Thursday, August 26, 2010

Late Summer Pickin's

We had a visit from a daughter and grandsons that ended just yesterday. One of the grandsons, I've mentioned before, is someone who, at five and a half, can ask LOTS of questions. Our coastal location and household collection of plastic animals got him thinking about marine life: "Do sharks have tongues?" (Yes, sort of.) "Can sharks hug?" (Hmm.) "Why am I not making a shadow?" When this last one was answered, he gave us a preview of his future self with the words "That's not fair." Yikes.

Every place has its charming "localisms", and one of ours is not taking sports so seriously as to make it a life or death kind of thing. Our paper, for instance, took advantage of the lack of a major event last weekend to feature a roller derby bout in the Sunday sports section. The visitors (the Silicon Valley Killabytes) "rolled" over the locals, but so what? Just the idea of sweaty feminine struggle, with one team featuring fishnet stockings in its official ensemble, should have been enough to get the attention of even non-fans. Anyway, I noticed.

If you had to learn the English language, how would you decipher a radio commercial for a local pharmacy which offers "test drives' for new meds to make sure there's a "good fit" for your condition? Maybe the radio stations should hire grammarians to insure against things like mixed metaphors. On the other hand, they don't need anyone to check for spelling errors. That would be a problem the TV guys would have to deal with.

I've mentioned before the capitalism creed "Find a need and fill it." which is supposed to help ambitious people do good for their societies while making good financially. This week has given us a little reminder of how quickly that little principle can be brought into play. You might have read about the epic traffic jam in northern China that has left travelers stranded on the road for days. This should first be a reminder that we would seldom be willing to trade our problems for those of another country. It also points out that countries that appear to be well-prepared for the unexpected can be caught off-guard. I remember being very impressed with the Japanese system in the 1990's until they had an earthquake in Kyoto. The government response was so bad that it changed my whole thinking on the country itself. But to return to the China thing, a minor event brought on by nothing but heavy traffic and inadequate highways, is being dealt with mile by mile by instant capitalists who offer things like bottled water at ten times the usual price or hot water for boil-up noodles at a cost to the marooned motorists way over the normal level. Think about it. Today, someone with a little vision and organization has begun a family fortune by offering $5 tuna salad sandwiches to people with no other eating option. Viva el capitalista!


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