Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New EPA Safety Bra, Persian Rugs, Yes Virginia, That Is a Pubic Hair On My Coke Can

Dana Milbank
Larry Flynt
Peter Bergen
"Americans who want to stick it to the man are instead sending money to the man." - Dana Milbank
"They are us." - Glenn Beck
"I am you" - Christine O'Donnell
"Ho-de-ho-de-ho! " - Cab Calloway

I begin today with a report from Fox News, a fair and balanced look at the latest public safety device: "Dr. Elena Bodnar won an Ignoble Award for the invention last year, an annual tribute to scientific research that on the surface seems goofy but is often surprisingly practical. And now Bodnar has brought the eBra to the public; purchase one online for just $29.95.

“The goal of any emergency respiratory device is to achieve tight fixation and full coverage. Luckily, the wonderful design of the bra is already in the shape of a face mask and so with the addition of a few design features, the Emergency Bra enhances the efficiency of minimizing contaminated bypass air flow,” explains the eBra website. It sounds silly, but Bodnar, a Ukraine native who now lives in Chicago, started her medical career studying the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster. If people had had cheap, readily available gas masks in the first hours after the disaster, she said, they may have avoided breathing in Iodine-131, which causes radiation sickness." And who said that science can't also be practical, if not elegant?

One of the areas of merchandise that has been hit by the sanction on Iran, has been the global trade in Persian carpets, which, in one way or another, employs about 5 million people.We have had embargoes on Iranian goods for over 35 years, yet it really never stopped the smuggling of carpets by determined merchants, from the Global Post: "The importation of Iranian rugs and other so-called luxury goods into the United States had been banned for most of the 1980s and all of the 1990s with very limited success as the rugs still managed to enter the country through Canada.
“I actually sent rugs during Reagan’s time illegally. We’d send them to Germany, and then to Canada. From Canada they would be loaded on to small trucks and taken over the border at night,” Mehdizadeh said. But this time around, with Canada and other U.S. allies also taking part in, and complying with, the sanctions, Persian rugs are unlikely to again find their way over the border any time soon.

In an apparent goodwill gesture in 2000, during the final months of the administration of President Bill Clinton, an exemption was made for Iranian rugs, pistachios, caviar and dried fruit, which led to a rush by many Iranian rug merchants in both the United States and Iran to fill the longtime void. The market was quickly saturated and large stocks of unsold rugs still remain in warehouses throughout the United States.

Dealers in America had been expecting such a move for some time, and many are hoping that, at least in the short-term, the perception of scarcity might help increase demand. In fact, many rug dealers in the United States, anticipating the sanctions, increased their orders before the embargo went into effect." Unless Obama or the tea partyers get a sudden hankering to drink their tea on authentic Persian carpets any time soon, their production could become a lost art. Of course, I don't think it's an argument that would make the Ayatollah Khamenei change his tactics and become more honest and open. In fact, he has gone to the city of Qom to lecture the clerics there to be more patriotic and less critical of himself and his policies. He is still supportive of Ahmadinejad, but did give indication to what the rest of the country has been complaining about - that the Revolutionary Guard has been taking on more responsibility in the government and taking over many successful businesses. Not enough to start a revolution, mind you, just enough to make the situation plain in Farsi...

The strangest story, along the lines of "what was she thinking?" is the message that was left on the phone of Anita Hill. Twenty years ago, Anita Hill came forward during the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, and said that he has sexually harassed her, including describing the contents of several pornographic films. It was the relating of one bizarre story about Thomas, that he complained that there was a pubic hair purposely placed on his can of Coke, going on and on about someone was out to get him and make him paranoid, that many folks decided to dub him Clarence "Cokecan" Thomas, not at all referring to his girth as he hoped they were...

Out of the blue, Ms Hill woke up one morning a couple of weeks ago and heard this message: “Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas,” it said. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. O.K., have a good day.” Wacky or creepy, you decide.

Mrs Thomas, doesn't see anything wrong about this, she was just reaching out to put the healing in motion. Ms Hill differs, saying that Mrs Thomas still sees it that Ms Hill lied, therefore it is best that she come clean and confess her past sin. Ms Hill added that she didn't lie, and that it's some weird off-the-wall behavior that compels Mrs Thomas to stick her nose back in after all of these years. "I have no intention of apologizing because I testified truthfully about my experience and I stand by that testimony," said Ms Hill. Clarence Thomes characterized the incident as a left-wing smear attack, in both his speeches at the confirmation hearing and in a subsequent book he wrote.

The Washington Post found the testimony of a woman who had dated Clarence Thomas back then, and she backs up Anita Hill's version of events: "It seems that, by asking Anita Hill for an apology, Clarence Thomas’ wife Virginia has opened the lid on the whole controversy once again: Lillian McEwen, who dated Thomas from 1979 through the mid-1980s, tells The Washington Post, "The Clarence I know was certainly capable not only of doing the things that Anita Hill said he did, but it would be totally consistent with the way he lived his personal life then.” McEwen is writing her memoirs but has never before publicly discussed her relationship with Thomas. Virginia Thomas also has a history of leaving unsolicited voicemails: She called a Washington Post reporter who wrote an article about a man falsely accused of being a sex pervert, saying it reminded her of her husband’s ordeal; and she defended David Brock after he renounced a book he wrote attacking Anita Hill, saying that no one deserved the smears he was being tarred with."

So, it boils down to, what was Virginia Thomas thinking? Evidently, she has the teeniest, tinyist vestige of doubt concerning her husband, and her subconscious wants her to reach out and get the full story. Its called transference. Perhaps Clarence is having the Secret Service going out and bringing him home some new porno, and she saw it tucked underneath the bed, or found a reiept in his sock drawer. Whatever, it has caused Virgina to stop making speeches about how evil the Obama administration is, and go off into the night seeking truth and justice, no matter how fleeting... May someone hand her a lantern bright enough to sweep away the darkness and illuminate her own face looking back in the mirror...

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