gangstas have the faces that go with the rags. For them, the thing needs no explaining. The rest can wear emblems. Flag pins inserted in right wing babushkas, campaign pins for politician babushkas, diamond studs for rich folks babushkas. Cowboys can wear the babushkas over their ten gallon hats.

Plus there's a whole new potential industry in the works here. Get a few of the mainline department stores behind you, and every teenybopper, college professor, blogger, Hollywood star and McDonald's burger flipper'll be clammoring for his or her own collection. Note, collection. Because one is just not enough. You have your work babushka, your clubbing babushka, your Sunday-go-to-meetin' babushka, and plenty more.

That will cause a spike in the employment rate as high as.... as a Soviet Babushka climbing a scaffold with a hod of bricks.

Which brings us to the REAL meaning of the word. Grandmotherly women. This is a point we've made before. Here's yet another shot at it.

If the babushkas of the world ran it, we'd all be better off. They may be cranky and fussy. But most of them have outgrown the silliness that prevents us from moving in the right direction, which is toward -- not away from -- one another.

And brick delivery would be a lot more efficient.

===

Shrapnel:
--Hockey is two different games. One is what you see on TV, the other is what you see in person. The latter is WAY more interesting and exciting than the former, proving Canadians can sometimes be interesting and exciting, contrary to popular opinion.

--The airlines are in big trouble. Their solution? Crowd the planes by cutting service. Makes perfect sense.

--Congress is considering a bill to change the name of the Gypsy Moth. They say the "Gypsy" part is an ethnic and cultural slur. Okay, change it to Hebe Moth, after all, my fellow Hebes, the bugs are not just tree-killers, they're garment workers.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©2008 WJR

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

#399 Oink!

#399 Oink!

Observant Jews and observant Muslims tend not to eat pork. And so we've all learned that the best beef bacon in town's at the Food Exchange on 59th between Park and Lex. At least it's the best in town when Gomes is working the grill. Gomes, from Portugal doesn't know much from Jews and Muslims, but he knows his customers, and he knows his beef bacon.

He knows that most of his customers think he's Mexican, which he thinks is funny until they tell him that they misspelled his name on the shirt. "GomeZ" they all tell him, paternally. "No," he says, "GomeS," it's Portuguese. This is a source of endless conversation, which you'd think it wouldn't be, since most of the customers are regulars -- daily regulars.

Gomes lives in Jackson Heights, Queens, right near Roosevelt Avenue, which is pothole paradise. And he's always writing notes to Borough Hall and City Hall and Albany and Washington trying to get the thing fixed. Potholes affect everyone, he says, and we have to get the road fixed. The Borough says it's a City problem. The City says it's a State problem, the State says it's a Federal problem. Gomes says "What do I have to do, take it the the UN?" He might.

But his beef (as opposed to his beef bacon) is about pork.

No one wants to come flat out and legislate an end to potholes on Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights. But they're all willing to slip it into some irrelevant bill. Like, maybe the one that declares tomorrow National Schnauzer day. (Do they spell schnauzer "schnauSer" in Portual?) Or one making it illegal for men to marry men.

If you live in, say, Idaho, fixing Roosevelt Avenue is Pork. If you live on Roosevelt Avenue it's public service. Same thing with a bridge to nowhere. Same thing with a tax break or subsidy for a factory that promises to make a lot of new jobs somewhere.

So one person's public service is another person's pork.

Gomes is thinking about taking home the beef bacon and eggs that doesn't sell. It gets very much like pavement when it cools. He and the neighbors want to fill in those holes.

At least it won't be pork.


SHRAPNEL:
--Ten O'clock in the morning, half the world thinks Ted Kennedy is Satan. Two o'clock in the afternoon, he's a hero even to his enemies. Cancerous brain tumors'll do that for you.

--It didn't take seagulls long to learn they could crack clamshells by soaring to high altitude and dropping them on the highway. But they may be grassing over some of the highways. So how long will it take the gulls to learn the fast food trick no longer works?

--Everyone in your parents' yearbook looks older than their age. Everyone in yours looks younger. That's nothing to do with age, only with the degree (or lack of degree) of the formality of the eras.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.(r)
(c)2008 WJR

Monday, May 19, 2008

#398 A Failed Experiment

#398 Failed Experiments

I didn't really give it enough time. But the reduced schedule of posts didn't work out as planned. There's too much nonsense going on to warrant such sparseness. Especially since windbag-atude is much easier than scarcity. Plus a bunch of people wrote angry emails saying once was not enough.

Maybe it would have been a better idea to conduct an unannounced test. And when you think about it, that's often the case.

