Early Christmas Gifts

Dear family & friends,

We got a wave of great early Christmas presents this year. Among them, the news that Our Grayson and Jose are expecting (it’s a girl!).

Even better, they’ve decided the little lady should be born a Texan. So they just moved here from Miami (yesterday!). The move was a leap of faith as Jose left a great job in Miami and is now looking for opportunities here. So . . .

If you know of an organization looking for a remarkable young man with customer service and inside sales success in his hip pocket, please let us know.

Here’s how I described Jose to a friend recently:

  • Talented Hillsong-Trained-and-Certified Musician
  • Technically savvy.
  • Very, very good with people both in person and on the phone. Winning personality.
  • Smart, adaptable.
  • Recently flourishing in customer service and sales contexts.(auto dealership service & parts departments)
  • Very conscientious, dependable, strong work ethic.
  • Bi-lingual (Spanish)

Shout if you hear of someone looking for a home-run hire.

Silicon Valley Gazillionaires are Prepping Like Crazy

Found this fascinating:

Doomsday Prep for the Super Rich

Snippet:

How did a preoccupation with the apocalypse come to flourish in Silicon Valley, a place known, to the point of cliché, for unstinting confidence in its ability to change the world for the better?

Those impulses are not as contradictory as they seem. Technology rewards the ability to imagine wildly different futures . . .

Bonus:

Many of Asia’s billionaires have been buying private hidey-holes in New Zealand for the last few years:

Political Parties Die

Whig Ticket

Abraham Lincoln was originally a member of the Whig Party. The Whigs saw four members elected President before collapsing and dissolving in 1854.

The Whigs were replaced on the national stage by a new party—the Republicans.

Yes, political parties can and do die. We may be witnessing the death of one in our time. Which reminds me . . .

Here in Texas, powerful thunderstorms can roll through in the late spring and early summer fronted by intense, straight-line winds. Occasionally after such a storm, you’ll see a huge, ancient tree blown over with the roots pulled right up out of the ground.

It’s easy to look at the huge girth such a tree and marvel that mere wind could take it down after centuries of life and vitality. But take a closer look and you’ll often see that the roots are diseased and shriveled. Such trees are all showy top and no anchoring base.

If the Republican Party rapidly collapses in the aftermath of this election it would not surprise me in the least. And the real cause will have been the disdain for the conservative roots by the bloated establishment elites in Washington and Wall Street; the open borders advocates at the Wall Street Journal and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Donald Trump will merely have been the wind that knocked it over.

Millard Fillmore was the last Whig president. Perhaps Donald Trump will be the last Republican one.

 

 

Pharma Companies are Clearly Out of Ideas for Drug Names

scrabbletray

Well, I just saw one of those “ask your doctor about . . .” television spots for a new drug call Farxiga. That’s right FARXIGA. This new diabetes drug from AstraZeneca joins their other pharmaceutical offerings that now include FASLODEX, KOMBIGLYZE XR, LYNPARZA, ONGLYZA, and ZOMIG.

It really does seem like they’re now just grabbing a handful of Scrabble tiles and throwing them on a table and whatever randomly comes up becomes the new drug name. But their Scrabble set must come with lots of extra Xs, Ys and Zs.

XeljanzIt’s not just AstraZeneca. Pfizer is the maker of ELELYSO, FLYGYL, INYLTA, REBIF, SKELAXIN, TRUMENBA, and XELJANZ. Clearly, they long ago ran out of ideas and now they’re just messing with us.

How about these offerings from GlaxoSmithKline: LAMICTAL, TANZEUM, STAXYN, and RAXIBACUMAB.

Should you ask your doctor if RAXIBACUMAB is right for you? Let’s hope he says “no.” It’s a treatment for people who have inhaled anthrax.

Attention, Pharma companies! I hereby offer you my creative services for coming up with names for new drugs. I’ll even give you the first three at no charge.

YRRAL, YLRUC, and EOM*. (You’re welcome.)

 

 

*Larry, Curly and Moe

 

 

 

 

 

The One Key to Understanding Mr. Obama’s Sellout to Iran

Ramirez Iran

Here is the key to understanding recent U.S. policy in the Middle East in general; and the twisted logic behind Mr. Obama’s complete surrender on the recent “deal” over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. An agreement in which Iran got everything it wanted in terms of removal of sanctions and gave away nothing it didn’t want to give. “Such a deal,” as Jewish New Yorkers say.

It’s the Rosetta Stone for deciphering the seemingly indecipherable.

