Seven Columns from the
I like Elaine’s style. She’s 59, Catholic, a grandmother, always lived in Floresville, hasn’t traveled much, and married to a man named Al.
Her paper is conservative and locally proud in the
My favorite is the one titled, “
But the best one of these columns might be the last one titled “It’s Not About The Oil,” about a friend of mine, Eli Ben-Zaken, who lives in
It’s a fact that the African people are much poorer than we are. It’s also a fact that Africans love their own children just as much as we do, and when the full moon shines on
Luck won’t make you rich for long. The amazing thing about
The people of
Do you want to help the people of
Short of that, you can learn a huge amount about
Also there are private agencies, faith-based and otherwise, in
AIDS is a major epidemic in
Here’s the way I see it. If the people of
I have to say one more thing about Botswana, and you might thinking I’m stretching it – but if ever go there bring along your Dolly Parton and George Jones tapes because they really like American country music – I ain’t lying.
Do You Trust Bill Gates? Do you trust Bill Gates? You already do trust him if your computer runs on Windows. More than 90 percent of the world’s computers use the operating system that Bill Gates developed. That made him the world’s richest man, with a personal fortune valued at $46.5 billion. He built Microsoft from the ground up. His competitive drive and fierce desire to win left him with no personal life until he married Melinda French in 1994. Marriage being good for most men, Melinda helped Bill to broaden his outlook – there’s more to life than that darn computer, she must have said. And Bill, being the world’s richest man, felt like he was just running up the score at that point in his life. He could have taken up golf or learned to play the violin – challenging pursuits, no doubt, but not hard enough for Bill Gates. He determined that he would rid the world of some of the common diseases, such as malaria, dysentery and AIDS. Now, short of world peace, that’s about the hardest problem I can think of.
I trust Bill Gates. I don’t mean that he’s the most honest or most virtuous man I know, but I am very impressed by his competence and determination. I expect that if he sets a goal, even one as difficult as this one, then he might achieve it. I also trust him not to give his money away in a woolly-headed way. Gates worked for his billions, and he will only donate his money to those groups who will keep it working. No longer obsessed with profit, Gates, as a philanthropist, is obsessed with tangible results and he’s still keeping score. He’s 50 years old, in good health, and he has donated $21 billion so far to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to combat various diseases and to fund educational efforts. Almost one billion of that money has gone to fight against malaria – far more than the combined aid of all the world’s governments. Do you think he’s wasting his time? Do you think he’s become a misguided idealist?
Malaria was a scourge in the southern
American drug companies work on a free market for-profit system. The bulk of their research and development efforts goes towards the cure and prevention of heart disease and cancer – these are the maladies of prosperous countries. In short, they make pills for people who can afford to pay for them. That doesn’t make them the bad guys – but they have no financial incentive to find a cheap vaccine for malaria. So Gates put up the money, $168 million, and then arm-twisted Merck, a major pharmaceutical, to match that with another $50 million. I like that – you put enough Ph.D’s to work with their microscopes and they might come up with something.
Your children won’t get malaria and neither will mine. You might catch a dose of it from traveling in a tropical country, and it’s no picnic to suffer from that fever, but the doctor is at hand and you’ll get the medicine you need and you’ll recover.
But other people, African people, children you’ve never met in places you’ve never been, are being killed by this same disease. I know it says that the poor will always be with us and that we will always suffer from man’s inhumanity to man and that we need to take care of our own families first and foremost. But this is the challenge and the interesting thing about Bill and Melinda Gates – they’re not asking you for money because they already have it. They’re asking you – “What are you going to do about this?”
What’s Going Right in
These were not the only American deaths in
But the difference between my life and those military families back in
I could bake cookies and send packages, but I don’t have that skill. I could be an armchair general and send the President a detailed memo on how to conduct the war, but I somehow I think George Bush already has plenty of advice. I could engage in debate and discussion with those who oppose the war effort – that’s a good thing to do, but only when I have the patience not to call them idiots.
No, what I do – it’s a small thing but it matters – is study the history of the
The Roman Emperor Trajan conquered
But the real doozies were the Mongols. Genghis Kahn’s very own grandson, a real nice guy by the name of Helagu, invaded
The people of
The best place to start reading is with the books of Bernard Lewis. He is a widely respected Middle Eastern scholar, a strong supporter of our
If the War on Terror matters, if it’s important for American armed forces to occupy
We stopped at a motel in
Dad was soft-hearted and he knew he had made kind of a problem, leaving me behind, let alone my three sisters and Mom. Poor guy – he had just about finished three weeks of showing five kids the best and grandest scenery in the U.S.A and all he wanted to do was go off for the day and catch some fish.