Take Wall Street. They come up with vaporware and start selling it Stuff that no one knows what it is, but seems to be a way to make a buck pops up all the time. More often than not, it is announced with enormous hoopla, and early success, and then, like any Ponzi scheme, it falls apart, leaving us with a credit market that looks like a squid exploding, a housing market that looks like the winds that hit Myanmar and China and gasoline at $4.00 a gallon or more.

Some cynics believe all that's been intentional and that there's a small bunch of people who've made a boatload of money and are sailing into the sunset on it while the rest of us drown. I say Fie on the negativatators! We all know the Street is only there to make you better off and just screwed up this time. So a small experiment might have warded off the trouble.

Then, there's the war. Maybe we're really in Iraq to give the Israelis a good fighter plane route to Iran's nuclear bomb factories, as some now say. Or maybe we just didn't know what we were getting into and now we have to live with THAT exploding squid. A small-scale experiment might have taught us better, although given the White House mentality, (can something mindless have a mentality?) it's unclear.

Maybe if they played around in the pharmaceutical lab a bit more, we wouldn't have had Vioxx.

Corn-based ethanol? What were we thinking? It uses more energy and causes more production-stage pollution than petroleum, it causes food prices to rise, and you don't end up saving either the planet or any money, since E85 packs way less juice per gallon than regular gas, so you use more of it. Save half a buck a gallon, buy 20 percent more gallons. A little more time in the testing stage might have fixed that.

This is not a new problem.

We're living in a world where a woman from a hoity-toity suburb, graduate of two hoity-toity colleges is casting herself as the presidential candidate of the Working Man, and where another candidate is such a kaleidoscope of conflicting ideas no one knows what he stands for. These items need further testing before they're brought to market.

So does this: A local hospital goes out of business. A local doctor wants to re-open it. He has a slight problem: he writes a lot of prescriptions for addictive medicine and sells them to addicted people. He needed more testing.

No one these days can be accused of over testing.

===
Shrapnel:
--The "Smart Car" (See Wessays 12/8/07) just got a good rating in the crash tests. So now, when you get pancaked between two 18-wheelers, you can be proud that you got smooshed in a high-scorer. And if you can survive, you can just pick the thing up and carry it home.

--Drink responsibly, they're always telling us. My liquor store doesn't sell that brand. Anyone know where I can pick some up?

--Why can't they make a Glad Wrap dispenser that doesn't tie the stuff in a knot as you tear it off? If they can't fix that, maybe they can suggest a use for otherwise un-used knots of Glad Wrap. Or maybe they can make it in colors, so at least the waste looks pretty.

I'm Wes Richards. You know the rest.
(c) 2008 WJR

Saturday, May 17, 2008

#397 To Change A Lightbulb

#397 To Change A Light Bulb

This is not just another light bulb joke: How many environmentalists does it take to change a light bulb?

Who knows. Thing is, it's changed. We're going to stop making regular Tom Edison bulbs at some point, and we'll put in those little corkscrew things that use mercury. More light with fewer watts. Sounds like a plan, right?

Just don't break one. You have to call in the hazmat squad to clean it up. Too bad some of us didn't know that when we broke one and are now larded with more mercury than a school of Newark tuna. Oh, well. At least the environment is cleaner, General Electric is one bulb's worth richer and you can almost see in the kitchen.

These corkscrew bulbs? They need warm-up time. They don't just go on. They fade up. Dramatic. Adds a little flare to your life when you come stumbling into the foyer late at night, flip the switch and your house lights up like a stage. Keep telling yourself you're not going blind, you're saving the environment, making GE richer and screwing the electric company out of charges for countless costly kilowatts.

What's hard to understand this: the utilities are in the business of selling you electricity. So if they keep telling you to conserve, what's in it for them? Are they trying to scare away customers? Or is it that they've simply learned that you won't listen and talking conservation makes them seem like good corporate citizens? "Look at us, we're putting your welfare and the environment ahead of our profits." Who believes that.

The whole conservation/environmental thing has become pure politics with nothing behind it. Climate change is happening. The left wingnuts want you to believe it's all human made and if we don't stop, we will soon kill the planet. The right wingnuts want you to think it isn't or that it's all natural. It won't be long before those same right wingnuts decide it's God's punishment for (choose one) (a) homosexuality, (b-1) abortion, (b-2) contraception, (c) failure to accept Jesus into your life, (d) a "Democrat" Party plot to destroy your personal initiative, (e) insulting Islam (f) antisemitism (g) all of the above.

