Macho News

Well, here we are — still locked in a struggle with … Okay, let’s not bore each other with the details.  None of us can escape Doom Scrolling these days.   Personally, I find the numbers have gotten so big I quit trying to comprehend them — back in September.  However, I’m still planning the party for when we finally strangle the life out of this wicked little virus.  And the first toast is going to go to anyone in the medical profession.

But, despite our current global predicament, apparently no invisible bug can put a stop to macho, that strange phenom that turns normally reasonable people into WWE wrestlers.  But in the real world, they’re half as comical and twice as crazy.  Here are a couple of examples from the current news feed.

1 – For some unknown reason, they’re shooting at each other in some place I can’t pronounce in Central Asia.  Call me a cynic, but when Google’s Auto-correct can’t even find the place, there can’t be that much there to fight over.  Folks, look around you!  The world has problems, and who owns which bit of real estate 100 kilometres south of Tbilisi isn’t one of them.  Mother Nature is killing enough people on her own these days.  You don’t need to add to the carnage!

2 — There are a couple of games of “You-did-not/I-did-so” going on.
The American media reported somebody (read “the Israelis”) killed Al-Qaeda’s #2 man in Tehran.  The Iranians are saying, “No, they didn’t.” But, strangely enough, Abu – uh – (I don’t actually care what his name is) hasn’t showed up for his Suicide Bomber classes since August.  (You decide!)
Meanwhile, allegedly, the Chinese military used microwaves to literally cook the Indian army out of a disputed border area in the Himalayas.  The Indian government says, “No, they didn’t.”  But, given what we’ve recently discovered about Chinese culinary traditions, I wouldn’t be too quick to poo-poo the idea.

3 — In America, they’ve whipped out the lawyers to keep fighting the presidential election that was over several Tuesdays ago.  I’m not surprised: litigation is as American as baseball.  But given the various and sundry lawsuits circling the White House, this is rapidly turning into a 21st century rendition of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?”

And finally:

4 — The folks at Big Pharma are acting like a bunch of schoolboys.  First of all, last week, Pfizer and BioNTech announced their Covid-19 vaccine was 90% effective.  Right after that, Moderna said “Oh, yeah?  Well, our vaccine is 95% effective!”  Then, right after that, Pfizer and BioNTech told everybody their vaccine was 95% effective, too, with no measurable side effects.  Not to be outdone, this week, the researchers at Oxford jumped into the fray and said their vaccine was almost 100% effective for old people.

Hey!  Just stop it!  Instead of dickin’ around, playing my-vaccine-can-beat-up-your-vaccine, how about getting it on the market?   There are 7.8 billion people on this planet who’ve been holding their breath since March, waiting on you.  I mean, thanks and all that, but really!

Christmas On Pause

mickeyWe interrupt this traditional, sugarplum Christmas to bring you some stuff that is currently going directly to WTF? without even pausing at OMG!

Research Shows Man-Flu is real — No it isn’t; I don’t give a rat’s bum for your research.  Here’s the deal.  I’m a man; I recently had the flu.  It was the regular, one-size-fits-all, everybody-gets-it flu.  I was in the hospital with a bunch of women (we were all contagious together) who had the flu — the regular, one-size-fits-all, everybody-gets-it flu.  They handled it much better than I did.  Why?  ‘Cause man-flu is what men do when they need to catch a break from the constant pissin’ contest that is masculine existence.  (God!  Why do women always need an explanation?)

Some six-year-old earned 11 million dollars last year — That’s correct.  There’s a kid out there named Ryan who plays with toys every week on You Tube and earned 11 million dollars last year doing it.  However, just to clarify, the pre-schooler himself didn’t actually earn 11 million dollars.  (There are some serious child exploitation laws against that sort of thing.)  His parents did.  Either way, turning an ordinary childhood into an annual eight-figure money-maker is quite an accomplishment.  In my neighbourhood, the woman at Starbucks (who’s invested several years and a lot of money into two degrees in microbiology) is pouring coffee for minimum wage — plus tips (that she has to share with the guy who washes the floor.)  I guess it’s all a question of marketing.

The Minister of Happiness in India is wanted for murder — Staggered by the irony of that, I still have to ask the question: “How come we don’t get a Minister of Happiness?”  We’ve got any number of useless government departments, wasting tons of money on crap we don’t need.  Why not throw some coin at a Department of Happiness?  What’s it going to cost, anyway?  Some balloons?  Streamers?  Lemonade?  Maybe a juggler?  It’s something to think about it.  Anyway, the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh created the Department of Happiness last year and put Lal Singh Arya in charge.  Unfortunately, nobody bothered to background-check the guy, and now Lal Singh Arya is accused of murdering an opposition politician back in 2009.  He’s disappeared, and the authorities are looking all over the place for him.  (They might want to try looking in the Tickle Trunk.)