He deserved that much and we knew it. Later on, when I was fourteen, I got that special fishing trip, just me and him in northern
Dad owned a small business, but he had national customers – from the West Coast to the East Coast, all around the
I am the same way. I love the whole country from one end to the other. I understand regional pride and some good-natured rivalry, but I am disturbed by this
The differences between Americans are debatable. Try to look someone in the eye, not getting mad, and just say, “I don’t agree with you.” That’s respectful. That’s how one American talks to another. Heck, I don’t agree with anybody. I saw a man the other day with an unusual number of tattoos, and I did have the urge to tap him on the shoulder and suggest that he had scribbled an inky mess all over his body. But I just smiled – my social tolerance was being tested.
I’m not from a
Will Wal-Mart Always Be on Top? Wal-Mart is the world’s biggest business with annual sales of more than $250 billion. When you get that big, you have critics. Labor activists call Wal-Mart a low-wage sweat shop, small local merchants are threatened by the competition from Wal-Mart’s legendary low prices, and those of us with “better taste” just think Wal-Mart is tacky.
I look at the history of business in
Didn’t happen. Instead we got the PC and the Apple personal computer in the 1980s. These new computers were smaller, cheaper, and very easy to use, and pretty soon they were in everybody’s home and office. IBM didn’t take over the country because some smart competitors came up with a better idea. One of those competitors was Microsoft and the Windows operating system developed by Bill Gates. Gates became the richest man in the world and Windows runs on 90 per cent of the world’s computers. Monopoly! Bill Gates will control our minds and take all our money! Stop him before it’s too late!
Won’t happen. Bill Gates is not the only smart man in
Let nature take its course in the business world. The time was if you bought a car it was made in
Boeing had a monopoly on the commercial jet market until AirBus came along from
It goes on like, even back to the railroads in
I used to get my oil changed at Wal-Mart. That’s a thirty mile round trip where I live, but it only cost $18. Then one day I came for an oil change and there was a long line and a forty-five minute wait. I didn’t like that. Now I get my oil changed here in town. It costs $24 but they also wash the car and vacuum the inside and I never have to wait. I skip the thirty-mile drive to Wal-Mart – that’s more than a gallon of gas, and gas isn’t getting any cheaper.
Wal-Mart always wins on the lowest price, but we also shop for value, for service, and for convenience. Wal-Mart is the world’s biggest business today, but I bet you that ten years from now it won’t be. The history of business in
It’s Not About the Oil. The war on terror is not about the oil. It’s not about weapons of mass destruction or
Ben-Zaken was born in
But he didn’t like the quality of the local wines he served at his restaurant. Being an enterprising fellow, Ben-Zaken thought he could do better, so he bought some acreage and planted grapes and made his own wine. His first vintage was in 1992, consisting of two barrels, but the quality was very good, and the wine connoisseurs began to seek him out.
He built up his business, and bought more land and planted more grapes. He sent his son, Ariel Ben-Zaken, to study winemaking from the masters in
He named his vineyard Domaine du Castel – the place of the castle -- because it was located near the ruins of a castle built 900 years ago by the Crusaders. The vineyard is in the Judean Hills, 15 miles from
Eli Ben-Zaken, past 60 now, has never been active in Israeli politics. He is a family man and he runs a business. “My purpose is to make a good glass of wine.”
The peace and prosperity of Eli Ben-Zaken’s vineyard is what this war is all about, and our enemies are the people who say that Ben-Zaken has no right to exist – no right to exist!
Forget about the Sunnis and the Shias and the Kurds in
This is what we protect and defend. How the struggle goes and whether we fight with weapons as we do know, or hopefully negotiate across a table – it’s the same goal – that other people in the
This struggle is not about imposing American values on the
Like many Israelis, Ben-Zaken says, “I can’t worry too much about the future. Because I am a pessimist I keep my passport in order and my bags packed. I have been a refugee before and I know it could happen again. But because I am also an optimist I am planting more grapevines and believing that Domaine du Castel will still be here for my grandchildren.”
For me, my wish is that soon I can travel to