Not to worry. When the oil runs out and the corn runs out and the lights go out, you can always cook, warm yourself and see in the dark by burning the furniture.

Anyone remember the Perry Como song "Light One Little Candle"?



SATURDAY SHRAPNEL:

--There are too many "think tanks." It's time to start emote tanks. Why should thinkers have all the tanks?
--Ace is making a toothless comb for bald guys. They're going to be more expensive than regular combs. That's because breaking off the teeth has to be done by hand.
--Congressmen are looking more unruly these days. The House is going to debate a dress code. If it passes, you'll not only pay for the Escalade lease, you'll pay for the rent-a-suit.

(note: by popular demand, the thrice weekly schedule resumes Monday 5/19/08)

(c) 2008 WJR

Friday, May 09, 2008

#396 Navel Gazing

#396 Navel Gazing

This blog was originally going to stop after maybe 100 or 150 entries. Here we are at nearly 400 of them, and it's still going strong. Well, it's going, anyway.

Looking over the past 40 or 50 of the posts, I kind of scratch my head and think "maybe this has outlived its usefulness. Maybe, I don't have anything more to say." It seems forced and manufactured to me, so It may to you, too. It's too much navel gazing.

So rather than labor to put out 1500 to 2,000 words a week, and make them either fun or thought provoking or interesting or different, I'm going to cut 'em down to one entry each week, and put them out Saturdays, when there's not much else going on. After all, you probably don't read the Saturday paper, don't watch CNN or the Nightly News, and don't listen to talk radio, unless you like the "Home Fix Up Hour" or "The Merry Gardener." (There hasn't been a decent talk show on Saturdays since "Bloomberg On The Weekend" shrunk, anyway.)


So, see you back here on Saturday, May 17th. Thanks for reading and thanks for listening.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

#395 How We're Different

#395 How We're Different

(NOTE: This post contains adult language and adult content.)

(New York) -- This has been a puzzle for a long, long time. What makes New Yorkers different from the rest of Americans?

It's no secret that outside the city, we're looked upon with scorn if we're looked upon at all. And it's no secret we think New York is the capital of the universe and all else is footnotes, that the rest of the world is supplier and/or trading partner, which, of course, isn't true. We think of the rest of the world as our support system, if we think of it at all.

This is not unique. Same thing goes on in any major city (are there other "major" cities?) Probably goes on everywhere.

The outside world thinks of New York as a place overwhelmed by third world immigrants (legal and illegal,) and where members of what we'd best stop thinking of as "minority races" take welfare, sell drugs and commit crimes. Plus no one speaks English, right? It's all Espanol and Albanian and Russian and Yiddish, Italian and Greek and Ebonics and on and on.

And don't forget rude. We're rude. Loud and rude.

But all that's inaccurate. We're no louder or ruder or multilingual than a lot of other places. Even in combination, these factors are not unique.

In this latest visit, we encountered the usual cast of New York Characters. The stately, plump pregnant blonde blocking pedestrians and bellowing into her cellphone about a soccer game. The doped up parking lot attendant. The waitress who moved the customer out of a large booth and into a small one in a hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon because it was lunchtime and they "needed the table," which they didn't. The doctor's waiting room where most people left sicker than they came in... mostly from blood pressure spikes because the doc doesn't know how to keep an appointment, the dope who tried to cross Park Avenue against the light, and didn't notice the oncoming traffic, the other dope who crossed Park Avenue against the light and DID notice the oncoming traffic, butcrossed anyway.

Like the guy who during an eight lane, five mile backup at the George Washington Bridge, got out of his car -- stalled in the fast lane, and tried to pee on the ground and failed, to the amusement of everyone who noticed, which was everyone.

Just the usual suspects.

Most of these people, maybe all of these people, knew what they were doing it when they did it. There were no excuses, there was no "cover-up," and there was no intelligence insulting phony stories; no trace of the plausible deniability syndrome.


So, here's the difference: The run-of-the-mill New York asshole knows he's a run-of-the-mill New York asshole, but does that stuff anyway. Out of town, they all think they're "something."

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2008

Monday, May 05, 2008

#394 Welfare Reform

#394 Welfare Reform


If you think words don't have power, think about this: When welfare was created, it was called "home relief." It was a small, temporary boost that assumed (a) you had a home, (b) you didn't have a job and (c) the depression would eventually end.

Then, they broadened the whole thing into welfare. Welfare. Some people needed more help and for a longer time than others. Okay. This is America. We take care of our hard cases, but still assume they'll eventually get to stand on their own feet.

But welfare didn't go far enough. So now, it's "Human Services." And who among us is not human?