It’s vital to understand one thing. The primary driver of events, tensions and bloodshed in the Middle East is not, as most people believe, the existence of Israel or the situation of the Palestinians. Not even close. It is this . . .

The Middle East is a chess board with Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia as the opposing players. They are playing for strategic dominance in the region and, more importantly, the dominance of their preferred brands of Islam. Both have friendly allies, and surrogates or insurgencies in place everywhere.

Until the wildcard ISIS emerged in Iraq and Syria, the war in Syria is essentially a proxy war between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi.

In the decades since the Iranian hostage crisis in the late ’70s (watch the movie Argo for some liberal-biased context, young people), the United States has tilted toward Saudi Arabia as the least unsavory option among a a number of ugly choices for allies in that region other than Israel.

Some U.S. administrations have tilted farther than others.

Ahem . . .

Ahem . . .

Enter President Obama. From day one he has clearly been bent on moving U.S. favor away from the Saudis and toward the Iranians. So much so that he is happily risking a nuclear arms race in the insane, volatile Middle East just to strengthen Iran economically through the lifting of sanctions. This “deal” is only a fig leaf for getting international sanctions removed.

The more interesting question is “Why?”

My guess is that Mr. Obama—as a bleeding heart, anti-colonialist liberal (see: Dreams from My Father)—has a soft spot for the Shiites, who have historically been the persecuted underdogs and the out-group in the Muslim world. This affinity for the Shia has been flagrantly on display in U.S. policy toward Egypt.

The Obama administration was robustly cheerleading when the notorious Muslim Brotherhood (Shiite) took control of Egypt at the ballot box in 2012 via the election of Mohamed Morsi. Shortly thereafter the churches of Egypt began burning, the Christians started dying, and the Obama Administration started being fresh out of craps to give.

When Egypt’s secular generals saw the country sliding rapidly into an Iranian-style fascist theocracy, they quickly stepped in, threw Morsi out, and took control. The churches stopped burning. The Christians stopped dying. And Team Obama was furious.

Ever since the “coup”  kicked out Morsi, Team Obama has treated Egypt worse than it treats Israel, and that’s obviously saying something. They’ve held up aid and delivery of military hardware. And they’ve sharply criticized the Egyptian government for cracking down on Brotherhood extremists.

So there you have it. It is beyond clear that Obama is rooting for the Shiites agains the Sunnis, which translates into helping the principal promoter and supporter of Shiism in the world—Iran.

Which is how you get here . . .Ramirez Iran 2

 

 

 

 

Remembering Nepal

Three years ago I spent an unforgettable week in Nepal on a work-related trip—helping document the fight against human trafficking in that nation. We were not only in Kathmandu but also ping-ponged around the country with a video crew.

Today the people of Nepal continue to dig out after the powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The death toll is above 8,000 and continues rise. Below are a few of my photos from the trip. Many of the places I shot in Kathmandu and Pokhara are no longer standing or are badly damaged.

Nepal iPhone114Nepal iPhone119 Nepal iPhone14

Pokhara

Pokhara

Family members washing the body of a deceased loved on with chai, before setting the body on fire.

Family members washing the body of a deceased loved one with chai, before setting the body on fire.

DSC_1807IMG_0076IMG_0128

On Being Back Up North

wisconsin

Spring has not quite yet sprung up in Minnesota and Wisconsin. But, as I was reminded last weekend, that is the way it goes up there. They’d had a little snow the previous week. And the earliest budding trees are just now showing some signs of life.

We spent five-and-a-half great years living in the Twin Cities in the late ’90s. Not surprisingly, moving there from Oklahoma involved a little culture shock (and a lot of climate shock.) The winters were astonishingly long and harsh. But the summers . . . oh, the summers were something special. And the Autumns were spectacular but also filled with a sense of dread about what you knew was coming.

Minneapolis-Fall-Colors

The window for golf was narrow—roughly mid-May to early September—but I played more rounds per year there than in any other period of my life. Here in Texas I can play 11 months out of the year but I’m out of control if I play two rounds a year.

The wife and I headed back up there to reconnect with some dear friends and teach at Liberty Christian Center in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Menomonie is a charming little college town in western Wisconsin that wraps halfway around a lake.

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The church is as cool as the town is quaint. If you know anyone who lives within driving distance of Menomonie, I recommend Liberty heartily. Here is the first of four sessions we did for their marriage retreat:

 

And here is my message from the second Sunday morning service: