Friday, July 3, 2009

Do your hotdogs taste funny?

Thinking of staying home for the holidays? We are experiencing the longest, steepest decline in driving by Americans since the invention of the automobile. The drop in mileage driven is equal to taking ten million drivers off the road. If you are on the road; good luck finding an open rest area; states are cutting budgets and since they aren’t mowing the roadsides there are plenty of bushes if the kids can’t wait for the next truck stop. Don’t wander too far into the bushes or you may find your missing neighbors; the small remote patches of public land next to the interstate are popular camping areas for the formally middle class.

Planning a backyard cookout instead of traveling? The sales of steaks are down and hot dogs up even among those that are so far unaffected by the collapse. The media paints this reaction as guilt but it’s something more; Americans for the past 30 years haven’t been shy about eating at a posh restaurants while the homeless sat at the curb; but when the homeless are people who recently lived next door to you and they did nothing different than you, the hot dogs have a taste of fear.

GM and Chrysler are celebrating Independence Day by closing plants and shifting the production to Mexico. Auto workers in Mexico can’t hope to buy the vehicles they build and will find it harder to buy the used cars from the US that were a big part of the Mexican economy. The simple fact is people in the US can no longer afford to give up their used cars as new cars are out of reach for them as well.

The scrapage rate of cars in the US far exceeds the sales of new cars for the first time ever. Normally the sales of new cars are 40% higher than the scrapage rate as a large number are exported while still usable; now they are driven to death. If you are lucky, your car will start when you are evicted from your homeless encampment.

PS: is Sarah Palin starting her Presidential bid early or just dodging an indictment?

God Has Spoken...

A Russian Major takes a drink from a bottle of vodka and passes it to his Lieutenant; drinking on missile patrol is forbidden but he has just become a father and this bottle is a gift from his men. He will share it with them while they watch the unusually vivid northern lights.

The Russian soldiers are camped temporarily in a clearing in the forest, forty miles from their base where they are waiting for dawn before moving again. They've been on alert patrol with their mobile missile launcher for weeks and are looking forward to leave with their families.

The evening darkness is suddenly replaced by a flash of light and a deep rumbling follows. The Major grabs his secure phone, but it depends on a relay station next to a large chemical plant that has just exploded. The plant was in between the Russian soldiers and their base but they don't realize this. The Russian missile commander tries his long range radio but the solar flares have knocked it out; he tries his new satellite phone but he has forgotten that the satellite is below the horizon for another 2 minutes.

He hesitates, but thinks about his family back at the base and gives the order. An aging diesel engine struggles to life; hydraulic motors whine; huge steel jacks press into the ground and the missile cradle lifts skyward. The Major and his Lieutenant turn their keys; an alarm sounds and they turn and run for cover.

On the other side of the world; some third graders are reading to the American President while the bored press takes pictures. The chief of staff bursts in and whispers in the President's ear; NORAD is tracking a single Russian missile headed for the ABM site in Alaska. The Russians are on the red phone; should he patch them through? Some of the children have noticed the fear on the faces of the adults, but the President smiles and indicates no to the call; the children are reassured and go back to reading. President Palin is smiling because God has spoken to her.