The idea of helping those in need, of course, doesn't merely extend to those in need.

The current White House has been pretty good at spreading Human Services to corporations, which, under the law, are "persons," and therefore "human," and therefore eligible for human services.

The biggest handout of this kind has been deregulation. But suddenly, recently, even the Frootloops in Washington realize there's a problem. So in the waning months of this administration, all of a sudden there's all kinds of human services reform going on.

Lead tainted toys? Let's give the Consumer Product Safety Commission some teeth, else kids'll die from lead poisoning.

Banks that have forgotten the value of a dollar? Better tighten down on those guys a bit. (Not that a dollar's worth anything these days.)

Credit card usury? Let's make them charge a small fortune instead of a large one.

Airplanes that haven't been inspected in two million miles? Ground 'em.

They're even nosing around the oil companies, looking for ways to force them to bring their prices down to ionospheric.

Human services are sprouting like cherry blossoms in Washington or artificially inflated corn stalks in Iowa.

What's the impetus for all this? It's not likely common sense, though a bit of that would do the trick.

No, it's we, the peasants. We are ready to revolt. Throw us a bone and we'll gnaw away for awhile and forget the uprising. If we figure we're not getting tainted Barbies, or tainted loans, if we're allowed more than 20 minutes to pay a credit card bill before incurring a late charge, if we're relatively likely to board an aircraft whose wings fall off in flight (if it ever manages to get in flight,) and if gasoline stays below eight bucks a gallon, we'll shut up.

The second biggest handout just happened. It's when the federal government bailed out a failed financial house whose loan officers got caught with their pants down, sitting on the toilet and flushing the bottom line.

All this is from the royalist free marketeers who think public education is socialism and think "the market" will "correct" itself to the benefit of us all. This is a White House that wants to privatize highways, wreck what's left of the railroads (those commies at Amtrak don't deserve a subsidy, but the tobacco industry and big finance might?)
and support church-run schools.

Well, church-goers are human, right? So human services should apply, right?

Are you confused? You should be.

But Karl Marx isn't. He's too busy laughing in his grave.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©2008 WJR

Friday, May 02, 2008

#393 Builds Strong Bones And Teeth

#393 Builds Strong Bones And Teeth

They've got so much calcium in the water now that it makes spots on stuff that "can't" get spots. Like stainless steel cookware. Spots on the pots, and you can't scrub 'em out. You boil a pot of tea and the inside of the kettle is adolescent acne spotted for life. Try Brillo, lemon, soaking, even Clorox. It's there for life.

Those new stainless steel kitchen sinks? They aren't stainless. Either that or we have the world's strongest calcium.

Funny part about all this is that people have been running to get those filter gadgets, the ones that remove calcium and other stuff. Sometimes they even have plumbers and "water specialists" and water "consultants" come over and install special systems and under-sink filters and pumps to get rid of the calcium.

Once the calcium is removed, they promptly head to the vitamin store -- for calcium supplements.

Most of us think of water and, well, water.

But it isn't. It's as varied as there are places that produce it.

New England is getting a nice rep for good water. Poland Spring and others fill their bottles in places like Maine and New Hampshire. It's really no purer than the stuff that comes out of your tap, but we now have water snobs joining the wine snobs.

It won't be long before someone starts publishing "Water Spectator" or "Water Enthusiast" magazines to compete with the wine magazines.

And we can get into heated discussions about whether the waters of France and Spain and Italy are really better than the waters of California or New York.

In addition to wineries, there will be wateries. Boutique bottlers will spring up along side boutique vineyards on Long Island. Colorado will have to chime in with mountain spring waters. Hot Springs will bottle microwaveable servings of their stuff.

A whole new industry. But no calcium.

Water theme parks will charge more for admission to slosh rides that are fed by, say Niagara Falls, than they will for rides that are fed with water by pipes and plumbers.

And still, no calicum.

A war between Puget Sound and Long Island Sound, perhaps?

And desalinated water from (check as many as apply)

--The Red Sea
--The Dead Sea
--The Atlantic (choose north or south, please.)
--The Pacific (choose south or "regular," please.)
--The Mediterranean Sea
--The North Sea

Sooner or later, there's going to be a water cartel, OWEN, the Organization of Water Exporting Nations.

And you know who's going to be behind that one, right? Nestle, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the City of Newark and PepsiCo.

But it's not as dumb as it sounds -- or as dumb as you think.

Half the world is short of water. Especially some people who have more oil than brains.

Maybe we can get even.

And while we're at it, we can get rid of some of that nasty calcium that's been building up on our pots and in our filter systems.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©2008 WJR