Walt Disney just bought FOX — Mickey Mouse, the squeakiest clean rodent in history, is about to give Rupert Murdoch (the Sorcerer of Sleaze) a boatload of money.  (Several boatloads, actually.)  These are the end of days, my friend — the End Of Days.

And now, back to our regular Christmas programming: the best rendition of the worst Christmas carol ever.

Happy Birthday, India

Everybody forgets about India.  We all know it’s there, looking like Asia’s sticking its tongue into the Indian Ocean, but generally, the world is so firmly focussed in on China that India gets a miss.


So why do people forget about India?

Perception.  When most Westerners think of India, they think of yoga, curry and Mohandas Gandhi.  They think of bearded mystics, bony cattle and television train journeys on the Beeb or PBS.  They think of tigers and tea, spices and flowers, and probably that chirpy voice at the other end of the tech support telephone.  While all of these things are true, none of them are 21st century India.  And boring old facts might not be as sexy as jeweled elephants and maharajahs, but they tell a better story about what’s going on in contemporary India.

It’s generally accepted that by 2025, India will surpass China and become the most populous nation in the world.  However, many experts believe that the Chinese have been fudging the numbers for years and India already has more people than the Middle Kingdom.  That’s one helluva work force!

More importantly, 50% of India’s population is under 25; 65% is under 35 and the average age on the subcontinent is somewhere around 29.  In comparison, the average age in all of China, the European Union and the USA is approximately 37.  (Japan’s is a whopping 48.)  Do the math!  While the developed world is getting older and closer to retirement, India is getting younger.

India has the largest middle-class in the world — over 250 million people — and it’s growing.  Economists say that it will double in the next ten years.  So, even though, in 2017, its economic, cultural and political power is nowhere near that of China, the European Union or the USA, with numbers this large, it soon will be.  That’s a lot of rupees, folks!

Oddly enough, even though India is not a member of the G8, it has the 7th largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world — with an average annual growth rate of 6.6%.  What does that mean?  India’s economy is actually growing as fast as China’s and more than twice as fast as the USA’s.

In all the traditional industries like metals, mining, agriculture and manufacturing, India’s production generally ranks in the top ten globally.  But, more importantly for the future, India has the second largest cultural industry in the world.  Nobody packs a bigger cultural punch that the Anglo-Americans do — but India is getting close.  Everybody knows that Bollywood has more studios, makes more movies and puts more bums in seats than Hollywood does.  However, India also ranks 2nd (behind China) in Internet use, 4th in YouTube accounts, 6th in online news views and last year (2016) passed the USA in Facebook profiles.  And the list goes on.  There are also over one billion mobile phones in India, and last year (2016) Google Play alone recorded 6.2 billion App downloads.  This is the Digital Age; information is power.

Unfortunately, despite its economic prowess, India still has some problems.

The fact is India is not a homogenous monolith.  It is the sum of some very different parts, and it’s strange to consider, but one of India’s greatest strengths is also one of its biggest problems — diversity.  It’s very difficult to get the entire subcontinent moving in the same direction at the same time — for several reasons.

There are over two thousand self-identified ethnic groups in India, and — although it’s officially frowned upon — a well-defined and seriously observed Caste system.  This makes social interaction and mobility difficult at best and, in some rural areas, practically impossible.  India is the world largest democracy, but it’s not a very dynamic one.

There might be only two official languages, Hindi and English, but (depending on who you talk to) there are at least 20 other semi-official ones.  Just to put things into perspective, there are more Bengali speakers in India than German speakers in Germany; more Telugu speakers than French speakers in France; and more Urdu speakers than Polish speakers worldwide.  Plus there are thousands of different dialects, so that, in some cases, villages 30 kilometres apart can’t understand each other.  Ideas don’t flow very freely when millions of people don’t know what millions of other people are talking about!

Furthermore, even though, India is mainly Hindu, the country has huge numbers of Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and every other religion on the planet — including Jews, Baha’is and Zoroastrians.  Plus there are so many religious sects, cults and factions that experts have never even been able to agree on how many gods there are in India.  Some say (preposterous as it sounds) they could number in the hundreds of thousands.  It’s very hard for a central government to effect social change with that many deities looking over your shoulder.  Chances are good any law you want to enact is going to piss somebody off!

And all this contributes to India’s most serious problem — grinding poverty.  The average income in India is still only $1,570.00 US, and nearly 200 million people are living on less than $4.00 US a day.  And although this is changing, it’s a very slow process.

Today, is modern India’s Independence Day.  Seventy years ago, the Raj ended when Great Britain hauled down the Union Jack and went home.  In three generations, India has gone from a colony, to a developing nation, to a country on the verge of becoming a great economic power.  Not bad!

And trust me, in ten years, nobody is going to forget about India!